Monthly Archives: September 2013

Is 2013 the Year?

The Streak, Gator Nation.

None of us even need to think about what we’re referencing when we say it. For 26 games we have beaten the Kentucky Wildcats in football and most years it is not even close. Enter Mark Stoops in his first year as coach. He’s going to do everything he can to get this streak ended. Kentucky will NEVER be considered a football threat until they do so. Heck, they beat LSU the year they won the BCS National Championship and no one talks about that loss. It’s the streak and with the exception of two years, 1993’s Wuerffel to Doering and 2003’s improbable comeback by Freshman Chris Leak, this is a series owned by the Gators. Is every ten year’s the time that the forces align to give Kentucky an edge over a team that generally has better talent, depth and coaching? Is 2013 the year? Let’s talk some football…

Little known fact…actually very little known…I was at both games in Lexington in 1993 and 2003 for completely random reasons. Both games were absolute heart-stoppers and the feeling afterwards when we won was none like you’ve ever experienced because we should not have won either game. We clearly should not even be speaking of a streak. Every ten years. Kentucky is an under-sized team that has very little depth, one receiver of note (Javess Blue) and two average QB’s. They do have a defense that plays hard….really, really hard…but they are very small and not deep at all. They took it to Louisville for a half and were it not for two turnovers in the red zone we could be talking about a big upset. Of course, Louisville kept trying for the homerun throw in the first half before settling for short routes in the second to move the ball. Kentucky has had a bye week to prepare and Mark Stoops knows us from his days as defensive coordinator at FSU. They will have a solid game plan and I’d expect it to be uncomfortable for the first half. However, it is really not difficult to know what the Florida game plan will be. We will run the ball and try to knock the other team off the line and keep pounding and pounding it. It is whether Kentucky can stop us or not. There are A LOT of people right now who think we are primed for an upset this weekend based upon our significant losses this week. The streak is going to come to an end, but not this weekend.

Coach Muschamp doesn’t put any faith in the streak and justifiably so. You can’t run a team off such things. He also is, clearly, not the type who is going to change his ways either. It isn’t pretty but he is winning games so we have to go with it. I would expect quite a bit from Mack Brown this weekend. Matt Jones has 2 fumbles in 2 games and we absolutely can’t afford any turnovers in this game. Maybe we survive 1 turnover and possibly 2, but if we get into 3+ then UK will know this could be their time. I’ve given up on expecting any downfield passing so any that we have will be bonus territory in my mind. I would expect Brent Pease and Joker Phiilips to try something very early on to test the waters in their return to Lexington. It will possibly be the first play or in the first series. That’s just a guess on my part. It is still Muschamp’s team and we’re gonna run. The loss of Easley will be seen in weeks to come but probably not this week. We still have significant depth and talent on the defensive side of the ball and Kentucky hasn’t seen anything like this yet. Finally, Tyler Murphy will be fine. I don’t foresee him trying to do to much. Just move the ball and get first downs. The rest will take care of itself. I am secretly hoping for us to return a Kickoff for a Gator TD, but that’s a whole different discussion. Florida 24 Kentucky 13. Game time is 7pm EST, 4pm PST on ESPNU—look for me in the crowd in the Gator section. A good night to join your local Gator Club because a Gator Victory over Kentucky on the road at night is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Interior of the University of Kentucky's Commo...

Interior of the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Tyler Murphy and the Kentucky Streak

Note: This was written before learning about the injury to Dominque Easley.

Unexpected consequences from the weekend, Gator Nation!

I have heard many different reactions to the news that Jeff Driskel was out for the season. The fact remains that he was our starter. His record in the last two years is 13-3 with wins over LSU, South Carolina, and FSU in that span. That demands respect regardless of the miscues and the missed opportunities (Miami, UGA and Louisville). So I’m not going to jump up an down that we have a new QB in spite of our offensive struggles. You do have to keep in mind that we will play the remainder of this season (UGA, @ LSU, @ SoCAR, FSU and Arkansas) with no QBs who have ever started in a Gator uniform or have started a collegiate game in their career. Sobering I know.

