Gator Knowledge

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Orange and lame

As I am temporarily back in Gainesville I attended the Orange and Blue game. As part of my report I took a little trip down memory lane to see some of my past writeups. I was pleased how even my coverage has been – I always acknowledged that you can’t learn much from a snazzy practice and have managed to avoid declaring anyone the second coming. With that review out of the way I will now say that I am going to make some rather strong conclusions from what is essentially a media event – for example on the first TD the QB should have been “sacked” but it just was not called - and a media event missing many key players at that.

QB: John Brantley (12) isn’t great, but he isn’t atrocious. He made some okay plays here and there. The truth is he’s not getting much support, especially not from his line. However I do not want to absolve him, he does not handle pressure well. When things break down he can’t keep the play alive and make a play. Not all QBs can do that, but the better ones can. Given Brantley’s limitations it may be a long season. The backup is evidently Tyler Murphy (10) who did not show me anything. There were also a series of big stiff guys thrown out there late.

RB: Chris Rainey (3) reportedly likes the new offense that lets him run out of the I formation. He is still a shifty guy, breaking off several good scampers, including one when a D-lineman got 3 or 4 yards deep into the backfield. I’m not sure if he can stay healthy if he gets a bunch of carries. He was also the only healthy back. Malcom Jones (20), listed as a DB, ran and actually did not look half bad. Ben Sams (37) was on the field.

WR: Quinton Dunbar (84) was the media darling of the scrimmage. And to be fair he did make some good plays, but he made almost as many bad ones (drops, poor routes etc). He’s young so he can learn to be more consistent. No one else was worthy of notice. Which is alarming given that Frankie Hammond JR. (85) and Omarius Hines (82) were on the field.

TE: Jordan Reed (11) was there.

OL: Wow. I know they were down to seven healthy bodies and starting a walk-on – Kyle Koehne (64) – at tackle: but boy they were bad. They had several recognizable guys out there [Jon Halapio (67), James Wilson (66) Sam Robey (50), but the DL was on the wrong side of the line of scrimmage all day. Given their spotty play last year it was not an encouraging display.

DL: You could argue that given how effective the DL was it is a good sign, but I did not see anyone making many great plays.

LB: Somehow Dee Finely (13) is still here. I swear he was at UF before I got here. He’s still just a special teams player. Jelani Jenkins (43) made some good plays.

DB: Matt Elam (22) was involved in many tackles, and wrapped up well. How is he in coverage is unclear. Cody Riggs (31) certainly thought he played well from the way he danced although I did not see it. The player who impressed me the most (of the whole team) was Safety Josh Shaw (9). He was consistently in position. What worries me is that when I looked at me review from last year I saw this statement: “In the secondary the big question is who starts at corner opposite Janoris Jenkins (1) or to put it another way who will be the corner that gets thrown at. Based on what I saw it should be true freshman (another early enrollee) Josh Shaw (29) who was head and shoulders above our other DBs. He's far from perfect and will get burned some in his trial by fire, but he made some plays.” That appears not to have worked out, but given Jeremy Brown’s (8) season I can stand by that comment.

ST: With Chas Henry (17) now graduating our new punter seems inconsistent. He boomed one, but shanked one too – and that was with no rush (literally - part of the scrimmage rules).

Football 101: The “I Formation” refers to how the running backs lineup before the play starts – in this case the fullback and the halfback lineup directly in with the quarterback (a ways behind him) who is underneath the center. It is a standard running formation – but offers less flexibility than having the running backs split. You can run more types of plays that way.

Fans: At one point as Brantley was moving the team he defense tried to pump the crowd and they responded. The crowd is ready to turn on Brantley if he struggles. Now I am not the type to say you can’t ever boo you team, but those times are rare and usually involve stupid plays or stupid play calling. I think after being jerked around so much in 2010 when everyone expected him to be a stud his confidence is not what it could be. It has the potential to be cyclical – he’s booed and then plays worth. This may not end well.

2011 is not a good year to have a sub Gator-standard team. We face ‘Bama and Auburn next year. That’s the worst pairing of the 5 various Western SEC teams we might draw.

Monday, December 20, 2010

So Florida has a new coach...

I don't have any great insights about Will Muschamp. He's been a good defensive coordinator at several stops, but not every good coordinator is a good head coach, although he's been groomed more ("assistant headcoach" at two stops) than most and has some NFL experience. I do like the defensive coordinator he's supposedly bring in too and not just because it weakens Bama. The offensive coordinator I am less thrilled about. Muschamp may know him, but he hasn't been a ragging success. I remember Major Applewhite as a player (he was the other QB when Phil Simms's some was at UT) and did not see a special football mind. He's not a spread guy, which I am not sorry about, but that does mean next year may be a round peg/square hole offense - although quite frankly that was what Meyer did to Brantley this year anyway.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Gasping Gators

No longer a denizen of Gainesville this was my first and last game of the season – indeed this was only the second time I saw the Clemson Tigers Gators after watching the Bama game on tv. As such my impressions may be a little off as someone may have had a good or bad game.

QB: I heard quite a bit about John Brantley (12) before the game – very little of it positive. Most of it was about he lacks pocket presence. I don’t know that I believe that – I’m not sure that he’s being put into a position to do well. Brantley is a pocket passer, not a runner/option guy – but that is what he is trying to do (more on this later). He also isn’t exactly working with a great supporting cast – especially not on the offensive line (ditto). Overall he just looked like a guy (not horrible considering everything he is facing).

RB: I thought I saw Jeff Demps (2) on the field at the start of the game, but may be mistaken. That left Emmanuel Moody (21) and Mike Gillslee (23) to hand the load. Neither looked special: both broke a few good runs, but were average overall and did not add anything dynamic in the passing game. Gillslee looked a little more natural as a runner, Moody will be forgotten as soon as he walks out the door. The team needs a player who can make people miss – now that he is back on the team Chris “Deaxter (think about it)” Rainey (3) might worth moving back to RB (and don’t tell me about Demps, he is fast, but doesn’t juke guys) as he has shown some shiftiness in the past. To be fair the O-line was hardly helping them out. There was a fullback that the internet told me is named Steven Wilks (42) was on the field, but did not do much of note.
GRADE: C I debated making this higher because of the O-line, but they looked average.

HB: I am going to call Trey Burton (8) an H-Back so I can give him his own section. At this point he reminds me of a puppy growing into his body - not quite in control of his movements. Right now he is trying to do it all with athletic ability in spot plays and it isn’t that impressive. Despite all the excitement in the stands when he got his hands on the ball he didn’t make any splash plays. Also maybe Meyer could experiment with having him attempt a few passes. I know the well-worn jump pass did not work in Tuscaloosa but this offense is pretty limited, making opponents have to worry about another wrinkle can only help.

