November 13, 2014

Muschamp's silly, swiveling interception dance

 

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Will Muschamp was featured on the SEC Network's Film Room series this week, and former Georgia quarterback David Greene surprised Muschamp, a former UGA safety, with a video from 1992. 

In the clip, Muschamp intercepts Georgia Tech quarterback Tom Luginbill, ESPN's director of recruiting, then celebrates with a hip-swivel dance Deion Sanders would be proud of. 

Muschamp has longed joked about both players' collegiate careers. On National Signing Day this February, he quipped, "Somebody said Tom Luginbill [ESPN’s National Director of Recruiting] was the No. 1 JUCO quarterback when he came out, but I intercepted Tom Luginbill so that will tell you how important those rankings are."

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

October 26, 2014

Tebow: "Stop booing"

 

GAINESVILLE -- Former Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow, now a SEC Network analyst, implored Florida fans to “rise above the booing,” and support embattled coach Will Muschamp.

Tebow, who just last week questioned his beloved Gators’ leadership, heart and offensive identity, said Florida should “be better than these other universities that boo their student-athletes.”

The SEC Nation crew -- Tebow, alongside Paul Finebaum, Marcus Spears -- discussed Florida’s woes this season. Their comments are presented below (courtesy ESPN).

The Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) take on No. 8 Georgia (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday in Jacksonville.

Tim Tebow -- "I think the University of Florida team has a lot of talent.  I think they have a lot of good coaches.  I don’t think they’ve played up to their potential.  I think this team has a chance to be pretty good.  Right now, they have the number three defense in the SEC.  But, offensively, I don’t think they have an identity.  I don’t think they have a leader that is taking people together saying let’s do our job, focus on doing your job, getting better and making everyone around them better. But, I also know Will Muschamp, when he was at Auburn, he had one of the best game plans I’ve ever played against in college.  This guy knows how to coach.  A few years ago, they went to the Sugar Bowl; they were 12-1.  He knows how to lead a team.  He knows how to be successful.  But, to do that, they have to find a way to score points, and they have to have better leadership offensively."

Marcus Spears -- "Players get coaches fired, and that’s what is happening at Florida right now.  These guys just have to play better.  The talent is there; the playmakers are there.  I would take this defense up against any team in the country.  When you have 10 interceptions in six games, when guys are dropping passes in the end zone, when those plays are not being made, giving up special teams touchdowns, letting turnovers go back to the house for touchdowns, that is a formula for losing football games; that has nothing to do with Will Muschamp. It’s easy to fire a coach, but let’s look at these guys." 

Paul Finebaum -- "Next week, the narrative is going to be “Do or Die.”  If he loses to Georgia, that’s four straight.  Losing four straight to Georgia will get you fired."

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 13, 2014

Tebow in Gainesville as part of SEC Network launch

GAINESVILLE -- Former Florida legend Tim Tebow will be in Gainesville on Thursday, reporting live from UF’s campus as part of the SEC Network’s premiere launch event. 

Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion quarterback, will join host Joe Tessitore for the 6 p.m. special outside the Heavener Football Complex. 

Florida is encouraging students and fans to come out and participate in the background of live shots. 

Tebow, who continues to train daily for another shot in the NFL, will be an analyst on SEC Nation, a travelling pregame show similar to ESPN's College GameDay.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

December 30, 2013

Tebow joins ESPN

GAINESVILLE -- Tim Tebow has found his next football job -- as an analyst for ESPN. 

The former Florida Gators star quarterback signed a three-year contract to become a commentator for the SEC Network -- which launches in August 2014 -- the network announced Monday.  

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion will make his ESPN debut during ample pregame coverage of the BCS National Championship Game Jan. 6. 

According to ESPN, Tebow's contract will "not preclude him from continuing to pursue playing opportunities in the NFL."

NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoprt added...

Screen shot 2013-12-30 at 10.39.59 PM
 

“When I was six years old I fell in love with the game of football, and while I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC," Tebow said in a statement released by ESPN. 

Tebow, who was cut by the New England Patriots in August and did not play in the league in 2013, will serve a variety of roles for ESPN, but the former "SEC icon" will mainly appear on the new network's SEC Nation -- the conference's version of GameDay (a traveling pregame show) -- alongside host Joe Tessitore and commentator Paul Finebaum. 

“Tim is a SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal," ESPN senior vice president Justin Connolly said in the news release. "He brings a wealth of knowledge about the game, the conference and the passion among SEC fans.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 01, 2010

Florida Gators boosters show off considerable smarts (and wealth) in Heisman statues

GAINESVILLE -- Alabama erects statues of its national championship coaches. Florida commissions statues of its Heisman winners. Which tradition do you think most helps with recruiting?

Florida's Heisman winners -- Stephen Orr Spurrier, Daniel Carl Wuerffel and Timothy Richard Tebow -- will be immortalized (once again) after the 2010 football season when the University of Florida erects three bronze statues of the former UF passers. Price tag: over $500,000. 

QUESTION: Why erect the statues now?

ANSWER: Tim Tebow, of course.

QUESTION: Who's the big time Bull Gator who donated the money? 

ANSWER: Bill Heavener, we're assuming.

Heavener is a close family friend of the Tebows and has donated millions to the program ever since Timmy became a Gator. But it doesn't matter who donated the money. That's not the point. The Point: This is an audacious move by UF and serves two purposes. One: it pays tribute to former Gator greats. Two (the real reason): it serves as an excellent recruiting tool. This statues idea has Urban Meyer's savvy recruiting fingerprints all over it.

URBAN MEYER: "See these three statues, RECRUIT A. If you win a Heisman, you get a statue."

RECRUIT A: "I'm an eight-star recruit. I deserve a statue right now."

URBAN MEYER: "With that attitude, you'll be great at Florida State."

ANYWAY, spending half a million on three bronze statues might seem a little excessive. That's because it is. But, hey, this is the SEC, where the only thing more important than winning football games is winning recruits who win football games. Some might consider the three Heisman statues gaudy. I am one of those people. It's pretty disturbing, but I do understand the logic and respect it for being so bold and over the top. Consider these statues a sound investment. (And a shrine to Timmy. Personally, I would have went with an eternal Timmy flame.)

-jo-

September 28, 2009

Dr. Robert Cantu, renowned neurosurgeon, sheds light on Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow's concussion

GAINESVILLE -- Don't expect University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow to practice this week but he could be ready for the Gators' away game on Oct.10 against No.4 Louisiana State, according to Dr. Robert Cantu, a renowned neurosurgeon who is considered a leading expert on return-to-play guidelines for sports concussions.

Because we're just as concerned about Timmy as the rest of the college football world, Gator Clause decided to go directly to the source for an explanation for our many questions regarding sports-related concussions, the many grading scales used in diagnosing concussions and, most importantly: When is it OK for Tebow to return to the playing field?

Bio_cantu

First, an introduction: Dr. Cantu published the first ever return-to-play guidelines for sports concussions in 1986 (known as the Cantu Scale). Slightly revised in 2001 and still the most widely recognized guidelines by athletic trainers, he devised the first grading system for concussions based on symptoms at the time of injury (Grades 1, 2, 3) and provided medical professionals with concussion management guidelines where there existed none before.

Dr. Cantu served as President of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the oldest and largest sports medicine and exercise-science organization in the world, from 1992 to 1993. At the 2007 ACSM's annual meeting, Dr. Cantu was asked to give the prestigious J.B. Dill Lecture, and presented "The History of Concussions."

Q&A with Dr. Robert Cantu:

OK, so we've established that there is pretty much no one else in this world that knows more about sports-related concussions than Dr. Cantu. With the introductions out of the way, here's a Q&A I had with Dr. Cantu on Monday morning. It should be noted that Dr. Cantu spoke in generalities on Monday as he is not familiar with Tebow's case, medical history or symptoms. Generally speaking, according to Dr. Cantu, Tebow will likely be able to return to the practice field after a week if he is asymptomatic in the next few days.

