Tag Archives: University of Florida

The Grounded Eagles

Florida Gator

Florida Gator (Photo credit: johnny9s)

Triple Option Saturday, Gator Nation!

The Georgia Southern Eagles are coming to town with an offense that rolls up over 300 yards on the ground per game. Our last time we played them we won 62-14, yet they were still running the triple option and put up 300 yards on the ground against Spurrier, Wueffel and Company. I’m thinking we will be far from 62 by the end of the game. Let’s talk some football…

To sum up…Georgia Southern runs the ball quite a bit. They do pass the ball for an average of 100 yards a game, so they can throw it, but they just don’t. We should beat them because of all things that are happening right now with Gator football, we still have a pretty solid defense. If we get an interception this game then you can expect a blow out, but I’m not seeing that happen. We still need to force some turnovers because ultimately we need a short field for our offense. If GeoSo sustains drives to mid-field and then punts and pins us near the 20-25 yard line, it will be a long day. We should win, but I would not expect 62 points. We’ve basically scored 24 or more points four times this year and never more than 21. So how we are 27.5 point favorites for this game is beyond my comprehension. Our offense just doesn’t operate that fast. We would need defensive Touchdowns, special teams Touchdowns and lastly…offensive Touchdowns. What will become frustrating by halftime is that GeoSo will probably run for well over 100 yards by then.

I thought we played well against South Carolina and, frankly, the Gamecocks had to be sweating bullets by the start of the 4th quarter after Auburn took care of business and all they had to do was win. I still can’t tell you much about Skyler Mornhinweg but he did an admirable job for a third string QB in his first start on the road against the Head Ball Coach. Kelvin Taylor was also very good (maybe he gets 150 yards today). We didn’t do a very good job of countering SoCar in the second half on offense, but let’s face it….we were in better shape than 99.9% thought we would be at that point. I would expect more of the same. Lots of running. An occasional pass. A special teams highlight. We win, they lose. The game will probably go quickly. Florida 24 Georgia Southern 9. Game time is 2pm EST, 11pm PST…that’s kind of weird to type after all these years. No Vern. No Gary. Sunshine Network or ESPN3 are your choices. If you live in Central Ohio, good luck finding a place to watch the game because the OSU-Indiana game will be on at the same time. You, however, should join your local Gator Club where a last home game Victory over the Georgia Southern Eagles is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

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The Game and the Gamecocks

English: Steve Spurrier at fan day while coach...

English: Steve Spurrier at fan day while coaching the Florida Gators, 1999 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Football is an odd sport, Gator Nation.

We celebrate multiple men on a field running into each other at high velocities and enjoy bone crushing events like they were the only thing happening on a Saturday.  We get excited and high five when someone becomes so fluid and elusive that others buckle at the knees to keep up and watch as an individual trots into a big patch of green.  The game of college football brings its ups, its downs and in all kinds of weather, Gator Nation.  There’s nothing like it.  Let’s talk some football…

Steve Spurrier is easily the greatest active college football coach in the SEC.  Oh…you think Saban and Miles are better.  Really?  Want to go toe to toe with me on this one?  Sidebar: Yes, I’m a big of the Head Ball Coach.  End Sidebar.  Many of you in my generation and before understand that the 8-5 record that Urban Meyer left us with and the 7-6 that Muschamp began his tenure with before Spurrier was THE STANDARD.  I remember sitting in the stands in 1988 watching us unable to move the ball against Memphis State.  Not Mississippi State.  Not Florida State (that game was uglier…52-17).  I’m speaking of team in southwest Tennessee that beat us 17-11.  We finished 7-5 and guess who we lost to the very next week?  Yes, Vandy.  Another sidebar: Before you note the 9-1-1 seasons, understand those have been wiped from existence due to NCAA sancation and SEC buffoonery.  End second sidebar.  Before Spurrier there wasn’t the Florida Football we have known the past two decades.  Before Spurrier the Gamecocks were who other teams scheduled for their Homecoming.  Both Alabama and LSU were winning football games and National titles before Saban and Miles ever set foot on the campus and both enjoy a recruiting advantage in their home states full of football prospects.  Spurrier built programs and won at places that weren’t winning before and is easily the better coach on the sidelines.  He may not have the horses he had at Florida in the earlier years, but there is no denying he is always the better the coach.  Oh yeah, I’m not a big fan of either ‘Bama, LSU or the Gamecocks for that matter, so there is some legitimate bias in this assessment.

