Allow me to distract you from your fretting over the Gators' offense and terrify you with what's looking like a major problem on defense!
As had been expected for a few days, UF defensive line coach Dan McCarney (pictured back in the 90s) left Tuesday to take over as the head coach at North Texas, and while he tries to rebuild a program that hasn't won more than three games in a season since 2004, whoever succeeds him at Florida has his work cut out for him.
The Gators will lose five defensive linemen to graduation: DEs Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens, and DTs Terron Sanders, Lawrence Marsh and Brandon Antwine. None of these five were world-beaters, but they all had their moments and the crop behind them is pretty short on experience.
Omar Hunter and Jaye Howard will be back inside (though there are rumors Howard is going to take a look at the NFL Draft). Beyond them, it'll be freshmen Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, the top two DTs in the 2010 recruiting class. A lot of potential there, and Floyd looked good at times this season, but Easley struggled with an apparent attitude problem, and losing a solid DL coach probably won't help the situation.
The end spot is also pretty worrisome. Ronald Powell, the top DE recruit last year, is almost sure to be a freak, and he'll have Lerentee McCray, William Green and Earl Okine as his likely competition. Miami native and 6-foot-7 giant Lynden Trail could play too, depending on his offseason.
But the Gators are looking a bit rough on the d-line for next year, and they need to replace McCarney with another slam-dunk hire. McCarney is the eighth assistant to take a head-coaching job after leaving Urban Meyer's side, and he's the exact kind of person Meyer needs around. McCarney was Iowa State's head coach for 12 seasons, and with guys like him, Charlie Strong, Dan Mullen and Chuck Heater around in years past, Meyer basically had a staff of head coaches to make his life easier (and help keep that stress level down).
“I’m happy for coach McCarney and his family,” Meyer said. “He has a proven track record as a head coach, and we were fortunate to have him on our staff for the last three years. He did a great job with our defensive line, and I fully expect him to be successful at North Texas.”
McCarney leaving punches a big hole in Meyer's entourage, and he won't be easy to replace.
And this sucks for reporters too. McCarney was great with the media. He was honest, he was a good quote, and he oozed competence. So everyone loses here except for North Texas. This has already made an impact in recruiting, as four-star defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan pulled out of his verbal commitment to UF.
How worried are you about the defensive line next season? Think McCarney will be easy to replace?
"I'm happy for Coach McCarney and his family. He has a proven track record as a head coach and we were fortunate to have him on our staff for the last three years. He did a great job with our defensive line and I fully expect him to be successful at North Texas."
Much like the South Carolina game offered Florida a chance to right its wrongs by reaching the SEC Championship, the Gators were handed another golden opportunity Saturday in Tallahassee: Beat Florida State and take some of the sting out of this massive disappointment of a season.
With a win over the Noles, UF would have extended its win streak in the series to a whopping seven games, gained some traction with recruits, put itself in a better bowl game and maybe (MAYBE) even have saved offensive coordinator Steve Addazio his job.
Instead, the Gators' effort (pictured, left) was probably their worst of the season, putting a rotting cherry atop a pretty crappy sundae with a 31-7 loss.
But UF fans should be at least a little happy about this. Here's why:
1. The loss doesn't matter that much
Yea, Florida lost to its rival, but who cares? After six years of bragging rights, Gators fans needed a little humility, and at least they didn't have to watch this happen at The Swamp. FSU was bound to win one, and there were no national title hopes or a Heisman Trophy on the line, so this is the year to get that loss out of the way.
Like I said, a win makes the season more tolerable, but the loss doesn't make it all that much worse. UF played the same way against the Noles that it has against every ranked team: bad. That's what bad teams do.
2. Something will have to change
The beating was so thorough that Urban Meyer can't possibly go through this offseason without making some changes. That could mean Addazio, it could mean John Brantley, it could mean the offensive system, but I'd feel pretty confdient that Meyer will shake things up. That was the tone of his postgame press conference, where he mostly talked about the need to right the ship. Part of that, he said, is getting "tough-ass players and tough-ass coaches."
Take it from Alabama coach Nick Saban's wise and somewhat inappropriate words of wisdom after his team lost to Louisiana-Monroe in 2007:
"Changes in history usually occur after some kind of catastrophic event. It may be 9/11, which sort of changed the spirit of America relative to catastrophic events. Pearl Harbor kind of got us ready for World War II, and that was a catastrophic event."
