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13 posts from October 2010

October 31, 2010

Gators get back on track with win against Bulldogs

UGA Celebration Well, time to update my bio page, because Florida's 34-31 overtime win against Georgia definitely goes near the top of the list of best sporting events I've ever attended.

A good game really snuck up on everyone today. The Gators led 21-7 at the half and it wasn't particularly well-played, but things really got going in the fourth quarter, when the two teams combined for 31 points to send it to overtime, where Will Hill picked off a pass and Chas Henry ended it with a 37-yard field goal.

I went down on the sideline for overtime, and it was without a doubt the best atmosphere I've ever witnessed. My complaint about the neutral site for this game has always been that, while it's never quiet, it's rarely very loud. That wasn't the case in overtime.

As they prepared for the coin toss, both sides of the stadium were going completely nuts, with players dancing on the field and the most deafening noise level I've ever heard there. As a Jaguars fan, seeing 84,444 rabid fans at EverBank Field made me pretty jealous. If the Jags had that every Sunday they'd be really tough to deal with.

I'll get more into what Florida's offense did differently as the week goes on, but here are my thoughts coming out of the game.

UF ran a no-huddle offense, which seemed to work pretty well. UF coach Urban Meyer (that's him in the blue shirt in the picture, and that's punter/hero kicker Chas Henry ahead of Meyer on his teammates' shoulders) loved Oklahoma's no-huddle attack in 2008, and tonight was the best I've seen the Gators run it. Florida used to call that the "Banzai Offense," and it was more of a hurry-up-and-wait scheme where they audible five times, call timeout or jump offsides. Looked better tonight, but I guess that's what happens when you have two weeks to practice it.

The offense definitely looked different tonight, but a lot of that had to do with personnel. Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee didn't play, and those frustrating dive and swing pass calls stayed on the sideline with them. Instead, Chris Rainey sparked the outside running game, which opened things up for Trey Burton to run up the middle. Burton went wild, picking up 110 yards and two scores on 17 carries, including a 51-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Florida did an awful lot of rotating at quarterback between John Brantley, Burton and even Jordan Reed, who had 19 yards on three carries and definitely needs more chances. I like the different looks, but I'd also like to see them find a way to succeed with Brantley. As things stand, it's pretty clear they aren't confident enough in Brantley to shape the offense around him.

But maybe they don't need to. The main issue I see is that Brantley isn't going to run and Burton isn't going to throw, so Florida is still predictable based on who they put back there. But with Rainey back and Jeff Demps on his way to full health, there are a lot of possibilities for what the Gators can do out of the backfield. They also used some pre-snap motions to swap Burton and Brantley in hopes of messing with the defense. Never looked like it worked particularly well to me, but it was something, right?

That's really what this game came down to for me. After the bland, crappy performances of the past month, the Gators needed to come out and show they had a pulse. They did that today. Even noted ball-dropper Deonte Thompson looked good. That catch down at the 2-yard line to set up Demps' touchdown run was incredible. On the flipside, UF did a good job on UGA stud wideout AJ Green (4 catches, 42 yards, TD). By the way, Green called for the ball on his TD in triple coverage, then scored anyway. Kid's a baller.

What was your favorite moment from tonight's game? What impressed you and what didn't? And where does that rank for you all-time for Florida-Georgia games? Anyone dressing up as Chas for Halloween?

October 29, 2010

Does Urban Meyer still have it? We'll find out this weekend.

Urban-meyer Florida's tilt with Georgia in Jacksonville on Saturday will be one of the most important games under Urban Meyer at UF. Sure, the Gators and Bulldogs are both middle-of-the-road teams in a weak SEC East, but this contest could mean the difference between an SEC title (unlikely, I know) and the worst season of his career.

Meyer's brief retirement last year raised plenty of eyebrows, and the Gators' start this season hasn't exactly erased fears that he won't be the same as his dominant, pre-breakdown self. No one outside the program really knows what Meyer has done differently this year to manage his stress, so it's hard to pin this losing streak on anything health-related. But I think we'll get a pretty good idea of where he's at on Saturday.

Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee, Emmanuel Moody and Chris Rainey will all be on the field in Jacksonville (according to Meyer), meaning he has his playmakers. He's also 31-3 in his career when having more than a week to prepare for a game, and he's had incredible success in rivalry games.

It would appear that everything is in Meyer's favor for this one, and if the Gators come out and look like the same team that just scored a total of 42 points in three losses (while Georgia averaged 42.7 in three wins), I think it's fair to question the job he's doing right now. He got a lot of credit for being an offensive genius during Florida's time atop college football, and he deserves some blame if he can't figure this out.

