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!

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A Must Win at the Cocktail Party

Logo used on Gator helmets during the mid-1960s

Logo used on Gator helmets during the mid-1960s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My simplest post yet, Gator Nation!

It boils down to this, we absolutely must win this game.  Our season is on the brink and a winning record and a possible bowl game are also at hand.  The fact that each team can possibly win the East Division is laughable.  The bottom line, though, is that we can’t have three straight losses to Georgia.  For a Gator fan this is an absolute must-win each year.  Yet, here we are on the brink.  Let’s talk some football…

Georgia is as banged up as we are, but get back uber running back, Todd Gurley, this weekend.  Likewise, their QB, Aaron Murray, is looking for a third straight victory over the Gators—which should be unheard of in this day and age.  They have a prolific offense and big receivers putting and are averaging 554 yards with Gurley in the offense.  That’s pretty much triple what we’ve put up in our last two games.  The Georgia defense is atrocious, but we’ve had the habit of becoming very one dimensional and making other teams appear to have dominant defenses.  The Bulldog’s defense is susceptible to runs outside the box.  This would appear to be a major reason why we will be starting Kelvin Taylor against them since he averages 7 yards a carry when rushing outside the box.  I’m hoping that the Gator Coaches are aware of this and not just randomly choosing a running back at this point because our offensive line isn’t going to open many holes up the middle.

Expect Taylor running early and often.  Otherwise, we will never be able to open up the passing game and the Georgia defense will tee off on Tyler Murphy like LSU and Missouri did.  The major key in all of this is turnovers.  We have to force at least 4 Georgia turnovers and not turn the ball over ourselves in order to rack up some offense.  It’s about that simple this week.  Force turnovers, control the ball, effectively run the ball and then win.  Both teams had Bye weeks and both are coming off two consecutive losses.  For the first time in awhile, this game is not getting any attention because both teams are unranked and unlikely to challenge for the East.  Coach Muschamp has to win this game to salvage the season AND generate some motivation heading into the final games.  Three straight losses to UGA is unacceptable and if Muschamp didn’t prepare this team for this particular game then my expectations for the future will pretty much be set.  Oh yeah, I want a Kickoff returned for a Gator TD just because.  Florida 24  Georgia 21.  Game time is 3:30EST, 12:30PST on CBS with, yes I’m afraid, Gary and Verne.  Maybe we should just turn down the TV volume and pump in Mic Hubert.  This is a good time to join your local Gator Club where Victory at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is best served with Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

The “Kila” Watt Gator Rant

Eye of the Gator

Eye of the Gator (Photo credit: stockroomcontrol)

My friend, fellow Naval Officer and NROTC classmate at UF, Wayne “Kila” Watts, went on an epic rant last weekend on Facebook. While it follows none of the rules I usually employ in my posts, it was worth re-printing and adding some of my own thoughts. It probably is more representative of the feelings of the Gator Nation right now than anything I can come up with and is definitely entertaining. Note: I did edit to ensure it was family friendly. So without any adieu at all….let “Kila” talk some football…

Kila’s college football update….if you’re interested.

Well, well, well…….

Gator predictions so far all coming true and they suck even worse than I thought, if that’s possible. Thanks coach Muschamp! You suck! 153 total yards on offense yesterday. The Gator Nation is going to suffer miserably for years now until UF eventually fires him (will happen), hires the right coach, then another few years to actually recruit players we are used to having (where’s our QB and receivers???), and the coach utilizing them in a better offensive scheme, with discipline and good play calling.

Every year, at least 1 or 2 teams gets (expletive deleted) in the BCS, the biggest joke in all of sports. And this year will be no exception, but even worse. I predict at least 4 teams will be undefeated, possibly 5 but the 5th one would be poor Fresno State, who under those circumstances could only hope to get into a BCS bowl game. Pretty sure at this point that Alabama, Oregon and FSU will be undefeated, with OSU and/or either Texas Tech or Baylor (Baylor? LOL!) in the mix. I don’t think those 2 Big 12 teams can remain undefeated, but with a little luck, they might. That leaves OSU as the 4th undefeated…..assuming they can win against Michigan, their only test that remains. And honestly, while I predicted Oregon and OSU in the national championship game, I really hope I’m wrong about OSU and I hope they lose to Michigan. I hate them LOL!

