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10 posts from September 2012

September 27, 2012

Pease: Debose must do things 'the right way, the way the play is called'

Florida receiver Andre Debose has plenty of talent. That's never been questioned. But Debose has also never maximized that talent.

He showed sparks at times last season, scoring four touchdowns on long receptions with back-to-back 65-yard scores against Alabama and LSU, and as a returner, bringing back a kick 99 yards for a touchdown in the Gator Bowl victory against Ohio State. But he's also disappeared, like in last Saturday's game when we didn't see the field in the first half. He has failed to make a catch this season and has been used primarily as a kick returner, but even that role has diminished of late.

Coach Will Muschamp had little to say after the game against Kentucky, but he elaborated more Monday on the situation with Debose. Like has been said for seasons, Debose has issues, and it doesn't seem to be improving. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease was asked about Debose on Wednesday and had some interesting things to say.

Here's the transcript:

On Debose's practice habits, Muschamp said specifically it's effort, is he not running hard on routes in practice or what specifically does that mean?

 

Pease: "It's one, he's got to get comfortable and do it consistently with what we're doing in the offense, and, you know, there's a trust. There's a trust factor there. You go out there, you're gonna run the right route. You're gonna do it hard, whether you're covered or not. Because sometimes running a route, it isn't always built for you. Depending on what the coverage does, you've got to open it up for other players, if they double team you, or play a cloud coverage over the top of you and you got to stretch the safeties. And if you don't do that you hurt your teammates. So it's just a combination of being consistent, understanding, playing effort all the way through. Because, even as a receiver, you're covered at times. You have to compete. You have to continue to try to get yourself open. You can't say, 'Well I'm covered. I'm done running my route.' And just accept the fact you're covered. That's unacceptable."

 

Making it sound like he doesn't have full grasp of playbook.

 

Pease: "I never said that."

 

That's what it sounded like. Is that the case?

 

Pease: "I never said that. I just think it's going out and competing consistently every day. And understanding what you got to do in this offense. It's not really that he doesn't understand it. It's just about going out and being there every day, so there's a trust factor, you know, in the give and take. And when the ball is in your hands, making plays."

 

You think you can fix that with him?

 

Pease: "Yeah. He's got great ability. He's just got to be consistent."

 

You have big plans for him if he can get it?

 

Pease: "I think anybody that's got a talent like he does, you know, there's always a role. I've never really been in an offense where it's centered around one guy. But when you put a guy with his speed on one side. I mean however you configured it. Jordan (Reed) over here, and Mike (Gillislee) in the backfield and Trey (Burton) right here. It's not so much about him, it's about what the defensive coordinator's got to handle and what they've got to account for. So how you fit in, and how you are unselfish in everything that you do and open it up, or people worry about Jordan Reed on the other side of the field. Or they worry about Trey Burton on the other side of the field. Now you're singled up. You take advantage of those things. If you don't take advantage of those things when your number is called, I mean, why? Why not? That's your job. That's your responsibility. Get it done."

 

When you're talking about trust, you're not talking about trusting he knows what to do...(Pease interrupts question)


Pease: "I'm talking about trusting that I can put him out there and he will make a play for us doing it the right way, the way the play is called."

 

My take: Needless to say, Debose has some thing to sort out before he becomes a regular contributor for the Florida offense. Perhaps the bye week also comes at a good time for Debose, who needs to show the coaching staff that he can be counted on. It sounds like they want him on the field, but as I have thought for a while now, it seems Muschamp and Pease believe the risk simply outweighs the potential reward.

September 25, 2012

Gators WR Debose struggling to reach field, potential

It was almost this time last year when Florida wide receiver Andre Debose made a lasting image on Gators fans. Well, at least for a quarter or two.

Debose beat Alabama cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick for a touchdown on the game's first play when the two teams met on Oct. 1 last year. For the optimists, it was a play that signaled Debose had finally arrived after several seasons of underwhelming underachievement. For the realists, it was one of many plays that shows why having a player like Debose on your team is so frustrating.