That said…..there is room for hope. I think being Jeff Driskel has been the hardest thing about him being QB. He’s thrust into the limelight. We’re told he’s in the mold of Tim Tebow (big, strong and fast). He’s expected to produce gaudy offensive numbers. I think in the last 16 games he’s tried to do way too much at times. It’s those times when he has tried to do more than he is actually capable of doing is when we turn the ball over multiple times in a game and lose. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have had high expectations, but some people handle the burden better than others. If you go back to the play where he breaks his leg, he held the ball way to long in the hope that the play would finally develop and he would have some place to throw it. Can’t knock the desire to win, but realistically, we needed him to throw the ball away and move to the next play.

Enter Tyler Murphy. Exactly how many of you knew who are backup QB was? Ok—now that you’ve fibbed a bit—how many figured he’d play the majority of just one game this year? Nice. Now we’re starting to come back to reality. Tyler Murphy had absolutely no pressure on him in the world. We need to praise the fact that he is very diligent in his preparations and was ready to go when called, but this guy has NOT been getting the majority of the snaps in this offense. While he had his miscues on Saturday, he never tried to do more than he was capable. He was solid, relaxed and let the defense set the offense up to score when needed. It’s gonna be really, really, really different this weekend at Lexington.

Last weekend, Tyler Murhpy woke up on Saturday “hoping” to get into the game. This weekend he enters having taken all the snaps in practice and expecting to start…on the road…against a Kentucky Wildcat team that really, really, really, really, really wants to end this streak we have going on against them. Really!

I liked what Tyler Murhpy showed us this past weekend and I’m optimistically hopeful this weekend where I will be in the stands for the game (Go Gators!). I do not have unrealistic expectations though. This will be the perfect environment to test his mettle on the road against a team that will try its hardest to win. They are undermanned, lack the speed and talent to keep up and will probably face what will be the best defense they will face all year, but they are inspired. Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops has a slogan that is everywhere in Lexington that says “Attack Every Play”. So while they will be smaller on both lines, they will still do this all game long.

The Streak has taken on a life of its own. Each more and more is written and, believe me, UK knows that they will never be considered a successful football program until they end it. They never thought that a cold, damp day in 1986 was the last time they would win against us.  The QB for Kentucky at that time was a guy named Bill Ransdall.  He played high school ball about 5 miles from where I grew up in Kentucky.  He was four years ahead of me in school and, while he didn’t go to my high school (which was 9 miles from my house..go figure) it was a big deal to have a local talent as the QB for a collegiate program.  It was a good win, but if you were paying attention to Florida in the 80’s it was not a conceivable notion that we were headed to be one of the conference dominant forces at that time.  We were good, just not that good.

Now 27 games later, the Wildcats are aching to end this streak. They were fortunate a couple years ago to end a similar streak to Tennessee. If they get this one off their backs, it will be like a quickening of epic proportions for them. They had two chances in the streak to end it and both occurred a decade at a part in 1993 and 2003. The most notable being 1993’s Wuerffel to Doering. What does 2013 have in store for us?

The streak is going to end. That’s why I don’t put much faith in them. None the less, even with our loss of our starting QB, we still have depth that Kentucky does not and a defense that will be relentless. That should be our saving grace, along with a solid offensive plan…and maybe a kickoff returned for a Gator TD. Join your local Gator Club this weekend where Victory is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Tune in tomorrow for the weekly game summary.

Go Gators!

Rocky Top Meets Rocky Bottom This Weekend

This picture was taken at the South Carolina-F...

This picture was taken at the South Carolina-Florida game on November 11, 2006 by Randall Stewart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new look Vols this weekend, Gator Nation.