WR: I never thought I would see day when Carl Moore (9) was the main weapon in an offense. He had the only two big offensive plays we had all game and as such is the player of the game. He was also basically a one man receiving corps because at this point I am willing to admit I was wrong about Deonte Thompson (6), who just hasn’t panned out. If Andre Debose (4) even had a pass directed at him I missed it.
GRADE: Moore A-, everyone else D

TE: Jordan Reed (11) came to UF as a quarterback and converted. I’m not sure what the coaching staff saw, but I didn’t see it. He is an average receiver with very limited blocking ability. Then again save when they lived up Omarius Hines (82) (who also hasn’t developed) he was the only tight end I saw, so maybe what they saw was a lack of options.

OL: I would say horrendous, but that is not entirely fair. The line started out left to right Marcus Gilbert (76), Carl Johnson (57), Mike Pouncey (55), John Halapio (67), and Maurice Hurt (74). They were not playing well, but they were not terrible. Then Halapio apparently got hurt (I did not see it, but he never came back into the game) and the dam burst. Xavier Nixon (73) came in at right tackle and they moved Hurt down. Last year Nixon played as a freshman (true freshman I believe) and did not look ready. This year he has been hurt and not playing – which has not improved his game. Also somehow Mo Hurt, who started at guard some last year, forgot how to play the position because one he slid over he could not slow anyone down either. I don’t want to say it was all Nixon’s fault – Pouncey was shaky too (although I did not get to see one of these bouncy snaps I have been hearing about) – but I don’t understand why Meyer did not try replacing him for as bad as the line was (I don’t know who – James Wilson (66) started several games last year, I’ve never seen Sam Robey (50) on the field, but he has gotten good press and even if he is a center you could try him at guard. I’m guessing Matt Patchan (71) is hurt again?) Johnson and Gilbert looked good by comparison, but in truth they were beat several times too. After Halapio went down Brantley simply had no time. Any type of deep pass holding the ball in the pocket was literally out of the question (this is why I went easier on Brantely).

ST: Andre Debose’s (4) TD return reheartened a fading team and crowd and gave us a chance to win. The coverage team recovered a muff (although the Tiger just dropped it, it was not an earned turnover). Chas Henry (17) continues to put well. I can’t especially blame him for missing a field goal given that he is a punter. On the other hand I can ask given the fact he has been erratic why the coaching staff hasn’t tried someone else. There are a bunch of them listed on the roster – including that #97 guy who does kickoffs (internet says he is freshman Brad Phillips). Of course the special teams also let LSU get the first down on a fake field goal were their reaction was so slow the kicker was able to pick up the lateral on a bounce and still convert. However as bad as that play was overall the special teams were a strength.

DL: There was minimal passrush and LSU was constantly able to crack them for yards – if not huge chunks. Why is Jaye Howard (6) starting? I don’t see it – he never makes plays and is constantly pushed around. Meanwhile Terron Sanders (92) rides the pine. He is the best runstopper on the team. When he was in the Tigers were not able to consistently push inside, although Sanders gets little passrush. Omar Hunter (99) is the other DT starter. He makes plays – the few times we got good penetration it was usually him. He’s up and down, getting blocked out of the play several times, but as a sophomore really playing for the first time there is potential there. Lawerence Marsh (90) also played some, but he seems to have taken a step back. As has Justin Trattou (94). There were two the better linemen last year, but were just average this game. I noticed big name freshmen recruits DT Dominique Easley (58) and DE Ronnie Powell (7) were on the field - but that was all I noticed. Not a real worry, I could have said something similar about Omar Hunter last year. Freshmen usually take time.
GRADE: C-/D+ Name a big play someone made on the line.

LB: Jelani Jenkins (43) had an interception, but it was not a great play – he was just sitting in the zone and had the ball come right to him. He appears to have replaced Brandon Hicks (40) outside. Hicks was on the field, but also did not look as sharp as he once did. John Bostic (52) played a fair amount, but the only play I noticed him was when he overran a tackle. Duke Lemmens (44), listed as a DE, seemed to be playing up a fair amount, but he was quiet. The only linebacker who looked good was AJ Jones (16).
GRADE: C+ To be fair while the Tigers were running well, they were 4-5 runs, not big bursts – that means the linebackers were doing their job in tackling at the second level.

DB: A two headed monster of two washouts went a combined 16 of 24 (67% completion) for 224 yards and 2 TDs. Yes there was no passrush, but that was not an impressive display by the secondary by any means. Ahmad Black (35) was his normal quiet, heady, sure tackling self, but the other safety, Will Hill (10) did not do anything special and was knocked over in the running game a few times. True freshman and would be Seminole Matt Elam (22) was on the field a little and looked as though he knew what he was doing in coverage, he was in position. Janoris Jenkins (1) still looked pretty solid, but he was beaten over the middle a few times (once for a TD when the could drag a receiver down and a second where he dragged one down right before the game winning TD play). But he looked outstanding compared to Jeremy Brown (8). He was bad, there is no denying that – LSU was targeting him by the end of the game. The coaching staff could have made more adjustments to help him more, but he failed too. They were running inside out coverage on the game ending touch we were running inside out coverage, but Brown let the receiver get outside.

Coaching: Here is where I am going to have to lay a fair amount of the blame. Watching this game it reminded me of they first season with tickets in 2005. The quarterback wears number 12, and he’s a pocket passer who simply isn’t suited to be a spread option quarterback. And Urban Meyer is so wedded to his system that he refuses to adjust his system. It was this way with Chris Leak, after his first season even Meyer publicly admitted he had done poorly tweeking his system to match the talents of his personnel – ’06 he gave up on the shovel pass and ran a more traditional offense. In The Savior he had the perfect fit for this offense. Now he doesn’t. Honestly I’m not sure why he recruited Brantley if he wanted an option style QB. Meyer has never been great with in game adjustments. For example if your offensive line is a sieve maybe you should bring in an extra blocker huh? No I am sure you are going to say our TE is a converted QB and our fullback is a non-entity (you could make a comment about recruiting, but you should recruit for you system. On the other hand you can argue that maybe you should recruit to have more flexibility). Fair enough - but the blocking was so bad they would have been better throwing another lineman out there (helps run blocking too).

But the bigger issue to me is that we miss Charlie Strong (who has already has led Louisville to as many wins as they had last year). How many defensive players did I mention as having taken a step back? Strong’s defense’s carried us for years, Teryl Austin let Brown get abused in a way Strong never would have. And when was the last time we blew a lead with three minutes to go? How about locking up Jenkins on their #1 receiver (Terrence Toliver – 80)? The offensive play calling was uninspired as well – those predictable runs into the line are even less effective without a two hundred forty pound quarterback. They also earned a chorus of boos. Those grumblings have always been there, but success covered for a so-so system.
GRADE: D Despite everything they led late in the fourth quarter.

Football 101: Inside out coverage is when a corner and safety combine to double cover a receiver. On the game losing touchdown Brown lined up over the receiver with the safety Hill helping inside. Brown’s job is to push the receiver inside and make sure he stays between the receiver and the sideline so the QB can’t throw outside because the CB is there and can’t toss it inside because the SF is there. In this case though Brown let the receiver get outside.

