Posted on: September 25, 2011 1:13 am
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
FLORIDA WON: The Gators extended their series streak against the Wildcats (the second-longest current streak in the FBS*) to 25 straight games, and sadly for Kentucky, it's been a while since they were even competitive; after tonight's result, they've lost their last four against Florida by a combined score of 200-36. Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey each went over 100 yards rushing as the Gators racked up a ridiculous 405 yards on the ground.
WHY FLORIDA WON: There's a lot of things these past four years that have gone wrong for Kentucky against Florida. Wait, scratch that: everything has gone wrong these past four years. But maybe nothing has gone more wrong than the Wildcats' first halves. Again and again, they've left the first half (or even the first quarter) so hopelessly behind the Gators that they must feel like they shouldn't even both showing up for the second ... and it's shown in the final scores.
So what happens tonight? A three-and-out forced on Florida's first possession, a nice Ryan Tydlacka punt to pin them on their 8, then a solid stop on the Gators' second ... and then the 'Cats Josh Clemons fumbles on the UK 45. Next play, John Brantley throws a 45-yard touchdown pass. Next Florida possession: 20-yard Demps touchdown. Ensuing Kentucky possession: Morgan Newton throws an interception. Two plays later, Trey Burton scores another touchdown.
And in a matter of minutes, it's 21-0 and the limping, toothless Kentucky offense has no prayer of ever climbing out of the hole. Credit to the Gators: with the chance to deliver the early knockout blow, they delivered it. But why do the Wildcats always seem to accept such a blow against this particular team?
WHEN FLORIDA WON: Kentucky did take some morsel of momentum into halftime, Newton capitalizing on a Jeff Driskel fumble to throw a 19-yard touchdown pass with 1:16 left in the half. Too bad Florida's first drive of the third quarter went 99 yards for a touchdown, the last 84 of them coming on Demps' second touchdown of the night to restore the lead to 38-10. If the game wasn't over already, it was over-over at that point.
WHAT FLORIDA WON: Given the history between the two teams and Kentucky's painful start to the season, the Gators' thumping of the 'Cats won't do much to move the needle. But it sure won't do anything to hurt their status as the East's top challenger to South Carolina, either.
WHAT KENTUCKY LOST: This surely wasn't one of the four remaining victories Joker Phillips' was counting on to extend the Wildcat's bowl streak, so not that much in the final reckoning. But we can't imagine yet another bludgeoning at the hands of the Gators will do much for the 'Cats morale.
Posted on: August 23, 2011 5:36 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
With lots of movement on the SEC quarterback front the last few days, now seems a good time to update the entire league's worth of races, team-by-team. Here's the latest, in alphabetical order:
ALABAMA: The Tide's season opener against Kent State is just 11 days away, but Nick Saban hasn't given any more indication towards his staff's decision between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims than he did when spring practice opened. In fact, his last comment on the situation was to say that one of them might play a position other than qurterback. McCarron remains the slightest of favorites due to his extra year of experience, but the closer the opener grows, the more likely it becomes that Saban makes good on his April threat to platoon the two. And given that not even the most catastrophic of quarterback outings could submarine the Tide against the overmatched Golden Flashes, it might make some sense to use the opener as one final audition for both.
ARKANSAS: Believe it or not, the Hogs still don't have an official starting quarterback, as Bobby Petrino has refused to name Tyler Wilson the starter over sophomore Brandon Mitchell. That's despite the fact that anyone not directly related to Mitchell believes the job is 100 percent Wilson's and the junior has been lighting the practice fields up all camp. This one appears to be a formality designed to keep the carrot in front of Mitchell for as long as possible, but stranger things have happened, we guess.
AUBURN: As you probably know, junior Barrett Trotter has been named Cam Newton's successor, with redshirt sophomore Clint Moseley the backup and true freshman Kiehl Frazier third-string. But Gus Malzahn hasn't ruled out using Frazier in some capacity, and gave the four-star recruit every snap in last weekend's scrimmage. A late-season appearance might be in the cards, particularly if Trotter struggles.
