Posted on: October 11, 2010 4:03 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Florida Gators find themselves in an unusual position, as they've lost two straight games and find themselves looking up at South Carolina in the SEC East. Quite frustrating for a team that has grown accustomed to winning, and winning often, under Urban Meyer. Of course, the Gators head coach is frustrated as well, saying during his press conference on Monday that his team hasn't "given everything yet."
"I told the team it was that far [from winning]," Meyer told reporters while holding his thumb and index finger a few inches apart. "Who in this room right now who is devastated could give that much more to find a way to win that game? Obviously there's a bunch of guys who gave everything they had, but there's still a bunch of guys that haven't given everything yet. That's kind of what we have to identify and address and get better. We've got to find a way to get that."
There's no question that Florida has a lot more talent on its roster than it has displayed so far this season, but Meyer's perceived lack of effort along with injuries have proved problematic. Not to mention the off the field issues. There's also the fact that the Gators don't exactly have a quarterback who fits the system they're trying to run in John Brantley.
Which is just my way of saying that while effort might be a problem, I think there's a lot more at work here, starting with the coaching. As I said last week, until the Gators coaches adjust to what they have instead of trying to force the players to adjust to them, there are going to be problems in Gainesville this season.
Maybe Meyer needs to give a little more.
Posted on: October 11, 2010 9:39 am
Edited on: October 11, 2010 9:53 am
Posted by Chip Patterson
Florida quarterback John Brantley's health has been a hot topic of speculation in Gainesville, particularly following the 33-29 loss to LSU under the lights in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday night. Brantley struggled at times to move the offense down the field, particularly in the first half. LSU's defense kept pressure on Brantley all night, holding him to 154 yards and forcing an interception. Brantley downplayed the effects of an injured throwing thumb and banged up ribs on his play after the game.
"There was never any doubt that I was going to play," Brantley told reporters after the game. "I knew since Monday or Sunday I was. They're [ribs] just a little banged up. Nothing too serious. Nothing you can't play through."
A report from ESPN.com's Joe Schad tells a different story. While head coach Urban Meyer and Brantley described the ribs as "damaged" and "banged up," the injury is actually hairline fractures in four ribs, according to Schad's source. Brantley reportedly wore a protective vest during the game, and complications from the injury kept him from throwing in practice on Thursday and Friday. Additionally, the thumb which Brantley described as a "minor thing," is actually reported to be fractured.
Regardless of the extent of Brantley's injuries, the Gators need to get healthy soon. It's the first time in six seasons the Gators have had back-to-back losses, and with South Carolina's victory over Alabama, the battle for the SEC East just became very interesting. The Gators will gladly welcome a change of pace with Mississippi State and an off week before their annual matchup with Georgia in Jacksonville.
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Posted on: October 9, 2010 5:15 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
It seems Las Vegas may know more than Florida coaches are willing to give them credit for. Earlier this week several Las Vegas sportsbooks took the Florida and LSU line off the board thanks to some questions about the status of Florida quarterback John Brantley. Florida coaches said Brantley was fine, and he practiced during the week.
Now, just a few hours before game time, we get this. According to a tweet from Gator Country , sources are saying that Brantley will be a game-time decision.
Obviously if the report is correct and Brantley can't go it would put Florida at a serious disadvantage against LSU. Well, as big a disadvantage as you can face when Jordan Jefferson is starting for the other team.
Posted on: October 6, 2010 3:47 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
The Florida Gators may be 4-1 on the season but, by and large, they haven't played nearly as well as a team as that record would indicate. They started the season with three straight wins over Miami (OH), South Florida and Tennessee and all three of those contests were a lot closer than what we've all become accustomed to seeing from the Gators.
Now, obviously, there is a reason for this. No matter what your personal feelings were for Tim Tebow when he was playing in Gainesville, it's hard to argue that Tebow was the perfect quarterback for the Florida offense masterminded by Urban Meyer and called by Steve Addazio. Losing Tebow is something the team needs to adjust to.
Unfortunately it's an adjustment that Florida's coaching staff doesn't seem willing to make.
It wouldn't be fair to compare John Brantley to Tebow because they're two completely different quarterbacks. Tebow was the battering ram who would occasionally make an ugly throw whenever it was needed. Brantley is your more traditional quarterback, with an arm that is much stronger than his legs.
Yet the Gators are treating Brantley as if he's Tebow, asking him to run more speed options than throw deep ins. Brantley has carried the ball 15 times this season for 60 yards, with no run gaining more than 11 yards. He also picked up some bruised ribs on an option run courtesy of the Alabama defense.