And at this point, even if OSU wins out, I still may be wrong…..here’s why. I predicted OSU, foreseeing how the season would go, because of the human voters which is 1/3 of the BCS rankings. Strength of schedule aside, sympathy would reign supreme for poor OSU who was undefeated last year but ineligible to play in the BCS for NCAA violations and will have been undefeated 2 years in a row, even though Alabama and FSU are better teams and have much tougher schedules. And the SEC has won the last SEVEN national championships (so don’t give them another opportunity!). But the computer rankings might just prevail after seeing what FSU did to Clemson yesterday.

Oregon is the best team in the country. Alabama and FSU are tied for second in my opinion. With OSU, Missouri, Baylor, Texas Tech rounding out a DISTANT 4th-7th. Yeah, Miami is undefeated but overrated and will lose to FSU later.

No matter who wins the SEC championship game (will be Alabama vs Missouri and Alabama will win), the voters, with 3 other undefeated teams will not allow them the chance to play for the national championship. If OSU loses to Michigan, then FSU will play Oregon. If OSU wins against Michigan, could be either OSU or FSU but FSU will deserve it over OSU due to strength of schedule. Will the voters care? LOL!

And no matter what, schools, players and supporting alumni, who played great, went undefeated for the year and EARNED the right to have a chance to win a national championship will not be given that opportunity. Again. Totally (expletive deleted) sucks and isn’t fair at all. The BCS ruins the sport that I love.

Kudos to Jimbo Fisher who has turned the FSU program around and back into a national championship caliber team. They have the ability to give Oregon a run for their money if they just stay focused and keep playing hard. I bet they can’t WAIT to play Florida this year hahahahahaha!

Oh, and did I mention the Gators SUCK this year? LOL!

Cheers, Kila

———–

Ok, first things first, OSU won’t lose to Michigan. Michigan isn’t that good and OSU doesn’t have any competition the rest of the way. Urban Meyer is getting exactly what he wants….winning seasons without much effort. That’s why he left the SEC because he isn’t coaching against, Spurrier, Saban, Miles, etc. Actually, OSU’s toughest game for the rest of the season looks to be Indiana. Go figure.

Muschamp isn’t getting fired this year. He went 11-2 last season and can get away with explaining this season due to all the injuries. It would probably help if he took a deep look at what he could do to prevent all the injuries, but that doesn’t seem likely.

Next season, though, if it continues a trend like this season, forget it. He’s gone.

He’s right. No top tier QB or Receivers. When has that happened for such a long stretch in Florida (recent) history? Note: From the Spurrier era until now.

Yes, BCS is flawed, but somehow works out each year.  This year will be interesting.

Oregon still has UCLA, Stanford, Utah, and Oregon State of which three of them are ranked right now. If Oregon goes undefeated through this gauntlet then they will definitely be battle-tested and ready for the BCS Championship game. Make no mistake, either, the Pac-12 might not be tougher than the SEC, but they are closer than anyone else and probably have two of the better defenses in the nation in Stanford and UCLA.

I’ll address FSU later in the year, but yeah, have to admit they are real good. I’m not totally sold on their defense even with last week’s domination of Clemson.

I’m going to address the Gators offensive woes in this weekend’s post, but in short, we should be far, far better than this.

So….final thoughts? Is this how you feel this season? What were your expectations for the season? What would you do if you were Muschamp? The Gator Nation wants to know.

Special thanks to “Kila” Watts for his rant and allowing me to re-print. Always interested in your feedback. ‘Nuff said???

Go Gators!

The Weather in Missouri

University of Florida athletics "Gators&q...