We’re rested from our Bye Week and Tennessee is fresh off a thumping at Oregon. We have QB questions and they have QB questions. Both coaches want their QB’s making better decisions. We’re both coming off losses to the only real team either have played so far. We’re both starting the SEC schedule this week. We both run the ball predominantly. We’re at home. They are not. We’ve won eight straight games against them. They haven’t. Time to make it nine. Let’s talk some football…

Tennessee played Oregon at Oregon and got smacked. Many of us in the Gator Nation and sitting here thinking….well, this game should be easy this weekend. Let me just say that Oregon is going to beat most of their competition the same as they beat the Volunteers last weekend. It is not an anomaly and it is not a forebearer to our game this weekend. Tennessee has hit “Rocky Bottom”, but the fact remains they can run the ball and have shown a penchant for forcing turnovers—something that should be a primary concern for us. UT has hinted that the QB competition is wide open this week. Their QB, Justin Worley, has not been impressive, but he’s the guy who has been taking most of the snaps since last year. He’s playing. If he ends up making the field stink because of his play, THEN we may see another guy. Right now, I think the QB issue is all talk. The Vols simply will not walk into The Swamp and start a freshman QB in his first game ever. If they do…then this will probably be a wild game for one team…probably not us either. The Vols coach, Butch Jones, is fresh from his head coaching gig in Cincinnati and has his hands full trying to get Tennessee back to the elite status they enjoyed for the better part of the 90’s and mid-2000’s. He’s got recruiting going for him this year, but this team lacks the depth and talent to compete with Top 20 teams (see Oregon again). I can’t see their defense lasting for the entire game, especially if we pound and pound the ball on the ground. I also can’t see them primarily running the ball against our defense, although they have two solid RBs in Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. They have many of the same issue we do, but it all comes down to the passing game and defense. Their defense will have something to prove this week after Oregon so expect it to be reaonably close. Unfortunately, they don’t have the depth at defense to rely on when the run fails and the passing game can’t keep them close this weekend.

If we avoid a Western Kentucky-like performance (five turnovers in six plays) and limit our turnovers, this game should be ours for the taking. Right now UT does not have the horses to compete with us. My guess—in the wake of the Miami game results—we will run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and then…run the ball some more. It should be a good weekend for Matt Jones and company. Brent Pease has already made public comments that he wants Jeff Driskel to make beter choices in pressure situations. I would argue that maybe we should have better play calling that can use Driskel better in pressure situations. I can’t attribute this comment like I would prefer, but I did read on the blogosphere a great suggestion. Driskel has had moments of excellence and it generally happens when we go uptempo when we are ahead and can still rely on the running game. Excellent idea! How about a series at the end of the first quarter or start of the second quarter where we pick up the pace a bit. Seriously. Haven’t you noticed by now that Muschamp’s method is to plod along, be deliberate, get ahead and run out the clock. Actually, plodding along is too fast compared to what we do. Give Driskel one series to unleash himself. I might as well stop writing about the offense anyway. Once Muschamp gets up by 14 points that may be all we can hope for in terms of point spread. I think that’s just how he is wired and as along as we are winning that is what we can expect. Hard to argue with winning, but you know me, I wouldn’t mind the points either. Or a Kickoff returned for a Gator TD. Just sayin’. I’d expect our defense to be ready and it is quite possible we can keep UT to single digits. We’ve had a week to rest and some time to work on some of our issues in the red zone. It might not be exciting, but we win, they lose. Florida 20 Tennessee 9. Game time is 3:30pm EST, 12:30 PST on CBS. Yes, it’s Gary Danielson and Vern Lundquist calling the game. I know. It’s not even worth commenting. In between my daughter’s soccer games this weekend, I’m joining my local Gator Club where nine straight Victories over Tennessee is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

The List

The Coaches' Trophy later presented to the 200...

The Coaches’ Trophy later presented to the 2008 Florida Gators football team seen at the 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Media Day at Dolphin Stadium on January 5, 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Utilizing a technology way beyond most human comprehension (not really) and applying an acute analysis (probably not) from yours truly, I give to you the teams that will NOT be winning the National Championship this year. Please note–they may make the title game, but will not be winning it.

Disclaimer: If you think this is the pinnacle of rocket science and want to use it to gamble, bet with your friends or anything that involves risk to you or anyone you know….you are on your own. This is unskilled labor at its best. You’ve been warned.