The Gators went on to get demolished in the game and Debose had just one other catch in the game. He finished the season with just 16 catches, however those receptions went for 432 yards and four scores, showing he has the ability to stretch the field and be a difference maker.

But Debose has barely seen the field this season under coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease. On Saturday against Kentucky, Debose was benched for the entirety of the first half. Debose entered the game in the second half to return punts but muffed his first opportunity and almost turned the ball over.

Asked about why Debose didn't play in the first half, Muschamp said: "He just needs to practice better. If he practices better, he’ll play more."

That's been the knock on Debose since he arrived at Florida. Even under former coach Urban Meyer, Debose struggled to learn the playbook or the route tree and spent most of his time on the sideline or in limited packages. Now a redshirt junior, that hasn't changed in four years on campus, and Muschamp said he needs to learn how to practice well consistently.

"Anybody who is in the coaching profession, there’s a key to every kid, and we’ve got to find that key to motivate any young man, not just Andre, day in, day out, to consistently perform well, to consistently do it the right way," Muschamp said. "Because generally your practice habits carry over to the game. I’m young but I’m old-fashioned. I believe that. Guys that don’t go out and consistently perform well in practice, it generally carries over to the game. As coaches, we want guys that consistently do it well and do it right. We promote that within our program. We’re going to practice what we preach around here to our football team."

Muschamp said Debose's struggled relate more to effort than comprehension, and that Debose needs to practice well each and every time he has an opportunity -- something that can be difficult to get across to a talented, young player fresh out of high school. 

"When young guys come in, it's very difficult," Muschamp said. "Most times, in most situations -- not all -- they have not been asked to work hard because they have not had to. They’ve been so much better. They’ve been the big fish in the little pond and did not have to work very hard. Their raw athleticism was so much better than the other guy that it didn’t really matter. Well now all of a sudden they’re swimming in a big lake. They have to figure out the other guy is running well too. The little things matter. How you run the route. How you cover the guy, you hand placement, your pad level. All those things do matter. And working hard all the time do matter. And you can’t have a mental lapse as far as your work ethic, concentration and focus."

But this isn't Debose's first season as a Gator. In fact, other players in their first years have supplanted Debose and taken playing time from him. Freshmen Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman both have more catches than Debose, which isn't that hard of a task considering Debose has failed to register a reception through four games.

Andrades was a two-star recruit according to Rivals.com. Muschamp loves to point that out. Andrades made his first career start and caught his first reception on Saturday. Debose was a five-star recruit according to Rivals.com, and he sat the bench for most of the game.

Muschamp pointed to two examples of players he's worked with in Junior Seau and Jason Taylor to point out exactly what a player must do in practice to be successful. He called them two of the best "practice players" he's ever been around.

"They’re going to be in Canton, Ohio for a reason," he said. "God blessed them with a lot of ability, but they took advantage of the ability. They took it to another level."

 

September 24, 2012

Gators injury update; bye week timing beneficial

The bye week is coming at a good time for several Gators.

With a week off to get healthy, Florida defensive end Dominique Easley (knee), defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder), H-back Trey Burton (back spasms), right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) are all expected to return for the Oct. 6 game against LSU, Florida coach Will Muschamp said Monday.

Easley went down against Tennessee late in the game and did not play against Kentucky. He was seen using crutches last week, but Muschamp said that was just to stabilize the knee and was purely a precaution. However, after originally saying the knee was not the same one Easley suffered a torn ACL in against FSU last season, Muschamp changed that Monday and said it is in fact the same knee.

"Yeah, it was the knee he injured last year," Muschamp said. "It was just a sprain on the knee. Everything should be fine."

Starting weakside linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) is still uncertain for the LSU game, Muschamp said.

"I'll know more later in the week, I don't right now," Muschamp said. "I don't have the information right now, so I think he sees the doctor Wednesday."