Even after seeing that unmitigating disaster, Addazio says that there will be no change in the way the Gators conduct business on Saturday against LSU.
"That's a part of who we are and that won't change," said Addazio. "It's like everything else. Get a little better, operate it a little better. Twenty of them? No. But the element is there and element will always be there."
Which is fine. It's hard for an offense to completely overhaul its identity in the middle of a season. Still, you would think Addazio would take a look at his team's performance against Kentucky two weeks ago.
Without question the Gators 48-14 win over the Wildcats was their most impressive outing of the season, dominating the game from the opening kick to the final whistle. In that game Brantley ran the ball four times and picked up a yard.
However, Trey Burton took some snaps at quarterback running the option and picked up 40 yards on five carries. Each one of his five runs ending with six points as Burton went on to break Tim Tebow's school record with six touchdowns in the game.
Brantley had a fine afternoon throwing the ball, as well, completing 24-of-35 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown.
So why won't Addazio use this approach the rest of the season? Against Alabama Brantley ran the ball eight times to lose a yard. Burton had half as many carries, and only picked up five yards.
Forget about the output, as even Tebow had his problems with the sturdy Alabama defense last season, and look at the philosophy. Burton was coming off an amazing game and only got half as many carries as the quarterback who has struggled to run the ball all season.
Hell, Brantley had more carries than every Florida running back other than Jeff Demps, and Demps was playing on an injured foot.
In what world does this make sense to anybody?
Not even Brantley sounds like he's comfortable running so much, though he isn't stupid enough to say it publicly.
"I don't mind doing it at all," Brantley said. "It is a little different. Gotta get a little used to it at game speed, but I'm comfortable doing it. That's what our offense is. It's been successful for us these last four years, so why not keep doing it?"
He doesn't mind doing it. Not I enjoy doing it, not I want to do it. He doesn't mind.
Well, I don't mind watching Project Runway with my girlfriend if she asks me to, but that doesn't mean I want to.
The reason you don't keep doing it is because in the four games you have been things haven't worked out too well. In the one game you didn't, and mixed it up, you had your best game of the season.
If I can see this, then why can't the Florida coaching staff?
Go with a two quarterback system. When you want to run the option, bring in Burton. If you want to pass, use Brantley. I seem to recall a former Florida quarterback who wasn't exactly suited to run an option offense either. His name was Chris Leak. That's when the Gators started using Tebow in run situations, and things turned out pretty well that year as the school's trophy case can attest to.
Posted on: October 5, 2010 2:57 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
On Tuesday rumors started to surface that Florida quarterback John Brantley was hurt and could possibly miss this Saturday's game against LSU in The Swamp. The rumors were shot down by offensive coordinator Steve Addazio who said there's no truth to any of the rumors and that Brantley is fine. Brantley himself said "I'm a bit sore. It's nothing major."
Still, the assurances from Addazio and Brantley didn't seem to have much of an affect on those who stand to make or lose a lot of money on this week's game: Las Vegas. Several casinos in this country's capital of vice and decadence have completely removed the Florida/LSU line from their sportsbooks, as they're not so sure these are just rumors.
"We're hearing that (Brantley) is questionable," said Jay Kornegay, Sportsbook Director at the Las Vegas Hilton. "Whenever we get confirmation, either way, what his status is, if he's playing or not, that'll make it a betting game again."
Now, obviously, just because Vegas has pulled the game doesn't mean for certain that Brantley isn't going to play this week. Judging by what Brantley himself said, I'd be surprised if he wasn't trying to flag down errant snaps from Mike Pouncey this Saturday. Still, there are a couple reasons to be wary of what Brantley's real status is.
Posted on: October 2, 2010 8:37 pm
Edited on: October 2, 2010 11:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
8:35 - Trey Burton is not Tim Tebow. Florida had a 4th and goal from the one yard line and went for it. Burton tried to pull off the jump pass but was picked off in the end zone. Tide gets the ball back up 3-0 with 2:15 left in the first.
8:39 - It's pretty scary to consider that Trent Richardson is the second running back for Alabama. He just tore off a 30-yard run to get the Tide into Florida territory.
8:43 - The first quarter comes to an end with Greg McElroy hitting Darius Hanks for an 11-yard gain to the Florida 14-yard line. So the second quarter will start with the Tide threatening to add to their lead. Well, unless they call a jump pass.
