Tag Archives: Florida 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!

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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 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.

Armageddon!!

English: Logo of the Southeastern Conference (...

English: Logo of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another loss on the road this week, Gator Nation.

Everything is falling apart. Locusts are coming. The pale rider is galloping near. Soon hellfire will be raining from the sky. Ok, not so much. Yes, we blew a 13-point lead at Mizzou and that coupled with the loss at Arkansas and at Arizona now has the nation convinced that we can’t win big games on the road. Does anyone remember a 2007 Gator National Championship team that lost 3 straight games right before the SEC tournament?

How we respond to games like this is the biggest thing this Gator team can learn right now. No team in the nation is going undefeated and upsets are rampant. It’s all about the preparation and learning to play your best as a team. Finding where you are weak, addressing the concerns and showing the distinct ability to play hard at all times. Wallowing in a loss isn’t this team’s style.

Tonight’s game against Arkansas should fuel the fire for the Gators. Last time we played them at Arkansas and they came lights out from 3-point range and we never caught up. We have them at home and I think this game will play out just a wee bit different. From a season standpoint we are definitely at a critical point in the last part of the regular season. After this we have Tennessee on the road, a home game against Alabama and Vandy with a final regular season game at Kentucky. To maintain control of the SEC we have to win them all, but we need to start it tonight with a win and then move on to the next game.

At Missouri we completely got out of our game plan. No one was attacking the basket. We were content to launch threes at every place on the court. We basically handed the game back to Missouri at the end. Heck, we still should’ve won. Time to get back to the basics. Wilbiken needs to run the point, penetrate and open up shots for everyone. We need Patric Young to dominate the boards…COMPLETELY. Our defense needs to ramp back up.

Arkansas has won their last two games by 2 points each at home. This will prove to be a much tougher contest than those. The Gators will have to show that they can get their mojo back on defense. That has been the deciding factor all season. It has to show up tonight regardless of whether we are raining threes or not.

I hope you’re tuning in or putting it on the DVR. We are 12-0 at home and its time to make it 13.

Go Gators!

Mizzou in Waiting

Mizzou Arena from the North facade.

Mizzou Arena from the North facade. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A great test tonight, Gator Nation.

On the road again at Missouri which promises to be more exciting than our game at Auburn. Missouri has been the tale of two teams. On the road they have been completely demolished (including an 83-52 shellacking at Gainesville). At home it is quite a different story. They are 14-0 at Mizzou Arena and completely dominated Ole Miss, Miss State, Alabama and Vandy. “What?!?” I hear you say. “So have we?!?” Of course, we have, but that is not the point. The point is that we are facing a much different team than we did a month ago at home. One that could provide a much needed test for our Gator basketball team.

Last time we played they had just lost Laurence Bowers who was the heart and soul of their team. He’s back this time around and they have an explosive offense to go with it. They have six players averaging double figures. They are also #2 in the nation of rebounding. It is also unlikely that their point guard, Paul Pressey, will have the same 10 turnovers he did last time….though I’m still counting on Scottie Wilbiken to shut him down.  It’s going to be a closer game and it’s going to be good. We need a battle on the road to test our mettle and to really see if the Gators learned something from that Arkansas game. Mizzou is going to come out with guns a blazin’ and they are going to try and amp up the crowd with some high intensity offense. It will be good to see how the Gator defense can react to an initial blitz and if they can completely shut them down again.

I don’t really like close games any more than the next Gator fanatic, but the truth is leading up to the SEC and NCAA tournament, we need some on the court tests away from home. It might cause misfirings of some pacemakers, but when it is all said and done, I believe this Gator team will prevail. They’ve come a very long way this year and have matured quite well as the season rolled along.

Now, it must be said, that being without Yeugete tonight will be difficult. Missouri brings Alex Oriakhi in with almost 9 rebounds a game to go with his 6’9″, 260lb frame. Will Yuegete is a great equalizer there. We’ve seen Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II step up in recent games. Tonight will be a much interesting assignment for both. They do not have to have monster nights, but if Prather can battle down low and grab some more rebounds and MFII can nail 2 or 3 three-point shots, then they will add a consistency to an already steadily performing team. It’s not about being all-stars…it’s all about team contribution and working together. This has been one of the best seasons ever to watch because this Gator team has serious chemistry and really likes going out and lacing them up and getting on the court. If someone is down, another steps up. It is great to watch. Who would have ever thought we would have Kenny Boynton around 13 points per game instead of 16…and still clobbering teams. The fact is he doesn’t have to do it alone anymore. His assists per game are up and he is still a legitimate threat from the outside. Just having him on the floor puts enormous pressure on the opposing team. An opponent, quite frankly, has to account for every Gator on the floor including those off the bench. Plain and simple.

It’s a late game tonight, but well worth staying up and watching….or at least put it on the DVR and watch it tomorrow. This has been an exciting season and one you will want to see through to the end.

Go Gators!

Auburn Game Takeaways

Primary logo for all UF athletics since the ea...

Primary logo for all UF athletics since the early 1990s (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A relatively efficient win for us, Gator Nation.

The biggest takeaway from the game this weekend at Auburn was our efficiency on offense—our ball movement was exceptional—and the hitting open jump shots on the road. The road wins are by far the most important thing to us right now because it is the best we can do to prepare for the SEC and NCAA tournament. The more hostile the environment, the better it is for the team in preparing for the tourney.

We were so efficient the other night that Patric Young didn’t really even need to contribute in the rebounding department. Auburn boxed him in all night and that gave everyone on the perimeter open 3’s to shoot with 25 assists along the way. Hitting over 50% of our 3’s was huge. Having Casey Prather and Michael Frazier II step up and have solid games is also helping negate the loss of Will Yuegete.

