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5 posts from April 2011

April 26, 2011

He gone: Jenkins off the team, and I think it's a mistake

Florida coach Will Muschamp announced via Twitter that Janoris Jenkins is no longer part of the team today, a move that stems from Jenkins getting popped for marijuana twice in three months.

Now, it's unclear whether Muschamp really kicked Jenkins off the team or if Jenkins decided to leave rather than face suspension and other punishments. A UF spokesman simply said they both agreed to move on, which could mean just about anything. In my mind, if Muschamp didn't try to keep him, he made a mistake.

What would Muschamp really gain by kicking Jenkins off the team? He's the best player -- one of the only proven guys on the squad -- and would be especially valuable in what could easily be a rough season. Does it send a message to the rest of the team that they better behave? Yes. Will they? Come on. Will Coach BOOM start truly recruiting the "top 1% of 1%" that Urban Meyer used to talk about? If he wants to lose games, sure.

This is a sport that does not fall in line with the usual moral code of life, and I see no reason to treat it as if it does. Suspending Jenkins for 2-6 games, making him do community service and all kinds of physical penance would still send a message to Jenkins and the rest of the team, he'd be in tip-top shape, the Gators would have their best player, and hell, he might even learn something.

Instead, he's gone, and Florida is facing a likely 2007-ish cornerback duo of Jeremy Brown and Cody Riggs, with Moses Jenkins, Jaylen Watkins, Josh Shaw and De'Ante Saunders the other competitors. I like Brown, Riggs and Moses a lot, both as people and players, but I can't imagine them getting close to as solid as a pairing of Janoris and any one of them.

So, what is gained? If only for a moment, the Gators' reputation as The New Thug U may go away. There's a new sheriff in town, and he's ready to get everyone in line. But do you really care? Would you rather people poke fun at your team for arrests while they win titles, or would you rather be praised as a more wholesome, 8-4 program? I wouldn't be on this soapbox if I thought college football or Florida was really going to change. Since I don't (neither ever has), I'm going to keep preaching my rule-breaking philosophy.

All in all though, I have to admit this isn't a bad time for Muschamp to put his foot down. I don't see Florida as a serious challenger for the SEC this year, so if you want to make a statement, do it in a season where you already have a grace period and don't have much to lose.

For Jenkins, the next move is likely the NFL's supplemental draft -- assuming the league can stay lockout-free -- but he could also move to a lower-division school if he feels he can pump up his draft stock that way. I seriously doubt he elects to sit out a year at another D-1 school to play his final season. As I understand it, the supplemental draft works like this: Teams submit bids of what round they would take the player in, and if Team A says second round while Team B says third, Team A gets the player and loses their second-round pick in the next year's draft. It's a bit more complicated than that, but there's the general idea.


How do you feel about this? Looking at yesterday's poll, the majority of you said you'd kick him off the team, though that came via a very late surge, which is suspicious to me. If Jenkins goes in the supplemental draft, would you want your team to take him? I sure as hell would. Because he's good at football and isn't violent or crazy.

April 25, 2011

Be Muschamp for a minute: How would you discipline Jenkins?

With yesterday's news that linebackers Chris Martin and Kedric Johnson also got busted for weed in January, it's clear that the Gators have a chronic issue with marijuana (get it?!) and Will Muschamp needs to do something about it before his entire roster goes up in smoke (I'm on fire!).

First, he should call them all into a room and scream "For the love of God, just smoke in your homes and not in public!" Martin, Johnson and Janoris Jenkins have all been caught with weed in a vehicle, and Jenkins was also snagged in a nightclub. Keep it indoors, and these problems go away.

Alas, it's too late for that with these three, so how would you handle it? Feel free to chime in on what you'd do with Martin and Johnson, but I'm most interested in Jenkins because he was caught twice and is probably the team's best player. My inner moral code says two-game suspensions for Martin and Johnson, and then six games for Jenkins (half the season).

BUT, I wouldn't do that with Jenkins for a simple reason: he's good. Look, college football is a dirty, twisted sport with a bass-ackward financial scheme, rampant misconduct by players and administrators and a laughable "postseason." In this case, I'm inclined to treat it like the circus it really is. Suspend Jenkins for four games (that's FAU, UAB, Tennessee and Kentucky) and bring him back in time to face Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia, when the season really heats up. Hit him with plenty of conditioning, community service and the promise that one more slip-up means he's a goner, but I wouldn't kick him off the team or suspend him for half the year because he might bolt for the supplemental draft. Publicly, I would only say that Jenkins is suspended, but not for how long. Everyone would just have to wait week-by-week to see if Jenkins would play, thereby slowly diminishing the story.