University of Florida athletics “Gators” logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s all about the weather, Gator Nation!

When the Gators woke up this morning, it was 38 degrees where they were playing. It’s supposed to get into the high 50’s by kickoff. I know the weather isn’t what I normally talk about when it comes to Gator games, but understand the farthest north we generally play in the SEC schedule is Lexington, KY. It usually is pretty warm there too. Missouri’s chances of winning increase exponentially if the temperatures creep toward the 40’s at kickoff. I had this conversation with a fellow Gator on this just this week.  Let’s talk some football…

Weather aside, Missouri is a good team and lead the SEC East. They manhandled Georgia last week which was supposed to be their first test as team with a slew of soft games at the beginning. They have tons of offense and showed they could play physical defense at times last week. Of course, it must be noted they will be without starting QB, James Franklin, who is out for the next 3-5 weeks with a shoulder injury. Their backup is Maty Mauk who was a highly touted dual threat QB out of Ohio before redshirting last season. He is the heir apparent to this system and is probably very comfortable with this offense coming into the game. Even though it is his first game, I’d expect he will not perform poorly. He has three really big receivers to throw to…and I mean big…they are all 6’5 and 6’6. They dwarf our secondary which will have its hands full on the outside….meaning our pass rush has to show up this week after being dormant last week. Georgia was broken last week and their defense is not our defense. Still, the Tigers are good and are pretty much going to be the favorite unless something changes. Mizzou averages 40 points and 500 yards a game. This is not a good situation going in for the Gators, but it is also the way the SEC is setup and you step up when you have to do so. Something gives today, either our defense or their offense. I’m banking on our defense shutting down their offense.

That said, we are out Matt Jones for the season and Damian Jacobs for the game and I’ve heard that Ronald Powell is not at full strength. I get the whole “man out, man up” concept that Muschamp preaches, but that is all based on the fact that you have men to turn to when one goes out. We are rapidly losing players this season and the next few games are pretty critical to our success. I’d expect our defense to be more than they were last week and are probably ready to shut down the Tiger offense, but we have got to have a good running game today to setup our offense. Tyler Murphy as human last week, but let’s face it, our offensive line was useless against LSU. The fact that Murphy didn’t turn the ball over last week was impressive. Expect to see more Kelvin Taylor, but that also means poor pass blocking when he is in the game. Mack Brown has had a week to prepare. It is conceivable that we have a dominant run game today which will help slow down the Missouri pass attack only because our sustained drives will be 8-9 minutes long. We will definitely need a defensive or special teams score to help out today, along with a possible consistent field goal kicker. Who’d have thought our weak spot this year would have been punting and field goal kicking. Regardless, Mizzou’s defense isn’t LSU’s defense and we have A LOT to prove today because I’m sure the Gators have heard all week that they aren’t favored in the game. We play with what we got today. Florida 20 Missouri 17. Game time is 12:21 EST, 9:21PST on ESPN3 or Gameplan. I’m in the middle of Illinois so I don’t know where I’m going to watch it today. I may have a very stressful day with ESPN Gamecast. You should not. Join your local Gator Club where a Victory in our first visit ever at Missouri is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

My Conversation with Timmy Gator

I recently had an email conversation with a Gator fan, we will call him Timmy Gator, that involved some very good discussion. Printed below is our exchange. It has been edited for brevity and some unrelated material as Timmy Gator and I go way back and it isn’t always about football. Warning: This isn’t the normal bias I usually exude in my posts and it discusses a variety of teams in the SEC and beyond. Don’t read if you don’t want an all glowing positive review on the Gators.

Timmy Gator:
Very interested in your post-game thoughts. The defense showed up on both sides of the field. O looked anemic. What the heck happened to GA. I know they were in the hurt locker with injuries so we didn’t see their full offense, which may have helped keep Mizzou off the field…and their D has been soft all year.

I would have liked to see the Mizzou QB against FL this week. Too bad he got injured. Not sure what to make of the game this weekend. I think we win, but not sure we prove anything without their QB in place. Gurley will be back in time for UF so we will play a better team than Mizzou did.