Q: What are the chances Tebow returns to the field after a week of rest?
A: The bottom line is, as I think you can appreciate, when you talk about concussion and recovery patterns and all that stuff, it's a bell-shaped curve and the majority of people return within a week, probably about 75 to 80 percent. But that's not everybody, and there is no way on Day One to know whether someone is going to clear and be in that 80 percent group or be in that 20 percent group where symptoms may go on and last more than a week or even weeks.

It's possible that Tim could be in the fortunate group and within another four or five days he's asymptomatic and it's also possible Tim could be in that group that he is still going to be symptomatic in four or five days. And if he's in that group it's not safe for him to practice much less even work out. He should be asymptomatic at rest before he's allowed to exert himself and see whether exertion produces symptoms.

Q: What is Tebow doing right now, in the next few days, to recover from his concussion?
A: Right now it's a cognitive rest period for Tim and a physical rest period, waiting for all of his symptoms to clear and his case, I think it was complicated by the fact that he was playing with the flu, and that's going to have to be sorted out -- whether any of his ongoing symptoms are flu-related or concussion related. So, it's going to be to a little more tricky.

Q: Is loss of consciousness an indication of a severe concussion?
A: Brief loss of consciousness -- and by brief I'm talking about seconds -- is really not correlated necessarily to a severe concussion. It's certainly a moderate concussion but it's not necessarily indicating his symptoms are going to last a long period of time or that he's going to be out a long period of time.

If you're unconscious for more than a minute, then that is a severe concussion and tends to be associated with a slow recovery.

Q: Did Tebow's preexisting illness have anything to do with his concussion?
A: It doesn't at all. It just means that you're going to have to be comfortable knowing which symptoms he may have now are flu related versus concussion related. Many of the 25 symptoms of concussion -- for instance headache, light-headedness -- are shared symptoms with many other medical conditions, too. It doesn't have to be related to a concussion if it happened right after head trauma. But if you already had some kind of medical condition going on, for instance if you had some kind of headache or light headedness before because you had the flu, then you're going to have to sort it out -- whether you think it's the flu or whether you think it's the concussion. It adds a little bit of complexity for the assessment to be properly done.

Q: What will UF's doctors be looking for in the next few days?
A: Most importantly you are looking for the symptoms to clear, those that are there. Before they totally clear, you're looking for them to get better. And that's the normal pattern. Those that are there will diminish in their intensity and go away. And that may happen within a day. That may happen within a number of days. It may take weeks. If it takes weeks, then he's going to be out a long time. That's probably unlikely for him because he's not had prior significant head injuries, so that's an optimistic thing for him compared to someone who has had a lot of concussions before.

What the medical team chooses to do will be their individual decision but for sure he shouldn't be practicing until all of his symptoms are cleared.

Q: Florida has a bye week this week and doesn't play its next game until Oct. 10. How might this affect Tebow's recovery and return?
A: That is extremely fortuitous. That's huge. That's great. There should be no other consideration other than letting this guy get over his symptoms.

Q: Tebow spent the night in Kentucky and underwent CT scans. What were doctors looking for?
A: They were looking for inter-cranial bleeding. There not looking, per say, for the effect of a concussion because you don't see it on a CT or on an MRI. You're only looking for other things that may be associated with head trauma like bleeding. And the fact that it was normal is good. It just means he had a concussion. Nothing more.

Q: You helped the sports medicine field understand concussions by creating a grading scale. What would Tebow's grade be, based on your knowledge of sports-related concussions?
A: If you use my grading scale, you would realize that you can't grade it until the symptoms are over. Because the severity is really determined by how long the symptoms last. And we don't know how long his symptoms have lasted. We know it's a Grade II minimum but he may get into a Grade III if his symptoms last over a week.

Q: Is grading a concussion difficult? Is there room for ambiguity or is it clear cut?
A: It's very clear how you grade it. It's not ambiguous or hard to figure out. There are just many people that choose to not grade a concussion because you don't need to use a grade to manage concussion because you need to be asymptomatic before you start to return again no matter what the grade. I personally think it's very useful to grade a concussion not so much for that one but for subsequent ones. If someone has had a severe concussion, then that's more alarming than someone who had a minor one.

Here is Dr. Cantu's daily checklist of symptoms he recommends using for evaluating a player who has had a concussion:

_______________________Symptoms.................Symptoms

_______________________At time of concussion....Today

1.   Bell Rung

2.   Depression

3. Dinged

4. Dizziness

5. Drowsiness

6. Excessive Sleep

7. Fatigue

8. Feel “in a fog”

9. Feel “slowed down”

10. Headache

11. Irritability

12. Loss of Consciousness

13. Memory Problems

14. Nausea

15. Nervousness

16. Numbness/Tingling

17. Poor Balance

18. Poor Concentration

19. Ringing in the ears

20. Sadness

21. Sensitivity to Light

22. Sensitivity to Noise

23. Trouble Falling Asleep

24. Vacant stare/glassy eyed

25. Vomiting

-jo-

February 18, 2009

Tim Tebow and Terrell Owens together in Gainesville?

GAINESVILLE -- Got something a bit odd to pass along this afternoon.

UF quarterback Tim Tebow and Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens were in the Outback Steakhouse in Gainesville at the same time on Tuesday night, according to the restaurant's manager.

"There's not really much to it," said Adam, the manager who for some reason didn't want me to print his last name. "One of them came in right when we opened and the other one came in about an hour later. Terrell Owens was with a lady and another man and Tebow came in with one of his buddies."

Owens and Tebow did not eat together and, according to the restaurant's manager, the two football players did not speak to one another.

Weird, huh? Wonder if Tebow is a Bloomin' Onion guy? Doubt it.

-jo-

January 22, 2009

Tebow excited about chance to work with new quarterbacks coach

GAINESVILLE -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said on Thursday that he plans to work extensively with new UF quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler this offseason to improve his mechanics as a quarterback to better prepare himself for the 2010 NFL Draft.

 

"I feel we have a great quarterback coach in here who really knows a lot about the next level and knows a lot about quarterback play, so I'm going to spend practically every second with him, trying to work on different things and try to prepare myself for the next level but even more importantly, prepare my team to be successful this next year," Tebow said.

 

The Manning Award Tebow recently received the Manning Award, given to the nation's top quarterback. It is the only individual postseason award for quarterbacks which takes into account the bowl season. Tebow led the Gators to a 24-14 win against Oklahoma in the BCS national championship game.

 

Tebow is still recuperating from surgery on his right shoulder. The procedure was performed days after the national championship game to remove bone spurs in his non-throwing shoulder.

 

"I haven't really had an opportunity to work on anything after the game because of my surgery," Tebow said. "I haven't had an opportunity to get out there and throw. Right now I'm just trying to get back healthy."

 

Tebow plans to be fully healed by spring practice. This offseason he said he wil focus his efforts on improving his throwing mechanics: "footwork, balance, keeping everything real tight and just working on all those things," he said.

 

On his return for his senior season, Tebow said, "There were a lot of things going into it, but when it came down to it, I just wanted to be loyal to Coach [Urban] Meyer and the University of Florida. I just love being here. It has been a joy for me. I just wanted to finish what I started. I'm enjoying it and I'll have a lot of time to do other things once this is done."

 

ARCHIE MANNING ON TEBOW
Former college and professional quarterback Archie Manning said on Thursday that Tebow is "
one of the best football players I've ever seen. Of course, Tim has developed every year. I've seen him play a lot since his freshman year. He has developed so much as a player, as a quarterback and, of course, as a passer. I'm sure he'll admit, there's been greater passers, there's been greater runners but when you talk about just overall football player and the ability to lead his team and will his team to wins, I just don't think I've seen anyone do it any better."

 

Manning, father current NFL quarterbacks Payton and Eli Manning, said that that Tebow's image a pocket passer might suffer "a little bit" because of Florida's offensive system. Given time to work as a pro-style quarterback, Manning said he has no doubt "that [Tebow] will be able to make those adjustments and be an outstanding player in pro football."