Plenty of you will think that's too lenient, and in the real world, I'd agree. But this sport is a joke, and if I'm the coach, I want to be the one laughing with my shutdown corner ready for the toughest part of the schedule. After all, what's the NCAA going to do about it? As Dave Chappelle once said about the United Nations, "You got a problem with that? You know what you should do? You should sanction me. Sanction me with your Army. Oh, wait a minute, you don't have an Army!"

NOTHING is making Muschamp be hard on Jenkins except for the risk of his players not taking him seriously from a disciplinary standpoint, but he can handle that behind closed doors enough to fix that problem. Athletics director Jeremy Foley could pull rank and make a decision, but if that's the case, it doesn't really matter what Muschamp thinks anyway. As only Gator Clause can, we're giving you the power to be coach Muschamp for the next five minutes. So what would you do?


April 23, 2011

Jenkins in trouble again, think he'll bolt for the NFL supplemental draft?

The second arrest of the Will Muschamp era is in the books folks, and it's the same as the first.

Cornerback Janoris Jenkins got popped with a citation for possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana late Friday night after a cop saw him sitting in his car smoking a cigar. When the officer approached, Jenkins left the car, but the officer spotted the burnt marijuana cigar on the center console and put another notch in the belt of America's war on high-level drug trafficking by busting Jenkins. Mission accomplished!

In a vacuum, I feel the same about this as I did the last Jenkins arrest, which came in January when he got caught with a marijuana cigarette in a nightclub -- it's not a huge deal. But unfortunately for Jenkins, there's more to it. It's his second arrest for weed in three months and his third overall arrest, as he got hit with a Taser and arrested after a fight in May 2009.

This shows a clear lack of judgment and responsibility, and you'd think Muschamp has to lower the BOOM! for it. He took over a program known for its prowess in criminal activity, and I don't think he can afford letting the same player (a starter and team leader, no less) flaunt the rules. Jenkins is the only player arrested so far, and he's done it twice. Surely he got a stern talking-to after the last one, but all he did was switch from cigarettes to cigars.

So, what now? Muschamp is using the "behind closed doors" policy that Urban Meyer used, so I doubt we hear anything publicly about Jenkins' punishment (no comment yet from UF), but he'll likely be suspended for a few games at the least. It probably doesn't matter if he misses the FAU or UAB games, but will Jenkins even want to stick around? He's had a rocky start with the new coach and missed all of spring after shoulder surgery, so I'd wager that the NFL supplemental draft is looking like a decent option to him right now.

Obviously, the NFL is a complicated situation at the moment with the lockout, but if his recovery is going well and he knows he's missing a few games anyway, he may  want to make the jump. It won't look good, but he'll have to answer all the same drug questions this time next year if he stays, and it's obvious that staying out of trouble in Gainesville is a tough task for him.

We'll have to wait for the dust to settle on this, but in the meantime, Jenkins was off to Orlando today according to his Twitter. I guess he isn't too fazed by all this, but we'll see how Muschamp feels.

April 09, 2011

This wasn't the debut the Gators hoped for

OB Debut Some things are better left unseen, like the 2011 Orange and Blue Debut.

The short of it: John Brantley's Blue team beat the Orange team 13-10 in front of 53,000.

The long and painful of it: Brantley's Blue team Blew, and Orange wasn't much better. Brantley went 4 of 14 for 45 yards, missing his first six passes and leading his team to just 3 points. The squads combined for 6 points in the first half, with 3 of those coming on a fifth-down field goal. Both touchdowns came via walk-ons, and walk-on defensive back Malcolm Jones led the game in rushing. And the crowd was more like 40,000.

What did we learn about the Gators on Saturday? Nothing, and I think everyone would be happier if the game hadn't taken place in public. Fans hoping for a revamped offense and new-look Brantley got more of the same, opening the team up to criticism it probably doesn't deserve and definitely doesn't need. After all, with a ton of key injuries and only a few weeks to learn new schemes from the ground up, how was this team going to look good?

If the object of a spring game is to make the team better, stick with the philosophy used for the rest of spring practice and conduct it in private. If the goal is to entertain fans, why not have a skills competition or something? Let Caleb Sturgis try outrgeous field goals, have a QB trick shot contest, make Chris Rainey race a horse -- do anything other than subject everyone to what we watched in The Swamp.

Maybe that's just me. And even though there are lots of excuses to make for UF's offense, including the fact that Charlie Weis isn't going to pull out all the stops in spring, it still looked worse than I thought. This was the fewest points ever scored by a winning team in the spring game, and Blue tied a record-low for completions at six. And both teams combined for just 340 yards. Ew.

Now, Andre Debose, Jeff Demps, Trey Burton, Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown and Mike Blakely were all out, leaving Rainey as the only true running back. And injuries to Xavier Nixon, Matt Patchan, Nick Alajajian and probably like 25 other linemen I'm forgetting made the offensive line a major problem.