There is a possibility that Jenkins, who has a broken bone in his thumb that required at least two pins to be inserted, could play with a club or cast on the hand.

Burton missed Saturday's game against Kentucky as well after back spasms flared up "out of the blue" on Friday before the game. Green has not played since the Texas A&M game with the ankle issue, but the added time off is expected to help him fully heal. Reed left Saturday's game against the Wildcats early after taking a large shot from two defenders on a pass down the seam.

Offensive tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) will not play against LSU, but Muschamp said it is possible he returns in the second or third week of October. Patchan had tearing on the muscle, and Muschamp called it a painful injury. "He will play this year," Muschamp said.

Safety Cody Riggs (foot) also remains out.

September 20, 2012

Former UK QB Lorenzen fires back at Pease

Apparently, the talking will continue until Florida and Kentucky take the field this Saturday.

After Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease was asked to respond on Tuesday to comments he made during the summer about running up the score on the Wildcats this season, former UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen, the original impetus for the comments, responded Wednesday in an article published by Lexington Herald-Leader.

In it, Lorenzen is quoted as saying the two never got along during Pease's time as offensive coordinator in Lexington from 2001-02. Lorenzen started as a freshman under then-coach Hal Mumme, but when Mumme was fired and Guy Morriss was promoted -- with help from players like Lorenzen petitioning for him with the athletic director -- he brought in Pease and Lorenzen was forced to split time with true freshman Shane Boyd.

"Let's just say we got into a lot of heated arguments," Lorenzen told the Herald-Leader.

Lorenzen regained the starter's role in 2002 and helped the Wildcats go 7-5 after a 2-9 season the year before. Morriss and Pease were suddenly hot names in coaching circles and left after the season to take jobs at Baylor.

"Really, I didn't have problems with anybody on that staff other than with Guy (Morriss) and Brent (Pease)," Lorenzen said. "And it had more to do with the way they left."

"We were told Guy was going down there just to talk to them. I figured he's just looking to get more money out of UK. But then 24 hours later and they're heading up out of town."

Lorenzen had his best statistical season under Pease, but that doesn't mean he always saw eye to eye with the coordinator. In the article, he seems to have matured slightly and admits that he might have been a little short sighted as a player.

"He can be creative, that goes without saying," Lorenzen said. "Some of the stuff he was drawing up was extremely creative. Maybe it was just me being a little bit of a hard-head being the young guy. We just didn't agree a lot."

As for Lorenzen's tweets about Pease when Florida hired him, he said he was taken aback by how quickly word spread. But that doesn't mean he's apologizing.

"I'm an emotional guy. I think anybody who has been around me knows that," he said. "I was surprised how quickly it got out because the next thing I knew my Twitter (feed) was full of Boise and Florida people."

"If the offensive coordinator from the University of Florida, or anybody for that matter, is worried about what a former player said about him instead of an SEC (opponent) — cool." Lorenzen said. "If it takes the heat off the guys, I'll take every bit of it because I bleed blue more than anybody in this world."

Kentucky coach Joker Phillips had a different take. When reporters told Phillips about Lorenzen's comments and Pease's pledge to hang 50 on the Wildcats this Saturday, Phillips responded succinctly.

"Tell Jared to shut the hell up," he said.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/09/19/2342968/john-clay-hefty-lefty-still-throwing.html#storylink=cpy

 


Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/09/19/2342968/john-clay-hefty-lefty-still-throwing.html#storylink=cpy

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/09/19/2342968/john-clay-hefty-lefty-still-throwing.html#storylink=cpy

September 19, 2012

Muschamp updates status of Gators DE Easley, LB Jenkins, OL Patchan

Speaking on the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference this morning, Florida coach Will Muschamp said that defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) is questionable for Saturday's game against Kentucky.