FLORIDA: No controversy here: John Brantley has been the unquestioned starter since fall camp broke, with both coaches and players seeming to go out of their way to praise the much-maligned senior and downgrade the chances of five-star freshman Jeff Driskel. "John’s our starter, and he’s our quarterback, and I don’t have any anticipation of (Driskel playing)," Will Muschamp said when discussing the Gators' opener against Florida Atlantic. Driskel has, nonetheless, won the backup's role.
GEORGIA: The Bulldogs don't have any drama, with Aaron Murray the unquestioned starter and sophomore Hutson Mason the established backup ahead of true freshman Christian LeMay. Mason has had an up-and-down fall camp, though, with some reportedly sharp practices offset by outings like one four-interception practice he called "my worst day ever — in football, period."
KENTUCKY: Morgan Newton has long since been anointed the Wildcat starter, but Kentucky may need him to stay healthy even more than the Bulldogs' need the same for Murray. Newton and the Wildcat coaches have both had ample praise for backup Maxwell Smith's ability to pick up the offense after just one spring camp and one fall practice ... but the reason Smith's had just one of each is because he's a true freshman, and not a particularly highly-regarded one (according to recruiting experts) at that.
LSU: Now here's some drama. Much to many Tiger fans' chagrin, as of this moment not even the threat of a second-degree battery arrest is enough to move the gauge-needle on Jordan Jefferson's starting job away from "likely." Now here's the even more depressing news for those bayou residents hoping strong-armed JUCO (and former Georgia backup) Zach Mettenberger would assume the top spot: Mettenberger still hasn't even supplanted Jarrett Lee as the Tigers' backup. According to Lee himself, Jefferson is still running with the "ones" in practice, Lee the twos, and Mettenberger is left with whatever reps Lee doesn't take. If Jefferson does miss the opener against Oregon, it will now be quite the shock if Mettenberger gets the call over Lee, who does say he's had the best camp of his long career.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: We know that Chris Relf will be the Bulldog' starter. The question is: will backup Tyler Russell borrow any of Relf's snaps, as he did early in 2010 as the designated pocket quarterback? The consensus seems to be that he won't, with third-stringer Dylan Favre (yes, the nephew of that other Favre) reportedly closer to Russell than Russell is to Relf. Dan Mullen hasn't entirely ruled out a return to a quarterback rotation, but we'll be surprised if we see Russell in the event of anything other than a Relf injury.
OLE MISS: We touched on this earlier today in the wake of Randall Mackey's arrest and "likely" suspension for the Rebels' season opener, but it appears Barry Brunetti -- always the narrow favorite to win the starting job coming out of spring practice -- is now the most likely candidate to begin Ole Miss's 2011 season under center. But will he stay there? The Rebel coaching staff seems genuine in their repeated statements that none of their three candidates has separated himself from the other two, and former Houston Nutt doghouse resident Zack Stoudt offers a stronger-armed passing element that both Brunetti and Mackey lack. Unless Brunetti shines out of the gate, expect Stoudt to get a serious look at some point. And if Mackey avoids the doghouse himself, the same could go for him, too.
SOUTH CAROLINA: Steve Spurrier promised a legitimate quarterback battle back at SEC Media Days, but whatever slim chance Connor Shaw actually had of unseating Stephen Garcia, it likely evaporated last week when Shaw injured his thumb and missed three practices. Never say never with Spurrier, but it will likely take some truly egregious play on Garcia's part (or another off-field incident) for Shaw to see any meaningful playing time.
TENNESSEE: Tyler Bray hasn't always pleased his coaches or put his best foot forward this fall, but he appears to have done plenty enough to hold off Matt Simms, who sounds as if he's resigned himself to being the backup. All the same, having Montana as an opening-week tune-up should be an excellent opportunity for Bray to make sure the Vols' two-headed QB wounds of 2010 don't reopen.
VANDERBILT: The biggest news for Vandy's quarterbacks this week won't actually have any impact until 2012, when newly official Wyoming transfer Austyn Carta-Samuels becomes eligible. Until then, Vandy will make do with either senior Larry Smith or junior Jordan Rogers, who together directed an offensive performance at Saturday's scrimmage one disappointed Vanderbilt blog described as "Vanderbilt-like." It may take more than one season (or the arrival of Carta-Samuels, who spearheaded the Cowboys' bowl run in 2009) for James Franklin to get the 'Dores' long-simmering quarterback woes ironed out.
