Tag Archives: Gators

Ten Suspensions and the Wolverines

Ten suspensions to start the season, Gator Nation!

Seriously.  It does border on absurd.  We will get into that shortly.  I wish they had moved the game up to noon Wednesday so that we don’t lose any more players between then and 3:30pm EST on Saturday…but that is just me being selfish.  I actually have no issues with the suspensions and this is the game for them to be adjudicated, and maybe also the next one.  Without waiting for the investigation process to fully complete itself, I believe this is Coach Mac’s way of saying “we know they did it, so I’m moving forward with the punishment.”  Ultimately, Coach Mac gets the last laugh with Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh over the roster because who knows who will be available by game time.  Let’s talk some football…

All right, I just checked….no more suspensions…yet.  No, seriously, I just checked.  That means we’re going with what we have at this point.  Felipe Franks was named the starter a few days ago.  Color me very not surprised, Batman!  If you have followed the Gators since Franks was recruited, Coach  Mac has positioned him for this moment.  The transfer and acquisition of Malik Zaire from Notre Dame helped bolster our QB depths and having an experienced QB in Luke Del Rio doesn’t hurt.  I’m also not on the bandwagon that Del Rio had his chance and we don’t need him.  Yes we do.  In games he was healthy last year, he played solid.  He can reliably lead the offense if he isn’t running for his life.  Our O-Line will be much improved and I think the QB’s will have adequate protection and plenty of playmakers around them.  Franks just has more of an upside overall and Coach Mac knows that, so into the spotlight he goes.  This is actually the game to do it and it is a good decision.  I think there will be plenty of playing time for Zaire in different packages.  Del Rio is the backup and be glad we have him.

Michigan is only returning five starters and to hear all the talk by the analysts there should be no drop off whatsoever by these new starters.  In fact, with Harbaugh at the helm these Wolverines will be better than last year.  He has recruited well the last two years and they will be good to go.  Riiiiiiiiggghhhhhhtt.  To be fair, Harbaugh’s ability to take poor performing teams and make them great right away is legendary.  He has recruited well (if memory serves so have we).  There is no doubt that he brings intensity, excitement and the intangibles to the game.  I don’t think that will be enough and I don’t think, even with a returning QB in Wilton Speight, Michigan will have enough.  They will be good, but they won’t have enough.  Not for the first game.  Not with all the suspensions.  Not with the perceived loss of institutional control at UF.  I think this will still be a showcases for the Gators and I think we may see a bright future ahead.

Depending on whether we win big or win by just enough will be about our defense.  The defense returns 12 players who started at least one game lat year.  We will have a noticeable drop in the secondary, but not earth-shattering.  Our D-Line should be stronger than ever and we may be actually able to field a stable of Linebackers this season…..after they serve their suspensions.  If we can be solid and reliable in our secondary, our run defense should be very, very strong.  It will be a different defense this year, but it will be good.  At least, good enough for now.

Our offense will be fine with Antonio Callaway and Jordan Scarlett.  I consider Lamical Perine and Malik Davis suitable backups at running back and we are not without a shortage at receiver.  The more troubling issue is how much time and energy has been dedicated to what has to be a considerable distraction at practice.  This is where Coach Mac is going to earn his salary.  Can he get the team focused on what they need to do to win?  Can he instill some control over a program in disarray?  Truthfully, I have thoughts on who is really at fault in all of this, but that is a lengthy debate for another time and venue.  I don’t debate whether the suspensions should happen or be increased in length.  You make bad choices and their are consequences.  We will be fine and missing a non-SEC game is better if you are a fan and being not objective at all in this discussion.

I just honestly believe that Year Three of the Coach McElwain is going to be a big year.  He has talent and depth which has not existed in the past two years.  We just have to go out and win.  We will win against Michigan.  Florida 34 Michigan 21.  We won’t be without some tense moments.  I’m also sure we will see highlights from our past three losses as well…but no CBS or Gary and Vern (Win!!).  Game time 3:30pm EST, 12:30pm PST.  Game on ABC.  Join your local Gator Club where a Victory over Michigan for the first time EVER will be EPIC and best enjoyed with your fellow Gators!  ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

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

Regular Season Finale in Lexington

It has been a rough road back, Gator Nation.

We have battled injury and inconsistent play this past month. Which made it difficult to watch because this team we have this particular season is special. Today’s game is a huge step for us because we have everyone back at relative full strength and we need good team play at Lexington to build momentum for SEC Tournament play.

Especially on defense.

If we can do one thing especially well today I would really like to see us play aggressive-in your face-on the floor for loose balls-tenacious-full court-masterful TEAM D.  That’s what is gonna get us through the SEC Tourney and deep into March Madness….and it must start today.  Full disclosure: I will be at the game today so I really really want to see us play good D.  We haven’t shot particularly well of late, so if this trend continues our defense will be paramount.

It was good to see the seniors go out with a great game versus Vandy.  It will be tainted with a poor showing today. Coach Donovan knows this game is very important to the team mindset, particularly in light of UK’s struggles on Thursday against Georgia.  It would be easy for the Gators to take this game lightly.  It is Senior Day for the Wildcats even though thia brand of Wildcat basketball doesn’t create many seniors.  The atmosphere at Rupp Arena will definitely be amped.  A road win here will be the best way to finish our regular season and break an assumption that we can’t win big games on the road.

I’m amped and I’m walking into the Wildcat’s den. It’s time to play!

Go Gators!

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