8:48 - Mark Ingram does what Mark Ingram's done plenty of times, scoring a touchdown to give Alabama a 10-0 lead with 14:21 left until halftime. Though Trent Richardson would have gotten there quicker.
8:54 - This is an important drive for the Gators. While they don't have to get points, they need to move down the field and get some momentum behind them. If they go three and out and punt, it could be 17-0 really quick.
9:59 - Not a bad start for Florida in the second half, as Brantley hits Burton for a big gain and the Gator offense is already at midfield. If they can get a touchdown here we might almost have a game.10:02 - Brantley hits Moore on third down to set up a first and goal from the 5.
10:05 - The Gators have to settle for another field goal. FIELD GOALS AREN'T GOING TO WIN THIS GAME, URBAN. It's 24-6 Alabama and no sign of this game getting good anytime soon.
10:11 - Florida forces Alabama to punt, and it's a beauty. Downed at the one-yard line. If Florida can stop the Tide seven more times and kick seven more field goals, well,talk about excitement.
10:17 - Well that's a questionable strategy to get back in the game. Brantley is intercepted by C.J. Mosely and the freshman takes it to the house. It's 31-6 Alabama.
10:19 - Games like this really make you appreciate the idiocy of Les Miles.
10:21 - College football needs to institute some kind of mercy rule. Not to protect the feelings of the young men playing in the games, I don't care about them. I'm talking about taking mercy on my eyes.
10:24 - Aww, the stinking sideline is ruining John Brantley's interception party. He was just picked again, this time by Barron, but Barron comes down out of bounds so it doesn't count.
10:26 - On the very next play Brantley decides to just throw a pitch to Jeff Demps away, yelling "Stop this sideline! Turnover party!" Unforunately Demps never got the invitation and recovered the fumble. Let's see what Brantley tries next.
10:28 - The refs take mercy on Florida, and call a holding on Milliner to give the Gators a first down at the Alabama 15. Then on the next play Brantley throws to Moore in the end zone, and another flag is thrown. Pass interference on Milliner again. Florida is officially a charity case. Congratulations.
10:33 - Could it have gone any other way? Brantley and Moody fumble the exchange, Alabama recovers. The Brantley Turnover Extravaganza rages on.
10:36 - We start the fourth quarter with Alabama up 31-6, and ready to heap more punishment upon the Gators. Nick Saban is so happy that after the game tonight he's going to drink the blood of not one, but two babies.
10:39 - Alabama has to punt again, so it's Florida's ball once more. How will they mess it up this time? The only thing they haven't done tonight is give up a safety, so we should probably expect a Mike Pouncey snap to sail over Brantley's head and 50 yards through the back of the end zone.
10:44 - Wow, they just showed a stat that said the Tide only have 18 yards since halftime. And they're still up 25.
10:46 - I know Gillilee is out of the game with an injury, but seriously, what's the point of having Jeff Demps in the game at this point? He's already hurt, so why risk losing him next week in a game that's already decided?
10:48 - When it rains, it pours. John Brantley just got sandwiched between two Alabama players while scrambling and he's down on the ground being attended to. He looks to be in a considerable amount of pain too.
10:51 - See, this just makes no sense to me. Both coaches just saw Brantley leave the game with an injury, yet Alabama still has all their starters in. You're up 25. You're not going to lose this game. Get your reserves some play.
10:57 - Brantley is back in the game for Florida with a couple of sore ribs. Why, I don't know.
11:00 - Only 4:22 left in the game. Mercy will be taken upon us all soon enough. It's still 31-6 Alabama.
11:05 - Saban has Mark Ingram running the wildcat just to pad his stats. Well, that's awful nice, but he's going to need about 300 more yards to catch up to Denard Robinson.
11:07 - Verne points out that every one of Alabama's remaining opponents have a bye week before facing the Tide. Which doesn't seem fair, but let's be real, Alabama had a bye this week as well.
11:09 - All right, it's a final. Alabama wins 31-6. The Tide get South Carolina next week, and if they get past them the only thing I see standing in their way to the SEC championship is Cam Newton and Auburn.
Posted on: September 18, 2010 7:10 pm
Posted by Tom Fornelli
Well after what was a rather lackluster first half in Knoxville, the action picked up a bit in the second half. After the two teams combined to score only ten points and put up 164 yards of offense, things opened up a bit in the second half.