 

Archie Manning of Tebow's decision to return for his senior season: "I think it's a great decision. I think Tim will find this out next year, there are so many special things about being a senior. Tim is just establishing such a legacy there at Florida. People would understand if he left, but I assure you that when people think a little bit more in the long run they'll remember the loyalty he has shown the Gator Nation. It's a tough decision but one I think he'll appreciate many, many years from now."

 

A few other notes: Tebow said he is taking a full class load this semester and is on track to graduate early. Tebow said his platform off the field as the senior quarterback at the University of Florida was one of the reasons for his return. "We have some different charity things lined up that I'm trying to get together — different things in the community and in other places I'm working on. I think my platform is great here and I think my opportunity to help others and help kids and those who are not as fortunate. I think there's something about being a Gator."

 

-jo-

December 05, 2008

Dainty Florida will roll the rough and rugged Tide

GAINESVILLE -- Big game this weekend up in the ATL. Stubhub expects No.2 Florida (11-1) vs. No.1 Alabama (12-0) to rank in its top 10 list for ridiculously inflated ticket prices. And that's not top 10 for a college football game. That's top 10 regardless of sport. Only Super Bowl and World Series tickets have gone for more. Club seats in the Georgia Dome are pushing $1,300.

Gator Clause isn't leaving Gainesville until Friday night, so I'll have plenty of time to bloggy blog until then. Something a bit odd I just realized. While interning for The Birmingham News, I covered Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson when his Hoover Bucs won a high school state championship. As a preps writer for The Herald, I covered Tebow's state championship in 2005. Pretty cool, huh?

Both Wilson's and Tebow's state championship wins were blowouts by the fourth quarter. The only difference in the two state championship games -- and this has something to do with my officially licensed prediction of the game -- Tebow played nose guard in the fourth quarter for Ponte Vedra Beach Nease. So, that whole idea about UA's rough and rugged style of play being too much for UF's dainty little spread-option offense ... it's nonsense. UF 38, UA 18

Saturday's game will be much more than a contest between Tebow and Wilson, of course. There will be plenty of talented players on the Georgia Dome's artificial turf and we're here to highlight a few important match-ups because, well, like y'all, I'm pretty excited about watching this game...

11) UA cornerback Javier Arenas vs. UF receiver Percy Harvin: Assuming Harvin plays more than a decoy role (I doubt it), this could be one of the best one-on-one match-ups on Saturday. Harvin will play receiver if he does anything. Arenas is looking forward to the challenge. When asked about Harvin this week, Arenas said he expects Harvin will play.

10) UA receiver Julio Jones vs. UF cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Joe Haden: Jones and Jenkins know a little about each other going in. They squared off in a high school all-star game over the summer. Jenkins has three interceptions and leads the team with 10 pass break-ups. Haden is one of the nation's brightest up-and-comers. He's second on the team with 69 tackles and eight pass break-ups. He also has two interceptions. Jones leads UA with 46 receptions for 723 yards and four touchdowns. He's the Crimson Tide's only downfield threat. UA tight end Nick Walker is second on the team in receptions (26 for 262 yards, two TDs).

9) UF quarterback Tim Tebow vs. UA linebacker Rolando McClain: In this corner, the Mac Attack (team-high 82 tackles, 11 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, three sacks), standing six feet and four inches and weighing in at 249 pounds. Wearing a crimson hat and menacing scowl, Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain. And in this corner, The Chosen One (tougher to take down than the Berlin Wall, 12 rushing touchdowns, third-down conversation machine, 43 career rushing touchdowns), standing six feet and three inches and weighing in at 240 pounds, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner and heavyweight CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, Tim Tebow.

8) UF offensive coordinator Dan Mullen vs. UA defensive genius Nick Saban: Florida's offense leads the Southeastern Conference in scoring. The Gators are averaging 46.3 points per game. (That's a big number.) Alabama's defense leads the league in points allowed. The Crimson Tide is allowing 11.5 points per game. (That's a small number.) Florida's offense leads the SEC in total yards (449.4 yards per game). Alabama's defense leads the league in total yards allowed (248.5 yards per game). Something's gotta give, right?

7) UA tackle Andre Smith vs. UF end Carlos Dunlap: NFL scouts (and me) will be watching this match-up. Many consider Smith the best offensive lineman in the nation. Dunlap leads the Gators with nine sacks and is peaking at the perfect time. Sounds a lot like a young Derrick Harvey.

6) UF center Maurkice Pouncey vs. UA nose guard Terrence Cody: Cody is the guy that allows UA linebacker Rolando McClain to fill the gaps and make the tackles. UF leads the SEC in rushing yards per game (237.1 yards per game) and Cody will do his best to limit UF on first down. Cody (6-5, 365 pounds) will be highly motivated for this game. He's from Fort Myers. Pouncey is one of the best young offensive linemen in the country (along with his brother, of course). Maurkice and guard Mike Pouncey will also be highly motivated for this game. The Pounceys' stepfather, Robert Webster, who was severely injured (lost a leg) at work in Lakeland last week, is expected to make the trip to Atlanta for the game.

5) UA tight end Nick Walker vs. UF strong safety Ahmad Black: Here's a match-up that will draw my attention. Nick Saban loves to get his tight ends involved and UA will be looking to isolate Walker (6-5, 248-pound senior) in one-on-one coverage against Black, UF's undersized (5-9, 185 pounds) strong safety. Walker is Alabama's second-leading receiver (26 receptions for 262 yards). Black (What a story this kid has turned out to be, right.) leads UF in interceptions with six. Another thing: Getting Black out of the run-box will be one of the top priorities for UA quarterback John Parker Wilson. In the words of Black, "Pick party!"

4) UF linebacker Brandon Spikes vs. UA running backs Glen Coffee, Mark Ingram and Roy Upchurch: UF linebacker Brandon Spikes leads the Gators in tackles (80) and is a finalist for the Nagurski Award. UA's trio of power running backs are all downhill runners. Coffee is averaging 6.2 yards per carry (102.9 yards per game). Ingram and Upchurh are just as tough to take down. Expect some big collisions, folks.

3) UA's sure hands vs. UF's defensive thievery: UF has forced 21 turnovers during its current eight-game winning streak and converted 16 of those turnovers into touchdowns. Alabama has lost nine fumbles this season and quarterback John Parker Wilson has only thrown five interceptions. Alabama cannot afford to turn the ball over.

2) UF nose tackle Lawrence Marsh vs. UA center Antoine Caldwell: The importance of this match-up cannot be overstated. Marsh, recovering from a sprained medial-collateral ligament, has been UF's most reliable interior defensive lineman. Caldwell is a finalist for the Remington Award, given to the nation's best center, and helps pave the way for Alabama's between-the-tackles running game. UA is second in the SEC in rushing yards per game (201.5 yards). Florida is third in the league in rush defense (102.8 yards per game).

1) UF quarterback Tim Tebow vs. UA nose guard Terrence Cody: UF leads the SEC in third-down conversions (48.9 percent). UA leads the league in third-down conversion defense (25 percent). Another interesting statistical comparison: UA leads the SEC in fourth-down conversion (8 of 9, 88.9 percent). UF's defense leads the league in denying teams on fourth down (8 of 21, 38.1 percent).

1A) UA strong-side linebacker Cory Reamer vs. UF scatbacks Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey: What!? All this hard work in the middle of the night and this is your No.1 match-up of the biggest game in SEC history? I can hear you now, "Goodman, you're an idiot." Well, hear me out first before you leave a snarky comment. UA is allowing an SEC-best 73.6 rushing yards per game, but the Crimson Tide hasn't faced a running game quite like Florida's. That's where Reamer comes in. This guy is fast. Reamer (6-4, 218 pounds, another Hoover High guy) was actually a defensive back in high school. UF leads the SEC in rushing (237.1 yards per game) on account of the team's speedy backfield. With Percy Harvin likely injured, the bulk of UF's rushing responsibilities will fall to Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey, who, gulp, limped off the practice field on Thursday after reaggrevating his groin pull. Demps and Rainey like to get outside. Reamer will be waiting.

