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63 posts from August 2008

August 30, 2008

UF 56, UH 10

GAINESVILLE -- Impressive start to the season for the Gators. Thoughts? I say give the ball to RBs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps and watch them go.

Live blogging ends in fourth quarter. UF leading 56-0.

UH D10: It's safe to say UF SS Ahmad Black has secured his role as a starter. Black, who was a third-string cornerback last year, gave UF a 56-0 lead near the end of the third quarter with an 80-yard interception return for a touchdown. It was Black's second of the game.

UF D8: QB Cam Newton rushes for a one-yard TD. Drive highlights: 16- yard pass from Tebow to Carl Moore; 10-yard pass from Tebow to RB Chris Rainey. UF 49, UH 0.

UH D9: Punt UF D7: Another quickie. WR Louis Murphy joins the scoring party with a 48-yard TD reception. The drive took two plays and 38 seconds. UF 42, UH 0. UH D8: Punt.

UF D6: RB Jeff Demps is fast. His 62-yard touchdown run was a blur. The score was made possible by a fake punt Chas Henry.

HALF:Quick thoughts on the first half. Florida's defense has forced four turnovers. This is a major improvement from last season. The Gators have also received scores from its offense, defense and special teams.


UH D7: Punt.

UF D5: RB Chris Rainey scores on a 33-yard touchdown run. Drive took two plays, 22 seconds and the rout is one. UF 28, UH 0. NEWS ALERT: Rainey is fast.

UH D6: Fumble. (UF defense now with four turnovers. Wow.)

UH D5: Punt. UF's Brandon James returns punt 74 yards for a touchdown. UF 21, UH 0. Simply an amazing run, folks. James' third punt return for a touchdown of his career. That's one shy of the UF record.

UF D4: Punt

UH D3: UF safety Major Wright returns a 32-yard interception for a touchdown, 10:47. UF 14, UH 0. Second pick of Wright's career. His first touchdown.

UF D3: RB Brandon James scores on 1-yard run with 11:39 left in 2nd Q. Drive highlights: Tebow scrambles to 1-yard line...10-yard screen to WR Jeff Demps...RB Brandon James for 13-yard gain...Impressive 34-yard reception by UF TE Tate Casey gives Gators momentum to start the drive.

(No score in the first quarter. No one predicted that.)

UH D2: UF strong safety intercepts Hawaii QB Brent Rausch in the end zone. Hawaii receiver was wide open but Rausch missed his man. Nice play by Black. First pick of his career.

UF Drive 1: Everyone is seeing field time...except Percy, of course. UF Punt.

Hawaii Drive 1: Florida defense starts game in 3-3-5. Janoris Jenkins starts at corner with Joe Haden at nickel. UH punt.

--Will Hill wastes not time. Makes first tackle on kickoff.

Sitting in the press box now waiting for kickoff. Plenty of tailgaing picks but that stuff will have to wait until afterwards. My computer's Internet is flaking out today, so it's all BlackBerry.

--It's pouring down rain right now, 30 mins before kickoff. Hawaii just did its traditional pregame "haka." Its a war dance but today it might be a rain dance.

--LB Brandon Spikes has a boot on his right foot. He's definitely not playing.

--I ran into Plantation American Heritage OL Jared Wheeler before the game. He says he plans on coming to as many Florida games as he can this season. He went to the UM-CSU game on Thursday.

--UF recruit Ian Silberman (Fleming Island, Class of 2010) is also in attendance.

--Absolutely pouring now.


August 29, 2008

PREGAME PODCAST: UF limping into opener

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators have 14 players who are either questionable, doubtful or unavailable for the season opener. That list includes a handful of starters and several key reserves. It's still an excellent team but not the one coach Urban Meyer thought he had returning from 2007. With so many injuries and a few fresh faces in key places, is it a good thing Florida is opening the season against Hawaii and not The Team Down South?

Edited and produced by Joseph Goodman of The Miami Herald


ONLINE PREVIEW: Gators ready to impress on Saturday in season opener with Hawaii

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Check back on Saturday for pregame bloggery. Gator Clause will snap some tailgating pictures, report any recruit sightings and comment on any other observations that we find mildly interesting or smashingly brilliant. Then we'll blog live during the game.

Hawaii at Florida, 12:30 p.m.
UF two-deep depth chart: CLICK ME!
UF vs. Hawaii official game notes: CLICK ME!
Live TV: Raycom (Dave Neal, play-by-play; Dave Archer, color analyst; Dave Baker, sideline reporter)
XM Radio: Channel 200
WEB audio: GatorZone.com
LIVE BLOGGERY: Gator Clause, duh.

-Florida 52, Hawaii 17 (LEAVE US YOUR PREDICTIONS!) 
-Tebow: six total touchdowns (four passing, two rushing)
-Wondy Pierre-Louis (at least one interception)
-Jeff Demps returns at least one kickoff
-Percy Harvin lines up for four or five plays

GAINESVILLE -- First-year starting defensive end Carlos Dunlap is a smart kid. He understands what's at stake on Saturday, perception.

DunlapNo. 5 Florida opens the season against unranked Hawaii and everyone is expecting a blowout. Dunlap [PICTURED, NO.8], who has the wingspan of a Cessna or perhaps a small bridge, is ready to oblige. He said on Wednesday that his new look defensive line "is going to show out."

