August 03, 2008

CAMP COUNTDOWN: Seven strengths in seven days...No.1: Experience, of course

Less than 24 hours until fall camp. Hope everyone enjoyed our CAMP COUNTDOWN. Posted below are individual links to the series...

7: TIGHT ENDS
6: SPECIAL TEAMS
5: BRANDON SPIKES
4: OFFENSIVE LINE
3: WIDE RECEIVERS
2: QUARTERBACKS
1: And the No.1 team strength entering fall camp is ... experience.

GAINESVILLE -- Last season was more about learning than it was about winning for the Florida Gators. The team that won a national championship in 2006 and the team that returned for 2007 were entirely different. From Tim Tebow to Urban Meyer, everyone had something to learn. Experience came in different forms.

061201_meyer_hmed_5phmediumFor Meyer, 2007 was the first time he had ever been a third-year head coach with a team. There were signs of inexperience. A number of Gators were arrested in the offseason following the national championship. The experience led to some in-house changes this offseason, including the hiring of full-time player mentor Terry Jackson. Distractions were limited this offseason. (Jamar Hornsby was dismissed from the team but that was addition by subtraction. Just my opinion.)

For Tebow, 2007 was about learning how to lead. He cried after losing to Georgia. The quarterback displayed a much different emotion after the Michigan defeat. He was just plain angry and admitted that his team lacked focus leading up to the bowl game.

Brandon Spikes wasn't in top form last August when the 2007 fall camp began. The experience helped him prepare his body correctly this offseason. Now, UF strength coach Mickey Marotti says Spikes is one of the Gators' most physically fit players.

Ncf_g_haden2_195One of the Gators' starting cornerbacks was a true freshman last season and the other was still learning how to play football. As a result, Florida's secondary was the worst in the Southeastern Conference. Joe Haden [PICTURED] and Wondy Pierre-Louis begin this season as preseason all-SEC defenders.

Those are just a few examples of how the Gators begin fall camp on Monday with the experience needed to vie for a conference and national championship. All told, the Gators return 17 starters. Depth and team speed are two of the Gators' greatest team strengths this season but experience might be the most important.

"With guys leaving early now -- and our championship year we had four guys on defense leave as juniors; last year we lost Derrick Harvey as a junior -- I think the shift of leadership has to go from the young players," Meyer said. "That's a big point of discussion with our group, and already has been, that just because you're a senior, that's not entitlement. We had some issues a year ago that weren't very good for our outfit. (Tony Joiner/Kyle Jackson?) If you're a sophomore, you walk the walk, talk the talk, do everything the right way, then you're a leader."

OK, with the countdown done and fall camp set to begin. Let's have some fun and predict the two-deep depth chart for offense and defense.

OFFENSE
LT: Phil Trautwein; Matt Patchan
LG: Jim Tartt; Carl Johnson
C: Maurkice Pouncey; Mike Pouncey
RG: Mike Pouncey; James Wilson
RT: Jason Watkins; Marcus Gilbert
TE: Cornelius Ingram; Aaron Hernandez
WR: Percy Harvin; Deonte Thompson
WR: Louis Murphy; Justin Williams
WR: Carl Moore; David Nelson
RB: Kestahn Moore; Emmanuel Moody
QB: Tim Tebow; Cameron Newton

DEFENSE
DE: Jermaine Cunningham; Carlos Dunlap
DT: Javier Estopinan; Torrey Davis
DT: Terron Sanders; John Brown
DE: Justin Trattou; Duke Lemmens
SLB: A.J. Jones; Ryan Stamper
MLB: Brandon Spikes; Lorenzo Edwards
WLB: Dustin Doe; Brandon Hicks
SS: Ahmad Black; Will Hill
FS: Major Wright; Will Hill
CB: Joe Haden; Markihe Anderson
CB: Wondy Pierre-Louis; Jacques Rickerson

SPECIALISTS
K: Caleb Sturgis; Jonathan Phillips
P: Chas Henry; Caleb Sturgis
PR: Brandon James; Chris Rainey
KR: Brandon James; Chris Rainey

FRIENDLY REMINDER: Free doughnuts!!!

-jo-

June 28, 2008

If Tim Tebow was a chicken...

GAINESVILLE -- ... he would be impeccable. [baCAULK!] OK, OK. That one's kind of old. But not these:

If Jason Watkins was a freeway, he would be impassable.

If Matt Patchan was a Hurricane, he would blow hard.