Bottom line: The talent on the roster has declined. That’s really it. Name me a true star on offense. Undersized Demps? Burton? Debose? It’s going to take some time to develop a more dangerous offense.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Your 2010 Orange and Blue Review

Don't get too excited about the Orange and Blue game from the typically rosy Sun coverage. This is you turn to Gator Knowledge for the real scoop. College Spring games are wildly overhyped, you really can't learn much of anything about a team by watching it play itself. But it's April, I am desperate for football, and it is a fun time so I went. This year it was a little different, rather than splitting up the team they had the staring offense (kinda) play the starting defense (not really) and the backups play the backups. It was a lower key affair than normal - no one really blew up compared to years past.

QB: Of course the biggest issue question going into the game was about John Brantley (12). He looked pretty good. Not spectacular (which isn't realistic given he has never started), but pretty good - honestly he looked better last year. He is a noticeably better passer than Tebow and faster if not a natural ball carrier. Our only other quarterback on the roster right now (another Freshman has committed and will here come fall) is Trey Burton (13). He's a good runner and fast. Passing needs work, but he is a true freshman early enrollee, so I expect he will improve. There is also Jordan Reed (11) who came here as a QB last year, redshirted, and magically transmorphed into a TE. He wasn't much of anything as a TE other than physically big. He played a fair amount as a wildcat QB and wasn't bad at all. He can throw and runs well and with his 250lbs size is a load to bring down. Given that Brantly is not much of a runner he may get some time.

RB: None of our starting RBs played (technically Chris Rainey (3) is a WR now anyway), so most of the work went to Mike Gillislee (23) who did not show me much. He had one great play where he dodged a defensive line in the backfield with a great cut and burst for a bunch of yards. Might have been the play of the (alleged) game. The running back who did look good was Ean McQuay (44) of whom I had never heard before today. Mr. Internet lists him as small sophomore walkon from right here in Gainesville - but also claims he is a DB some of the time. Whoever he is he ran well, breaking some tackles and causing some misses. I'll call him the player of the "game." Sophomore fullback TJ Pridemore (45) still doesn't wildly impress as a blocker.

WR: Carl Moore (9) had the biggest day and looked fairly polished - he used his body well to shield the ball. Andre Debose (4), the hotshot recruit from last year who was expected to replacec Harvin but got hurt, played a bit. You can see the innate talent that gets people excited, but he is raw as hell and more athlete than football player at this point. Justin Williams (7) is a WR again. Redshirt sophomore TJ Lawrence (18) made a few nice plays.

OL: The offensive line was only sporting one starter - tackle (left last year, but I bet right year as we move to a righty QB) Xavier Nixon (73). That is in part because of injuries. I should acknowledge that James Wilson (66) one three guys who started at guard for us at points last year (with Carl Johnson (57) and Mo Hurt (74)) played. Overall the line play was spotty and there was pressure. But given that there is a legitimate chance our starting lineup for Miami of Ohio will be Marcus Gilbert (76), Hurt, Mike Pouncey (55), Johnson, and Matt Patchan (71) - none of whom were on the field - that doesn't mean much.

DL: On defense not one of our starters last year played (which meant I spent a lot time trying figure out who was who and get numbers straight). On the DL especially that is injuries. Lawrence Marsh (90) had surgery on both his hips. Anyway obviously if the OL gave up rush that means the DL generated it which is a good sign. In the press I heard all about how Earl Okine (91) and Duke Lemmens (44) were coming on (about time for the senior Lemmens). In the game Lemmens had a not bad sack. That's it.

??: Now we will pause for a new feature of Gator Knowledge: mystery man of the Gators D. This week's mystery man is #48. Mr. Internet gives two 48s: NT Neiron Ball and LB Jonathan James (both freshman, the latter a redshirt). Because I had bad seats and bad eyes I don't know who it was running around and showing some good instincts. From size I would guess the lineman (although both are listed as 214lbs), from movement I would guess linebacker.

LB: Speaking of linebackers last years big recruits Jelani Jenkins (43) and Jonathan Bostic (52) were both on the field. That's about it. I bet Bostic starts between Brandon Hicks (40) and AJ Jones (16) as he looked a little better. Either way those two vets will make sure the corps is alright - although I would not mind seeing a little more effort out of Hicks occasionally.

DB: In the secondary the big question is who starts at corner opposite Janoris Jenkins (1) or to put it another way who will be the corner that gets thrown at. Based on what I saw it should be true freshman (another early enrollee) Josh Shaw (29) who was head and shoulders above our other DBs. He's far from perfect and will get burned some in his trial by fire, but he made some plays. The only other DB I noticed in a crowd of otherwise nonentities was Miguel Carodine (42), another apparent walkon from Gainesville I had never heard of before (this one a senior). He got badly burned on an early touchdown, but that was the only time he stood out and was on the field a fair amount.

ST: Janoris Jenkins returned a punt. I don't like that - if he goes down the secondary is in trouble.

Bottom line: This team will be a contender for the SEC East, but not really for the SEC title. Probably looking at the Capital One Bowl.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Rooting interests

It occurs to me that if going to have a sports blog I should be forthright and list off all my rooting interests.

NFL - San Francisco 49ers
NHL - Washington Capitals
NBA - Washington Wizards
MLB - Cleveland Indians
CFL - Hamilton Tiger-Cats
WNBA - the Sue Falls Bird
MLS - Ha ha ha

I did watch a Steven Gerrard highlight reel once on youtube. He was pretty amazing, so you could say in real soccer I root for Liverpool - but I've never seen a game.

College Football:
Div. I-A - University of Florida
Div. I-AA - University of Maine
Div. III - Kenyon College

College Hockey - University of Maine
College baseball - University of Florida
College basketball - University of Florida

Most of these loyalties can be explained pretty simply. I went to Kenyon College, then the University of Florida for graduate school, and grew up in Maine. Although for Division I-AA football Florida A&M is nipping on Maine's heels. Not because I have ever been to a game (I fact I had to use the net to see what their colors were and for a while though their mascot was the Sea Dragons or Dragons - probably some confused mix that came to me from NFL Europa) but because I know a few other grad students from there and like the idea of rooting for a historically black college. Plus they purportedly have a great band that kids all over the country come to the school for - not that I care about bands, but it annoys me how much UF's sucks. In truth this is all pretty academic - I've seen two UMO games in person and maybe two more on the telly.