From what we've seen so far, Florida is just not a good team. They have some good players, but they haven't played well. To me, it's on Meyer to turn that around this weekend after getting guys healthy and having a week off. If this had come before Meyer's semi-retirement, I would have had no doubt he'd right the ship. Now, I'm not as certain.

Do you expect to see a different team this weekend? If you don't, how will you feel about Meyer? Or is it all Steve Addazio's fault? On that note, check out this YouTube video some Addazio-haters made:

"He must have some intelligence to get that job."

Remember to follow me on Twitter.

 

 

October 28, 2010

Chris Rainey will be right where he belongs Saturday: on the field for the Gators

Chris Rainey I'm not a defender of Urban Meyer.

He does plenty of things I disagree with, I'm rarely comfortable believing anything he says, and in my first three seasons covering the Gators, his behavior around the media was usually standoffish and lame (he's been better this year).

With that said, I'm 100 percent on his side when it comes to his handling of Chris Rainey.

You know the story by now: "Time to Die," suspension, lawyer time, reduced charges, back to practice, fulfills vague behavioral requirements and now, Rainey will make his return this weekend against Georgia.

Yes, this is a crucial time and the Gators are in serious need of Rainey's services, but that's not the whole picture. Rainey made a mistake, accepted his punishment and should be allowed to play again. He fulfilled his duties to the legal system and then sat out a game. Are we really going to hold football teams to a standard higher than that? If your answer is yes, then you should also be disgusted with the academic standards at schools like Florida that admit students with subpar grades because they're big and fast. If that's you, the ideal time to switch your fandom is next weekend in Nashville. Buy a Vandy shirt.

But Rainey's case also raises a touchy subject: violence against women. The Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi wrote this week that Meyer should have kicked Rainey to the curb and taken a stand for women everywhere. Check it out. Sure, Meyer could have done that, but this wasn't the time to make such a statement. Meyer has had several cases of actual violence against women (Avery Atkins, suspended and transferred; Ronnie Wilson, kicked off team; Jacques Rickerson, kicked off team) and came down harder. Wilson and Rickerson also had prior suspensions for unrelated incidents.

Rainey's was not a serious case. Maybe that looks insensitive, but anyone who has met Rainey knew as soon as this story broke that it was another stupid, speak-before-you-think act without much of a real threat behind it. His similar statements in this category had been funny, when he professed his love for white girls and said "It's good to be Chris Rainey." This was far from a laugher, but not even the ex-girlfriend he sent it to took it literally.

The next morning, she stood up in court and said she didn't want charges pressed, adding that she never felt threatened and only called police to defuse the situation. Here's her full statement (along with her sister) from when the charges against Rainey were reduced to a misdemeanor:

“We would like to make a statement in regards to the incident on the night of September 14 between us and Chris Rainey. First and foremost, we want the public to know that any violence or potential violence against any person is unacceptable and needs to be seen as a very serious matter. We encourage anyone to follow our lead and call the police if involved in any situation where violence is possible. With that said, there are some key facts in this case that we would like the public to know. We have known Chris Rainey for three years and never during that time has he displayed any violent or threatening behavior towards us or anyone. To our knowledge, Chris does not drink alcohol or use drugs. His actions that night were out of character for reasons unknown to us, which is why we stood up in court on his behalf. The police we called that night to ensure the safety of everyone involved. We knew this was a particularly sensitive situation because of Chris’s position on the UF football team, which is why his last name was not given to the 911 operator. We felt this was a private, personal matter, and did not want it to become the media frenzy that it has become. The lack of sensitivity to our privacy has been disturbing, and we ask that our privacy be respected moving forward. We are in full support of the decision made by the State Attorney.”

Bianchi spoke to the director of a domestic violence shelter, who said she's skeptical of the statement because abused women often defend those who harm them. I certainly can't argue with someone who deals with these cases every day, but similarly, she's in no position to pass judgment on Rainey and the victim without knowing their case.

The people who did understand the situation (state's attorney, the victim, Meyer) are all in agreement that Rainey should be free to play football. Those who disagree are the ones on the outside looking in.

If what Rainey did is infinitely repulsive to you, don't cheer for him. But as far as whether he should have been allowed back on the team, I believe the case was handled correctly.