-jo-

October 23, 2008

Tebow a no show in initial NFL Draft projection

GAINESVILLE -- Shortly after his sophomore season, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow told Gator Clause that he would play four seasons for the Gators. He changed his stance slightly this season and now says he will wait until his junior season is complete before he makes a decision on whether or not to turn pro.

On Thursday, Tebow might be leaning towards returning to school for his senior season. Scouts Inc. released its first-round NFL Draft projections today (CLICK ME!) and Tebow isn't on the list. Junior quarterbacks on the list: Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, No.1 pick; Georgia's Matt Stafford, the No.5 pick; USC's Mark Sanchez (redshirt junior), the No.12 pick.

While Tebow isn't listed in the early NFL Draft projections, other Florida juniors are among Scouts Inc.'s Top 32. Percy Harvin is No.22, the third-ranked wide receiver. Brandon Spikes is No. 26, the fourth-rated linebacker.

Other instate notables: South Florida junior defensive end George Selvie is No.24. Florida State defensive end Everette Brown is No.21. Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas alum Geno Atkins is No. 16 and the fifth-rated defensive linemen. (Note: ESPN lists Atkins as playing for Texas but Atkins actually plays for Georgia.) Clemson running back C.J. Spiller, a Lake Butler, Fla., native, is No.32.

It should be noted that Scouts Inc. does not project any Miami Hurricanes in the first round. At least one Miami Hurricane has been drafted in the NFL first round each of the past 13 seasons. That streak is in jeapardy this season.

URBAN MEYER/PERCY HARVIN HATE SPEECH
This from The Miami Herald's own Dolphins columnist Armando Salguero. Mr. Salguero analyzed some Dolphins NFL Draft projections today and he apparently couldn't help himself by adding this zinger to his biting prose:

"Also: I know Florida faithful will shout from the rooftops that Percy Harvin deserves mention here as a top receiver prospect. But the guy has had some injury issues this year, is not a big guy per se at 5-11 and 195 pounds, and I just don't like Urban Meyer. So there."

Say it ain't so, Armando! Say it ain't so!

For what it's worth, Gator Clause believes Harvin would make a great addition to the Dolphins' line-up.

BILLY DONOVAN FROM SEC MEDIA DAYS
When Billy speaks, you should listen. Click the play button. Live from Birmingham, Ala.



-jo-

With Election Day nigh, Brandon Spikes gets political

GAINESVILLE -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has made a point to not speak publicly about the upcoming election. (Raise your hand if you assume Tebow is a left-winged liberal.)

Tebow's apolitical stance hasn't stopped other team leaders from trumpeting their favorite Presidential candidate. Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes has created a little buzz around campus by wearing a Barack Obama shirt to football practice. Spikes is a North Carolina native.

Florida coach Urban Meyer welcomes his players' involvement in the political process.

"I love when our guys talk about that stuff," Meyer said. "I actually hear them a little bit this year. I just think that's great and that's very mature. When I was 18 years old, that wasn't at the top of my list."

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT
If you're making the trip to Gainesville on Friday for Gator Growl, then make sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella. According to weather.org, Friday's forecast calls for rain/thunder/wind. Things should be cleared up by the 12:30 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, but pack a poncho just in case.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Atlanta Journal-Constitution college football columnist Tony Barnhart wrote earlier this week that UF should be ranked No.4 in the BCS. Here's an excerpt from Mr. Barnhart's column:

"Bottom line: After watching Ole Miss take Alabama to the limit in Tuscaloosa, the Gators’ 31-30 loss to the Rebels should be viewed in a different light. They have a scary collection of fast players. If Florida finishes 12-1 and beats Alabama in Atlanta, the Gators should be considered the best one-loss team in the mix."

Barnhart has Florida ranked ahead of Oklahoma. Gotta disagree there based on what I've seen from both teams so far this season.

Should one-loss Florida be the nation's top-ranked one-loss team?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL'S GRAND FINALE
Just got an email that the annual Army-Navy game will be moved back an additional week next season. The game will now be played on the second Saturday of December and be the final regular-season college football game of the year. (One week after the SEC championship game.)

Question: Does anyone care? Who out there actually watches the Army-Navy game?

-jo-

October 21, 2008

Meyer: Gators healthier right now than ever before

This is when you know you live in a rural college town: An owl almost ate my cat tonight. No kidding. Swooped right down from the tree, talons and all. OK, on with the show...

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer agreed on Tuesday after practice that his team is healthier right now than it has been all season.

"Couldn't ask for much better than where we are right in the middle of the season," Meyer said. "I'm pleased with where we're at."

A few Gators are suffering from minor injuries but UF's health concerns are nothing compared to Kentucky, which travels to Gainesville this weekend with eight starters either out for the season or injured. That list includes the Wildcats' two most consistent offensive players, wide receiver Dicky Lyons, Jr. and running back Derrick Locke.

While the Gators are healthy at nearly every position, a few running backs remain limited this week. Emmanuel Moody (high-ankle sprain) is practicing again but he is continues to favor his injured ankle, according to Meyer. Moody's status remains questionable.

Running back Chris Rainey (shoulder) returned to practice this week but his shoulder still seems to be a concern. Rainey, who has had surgery on both of his shoulders, separated his right shoulder against LSU.

"It was out," Rainey said of his shoulder. "I had to wait until one of the trainers put it back in and I felt fine when they put it back in."

Kestahn Moore (ankle) is listed as the Gators' starting running back against Kentucky, according to UF's most recent depth chart. With Moody and Rainey still sore, UF running back Jeffery Demps is expected to receive additional carries against Kentucky.

HICKS, JOHNSON REMAIN STARTERS
UF back-ups Brandon Hicks (weak-side linebacker) and Carl Johnson (left guard) appear to be making the most of their chances in the starting line-up. Weak-side linebacker Dustin Doe (hernia) returned from his surgery this week and left guard Marcus Gilbert (ankle) is also listed as available but neither player is back in the starting line-up, according to UF's game notes.

Johnson showed drastic improvements against LSU and Hicks (15 tackles in six games) appears to be a reliable option. Doe, a second-year starter, has only appeared in four games this season.

Drevil_bigglesworth1MEYER GETS HAIRCAT...Names it Mr. Bigglesworth
The coach got a haircut this week. It's nice and neat for homecoming. Meyer is looking a little thinner these days, especially in the face. I asked him if he has lost weight and he said, "Not that I've noticed." Maybe it's just the haircut.

-jo-

October 09, 2008

Les Miles vs. Urban Meyer: Who has more street cred?

Metmilesrotaryal121Oh, the things these coaches will do to impress recruits. LSU coach Les Miles says he likes "a couple" Snoop Dogg songs ... Maybe this is one of them? ... "Cause it's 1-8-7 on a [expletive] cop."
That's an excerpt from the hit single "187" that put Snoop Dogg on the map way back in 1992. Of course, Les knows all about that. It's his ring tone. PICTURED: Snoop Dogg let's everyone at the Baton Rouge Rotary Club meeting know how many times he has smoked out former LSU quarterback Jamarcus Russell, now a Raider. The woman in the picture doesn't seem very starstruck. Then again, who cares. She can't run a 4.2.

_________________________________________________________________

Les is down with Snoop but Urban is, well, Urban

GAINESVILLE -- It is in the spirit of Les Miles' affinity for West Coast gangsta' rap that Gator Clause presents this week's Ultimate Preview. If you didn't know already, "you better axe somebody."

Les Miles has been "down from Day One" when it comes to the hippest ways to lure recruits into Baton Rouge, La. He met up with Snoop Dogg (Can someone say, "Photo opp!") a few months back in Baton Rouge, La., and even had the rapper speak at a Rotary Club event. (Can someone say, "Honorarium!") Tigers fans, witness your booster club dollars hard at work.

After passionately addressing Baton Rouge's civic-minded audience, Snoop Dogg broke out one of his most famous rhymes, And now you hookers and [rhymes with jos] know how I feel. 'Cause that's realer than Real Deal Holyfield.

And then Snoop politely said, Hey, yo, Miles. Creep to the mic like a phantom.