"[The first game] is going to show everybody what we’ve got, so everybody knows what we have," Dunlap said. "We aren't going to hide anything. Right now we’re just hiding it. The first game, you’re going to see for yourself. Y'all can judge us.”

Carlos, we love your excitement but the official judging won't begin until next week, when the Gators host rival Miami. This Saturday is all about witnessing carnage the good ole fashioned way. And by old fashioned we mean Roman Coliseum style. Hawaii at Florida will be the north-central Florida version of Charleston Southern at Miami.

Dunlap is one of several Gators making their first career starts on Saturday. The list includes: DT Lawrence Marsh, DT Terron Sanders, SS Ahmad Black, MLB Ryan Stamper (technically, he started against Georgia but was a reserve nonetheless), WR Deonte Thompson and K Jon Phillips.

So, as an informed Gators fan, what should you be looking for amid Hawaii's cries for help? Gator Clause is here to help you slosh through the bloodbath. Here are 15 things to look out for. (If you're keeping an eye on something we didn't mention, then leave a comment so everyone can appreciate your insight.)

1. Florida should score at least 45 points. Anything less will be for lack of trying.
2. If the Gators hold Hawaii to under 14 points, then that will be a clear sign that the defense has improved. Hawaii led the nation in scoring last year (43.4 ppg). Troy scored 31 points against the Gators last season in the unofficial season opener. (Western Kentucky doesn't count.)
Moody 3. Pay special attention to how many carries redshirt sophomore RB Emmanuel Moody [PICTURED] accumulates. If Moody, the USC transfer, finishes the game with more carries than RB Kestahn Moore, that might be an indication for bigger things to come.
4. If RB Kestahn Moore fumbles, that's bad news for Kestahn Moore.
5. This might seem inconsequential to some, but it fascinates Gator Clause: Watch for RB Chris Rainey's shoe to fly off at any point during the game. Rainey didn't play much last season, but when he did it seemed like his shoes were always flying off.
6. Keep count of how many series Will Hill plays at safety.
7. Who's Meyer's designated kick blocker? This is an important job. My pregame guesses are William Green, Chris Rainey or Frankie Hammond Jr.
8. Does OG Jim Tartt play most of the game? His shoulders have been hurting, he didn't practice much during the preseason but he's apparently getting the start.
9. Redshirt freshman receiver Deonte Thompson (Belle Glade) is starting over junior Riley Cooper. Keep track of Thompson's receptions, drops and downfield blocking.
Jajenkins 10. Watch for cornerback Joe Haden to move inside as the Gators' nickel cornerback. You might be surprised who takes Haden's place on the edge. My guess is true freshman Janoris Jenkins [PICTURED].
11. If Matt Patchan records two sacks against Hawaii, then I'm predicting a start against Miami, the team his father and uncle played for.
12. Keep an eye on No.1. It might just be me, but I wouldn't be surprised to see WR Percy Harvin run a few routes.
13. Middle linebacker Ryan Stamper is a redshirt junior but he's making just the second start of his career.
14. If CB Wondy Pierre-Louis gets an interception, look up to the press box. I'll be the guy screaming, "I told you so!"
15. If Tebow rushes more than 12 times against Hawaii, then he's going to win the Heisman this year. Just sayin', mmhmmm.

In the course of three weeks, UF safety Justin Williams [PICTURED] has gone from fourth-string receiver to back-up free safety. Watch for Williams to get some reps against Hawaii. Remember, folks, UF's Juwilliamssecondary is one injury to Major Wright away from panic mode. (Wright broke his hand last season.) Williams needs some game-time experience before he gets tossed on the field as a starter.

"You're going to have to develop two deep, no question about this," Florida safeties coach Chuck Heater said. "The season is incredibly long."

Williams (6-1, 205 pounds) says he approached coaches about moving to safety. He had two interceptions in the Gators' first scrimmage of the spring and since that time Williams has proven to be a viable option. He played safety in high school and told Gator Clause earlier this week that he had 10 interceptions as a prep star in Georgia.

June Jones is no longer the coach at Hawaii and Colt Brennan is no longer the quarterback.
HawaiiYou're asking yourself, why is Florida such a heavy favorite against Hawaii if the Warriors played in the Sugar Bowl last year? Well, it's simple. Hawaii was overrated last year. No, just kidding. Hawaii has a new coach, (Greg McMackin) new quarterback (either Brent Rausch or Greg Alexander) and is playing at 12:30 ET, which is 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time. Of course, Hawaii did arrive on the east coast on Tuesday to get acclimated.

Why does ESPN and others insist on spelling Hawaii like this, Hawai'i? That accent mark between the 'ii' (or whatever it is) is silly and borderline self-righteous, if you ask me.

120pxheismantrophylogo-Tebow needs five rushing touchdowns to tie Florida great Emmitt Smith for the school record. Smith finished his career with 36.
-Tebow has rushed for at least one touchdown and passed for at least one touchdown in 14-straight games. The streak is the longest in NCAA history.