What would you have done with Rainey? Kick him straight off the team? Suspend him for more games? Bring him back for Miss St. after his legal duties were fulfilled? Please share your thoughts below, complete with all the usual back-and-forth that has nothing at all to do with the topic at hand.

 

October 25, 2010

No matter how Urban Meyer meant it, Auburn's Cam Newton is hard to watch

Urban can't watch He probably didn't mean it that way, but after mostly deflecting questions about Florida-turned-Auburn quarterback Cam Newton all season, Urban Meyer accidentally gave the perfect answer.

Here's the exact transcript from Monday's press conference, where Meyer's quote led to lots of confusion:

Reporter: Do you allow yourself to watch Cam Newton on Saturday? Did you watch him?
Meyer: It’s really hard, I’ll tell you that. I don’t watch much of it.
Reporter: It’s really hard to watch it?
Meyer: Yea.
Reporter: Because…
Meyer: I just think he’s a very good player, and I’m trying to watch more of the teams we play, so I spend my time watching the other ones we’re going to play.
Reporter: So like every Florida fan in the country, you think, ‘What if he was here?’ You let yourself...
Meyer: No, no, no, no. I didn’t say that.
Reporter: Does that ever cross your mind?
Meyer: No.
Reporter: Liar. (Laughter ensues)

A UF spokesman said Meyer told him afterward that he had probably been misunderstood as saying he can't bear to watch Newton because he's been so good since transferring away from UF. To me, it's pretty clear Meyer meant that he doesn't have time to watch much college football outside of the teams he's preparing for. But it also doesn't matter, because anyone with any sense knows that Meyer doesn't like the fact that while his offense is struggling, a player he once coached could win the Heisman Trophy--at Auburn.

(UPDATE: After re-reading that quote a few times, I've had a change of heart. The "I'll tell you that" part doesn't make sense other than as part of him saying it's hard to watch Newton because he's good. Looks to me like Meyer let some honesty slip out and then tried to backpedal.)

Newton balled out once again this weekend, rushing for 217 yards and two scores while completing 10 of 16 passes for 86 yards. He's already set an SEC record for rushing yards in a season by a QB, and he has at least five games left. His second TD run against the Tigers looked like this:

Naturally, Newton's success this year has been a thorn in the sides of Gators fans, with plenty of jokes about how a stolen laptop ruined Florida's offense and complaints that Meyer picked the wrong time to be a disciplinarian when he booted Newton from the program.

A good story, only that's not what happened. Yes, Newton bought a stolen laptop and tossed it out the window when police arrived, but Meyer didn't kick him off the team. Newton left because Tim Tebow decided to come back for his senior year and John Brantley was waiting in the wings.

That's where UF's staff really messed up--they just missed on the kind of talent they had in their hands. The decision was effectively made when Brantley and Newton were freshmen and Brantley got redshirted, meaning he'd be around longer after Tebow's departure. There was also some talk of putting Newton at tight end, though we'll never really know how serious it was.

Newton was never especially impressive to me while he was in Gainesville (my lasting image of him in orange and blue is him dropping snaps. Imagine how much fun that would have been this year!) but this fact remains: Newton is the best player in college football so far this season, and Florida let him get away.

Meyer said a few weeks ago that he had no regrets about the way Newton's disciplinary situation was handled, but he has to wish he had that kind of talent on his team now. That's not something we have to hear from his mouth to know that it's true. It's just common sense, kind of like Brantley doesn't have to say this isn't how he envisioned the season going for us to know this isn't ideal.

For more on the Newton story, check out these two links:

Gator Clause founder and Heat beat writer Joseph Goodman's column Friday and former UF beat writer and current SI staffer Andy Staples' story from this summer.

And, make me feel cool by following me on Twitter.

October 19, 2010

#Gators fans don't really want Urban Meyer fired, do they?

UrbanMeyerTrophy No interview access to the Florida football team til Wednesday, and once again, my saying of, "Don't give media members anything to cover and they'll come up with something" rings true.

There has been plenty of fallout from the Gators' loss to Mississippi State, with most of the anger directed at offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, whose job is now being offered up on Craigslist. But as I said in my last post on here, head coach Urban Meyer deserves some blame for this season going the way it has.

Evidently, someone agrees, though perhaps too much. The website FireCoachMeyer.com picked up lots of attention Tuesday, being featured on ESPN's Around the Horn and Pardon The Interruption and sparking debate about whether Meyer is taking tons of heat from UF fans. In my opinion, this discussion is stupid for two reasons, the obvious one being that Meyer has won two national titles in five-plus seasons and isn't going to be fired.

