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UF silences Brandon Spikes' political voice

GAINESVILLE -- Beginning this blog today with something that might slightly annoy those among us who have a stake in the First Amendment.

UF linebacker Brandon Spikes has been outspoken about his political interests. In recent weeks, Spikes has worn T-shirts advertising one of the large-party Presidential candidates. On Tuesday evening following the Gators' practice, Spikes was asked why he supports that candidate. Spikes' political voice was silenced by the University of Florida.

He replied "I can't really comment on that" to the initial question and when asked if UF instructed him to do so, Spikes said yes.

No big deal, right? Spikes is just a college football player, right? He's just supposed to play football, make millions for UF and keep his mouth shut, right?

Well, if you believe college football is something more than just a business then it is certainly wrong. Why would UF instruct Spikes to refrain from giving his opinion? I'll let you guys answer that question. But in muzzling Spikes, UF has set an unfair double standard. UF quarterback Tim Tebow has been using his fame and his First Amendment rights for several years.

While Spikes has been instructed by UF coach Urban Meyer to not speak about Georgia or UGA running back Knowshon Moreno, Spikes did say on Tuesday that stopping the run is the key to the game, in UF's opinion.
"I think if we play great up front, we're going to win this ballgame," Spikes said.

On Wednesday, Meyer said that Florida is better prepared for Georgia this season than in 2007. UGA beat UF 42-30 last season.

"LSU up to date was our biggest [challenge] and our guys answered that," Meyer said. "We've got a better group this year. From try hard to play hard to guys on the field, we feel better prepared this year."

UF's secondary is currently ranked first in the SEC in passing efficiency, holding opposing quarterbacks to a completion percentage of 56 percent. UGA quarterback Matt Stafford has taken notice.

"They're playing well," Stafford said. "They're doing a good job of getting after the passer, which always helps. They're just playing well within their scheme and letting their guys make plays."

Stafford completed 11-of-18 throws against UF in 2007 for three touchdowns. He threw one interception and was sacked one time.

Against Alabama, UGA running back Knowshon Moreno rushed for just 34 yards on nine carries. In the three games since then (Tennessee, Vanderbilt and LSU) Moreno has exploded for an average of 145.3 yards on 23.7 carries. During Wednesday's teleconference with Stafford, I asked the quarterback about the difference between Moreno now compared to the beginning of the season.

"Wow. I think the biggest difference for him is our offensive line," Stafford said. "We settled on a group of guys that are really doing a good job of opening holes and just getting the job done for him. I don't know if his running style has changed or anything like that. I just think it's the experience around him."





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