Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bowl Win and a (Relatively) Bright Future

No one thought that we were going to win the Outback Bowl by a score of 30-3 at this stage of the season.

Ok—-yes it was Iowa.  Not the greatest of offensive teams out there.  Frankly, the common held belief was that a score of 12-9 was probably the most likely outcome.  You know you were thinking this, too.

All that said, Iowa did possess a reasonably good defense that was healthy and was rested.  Of course, we were rested as well, but we were still playing without six starters.  We can address that later, but our offense with a few scares at the beginning was reliable for the most part.  When Mark Thompson took that swing pass at the end of the first half, you had a sense that this game might go better than expected.  When DeAndre Goolsby scored a TD (twice) on the same drive, the word “blowout” was possibly coming to mind.  I did not expect three interceptions and one returned for a TD, but you knew that Iowa wasn’t going to make a massive comeback running the football….which wasn’t gashing us for big run after big run.

In the end, it was a very satisfying win.  Which begs the question “Why?”

Well, for one, I will personally admit (very hard for me to do) that there were Gator names on defense that I had barely heard during the season….and they were playing well.  Yes, again, it was Iowa.  None the less, that is promising.

After the two interceptions on successive drives, we were moving the ball all day.  We had some drives end in punts, but there were very few three and outs during critical periods of play (we did have them at the end of each half) and the one play, 85 yard TD run by Thompson.  Our defense HAD time to recover and when it was rested, was playing at a high level.  Young players and quality D play….good times.

Running game….yes, we had one!  Jordan Scarlett has at the end of the season, solidified himself as the featured back.  I was kind of hoping he would get one more carry and six yards to break 100, but in between passes, he was solid in his performance.  Iowa may not seem like much at present, but coming into the game, they did have a run defense.  The fact that we could run bodes well for…..

…the offensive line.  Returns 12 players next year.  Quality recruits coming in with National Signing Day looming.  There may be a ray of sunshine in our offense next year.  It has been the weakest link in the Gator football team for awhile.  A team that puts up 30+ points a game next year would be fun to watch.

Finally, what was most satisfying was the focus.  Even after two straight interceptions to open the game, the Gators did not ever look defeated.  Did not look like it wasn’t their day.  Were battling the entire game.  Looked more energized at the end than they did at the beginning.  It is something we have missed for awhile, but came at a very good time for us because this win in particular should bode well for recruiting.

Were it not for a hurricane-reduced schedule, we could be looking at successive 10-4 seasons and a current bowl win.  That is the right direction.  One stellar QB and a force of an offensive line in place and we get right back to where we are all comfortable.  Winning by A LOT!!  You have to love that.  ‘Nuff said.

TGN

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Game Day and McElwain

I couldn’t resist, Gator Nation!

My current personal situation requires a very conservative approach to social media, so the postings stopped and the weekly updates stopped. I didn’t mind too much because it was quite a bit to keep up with, but I couldn’t let the start of new season and new coach go by without some comments. I mean….that’s what I do….I comment on things. Things have been just too juicy for me to pass up this opportunity, thus I have some thoughts to share. We open the season against New Mexico State who will not show us anything about what the Gators are made of, but are a perfect opponent to get things rolling. Let’s talk some football…

The Jim McElwain era begins today and there is room for hope. He has approached the off season time with an attitude to “win now”. He made some moves to shore up our issues on the offensive line and he has positioned athletes as playmakers (see Brandon Powell) in hopes of generating far more offense than we have seen in recent years. That said, our offense will not be on the production of the Spurrier or Meyer teams just because we still have issues on the O-Line and we don’t have all the playmakers we need for an explosive offense. There have plenty of articles on the last time we played New Mexico State 25 years ago and the offensive juggernaut that were the Steve Spurrier teams, but he had an incoming trio of freshman receivers (along with Jack Jackson) that would go on to win us the National Championship. For the rabid Gator fan out there that is just ACHING for some serious offensive play here is my rule of thumb for the game and how best to judge the upcoming season in terms of what we can expect from the offense. If we are in the vicinity of 60 points at the start of the 4th quarter (think 60 +/- 5 points) then I would expect a far better offensive showing than the last four years. If we are in the vicinity of 40 points at the start of the 4th quarter (40 +/- 5 points) then I would not expect anything different than what we have seen in recent history. I don’t think this is a result of the coaching, but the O-Line, and the near term loss of Martez Ivey, combined with not enough receiving talent will be something that is hard to overcome this year. I think we have potential for a strong running game with Kelvin Taylor and company, but again it comes down to the O-Line and if we don’t have as much success passing downfield then it becomes a repeat of last year. We will just have to see.