But also, take a look at that site. It was created in 2005 under the belief that Meyer's spread offense wouldn't work in the SEC (by the kind of person who probably referred to it as a Mickey Mouse offense). That turned out to be very, very wrong, and the site mostly went quiet until this season. It also looks like it was designed by a 7th grader, which may be an insult to 7th graders.

This isn't some coordinated effort by Florida fans to oust the most successful coach they've ever had, it's just some dummy who made a website. You could start one right now and get on ESPN within 24 hours (www.fireMikeandbringbackJoe.com is available).

It would take at least three solid seasons of near-.500 play for me to start believing Meyer needs to go. In my mind, it's more likely he'd retire than be fired for mediocrity. Addazio, meanwhile, is probably a goner if this year keeps going terribly. In fact, I'd wager that a loss to Georgia where UF scores 10 points or less would spell the end of his tenure.

What would it take for you to want Meyer fired? Let's keep it to on-field results. Here's the most painful scenario I could see for Gators fans this year, outside of losing out: Florida loses to South Carolina but still manages to sneak into the SEC Championship, where it falls to Auburn before losing to Illinois in a bowl game. That way, the Gators will have lost to Billy Gonzales, Dan Mullen, Steve Spurrier, Cam Newton and Ron Zook in the same season. Can you top that?

Also, for all your Herald UF coverage from here on out, follow me on Twitter.

---

Mike McCall

October 17, 2010

#Gators drop from AP top-25 after loss to MSU

Contrary to what many people expected when they left The Swamp last night, the sun did rise in Gainesville this morning. As a matter of fact, it's a beautiful day, and with it came a realization as clear as the sky I'm looking at through my window right now:

Florida ain't good.

And Saturday night's loss to Mississippi State (read those last six words again for full effect) put the word out. The AP poll dropped today (LINK) and UF is nowhere to be found. For the first time under Urban Meyer, the Gators are unranked, ending an 89-week streak. They didn't even receive a vote (Kentucky, Air Force and East Carolina did).

Here's the game story to put this loss in perspective, courtesy of Clark Spencer, who got a fine baptism to the UF beat last night: LINK

Now, it's pretty clear that 2010 is going to be a forgettable season, but what's next? Well, thanks to South Carolina losing to Kentucky, the Gators can STILL win the SEC East and get a shot at the SEC title if they win the rest of their conference games. A BCS game is still on the table, which is baffling. Then again, the Liberty Bowl is a possibility too.

So how to fix this mess? Here are my suggestions. Feel free to leave yours in the comments, along with the standard UM-UF back-and-forth nonsensical chest-thumping that we've all come to know and love on this blog. All these are on the offensive side, obviously. The defense did its job.

-Firing Steve Addazio isn't the answer

But this photoshopped picture, which a friend of mine posted on facebook, is hilarious: 68960_484032565489_595785489_7399953_7136589_n

Maybe you think Addazio didn't make a single good call, but really, what would you do with this bunch? Running backs Jeff Demps, Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gillislee were all out or slowed at some point during the game, which led to receiver/tight end Omarius Hines taking over the running game.

Add on Chris Rainey's suspension and Andre Debose's ankle injury, and Addazio is running an offense that suffers from a severe lack of playmakers. Plus, let's not give Meyer a free pass here. This is his offense, and it's not like he blindly lets Addazio and quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler call the plays. If you fire Addazio, who would you replace him with?

In truth, the best two replacements have been in The Swamp the past two weeks -- MSU head coach Dan Mullen and LSU receivers coach Billy Gonzales. Those two have the best grasp of Meyer's system, and what Florida has now is a shell of its former attacks.

At the least, Meyer needs to get on Addazio about his offensive line. That's his specialty, and the line was expected to be the team's best unit this year. Instead, the blocking has been very poor, and that effects every facet of the offense.

-The offensive philosophy has to change

Florida is trying to plug a lot of round holes with square pegs. Quarterback John Brantley doesn't need to be running the option because he isn't a runner. Trey Burton is a good runner, but turning the offense over to him isn't a good idea either because he can't throw. The Bulldogs knew that, and they blitzed Burton heavily last night.

Also, enough of putting Brantley at receiver when Burton is in the wildcat. Yes, Brantley standing out there means a defender has to go with him, but a wideout would demand attention too and could actually block/catch, so why not just do that?