I started liking the Caps because visited some family when they were making a run in 1998 I watched them go the Stanley Cup when I got home (they were swept). Then I moved to DC for a while a couple of years later and my cousin has season tickets to the Caps so I went to a bunch of games which cemented it. The only Wizards game I have been too was when my office took me to a game during the Michael Jordan era, but ironically I actually root for the Wizards because I don't like MJ. Many years ago the Bullets had a center named Gheorghe Muresan. Not only did I like him because he was a giant (7'7" tallest player ever), but he became my favorite player because he did the "Gheorghe Muresan Cologne" Snickers commercial when his Airness had started thinking because he was great at basketball he should permeate everything. I'd rather smell like Gheorghe. I also regularly check out the Washington post for news and pick up bits about the Caps and Wiz that way. I was amused by the craziness of Gilbert Arenas - see - until he decided it was smart to have an old west showdown with his teammate. I root for the Indians because of my father. He complained that we never root for the same teams so I adopted two of his in the sports I was not set on - the Indians and Georgia Tech football (before UF - now I'm hanging on by a thread for dear life). My Dad roots for the Indians because in 1949 he started following baseball and figured he would root for the Indians because they had won the year before. Opps. So I root for the Tribe. Now. Before my Dad's complaint in 1997 when the Florida Marlins beat them in the World Series I rooted for the Marlins because their AA team was in Portland Maine - not that I went to a bunch of games or knew the players. I still feel bad towards my Dad for this. By the way in 2007 my Dad was cheering for Boston in game Seven of the ALCS. He roots for both teams and follows Boston more closely, I gave him a raft of s*** about it and so he pretended to feel guilt and did not watch the final out. I was already pissed because this Indians fan had convinced me that they had a chance to win it all so I was watching an earlier game and discovered that our closer had an ERA over 5!?! I called her up and railed on her and said it was over. She admitted it was a big problem, but as I soon learned was a huge homer and so blind. (Joe Borowski played in 18 more games for the rest of his career). I don't know why my Dad did that, he had already see the Saux win (and the Pats). The last team is by far and away my most favorite - the San Francisco 49ers. I don't know why I root for them (nor why I picked Hamilton in the CFL a league of which I see less than a game a year). Over the course of the 1986 season, when I was eight, I tried out a bunch of teams (Bears - defending champs, Dolphins - because of '72, Broncos, and maybe some others?) before settling on the 49ers despite knowing little about them (the first game of their I ever remember I bitched out some stiff named Jerry Rice for getting hurt). I rooted for them ever since and by this point I am wedded to them.

That brings up another point, I don't hold all these teams in equal esteem. I am a fanatical football fan, but only a general fan of the other sports. I can watch them and know who is good and what is going on, but I don't know players. In the NFL I can name you the backup quarterback of every team. There are three teams I am not going replace barring something incredibly drastic - San Fran, the Caps, and Gators football. If those are my wives, UMO hockey is my mistress team. Watching the Garth Snow/Mike Dunham team in '93 is a favored childhood memory. I've actually been lucky - I have seen my teams win 3 Super Bowls, 2 BCS titles (still want a playoff), and 2 Frozen Fours (that is when I was following them - UF and and San Fran have 3 previous titles). Even the Caps had a title shot (the Washington teams and the Indians are probably the most hard luck of my teams). Secondarily UF basketball as won titles twice and UF baseball made the College World Series. And as I said in 1997 the team I rooted for then won the World Series. Other than than they are mainly placeholder teams so I have someone to root for - but none of those attachments are so strong I can't imagine changing them in the future if say I move somewhere, know someone connected to the team, fall in love with player, etc.

As for teams I don't like, almost all of them are football teams. I don't like the Yankees, the Pittsburgh Penguins (rivalry), or the Lakers - although I have a strong suspicion that will fade once Kobitch retires. I the NFL I detest the Cowboys. There used to be other teams I disliked back when San Fran was good and had rivals (that is a privilege for the good teams). I dislike the Ravens because of what Modell did to Cleveland, but ironically he lost control of team once in Baltimore so that is fading. I loath "Slash" Lewis, but like Ozzie, the coach's brother, and some of their young up guys. I dislike they Raiders (rivalry I guess? I have been to the bay only once in my life), but they are waaaaay too dysfunctional to get worked up about (although JaHamburger has brought me hours of entertainment).

In college my main ire is for FSU, especially if they could stop sucking. That is total rivalry - I used to like them before I went to Florida. Before I got here I did not really follow college ball so I just rooted for coaches I knew (Bowden, Holtz, Paterno) because I had little idea who the players were. I always hated Thug U. I fact they are probably the team I hate more than any others (maybe Dallas). I don't like USC either - I don't respect the defense free football of the Pac-10, but I don't mind their other teams. In the SEC I hate LSU who is a rival and has a dumb coach (I always root against poorly coached teams) and Bama because they have put some bad beats on us (even before this year) and Saban is a prick. UGA is a rival, but I have mellowed on them because I like Richt and they never beat us. Tennessee doesn't earn much ire either because Kiffin is gone and they are pretty middling. I used to dislike OSU when I went to school in Ohio and everyone told me how great they were (I disliked them a bit before), but in '03 championship game I switched from rooting against them to for them because the announcers were blowing Miami the whole game. They were so fast they told viewers. They even said it after a rush that got two yards. OSU was staying with them, but the announcers ignored what was right in front of them and stuck to their pregame plan. I hate when that happens (see Leak, Chris accuracy).

Finally there is Notre Dame. I used to like them when Holtz, but now I don't care about them at all either way. And I swear I am the only sports fan in the world who is neutral on them.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Tebow's not that fast

This should come as no shock, but around here in Gainesville people at a little blind about The Savior.

Anyway at the NFL combine in Indy Tim Tebow ran a 4.72 in the 40. That's fast for a lineman, but slow for a RB or WR. To give you a comparison CJ Spiller and Javid Best were 4.37 and 4.35. Jarrett Brown from WVU, who I think is better than folks realize, was the fast QB at 4.54. Some no name receiver pulled a 4.28.

Anyway this just proves what I always said, Timmy was power not speed. Brantley has better straight ahead speed (but less moves and more injuries).

Don't sweat it too much, 40 times are wildly overrated - see my correct prediction from back in the day.

[Actually he did not live up to even my limited expectations. He ended up going 2nd round to the Pats and lasting two years there and one more in Denver before sliding out of the league with 14 career catches. Last I heard the Raiders sniffed around him, but passed - harsh man, they take everyone, even JaHamburger Russell the QB from LSU made that sorry squad.]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

El Breto Era Gator allstars

This started when I was thinking about who my favorite UF player was. It wasn't going to be Tebow or Leak or some of the big name candidates (Harvin for example). I don't really have a single favorite - I guess Janoris Jenkins would be favorite current Gator (maybe Aaron Hernandez). Thinking about my favorite all time I first thought Jarvis Moss (I was not a Gator fan before I got here in 2004 - and did not have season tickets until '05), but as time past and I reflected I thought about Jemalle Cornelius. When I looked my old 2006 to 2008 team comparison I saw a few names I forgot about. So I decided to do a personal all-time Gators team (inspired in part by the basketball team of the decade the Sun had). So I cut out a rough draft and went to dinner. I came back, logged on and immediately got an IM from South Carolina telling me that Meyer had resigned. So this serves as a pretty good already done Meyer retrospective, although I do mention a few Zook guys.