Before I forget, we have a new Indoor Playing Facility (IPF). Yay. Moving on. Much has been made of the defense. I think our secondary will be good, but I’m not as confident about our pass rush on the D-Line or even how consistent our linebackers will be. I’m sure we all want to see a shutout. That would be nice. However, based upon New Mexico State’s QB play last year, it is very conceivable that we record 3-4 interceptions. Not kidding here. They threw multiple interceptions in 9 games last year. That’s A LOT! It is possible that we see a couple of defensive scores….which we all know I love, but will really not be indicative of anything significant other than watching Gator blue running early and often into the end zone. VH3 is set to be the punt returner as well as our premier defensive back. Among other things, that should be fun to watch. I know the first game of a head coach is huge for the fan base so we have some themes for this weekend’s game. How well will Treon Harris and Will Grier play? Is our defense for real? Is our offense better than expected? Will we pass down field? Special teams? How about Brandon Powell as a slot receiver? The bottom line is this…you have to be watching tonight. If you are a hard-core Gator like me or even a passing Gator fan, this game has too much to offer in the way of excitement, hope and amusement to pass it up. If this season turns out to be even special, then who better to celebrate it with than all of the Gator Nation!?!? It is like no other….and we are due. Gators 70 Aggies 3. I have always gone big with scores, but I expect more special teams and defensive scores than normal, so don’t read that much into this. It will be a great start to the Coach McElwain era and the excitement will build. If the last four years have left you ambivalent, then tonight should be an exception. Go to your nearest Gator Club and enjoy a festive atmosphere with the Gator Nation with a Victory over the Aggies in the Swamp! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!
TGN

Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds

Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds.

via Teaching a Debt Perspective to 12-Year-Olds.

Ok, Gator Nation, not my usual rant.

Absolutely loved how well this presentation was written. With kids who fall into the age range (and soon bound for college) for this presentation on debt, I thought it was truly a great piece and worth sharing. Whether you buy into the premise or not, I thought it laid out a fairly great argument.

Posting for your use and reference.

Gator Men’s Basketball still #1 and an interesting last week to go in the regular season. If you’re not following you should.

Go Gators!

Back On Top

#EverythingSchool

It seems after a dismal football season, the spring is shaping up nicely for the Gator Nation!

That is not to say that the fall was not without its successes.  The Lady Gator Volleyball team did quite well as did the Lady Gator Soccer team.  Right now, though, is quite a different story.

The Men’s Swimming and Diving team just captured the SEC and is currently ranked #1.  So is the Women’s Softball team, currently undefeated and ranked atop the polls.  Lest we forget, we are a current gymnastics powerhouse, ranked #1 and having defeated both #2  and #3 in head to head meets this year.  We’re talking about a National Champion program repeating as a National Champion.  There is probably an entire post on the Women’s Gymnastics program itself (Note to self: may want to follow up on the one).

A quick shout to the Women’s Basketball program.  I was able to watch them play UK in Lexington last month as they beat the #5 team in the nation and then beat them again this month when UK visited Gainesville.  They are suiting up 9 players because of injury and they play hard.  Right now, they are in a good position to make the NCAA tournament…so keep an eye on the rest of their season.

Fact remains is that it is always Great to Be a Florida Gator, but especially now with our student-athletes doing so well.  You just have to make sure you’re following all the right sports.  Women’s Lacrosse has not yet began, but I expect good things from them as well.