I’m starting to think LSU might knock AL off again.

TGN:
Ok—post game thoughts are this—the game went as I pretty much expected with the exception of LSU’s defense. Their defense has been porous and undisciplined at best and they put together probably the best 4 quarters they have had all seasons in the game against us. Of course, that’s what good teams do and in an unbiased view, they are a good team. Of course, having said that…LSU will not win the BCS National Championships. The numbers don’t work for them. They may get to the game, but won’t win. Our defense did not have the pass rush we needed, but they were still very good. Really, 17 points allowed—-that’s not a bad showing.

Georgia is better than Mizzou who is better than Florida. Missouri got lucky facing Georgia when they were broken. We are, in turn, getting the same situation…..almost exactly since we will be playing at Missouri and they played at UGA. We “may” beat Missouri if we fix a few things and with a week to prepare we can re-establish how we will run the ball without Matt Jones. Kelvin Taylor is a brilliant runner, but a crappy blocker…which is why he is not getting time because he is an abject failure on the pass rush. UGA defense is indeed soft and without a prolific offense, they were primed for an upset against Mizzou. That said, Missouri’s defense will do exactly what LSU’s did and put all their effort in stopping the run and forcing the pass. Our offensive line was very offensive. Credit goes to Tyler Murphy because he did not turn the ball over and probably should have several times when he was running for his life. We did see what Tyler Murphy lacks…..precise passing under pressure. Still, his game management is above question. The rest of the offense is trying really hard for him and are much more relaxed.

‘Bama is at home against LSU. LSU could bring their A-game and still lose. This one goes to ‘Bama. I don’t foresee LSU getting that kind of defensive effort on the road.

Forget Georgia. Hope Gurley does come back. We can beat them. I don’t care what happens next week against Mizzou. If Muschamp loses this game to UGA it will officially be a Georgia winning streak. He’s done to me if that happens.

The exceptional detail for this week at Missouri—it is probably going to be in the 50’s for the game and possibly raining. The Gators aren’t used to the Midwest and the weather. If the weather is not nice, this game is strongly favored for Mizzou. The colder it is the less the Gators chances are of winning.

Forget OSU. Get a real schedule and play in a real conference if you want respect.

Unfortunately, there is a real possibility that we lose three of the next four. Muschamp and Pease just aren’t the X’s and O’s coaches who can put a complete winner together.

Timmy Gator:
I’d love to see OSU play Oregon (or Bama/LSU) during the regular season. Any of those three would light them up. I think Oregon/Bama are the national championship game. I had forgotten Bama/LSU is in ALA. That changes the upset probability. Frankly, LSU will need more offense than 17 against ALA. No way they hold ALA to under 21.

I still love watching A&M. That always fun. Absolutely no defense on their side of the ball but they can score. I wonder what they are left with after Manziel. Real problems for them.

So here’s the real question, does Mizzou represent in the SEC Championship game??

TGN:
Yes. If Mizzou beats us it is likely they will be in the SECCG. Of course they could go into a death spiral without Franklin, but their untested frosh QB is supposed to be all world. It actually could make them better by seasons end.

I think we should pull out a squeaker against them this week.

Oh yeah…right now the championship is Oregon’s to lose.

————–
So that was my conversation this week with Timmy Gator. I will update “The List” after this weekend. You will absolutely be stunned with some of the teams on it.

Decision Time in Death Valley

Leak Runnin the Offense toward the End Zone

Leak Runnin the Offense toward the End Zone (Photo credit: whateyesee13)

A definitive moment, Gator Nation!