Easley went down late in the fourth quarter of Saturday's win against Tennessee and has been using crutches to get around this week. However, Muschamp said the crutches were just to stabilize the injury as a precaution and that Easley should be fine. If he cannot play at Kentucky, freshman Jonathan Bullard or redshirt senior Earl Okine will start in his spot.

Starting weakside linebacker Jelani Jenkins will have a pin removed from his broken thumb in approximately eight days and remains out for this week's game. He started running and lifting weights today, Muschamp said, adding there is a chance he can play when LSU comes to Gainesville on Oct. 6.

Right tackle Matt Patchan (pec) remains out, Muschamp said. He said he did not know when the Gators would get Patchan back from injury.

September 18, 2012

Pease says game against former team Kentucky won't be personal, despite comments from former QB

Florida plays Kentucky this weekend in Gainesville. The Gators have beaten the Wildcats 25 straight times.

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease is familiar with that streak, as he spent the 2001 and 2002 seasons in Lexington as UK’s offensive coordinator, and earlier this summer he made comments that Saturday's game would be personal.

When Pease was hired at Florida this offseason, former Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen, who played under Pease, took to Twitter to let his opinion on the Gators’ new hire be heard.

“Seriously, Brent Pease at Florida? He's freaking crazy and was brutal at UK when I was there,” Lorenzen said on his Twitter account, before adding more later in the day. “The good thing about Pease at UF is now we can shut them down. #nohalftimeadjs.”

Pease responded at Gator Club meeting this summer in Ocala, when he said the game would be personal and that he would look to run up the score on the Wildcats when they came to Gainesville this season.

“I coached Jared,” Pease said during the meeting, according to the Gainesville Sun. “Jared is one of those guys that was talking trash when I took this job. So that's good for about two extra launch plays, trying to get to 50 points on those guys when they come to campus.”

With that game set for Saturday, Pease was asked about those comments today. He backed off significantly.

“I liked Jared. He's a good kid,” Pease said Tuesday. “He did a great job playing when I was there. He actually did a fabulous job.”

“It's free speech America, you know,” Pease said Tuesday when asked about Lorenzen’s comments. “Hey I didn't make a quote there (in Ocala). You know, I had fun. And I was responding to a question. And you know, that's nothing personal.”

Pease went on to praise Kentucky’s commitment to football, its basketball and baseball programs and, of course, the ever-loved presence of Wildcat super fan Ashley Judd. He said Lorenzen’s comments have no real bearing on the game, and that he doesn’t consider the matchup personal.

“Two or three of my best friends still live there,” he said. “It's another game. I got a lot of respect for that place because, you know, I worked there, and I really love Lexington, and I still got a lot of friends who are in the administration there that worked closely with me, helped me out. And, you know, I wish them success.”

UF's Driskel familiar with comparisons to Tebow

After a breakout game against Tennessee on Saturday, Florida sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is already invoking memories of a certain former Gators star by the name of Tim Tebow.

Driskel shares the same knack for creating a big play with his feet that made Tebow an icon at UF, running for 81 yards on eight carries against the Volunteers.

“That's definitely a big part of my game being able to run the ball,” Driskel said. “When we're in spread, it really spreads out the defense and there's minimal people in the box, so if they're willing to spread them out like that and they're all covered and they're man to man, they can't hang one for me, so I can make a big play.”

Sounds familiar, right?

One run in particular against Tennessee, when Driskel scrambled to his right and then tip-toed the sideline before turning the run back upfield and toward the hash marks instead of running out of bounds, was vintage Tebow.

“No, I mean I try to make a vertical cut and get as many yards as possible,” Driskel said. “I don't really try to get out of bounds.”

At 6-4, 237 pounds, Driskel has said he isn’t hesitant to take a hit, and that he prides himself on his ability to get the extra yard instead of sliding. This isn’t new territory for Driskel. And he said he’s heard the comparisons to Florida’s favorite son since high school.