Meyer always says he wants to fit his offense to his players. Well, Brantley is supposed to be a whiz at reading defenses and a great downfield thrower. Time to make that his focus. The common excuse this year has been that defenses are dropping deep into coverage, so UF is staying short with passes and "taking what the defense gives us." How often do defenses hand out touchdowns? It's time to make Brantley man up and take what he wants.

-Deonte Thompson has to at least be scaled back

He was supposed to be the big-play wideout, but Thompson has been a flop. A couple more drops last night, including one that was picked off. Deonte has had his moments this year, but Frankie Hammond has looked better. Hammond made five catches for 69 yards last night and looks every bit as effective as Thompson. He and Carl Moore should be the top targets on the outside moving forward, with Debose filling the hybrid role if he's healthy.

-Time to bring Rainey back

Get over it people. Rainey sent a stupid text message and paid the price. His legal troubles are behind him, and what he did was far more dumb than it was violent (go read the victim's statements). He deserves to be made fun of for a while, but there's also no reason he can't come back for the Georgia game in two weeks.

Rainey was underwhelming in the first two games, but the Gators are in no position to leave fast people standing on the sideline just to please a public that has a very loose grasp of the situation.

If given the keys to the Florida program, what would you do? I suppose the good news is that the Gators have two weeks to get healthy and try to figure something out before facing Georgia, but there's a lot that needs doing.

---

Mike McCall

October 13, 2010

Highlights from #Gators basketball media day

Florida-topper By Mike McCall

Florida football got you bummed out? Allow the basketball team to provide a little distraction. The Gators held their media day today, and here are a few of the most interesting storylines (to me, anyway).

-Expectations are high again

Florida will enter this season surrounded by the highest expectations since the 04s left town with all those championship rings, and rightly so. The Gators return all five starters and add McDonald's All-American Patric Young to a squad that made it to the NCAA Tournament (losing its first-round game to BYU in double overtime).  

But UF coach Billy Donovan is doing his best to knock down the hype. Here's what he said today:

"You know the perception is, in today’s environment in basketball, where you have a team that went to the NCAA tournament and returns all five starters, the expectations and the perception is that you’re going to be really, really good. This is a team that needed a 75-foot shot from (forward) Chandler Parsons against North Carolina State. That needed a game-winning shot by Chandler against South Carolina. That needed a game-winning shot by Erving Walker at Alabama to get into the tournament. So the reality is that this group really hasn’t done a lot. This group really hasn’t accomplished a whole lot.”

Compare that to Parsons, who said the feeling heading into this year is "totally different" from 2009:

"I think our goals are a lot higher this year. Not getting to the NCAA Tournament my first two years, last year we were just like we have to get there. I think we are just worried about this Friday and getting our chemistry right, getting all the plays down and just coming together and becoming the best team we can.”

How good can they be? Parsons says he feels they have a team to make a run at a national title.

-Kenny Boynton says he's back with a refined shooting technique

The Pompano Beach native led the Gators in scoring as a freshman (14 ppg), but at times, he and backcourt partner Erving Walker struggled with shooting. Boynton finished the year at 37.6 percent, hitting 29.4 percent of his three-point attempts.

Here are some of Boynton's shooting lines from UF's final 14 games:

2-11 in loss to Tennessee
2-9 in win vs Miss St.
3-9 in loss to Xavier
2-7 in win vs Auburn
2-12 in win vs Ole Miss
2-15 in loss to Vanderbilt

Then, he went off for a combined 50 points in the Gators' last two contests, his first back-to-back 20-point games in four months. During the offseason, Boynton said he flew to Los Angeles to work with a shooting coach familiar with Donovan, and he's happy with his results so far, saying his mid-range shooting is much more consistent.

“Basically, I am releasing it more in front of my head where as last year I never knew when it was going to go in, I was just shooting it. Now I know when it is optimal and how long it is going. I think it is a better shot now.” 

Patric Young -Patric Young is a beast

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound freshman from Jacksonville looks like the kind of guy Urban Meyer would like to suit up on the football field. He'll see playing time at forward and center this year, and Donovan said he wants Young to focus more on rebounding and defense than scoring.

That's fine by Young, who said that's the role he wants to play.

"That's basically what I'm known for, is being a real physical guy who's going to come in there and do the dirty work," Young said. "I love contact, I do love contact. That's just what I think basketball is, it's a contact sport. So why not go out there and hit everybody?"

That doesn't mean he won't be a factor on offense. His strength (he says he's the strongest on the team) will be an asset inside.

"[Teammates] call me Karl Malone and Dwight Howard," Young said. "They tell me I need to stop lifting weights and do more stretching."