As for Meyer himself I will always remember him as a better recruiter than a game day coach. He basically used superior athletes to beat inferior teams for most of his wins. Now to his credit they consistent won, there were very few upsets against teams that should not have beaten us. But his offense was gimmicky and he stubbornly stuck to his offense even when it did not work (see the pass, shovel). Even he admitted after his first season that he would have been better to adjust his offense for the players he had. It was pretty rare I watched a game and felt we had a really creative game plan. Even when we killed OSU I felt their defensive gameplan was awful as we just ran our normal offense and they acted as though they had never seen it before. Nor was Meyer the best a making in game adjustments (see Columbia, 2005) or managing the game/clock. The 2006 team was absolutely CAR-RIED by the defense and you could make an argument it was the better squad in 2008. I was always bothered because he was overhyped, but it truth we was a very good coach - you don't win as much as he did if you are not. He was a passionate guy who got a lot out of his players. Maybe he wasn't as strict with criminal behavior as he could have been and I don't know I put him down as one of the greatest coaches off all time, but him leaving definitely hurts us. If for no other reason than high school recruits thought he was great. We will lose some recruits.

I can buy that stress has burned him out. A heart is something that stress can damage. Plus he has a brain cyst (how awful does that sound?), but that is not a new issue. It also makes more sense why Meyer was not quick to name a new defensive coordinator after Strong signed up with Louisville. Something must have happened between the change of receiver coaches and then. As an aside the same way we will lose recruits I think Meyer retiring will push some juniors who might have stayed into the NFL draft. I am thinking of Aaron Hernandez and the Pounceys.

Moving on, I wish he had resigned before Louisville snatched up Charlie Strong. All the ESPN talking heads are throwing names out there, so here are mine. 1) John Gruden. I think he has lost a little of his perceived hipness in the NFL. If he was thinking abot Notre Dame, there is no reason not to come here - we have a hot young QB in John Brantley. His ego will love being the biggest fish in the small Gainesville pond, while being at UF and in the SEC will give him national coverage so if he does well a pro team will come calling. 2) Greg Schiano of Rutgers also came to mind. He's done very well recruiting and then squeezing wins out of the talent he has. Jeremy Foley could go to him and say you have gone about as far as you can in Jersey, it is time to move to the next level. Other names I have hear Mike Shanahan - who isn't going to pass on the Redskins but I could live with, Bob or Mike Stoops, who I don't want, Bobby Petrino, who I REALLY don't want, Dan Mullen who I think could be good - but in that case why not try to keep Strong? I am not a fan of promoting offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, as I don't know that he as become a polished playcaller yet. I think Kyle Whittingham has done well enough in Provo to deserve consideration for the big time. I doubt it is possible, but I would not mind snaking Turner Gill from Kansas (who just signed). Some folks will call for Steve Spurrier to come back, which I could deal with too. Or how about Lou Holtz! I love him on ESPN.

Now write all those names down and throw away the paper because it is mortal lock it will be someone else - me mentioning them is the kiss of death.

Anyway here is a lineup of the best players I have seen in the orange and blue:

QB: TIm Tebow

I've only seen two quarterbacks at UF, and while Leak was a smarter QB he wasn't an accurate passer and Tebow's ability to run made him a much more effective COLLEGE QB. Football is a sport, athleticism counts for something.

RB: Ciatrick Fason

Easily the most complete running back I've seen in Gainesville. He had power, pretty good speed, and could catch. He was big and strong enough to be an every down back. He also had the best nickname of anyone I have seen here: C-4 (so what if he once threatened to beat up a history TA).

FB: Billy Latsko (see TE)

Not only was he a good blocker, he had a little catching ability, played well on special teams, but most importantly he had a huge "can-do" attitude and did whatever Meyer asked not matter how badly he was misused. Plus all the other fullbacks sucked

WR: Percy Harvin, OJ Small

Harvin is the no brainer. Then there were a whole bunch of other guys - Dallas Baker who made big plays, Bubba Caldwell who is UF's all time leader, Louis Murphy, Chad Jackson, etc. When I first posted I went with Jemalle Cornelius because he ran precise routes, had good hands, was consistent, and came up with catches in big moments. Plus while he was quiet, he was a smart guy and a team leader - good balance to teammate punching Percy Harvin. But I have come to edit this to change it to OJ Small (did not change anything else which is why Meyer is still retiring and Chaz Henry is listed as gone). I had not forgotten him and had him in the list as a guy with good hands, but over time I keep thinking I made the wrong move so here I am. Small was also a good guy, plus had great hands and big body to box guys out even if he wasn't that fast.

TE: Aaron Hernandez

Without a doubt this was the toughest spot to pick thanks to Cornelius Ingram. I will always feel ripped off for never having the change to see these two playing on opposite sides in '08. In the end I went with Hernandez because he has been healthier, and did not have as good of a supporting cast (in 2009) and still put up great numbers. CI was more of a deep threat guy while Hernandez is more of a traditional over the middle TE. You could say have a 2TE offense and no fullback, which I could live with. I wanted to acknowledge Latsko and as both Hernandez and CI were better receivers than blockers this hypothetical offense would not block as well. On the other hand it would be a much more explosive offense that would score more and if I was a coach I would go with the two TEs.

LT: Justin Watkins

I'm fudging a bit because with Tebow our best pass blocking tackle would be at RT to cover his blindside. Watkins is the best pass blocker we have ever had here, just trust me on that. I'm putting in at LT just because that is traditionally where I think of having your most talented lineman.

RT: Marcus Gilbert

I had a lot of debate about this one. Gilbert is much more of a passblocker than a powerful guy who will blows open wholes for the running game a la a traditional right tackle. But there were no super right tackles - Trautwein was overrated, I watched him get pushed around too often for my tastes. Who else could I go with? Carlton Medder? Carl Johnson? Plus with a two receiving TE offense that would throw often Gilbert makes sense.

RG: Jim Tarrt

You can forget it because he was hurt so often in his last season (and suffered the infamous Glenn Dorsey throat punch), but when he on the field he was very good. A mauler at runblocking who could hold is own on passblocking.

LG: Pouncey 1
C: Pouncey 2

We have had some other quality interior lineman - Mike Degory, Drew Miller, Steve Rissler, and while those guys have been good and team leaders, but the Pouncey's are just better.

K: Joey Ijjas

A chronic weakness. First the two people I flat rejected. While Chris Hetland was very good as a junior (5 of 6 past 40 yards), in 2006 he was an abject disaster. Caleb Sturgis has had the biggest leg of any of them, but while he eventually might be better right now he is way to inconsistent. That left three guys to pick from and while no were stud weapons when they came out you could feel reasonable confident that they would not mess up and around here has sometimes been a pleasant rarity. Jonathan Phillips was good enough to be that guy in 2008, but benched for Sturgis his senior season (although that might have been a mistake). Mike Leach kicked for the Zooker. Joey Ijjas carried the load in the super offensive 2007 season (he had 102 points, after kicking SEVENTY-TWO (out of 73) PATs (to bad the D sucked that year huh? Phillips got 78 in 2008). Statistically he was the best (92% vs 68% and 67%), but he also tired the fewest fieldgoals (13 to 15 and 19) and only tried 2 longer than 40 yards (missing one). Ijjas only tried three from 40 yards and just hit one and missed both his tries in the shootout lose to Michigan (who won by six). Leach was the only guy to attempt a 50 yarder (going 2 of 2). But in the end I decided that was way to much kicker analysis and who cares who kicks when the offense is this stacked? I rolled with Ijjas because when he came out onto the field I got to shout "Ey-Haas!" mimicking a donkey and you can't place a value on that.