Read how UF's future opponents faired on Thursday night, the opening night of the 2008 college football season:
LINK: Miami Hurricanes open new era with flair
LINK: Gamecocks shut out Wolfpack in opener
LINK: Nixon gets Vandy off to strong start

Helmet_ten This will be the first game for UT and UCLA since 1997 when Payton Manning and the No.3 Vols defeated UCLA 30-24 at Pasadena...UT safety Eric Berry was the Sporting News' national defensive freshman of the year. Berry had five interceptions...UT's leading rusher (Arian Foster) and receiver (Lucas Taylor) return.

Helmet_ukyKentucky broke the Cardinals' four-game win streak last year. Senior receiver Dicky Lyons had 56 receptions for 655 yards last season. The Cats return three experienced running backs, senior Tony Dixon, junior Alfonso Smith and sophomore Derrick Locke.

MEMPHIS AT OLE MISS, Saturday 7 p.m., Pay Per View
Helmet_oleOle Miss coach Houston Nutt coaches his first game with the Rebels. Highly touted Texas transfer Jevan Snead will make his Ole Miss debut at quarterback. Ole Miss' defensive line returns three veterans including Clinton McDonald, who had four sacks last year.

Helmet_alaESPN GameDay is in Atlanta for this season opener. Can Alabama coach Nick Saban get his first signature win with the Crimson Tide? Saban hasn't had a winning regular season as a coach in over three years. Clemson is stacked with offensive talent. Running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller (who almost transferred to UF before 2007) return.

Helmet_lsu This is the upset everyone is waiting for. Appy State shocked Michigan last year in Ann Arbor. Can QB Armanti Edwards do the same in Death Valley. LSU defensive linemen Tyson Jackson and Ricky Jean-Francois will look to knockout Edwards early.


August 28, 2008

Meyer: Patchan could get a starting nod

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Thursday evening that true freshman defensive lineman Matt Patchan could get the starting nod on Saturday. Seriously, Coach?

PatchanAccording to Meyer, Patchan [PICTURED, GREAT HAIR] is one of three players who could start at defensive tackle against Hawaii. The others are redshirt sophomores Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders.

Even if Patchan doesn't start, it's still quite a compliment for the kid to be considered worthy of a start in a season opener as a true freshman. And, considering Patchan's offseason, he must be one heck of a player. Defensive line coach Dan McCarney praised Patchan after Wednesday's practice. Gator Clause can't wait to watch this kid go. Sounds like he has the potential to be pretty special.

Patchan enrolled at UF for the spring semester and had a great spring practice despite some nagging injuries. Then, over the summer, Patchan was the victim of a seemingly random shooting near his hometown of Seffner. Patchan says he was lucky to walk away with his life. If that setback wasn't enough to discourage the freshman, he then strained his chest muscle while working out later in the summer.

The strained chest muscle limited Patchan's progression during the entire fall camp. He was only cleared for full contact drills on Monday. If you're counting, that means he has only practiced at full speed four times since the spring.

Meyer still won't name a back-up quarterback to Tebow. Can't damage the egos of reserve QBs Cam Newton and Jon Brantley, we suppose.

"We haven't settled on a back-up quarterback," Meyer said. "They're both fairly even and we hope to get them both in the game."

Get them BOTH in the game!?! This can only mean one thing: Florida must plan on beating Hawaii by at least 60 points.


UF season preview; Plus 5 goals for a trip to Atlanta for the SEC championship game

THE MIAMI HERALD'S college football preview hit newsstands today. Check it out!

LINK: Check out the online version of The Herald's college football preview section.
LINK: Seeking the perfect form: Criticism lingers for Heisman-winner Tebow
LINK: Role rehearsal goes well: Spikes shows he is growing into needed leader on defense

GAINESVILLE -- We're excited and having some fun today on Christmas Eve, Eve of the Gators' season opener. Gator Clause presents five statistical measures or thoughts that could land the Florida Gators in Atlanta for the SEC championship game.

5 Hold Tennessee RB Arian Foster to under 100 yards. Foster rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2007 but only had 26 yards on 11 carries against the Gators.

4. Hold LSU to under 20 points. Each of Florida's seven SEC championships since 1991 have two things in common when it comes to LSU. Florida beat LSU each time and held the Tigers to under 20 points.

3. Make Georgia QB Matthew Stafford throw the ball in the fourth quarter. He has a tendency to let pressure get the best of him. In each of the Bulldogs' two losses last season (South Carolina and Tennessee), Stafford tossed fourth-quarter interceptions.

2. Make LSU punt the ball. Everyone knows what happened last season. (The Tigers converted 5-of-5 fourth-down attempts.)

1. Block at least eight kicks. In 2006, the Gators blocked eight kicks (five punts, two field goals and one extra point) and won the national championship. In 2004, Urban Meyer's undefeated Utah team blocked nine kicks (seven punts and two field goals).

Football season is here. Stay in touch and up to date with the Gator Club of Miami. CLICK ME!


August 27, 2008

DE William Green is 'lightning' fast; Learn why he snubbed the Crimson Tide to play for UF

GAINESVILLE -- One defender will most certainly appear out of place on Saturday along the University of Florida's defensive line. True freshman William Green, all 215 pounds of him, will look like a stick figure when he lines up against Hawaii.