"I can probably bench [Erving Walker] once and just throw him out of the building."

Young is proving to be a quotable fellow, so expect to see a lot of ink spilled in his honor. And he made a splash shortly before leaving media day, taking an alley-oop and throwing it down with one hand. As one reporter said after the dunk, "I haven't seen that around here in a while."

-New players will make practices more productive

Last year, there weren't really any players to challenge Vernon Macklin or Boynton and Walker in practice. That's not the case anymore.Mike-rosario-200-021009

Macklin has to deal with Young, and the guards will be pushed by Rutgers transfer Mike Rosario, a  McDonald's All-American in high school. Rosario will have to sit out this season, but he's already having an impact on the starting guards in workouts.

"My main goal this year is to get stronger -- that's one of my weaknesses -- and just to work on my game, get better and make my teammates better," Rosario said. "I want to try to help the young guys out with my experience, help the freshmen get to where they have to go. I feel like that's my responsibility this year."

Boynton said Rosario's presence means he has to play better defense in practices, as Rosario can spot up from just about anywhere. He put on a brief shooting clinic for reporters Wednesday.

-Agents are on Billy D's mind, too

Agents have been a hot topic in college football this season, but they're a problem for basketball coaches as well. Donovan spoke about the issue Wednesday, saying the main problem is that during the offseason, college players want to keep preparing for professional careers, and because they can't do that with their college coaches, they have to go other places where agents could be lurking.

"I'd say it's probably as bad (as in football)," Donovan said. "It's amazing because I think in a lot of ways you see a lot of this pop up right now and a lot of people act like they can't believe it happens. It's been going on for a long, long time. I don't think there's anything to necessarily do about it in the sport of basketball until the Players' Association who's in charge of the agents, the NCAA and David Stern, if they could all somehow come together and resolve it."


Emails I get: Steve Addazio is to Gators as Larry Coker was to Canes

Gator Clause occasionally publishes the many emails that fill the inboxes of our editorial board of trustees, regents and governors. This latest email comes to us from Matt Jordan (city/town/hamlet unknown). There is no rhyme or reason for which emails we publish and which emails we delete. As a general rule, they have to be either really, really good or really, really bad.

(Programming note: Everyone, please welcome Mike-Mike McCall to Gator Clause when you get a chance. He'll be managing the blog from here on out. After more than three years in Gainesville, I'm moving back to Miami on Friday to cover the Heat. I'll still be chiming in from time to time, but Mike-Mike is the Big Kahuna Burger now. Mike-Mike is a solid journalist, who is trained in five kinds of martial arts. So make your move, rebarbs.)

-jo-

Joseph,

Much like the Miami Hurricanes’ slow demise under Larry Coker, the Gators have started to follow suit. 

The reason is simple.  Steve Addazio is awful.  Larry Coker was awful as a HC, but people looked the other way b/c “you are being too strict and have taken winning for granted”.

Do I expect FL to win every game?  No.  Do I think that FL should be undefeated this year?  No.  But the fashion in which UF is losing must be a red flag.  The offense has three general plays.  (1) HB dive or draw up the middle.  (2) lateral or short pass for 2 yds – maximum (3) Outside HB run that will only work with Jeff Demps outrunning a poor team such as USF.

The few times that UF throws down field, progress is made.  I understand that Brantley has felt pressure, but there are measures that can be taken to mitigate that.  For example, leave a RB or two in the backfield to block.  (Not 180 lb Jeff Demps)  Or, spread the field and line up 5-wide.  UF seems to enjoy lining up in tight formations and playing in a 5 yard box.  Roll Brantley out.  Heck, if you are foolish enough to run the option with him, then what makes you think that he can’t move out of the pocket?

Recruits see this.  Fans see this.  Yet Urban Meyer is playing blind.  Or dumb. 

My question to you is:  Why is Urban accepting this elementary excuse for an offense?  Is it because he is friends with Addazio or is it because he is too caught up in himself?

Lastly, watch any video of Steve Addazio.  The guy is a moron.

I have no affiliation to www.firesteveaddazio.com, but please check out the site. 

Don’t take it easy on Urban or Addazio.  Stand up!

-MJ

October 12, 2010

Rainey back with #Gators but won't play Saturday

By Mike McCall

Chris Rainey has rejoined the Florida football team, but he still has a few hurdles left to clear before he gets back on the field.

Rainey--suspended since a Sept. 14 arrest on felony stalking charges--is practicing with the Gators again but will not play Saturday against Mississippi State.