P: Chaz Henry.

Next season when other teams start getting returns rather than being force to faircatch inside the 20 all the time you will understand.

KR: Brandon James

This was an easy decision, but Vernell Brown wasn't so bad either

DE: Jarvis Moss, Carlos "Chug" Dunlap

Derrick Harvey was not as good once Moss left. McDonald was more of a DT and was not better. Cunningham is overrated. I like Trattou, but he simply isn't at the level of the other two.

DT: Marcus Thomas, Ray McDonald

Thomas was a no brainer (and not because I was smoking some of his stash when I was writing) - he was a great run stopper and could collapse the pocket. Ray McDonald was a big debate. He was a good passrusher (and eventually played some DE), but was a little undersized at DT. Joe Cohen would be the second best runstopper we have had here, although Lawrence Marsh (the healthy 2008 version) was very good against the run and better at getting after the quarterback. I went with McDonald because he was not terrible against the run, and on an allstar squad he would great linebackers behind him and with big "Chug" outside he would not hurt the overall size on the DL.

MLB: Brandon Siler
OLB: Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper

I decided to put my best three linebackers on the field even if that meant moving Spikes out of position. Plus that takes advantage of his passrushing skill - and he can cover well too. And he is a stud at eye gouging. Putting in Stamper ahead of Earl Everett was a tough call. So much so that I considered moving Spikes back inside - but I remember Siler as a notch better than Everett. Stamper is the smartest player (for his position) I have seen in Gainesville and it is good to have a guy who is never out of position - that would let Spikes freelance more. Everett was also a very heady player, and was a better athlete than Stamper. In the middle Siler was a team leader and a tackling machine. Channing Crowder made big plays, but would then follow them up by disappearing for the next quarter.

CB: Janoris Jenkins, Dee Webb.

Joe Haden makes plenty of good plays, but receivers going against him make catches much more often than the did against Dee "Do you know who is holding this AK-47?" Webb. Webb is weaker as a tackler.

SF: Reggie Nelson, Ahmad Black

Nelson was the no-brainer. Black just squeaked out Tony Joiner - and not just because he never broke into an impound lot. Joiner called the coverages for the secondary in his time, but I think the quiet Black is more of leader in the secondary than is popularly realized and while he is small he is not a liability in run support as he has good tackling technique. And Black is better is coverage, because - and it pains me to say this because I loved Joiner - Black can range over more of the field because he is faster. Will Hill was third, he hasn't got enough regular playing time yet.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Que Sera, Sera

I do not consider myself an overly sentimental individual - and you don't either. However even I had a poignant thought about all the good memories I have had in the Swamp. Not to the point that I was one of the literally hundreds of flashes as Tebow led his final scoring drive in Gainesville (or the student mother who whined he did not score near our endzone seats the whole freaking game), but I still had the thought that it was the end of a era. Before the game I saw someone in a Jaguars #15 jersey with "Tebow" on the back (which Tebow had signed).

And wow, how the mighty have fallen. FSU is just terrible. We know damn well our offense is not that good. And when I watched their sidelines Bobby just stood around for most of the game. It has kinda taken the edge off the rivalry. I went the Tallahassee Democrat after the game they were pretty passive about a 27 point beatdown.

I did like the new unis, but not as much as the throwbacks from 2006.

QB: The Savior ran all over them, although on his longest run he fumbled while trying for more yards (and he was caught from behind by FOUR Noles). He made all this short yardage runs. He passed pretty well (Cooper had a big drop). I still worry about his awareness after he threw a forward pass on the option five yards downfield.
GRADE: B- (would have been an "A-" save he cried when he came onto the field)
NEXT SEASON: As I said last week, we won't know until Brantley has to do it himself.

RB: I think the injuries have slowed Rainey (3) down, he was caught from behind on his big 45 run. I'm a little surprised he and Demps (2) did not get more than 15 carries given they combined for 179 yards (11.9 average). Also props to Rainey for turning himself into a defenseback and preventing an interception when Tebow threw to him on a route when he was clearly covered.
NEXT SEASON: Everyone comes back, save the fullback we have used a little bit in the last few weeks (Rick Burgess - 48), but it is okay because we have another FB we can barely play ((TJ Pridemore - 45).

WR: Omarius Hines (82) and Frankie Hammonds Jr. (85) were on the field early on, but just for a play. Cooper (11) had a couple of big catches, including a TD, but dropped one too. My favorite moment came before the game, when they introduced the seniors in their last game and listed Brandon James (25) as an "athlete" (for the ladies - that is what you put when you have a guy you don't know what to do with).
NEXT SEASON: Big changes as David Nelson (83) and Cooper graduate. There is always a chance Deonte Thompson (6) gets better - he is a true sophmore, it might happen. If not there are Hammond and Hines. And don't forgot hotshot recruit Andre Debose (4) who was hurt all year. And Carl Moore (9) may get a medical redshirt. And it is a lock Meyer will recruit some speedster.

TE: Aaron Hernandez (81) had a great game, his second touchdown was a beautiful run right through their defense. Although as I said FSU is down - if you watch replay on TV you will see two Noles run into one another behind him.
NEXT SEASON: Here we have to have a long conversation. The NFL player's union has a contract with the league, but it set to lapse next year. All the permutations of this are not clear to anyone (and remember I'm union), but the key part for UF is that there is a chance that the next contract will introduce salary limits for rookie contracts - when there are none right now. There is next to no chance a new contract will have closed by the draft, but it might be the last one without rookie salary cap (which means the last time that rookie's can get massive multimillion dollar contracts that are more than most veterans are paid). As a result many player agents are telling juniors to come out this year and there is a chance that many more juniors than normal may go pro. Hernandez would normally not be someone with enough buzz to leave, but he might now. I would say the odds are he stays, but if he doesn't our only TE will be Desmond Parks. Parks is a freshman who was supposed to be our second tightend in special two TE sets (originally designed for Cornelius Ingram, so we missed twice) but got hurt.

OL: While there were holes for the running game, but the passrush got there several times. Our new left tackle, Xavier Nixon (73) continues to be a work in progress. He got beat by the spin move a few times and on a run just raced downfield without hitting anyone. I think he had an assignment and just ran there - which is probably what he is coached to do.
NEXT SEASON: We have no seniors, but the Pouncey twins may go pro because of the NFL contract. I think they won't, but there is a better chance than Hernandez. If they go pro, our OL will in theory look left to right Marcus Gilbert (76) - flipping because Brantley is a righty, Carl Johnson (57) , Sam Robey (50) who has never started) Mo Hurt (74) - I think the staff is down on James Wilson (66) although I don't know why, Matt Patchan (71) - assuming he's health and the staff sees Nixon isn't quite ready.