Oh yeah, the Men’s Basketball program attained its first #1 ranking since 2007.  Billy has them playing at a great level right now, but each game you can see they are working for more.  They are on an all-time Gator winning streak, but I’ll take a regular season loss and a drop in the polls for a SEC Tournament Championship and a deep, deep run in the NCAA Tournament.

It’s Great to Be a Florida Gator!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

The Noise in the System is Screeching

First loss by Florida to an FCS team ever, Gator Nation.

Probably first loss to a team with ZERO passing yards since the 1940’s.

Lost not only our first time to Vanderbilt in 23 years, but the first time we lost at home to them since 1949.

First six-game losing streak since 1979 and first losing season since then.

First time that Florida will not go to a bowl game since 1990….and that one was due to NCAA sanctions.

We have the longest streak in the nation in not being shutout.  Each successive week this year, I have grown more concerned that this streak will be coming to an end as well in the Muschamp era.  We have absolutely no offense and I truly don’t believe that we couldn’t muster more scoring opportunities against Georgia Southern than we did.  Frankly, if you take away GeoSo’s turnovers in the red zone, we aren’t even close to being able to win the game at the end.

We may even be looking at a year where we will lose to Miami, Georgia and Florida State.  That should absolutely be unheard of here?

I say it all the time…I’m not invested in streaks because they eventually come to an end, but I would have never predicted that we would end all our streaks in the same season.  Kentucky must be kicking themselves at not capitalizing on the opportunity this year.

I was not going to be surprised to see Jeremy Foley announce on Sunday that Will Muschamp’s tenure is over at Florida.  Of course, I was also not surprised that an announcement did not come.  Muschamp is our coach next year regardless of whatever happens next weekend against Florida State.  Everyone wanting him gone should concentrate their energy on something else. 

I ask this question to the GatorNation….”when was the last time you ever heard of a coach who has had this kind of season in their 3rd year and turned things around and won a National Championship?  An SEC or conference Champsionship?”  I don’t have the answer to that.

I understand that a first year coach may have this kind of season, but by now, you should be established in your program.  The injuries haven’t helped, but I also haven’t seen any action taken to rectify the problem (Note: I’m not close to the program so I’m only going on what has been reproted thus far).

Can a program in this state recover with the same head coach?  I ask this because I simply don’t have the answer.  I’ve never seen it done. 

If Will Muschamp pulls all this off at the end of the day, then I will fully support him going forward.  He needs to know, though, that he has asked for a great deal of trust from the Gator Nation and to this point he has not inspired confidence in that trust.

In all kinds of weather, Gator Nation!

Go Gators!

Link

Blatant Homerism: Georgia (Article Response/Rant)

TGN has a Facebook page where I link to articles that apply to the Gator Nation.  Most recently after the Florida-Georgia game, I posted the link above in the title section with the comment “This one is blunt and to the point.  Not for young children’s reading, either.”

There were a few expetives in the article just for your warning.  Of course, there were expletives in some of the responses.  Gators will be Gators.  None the less, I found the article, the response and the mood not only entertaining, but enlightening.

So read the article and then review the following comments:

MH: Geez, are things really that bad at UF?  he seems awfully negative.  Admittedly i have not seen many UF games this year.  I was wiating for the “it’s Urban’s fault” quote.

RRD: Sheer brilliance.  And dead on balls accurate.   (TGN here: the last sentence made me wince a bit)

AA: Can’t argue with anything there.

EA: Frowning Face Emoticon

TGN:  Muschamp is a coach…he had shown no ability at all to run and lead a program.  That is the crux of the issue.  (TGN Here again:  I may have more to say about this comment later).

RRD: He MUST go.  And now, before he does any more damage.

MP: Yah, it’s getting more and more difficult to go to the SD Gator Club viewing parties to watch the game.  This week’s is at 9am and it’s against Vandy, so I don’t expect a big turnout.