“I mean I've definitely heard those comparisons,” he said. “Even back in high school, just because of our body size and the way we can run the ball. It's nice to be compared but I wouldn't go that far and say I try to be like him or watch his film and try to be like him, but I guess we do play similar styles."

While the two share similar attributes, it’s simply way too early in Driskel’s career to start drawing any real comparisons in terms of statistics, wins, Heisman Trophies and national championships.

September 17, 2012

Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel wins SEC Offensive Player of the Week

After a standout showing in Florida's road victory against Tennessee on Saturday, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was voted as the Southeastern Conference's Offensive Player of the Week.

"It's a great honor," Driskel said.

Driskel passed for 219 yards on 14-of-20 passing with two touchdowns. He also rushed for 81 yards on eight carries, including several impressive scrambles. Driskel racked up 300 of the team's 555 yards of total offense, which was the team's highest output in a conference game since 2001.

For highlights from the game, click here.

 

September 15, 2012

Top 10 things Florida must do to beat Tennessee

With Florida and Tennessee set to square off in Knoxville, Tenn., here's 10 things the Gators must do to continue their winning streak in the series.

1. Pressure Tyler Bray

If given time in the pocket, the Volunteers' junior quarterback has proven he has the ability to shred a secondary. Through two games this season Bray has passed for 643 yards and six touchdowns. Tennessee is 2-0 after beating N.C. State and Georgia State, and Bray has only been sacked once in those two games. For the Gators to win Saturday and avoid getting exposed deep, the defensive line must pressure Bray and force him to make quick decisions. Look for defensive coordiantor Dan Quinn to dial up some sexy blitzes with complicated coverages to try and confuse Bray.

2. Run the ball effectively

As I wrote in my advance for today, the key to this series historically has been rushing the ball. The last nine winners in the rivalry and 20 and the last 22 have been the team to win the running battle. Last year, the Gators held the Volunteers to minus-9 yards on the ground and made the Tennessee offense one-dimensional. (The injury to Justin Hunter didn't hurt either.) Still, the key to victory, especially for Florida, is controlling the clock with long scoring drives to keep the dangerous combo of Bray, Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson off the field.

3. Don't let the big play beat you

Tennessee is going to take shots down the field. That much is certain. For Florida to win today, it needs to prevent the Volunteers' receivers from getting behind the safeties and scoring on quick, long strikes. Look for junior Matt Elam to stay at his safety spot more than usual in this game. Sure, he will still rotate down to play nickel in some situations, but with Josh Evans (shoulder) banged up and Cody Riggs (foot) out, the Gators need experience at the last level of defense. Redshirt freshman Valdez Showers and sophomore Jabari Gorman will be tested when on the field.

4. Force turnovers

The Gators forced just 14 a season ago and the coaching staff put a large emphasis in the offseason on taking the ball away. But through two games Florida has just one takeaway, an interception from sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson against Bowling Green. That won't get it done today. To win in hostile Neyland Stadium, the Gators need to come up with some big plays in the secondary. If they can do that early in the game and rattle Bray, that might make the difference between winning and losing.

5. Don't give up turnovers

Just as forcing turnovers will be huge for Florida, so will protecting the ball on offense. Sophomore Jeff Driskel has done a fantastic job in that regard thus far, choosing to take a sack or negative play instead of forcing a ball into traffic. The team has only giveaway this season, a fumble from Omarius Hines in the third quarter against Bowling Green, but it didn't cost them. That won't be the case in Knoxville. Quite simply, the Gators can't afford to give the Volunteers any added opportunities today.

6. Stretch the field

The Gators want to run the ball, and the Volunteers know it. Expect to see the box stacked with orange jerseys early on until Driskel proves he can get the ball down the field and force Tennessee's safeties to stay honest. Driskel showed a hint of that last week against TAMU when he found Hines for a 39-yard gain on a nicely thrown ball. Expect to see Florida try to hit something big on play action early in the game to open up some holes for Gillislee in the run game.