If Percy Harvin had a dog, it would be an ankle biter. (And he would teach it to heel.)

If Urban Meyer was German, he would be a Frankfurtor.

I regret the day I ever have to write that Major Wright made the wrong decision in leaving the right cornerback vulnerable.

What does Phil Trautwein drink when he eats fish?

That Frankie Hammond Jr., he's a real cut up.

OK, that's quite enough.

-jo-

June 18, 2008

Tebow 7/2 odds for the 2008 Heisman; Check out the complete list

HeismanGAINESVILLE -- Our friends at Bodoglife.com like to email Gator Clause wager-related nonsense in the hopes that I'll post it on the blog. Guess it worked this time. The Internet betting house recently released early lines on the 2008 Heisman Trophy. Florida's Tim Tebow won the award last year and he's the favorite to win it this year at 7-2 odds.

Listed below is Bodoglife.com's complete Heisman Trophy field as of Wednesday morning. A few things that might be of interest to Florida fans:

1. Florida dynamo Percy Harvin is listed at 15-1 odds. Harvin, of course, is the fella Tebow has tabbed to win the 2008 Heisman. I've learned that it's always a good idea to listen to Tim Tebow. In 2007, Tebow was 10-1 odds to win the Heisman. Harvin and Tebow are the only Florida players listed.

Harvin highlights, courtesy of YouTube.

2. Players with in-state ties you can bet on:

Noel Devine (West Virginia, RB, soph.), Devine is listed at 35-1 odds, this North Fort Myers native once lived with Deion Sanders. Deion tried to be a father figure for troubled little Noel (ironical name, I agree) but Noel whadn't have'n that. He split after three days. True story: Devine once challenged Chris Rainey to a foot race in a parking lot in Lakeland, Fla., and lost by two steps. In the words of Chris Rainey, "I'm like, 'Damn. It's good to be Chris Rainey.'"

Matt Grothe (South Florida, QB, jr.) Dubbed the poor man's Tim Tebow (Boy, does old Grothe hate to hear that.), the Bull's quarterback is long shot to win the Heisman, 60-1.

Ncf_us_spiller_195Here's a pretty good bet. Clemson running back C.J. Spiller (pictured) is listed at 60-1 odds to win the Heisman Trophy. The Lake Butler native snubbed Florida for Tommy Bowden's Tigers but almost transferred to Gainesville after his freshman year. (Why a running back would transfer to Florida -- Hello, Manny Moody! -- with Tebow behind center is beyond me.) Luckily for Spiller he stayed at Clemson and is now poised to have an incredible season in 2008.

3. Surprisingly, there aren't any Miami Hurricanes or Florida State Seminoles listed. One would think FSU receiver Preston Parker would have a better chance to win a Heisman than Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis (70-1). So many Miami quarterbacks have won Heisman Trophies that Robert Marve should be listed by default.

Berry_24. Tennessee defensive back Eric Berry intercepted Tim Tebow last season and returned it for a touchdown. Now Berry is listed at 80-1 odds to win the Heisman. Berry will be playing safety this season for the Vols.

Berry chose Tennessee over Florida, among other schools. The sophomore is considered the best defensive back in the Southeastern Conference this season by some preseason mags.

5. Other than Tebow, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno (10-1 odds) is probably the best bet to win Heisman. If both teams are undefeated when they meet in Jacksonville, then the head-to-head performances of Moreno and Tebow might be a determining factor for many voters.

IN WAGER-RELATED NEWS: Florida and Georgia are both 6-1 odds to win the national championship. USC (3-1) is the favorite. Miami is 35-1, FSU is 50-1 and USF is 100-1.