Tags: A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Austyn Carta-Samuels, Barrett Trotter, Barry Brunetti, Bobby Petrino, Brandon Mitchell, Chris Relf, Christian LeMay, Connor Shaw, Dan Mullen, Dylan Favre, FAU, Florida, Florida Atlantic, Georgia, Gus Malzahn, Houston Nutt, Hutson Mason, Jarrett Lee, Jeff Driskel, Jerry Hinnen, John Brantley, Jordan Jefferson, Kent State, Kiehl Frazier, LSU, LSU, Matt Simms, Maxwell Smith, Mississippi State, Morgan Newton, Nick Saban, Ole Miss, Ole Miss, Oregon, Phillip Sims, Randall Mackey, South Carolina, Stephen Garcia, Steve Spurrier, Tennessee, Tyler Bray, Tyler Russell, Tyler Wilson, Vanderbilt, Will Muschamp, Zach Mettenberger, Zack Stoudt
Posted on: April 11, 2011 12:32 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Following Florida's Orange and Blue game on Saturday, new head coach Will Muschamp said that if the season were to start today, John Brantley would be the team's starting quarterback. I think I speak for the entire Gator Nation when I say that it's a good thing the season isn't starting for another five months then.
Those Florida fans who showed up to the game or watched on television were no doubt hoping to see some amazing growth shown by Brantley now that he's under the tutelage of Charlie Weis and in an offense that is better suited to his skills. Instead those fans saw Brantley, playing for the Blue team, start the day with six consecutive incompletions, and finish the afternoon completing 4 of his 14 passes for 45 yards. The Blue squad only managed 3 points with Brantley at the helm in the first half.
Which will of course lead to a lot of teeth gnashing over Brantley and the Florida offense over the next few months as the team prepares for the 2011 season. It's also important to note that just because Brantley is on top of the Florida depth chart at the moment, that doesn't mean he'll still be there come the fall. Both Tyler Murphy and Jeff Driskel have five months to take the job away, though neither were spectacular on Saturday either.
I tend to believe that when it's all said and done, Brantley will still be the starter in Gainesville, as we shouldn't put too much stock in the spring game. By all accounts, Brantley had looked great during the practices leading up to the game. Besides, considering that he has an entire new offense to learn under Weis, it's not exactly realistic to expect Brantley to have mastered it after only a few weeks worth of practice.
It takes months to learn the hundred variations of the same four plays that Charlie Weis calls over and over again.
So give him a little more time, Gator fans.
Posted on: March 16, 2011 12:12 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Florida , who starts spring practice today.
Spring Practice Question: What's going to be drawn on the blank slate of the Florida offense?
As spring practice 2011 opens, there may be no single unit in the entire country more intriguing than the Florida offense.
It's true. Consider that just three years ago it was the envy of college football, an unstoppable force led by the Heisman-winning Tim Tebow, featuring the most explosive receiving/rushing playmaker in the college game in Percy Harvin, drawn up and play-called by one of the best spread-option gurus in the nation in Dan Mullen, positively littered with future successful pros like Maurkice Pouncey and Aaron Hernandez ... it was the kind of offense custom-built to win a national championship, and it did. And then two seasons later, in the hands of Steve Addazio, it was a crumbling heap that finished an unthinkable 82nd in total offense. That was an offense built to go 7-5, and it did, too.
So it's hardly surprising Will Muschamp decided to scrap the entire thing and start over. It's maybe somewhat surprising, though, he'd start over with something he's familiar with but Florida hasn't run in ages: a true two-back, under-center, pro-style system as run by the newly-contented Charlie Weis.
The result of that decision is that what we know about the new Gator offense is dwarfed by what we don't, the questions at this stage far outnumbering the answers. A sampling:
Is Weis's offense going to incorporate anything left over from the Meyer era? It's not what Weis knows or what Muschamp hired him for, so don't expect much different from Weis's offenses at Notre Dame or the Kansas City Chiefs. But with a collection of personnel recruited for (and in many cases, much better-suited) the Meyer spread, there must be the temptation to include certain elements of the old scheme here and there. We'll see if Weis gives in to that temptation this spring.