We kid, of course. (And if you don't recognize those Snoop Dogg lyrics, then you're too old.) But, on the fo'-shizzle tip, why would Snoop entertain some crusty Deep South college football coach? The answer is simple. Because the rapper understands what nobody else in this world seems to be able to comprehend. That Les Miles is the "O.G." (That and if Pete Carroll won't give Snoop's son a spot on USC's roster, then maybe Miles will pony up.)

Florida coach Urban Meyer (Tupac guy) isn't very impressed with Miles' budding friendship with Snoop Dogg. "Good for him," Meyer said.

That's coach speak for "jive turkey."

But seriously, though. It's no surprise that Meyer disrespected Miles for the LSU coach's obvious attempt to, well, be like Meyer. Everyone knows Florida's coach is the one with all the street cred. His name says it all.

THE DETAILS
NO.4 LSU (4-0, 2-0) at NO.11 FLORIDA (4-1, 2-1)
Where: Gainesville, Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548)
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
TV: CBS
What's at stake: You mean besides this rivalry's annual trophy? Well, a Florida loss would pretty much end the Gators' chances at a national title. LSU, meanwhile, can probably bounce back from a road loss to the Gators if the Tigers win the rest of their games.

FACTOID
When Florida and LSU meet on Saturday it will be the first time since 1990 that the two most recent national champions have played during the regular season (see Notre Dame 29, Miami 20). Florida, of course, won the BCS national title in 2006 and LSU won it last season.

THE INJURY REPORT
N0.11 FLORIDA
PROBABLE

SS Will Hill (hamstring)
RB Kestahn Moore (ankle)
LB Ryan Stamper (ankle)
QUESTIONABLE
WR Percy Harvin (ankle)
OG Jim Tartt (shoulder)
OG Marcus Gilbert (ankle)
DT Brandon Antwine (back)
OG Ron Wilson (ankle)
DOUBTFUL
RB Emmanuel Moody (ankle)
LB Dustin Doe (hernia)
OG Maurice Hurt (neck/shoulder)
DT Omar Hunter (ankle)
SS Bryan Thomas (knee)
OUT
SS Dorian Munroe (knee, year)
LB Brendan Beal (knee, year)
TE Cornelius Ingram (knee, year)
SS John Curtis (knee, year)
OL Jim Barrie (knee, year)
DT John Brown (wrist, year)
S Cody Worton (knee, year)
NO.4 LSU
PROBABLE

LB Darry Beckwith (knee)
QB Andrew Hatch (head)
OL Lyle Hitt (undisclosed)
DT Ricky Jean-Francois (leg)
DT Charles Alexander (ankle)

THE STARTING LINE-UPS
NO.11 FLORIDA
OFFENSE

WR 1 Percy Harvin (Jr., 5-11, 195)
WR 9 Louis Murphy (Sr., 6-3, 205)
WR 6 Deonte Thompson (RFr., 6-0, 195)
LT 75 Phil Trautwein (RSr., 6-6, 310)
LG 57 Carl Johnson (RSo., 6-6, 330)
C 56 Maurkice Pouncey (So., 6-5, 312)
RG 55 Mike Pouncey (So., 6-5, 312)
RT 77 Jason Watkins (RSr., 6-6, 310)
TE 81 Aaron Hernandez (So., 6-3, 255)
QB 15 Tim Tebow (Jr., 6-3, 240)
RB 33 Kestahn Moore (Sr., 5-10, 212)
DEFENSE
DE 94 Justin Trattou (So., 6-3, 265)
NT 90 Lawrence Marsh (RSo., 6-5, 305)
DT 92 Terron Sanders (RSo., 6-2, 300)
DE 49 Jermaine Cunningham (Jr., 6-3, 250)
SLB 16 A.J. Jones (RSo., 6-1, 225)
MLB 51 Brandon Spikes (Jr., 6-3, 245)
WLB 41 Ryan Stamper (RJr., 6-2, 232)
or NB 14 Markihe Anderson (Jr., 5-10, 182)
CB 29 Janoris Jenkins (Fr., 5-10, 185)
CB 5 Joe Haden (So., 5-11, 185)
SS 35 Ahmad Black (So., 5-9, 190)
FS 21 Major Wright (So., 6-0, 200)
SPECIALISTS
PK 38 Jonathan Phillips (Sr., 5-10, 210)
KO 19 Caleb Sturgis (Fr., 5-11, 192)
P 17 Chas Henry (So., 6-4, 215)
LS 43 James Smith (RSr., 6-2, 240)
HLD 37 Butch Rowley (RSr., 6-1, 195)
KR/PR 25 Brandon James (Jr., 5-7, 186)

LSU
OFFENSE
WR 1 Brandon LaFell (Jr., 6-3, 209)
WR 2 Demetrius Byrd (Sr., 6-3, 200)
WR 80 Terrance Toliver (So., 6-5, 194)
LT 70 Ciron Black (Jr., 6-5, 325)
LG 79 Herman Johnson (Sr., 6-7, 375)
C 74 Brett Helms (Sr., 6-3, 278)
RG 65 Kyle Hitt (Jr., 6-2, 289)
RT 78 Joseph Barksdale (So., 6-5, 315)
TE 18 Richard Dickson (Jr., 6-3, 246)
QB 12 Jarrett Lee (RFr., 6-2, 216)
RB 32 Charles Scott (Jr., 5-11, 233)
or FB 45 Quinn Johnson (Sr., 6-2, 262)
DEFENSE
LE 93 Tyson Jackson (Sr., 6-5, 290)
LT 91 Charles Alexander (Sr., 6-3, 310)
RT 90 Ricky Jean-Francois (Jr., 6-3, 289)
RE 49 Kirston Pittman (Sr., 6-4, 257)
SLB 56 Perry Riley (Jr., 6-1, 240)
MLB 48 Darry Beckwith (Sr., 6-1, 232)
WLB 11 Kelvin Sheppard (So., 6-3, 237)
or NB 44 Danny McCray (Jr., 6-1, 212)
or DiB 3 Chad Jones (So., 6-3, 214)
CB 29 Chris Hawkins (Jr., 6-1, 184)
CB 4 Jai Eugene (So., 5-11, 191)
SPECIALISTS
PK 6 Colt David (Sr., 5-9, 172)
KO 30 Josh Jasper (So., 5-11, 165)
P/HLD 38 Brady Dalfrey (Sr., 6-0, 213)
LS 85 Alex Russian (RFr., 6-4, 239)
KR 8 Trindon Holliday (Jr., 5-5, 164)
PR 3 Chad Jones (So., 6-3, 214)

THE BETTING LINES
bodoglife.com: Florida minus-6
sportsbook.com: Florida minus-6
Vegas: Florida minus-6

THE PERCY SITUATION
Florida coach Urban Meyer says he expects Florida receiver Percy Harvin to play on Saturday but Meyer also says he won't know for sure until Friday. Harvin sprained his ankle against Arkansas and had three carries and three receptions against the Hogs. Harvin practiced on Wednesday for the first time this week but was limited. My gut feeling: After watching Harvin walk off the practice field on Wednesday with no sign of limp and no ankle brace, I'm going to have to say that Harvin will see the field on Saturday night.

MOST IMPORTANT
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said that Saturday's game is going to feature "speed, speed and more speed." That might be true, but the contest will likely be won at the line of scrimmage. At question: Can Florida's defensive line limit LSU running back Charles Scott? Scott will be running behind an enormous offensive line, which features a powerful left side. LSU junior left tackle Ciron Black (6-5, 325) and senior left guard Herman Johnson (6-7, 375) will look to clear a path for Scott, who is averaging and SEC-best 7.5 yards per carry. Can Florida defensive tackles Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders and Matt Patchan free themselves from Black and Johnson? Expect Florida defensive tackle Torrey Davis -- no longer in the doghouse -- to help out.

On offense, Florida's interior running game will have to get creative if scatbacks Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps are the best options. A key match-up: LSU defensive tackle Ricky Jean-Francois vs. UF left guard Carl Johnson. If Johnson can't hold his own against one of the best defensive lineman in the SEC, the Jean-Francois just might get his wish, a clean shot at UF's quarterback. Note to Carl Johnson: CLICK ME, Carl, for an important message.