SS: how encouraging.  I don’t think you should be able to cry like a spoiled (expletive deleted) without offering any solutions.  just a pet peeve of mine.  so my 2 cents is for him to stf up.  no one would be ranting about our script logo if we were winning. but muschamp will go.  personally i’d like to LAF to weigh in.

LAF: (TGN Note – some very good points about to be made)  While some salient points are made, there are some errors as well.  the supposed strength of this year’s Gator team – the offensive line – but they never even had that chance in losing starting tackle Chaz Green before the season started. Transfers Garcia & Moore seemed to be only onkay in playing in big boy’s conference, the SEC.  Moore especially – he of the drive–killing offensive procedure calls.  Lose another LT in Humphries, Halapio playing through injury to his pec and this last week throwing in junior college transfer Brown to start his first ever game with a true freshman at running back (albeit, Mr. Taylor will be a good back with the glimpses of playmaking ability one cannot teach, but only admire).  Another game, another patchwork offensive line.  Continuity along both the offensive and defensive line makes anyone look okay.  One cannot replace first the ability of Dominick Easley and second the intangibles he brought with his effort, leadership and presence.  No QB likes to see his pocket invaded up the middle.  Easley did that, his replacements cannot.  In postings I hae made throughout the year, I have ripped our play calling as OFFENSIVE.  One likes to place the blame wholly on Pease, yet one wonders if his hands are being tied in multiple ways: #1) a back-up QB with no real gametime experience since coming to Florida having to learn how to read SEC defenses on the fly, #2) a head coach trying to play “Saban” ball without the same pieces or “head coach” mindset, #) WRs still learning how to get open, 4) TE – I forgot – how often do we ever throw to them (no Burton is not a TE and I think they are still trying to figure out how to use him effectively.  I am all for promoting from within, but DJ Durkin is not a qualified SEC defensive coordinator.  I think even Morrison regressed this year, but not sure if that’s due to losing Easley in front of him or watching all those unsportsmanlike conduct penalties being called EVERY game on the Gator dfense or his off-the-field lack of maturity issues in his  head.  As far as coordinators without head coaching experience doing okay, I guess one should not look at what Charlie Strong has done for Louisville or Jimbo Fisher has done at Florida State (oops, I guess you were wrong there as well).  All this being said,  I think Muschamp may have the opportunity to have one more year provided he makes changes on both sides of the ball with some of his staff unless he stumbles and loses 3 of the remaining 4 games – yes I am giving us a W versus Georgia Southern, they of the single wing.  I probably missed countering or agreeing with certain points made, but we are only human.

RRD: It’s all too depressing to even think about.  Not that long ago we were the national champions.  WTF?

FK: A BS comment on the inuries not affecting the O-Line.  Chaz Green was supposed to be the mainstay at LT, and he was gone before the season started to the labrum inury.  While they have not performed well, that, and other minor injuries have forced the coaches to constantly have to rearrange who is playing on what on the O-line.

FK: So this guy complains for no end, and then he offers no solution.  His entire thesis is that Will should be fired, and then he gets to that point, states that there aren’t any vialbe alternatives, and says he shouldn’t be.  The author can’t have it both ways.  What IS his solution to a mess that’s been going on before Will got here (wasn’tthe 2010 season fun?).

TGN: speaking of the O-Line the Gators just lost Tyler Moore for the season to a….scooter accident.  The Gator Football program needs to take a comprehensive look at the injury situation.  Most of the injuries occurred either in practice or off the field.  This has a been a recurring theme, of course not to this extreme, for several years now and we have one of the top Sports Medicine programs in the nation.  I’d expect Muschamp to stay, but the program needs some serious evaluation.

WHEW!!

I don’t know Spencer Hall from EDSBS, but if he wanted to generate interest he surely did so.  To his credit, it was clear he wasn’t putting things out there that the entire Gator Nation was frustrated with watching on game day.  Whether accurate or not, I’m not entirely sure that was ever his intent.  He did capitalize on a growing mood across the Gator Nation.  While I don’t think Will Muschamp will get fired this year…or probably even next year, the Gator Nation needs some venting because we do expect more from our Gator Football team.