We find out this weekend whether our defense is for real, whether our offense is actually becoming something more than just a run-only, ball protection scheme and whether LSU is actually the best team in the SEC. Into Death Valley we go and both teams are a much different version than the last two years. LSU is much different from last year’s team that visited The Swamp. In the last three games, the same can be said of the Gators. The winner of this game is the first one to establish their strength, our defense or LSU’s offense. Let’s talk some football…

Zach Mettenberger, LSU’s QB, was a non-factor last year. Enter Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator and the former transfer from Georgia is lighting up competition this year. He had the tools, but didn’t have the game plan or talent last year. He throws primarily to two good receivers, Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry, and when I mean primarily….I mean primarily. Between the two receivers they have 77 catches. Among the remaining 11 players who have caught a pass for LSU, their total is 31. So….yes, primarily the ball is going to one of those two players. Put or shut up time for our secondary this week?  You betcha. LSU also has Jeremy Hill who can pound the ball on the ground. This is about as balanced of an offensive attack that we will face this year. The question will be how fast a start does LSU get on offense compared to how our defense starts. We’ve been sluggish at the outset the last three games and LSU usually starts very hot on offense. That does not bode us well if we get into a hole in this game on the road. The flip side is that LSU’s defense is not their best in recent years. They’ve given up 21, 44, and 26 points against their last three SEC opponents. It will be interesting to see how our offense stacks up today. This definitely is our turning point in the season. Either we become the team to beat in the SEC East or not. The ball’s in our hands.

Everyone knows who Tyler Murphy is by now. One wonders if the had been a highly recruited QB if he would have been starting a couple of years ago. As it turns out, it doesn’t matter. He got to the big leagues and is making it count. Now Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas are one thing. If he plays like he has been against LSU then we’re probably about to see a meteoric rise in the marketing of Tyler Murphy. There is no doubt that our offense likes playing with Tyler Murphy. Whatever he brings to the huddle, it has been a good thing. Everyone is playing harder on that side of the ball and it is creating a situation that allows are defense to tee off on the opponent. We will definitely need that today. We’re not favored against LSU and the fact is, I don’t care. Everyone keeps pointing to 2011 where we took an absolutely thin team with a freshman QB in his first start and were abysmal. We are not that team anymore. I would definitely like to avoid the idiotic personal foul penalties we’ve received in recent games, but the fact is that our defense needs to set the tone for this game. It’s statement time and if our defense wants to be considered the best then they need to shut down the LSU offense to do so. Our offense just needs to keep doing what is doing and not turn the ball over. The loser’s out of the SEC Championship race. Either we’re for real or not. Time to make it real. Florida 27 LSU 23. Game time is 3:30pm EST, 12:30pm PST on CBS with Verne and Gary (sigh!). Get to your local Gator Club where a Victory over LSU in Death Valley is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

Lexington Festivities

Always good to be around the Gator Nation!

130928 San Diego Friends

I’m a bit late with this post, but I had a great opportunity at the Florida-Kentucky game to spend time with good friends from the San Diego Gator Club where all of this started for me.  Great people, great game and a good time had by all…in the Gator Nation.

Stadium view of the game

Stadium view of the game

NIght time at Commonwealth Stadium made for a great Gator Victory.  The visitor’s section is in the northeast section of the stadium.  It’s better to be higher up so you can see the play on the field.  As it turned out, I was right behind the Pride of the Sunshine.  That’s was pretty cool too!  Obviously, the fake field goal which tied the game at 7-7 made the game interesting early on, but UK could never move the ball and we seemed to go on these drives of 8-9 minutes and get points.  Not sure if anyone noticed, but we never punted in this game.  That’s saying something.

Post-game Gator team cheer along with the band and the fans

Post-game Gator team cheer along with the band and the fans

One more time..in the corner with the team in Lexington.  A great place to see a game and watch our Gators play.  Best quote I read “Why Dick Vitale tweeted it could happen. And Kirk Herbstreit said it could happen. And suddenly the Bluegrass state was hooked on the feeling the team from the Sunshine State was ripe for the picking. And then the football was placed on the tee and reality visited Commonwealth Stadium. Again.” John Clay, Lexington Herald Leader.

Pretty much sums it up.