LSU RECEIVERS VS. UF SECONDARY
Everyone expects Florida's receivers to have a big day against LSU's secondary but what about UF's secondary. LSU's receiving corps rivals the Gators in talent and the Tigers have several tall receivers who could give the Gators some problems in one-on-one situations. Keep and eye on LSU junior Brandon LeFell (6-3), senior Demetrius Byrd (6-3) and sophomore Terrance Tolliver (6-5). These receivers will be searching for weaknesses in the Gators' secondary after after watching Arkansas gain 220 yards through the air against Florida last week. Tolliver only has one catch on the season but if he finds himself matched up against UF strong safety Ahmad Black (5-9), Tolliver could see more action.

5 KEYS TO UF VICTORY
5. Force LSU redshirt freshman quarterback Jarrett Lee to pass on third and long.
4. At least five receptions for UF tight end Aaron Hernandez.
3. Keep giving Chris Rainey the ball.
2. Settle for the field goal.
1. Do the words "LSU fourth down" meaning anything to you?

-jo-

October 08, 2008

Can UF beat LSU with limited Harvin? (with poll)

Rainey_2Little known fact: When UF running back Chris Rainey [PICTURED, NO.8] was a true freshman, he refused to play in shoes. (Much like a young Pele.) UF coach Urban Meyer is a big shoe guy (free trips from Nike), so the coach protested Rainey's no-shoe antics and redshirted the former Lakeland High running back. Now you know why Rainey wears shoes. Here's a picture from Rainey's rebellious days a true freshman, refusing to lace up his Nikes during a game.

_________________________________________________________________

With Moody, Moore and Harvin nursing ankle injuries, will RBs Demps and Rainey be enough to balance the Gators' offense

GAINESVILLE -- Percy Harvin didn't practice on Tuesday, Kestahn Moore is doubtful for Saturday's game against LSU and Emmanuel Moody is unable to play. All three players are suffering from ankle injuries.

If you're counting, that's three potential Florida running backs who are either questionable, doubtful or out for Saturday's game against No.4 LSU (4-0, 2-0). On Tuesday, Meyer said that he thinks Harvin's ankle should be healthy enough to play. Of course, if history is any kind of guide, when Meyer's players don't practice until Wednesday, that usual means they will play a limited role on game day. Assuming Harvin is an exception to the rule, expect the Gators to at least limit his backfield carries and focus Harvin's efforts at slot receiver.

Percyharvin_001Can No.11 Florida (4-1, 2-1) upset LSU with a limited Percy Harvin? The gambling establishment certainly believes so. News of Harvin's practice status on Tuesday did nothing to the betting lines. According to one offshore betting service, Florida is favored by six points.

With Harvin [PICTURED, NO.1] limited, Moore either out or limited and Moody out, the bulk of the Gators carries will fall to quarterback Tim Tebow, junior return specialist Brandon James and underclassmen running backs Chris Rainey and Jeffrey Demps. (Where are Mon Williams, Bo Williams, Chevy Walker and Jarred Fayson when you need them?)

ANYWAY, Tebow's rushing yards are down this season while Rainey and Demps just turned in the best games of their young careers. Rainey is a redshirt freshman and Demps is a true frosh. They combined for 206 rushing yards and three touchdowns against Arkansas. James, the return man, has performed well in spots as a running back but hasn't had any significant success out of the backfield.

Rainey's and Demps' performances against Arkansas provided hope for this week, but is anyone out there really convinced Rainey and Demps can run the ball effectively against LSU based on the Arkansas game? Arkansas ranks last in the SEC in average rushing defense (208.4 yards per game). Meanwhile, LSU is ranked third and only allowing an average of 69.0 yards per game. The Tigers have allowed just three rushing touchdowns this season.

DempsRainey and Demps [PICTURED, NO.2] had touchdown runs of 75, 48 and 36 yards against Arkansas but, according to Tebow, long touchdown runs by those players would only be a bonus against LSU. Tebow says Rainey and Demps must help establish the Gators' short-yardage running game.

If the long run isn't there, Tebow says it's important that Rainey and Demps "get us two or three yards and keep us in a good down and distance."

More to the point, Tebow was asked directly if UF needed big games from Demps and Rainey to win.

"I think so," Tebow said. "Do they need to make 80-yard runs like they did last week? I don't know. That would be nice -- be extremely nice -- but just manage the ball; get us in good down and distances; if they're in pass protection, make sure they pick up their blocks: those types of things first to keep the offense going and then, when they get in the open field, if they make somebody miss, that's just a plus."

-jo-

October 07, 2008

Florida responds to take-out-Tebow rhetoric

GAINESVILLE -- UF quarterback Tim Tebow's official response to LSU's Ricky Jean-Francois: Bring it.

We're paraphrasing, of course. Timmy didn't say "bring it," but in so many words Tebow let it be known he isn't scared of a little trash talk from LSU's underclassman defensive end. Jean-Francois said last week that LSU wanted to take out Tebow.

"I don't think it's ever really a good thing to talk trash because all it does is fire your opponent up. At least that's how it is for me," Tebow said. "Whatever you can use as motivation."

On Tuesday, LSU's sports information office issued this clarification to Ricky's trash talk. Apparently, Ricky sat down and wrote this (In other words, LSU's sports information office wrote this.):

"We never go into any football game trying to hurt a player from the other team. My comments in regard to Florida quarterback Tim Tebow were misinterpreted and were intended to reflect the style of football that we play at LSU. We have great respect for Tim as a player and a competitor. By taking him of the game, I meant as a defense we are going to try to make him ineffective. I'm sorry my initial comments were interpreted another way."

Well, you're in luck, Ricky. Tebow knew what you meant.

"I'm a competitor, so I think he wasn't meaning it like a lot of people took it," Tebow said. "You try to use anything as motivation, too, but I don't really think he meant everything he said. But part of it was true, we do have a good training staff."

Florida coach Urban Meyer wasn't as understanding about Jean-Francois' comments.

"There's no place for that. If you hear one of our guys say something, we just take him out the media. You know what I think happens, and I don't know this guy, but I think people just say 'Give me something.' Our players have told me that. That someone says 'Give me something,' and they stick a microphone in a 19-year-old's face and say, 'Give me something to say to this guy.' I don't care, but I wish that stuff wouldn't happen."

Urban, you're in the minority on this one. We love smack talk here.

-jo-

September 29, 2008

What's wrong with Tim Tebow?

GAINESVILLE -- Maybe you guys can help me out today. I'm working on a story this week comparing last year's UF quarterback and the guy under center this season. Obviously, it's the same person, junior Tim Tebow, but not much else is similar about the two players.

What's wrong with Tebow? Maybe nothing. Maybe you think he's better this season. Maybe you've noticed something I haven't.

Now taking suggestions...

Monday-morning links...
Today's story about Florida's emergency practice on Sunday night
My game story from Ole Miss 31, UF 30
Mike McCall's story on UF's turnovers

-jo-

September 26, 2008

No.1 USC loss signals statement weekend for UF

Twenty-three years since a No.1 lost to an unranked team. That is, until Oregon State 27, No.1 Southern Cal 21 on Thursday night ... Thoughts? I got a couple: How does Penn State vs. Florida sound? What about Missouri vs. Georgia?

GAINESVILLE -- Speaking of unthinkable upsets. Ole Miss nearly upset Florida in 2007. This happened for two reasons.

1. Tim Tebow
2. Seth Adams

Tebow, of course, is the Florida quarterback who rushed for two scores and 166 yards on 27 carries last year against the Rebels. He prevented the upset and is back for Round 2.

Anyone remember Seth Adams? Didn't think so. Seth Adams, not back for Round 2, was the Ole Miss quarterback in 2007. He wasn't anything special, but he was nearly good enough to beat Florida last season. Ole Miss racked up nearly 400 yards of offense against the Gators. Let's you know how bad UF's defense was last season.