“Chris Rainey is working towards being part of our football team again,” UF coach Urban Meyer said in a statement. “I’m disappointed that he violated a core value of our program, but he continues to pay a price for his actions. Chris will have to meet a set of conditions to become a part of our team again and although he is practicing, he will not play this weekend.

“The timetable for his return will depend on his ability to follow the guidelines we have laid out for him.”

Rainey’s legal troubles arose from a late-night spat with an ex-girlfriend, which culminated in him sending her a text message that read, “Time to Die [expletive].” The victim appeared in court the next day, saying she never felt threatened and that she didn’t want Rainey to be prosecuted.

Rainey accepted deferred prosecution from the state attorney that reduced the charge to a misdemeanor. It will be dropped altogether if Rainey maintains good behavior and meets public service and financial obligations.

“I am embarrassed and sorry for my actions and I apologize to everyone that I affected by my behavior,” Rainey said in a statement. “I’m working towards being a part of the Florida football program again, and I realize that representing this University is a privilege. I have spent the last several weeks reflecting on my actions and realized that is not who I want to be.”

In two games before the incident, Rainey had six catches for 34 yards and a touchdown and added 16 rushing yards on four carries. Upon his return, he’ll likely be a key part of Florida’s struggling offense, which Meyer said lacks big playmakers. Rainey has three runs of longer than 70 yards in his career.

Given the time since the incident and the resolution of the charges, it seems completely reasonable to me that Rainey's back with the team. I had guessed Miss St. as his return game when this happened, but it looks like my prediction will be off by at least a week.

What do you think? Too soon? Should be be allowed to play? And when he comes back, what do you expect from him? His stats weren't exacly eye-popping when he played, but with all Meyer's talk yesterday about the lack of big plays in the offense, you have to figure he'll be viewed as a big asset.

And let's not forget about this:

 

 

October 10, 2010

#Gators lose a wild one to LSU 33-29

GAINESVILLE -- So, was Terrence Toliver bobbling the ball when he stepped out of bounds? Was holder Derek Helton's over-the-head and behind-the-back bounce pass to kicker Josh Jasper on the fake field goal actually a forward pass? Who knows? This much I do know, though. Les Miles is a friend of the devil.

One week after getting lucky against Tennessee on the game's final play, Miles and LSU did themselves one better with a wacky ending to a 33-29 victory against the Gators at Ben Hill Griffin. 

The crazy thing about this game was that as lucky as No.12 LSU seemed to be, No.14 Florida might have been luckier just to be in a position to win the game. Consider that Florida scored on drives of 16 and 17 yards in the first half and also scored a second half touchdown when Andre Debose returned an 88-yard kickoff for a score.

Two losses in a row for UF. What's wrong with the Gators?

-jo-

October 08, 2010

Former Gators assistant Billy Gonzales announced his move to LSU with a sticky note

22-burning-bridges

PICTURED: This is how you feel when Steve Addazio is named offensive coordinator instead of you.

GAINESVILLE -- So, it should be pretty obvious to everyone that former UF assistant coach Billy Gonzales wasn't a happy camper in his final season in Gainesville, but this story a source relayed to me on Thursday adds a whole new level to Gonzales' perceived bitterness towards Urban Meyer and the Gators' offense under the control of current offensive coordinator Steve Addazio.

Gonzales is now an assistant coach at LSU, which plays the Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. He was one of Meyer's loyal foot soldiers for a long time, but don't expect any friendly pregame handshakes between old friends. When Gonzales left Florida for LSU, he apparently burned a bridge along the way. The story circulating through Florida's football program is that Gonzales informed Meyer he was leaving for a rival program with a sticky note. That's right, one of those annoying little pieces of yellow paper.

No face-to-face talk. No one-last-beer toast at The Grog House. None of that. According to the source, Gonzales left his keys and cell phone on a desk along with this message: "I'm going to LSU."

Billy Gonzales, off the Christmas-card list.

SuperstickiesAngered beyond comprehension with the thought of Steve Addazio, Gonzales made a lateral move to one of UF's annual rivals.

Understand the history between Gonzales and Meyer before allowing that sink in. Meyer was Gonzales' position coach (receivers) at Colorado State from 1990-1993. In 2001, when Meyer landed his first head coaching job at Bowling Green, he hired Gonzales away from Kent State to coach wide receivers and hired an unknown grad assistant at Notre Dame to coach quarterbacks, Dan Mullen.