Can John Brantley's career be salvaged? If there's any former Meyer recruit who might have been happy to see the offense overhauled, it would have to be the pass-first Brantley, who was asked by Addazio to fill many of the running-game holes Tebow did without only the tiniest fraction of the success. Weis's system could make Brantley a star, but whatever offense he's running, Brantley will have to be substantially more poised this spring if he's going to hold off a challenge from early-enrolled freshman Jeff Driskel.
What happens to the heirs to Harvin? What success the Gator offense had in 2010 was frequently the result of getting the ball to Jeff Demps, the diminutive sprinter who took several handoffs the distance. But a pro-style tailback job doesn't typically go to backs of Demps's (or fellow veteran blazer Chris Rainey's) size, and Demps's history of nagging injuries won't help him convince Weis and Muschamp he or Rainey will be ready to be an every-down back. With one of those injuries sidelining Demps for at least the start of spring, the larger Mike Gillislee or Mack Brown may be able to stake their claim to the position.
Will the offensive line bounce back? Much of the disappointment of 2010 started with the disappointing play up front, as a veteran line began its year with Mike Pouncey memorably dribbling snaps back to Brantley in the season opener and never seemed to truly recover. Now the Gators enter spring with a new line coach brought in from the NFL in Frank Verducci, and just one healthy 2010 starter available. But the competition for open spots and fresh voice following the departure of Addazio could lead to better results all the same.
Will any playmakers step up in the receiving positions? Yes, the receivers were a problem last year too, as the entire corps of wideouts and tight ends totaled just eight touchdown receptions and as a team the Gators averaged barely more than 10 yards a completion. Deonte Thompson led the way by netting 15 yards per-catch and 570 yards total; a big spring should establish him as the team's clearcut No. 1 and a potential All-SEC candidate. But it will also be worth watching Jordan Reed and Trey Burton, top-drawer athletes who moonlighted as Wildcat quarterbacks a year ago and have been shifted into starting roles as a tight end and slot receiver, respectively. If Thompson's ready to take the next step and Weis can find the best way to put Reed and Burton to use, the Gators could come out of spring with plenty of optimism regarding their receiving corps.
With so many questions, it seems unlikely Florida will find the right answers to all of them. But with so many potential answers at virtually any position you choose, whatever Weis and Muschamp cook up, it promises to be fascinating viewing ... and at the least, a good bit more effective than the not-even-close-to-fascinating viewing the Gators offered last season.
Tags: Aaron Hernandez, Charlie Weis, Chris Rainey, Dan Mullen, Deonte Thompson, Florida, Frank Verducci, Jeff Demps, Jeff Driskel, John Brantley, Jordan Reed, Kansas City Chiefs, Mack Brown, Maurkice Pouncey, Mike Gillislee, Mike Pouncey, Notre Dame, Percy Harvin, SEC, spring practice, Spring Practice Primer, Steve Addazio, Tim Tebow, Trey Burton, Will Muschamp
Posted on: March 15, 2011 12:28 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The quarterback position was a bit confusing in Gainesville last season. John Brantley was the starting quarterback for the Gators last season, but to be honest, he didn't really fit the position in the team's spread offense. While Brantley has an arm, he's not exactly the dual-threat you look for in a quarterback in such an offense. Which is why Trey Burton and Jordan Reed also spent some time at the position, in what was a three-headed monster that seemed to spend more time biting the Gators than the opposition.
Well, now that Urban Meyer has moved into a studio, and Steve Addazio is gone, Will Muschamp has brought in Charlie Weis and a brand new offense. Now, with spring practice nearing, the Gators are making some room at the quarterback position. While John Brantley is still atop the team's depth chart, neither Burton or Reed will find their names listed under QB, as they've both been moved. Reed is listed as a tight end and Burton is at fullback, though he'll play other positions.