7. Win the kicking game

This should be a lock for Florida, but crazy things have happened in this rivalry when it comes down to the right foot of a place kicker. Muschamp has referred to Caleb Sturgis as the nation's best kicker several times this season, and his ability to remain calm under pressure and hit the long ones is vital. Tennessee, on the other hand, is going with a former walk-on this week after junior Michael Palardy missed an extra point and a 39-yard field goal attempt last week against Georgia State. If it's close late, Florida has the advantage here.

8. Be sound on teams

Patterson is known as one of Tennessee's big-play threats on offense, but he also is sixth nationally with a 35.3 average on kick returns. He had 106 return yards last week against Georgia State and has the ability to break one and go the distance. That's exactly the type of play Florida must prevent. However, the Gators have their own big-play threat on returns as well in Andre Debose, who has been relatively quiet this season after making a splash last year. The new kickoff rules should play a large role in this one, as the Gators will likely tell Sturgis to kick the ball out of the end zone and gladly let the Volunteers take over at the 25-yard line.

9. Get Jordan Reed involved

This one seems obvious, as Reed is arguably the Gators' best weapon on offense outside of Gillislee. But Tennessee knows that as well and will be looking to shut down the versatile tight end. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease gushed about Reed this week and surely has devised some creative ways to get him the ball in space. Reed showed what he can do in that regard last week, taking a short route and gaining 30 yards purely on athletic ability. If Reed is effective, it will help keep linebackers from keying on Gillislee.

10. Convert in short-yardage situations

This has been one of Florida's biggest issues this season. Against Bowling Green, the offense failed to convert on nine third-down plays of fewer than two yards. Although the Gators did a better job of avoiding the situation against the Aggies, they still struggled in short yardage, especially with blocking up front. That won't get the job done today. Extending drives and converting on third down will be essential.

Prediction: Florida 29, Tennessee 27

September 04, 2012

Texas A&M billboard trash-talking Florida shows up in Gainesville

Texas A&M joins the Southeastern Conference this season, kicking off its first taste of the conference this Saturday against Florida.

There has already been some back-and-forth between the two programs, with coaches Will Muschamp and Kevin Sumlin exchanging friendly barbs through the media during the summer. At a Gator club meeting, Muschamp talked about the atmosphere at Kyle Field and the experience of playing a road game against the Aggies before dropping this nugget: "You ever been to College Station? It’ll be the only time you go.”

The mayor of College Station, Texas, Nancy Berry responded with a video to Muschamp and a gift basket, which he received, Muschamp confirmed Monday. "It was wonderful," he said. "There were some koozies and things, it was nice. Very appreciative."

Now, a billboard has found its way to Gainesville, chock full of "Texas talk." Check it out:

53877941395356531857589

Pretty funny, right? Not so fast, as Lee Corso would say.

This "news" was originally reported by @GatorZoneChris (Chris Harry), a writer who works for the University of Florida and is paid by the University Athletic Association. Since Harry blogged about the billboard, Texas A&M vice president of marketing and communications Jason Cook has taken to Twitter to defend his school, saying that the Aggies had nothing to do with the billboard. The school is investigating and I will update this post if any more news surfaces.

So what say you? Who's behind it? Is it rogue Aggies fans with money to burn trying to stir the pot? Did the UF athletic association make this happen to drive interest in the program as ticket sales have dwindled and fans aren't showing up en masse? Does it matter? Is it even funny?

UPDATE: The billboard has been taken down due to a trademark concern over the use of the word "Whoop!" The USA Today's Rachel George is reporting that a Houston-based agency representing a fan group paid for the billboard.

Texas A&M distanced itself further from the ordeal with this statement: "This billboard was not placed by Texas A&M University, and it is certainly not reflective of how we have handled our transition into the SEC. We are investigating aggressively, as we believe that our institutional trademarks have been infringed upon. Texas A&M has tremendous respect for the University of Florida, and we look forward to hosting the Gators in our first SEC football game this weekend."


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