But on the plus side, those injuries set up the lone bright spot of the afternoon: Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley destroying Brantley's pocket like Uncle Sam's about to do to mine when I finally file my taxes. They were in his face just about every play, leading to the quote of the day:

"I wouldn't call John Brantley's play today a struggle. I would call it, 'Not enough room,'" Floyd said. "Me and Dominique Easley collapsed the pocket. We forced offensive linemen into his face, and he had to roll out. That's just how our d-line plays. We play physical."

Indeed, those two looked great, and Ronald Powell was solid as well. Easley did come off the field late with an injury, but coach Will Muschamp said, "Easley is fine. Easley got tired, alright?" That trio is one of the few reasons to get excited about this team that's founded in some kind of solid evidence. They're all talented and look ready to break out, though Muschamp pointed out they still need some refining. Once they do that, Floyd said, "We will be completely unstoppable."

Meanwhile, I don't see how the same could be said of the offense. Not to pick on Brantley too much because, as I've said many times, he's a great person and has handled a very difficult situation in a professional manner, but he just doesn't seem to have it. Muschamp said he'd be the starter if the season began today, and he added that Brantley completed 70 percent of his passes in spring practice, which has to count warm-up throws to stationary targets not named Deonte Thompson (who, by the way, added to his already-impressive portfolio of drops by mishandling a reverse).

The other concerning thing about Brantley: The question of whether he looked the same Saturday as he had throughout spring practice was asked to Muschamp, Brantley and several other players. Everyone said he was his usual self in the spring game, which is scary. It's even scarier that they all appear to think that's a good thing, but hey, there's really no point in them bad-mouthing him.

As for the alternatives, Tyler Murphy and Jeff Driskel looked all right. Both out-did Brantley numbers-wise, but neither was that impressive. And to remind everyone of just what they're missing on offense, Tim Tebow, Danny Wuerffel and Steve Spurrier were honored at halftime with statues to commemorate their Heisman Trophies.

SprintPhoto_b4tj0h Spurrier's daughter accepted the statue for him, while he sent in a video message to fans (wearing a Gamecocks shirt in front of their logo), and Tebow and Wuerffel were there in person. Unsurprisingly, the biggest ovations of the day were for Tebow -- once when he was introduced and once when he picked up an errant Brantley pass and tossed it back.

That was a cool ceremony, and the statues are definitely worth a look next time you're near the stadium (located on the west side near the O'Connell Center). A reporter joked with Tebow that his was the only one not in a throwing pose, but it still looks pretty badass.

But besides the statues and defensive line, I'm not sure how many other positives you can take from this game. Oh, here's one: Kyle Christy tied the spring game record for longest punt at 55 yards. And they hype around Quinton Dunbar is sounding more and more legit. He ran with the first team, and they called a deep ball to him on the first play. Last year, the same call led to a long catch by Thompson, but this one was a bit underthrown with good coverage and was incomplete. But Muschamp repeatedly praised Dunbar after the game, so it's looking like he's your 2011 deep threat. We'll see if the ball ever meets him down there.


So how'd you feel about this game? Agree with me that it'd be better off behind closed curtains? Think I'm blowing it out of proportion and that they weren't really that bad? Can Kyle Christy take home the Ray Guy Award this year?

April 08, 2011

W2W4 in the Orange and Blue Debut

Brantley_throws Ah, the spring football game, where all of our questions will be answered and where we find out exactly who the playmakers are. Like last year, where John Brantley and Carl Moore came out and established themselves as one of the best combos in the SEC and Deonte Thompson showed flashes of why he'd be one of the nation's premier deep threats. Wait a minute...

My point is, don't get too carried away with Saturday's Orange & Blue Debut. It's a (very, very) glorified scrimmage for a team dealing with injuries and players who can't possibly have mastered the new schemes on offense or defense. So what can we get out of this? First, we at least get to watch some football. After a spring of closed practices, it'll be interesting to watch the Gators do just about anything, but there are a few players to keep an eye on.

-QB John Brantley

Obviously, the senior-to-be is the key to the offense. If he reprises his role as [demeaning nickname for Mr. Brantley redacted per UF request. I was a bit harsh here, and I apologize to anyone who may have been offended. Namely, Brantley] next season, the Gators are doomed. He hardly ever showed flashes of his alleged talent last year, lost his grip on the position and was rarely a threat to opposing defenses. Blame Steve Addazio all you want, but good players still shine through crappy play-calling on occasion. Brantley never did that, save for that catch he made of a deflected pass for a loss of yardage. That was tight.