Together, Meyer, Mullen and Gonzales devised their own little version of the spread offense. They weren't the only ones, obviously. Mullen didn't become Meyer's offensive coordinator until they arrived in Gainesville. Still, Gonzales and Mullen were right there in every meeting and both men were important players. Mullen was charged with molding quarterbacks to the offense; Gonzales' task was teaching receivers the fundamentals of perimeter blocking above all else. Gonzales and Mullen were there from the ground up, and by the time Gonzales and Mullen coached at Utah with Meyer and packed their bags for Gainesville, they knew the offense better than anyone. 

Gonzales is a few months older than Mullen, but Mullen was named Florida's offensive coordinator in 2005. "That's cool," Gonzales probably thought. "Dan coaches the quarterbacks, after all, and the guy is really smart. Good for him. I'll get my shot."

Gonzales wanted to be UF's new offensive coordinator when Dan Mullen left for Mississippi State. He wanted the job badly. He felt like he deserved it. Heck, the man had good reason to feel this way. He had been with Meyer and Mullen since Bowling Green and had done a fine job as UF's receivers coach. Gonzales coached Percy Harvin, Louis Murphy, Bubba Caldwell and several other UF receivers who are now playing in the NFL.

That brings us to a relationship gone bad. Something happened along the way that infuriated Gonzales to the point that he would potentially sacrifice his relationship with Meyer out of spite.

Steve Addazio happened. Some could argue that UF's offense has been a shell of its former self ever since. Did Meyer promote the wrong guy? This much we know for a certainty: LSU Week has an entirely new meaning this season for the Gators.

-jo-

October 05, 2010

5 things that might make the Gators better

GAINESVILLE -- After rewatching Alabama 31, Florida 6 ...

1. Omarius Hines needs to touch the ball a few more times during a game. He had one reception for four yards against Alabama. He needs to be more involved. Send Hines over the middle. He's got the body for it. The option/end-around play Hines carried for 19 yards was a great call. How do I know this? Because if it fools Bama's defense, then it was a great call.

2. My good buddy Israel Gutierrez called for less gadget plays from Florida's offense in his column in Sunday's paper. I say more gadget plays. This isn't the NFL. One of the greatest things about college football is the creativity of offensive coaches. Meyer has made a good living using his spread-option offense. So the jump pass was a huge disaster against Alabama. So the option didn't work as well as it usually does. I say, so what!? One bad loss to No.1 Alabama at Bryant-Denny, at night, with a quarterback starting just his fifth game since high school is no reason to scrap an entire offense! I'm no football expert but I've interviewed and talked football with enough people who are football experts to know the threat of an option play does more than just give Jeff Demps a chance to take one to the house once or twice every game. The threat of an option on any play keeps defenses honest and discourages them from blitzing the quarterback so often. I've read some of the comments on the blog following UF's loss to Alabama. What, is Florida supposed to ditch option football in the middle of the season, the week before LSU, implement a new offense and expect it to work? Step back from the ledge, people.

3. Keep John Brantley on the field all the time. I realize Trey Burton scored six touchdowns the week before the Alabama game. In hindsight, Kentucky is Kentucky. Leaving Brantley on the field all the time might help him develop some confidence. The guy is a good quarterback and good enough to lead the Gators to a major bowl game. Leave him in the game. Seriously, he waited around three seasons behind Tebow so he could get pulled after he drives his team to the goal line. That strategy might need to be reexamined.

4. Can Ahmad Black play free safety all the time? Can Matt Elam play strong safety? Hey, Major Wright played safety as a freshman. Why not Matt Elam? I'm just throwing out ideas here ... because Will Hill is playing like a five-star bust. Or is it a Rutgers all-star? No matter, those descriptions are pretty much synonymous with each other.

5. Bring back Chris Rainey and put him at running back.

6. Feel free to add your suggestions ...

-jo-

October 03, 2010

Alabama 31, Florida 6: Four turnovers costly for the Gators

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Thoughts, anyone?

Alabama has now dominated Florida two games in a row. Four turnovers killed Florida's chance on the road on Saturday. You can't give it away twice inside the 10-yard line against the No.1-ranked team in the nation in front of more than 100,000 fans and expect to win a game.

Positives to take away:

1. Florida outgained Alabama by eight yards. The Gators had 281 yards of total offense.

2. Chas Henry is a pretty good field-goal kicker and a great punter. Henry had two field goals in his first game as a kicker this high school. UF starting kicker Caleb Sturgis is likely out for the season with a back injury.

I'll let you guys take care of the negatives ...

-jo-


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