Eric Berry (Tenn)
80/1
Todd Boeckman (OhioSt.)
35/1
Sam Bradford (Okl)
16/1
Rudy Carpenter (ASU)
35/1
Jimmy Clausen (ND)
80/1
Michael Crabtree (TTech)
10/1
Chase Daniel (Missouri)
8/1
James Davis (Clem)
50/1
Noel Devine (WVU)
35/1
Armanti Edwards (App. State)
100/1
Arian Foster (Tenn)
50/1
Matt Grothe (USF)
60/1
Max Hall (BYU)
65/1
Cullen Harper (Clem)
25/1
Percy Harvin (FL)
15/1
Graham Harrell (TTech)
15/1
P.J. Hill (Wisc)
22/1
Ian Johnson (Boise St.)
40/1
Jeremiah Johnson (Ore)
100/1
James Laurinaitis (Ohio St.)
70/1
Dan LeFevour (C. Mich)
70/1
Kellen Lewis (Ind)
50/1
Jake Locker (Wash)
50/1
Jeremy Maclin (Missouri)
35/1
LeSean McCoy (Pitt)
20/1
Colt McCoy (Tex)
28/1
Stephen McGee (Tex A&M)
60/1
Joe McKnight (USC)
25/1
Knowshon Moreno (UGA)
10/1
DeMarco Murray (Okla)
15/1
Curtis Painter (Purdue)
60/1
Terrelle Pryor (Ohio St.)
100/1
Todd Reesing (Kan)
25/1
Javon Ringer (Mich St.)
35/1
Zac Robinson (Ok. State)
75/1
Mark Sanchez (USC)
40/1
C.J. Spiller (Clem)
50/1
Matthew Stafford (UGA)
14/1
Tyrod Taylor (V. Tech)
60/1
Tim Tebow (FL)
7/2
Willie Tuitama (Arz)
75/1
Chris Wells (Ohio St.)
5/1
Pat White (WVU)
12/1
Juice Williams (ILL)
40/1
John Parker Wilson (Ala)
40/1
Field  10/1

-jo-

May 15, 2008

NCAA 09 overall ratings: Florida, Miami, FSU, UGA, LSU and Tenn.; Tebow leads all with 99

HERE'S SOMETHING WE CAN ALL ARGUE ABOUT ...

GAINESVILLE -- For those video game nuts out there, here's a sneak peek at some individual player ratings for NCAA '09. Florida quarterback Tim Tebow has an overall rating of 99. Percy Harvin has a speed rating of 98.

Some random thoughts: Florida tight end Cornelius Ingram isn't rated among the Gators' best...LSU defensive end Ricky Jean-Francois appears to be underrated...Florida linebacker Dustin Doe is overrated...What, no Drew Weatherford?...A punter is Tennessee's second highest rated player...Georgia's video-game likeness looks pretty stinking good.

-jo-

FLORIDA

Tim Tebow, junior, quarterback 99

Percy Harvin, junior, wide receiver 96

Brandon Spikes, junior, middle linebacker 95

Dustin Doe, junior, outside linebacker 93

Phil Trautwein, redshirt senior, offensive tackle 92

Jim Tartt, senior, offensive guard 91

Maurkice Pouncey, sophomore, offensive guard 91


MIAMI

Eric Moncur, senior, defensive end, 93 (Miami)

Randy Phillips, senior, cornerback, 92 (Belle Glade)

Lavon Ponder, senior, safety, 91 (Miami)

Colin McCarthy, junior, outside linebacker, 91

Jason Fox, junior, offensive tackle, 90

Graig Cooper, sophomore, running back, 88

Darryl Sharpton, junior, linebacker, 88 (Coral Gables)


FLORIDA STATE

Myron Rolle, sophomore, rover (strong safety), 97

Derek Nicholson, junior, middle linebacker, 94

Everette Brown, redshirt sophomore, defensive end, 94

Antone Smith, junior, running back, 92 (Pahokee)

Marcus Ball, sophomore, outside linebacker, 92

Preston Parker, sophomore, wide receiver, 92 (Delray Beach)

Patrick Robinson, sophomore, cornerback, 91 (Miami) 


GEORGIA

Knowshon Moreno, sophomore, running 96

Dannell Ellerbe, senior, middle linebacker 95

Asher Allen, junior, cornerback 95

Jeff Owens, senior, defensive tackle 95 (Plantation)

Trinton Sturdivant, sophomore, offensive tackle 93

Matthew Stafford, junior, quarterback 93

Prince Miller, junior, cornerback 92


LOUISIANA STATE

Herman Johnson, redshirt senior, offensive guard, 96

Tyson Jackson, senior, defensive end, 93

Darry Beckwith, senior, middle linebacker, 95

Curtis Taylor, senior, free safety, 94

Ciron Black, junior, left tackle, 94

Al Woods, junior, defensive tackle, 93

Kirston Pittman, senior, defensive end 93


TENNESSEE

Demonte Bolden, senior, defensive tackle, 94

Britton Colquitt, senior, punter, 94

Robert Ayers, senior, defensive end, 94

Eric Berry, sophomore, defensive back, 94

Rico McCoy, junior, outside linebacker, 91

Lucas Taylor, senior, wide receiver, 91
Josh McNeil, junior, center, 89



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