SoCar is bringing in the better team.  They score more points.  Their defense is not that great, but neither is our offense.  They have a good QB who is not out for the year with an injury, so that right there is a plus.  They boast one of the greatest defensive players in the country in Jadeveon Clowney, who also is not out for the year with an injury.  It’s actually interesting how good a team can be when they have most of their players suited up for each game.  This game is at SoCar so that puts at least a few points in their favor for the game.  It’s a night game and they have to win to keep pace in the SEC East which means they will bring a raucous crowd to the game.  They have the SEC’s leading rusher in Mike Davis, a former Gator commit that we blew it with by trying to recruit another RB the same year after we had already signed him and Matt Jones.  Best head coach, better team, better record, at the opposition’s home field…it doesn’t look good does it?

Whatever.  No one ever said I wrote these posts for my health or for my sanity.  Sure we have now have 10 starters out for the season after Antonio Morrison tore cartilage in his knee presumably not barking at a neighbors dog.  We may have even lost our backup QB and will be, most likely, starting our third string QB, Skyler Mornhinwig, who has a famous father and no NCAA snaps at QB in his repertoire.  The fact each of us who have been following Gator football this year know this is a blowout before it starts.  Yet I’m not going there.  Game time isn’t here and we still have a chance.  Kelvin Taylor might break tackles enroute to a 200 yard game.  Our third string QB may prove to be the best QB we have in the rotation.  Has a knack for getting rid of the ball quickly and out to the receivers for big gains.  Our secondary could conceivably intercept Conner Shaw four times and return a couple for Gator TDs.  The fact is the ball still needs to be put in play and we have a chance…albeit slim…to win this game.  Because of that, I’m still going with the Gators.  I’ve never predicted a Gator loss and I’m not about to start now.  Besides, this is a SoCar team that lost to Tennessee that we manhandled while losing our starting QB at the same time.  Florida 31  South Carolina 29.  Game time is 7pm EST and 4pm PST on ESPN2 which mean Verne and Gary are covering another set of SEC schools, thankfully.  You probably haven’t been going to your local Gator Club recently, but this week is a good time to go because a Victory over South Carolina and possible continuance of a yearly winning record are best served with Gators.  ‘Nuff said?  Not quite.

I posted a great article on why the situation for us will get worse before it gets better on the TGN Facebook page.  The problems started under Meyer and were exacerbated under Muschamp.  We’ve had all these great recruiting classes that did have skill players develop, did not provide us depth at QB and absolutely obliterated the offensive line.  We didn’t realize that a 12-1 Gator squad in Tebow’s last year was operating very thinly and it was only because of who we had at QB and the recruiting class that came in with him were we able to get through the season.  As much as Urban Meyer has fell out of favor with me for how he left the program, I have to admit he is a better coach than Muschamp and better at recognizing opportunity and assistant coaches.  He said the program was broken when he left.  He should know, he broke it.  The fact that Ohio State opened up with plenty of quality players and no SEC schedule was only a bonus.  Muschamp for his part made the situation worse with poor coaching selections and his overall bull headed approach to fitting round pegs in square holes.  Right now Jacoby Brissett should be our pro-style QB, but that was never going to happen because we needed Jeff Driskel to scramble around due to a very weak offensive line with no depth.  No receivers to throw to also means that Driskel is scrambling A LOT.  We are taking athletes and shoving them into positions that they are not used to playing while Muschamp builds his stable and to his credit he has recruited a significant number of offensive lineman last year and this year.  The injuries this year just brought the house down and now we sit at 4-5 and looking at our first losing season since 0-10-1 in 1979.