3. This is one for the bulletin board
Florida has always drawn motivation from big losses, and this is one of those unforgettable failures that will rank up there with Georgia and LSU in 2007 and Ole Miss in 2008.
The Gators need something to push them through the offseason, and ending it with this kind of embarrassment is sure to leave a mark.
4. The rivalry is back
This one isn't for all of you, but if you can step back and look at it somewhat objectively, everyone wins because this is a rivalry again. No one beats their rival every year, and if they did, it would suck the life out of the game.
Now, FSU has something to hang its hat on, and while you're going to have to deal with some trash talk, it'll make next year's game more fun.
What do you hope Florida takes from this game? I know you're going to say "Fire Addazio!!!!!" and probably something about Miami, but I'm looking for something deeper than that if you have it. Comments have been top-notch lately. Keep it rolling.
As an astute reporter (not me -- locked my keys in my car so I didn't go) pointed out during Urban Meyer's press conference Monday, the Gators scored on all seven drives where they used a dual-threat quarterback against Appalachian State and their only non-scoring possessions came when John Brantley was the lone signal-caller.
This was Meyer's response:
"I guess we've got to get some dual-threat quarterback in there. I usually know all the stats. I'm going to go up there and write that right up on the board. I think that threat is real, especially the quality of player that they are and the threat that they give you, so it's interesting."
Damn right the threat is real, and that's something Meyer shouldn't need stats to prove to him. Every step of his head-coaching career, he's leaned on a dual-threat quarterback, and this is the first time he hasn't been able to choose one from among players he recruited (Cam Newton certainly hurt that streak).
Here are some more stats for Meyer's board from the last three games since Jordan Reed joined Brantley and Trey Burton at QB.
In those three games, Florida has had 37 offensive drives, not counting kneel-downs. Of those, 14 have featured Brantley as the lone QB. The other 23 have used either just Reed or some combination of two or three. Here are the numbers:
Brantley-only: 14 drives, one TD (a 3-yard drive), 142 yards, two INTs, eight punts, two turnovers on downs and a fumble.
Combo/Reed-only: 23 drives, 13 TDs, 1,075 yards, INT, five punts and four turnovers on downs.
The average Brantley-only drive yields 10.1 yards, with a TD every 14 possessions and a punt 57 percent of the time. The average "Other" drive leads to 46.7 yards, a TD every 1.77 possessions and a punt 22 percent of the time.
Here it is game by game:
vs. App St.
Just Brantley: three drives, zero TDs, 110 yards, INT, punt, turnover on downs.
Other: seven drives, seven TDs, 431 yards.
vs. South Carolina
Just Brantley: Six drives, zero TDs, 27 yards, INT, four punts, fumble.
Other: Six drives, one TD, 184 yards, two punts, three turnovers on downs.
*Other QBs were used for 10 plays on the final drive, compared to just 11 before that point. Meyer admitted to panicking and abandoning Burton and Reed too early in the game.
Just Brantley: five drives, TD, five yards, three punts, turnover on downs.
Other: 10 drives, five TDs, 460 yards, INT, three punts, turnover on downs.
Now, this doesn't just come down to "Brantley sucks, get him out of there." He still contributed to those other successful drives. The point is, Florida can't win by just using Brantley. It's a combination of UF's coaches not knowing how to run an offense without a mobile quarterback (especially with banged-up RBs) and Brantley not playing very well.
The other thing to consider is that App St. and Vandy are terrible, and those games really skewed this comparison. But there are only three games to go off of here, and all three have held the same conclusion. The Gators can't win without some creativity at quarterback.
UPDATE: Since I posted this, some of you have raised a good point: What about all the times Brantley drives the team down the field and then gets yanked in the red zone? In those cases, he's doing a great job and then Reed/Burton come in and hijack the drive, thus ruining my little study.
Except it doesn't. Remember, these are only from the last three games because those are the games where all three QBs have been used. Of those 13 TD drives, there was only one where he ran the show all the way to the red zone. That came against App St., when the Gators marched from their 42 to the ASU 4 and then Reed came in.
Here's the point folks: Whether you think it's his fault for not playing well or the coaches' for not using him correctly, Brantley can not run this offense alone. I'd say that has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt at this point. He either needs a healthy Jeff Demps to go nuts out of the backfield (probably not going to happen this season) or he needs the regular threats of Reed and Burton to mix things up.