Which makes you think that the road has been cleared for Brantley to win the job, but he still has plenty of competition. Along with rising sophomore Tyler Murphy, there are the two members of Florida's latest recruiting class to contend with in Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Driskel is currently third on the depth chart, and could challenge Brantley in camp.
Will Muschamp said on Monday that while Brantley would seem to have an advantage over the rest due to his experience, the depth chart right now is just a starting point. Nobody is locked in to any position.
Still, I'd imagine that Brantley will wind up winning the job. He's better suited for the pro-style offense that Charlie Weis will be running in Gainesville than the one he ran under Meyer and Addazio.
Posted on: February 4, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: February 4, 2011 2:38 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
When John Brantley struggled operating Urban Meyer's run-first spread offense last season, Florida's coaching braintrust turned more and more towards "athletes" Jordan Reed and Trey Burton to handle the quarterback position, and not without some success; Burton's 171 yards-from-scrimmage played a major role in the Gators' 34-31 overtime victory over Georgia, for instance.
But with new head coach Will Muschamp taking his cues from mentor Nick Saban's more traditional, pro-style offensive philosophy -- and Charlie Weis hired to deliver exactly that -- it's no surprise that the aerially-limited Reed and Burton won't be taking snaps any longer. Or at least, not on anything resembling a regular basis, since Muschamp confirmed this week that he's considering permanent position switches for both :
Muschamp said he has contemplated moving Trey Burton to safety or cornerback and might move Jordan Reed to tight end.Muschamp would be well-advised to make good on the "integral part" promise for both players, as both Burton (pictured) and Reed flashed playmaking ablity in 2010 that few other Gators -- if any, aside from running back Jeff Demps -- would be able to duplicate.
At the same time, two factors make Reed's and Burton's moonlighting at quarterback a luxury the Gators can afford to do without. One is that Weis's under-center, pocket-passing attack should be a much, much better fit for the strong-armed Brantley's talents than Meyer's spread. The second is true freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel; his letter of intent may still be hot off the fax, but his eye-popping performance at the Under Armour All-American Game and enrollment in time for spring camp suggest he could take over the reins as soon as this fall, if need be.
Of course, with Driskel still a true freshman (no matter how talented) and Brantley coming off of one of college football's most disappointing seasons, the Gators may still need some kind of fallback plan, and at the very least they're going to need every offensive hand they've got fully on deck to help their quarterbacks. Quarterbacks or not, you haven't heard the last of Burton and Reed by a long shot.
Posted on: January 5, 2011 12:06 pm
Edited on: January 5, 2011 12:07 pm
Posted by Jerry Hinnen
If the Urban Meyer spread-option regime was still in charge at Florida, no one would bat an eye at John Brantley exploring his transfer options. (There's probably no truth to the rumor they've added a picture of him running the zone read to the Dictionary of American Slang under "square peg in a round hole," but we wouldn't blame them if they had.) But with Will Muschamp heralding a new offensive era in Gainesville and Charlie Weis, the coach that turned Brady Quinn and Jimmy Clausen into first-round draft picks, now in the offensive coordinator's chair, you'd think that would be enough to placate Brantley, right?
It might be. But not just yet :
After a difficult first season as a starter and Urban Meyer 's resignation, the redshirt junior is considering leaving a school.
That means the Brantleys might be waiting a bit; Weis isn't expected in Gainesville until after his season concludes with the Kansas City Chiefs .Between Brantley losing a year of eligibility in the event of a transfer (assuming he stays within the FBS) and Weis's reputation for grooming quarterbacks, it still seems unlikely Brantley will bolt. But if he does, it will make things awfully awkward for Muschamp and Weis in their first season; the only other quarterbacks on the depth chart are Trey Burton and Jordan Reed, neither of which will be a good fit at all for Weis's dropback-passer schemes. That would likely make incoming true freshman Jeff Driskel the starter by default, and though Driskel is one of the most highly-regarded recruits in the country, asking any true freshman to step in and take the reins for an SEC team from Day 1 is asking for trouble.
So expect Muschamp and Weis to make their best sales pitch to Brantley as soon as they possibly can. Their first season with the Gators might just depend on it.