WilliamgreenOn Wednesday, Florida coach Dan McCarney said that Green will most certainly see action on Saturday. McCarney has nicknamed Green "Lightning" because of the defensive end's speed and quickness. Green [PICTURED] is listed as a third-string defensive end but McCarney said that Green will see action as a speed rusher.

That revelation might come as a surprise to some, considering Green's slight physique, but McCarney says that he knew Green would be a significant contributor this season almost immediately during training camp.

"We're going to turn him lose and he's going to play," McCarney said. "It took about three days in camp to say that this kid is going to play this year. He'll help our team somewhere.

"He's not going to go in there and bull rush 310-pounders but he practices smart and he's got quickness and speed. I nicknamed him "Lightning" because he is really going to be something but you've got to be smart because he is 220 pounds ringing wet."

Gator Clause caught up with Green during the preseason and found out the reason why Green, who grew up in Hoover, Ala., snubbed the Alabama Crimson Tide in favor of the Gators. According to Green, it was a foregone conclusion for many in Hoover and Alabama that Green was heading to Tuscaloosa.

GreenGreen's coach at Hoover Spain Park even moved Green to linebacker during his senior season because, according to Green, Alabama's coaching staff wanted him to arrive on campus at Alabama with experience as a linebacker. There was only one problem with that plan. Green didn't want to play linebacker and Florida wanted Green to play defensive end. There you go.

A side note: Green is extremely smart and that likely helped his transition to college football. He picked up the Gators' defensive schemes quickly, allowing him to (as Florida's coaches like to say) play fast.

A second side note: Green's all-time favorite NFL player is former UF defensive end Javon Kearse. Kearse was nicknamed "The Freak." Green hasn't even played in one game at UF and already he has his nickname. This is a player to keep an eye on this Saturday.


Harvin, Spikes, Hurt are out; Ronnie Wilson moves back to O-line; Patchan wowing coaches

GAINESVILLE -- Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney said on Wednesday evening that Ronnie Wilson has been moved back to the offensive line and could begin competing for a spot on the Gators' two-deep offensive line depth chart immediately.

"Tough guy and strong guy," McCarney said. "He's got to help our team somehow, some way."

Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Wednesday that reserve offensive lineman Maurice Hurt (neck stinger) will be unavailable for Saturday's season opener against Hawaii. Hurt is a second-string right guard behind Mike Pouncey. Meyer also said that receiver Percy Harvin and linebacker Brandon Spikes are doubtful for Saturday.

There are two likely reasons why coaches moved Wilson back to offensive line. One, Wilson wasn't very good at defensive tackle. Two, they don't need him anymore because freshman Matt Patchan is wowing coaches in practice. Patchan has only been back to full-contact practice for three days and already McCarney likes what he sees.

"His motor never stops and when you say go play relentless for the Gators he understands that about as good as anybody," McCarney said. "The short time he has practiced he has really, really left a strong impression on everybody."

McCarney plans to play 9-10 players in the defensive line rotation. Here's an educated guess at list: Jermaine Cunningham, Carlos Dunlap, Justin Trattou, Duke Lemmens, Lawrence Marsh, Terron Sanders, Matt Patchan, Troy Epps, William Green and Javier Estopinan.

--Torrey Davis is not working with the defense. He is out of shape, according to McCarney and working with trainers during practice.


Details of Harvin's surgery sound pretty scary

LINK to my feature story on UF defensive tackle Javier Estopinan in today's paper.
LINK to Mike McCall's practice notebook in today's paper.
LINK to former Gators DE Derrick Harvey finally ending his holdout with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer shed some light on Percy Harvin's offseason surgery yesterday. The process sounded pretty scary and the surgery was apparent a very delicate procedure.

"The original thing was to drill some holes to encourage bleeding and healing and when they found out the had a growth on the bone that was causing issues of tendonitis in his knee and hip they went to North Carolina and they took off a good chunk of bone, which is a pretty difficult surgery," Meyer said.

Thoughts and opinions are welcomed on Harvin's surgery and his playing status. I'd be surprised if he returns to action in a full-time basis before Tennessee.

Understandably, UF and Harvin are being careful with the injury. Harvin did not participate in fall camp or two-a-days and only this week returned to practice on a limited basis. Harvin played in 7-on-7 drills on Tuesday and Meyer said there is a chance Harvin could play against Hawaii.

--Meyer said on Tuesday that back-up quarterback Jonathan Brantley has a staph infection in his throwing arm. The infection will not affect Brantley's playing status, according to Meyer. Gotta think Newton is the first option off the bench now.

--Redshirt senior kicker Jonathan Phillips is the projected starter on Saturday. An interesting side note about Phillips: He turned down a chance at law school at the University of Miami to return for his final season with the Gators. Phillips, who received his undergraduate degree in finance, is attending graduate school at Florida. If plans on reapplying to law school next year.

Phillips was injured last season when freshman reserve cornerback Moses Jenkins collided into Phillips' knee during a routine special teams drill.


August 26, 2008

Meyer's idea for a "White Out" was inspired by Gator Clause, we're assuming

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer has a request for fans attending Saturday's season opener: Wear white clothes to help raise awareness for cancer. "White Out Cancer," according to the press release.