DL: Well their quarterback broke a few scrambles, but they did not run well. We got some, but not a ton of pressure - and their QB escaped a few times when he did. The coaching staff definitely needs to coach our guys about not jumping on hardcounts after all those offsides.
NEXT SEASON: No changes at DT, but DE Jermaine Cunningham (49) graduates, which is would not be a major problem as he is just a solid rotation guy/starter, but I get junior Carlos Dunlap (8) leaves for the NFL so we will be thin. Justin Trattou (94) will start and be a stud, but the other spot will be Duke Lemmens (44), William Green (96), or Earl Okine (91) who will be a senior, junior, and sophomore, respectively. All will be part of the rotation, but not have shown me much. Okine played a bit as a freshman, maybe he will develop.

LB: No notable splash plays, but no mistakes. They were in position to stop runs and knocked down a few passes. AJ Jones (16) was hurt.
NEXT SEASON: We lose our best two linebackers in Spikes (51) and Stamper (41) and solid rotation guy Dustin Doe (32) to graduation. But we have a Brandon Hicks (40) and Jones who are already well above average starters. The other starter/rotation guy - who will probably play in the middle, if not Hicks as Jones is small - will be a true sophomore either Jonathan Bostic (52) who was huge as an early enrollee in the Orange and Blue game and has looked good the few times he got on the field or highly ranked recruit Jelani Jenkins (43) who was hurt all year. Also while we are talking about juniors going pro I will point to Brandon Spikes who came back this year when he could have been a first round pick next year. He has been dinged several times this season and had bad press from the eye gouge in the Georgia game. Chances are he will be drafted lower than he would have been last year. I always say guys should go pro when their stock is high, football is too brutal of game to pass on what might be your only big contract.

DB: Ahmad Black (35) made a great pass break up, but Joe Haden's (5) pick was just an awful throw - he did have a good pass defense on another play. Halfway through the first quarter, their quarterback had completed two passes for 12 yards. Halfway through the THIRD quarter, their quarterback had completed two passes for 12 yards.
NEXT SEASON: We don't have any senior starters, but say goodbye to our nickel back Markhie Anderson (14) who is pretty consistent and the speedy Wondy Wonder (4) which is addition by subtraction. But there is a worry because I bet Haden goes pro - hell he might have even if the NFL contract situation was stable. He's gotten lots of good press and if looks at next season he will have to figure we won't be as good and there is nothing for him to gain in terms of draft status by staying. And he's probably right to go - while in truth he isn't NFL ready (he tackles well so he does not give up many big plays, but does give up passes and against receivers in the NFL, who are faster, some of those may become big plays), but I can't see his stock getting much higher. The only thing that might keep him is that his little brother is a verbal commit. If he goes we have no one with any experience to play opposite Janoris Jenkins (1). There is a chance Dorian Munroe (20) will be back if he gets a medical redshirt, but he's yet another safety.

ST: We gave up a big kick return and an awful blocked PAT, but also pinned them at the one on a punt.
NEXT SEASON: Brandon James is gone. He hasn't been getting huge returns lately, but that is because people have been avoiding kicking to him. Next year they will be giving us more chances, which means more big returns, but also more short returns and long fields for our offense. Jonathan Phillips is also graduating, so we roll with Caleb Sturgis live or die.

Play of the game: Aaron Hernandez running through FSU's Keystone Cops defense.

Alabama: Mark Ingram is a little dinged - it is overhyped, but it can't hurt us. The bigger news is that Auburn held him to 30 yards on 16 carries. I guarantee you that Charlie Strong is looking at the footage as you read this. Our defense is better that the Tigers. This is only the second undefeated regular season in UF history (but the last one ended in the Gators getting annihilated by Nebraska).

Just a quick fun moment about the strength of the SEC. Next week Georgia Tech will play Clemson for the ACC championship. Both lost to SEC teams this week - Clemson got hammered by the Cocks. Ten SEC teams are bowl eligible, and given that all are 7-5 or better (six total, four in the East) they will be playing yet.

Finally if we beat Bama we play in the Rose Bowl. Is there anyone else out there who is fan enough to consider going to LA baby?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The best win five hundred thousand dollars can buy

I refuse to grace this game with a full writeup. In fact it shall barely receive one at all. Most of the hype was about John Brantley (12), but all he did was reconfirm he can throw the ball against mediocre teams after Tebow has softened them up. We won't really know about him until next year - I honestly have seen nothing to give me a firm feeling in either direction. It was amusing to see him run up the sideline for a dozen yards.

Most of my focus was on the offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey (56) sat this one out so Mike (55) slide over to center, but the really point of focus was our new left tackle true freshman Xavier Nixon (73). I was surprised that he got the start in South Carolina because Carl Johnson (57) had not been terrible. Nixon did not look that great against FIU, getting beat several times, setting a little to deep in pass blocking, and not punching well. In theory you want your best five lineman on the field and given the way he played against lowly FIU I am a little worried - but he was not chronically abused in Columbia. He hasn't looked better that Johnson, but maybe the coaches think the Johnson is better at guard (or the OL as a unit is better with him there). Or maybe Nixon has looked good in practice and they think with a little experience he will be the best option. Johnson does make the interior better, maybe the plan it is just better to have a weak LT an make the rest of the line the best it can be (which is not standard practice, but not irrational either). I'm hoping he will get better quickly, I will keep an eye on him vs FSU. When the starting OL was pulled because it was a blowout he stayed on the field to get more time.

DT Lawrence Marsh (90) played, which I was happy about because it means he was *relatively* healthy, but at the same time not happy about because there is no way he should have been playing in a meaningless game - especially not with our other starting DT Terron Sanders (92) out with a nasty back injury. If Bama beats us it will be by running right at the center of our defense. Justin Trattou (94) was briefly on the field as well.

Caleb Sturgis (19) is slowly invalidating himself as a weapon because while he can nail them from deep his accuracy limits how frequently I would be willing to go with him. I know he supposedly hasn't been great in practice, but Jonathan Phillips (38) only missed one all last year (and just one in '09) so why not use him if we are close? Admittedly Chris Hetland (39) had an 81% accuracy percentage in 2005 (which I bet you forgot), but you can just tell looking at Sturgis that his confidence has been shaken. How much do you trust him in a big moment against the Crimson Tide?

Football 101: When an offensive lineman "punches" he basically does just that: throws out both his hands to hit the passrusher (this is not a run-blocking move) in the torso. A good hit will break a defensive lineman's stride, giving you an extra precious second to pass. Punching also helps prevent the d-lineman from putting on a move, changing direction, or getting close to the o-lineman where it is much easier to slip past him (better to have him out a few steps so you can keep an eye on him). Lineman do need to be careful when they punch not to put too much interia forward or they will overextend, becoming off balance and an off-balance lineman is easy for a passrusher to put a move on and get by.

Sunday, November 08, 2009


Who lets these guys into the SEC? They were so bad even though it was a night game we were a very quiet crowd. It was the quietest night game I have ever been too, and everyone split quickly, the roads were shockingly clear afterwards.

NOTE: I did do a quick and dirty Georgia writeup, but not until Friday, so I did not send it. You can see it here:

I’m also considering going to a high school playoff game Nov. 20 if there is any interest. I know you don’t care.