Saturday against Appalachian State is your last chance to see Florida's seniors play in The Swamp, and while this year's class isn't as star-studded as in years past, there are a few big names departing and some others who never quite met the expectations they arrived with.
Here's a list of the main contributors from the senior class. Let me know who you'll miss the most (I made some package deals so it'd be more fun).
SS Ahmad Black
As safeties coach Chuck Heater said Wednesday, Black was a bit of an afterthought in the 2007 recruiting class. But he's played like a five-star.
2010 has been a disappointing year for just about every Florida player, but Black is one of the few Gators you can watch every week and expect a solid performance. He rarely makes mistakes, seems to slip past blockers without any trouble at all and almost always wraps up on tackles.
Urban Meyer once said that no matter what happens, Black is always in football position, joking that you could throw him and he'd land in an athletic stance: "He's like a cat." That's easy to see from his play, and Heater said an NFL scout told him this week that Black is the best tackler he's seen in college this season.
He leads the Gators with 93 tackles, including 63 solo and 10 for loss. Jelani Jenkins is second at 60. That's equal parts condemning of UF's defense and a great achievement for Black. And he's always had a knack for making big plays, most notably the interception against Oklahoma in the BCS Championship (pictured).
P Chas Henry
If not for Black, I'd say Henry is the best player on the team. For real. Henry leads the nation in punting average at 47.44 yards per, and especially for a special teams-obsessed coach like Meyer, he's a big deal.
Think about how many games you've watched where a punter gets blocked or shanks one and the game turns on the play. That almost never happens with Henry. Obviously his field goal skills are lacking at times, but he did hit the game-winner against Georgia, and that isn't his job anyway.
You may not think much of it now, but you'll notice his absence when he's gone. Hopefully Meyer lets Henry (a high school QB) unleash one against Appalachian State. You know they'll have to punt a few times.
C Mike Pouncey
Y'all probably have some mixed feelings on this one. Pouncey is clearly one of the team's biggest leaders and best players, just not at his new position. He sums up this team to me: he's good, he's just not good this year and no one will admit it. Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio gets offended anytime Mike is criticized, and he said this week that Pouncey would be a top-10 pick in the NFL Draft.
Unfortunately, his awful snapping in the season opener will probably be the lasting image of his play in 2010, but think back to the last couple years and remember the good times. He was an excellent guard and even played on the defensive line as a freshman. He and his brother Maurkice should stand as two of the best linemen in school history, and their personalities made them fan favorites.
The Package Deals
DEs Justin Trattou and Duke Lemmens
Trattou didn't quite meet expectations this season, but he had a good career at UF. As a backup to Carlos Dunlap and Jermaine Cunningham, he was stellar, and he played a big role in the Gators' 3-3-5 Joker defense. But Trattou was supposed to be the stud on this year's team and the main pass-rushing force. Instead: two sacks and zero QB hurries.
Lemmens is the gritty veteran who hoped to burst onto the scene this year. He played well as a hybrid linebacker in the Gators' heavy package defense, but he hasn't exactly wowed anyone either: four sacks, five QB hurries. The idea of this long-haired tandem harrassing quarterbacks and celebrating is a fun one, but it never really came true.
RB Emmanuel Moody and WR Carl Moore
We'll call this the high-hopes, low output crew. Both transferred to UF amidst much fanfare, as Moody was supposed to be the big back the Gators needed and Moore was to provide freakish athleticism on the outside. Instead, both have been plagued by injuries and only shown spurts of their potential.
Moody flashed a tough running style at times in 2009 and Moore found a niche as an incredibly reliable third-down target this year, but both will leave Gainesville with a lot of unfinished business left behind.
LBs A.J. Jones, Brandon Hicks and Lorenzo Edwards
Jones was a key player for a few seasons, and Hicks and Edwards never really broke out. Hicks has always been solid, but he and Jones didn't do anything jaw-dropping this season and Edwards' career pretty much amounted to this year. Hicks and Edwards are two guys who would have benefitted a lot from a redshirt, and it's hard to believe they never got one. Another year and I think they could have been special players. That's the catch-22 of succeeding as a freshman on special teams. The coaches like you, but you lose a year.
OLs Carl Johnson, Marcus Gilbert and Maurice Hurt
Ouch. That's 995 pounds of redshirt senior walking out the door in addition to Pouncey. Johnson and Gilbert both had solid careers, and Hurt was always a good, versatile fill-in. The line has been far from the stellar unit that was expected coming into the year, but I can't imagine it getting any better with all these departures.