First things first, this is a great idea. Second things second, the editorial board here at Gator Clause just wants to go on record and thank Coach Meyer for considering our idea for wearing jerseys in honor of a cause. Usually, major college football programs only think about contracts with ESPN and Nike. Here's the link to the idea we suggested over a month ago. CLICK ME!

Way to go, Urban! Thanks for hearing us out!


Stamper calls Spikes' injury "pretty serious"

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer indicated on Tuesday that he was discouraged with the apparent severity of Brandon Spikes' toe injury. But Meyer said it was too early in the week to rule Spikes unavailable for Saturday's season opener.

Replacing Spikes in the starting line-up would be redshirt junior Ryan Stamper, who defensive coordinator Charlie Strong says is one of the most reliable players on the team. Stamper saw action in 13 games last season and started against Georgia. He has a cursory knowledge of each linebacker position. On Tuesday, Stamper said that Spikes' injury seemed "pretty serious."

"I don't know if [Spikes] is going to be out a couple of weeks but it seems like a pretty serious injury," Stamper said. "Coach probably doesn't want to stress the injury too much. He probably could play with it but I don't know if they want to take that chance."

If Spikes is unavailable on Saturday, Stamper said he will be excited to start for a season opener, something he has never done. Coaches have told Stamper to be prepared to replace Spikes for the first three games of the season.

"If [Spikes] can't go and I get that opportunity that's just a great honor for me -- first game," Stamper said. "I'll be ready to go any game: Hawaii, Miami or Tennessee. I've just got to be ready if my number is called."


RB Chris Rainey analyzes his sex class

GAINESVILLE -- Any regular reader of this blog knows that we here at Gator Clause believe Chris Rainey is the pretty much the best thing to ever happen to the sport of football. He loves the game, he lives to be a positive part of the team, he's tougher than an alligator's scales and he can run really fast. But on top of that, Rainey is a funny guy and tells it like it is. During a press conference, Florida coach Urban Meyer can't speak about Chris Rainey without smiling.

On Monday, Rainey spoke with reporters about one of his classes this semester. Rainey calls it a "sex class."

Rainey on his sex class: "It's boring. I don't like to be in that class. I thought it was going to be fun, like what you see on TV but, it ain't like that."

Rainey on the Gators' depth at skill positions: "I'd have to put names in a hat to see who gets the ball first."

Rainey is listed as a second-string running back for the Gators' home opener against Hawaii.


August 25, 2008

Torrey Davis back at practice; John Brown underperforming; Tebow talks smack; PLUS ... The Patron Saint of running backs

GAINESVILLE -- Sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis attended his first practice on Monday, according to Florida's coaching staff.

Davis did not practice but defensive line coach Dan McCarney said that Davis will remain on scholarship while the coaching staff tries to "work him back into the program" and "back on the team."

Davis was unable to participate in preseason practice due to academic problems. He also recently appeared in court for driving with a suspended license. But, frankly, that has nothing to do with why he isn't on the team. See Tony Joiner: Arrested one day and starting against LSU another. No, Davis just can't get it done in the classroom.

Ever wonder why John Brown isn't competing for a playing time? McCarney said on Monday that Brown simply hasn't performed well in practice and is unreliable. He's also recovering from a broken bone in his hand. Of course, you don't need hands to play defensive tackle, just a will to out work your opponent. Brown, apparently, lacks the goods right now.

Well, not exactly. But he did say on Monday that it "wouldn't be bad" if he got to play Southern Methodist University on Saturday. SMU is coached by June Jones, the former Hawaii coach who called Tebow a system quarterback last year before the Heisman ceremony.

"I'm sure they have a great system there," Tebow said of SMU.

--Anyone other than me surprised that Jonathan Phillips beat out Caleb Sturgis for kicking duties this preseason? Not a good sign, if you ask me.

--Freshman defensive lineman Matt Patchan participated in contact drills for the first time on Monday and McCarney was impressed. Expect Patchan to see playing time against Hawaii.

Emmanuel Moody is listed as a reserve running back but if you read between the lines of Meyer's statements on Monday, then you'll realize that Moody will get his fair share of touches against Hawaii.

"[Moody] is a completely different player than he was last spring and he is ready to go out there and play college football. It has been a while. If you haven't gotten to know Emmanuel Moody yet, he is a high-character guy and he and his position coach are very close."

An interesting side note on Moody: He doesn't sign autographs like most athletes. Instead of writing his signature on a jersey or helmet or magazine or whatever, Moody writes "Jesus" and below that a cross and below the cross a "21." Imagine the surprise of some kid who gets a Gators autographed football for Christmas. Look, Mom! Jesus signed my football!


MLB Brandon Spikes questionable for season opener

LINK: UF official depth chart...CLICK ME! (I typed this out by hand as a Word document, so y'all can print it out.)
LINK: SEC lands enormous TV deals with CBS and ESPN, totaling $205 million per year...CLICK ME!

GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Urban Meyer said on Monday that Brandon Spikes is questionable for the Gators' season opener on Saturday due to a foot injury.

Meyer didn't elaborate but said that the foot injury is a "lingering" problem. Spikes led the Gators in tackles in 2007 and, according to teammates and coaches, has asserted himself as a team leader this offseason.

Redshirt junior Ryan Stamper is listed as Spikes' back-up on the Gators' depth chart.