QB: The Savior was pretty efficient for him, but made no spectacular plays. He did better in vacating the pocket when it started to break down.

RB: I was pleased to see Chris Rainey was healthy enough to play, not that he did much. Moody got a little more time than usual and ran fairly strong. Demps did pretty well too, but on his big TD run it was just a blown defense (or someone got completely blocked out of the play – but I think it was just a screw-up). He caught the pitch on a basic option and when he caught it he was right in front of me and there was NO ONE there.
GRADE: A- (as a corps, including Brandon James, they had 21 carries for 121 yards)

WR: Brandon James and David Nelson actually made a few plays, but let’s not get too excited about beating up on Vandy. Deonte Thompson continues to be MIA, which is a major disappoint, and really hurts as he was suppose to be the big play guy. Riley Cooper had one short grab, although made a good block on a special teams return. On the deflected TD he was the one who did not make the catch – and, while it was a cool play, it was TERRIBLE route combo. The reason that Nelson was there for the rebound was because he and Cooper we running the same route, Cooper to the goalline, Nelson five yards deeper. Actually he was open because the DB on him jumped towards Cooper because the play was right in front of him (as he should have). Hammond and Hines were again briefly on the field (with the starters).

TE: The 64 yarder was great to watch, but it came after the game was over against a tired defense just waiting for the gun to sound. Still he had 6 catches for 56 yards before that, which isn’t too bad. He did not make any great plays, but made the routine plays keep our defense off the field.
GRADE: A (he led the team in catches, put up solid numbers for a TE (if not perhaps his standards), and you can’t deny he looked great bouncing off half a dozen tacklers).

OL: Before Matt Patchan (71) blew out his knee, he and Carl Johnson (57) alternated at left tackle, with Johnson the guard when Patchan was tackle and James Wilson (66) was guard. But how when Johnson the entrenched RT, Mo Hurt (74) plays right guard (Mike Pouncey has flopped to the right). When Carl Johnson briefly got hurt, Mr. Hurt moved to RT and Wilson came in. We don’t have much depth besides Wilson – freshman center Sam Robey has gotten press, but barely played. Also on one play Tebow got blown up by a blindside rusher, and when that happened I realized how good the blindside protection has been for most of the year so I want to give props to our RT Marcus Gilbert (76), who has been quiet all year – and a quiet OT is a damn good OT. Even before the season started I remember saying he looked good and I was not worried about that tackle spot. He’s a junior, so he’ll flip next year and protect Brantley’s back so that will help his development. However while Gilbert has been consistently solid, the OL did not do anything special this game – and it was Vandy.
GRADE: C+ (did average 4 yards a carry)

DL: Limited passrush without the blitz, their halfback averaged 5.4 yards a carry – many of those yards coming right up the middle. Trattou (94) played at little without much affect, Marsh (90) did not. Carlos Dunlap deflected two passes, on one smartly realizing the play as to a back in the flat and falling back into the passing lane.

LB: With Spikes out Stamper (41) moved inside and Doe (32) started outside. I had missed this, but Brandon Hicks (40) was out with a hammy. Doe was out there even with the scrubs. Stamper had a great interception (the game’s only turnover unless you count the punter dropping his need to catch a bad snap). He is a smart player, so that he was in position was no shock (he undercut a short route to the outside) but he displaced some great hands – it was a beautiful, receiver quality, catch. AJ Jones had a least one good blitz to force an early throw.
GRADE: B+ (you need more big plays if you want an “A” vs Vandy)

DB: Our reputation evidently preceded us, because they never challenged our corners. They had just two – 2!!! – pass attempts over 15 yards, and both were about 20 yards. One each at the end of each half when they were in their own end and time was winding down so they had to try unless they just wanted totally give up. They average 3.4 yards a pass – why not just run every play? Pretty pathetic. It wasn’t because of our swarming passrush (of course all the quick dumpoffs made it harder for our DL too), they never even tried. Their game plan involved lots of screens and work for their tight end. Jenkins jumped for a chance at what would have been an amazing catch but was not really close.
GRADE: Incomplete vs. Captain Checkdown

**As an aside for those who have given me grief for saying Jenkins is better than Haden check out this article talking about how Jenkins as true freshman last year helped teach Haden (as highschool QB) how to play corner.

ST: Punter Chaz Henry (17) remains a weapon. Teams continue to work to not give Brandon James any opportunities, but he almost broke one. They have a hot returner to, who we shut down pretty well. I was in the endzone again and noticed instead of Jenkins it was Haden crossing to the left on kickoffs.

Coaching: Pretty uninspired vs. a two win team. The defense only let the Commodores cross the 50 twice and had a mere one play over 20 yards. Our offense did not play nearly as well, with just two drives longer than 45 yards against going three and out a trio of times. As I said, the Georgia mauling was misleading, our offensive troubles are not solved. We were 4 of 13 on third down (Vandy was a surprising 7 of 16, given they had just 200 yards of offense.
GRADE: B (it was a 24 point win)

Play of the game: We went against type for one play, rolling both our corners to one side of the field when they doubled their receivers over there. Vandy had a good call, running a screen to the back side. It looked bad, the back had a lineman in front him with just safety Will Hill between him and the endzone. The lineman locked on Hill and I was screaming at him to get to the outside to force the RB back into the defense and give up a big gain, but not six. Instead Hill, again a defensive back, stood up the OFFENSIVE LINEMAN, twisted back and forth on him to watch the back, shed the block, and MADE THE TACKLE!!! Vandy got just 12 yards on the paly. Now I have another reason (besides Hill being better in coverage) I would rather he start over Major Wright (21). He actually did “start” (as did Emanuel Moody at RB) in that he was on the field for the first defensive play from scrimmage, but the truth is he and Wright split time (as do the backs).

The Bottom Line: South Carolina continues to make me look foolish as they got dropped 33-16 at Arkansas. Although FSU got rocked blowing a fourth quarter lead to end up losing by 16 as they fell to 4-5.

More importantly three-quarters of the way through the season this is the team we have, we are not going to suddenly wake up on offense. We are a defensive team. That is okay – it is how we won in 2006 and defensive teams win more often. But it will make for two tight games if we are going to repeat as champions. My bigger concern is actually our health on the defensive line. I have been waiting all season for DT Lawrence Marsh (90) to get healthy, and we may have to face the reality that he is never going to be fully healthy this season. He is our best defensive lineman and the lynchpin to our rush defense. Without him healthy teams have been able to run up the gut on us. We know as fact now we are playing Bama in Atlanta (thanks for nothing Jordan Jefferson) and have watching them comeback against LSU I’m not worried about their quarterback or our offense being able to get SOME points on them. But Ingram can run hard and that game will be decided by if he can run inside on us. Ironically if we win that Marsh will have a month to rest up for Texas (they have remaining schedule that is as easy as ours) – who doesn’t run well and we match up better with. I would like to see Marsh rested for the next two games and then get just a little time vs. FSU to avoid getting rusty.