DTs Terron Sanders, Lawrence Marsh and Brandon Antwine
Yikes again. These three have all been reliable (when healthy) and losing all three will be tough, especially if Jaye Howard jumps to the NFL, which supposedly is on the table. If that happens, it'll be up to Omar Hunter, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley to hold down the fort inside in 2011. Hunter is good, Floyd has looked fine when he's played, but the transfer rumors around Easley are a cause for concern.
Meyer said Easley--who didn't travel with the team to Vanderbilt for unspecified disciplinary reasons--is eligible to play this weekend, and they should probably get him some experience since he'll have to play next year.
CB Janoris Jenkins
Not a senior, but this is probably it. Jenkins will be one of the top-rated corners entering the NFL Draft, and the Pahokee native will probably follow in Joe Haden's footsteps if it looks like he'll be a first-round pick.
If you're going to the game Saturday, take a good, long look at Jenkins, because I doubt you'll see him take the field at The Swamp again.
Anyway, all these goodbyes are a downer. Here's a fun video that pretty much sums up all you need to know about Appalachian State:
All season, I've looked at it this way: Florida will forever be searching for the next Tim Tebow, and the Gators had that on campus with Cam Newton and let him get away.
But what if Tebow was the first Newton?
Obviously, Newton is having an unbelieveable year at Auburn, but I hadn't really considered that he might be even better than Tebow until Gator Clause founder Joe Goodmanmade that claim in his Newton column last week. As we all know, Joe's a huge Auburn Homer/Gator Hater, so I'll stop short of saying that just yet.
But it's definitely worth discussing, which is a pretty big deal considering Tebow was being hailed as the greatest college football player of all time less than a year ago.
Let's break it down. Newton could very well be one-and-done, so comparing the scope of their careers is impossible. I'm using Tebow's numbers from 2007 against Newton's this year, since both are from their first years as D-1 starters and (probably) Heisman-winning caliber.
Keep in mind that Newton's stats are from 11 games (he has three left) while Tebow's are from 13.
Tebow: 234 of 350 (66.9 percent), 3,286 yds (9.4 yds per attempt), 32 TDs, 6 INT, 172.47 rating
Newton: 135 of 198 (68.2 percent), 2,038 yds (10.3 yds per attempt), 21 TDs, 6 INT, 183.58 rating
Edge: Tim. Newton is very efficient, but Tebow was much more effective through the air. Both of them benefitted from their running ability making it easier to throw, but Tebow could beat defenses with his arm alone, and that's something Newton hasn't shown yet. Percy Harvin, the best player I've ever seen, certainly made life easier for Tebow, but he was still good without Harvin and in the face of [insert your own adjective] play-calling last season.
Edge: Cam. Newton runs more than Tebow did, and Tebow was used so much in short-yardage situations that it does hurt his average. But even with that caveat, Newton is a better runner. He's faster and more elusive. If the goal is to get two yards, I'd take Tebow. If it's to gash a defense, it's Newton all day, which is clear by this stat comparison because their number of carries are so close. With four fewer carries, Newton has 402 more yards.
Tebow: 9-4, loss to Michigan in Capital One Bowl
Newton: 11-0 and counting
Edge: Cam. Tebow lost four games and Newton is undefeated. All they can control is the offense, and that record in 2007 was the defense's fault. Tebow's Gators averaged 43.9 pts but gave up 24 and really faltered in the losses. But Newton's defense is allowing 24.9 and he hasn't lost, scoring an average of 42.8 pts. Bottom line is that Newton can't lose the winning category until he at least loses a game (then again, this Auburn team could very well wind up 0-14 by the time this Newton scandal stuff shakes out).
Based on this one-season comparison, Newton wins. But the career discussion is a different one. This is Newton's fourth year in college and second as a starter (junior college national title) whereas Tebow won the Heisman as a true sophomore in his first year at the helm. And he won a championship the next year and went undefeated through the regular season in 2009.
There isn't really a way to settle this debate, but the most important part to me is that it is a legitimate debate. Splitting hairs between the greatest athletes/bands/movies/whatever is a moot point. What matters is that you could make a case for either one.
And that should make watching Florida's offense this season hurt that much more.
I guess the nicknames for Florida's three quarterbacks should be Bad, Not a Quarterback and Not Given a Chance.
There was lots of hype for this game, and rightly so. You don't get a one-game playoff for the SEC East that often. But, as it turned out, the Gators are who we thought they were: a bad football team.