Brantley has a good history in spring games. In 2009, he was 12-of-18 for 214 yards, 3 TDs and a pick, then switched teams and went 2-of-5 for 51 yards. Last year, he completed 15 of 19 passes for 201 yards and two scores. In the entire 2010 season, Brantley had four 200-yard games and three multi-TD games, so those spring outings weren't really a good predictor of how he'd play.

So what can you look for out of Brantley that's meaningful? Make sure he doesn't stink. If he looks like I would out there, it's a huge red flag. If he plays super well, it's not that big of a deal because he's supposed to.

-WR Quinton Dunbar

The Miami native has drawn rave reviews from teammates and coaches, and now's his chance to show off. The Gators are in desperate need of a downfield playmaker, and Dunbar is supposed to be that guy based on what we've heard out of practice. I don't buy any of this until I see it with my own eyes, and even though a big showing doesn't guarantee Dunbar will shine next year, he needs to display some of the talent we keep hearing about. 

Chris Dunkley is suspended for academic issues and Andre Debose has apparently still not made the kind of impression that everyone keeps waiting for, so Dunbar is the best bet to step up alongside Frankie Hammond, Omarius Hines and Deonte.

-C Jonotthan Harrison

Harrison moved from guard to center this off-season, and now that everyone in Gainesville knows how crucial it is to have a functional snapper, there ought to be lots of eyes on his play. There's expected to be a lot less shotgun this season, so his job should be easier than Mike Pouncey's, but he's still the leader on a line that only brings back Xavier Nixon, who might miss Saturday's game with an ankle injury. Also, it'll be interesting to see how Harrison deals with the next guy on this list.

-DT Dominique Easley

To put it bluntly, Easley was a little [again, redacted per UF request. Let's say "problem child"] last year. He couldn't handle going from five-star stud to a freshman on the bench. He clashed with older players. He skipped a practice along with Ronald Powell, and kept bucking the system even after Powell bought into the team concept, leading to Easley being left off the travel roster for the Vanderbilt game. Ouch.

But after Will Muschamp came in and told him "You either do it our way or you leave," Easley seems to have turned a corner. He's come out and talked about his attitude change this spring, and he, Powell and Sharrif Floyd appear to have a prettty good relationship to match their outrageous potential on the defensive line. One thing no one has ever questioned is Easley's talent, and he's been singled out as one of the top defensive performers in camp.

My biggest gripe with d-linemen is often their effort level. You can see the talent is there, but it's frustrating when they don't make the most of it (looking at you, Carlos Dunlap). A spring game is a good time to measure that work ethic. If Easley shows up and goes beast mode, it's a good bet that his head is in the right place. Powell and Floyd will be fun to watch too, but we've seen enough of them to know what they're capable of.

-LB Gerald Christian

This one's a bit tricky, as depth issues at tight end have forced Christian to play at his old position in recent practices, but he's expected to start alongside Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic at linebacker, and Saturday should be our first glimpse of him on defense. The part of his job that requires covering tight ends shouldn't be hard because he was one, but I'm interested to see his instincts and how comfortable he looks in his new spot.


Matt Elam needs to be the cornerstone of the secondary. Janoris Jenkins is the best player, but he's less of a veteran leader and more of the shutdown corner who just does his own thing. Elam has to fill the void Ahmad Black leaves behind, which is crucial. He said being vocal isn't his forte but that he's trying, so I'm interested to see how he looks tomorrow.

Chris Rainey always seems to have a few insane plays in the spring game, and I'd look for more of that. Also, he now has the chance to play like he did in high school, taking hand-offs deep in the backfield, picking a hole and darting between linemen, and he should be fun to watch.

Jordan Reed is a full-time tight end again and needs to be a big target in the passing game, and he'll be important as a blocker too. That's been an adjustment for him, so seeing how he handles guys like Powell is key.

And obviously, we get our first look at The Man tomorrow. Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy don't appear to have blown the doors off practice, but it's important they keep some pressure on Brantley.

Overall, this is a team with plenty of unsettled position battles, so effort should be top notch. I'm a fan of this year's format. Rather than split the players up randomly into two groups, it'll be the first-team offense (Blue) vs. the first-team defense (Orange), while the second-team offense (Orange) will face the second-team defense (Blue). That should give us the best look at these guys in the most competitive environment, and they're leaving room for some fun too.

Four "Guest Media Coaches" will get a chance to call some plays. The Gainesville Sun's Pat Dooley and Tampa Tribune's Joe Henderson will work with the Blue team, while the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi and WRUF's Steve Russell will "help" the Orange team. My money's on Russell to do the best job since I know he coaches youth sports. Word is that I didn't get a call because Muschamp is worried about getting shown up by a kid.

One last note, Muschamp took the team to play paintball Thursday rather than practice. Pretty cool.


Thoughts? What are you most looking forward to on Saturday?


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