Final Score

Final Score

Post Game festivities at Bogarts Lounge at the Lexington Crowne Plaza Campbell House.  A great live ban, Rock Steady, with a phenomenal keyboardist, David Lee Hinkle.  A must see for your next Lexington, KY visit.

Keyboardist David Lee Hinkle

Keyboardist David Lee Hinkle

Go Gators!

A New Razorback Team

Albert and Alberta in the Swamp (Florida Field...

Albert and Alberta in the Swamp (Florida Field). Image captured by Tampa Gator September 2004. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We win, they lose, Gator Nation!

That pretty much sums up how I feel. We are not the flashiest of team, but in Muschamp‘s era, it boils down to that statement. Arkansas comes to The Swamp in our first night game at home since 2011. Apparently, that is a big deal, although it is worth noting we just won a game last weekend in Lexington at night so I’m hoping most of our team recognizes that it is nice at night in The Swamp. Also we will be wearing all blue and the fans in a blue-out for the game. I’m not really big on gimmicks. Mainly we should just line up as we always do and knock the other team off the ball. We win, they lose. It’s not a hard concept to follow. Let’s talk some football…

Bret Bielema is the new coach for the Razorbacks coming by way of Wisconsin. It is interesting to note that Bielema was having great success at Wisconsin (a major Big Ten school) and was poised to be there for as long as he wanted. Yet decided to up and takeover a program that had moderate success in the SEC. He has transitioned the team from pass-happy…which is an understatement..during the Bobby Petrino days to run first and mostly always now. They run the ball 70%. I’m wondering if any of you see something familiar with this? The Razorback attack is led by Alex Collins who has 597 yards on the ground in five games against mostly porous defenses, but give this freshman his due. He lines up each game and gets the yardage. This will be the stiffest test the Gator D has had to date in terms of rushing attacks because they also have a sophomore Jonathan Williams who has 471 yard. There is no secret to Arkansas’ success this season. Passing will be a secondary and little used option, though it is worth noting that when they do pass they can be successful. Their QB, Brandon Allen, had 282 yards and 3 TDs against Texas A&M last week. That’d be impressive if everyone wasn’t doing the same against Texas A&M this season. Arky has a “line ’em and knock ’em down” approach they use. Still we win, they lose.

Our Gator D was impressive last week against UK in the face of losing Dominique Easley. His loss will be apparent at times, but you coach what you got and we seem to “got” quite a bit on D. I think it will be very unlikely that we stack the box to stop Arkansas’ rushing attack. It’s all about the guys who line up and penetrate into the opposition’s backfield which we do pretty well. We continue that trend and we force Arkansas into a passing attack that just begs for our secondary to come in and snatch a few. Speaking of our secondary….Vernon Hargreaves III (VH3 from now on) is everything as billed. A true freshman who earned a starting position, VH3 has 3 interceptions in 4 games for the Gators. Fewer and fewer passes are going to go his way this season, so if he makes any interceptions then you need to PAY ATTENTION because they were hard fought for him. I could write this entire post about him, but I won’t. He’s good and Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson (both NFL talents) are now looking at him as the standard. I digress. Tyler Murphy is making the most of his playing time. Sometimes it’s good to be the 2-star backup with few expectations. He is careful with the ball, but he is also extremely relaxed in the pocket which seems to have relaxed the entire offense altogether. He doesn’t turn the ball over this game we win, they lose. We are going to hold the ball for 8 minutes a drive score in the 20’s and hold the opposition to as few points as possible. That’s the theme. We win, they lose…I’ve actually used this before…but it seems to be the best measure in the Muschamp grand scheme of things. Works for me. Florida 28 Arkansas 13. Game time is 7pm EST, 4pm PST on ESPN2. In the grand spirit of all things defense, I’m hoping for a VH3 interception and return for a TD because let’s face it, that’s the best kind of quick strike offense we have. Hoping for a Kelvin Taylor appearance as well. I’m joining my local Gator Club, like you should do, where a Gator Victory at night is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

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)

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!