Gator Clause asked Meyer one question during Monday's press conference and received a pretty good answer. Meyer mentioned that the defensive coaches plan on using three-linemen sets at times. Here's the question and Meyer's answer:

GATOR CLAUSE: If you go to that three linemen set, who are going to be the three linemen and who will be the linebackers?

"There are just too many groupings. We have one where it's 3-3-5 where it's five defensive backs and an extra linebacker. [Linebacker] Brandon Hicks will play a lot and also [cornerback] Joe Haden will go to nickel and [cornerback] Janoris Jenkins will come in when we play five defensive backs. We'll play a lot of the game like that where [Haden] will move inside and we'll go with Janoris or [cornerbacks] Jacques Rickerson and Wondy [Pierre-Louis] on the outside and two safeties, Ahmad Black and Major [Wright]. That will be a big chunk of our game.

"Linemen will be Carlos Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham and Lawrence Marsh but then you have [Justin] Trattou and [Matt] Patchan, we'll find out if [Patchan] goes. You're going to see a lot of players playing on defense. A lot of rotation going and that's advantage us because one of the hardest things in sports is to rush a quarterback. You rush him 60 times a game you're usually toast after three series so the ability to rotate guys on the pass rush is going to be key. You'll see Duke [Lemmens] play as well.

"William Green will play. He's a true freshman. He's 218, 219 pounds right now. A couple more peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, get him up to 221. He's going to play on defense a lot. He's a really good player. You will enjoy watching him play."



August 23, 2008

Florida safety Ahmad Black is smiling; Gators to face virgin QBs in first two weeks

TAMPA -- I'm sitting inside Raymond James Stadium tonight covering Jags-Bucs. Yes, former Florida Gators safety Reggie Nelson is in the house and, yes, he already has one interception for the Jags. [OK, make that TWO picks for Reggie Nelson IN THE FIRST HALF!]

Reggie's picks of Bucs QB Jeff Garcia got me thinking: The Gators' current safeties -- the weakest unit on the Gators' team -- couldn't have asked for a better start to the season. They're facing two virgin college quarterbacks in the first two weeks.

Hawaii starting quarterback Brent Rausch is a junior-college transfer who has no experience at the FBS level. BUT RAUSCH MIGHT NOT EVEN START. Rausch, who was the projected back-up this offseason, missed practice on Saturday with a strained arm, according to the Honolulu Advertiser. Hawaii coach Greg McMackin isn't sure if Rausch will be healthy by next Saturday. Rausch's back-up is Greg Alexander. Alexander was Hawaii's projected third-string quarterback at the beginning of the offseason.

If that's not enough to lower the collective blood pressure of Florida's defensive coaches , the news out of Coral Gables certainly will. According to The Miami Herald, projected Miami Hurricanes starter Robert Marve, a redshirt freshman, is suspended for Miami's season opener. That means true freshman Jacory Harris will get the start in the 'Canes against Charleston Southern.

It seems that Marve is expected to return to the starting line-up for the Hurricanes' date with the Gators on Sept. 6. That means Marve will be making the first start of his college career inside The Swamp. That's a tough assignment, folks.

Like I said, I'm in Tampa tonight but if I squint really hard I think I can see Florida sophomore safety Ahmad Black smiling all the way from here. Could the season be starting any better for the Gators? Next thing you know, Tennessee safety Eric Berry is going to catch the flu in three weeks.


Harvin back on the field but limited; Tebow says Harvin at full speed

GAINESVILLE -- Florida receiver Percy Harvin practiced sparingly on Saturday. It was Harvin's first action since the beginning of fall camp, according to Florida coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Tim Tebow. 

Meyer said that "there's a chance" that Harvin could play in the season opener next Saturday against Hawaii. The decision will be made next week, Meyer said.

Tebow said Harvin practiced at full speed even though the receiver did not participate in contact drills.

For those that want to try and read between the lines, Meyer did not mention Harvin among the Gators' top four receivers.

"[Louis] Murphy, Carl Moore and Riley Cooper have separated themselves and then Deonte Thompson," Meyer said. "Those guys have to all be on the same page and going."

The Gators will not practice on Sunday. For the players, the break comes as a welcomed respite. Florida practiced for over two hours on Friday while Tropical Storm Fay was passing over Gainesville. The Gators practiced for 2 1/2 hours on Saturday as well.

"Right now on offense we're not very good because we're beat up," Meyer said. "I'm kind of counting on Monday when the ball is snapped we have our best 11 players going and right now they're not."

"He still didn't do everything but he did a lot," Tebow said. "You notice there's a different gear when Percy steps onto the field."

"Everybody has been going the whole fall camp and their legs are a little blown and a little slower then Percy comes out full speed, it makes everyone look a little slower."

--Freshman defensive lineman Matt Patchan practiced with the scout team on Saturday. Meyer said Patchan will rejoin the defensive line rotation on Monday.

--Meyer said that running back Emmanuel Moody, the transfer from Southern Cal, isn't the all-purpose back the Gators would like him to be. There is room for improvement, according to Meyer.

--Senior kicker Jonathan Phillips is ahead of freshman Caleb Sturgis, according to Meyer.