Saturday night's 36-14 beating at the hands of Steve Spurrier and South Carolina was thorough and complete. Florida was outgained 347-67 through three quarters and allowed the Gamecocks to control possession for 40 of 60 minutes. Andre Debose's touchdown on the opening kickoff return sent a solid crowd in The Swamp into complete bedlam, but that was about it (Ted Ginn anyone?) as far as positives go.
And, as has been the case all season, there weren't many answers after the game. Either Urban Meyer truly doesn't know what's wrong with his team or he doesn't want to share it with reporters. Some of the same excuses popped up: South Carolina blitzed a lot and also dropped eight into coverage, meaning there was apparently no possible way for the Gators to accomplish anything productive. Blitzes and prevent defense aren't automatic game-winning strategies, Florida just isn't good enough to take advantage of opposing defenses.
John Brantley looked bad, and Trey Burton and Jordan Reed weren't really used. I expected the Gators to turn things over to Reed when the game got ugly, but they didn't. Meyer said after the game that Reed doesn't know the offense well enough yet to run it, but it sure looks like Brantley isn't good enough to run it either. South Carolina entered Saturday with the worst pass defense in the SEC, and Brantley had 46 yards and an interception through three quarters.
So, where do the Gators go from here? They said after the game their motivation for the final two games will be sending the seniors out with a win, and they should probably go ahead and start looking for a new offensive coordinator too.
I stand by the fact that firing Steve Addazio wouldn't make much of a difference this season, but something has to be done before next year. I'm a strong believer that new coaches deserve a grace period of around three years, but Addazio has been at Florida, helped recruit these players and has been in this system. He just can't run it well, and someone else has to be brought in.
His play-calling (as well as Brantley's play) was booed tonight, and rightly so. Florida never looked like a threat, and dubious calls like that screen pass on 3rd and 6 to Chris Rainey that lost three yards don't have a place in a program that aspires to win championships.
UF is by no means in shambles because of this loss, but it should at least serve as a wake-up call that changes need to be made. I know you want Addazio fired, but what else would you like to see changed?
A few seasons ago, Urban Meyer was pressed for a nickname for Florida's wildcat offense. Everyone expected "Wild Gator," but instead, he jokingly went with "Wild Duck." In that spirit, I'd like for the faithful Gator Clause readers to name the Gators' unique new offensive system, which features John Brantley, Trey Burton and Jordan Reed all at quarterback.
How rare is it for a team to run three QBs? Keep in mind, this isn't because of injuries, this was the plan from Day 1. UF hoped to use all three since the preseason, but offensive coordinator Steve Addazio said that was delayed when Reed got hurt and missed 24 of 26 fall practices.
I asked a few coaches if they could recall a team using three quarterbacks, and here's what they said:
Addazio: “No. I have not. I’m trying to think. Three quarterbacks…no, I have not.”
Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell: “No, I hadn’t seen three, that’s for certain."
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier: “I think Red Hickey and the San Francisco 49ers did that back in the early 60s. Billy Kilmer, John Brodie and, I don’t know who the other quarterback was. Was Y.A. Tittle with them back then? I don’t know, but they had three quarterbacks that played, and they actually played a little shotgun back in those days. Other than that, I’ve not seen three of them go at it."
Spurrier was right on the mark. In 1961, Hickey's 49ers used Brodie, Kilmer and Bob Waters. Tittle was there the season before.
Anyway, this is a pretty interesting thing the Gators have going, and thank God, because the offense early in the year was dreadfully boring. Keep in mind, last week was Vandy, so this could completely fall flat against South Carolina on Saturday. But it does keep defenses on their toes.
Caldwell said it's a real cat-and-mouse game trying to defend that scheme, largely because all three can stay on the field for an entire game in different roles (though Brantley is just a decoy at receiver). There are a lot of challenges for Florida as well, as Meyer has to find ways to keep defenses from saying: "Brantley's in, it's a pass" or "Burton=run."
The obvious way to counter that is the pre-snap rotation the Gators have done at times, and Meyer said developing other methods is the focus of this week's practices. He mentioned tempo as one way, which I assume means hurrying up to the line after each play and changing QBs so the defense can't substitute.
And to me, the most impressive thing about this situation is the way Brantley has handled it. Check out my column for the UF school paper on this subject. Brantley is in a tough situation, and he deserves major props for not ruining the offense by having an ego about it.