The Gator Nation is frustrated and justfiably so.  This is not even remotely what we are accustomed to seeing on Saturdays.  We have definintely been spoiled in the last twenty years.  Muschamp will have to make some major adjustments in the off season, but this too has to be tempered.  These Gator players have had a cornucopia of coaches in recent years.  There is also a good argument for stability.  Some of these players need some stability right now.

My thanks to everyone who participated in the conversation.  It’s on the TGN Facebook page if you want to check it out live and in person.  I will leave you with this parting thought—even with the rant above, there is always a flip side:

 On Will Muschamp, Florida Football, and Everything

Go Gators!

Vandy Has Been

Florida at Vandy

Florida at Vandy (Photo credit: da_mere)

Bylines are deceptive, Gator Nation.

The Vandy football team is also deceptive. This is a team that, for 22 years in a row, we have been able to defeat them. Most times we have done so by a large amount of points. This year is much more different and the game couldn’t be more important to the Gator football team. A winning record, a possible bowl game and just a little satisfaction for the Gator Nation are at stake. Let’s talk some football…

It is not your mother’s or grandmother’s Vanderbilt football team. Vandy comes to The Swamp with a 4-4 record and a win over Georgia (who we just lost to) and presents the ability to put a lot of points. They’ve scored at least 24 points in every game which contrasts to our ability to even reach the 20 point mark. The are fairly balanced running and passing the ball, but their starting QB, Austyn Carta-Samuels, is nursing a knee injury from their game against Georgia. There is a big drop if they go to their backup, but I’d expect Carta-Samuels to play. Their big weakness is their defense. They have given up 35 or more points four times this year and haven’t exactly played the same caliber of teams that we have. Keep in mind they’ve also had two weeks to prepare for this game. The head coach is James Franklin who is, like Muschamp, is in his third year and has completely turned around a program that for the majority of its existence was the SEC doormat in football. Not your father’s Vanderbilt football team either. James Franklin is a highly regarded coach who is rumored to be a candidate for the USC football job. Whether that is true, I’m not getting into here, but to have your name in the conversation while you are coaching Vandy says something about your ability to run a program. Vandy has been…a team we routinely beat by an average of 20 points. Vandy has been…a great team to play on Homecoming. Vandy has been…the week we could take off and not play as hard. Vandy has been…isn’t anymore. Too much is resting on this game for the Gators to consider what “has been”.

Pleasant surprise last week against Georgia…except we still lost. Our defense has been the one competitive group on the team this year, but we can’t afford an entire quarter off and get in such a hole. Vandy has the potential to put points on us fast like Georgia. Our defense has to step up immediately and make a statement today. Muschamp is going to have to do his best sales job and fire up a squad that is playing for the entire Gator Nation today on Homecoming. I have to admit that bowl fantasies are not part of my thinking these days. I really just want to see us playing well rounded football the remainder of the season. I’m tired of thinking about injuries and who our next playmaker will be. It has been ugly football, but a win is a win. We beat Vandy and then we look at the next game…and then the next game after that. Kelvin Taylor had a flash of brilliance last week. Even Tyler Murphy seemed to be used better than most games. Frankly, all our good fortunes last week started with the defense. I don’t see us winning without our defense setting the tone early and putting the offense in position to get points. We have to get early and often pressure on the QB, force turnovers, not turn the ball over ourselves and run the ball well…and we probably need a defensive or special teams score. Florida 23 Vanderbilt 14. I have high expectations for both Kelvin Taylor and Trey Burton. Will see how they live it to that today. Gametime is High Noon EST, 9am PST…it’s breakfast for the West Coast Gators and hopefully a good turnout at the Gator Clubs. Which is where you should be because a Victory for Homecoming is best served by Gators. ‘Nuff said.

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 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.