All of that said….we have an interesting road on the way to the SEC tournament.

We are at Missouri this week and then have Arkansas visit in a contest, I’m sure is circled on the calendar by this group of Gators. Not to mention games at Tennessee, and at home against ‘Bama and Vandy. The regular season would have culminated with a game at Kentucky, but that doesn’t look as impressive now that they are down their most dominant inside player. None the less, this is crunch time of these Gators. They need to treat these games seriously as preparation for tournament time. We only go 7 deep right now without Yuegete and we aren’t the tallest. We have limitations. There just needs to be a continual focus on proper execution.

Exciting times. I hope you’re catching this season. It’s a good one to be watching.

Go Gators!

What You Get Without Yuegete—Get it?!

English: NASA StarChild image of Stephen Hawking.

English: NASA StarChild image of Stephen Hawking. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re going to miss Will Yuegete big time, Gator Nation.

The first half of the schedule was cake compared to what the second half is going to see. We play UK twice, we’re at Vandy and Mizzou, we have ‘Bama at home and probably a nasty contest at Tennessee. While I expect wins in all these contests, the road will not be by a margin of 25 points….but I will whole-heartedly accept it if that comes to pass.

The second half of the regular season is made even more difficult without Will Yuegete playing in the middle of our press and getting key rebounds underneath. While he is only 6’7″ and is playing the role of a big man, his ability to make decisions while the press is in play that have made our defense as strong as it is. Now playing pressure defense isn’t rocket science, but Yuegete is the Stephen Hawking of full court pressure. Quickly reacting to the ball while it is coming up the court takes presence and quick decision making ability—both of which Yuegete possesses. Yes–him being out is going to hurt a bit.

Billy Donovan is going to have to find a rotation that works for us in the interim…and quickly adjusts once Yuegete comes back during tournament time. That is no easy task and made more difficult by the schedule. Casey Prather adds more scoring and great athleticism, but does not make up the rebounds. I like what Michael Frazier II brings to the court in terms of scoring, defense and rebounding…but at 6’4″ we become a VERY small team.

I would never had said it 3 years ago when Yuegete first arrived, but he is a central figure of our team chemistry. Scottie Wilbiken is going to have to play the best point defense of his life the next 8 games and the team is going to have get back in the habit of forcing opponents to shoot 27% from three-point land. Tonights game against UK will be a great showcase of how this team is adapting. Don’t miss it.

Go Gators!

Time For An Impact

Florida State starts a drive deep in their own...

Florida State starts a drive deep in their own territory against the Florida Gator defense, November 24, 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s all about the game, Gator Nation.

We can’t win the SEC East or the SEC Championship and I’m not about to get into any BCS game talk. This game is simply IT for our Gator football team. We haven’t won pretty and actually it has been horrendously ugly, but 10-1 is 10-1 and against top notch competition so we can’t discount that. I also don’t buy into the talk that everything goes out the window for this rivalry game. We’ve been a superior defensive team all year and that is a must for today and we have to be prepared with a great gameplan. Let’s talk some football…

Florida State is getting credit for having one of the best defensive units we’ve seen this year, but that is a bit misleading as they’ve only played one top ranked team in Clemson and they scored 37 on them. Of course, you don’t really have to be a top ranked defense to shut down our offense, but we will get to that. FSU has probably the most potent offense we have seen this year, probably on par with Georgia. Their QB, EJ Manual, has had some stellar games this year. While our pass rush could use drastic improvement, our secondary can’t give him any easy targets and we will have to shut down their running game of Chris Thompson and Devonta Freeman, who have about 1,300 yards between them. We don’t have a choice today, we have to shut down the run game, otherwise this will get very ugly…but I’ll get to that later as well. Let’s just get to the nuts and bolts of it all. No one thinks we are going to win in Tallahassee because we can’t score on offense against really bad teams and FSU will have the best defense we have seen all season (though I have some arguments with that). We are not favored and not expected to win even though we are ranked #4 in the BCS and are 10-1 against the hardest schedule as rated by the NCAA in the nation. Heck, not even sure why we are even getting on the bus for this game as this is a formality. Let’s just get to the post-game hullabaloo. You’ll have to excuse me if I haven’t given up just yet.

Let me face a few facts up front. We scored one offensive touchdown in each of the last three games against very poor defenses. We’ve relied on our Field Goal kicking and defensive turnovers to generate our offense this year. We can run the ball when our offensive line plays well, but that hasn’t happened lately. We must hold on to the ball to win. All of this would be disconcerting were it not for the fact that we’re somehow 10-1 against superior teams. No matter what the stats say, we can win this game, but the defense must show up and we must force a bunch of turnovers. A Gator defensive or special teams TD might not hurt either, but we must knock the FSU offense around from start to finish. If our defense is as highly touted as we think they have to make an impact today of epic proportions. We can’t have a solid effort from them…we have to have a phenomenal effort from them. I don’t even think I’m asking anything remotely impossible. Our defense is good enough to have a day like this. It is against our main rival in a game with huge repercussions for whoever wins. It comes down to preparation and concentration, but I’m banking on the Florida Gators just having a ton of “want to” for this game. They want to win to prove to everyone that they belong where they do. Florida 17 Florida State 13. Game time is 3:30pm EST, 12:30pm PST on ABC TV. I want a special teams AND defensive TD by the Gators today with of course, a FG. While our Gator Club has to meet at a fellow Gators’ home today because of some other rivalry game here in Columbus, Ohio, I hope you are able to join your local Gator Club where a Victory over the Seminoles is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!