Ok, so here the following teams who will not be winning the National Championship this year. I have my reasons, but suffice it to say, they can win all their games and get to the NC, but unless two teams on this list make the NC game, none will be winning it. These are teams currently ranked in the Top 25 AP and Coaches Poll and ESPN Power Rankings. No team will come off the list, it will only grow as the season goes along. I have to say I’m excited to see if I’m proved correct at season’s end.

The List (in no particular order):
Alabama (not a typo)
Clemson
Georgia (one loss)
Texas A&M (one loss)
Fresno State
Oklahoma State
South Carolina (one loss)
Ole Miss
Notre Dame (one loss)

Ohio State came THISCLOSE to making the list, but so far the numbers work in their favor and they remain off “The List”. Note: All teams listed at this point have zero or one loss. Once a team gets their second loss then “The List” becomes moot because they aren’t going to the NC game anyway. I do not foresee a repeat of LSU’s championship season.

Go Gators!

Scouting the Competition

130914 UK Game with Dad

Mrs. TGN and Grandpa TGN along with yours truly in Lexington, KY this past weekend.  Not one Kentucky Wildcat mentioned anything about my 2006 Florida Gator National Chammpionship hat (as seen in the picture above).

Was able to get away with the wife this past weekend and join my dad for a Kentucky-Louisville football game. The Wildcats are our upcoming opponent in two weekends and have a new coach in Mark Stoops.  The short of it, UK is under-sized and lack overall depth and talent. They play hard–extremely hard–for their coach and my guess is that the first half will be interesting. Probably more interesting if we start turning the ball over. They have improved noticeably since losing to Western Kentucky in the opening game. More next week on this game.

Always good to join my dad for these events.

A nice photo below of Commonwealth Stadium nine minutes before kickoff. The stadium did eventually fill up mid-way through first quarter, but was pretty empty for awhile.  Basketball remains king in the Bluegrass state.

Nine minutes before kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium

Nine minutes before kickoff at Commonwealth Stadium

The Bye Week Blues

No football this Saturday, Gator Nation.

Well at least there are no Gator football games. I suppose you could watch Oregon pummel Tennessee or that team coached by Nick Saban play that popular but immature college kid in Texas. IF…that’s what your looking for this weekend. Can’t say they will be disappointing games. For guarantees you could watch Louisville or Ohio State continue to beat up on their respective schedules featuring some really good high school teams and some not so good college teams. But you can’t watch the Gators this weekend. Let’s talk some football…

You can read about my recent absence here. It’s a not-so-exciting tale that explains why you haven’t received these in recent months.

I’m thinking that last week was difficult for every Gator watching the game. The Florida Gators were clearly the better football team. We moved the ball when we wanted and absolutely shut down Miami save for one breakdown on defense…which as it turns out was a BIG difference maker. Unfortunately, we decided that we didn’t always need the ball when we were on offense so we made an unconscious decision to just hand it over before crossing the goal line. Little things, ya’ know. I do think there was an overall release of held breath at how stout (nice descriptor) our defense appears to be at this point. Our ability to take the ball away is still in question, but I think we should feel somewhat good on how this defense has developed at this point after taking what most considered a major hit of key personnel from last year. The offense is another story….and somewhat a a sad one.

Our QB situation is moderate. We have a solid QB in Jeff Driskel, but we do not have a great QB. This brings to mind how things transpire in college football. Had we not needed a mobile QB last year because of an inability to protect our thrower, we might well see Jacoby Brisset out on the field who I felt had a much better touch and placement on his passes than Driskel. Of course he is at NC State and more than likely will do an Eric Kresser and throw for 4000 yards…but only if he has a Randy Moss to throw to of course. (Note: You will have to search your Gator historical files on that one). I digress. We will see how Soloman Patton develops as a downfield receiver. He doubled his career numbers last week, so he’s off to a reasonable start. Quinton Dunbar remains the solid, reliable hands receiver, but still not a downfield threat. It really is just hard to believe that we haven’t had a receiving corps that has blistered opponents in well over three years. My head is spinning. I think I may need to sit down. I’m gonna give Matt Jones the benefit of the doubt for last week. I did not think that was the best time to bring him back after his illness, but then again, there wasn’t a good answer to that decision anyway. He needed to get on the field and last week was as good as any if he is as good as billed. Of course, my money is on Kelvin Taylor by season’s end.