Round 2 of this wonderful SEC East vs. SEC West Raycom special features a new Ole Miss quarterback. His name is Jevan Snead and he must be good. He was once committed to Florida.

Snead is apparently better than Adams. I'm not convinced -- never really a fan of players who de-commit from one school (Florida) and then later transfer from another (Texas). Ole Miss seems like the college football haven for quarterbacks who think they're better than they really are. (See Brent Schaeffer of Deerfield Beach). Come to think of it, it all makes perfect since. Ole Miss always thinks it's better than it actually is.

ANYWAY, everyone keeps telling me that Snead is a great quarterback. At first, I believed them. I'm not convinced anymore. Snead has thrown seven interceptions in his last three games. He's an inexperienced quarterback and now he's playing at The Swamp against a Florida team that is plus-nine in turnover ratio. This is the fourth game this season Florida has faced an inexperienced quarterback.

THE DETAILS
Ole Miss (2-2) at No.4 Florida (3-0)
When: 12:30 p.m.
TV: Raycom
Series history: Ole Miss leads 11-10-1

INJURY REPORT
OLE MISS
DL Greg Hardy (foot, out)
FLORIDA
DE Jermaine Cunningham (knee, questionable)
LB Ryan Stamper (ankle, questionable)
QB Cam Newton (ankle, questionable)
OL Maurice Hurt (neck, questionable)
DT Torrey Davis (disciplinary, out)
DT John Brown (hand, out)
TE Cornelius Ingram (knee, out)
SS Dorian Munroe (knee, out)

STATEMENT GAME
Any Gators watching TV late last night? The No.1 team in the nation lost. OK, but on a Thursday night? I thought Thursday nights were reserved for bingo. ANYWAY, the significance of Southern Cal's epic collapse Part II (Stanford in 2007 was Part I) should not be lost on any team in the AP Top 10. With the No.1 ranking up for grabs, this weekend is all about making a statement to national voters. Let's take a look at the match-ups this weekend for teams in the AP Top 5.

No.1 USC (Believe it or not, USC could still be in the national title picture at the end of the season. USC losing was good news for any one loss team. Auburn?)
No.2 Oklahoma vs. No.24 TCU: Game against ranked opponent comes at great time for Oklahoma to make a case for being No.1.
No.3 Georgia vs. No.8 Alabama: A big win in Athens could vault Georgia into the No.1 spot. AP voters are apparently in love with Bama.
No.4 Florida vs. Ole Miss: Voters not sold on Gators yet. Florida fans apparently no sold on Gators yet. I think I'm the only person in the country that thinks Florida is the best of the best.
No.5 LSU vs. Mississippi State: A letdown game? Not a chance.

It is conceivable that Florida could be the No.1 team in the country on Sunday. TCU is a quality football team and many believe Alabama is going to upset Georgia (for the record, I am not one of those people).

RANDOM THOUGHT
Does ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit have a man-crush on Georgia quarterback Matt Stafford?

RANDOM THOUGHT NO.2
I'm sure Jevan Snead is upset he has to miss tonight's presidential debate. Ole Miss is hosting a presidential debate tonight (Friday) between U.S. Senators and Presidential candidates John McCain (Ariz., R) and Barack Obama (Ill., D).

OLE MISS BETTER THAN TENNESSEE?
According to UF defensive line coach Dan McCarney, it's a no brainer. He says Ole Miss' offense is much better than Tennessee's. Florida beat Tennessee 30-6.

"I thought Tennessee had a heck of an offensive line -- I think Mississippi is better," McCarney said. "[Tennessee] had a good solid quarterback. I think this one is better. Running backs, they're using four of them. I like them all."

SPEAKING OF FOUR RUNNING BACKS...
Four is exactly the number of running backs that Florida has at its disposal. (Five if you include receiver Percy Harvin.) Emmanuel Moody was the featured back against Tennessee? Who gets the call against Ole Miss? How would you break down the carries? Here's what I would shoot for if I'm Florida OC Dan Mullen...

UF BACKFIELD BREAKDOWN (projected number of carries)
RB Emmanuel Moody: 12
WR Percy Harvin: 10
RB Chris Rainey: 8
QB Tim Tebow: 8
Others (Jeff Demps/Louis Murphy/Aaron Hernandez) 5
RB Kestahn Moore: 0

REAL TALK
Florida coach Urban Meyer made a point to complain and complain and complain about the NCAA's new clock rules this week. (Cheating the players, he says...please.) Some reporters took the bait and wrote about the new clock rules like they're killing college football. Here's a thought: Just shut up and play football. If college football is going to sell its soul to the television networks, then the TV networks are going to be able to dictate how the game is played. (ESPN is going to be dictating a whole heck of a lot more in the future, so get used to it.) If Meyer wants more plays, then his offense needs to be more efficient and better prepared to run more plays. Quicker substitutions, better play calling (Mullen should always be two plays ahead of his offense) and a no-huddle offense should allow for more chances for Florida to run up the score on people. (And isn't that what it's all about?)

BIG TEST FOR JOE HADEN
Ole Miss' best player is receiver Mike Wallace. He toasted Florida's secondary last season and just last week Wallace returned a 98-yard kickoff for a touchdown. Meyer says that Joe Haden is turning into an All-SEC cornerback. We shall see.

5 KEYS TO VICTORY FOR UF
5. Pressure the quarterback. Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead is apparently still adjusting to the speed of the SEC. He tossed four interceptions against Vanderbilt last week. If UF defensive end Carlos Dunlap has a big day, then that will go a long way towards Florida beating Ole Miss. (We're assuming UF defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham and/or Justin Trattou will line up opposite Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher.)

4. Contain Ole Miss receiver Mike Wallace. Wallace is averaging 136.3 all-purpose yards in his last three starts.

3. Keep an eye on the battle between UF guards and Ole Miss defensive tackles Peria Jerry and Ted Laurent. If these players get in the backfield consistently, it could be a long day for the Florida offense. Both Jerry and Laurent have 4.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. Strong efforts from UF guards Jim Tartt and Mike Pouncey and center Maurkice Pouncey are critical.

2. Score touchdowns in the red zone. Florida settled for field goals last week against Tennessee. If Florida's offense continues to be limited by the new play clock rules, then the Gators need to score touchdowns. Tebow is money from inside the red zone. I repeat: Let Tebow run the ball inside the red zone.

1. Get one big play from either special teams or the defense.

THE CORNERBACK SITUATION
Is Wondy Pierre-Louis or Janoris Jenkins starting at cornerback? My guess is both players will see significant amounts of playing time. Expect a lot of 3-3-5 from Florida with Janoris and Wondy at cornerback and Joe Haden at the nickel. If Florida doesn't trust Wondy to perform, expect more playing time for Markihe Anderson if the Gators stick with the 3-3-5. Anderson will play the nickel and Haden will move back to the edge. (This is what I would do.)

BIG PREDICTION
UF is a 22-point favorite. Sounds about right to me. Ole Miss' close losses to Wake Forest and Vanderbilt were devastating for an emotionally vulnerable program. If Florida goes up early, then expect a blowout. UF 42, Ole Miss 17

-jo-

September 22, 2008

NOTEBOOK: I'll be the first to say it, Florida should be No.1 in the country

GAINESVILLE -- Florida is No.4 in the latest AP poll. This is an absolute joke. Florida should be No.1. Here's why.

Statistics don't lie. As Florida coach Urban Meyer would say, stats are "real."

Everyone reading this blog will agree that the SEC is the best league in the country, right? No argument there. OK, with that in mind, know that Florida is leading the SEC in scoring offense (37.3 points per game), scoring defense (6.3 points per game), total defense (213 yards per game), kickoff returns (27.6 yards per game), punt return average (24.6 yards per game), third-down conversions (53.8 percent) and Florida is tied for first with Vanderbilt in field goal accuracy (4-of-4).

After knowing that, I challange anyone out there to argue that another team -- USC, Oklahoma, LSU, Georgia, Alabama, whoever -- is better than Florida at this point in the season. Even if you tried, here's my ace in the pocket, the clinching fact for my argument, the biggest stat of all: Florida is the only team in the country that hasn't allowed a turnover. Florida is plus-nine in turnover margin.