--Freshman defensive tackle Omar Hunter continues to participate in full-contact drills.

--Meyer remembering his first conversation with running back Chris Rainey: "Ever sit with a three-year-old and had a good, solid discussino about Santa Claus? That's what it was like. Now we talk about life, football and academics. It's kind of neat now. We're beyond the Santa Claus thing."

RECRUITING: Seffner Armwood defensive end Ryne Giddins (6-4, 235 pounds) attended the Gators' practice on Saturday.


August 22, 2008

RAINY DAY (and Rainey Day) BLOG: Who do your favorite Gators hate more, Miami or FSU?

GAINESVILLE -- The rain continues to fall here in Hogtowne. Since UF football players and coaches here in Gainesville don't speak to reporters when the roads are wet, I'll have to fill the blog space today with a little intra-state smack talk. Works for me! Gotta write SOMETHING, right?

The Gator Clause staff (Goody and Mike-Mike McCall) polled several Gators recently with 10 random questions. One of the questions was, "Who would you cheer for between FSU and Miami?" Here are the answers...

--Back-up quarterback John Brantley: "I really don't like either team but I definitely don't like FSU. So, I'd have to say Miami."
--Offensive tackle Phil Trautwein: "Miami."
--Defensive end Duke Lemmens: "I just want Florida to beat both."
--Defensive end William Green: "Probably Miami."
--Safety Major Wright: "Miami."
--Defensive tackle Javier Estopinan: "They're both terrible to me. I couldn't even choose one."
--Cornerback Moses Jenkins: "Miami for sure."
--Running back Chris Rainey: "They're both sorry. FSU."
--Receiver Frankie Hammond Jr.: "Miami."
--Cornerback Wondy Pierre-Louis: "I don't even care."

So, if you counting. Pretty much everyone polled hates FSU more than Miami except for Chris Rainey. Oh, and Wondy doesn't care. He just doesn't want Georgia to ever win another game.

Florida sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis, who is currently suspended from the Florida football team due to academic concerns, pleaded not guilty to knowingly driving with a suspended license on Wednesday in Alachua County traffic court. Davis was cited twice in April for knowingly driving with a suspended license.

Those two citations came after Davis was stopped twice in 2007 for unknowingly driving with a suspended license. Davis’ pre-trail date is scheduled for Sept. 22. His lawyer, Huntley Johnson, also represents current Florida defensive tackle Ronnie Wilson and former Florida safety Jamar Hornsby. Both Wilson and Hornsby were initially arrested for felonies but their charges were later reduced to misdemeanors.

--RECRUITING: Miami Columbus defensive tackle Antwan Lowery (6-4, 335 pounds) has narrowed his college suitors to three schools -- Florida, Rutgers and Clemson. Sounds like good news for the Gators.

--THE LATEST FROM HAWAII: The Warriors are set to leave for Atlanta on Tuesday. Hawaii is only traveling with 65 players. The travel roster will not include quarterback Tyler Graunke, who was recently reinstated to the team.

--IN THE NEWS: Former Gator Jerimy Finch is eligible to play safety for IU this season. How is this possible? The NCAA cites extenuating circumstances. Finch is a father of a toddler, who lives in Indiana. The child never made the move to Gainesville when Finch lived in Florida. 

--CHECK OUT THIS 3-D map on Google Earth of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Brought to you by the fine folks at mapgameday.com. Pretty cool. (You'll need to install the Google Earth plug-in for this to work.)

--One columnist, the great Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun, says this is the most important season of Urban Meyer's career. Do you agree? Meyer already has won a national title with Florida and he's going to make about $3.5 million this season regardless, so there is room here for an argument.

--ON THE RADIO: Gator Clause will be chatting Florida football live around 8:45 a.m. on Saturday with Knoxville radio personality Josh Ward of Knoxville's WNML-AM, The Sports Animal. Listen live via the radio station's live Internet stream.


August 21, 2008

EMAILS I GET: AJC says Florida Gators are most obnoxious fans in the SEC

GAINESVILLE -- This email comes to us from Alex Burgos. Thanks for the great email, Alex. (Alex's email in blue font. CLICK THE RED FONT BELOW for the link.)

Hey Joe:

As a diehard Gator alum and fan who was born and raised in Miami, I read your articles and blog on an almost daily basis. This story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught my attention, so I wanted to pass it along.  What a surprise – an Atlanta reporter thinks the Gator Nation has the most obnoxious fans: Ranking Obnoxious SEC Football Fans

The Cocktail Party is going to be an absolute war this year.  I can’t wait. Go Gators!

Alex Burgos, UF ‘02

Sometimes the system uses the player and sometimes the player uses the system. Learn how Frankie Hammond Jr.'s path to Florida was anything but typical. This is a great read for parents of high school football players who might get discouraged by the phony hype perpetuated by Internet recruiting websites! To read my feature story on Florida freshman receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. CLICK ME!

Florida coach Urban Meyer is a great public speaker. He is also a realist and a smart man. He understands that his football players are professionals in many ways. On Wednesday, he recognized the difficult situation he faces as the University of Florida head football coach. During a civic luncheon at the Gainesville Hilton, Meyer explained to city leaders, UF faculty, university trustees and a few major football boosters that molding football players who are unprepared for college is a tough job. CLICK ME!