I could go on, but I will end with this point—Will Muschamp needs to right the boat and start putting opponents away. His record last year will get him to Year Four, but not beating our key rivals (say perhaps Georgia/FSU) year in and year out will not get him to Year Five. One more loss to UGA and I will be officially done with him. This season looks interesting at this point. I’m really not fancy on interesting. I more relish total domination and overall destruction of our opponents. We’re not at that point yet. None the less, we can sit easy this weekend and watch some other teams play each other. I’m going to scout a future SEC opponent in the Kentucky Wildcats this weekend with my dad and will let you know how they look after probably getting beat by Louisville. It’s always good to watch a football game with your dad. You should start making plans right now to join your local Gator Club next week where a Victory over the Tennessee Volunteers is best served with Gators. ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Note: To answer your history lesson, Eric Kresser was perhaps the greatest QB that hardly ever played at UF. He backed up a guy named Wuerffel and transferred after his senior year to Marshall and played out his last year throwing to Randy Moss, then a freshman, for well over 1700 yards. Won a NCAA I-AA Championship as well.

The State of This Gator

Where are we at, Gator Nation?

Many words come to mind, but none of them pleasant.  You watched our game with Miami and all you could do was sit there and shake your head and wonder if we could call a decent play or catch a break on offense.  None of that happened.  The one thing this weekend did was prompt me to write this missive.  Life gets busy, so whether you noticed my considerable absence from the Gator Nation in recent months or not….or the fact that I didn’t produce anything for the start of football season…is probably not high on your list of things to manage.  Well, it wasn’t on mine either.  Let me ‘splain.

I was very frustrated at our lack of ability to show up for a BCS Bowl after a hard fought season, I was equally miffed at our basketball team for blowing the SEC Tournament Championship….and…really…mainly…I just made a conscious choice to spend more of my free time with the family after being gone a year for deployment.  It was needed and still is, but I’m at a better point now with balancing life after 9 months of being back in the swing of everything.  I didn’t miss writing this blog or doing the research necessary to write this blog.  It was kind of nice.  NOW…however…I recognize that it’s time to get back in the swing of things.  For those who had no clue I had even fallen off the map, no worries, you probably encompasses the largest majority so balance in the world was maintained.

That said, I was highly charged during basketball season when I thought we had a Final Four team.  We almost did and then reality came crashing in hard with Michigan in the Elite Eight.  Our periodic, big time no shows during the season didn’t help either.  I was not at all convinced our football team would be as advertised.  I didn’t think we had the long ball receivers and I really didn’t think, even with our depth that we could have a power running football team that would bowl everyone over in the SEC. Having watched two games now this season, I would say our defense is pretty darn good and going to get much better. Our offense is not bad, but we have no deep threat receivers and, let’s face it, Jeff Driskel is solid, but not great. Solid could work for us except for one glaring point….our play calling on offense is abysmal.

I did not expect much in the Toledo game. I expected a majority of rushing plays right up the middle and with almost 50 run calls, that’s what we received. I did expect more during the Miami game and, truthfully, we did get more. Just very little of good. I have never been sold on Muschamp‘s bill of goods with this team. He has stuck to his principles and has been upfront about what he wants to do as a coach. I can’t fault him for that. Of course, you and I both know that we want more and in his 3rd year we expected more. We at least expected 40 points against Toledo. I’m guessing a paradigm shift is in order which means I need to start enjoying our defense more since that is what our team image is gonna be. I’m probably not going to get too many kickoffs returned for touchdowns this season either.

So waa, waa, waa. I think I’ve got it all out of my system now. Time to get focused on Gator football and the rest of this season. Join your local Gator Club for your weekly Gator games where Victory is best served with Gators! ’nuff said…for now.