Our AD, Jeremy Foley, came out in support of Muschamp this week.  Frankly, Gator Aaron had the best response on Facebook this week with “Actually, I think the only valid reason not to fire him is the lack of anybody on the current coaching staff who can step up in his place.  Brent Pease?  COME ONE!”  No truer statement can be said.  Muschamp is here for the remainder of this season and will be the coach next year.  He went 11-2 last year and one bad season….and this is a really bad one for Gator fans…will not be enough to get him fired.  It is quite likely we may have a second bad season next year, but should have a winning record.  Muschamp has to find some quality assistant coaches who can develop player talent.  He then has to identify what is happening in his program that is resulting in so many injuries.  This season is abnormal in terms of injuries, but it has been a continual problem since he came on campus.  He has to decide that some games are more important than others.  He has one Victory over FSU on his resume that he can claim as a rivaly Victory.  We haven’t beaten Georgia and are more than likely going to go 1-2 versus FSU this year.  His statement when he first took the job that he didn’t believe in rivalry games speaks volumes as to why I don’t think he’s the best X’s and O’s coach we could have, but he is who we have for the time being.  So, I’m going to work with it.  With this year’s recruiting class getting shakier by the week (see De’shawn Hand choosing Alabama over us this week—it gets worse if we lose Dalvin Cook at WR), Muschamp will have to do his best to reassess and get everything back on track.  In all kinds of weather we all stick together, Gator Nation.  This storm is going to last a bit longer.  Hang in there.  It might just all work out for us in the end.

The bright spot in all of this is that Gator basketball is starting and I will say up front that November and December will be a trying time.  We just lost to a ranked Wisconsin team with seven scholarship players and a walk-on playing 21 minutes, nearly winning the game in the final minute at Wisconsin.  We get Damontre Harris and Dorian Finney-Smith back from their team suspensions this week to get a bit more size on the floor.  Eventually, Will Yuegete, Michael Frazier and Eli Carter will recover from their surgeries and illnesses.  We will get Scottie Wilbekin back in a few weeks to allow us to have more than just a freshman at point guard.  Chris Walker is also set to join the team in December which will allow us to see the highly touted big man in action.  Come mid-January, I suspect you are going to see a very good Gator basketball team and probably the only one who can compete with Kentucky in the SEC.  This is a Gator basketball team that is lying in wait.  Have some patience, but most importantly tune in and watch the games because they are going to be good.  Lastly, the 5th ranked Lady Gator Volleyball team plays the 7th ranked Misouri Tigers this weekend.  This the first time Mary Wise has had a Top Ten game in the SEC since her first season in 1991.  I have great expectations for this Volleyball team.  I’m looking for a Final Four appearance this year.

Ok.  ‘Nuff said.

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!

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!

The Bye Week Blues

No football this Saturday, Gator Nation.

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

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

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

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

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

Go Gators!

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

The State of This Gator

Where are we at, Gator Nation?

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

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

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

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

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

Senior Night

Billy Donovan, Gators head coach.

Billy Donovan, Gators head coach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last home game of the season, Gator Nation!

Kenny Boyton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario suit up for the last time in a Gator uniform at home. Most of us thought Boynton would have been gone two seasons ago. Heck, most of thought Erik Murphy was done after breaking into a car after his Sophomore year. Come to think of it…after last season who’d of thought Mike Rosario would even be seeing the court right now.

This may not have been the greatest Gator season ever, but it sure came pretty close because of this group. They have become the face of unselfish play and hard-nose defense. True they have had their moments of lackluster play, but they each bought into what Billy Donovan was selling and it has generated 23 Victories so far this season. Collectively tonight would be their 100th Victory if they beat the Commodores, two SEC Championships, four NCAA tourney berths to go with two straight trips to the Elite Eight….and 3,400 points between them.

More than likely we will take a pretty big hit this year when they and Patric Young leave for the NBA or other ventures. We do have them right now and it has been a super season to watch college basketball. I don’t think anyone believes that we can win the NCAA Championship and to talk of it now is ridiculous, but Billy is working them hard to be the best prepared come tournament time. We’ve got our team finally healthy at the right time and these next two games will be critical to the momentum development before the tournaments begin. You can almost taste the anticipation.

Vandy will look to spoil the night tonight and they have won three straight and hit 10+ three-pointers in those games. Our defense needs to ratchet up a new level. We’ve been a bit lazy on the floor…especially against a ‘Bama team that was close to knocking us down (Thank you Casey Prather!). It should be an exciting finish to the season. Are you ready for it Gator Nation?

Game time is 8pm and you can stream the game on ESPN3 if you aren’t in the South or don’t have the SEC Network.

Big plug for the Lady Gator Lax squad. They are now 8-0 after pummeling Loyola last night. Second-ranked and devastating. Woo Hoo!

Go Gators!

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!

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!