The turning point came in the third quarter when, with the score tied at 10-10, Florida lined up for a punt at their own 39-yard line. They did not punt, however. Instead Omarius Hines took a direct snap and took off for 36 yards for a first down. Six plays later John Brantley found Frankie Hammond Jr. for a 7-yard touchdown and the Gators never relinquished the lead again.
Matt Simms was intercepted on Tennessee 's next drive by Jeremy Brown, and the Gators turned that into another seven points.
Things would get interesting in the fourth quarter when Simms found a wide open -- and I mean WIDE OPEN -- Justin Hunter for a 35-yard score to cut the lead to 24-17, but the Vols defense just couldn't keep the Gators out of the end zone on their next drive as Trey Burton would end the day's scoring with a 2-yard touchdown to make it 31-17.
Which is where this one would finish. So Florida's now 3-0, and I think it's safe to say that this was their best performance of the season.
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Posted on: September 5, 2010 5:23 pm
Edited on: September 5, 2010 7:21 pm
Posted by Adam Jacobi
GOAT*: Denard Robinson. Michigan's electric quarterback Denard Robinson thrilled fans at the Big House, completing 19 of 22 passes for 186 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 197 more yards and another score. Robinson even shook off a third-quarter hip injury, returning after just one series. Robinson's performance was downright seismic: it likely drove backup Tate Forcier to transfer, and it's the type of on-field brilliance around which Heisman candidacies are built. Of course, it was against UConn, and Michigan will not play UConn for every game; if they did, Jim Delany would be fired immediately. But it's hardly a guarantee that Terrelle Pryor can outperform Robinson over the course of the season, and last we checked, Terrelle Pryor was basically the nation's best Heisman candidate coming into week 1.
Goat: Mike Pouncey. Florida's season debut against Miami University--the one that's in Ohio, mind you, and went 1-11 last year--was almost a disaster of the highest order. Yes, Florida won 34-12, but that was a rather deceptive final score--Florida converted a 4th and 21 touchdown near the end of the game to push the margin to 22, and Miami was within 9 points in the 4th quarter (and that's without scoring a single touchdown).
Don't let the 34-point tally fool you: Florida struggled mightily on offense, and the primary culprit was Mike Pouncey, who had moved from guard to center to take over for his brother Maurkice, a first round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Steelers this spring. Pouncey was an unmitigated disaster at center: ESPN announcers counted over a dozen botched snaps, usually out of the shotgun, and the dropped snaps usually killed whatever momentum Florida was trying to sustain against a young but aggressive defense.
Pouncey's unlikely to last more than one more game at center; if he even makes it to the South Florida game, it's because his inevitable replacement needs another week to work on his timing with QB John Brantley. But Pouncey's struggles were some of the worst we've ever seen from a center, and Urban Meyer has never been patient with ineptitude from his players.
GOAT: Jack Crowe. The Jacksonville State Gamecocks pulled one of the most unlikely upsets in years with a 49-48 comeback stunner at Ole Miss, and for head coach Jack Crowe, the irony must have been delicious. 18 years ago, Crowe was on the other end of the "I-AA team beats SEC team" when his Arkansas Razorbacks were upset by the Citadel, 10-3. Crowe was fired just the next day.
Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt probably won't suffer the same immediate indignity as Crowe did 18 years ago, mainly because I-AA teams are far more capable of beating their I-A opponents than 18 years ago, when these types of games were such mere formalities en route to 60-point margins that they didn't even count toward bowl eligibility. But this loss--especially after Jeremiah Masoli was granted eligibility the day prior--may prove fatal to Nutt's career in Oxford at season's end.
Goat: the Oklahoma secondary. Any talk of Oklahoma as a national title contender should be tabled indefinitely, if the Sooners's disturbing 31-24 victory over Utah State is any indication of how they'll perform this season. The USU Aggies--generally considered a middle-of-the-road WAC team--rode a 341-yard, 2 TD performance by quarterback Diondre Borel to rack up 421 yards of offense. The Aggies even had the ball in Oklahoma territory midway through the fourth quarter, but the Sooners defense stiffened and pushed USU back to the 33 before the Aggies missed a 50-yard field goal. Still, this is Utah State we're talking about here.
Oklahoma has Florida State coming to Norman next week, and while it's not like Christian Ponder's about to throw 4 TDs in a half again like he did to Samford this week, it sure seems like he's going to find a porous secondary to shred--not the stout defense that typifies a BCS champion. So, Sooners. It's either shut down Ponder or watch your title dreams get eaten by scorpions. No pressure.