With that said, this weekend could be his biggest test yet. Reed (left) looked mighty Cam Newton-ish against Vandy (again, it was Vandy), and his dual-threat skill set is the most natural fit for the offense. If things go south against the Gamecocks, I wouldn't be surprised to see the offense turned over to him simply because he makes play-calling easier.
“I don’t think they feel like one guy is definitely the best way to go," Spurrier said. "When I played two quarterbacks, I always said they both have their talents and similar ability, so the best way to win the game is play both of them. I’m sure that’s the way the Florida coaches look at it. To win the game, they have to play all three of them.”
Anyway, it's nickname time. Let's hear what you got. I'm not crazy about my idea, but I'll throw it out anyway: The 75 Cent Offense.
Leave your suggestions in the comments, where they'll inevitably be buried in a mountain of nonsensical Miami-related talk, or TWEET AT ME.
Cam Newton has blown by plenty of defenders this season at Auburn, but now he has to outrun a bunch of off-field allegations.
Less than a week after reports surfaced that a man solicited money from Mississippi State to ensure Newton would transfer there, FOXSports.com dropped a report that Newton was popped three times for academic cheating while at Florida.
UF had no comment on the situation, citing federal laws protecting student privacy, and Urban Meyer had this to say about rumors that he was the anonymous source in the FOX story:
“Our entire focus right now is on preparing for our biggest game of the year against South Carolina,” Meyer said in a statement. “For anyone to think that I or anyone on our staff may have leaked information about private student records to the media doesn't know us very well. It's a ridiculous claim and simply not true.”
But really, who cares if it was Meyer? I only care whether these allegations are true. Even if Meyer was the source and did it because he's angry Newton left, that's fine as long as it's true.
Assuming it is, that means Newton got caught cheating as a freshman and then, after his run-in (and throw-out) with police in November 2008 over a stolen laptop, he got in trouble two more times because of a paper. First, he allegedly put his name on another student's paper and turned it in, and after he was given a second chance, he turned in a paper he bought on the Internet.
I'm impressed by the idea of just putting your name on someone else's paper. I've turned in hundreds of papers in my academic career and never fallen prey to that, and I can't even fathom how that's done. Maybe one day Cam will explain.
Anyway, after these two incidents, Newton was supposedly due to appear before a student conduct committee but left rather than face consequences. Still, it's no sure thing he would have been expelled. UF spokeswoman Janine Sikes said UF expels between one and two students a year and suspends about 10, but both numbers are skewed by students leaving before the hammer drops.
“There are no automatic consequences at the University of Florida,” Sikes said. “It depends on the totality of the issues. Each one is a case-by-case basis, and they really mean that. There is no single ‘If you do this, this is what happens.’”
I don't really care whether Newton cheated at Florida, but it does put a big dent in the redemption tour he's currently on, especially in conjunction with the money allegations. It also vindicates Meyer a bit in my mind. I felt he was to blame for Newton leaving because he failed to recognize the talent he had in front of him, but these allegations make it look more like Newton did it to himself.
And it'll be very interesting to see what impact this has on the Heisman Trophy race. Newton now faces the issue of voters passing him over out of fear that his Heisman could be vacated in the future, which is not how the award should be determined.
I'll get to all the exciting UF-Vanderbilt talk you've been waiting for in a second, but first off, we've got a fun photo from UF student Erik Knudsen, who spotted University Athletic Association workers painting over this sign on the 34th Street wall in Gainesville during the bye week:
Here's the story: After talking to the UAA maintenance department, a UF spokesman said they took it upon themselves to clean up this anti-Steve Addazio message and that no order came from the athletic department or football team to do so.
Yes, the wall on 34th is traditionally an outlet for student expression, and seeing this is kind of lame, but UF does have the right to protect its employees. Plus, the point of that wall is that you can paint what you want when you want to, so this isn't out of line. Just funny.
Anyway, the Gators threw a little blue paint on the "Fire Addazio" movement with their play against Georgia last week, and they'll be looking to do the same this weekend (smooth transition, huh?).
Good ol' Vanderbilt: the cure for a struggling football team. Even though Florida can still reach the SEC title game, the Gators have a lot of improving to do before they're ready for Alabama, Auburn or even South Carolina next week (that is, if Cam Newton's still playing for the Tigers).
The win over Georgia helped confidence-wise, but a three-point victory over a mediocre team does not right the ship. Saturday's meeting with Vanderbilt is the kind of game the Gators have struggled with in the past, with an 11:20 a.m. kickoff (central time), temperatures expected below 50 degrees and a small crowd.