BEING URBAN MEYER: Who gets a redshirt?

I should be in bed right now. It's 1:30 in the morning but I just can't take my eyes off the television. The Olympic race walkers just have that affect on me. So bizarre. Olga of Russia IS A BEAST! I'll have to check the official Olympic media guide, but I'm pretty sure this sport was invented at Bal Harbor (Miami Beach mall) but then later popularized at Sawgrass Mills (suburban Sunrise mall). I haven't seen this many manic Canadian walkers since last I went to Hollywood Beach ...

GAINESVILLE -- So, while I watch the Olympics and wonder how these ladies' hips don't pop out of joint from all the swishing, I'll raise an always-intriguing preseason question: Who gets a redshirt? This is a popular topic for both fans and reporters, so make sure to chime in with your comments. I'm interested to know what you guys think.

Last season, the Gators decided to redshirt nine scholarship freshmen. (Most notably: Chris Rainey, Deonte Thompson, John Brantley, John Brown and James Wilson.) Some people don't agree (one of those Internet guys who tried to convince me last week), but redshirting is still an important part of college football. Meyer likes to say that he doesn't ever plan to redshirt anyone. That's bologna. Especially this season, which features so many underclassmen at UF. Florida's roster includes 60 underclassmen (31 sophomores, nine redshirt freshmen and 20 true freshmen).

Like in 2007, a few talented players need to redshirt this season. If I was Meyer, here are the guys I'd redshirt this season:

--Brendan Beal, LB, An obvious redshirt. This guy recently tore his ACL.
--Jeremy Brown, CB, Battled back spasms throughout fall camp. He's not ready but has big-time potential.
--Adrian Bushell, DB, Didn't practice for the first week of the preseason.
--Earl Okine, DE, Plenty of defensive ends on the depth chart. Give him a year to develop.
--Omarius Hines, WR, One of the three freshmen receivers should redshirt.
--Sam Robey, OL, Plenty of young offensive linemen already on the depth chart.
--David Young, OL, Despite an excellent fall camp, could use a year of development.
--Omar Hunter, DT, John Brown of 2008? Does the addition of Ronnie Wilson make redshirting Hunter a possibility? I say yes.

--Janoris Jenkins, CB, Will play a significant role on special teams. A possibility at nickel and dime.
--Matt Patchan, DT, Give him about three more weeks and he'll be in the mix.
--Caleb Sturgis, K, I don't care what anyone says. This guy should start.
--Jeffrey Demps, ATH, Can't wait to see what he can do.
--William Green, DE, Special teams dynamo.
--Frankie Hammond Jr., WR, Still a redshirt possibility, Hammond Jr. has wowed coaches with his smarts.
--Will Hill, S, One play away from being a starter.
--T.J. Lawrence, WR, Special teams star.
--Lerentee McCray, LB, Special teams.
--T.J. Pridemore, FB, Special teams.


August 20, 2008

Florida is a 34-point favorite to beat Hawaii; Check out the official game notes

GAINESVILLE -- Florida released pregame notes today for the Gators' season opener against Hawaii. It's filled with plenty of interesting numbers. (CLICK ME! for a portion of the official game notes. Print that sucker out and study it next week when you're supposed to be working!) It lacks one important figure, though. According to a few online sports books, Florida is a 34-point favorite to beat Hawaii.

Florida also didn't release a depth chart despite UF coach Urban Meyer telling reporters last week that the starting line-up was set. I put together a depth chart last week. Here are the links:


Hawaii played in a BCS game last season, so why such a big point spread? Consider this: Hawaii has a new head coach; Hawaii is replacing the best quarterback in school history; Hawaii is playing thousands of miles from home. It will be 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time at kickoff on Aug. 30. Not to mention, Hawaii will have been on the road for a week. The Warriors are arriving two days ahead of schedule next week to acclimate and practice.

So, basically, the season opener is a preseason game for Florida and the Gators should already be scheming for Miami. Florida will probably only be a 14-point favorite against the Canes. Here's hoping Hawaii's players treat fans inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to their pregame "haka," the Warriors' version of a traditional Maori war dance. It will be the most exciting part of the day.


Should Jamar Hornsby get a second chance?

GAINESVILLE -- Former Florida safety Jamar Hornsby was charged with four misdemeanor counts of unauthorized use of a credit card on Wednesday by the Alachua County State Attorney's Office. Hornsby was kicked off the team this summer for apparently using a gas card of a UF student who passed away earlier in the year. Hornsby was initially arrested for a felony.

Hornsby_2Should Hornsby receive a second chance with the Gators? UF lineman Ronnie Wilson was given a second chance at Florida football this year after initially being arrested for a felony. Wilson's felony charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and then dropped all together.

Hornsby has the same attorney, Huntley Johnson, as Wilson. Johnson has said that he is confident Hornsby's charges will also be dropped. Hornsby is currently at East Mississippi Community College, which means he will likely transfer to another FBS school (possibly in the Southeastern Conference) next season.

Should Hornsby be allowed back onto the UF team next season and given a similar chance at redemption a la Ronnie Wilson? If not, explain why because these cases seem similar in nature. Hornsby's alleged crimes, however, did not involve a rifle.




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