(FYI: Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead has tossed six interceptions in his last two games.)

SURPRISING DEFENSE
The early season dominance of the Gators' offense and special team comes as no surprise to Meyer but the coach did admit that he is pleasantly surprised by the Gators' defensive play. If you're counting at home, Florida started SEVEN (1-2-3-4-5-6-7; CB Joe Haden, FS Major Wright, SS Ahmad Black, SSL A.J. Jones, DE Carlos Dunlap, DT Lawrence Marsh and DT Terron Sanders) SOPHOMORES on defense against Tennessee.

Meyer tempered his excitement by telling reporters that "I don't think we've been challenged yet" by an experienced quarterback. "That's what I'm anxious to see," Meyer said.

MEYER HATES NEW CLOCK RULE
Florida coach Urban Meyer has a message for the NCAA: Get rid of the new clock rule. His offensive players aren't getting enough touches.

Meyer made a point on Monday to explain why he hates the new clock rule. According to Meyer, Florida's offense only had 46 "competitive" plays. Florida had 54 total offensive players but Meyer contends that nine of those were throw-away plays while Florida was trying to run out the clock.

Florida scored on five of its six offensive possessions but was out gained by Tennessee's offense by 18 yards. Don't look to much into this fact, folks. Florida smoke Tennessee and Meyer is upset about the clock rule because last year the score would have been 60-6 instead of 30-6.

MEYER HAS ZINGER FOR MIAMI'S SHANNON
The stats sheet reads that Florida's offense only scored three of the four times it was in the red zone on Saturday. Meyer says it should be 4-of-4. On the Gators' final drive, Florida took a knee instead of kicking a field goal. Meyer received criticism against Miami for kicking a late-game field goal.

"People get upset around here with field goals, so we were 4-of-4," Meyer said.

JAMES NAMED SEC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
UF return specialist Brandon James was named special teams player of the week on Monday by the conference's sports information staff. James accounted for 144 yards on kick returns, including a 78-yard punt return for a score. James also had a 52-yard kickoff return on the opening kickoff, which led to a quick Florida score.

Here's a link to the rest of the SEC players of the week. CLICK ME!

MAJOR'S MISSED TACKLE
Major Wright had a great game against Tennessee. He was second on the team with eight tackles and graded out at "champion" status (94 percent), according to UF coach Urban Meyer. Still, I had to ask him about that one missed tackle, the one which allowed UT running back Arian Foster an apparent big gain. (The play was called back because of a UT penalty and Wright's mistake went unnoticed.)

"I was trying to make the perfect tackle," Wright said. "[Foster] got me."

Don't sweat it, Major. Gator Clause still thinks you're the best safety in the SEC. Just had to ask.

JANORIS COULD START AGAINST OLE MISS
Major had good things to say about UF freshman cornerback Janoris Jenkins and so did Florida coach Urban Meyer. Meyer said that Jenkins could start against Ole Miss and that it will be a game-to-game decision whether Jenkins starts at cornerback or Wondy Pierre-Louis.

Pierre-Louis had a terrible game on Saturday while Jenkins had an interception and a forced a fumble. Meyer said that Pierre-Louis will get every chance to keep his position because Wondy is an "invested player." Meyer said the same thing about former Florida safety Kyle Jackson last season. Everyone remembers what happened there. Wright was starting by LSU.

Will Jenkins be starting by LSU?

TEBOW RECRUITED AS A LINEBACKER?
Florida's coaching staff began recruiting Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead when Meyer and OC Dan Mullen were at Utah. When Meyer and Mullen moved to Gainesville, Snead was still at the top of Mullen's recruiting board as one of the best quarterbacks in the country. Snead initially committed to Florida before changing his mind.

According to a book published last year about college football recruiting, Snead said Florida wanted him so badly that the Gators' coaching staff actuall told him that Florida was recruiting Tebow as a linebacker. On Monday, Tebow said Florida never tried to recruit him as a linebacker and Meyer refused to address the claim.

Recruiting is a dirty business ... but it's supposed to be. Get over it, people.

September 12, 2008

Five questions with UF's Emmanuel Moody

First, the link to my story on Emmanuel Moody in today's sports section of The Miami Herald: Florida Gators football still waiting for Moody to produce

GAINESVILLE -- Now for the online supplement: Five questions with Coppell, Texas, native and Southern Cal transfer Emmanuel Moody. (Obviously, these questions and answers were asked during the preseason. Moody did not speak with the media this week.)

MoodyGATOR CLAUSE: What have you done to prepare for the season?
MOODY: "I've been spending time in the playbook. The more reps I get the more I get used to all the schemes. I'm taking rep after rep in practice."

GATOR CLAUSE: How does the talent at Florida stack up to the talent at USC?
MOODY: "There's talent at both schools. No matter what school you go to, if it's a school like Florida or USC, there's going to be competition there."

GATOR CLAUSE: Your main competition for playing time is Kestahn Moore. What have you learned from Moore since you've been at Florida?
MOODY: "I give him a lot of respect for working hard. He works hard every day, so I kind of just see what he does and just try to pick it up to his tempo."

GATOR CLAUSE: You don't sign autographs with your name, could you tell me a little bit about that?
MOODY: "I [write] a cross and I [write] Jesus and I [write] my number under Jesus. The cross represents the crucifixion that the Lord died for us. I put my number under His name because I count myself less and he's my savior. So my identity is in Christ and that's why I [write] Jesus, because I no longer live for myself. I live for Christ."

GATOR CLAUSE: When did you become so religious?
MOODY: "When I was 16 at a church retreat. Before then I was a totally different person but it changed my life for the better. I was getting into a lot of trouble and I was the complete opposite of what I am today, sinners of sinners. But I had an encounter with the Holy Spirit and became saved."

-jo-

September 11, 2008

UF isn't getting the job done; Put me in charge of Percy Harvin's Heisman campaign, please

GAINESVILLE -- Florida has only played two games and already Percy Harvin's Heisman campaign is on life support. Bring in the doctor ...

That's me. I'm the marketing genius that is going to resurrect Harvin's Heisman hopes. Here are 10 steps to getting Harvin to New York. And that's what Florida really wants, right? That's what Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has said several times. Tebow wants to cast his vote in December for his good buddy Percy Harvin.

10. Call an emergency meeting with every member of Florida's sports marketing team. It's almost like Florida wants everyone to think Tebow is the best player in college football. It's almost like Florida wants Tebow to win back-to-back Heismans. What happened to the Percy-in-2008 campaign?

9. Percy Harvin is the best player in college football. Direct and to the point. Slap it on a poster.

8. Percy has only spoken with reporters one time this season. One........stinking........time! That's no way to pimp a Heisman hopeful. Note to Percy: Reporters vote for the Heisman.

7. Let Harvin play his real position. And by real position we mean the position Harvin will play in the NFL. Harvin is a receiver yet he only had one reception against Miami. It's a nice gimmick when Harvin lines up in the backfield, but he should never have more rushing attempts than receptions.

6. Percy Harvin should be returning kickoffs. Nothing says Heisman moment like a kickoff return for a touchdown against Georgia.

5. Every time Tim Tebow opens his mouth during a press conference, he should be praising Percy Harvin. "Percy won the game tonight," Tebow said. "Percy is the hardest working man on the team," Tebow said. "Percy is the greatest player in college football," Tebow said. "I'm naming my first born child after Percy Harvin," Tebow said.

4. Everyone knows what Tebow did last summer. What type of charitable work did Percy do? Donate blood, perhaps? Adopt a dog? ESPN College GameDay needs to know!

3. Speaking of ESPN ... Why is Erin Andrews doing a feature on Tebow lifting weights? Harvin is the real story. He's a college receiver who can bench press 400 pounds. As a professional journalist and Heisman Trophy marketing genius, I'm volunteering my services to do an in-depth story on exactly how Harvin got so big and strong this offseason.

2. Talk to reporters, Percy.

1. Repeat after me, Percy. Reporters are my friends.

-jo-


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