Essentially, this is a warm-up game before the Gamecocks, but anything short of pummeling the Commodores, who've lost their last three SEC games by a combined score of 113-21, will be viewed as a failure. Vandy's offense shouldn't have much bite, especially now that running back/kick returner Warren Norman is out for the season with a wrist injury.
This will fall on Florida's offense, and I'd expect the attack to be fun to watch this week for a few reasons:
1. It's Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt is terrible.
2. The Gators (allegedly) have lots of options in the run game. Urban Meyer said Emmanuel Moody (ankle) and Mike Gillislee (hamstring) are 100 percent, while Jeff Demps (sprained foot) should play as well. Add in Chris Rainey's dual role at RB and slot receiver, Trey Burton's wildcatting and the increased role Jordan Reed is supposed to have, and Florida should be able to throw a whole lot of looks at the Commodores. Reed (a former quarterback) is also supposed to throw the ball some. We'll see.
3. The no-huddle offense. It looked better against Georgia than I'd ever seen the Gators run it, and if they can clean up some of the penalties, that will be a very effective tool moving forward. Another plus is that most of the key offensive pieces (Demps, Rainey, Burton, Reed, Andre Debose if he's healthy) are versatile enough to play at several positions, meaning Florida doesn't have to interrupt the hurry-up with a bunch of subsititutions.
What do you want to see from the Gators this weekend? Will you be satisfied with anything less than total destruction? Wanna ramble about Randy Shannon or something instead? Holler in the comments.
In college football (especially the SEC), there just aren't enough chill pills to go around. Last week, I prescribed one to the people complaining about Chris Rainey's return, and this week, I'm dishing out a heavy dose to the people freaking out about Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's choke sign before Chas Henry's game-winning field goal on Saturday.
The Bulldogs called a timeout to ice Henry before his overtime field-goal attempt, and when the camera panned to UGA coach Mark Richt on the sideline, it caught Grantham repeatedly grabbing at his throat while appearing to notify Henry that he was "going to [expletive] choke." Video and photo evidence hit the Internet, setting off a wave of reaction.
The latest, from the AJC's Tony Barnhartthis morning, says Grantham should be forced to apologize and then be fined and suspended for a game. He's not alone in that opinion, but is this really that big of a deal to you?
To me, this is way overblown. Grantham did something stupid, and the only person he harmed was himself. It makes him look like an idiot, and he should apologize. Instead, Grantham made himself look worse by offering this response:
“As a competitor, sometimes you get caught up in the heat of the moment. I wish the situation hadn’t happened. It was a tough, hard-fought game. They won it, and I’m ready to move forward and finish out the year strong."
When asked if he owes Henry an apology: “I’ve kind of basically said what I’m going to say.”
For me, that's the end of this story. When are we going to stop treating coaches like these almighty examples of moral character? Sure, they're leaders and should behave as such, but they're also intense competitors who live and die based on a game, and often, they aren't the sharpest tools in the shed.
Grantham showed his true colors Saturday, and that's all the punishment I think is necessary. Besides, it's not like Henry went home and cried after that. As my roommate said, "Florida's coaches have probably done worse than that to Henry in practice." If anything, it fueled him:
To be fair, there have been complaints from the UGA camp that Henry or other Florida players instigated the incident by making some kind of gesture first. I say, who cares? This is a football game, not church. It's a rivalry where, in the last four years, we've had Georgia rush the field and Florida call unnecessary timeouts to rub in a win and try to eye-gouge an opponent. Now, it's 2-2.
I don't think there will be any further comment from Florida on this situation, and that's for the best. Henry made the kick, Grantham made himself look immature, and now people are making way too big a deal out of it.
How do you feel about this? Agree with me? Want to give Grantham the electric chair? Or would you rather just take personal shots at each other about Miami? (We all know which option wins on this blog).
UPDATE: Henry did a little taunting of his own, and he agrees this thing is overblown. Here's what he said today:
"I started laughing, like, 'You're going to ice me? I'm not even the kicker.' So I start looking and I see the guy doing the choke. I look at him again and he does like, 'You're going to choke.' So I take my helmet off and I gave him a little smooch. I blew him a little kiss. That might be why he got a little upset about that. Then he did it again."
"I think it's ridiculous that people are trying to say, 'Oh, he should have to apologize for it and everything.' It's just an intense game."