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2 0 0 9    R a n t s

2005    2006    2007    2008

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  Florida State SEC Championship National Championship


April Rant

You may have heard about Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell's press conference in reference to the school's appeal of NCAA sanctions that would strip the football team of 14 wins from the 2006 and 2007 seasons in which players participated in games who were ineligible by virtue of having cheated on an on-line music class... In all, 61 athletes in 10 sports were affected.

Anyway, 33 minutes into the press conference, Wetherell must have suffered a stroke or something.... Below is a news columnist's view of the event. In parenthesis, I've inserted derisive comments in appropriate places.

I had to share this. I have been accused of occasionally getting "out there" but man... I could make up this $hit if I tried.

T.K. Wetherell goes off the script
posted by Andrew Carter on Mar 17, 2009

I’ve posted some of the highlights from T.K. Wetherell’s press conference earlier today but this warrants its own space. Toward the end of the presser, Wetherell, who had mostly maintained his calm for more than 30 minutes, began to, well … lose it a little. Not sure if that’s an accurate description, so we’ll let you decide.

Here’s the first instance of Wetherell gone loopy: He was talking about Bowden and, inevitably, some of Wetherell’s focus turned to the notion that Bowden wants to stick around because of a desire to retire the most victorious coach in major college football history.

Wetherell had said that wasn’t the reason why Bowden wanted to stay and then, at about the 33-minute mark of this press conference, Wetherell says: “Now, we understand all the rest of it. We’ve heard [Sentinel columnist Mike] Bianchi over there saying, well hell, 31 wins don’t count anyway because they were at some [dipstick] school …”

He was referring, of course, to Bowden’s victories long ago at Samford (now Howard) University in Birmingham, Ala. Now, it’s important to note that I have written the word “dipstick” in brackets, which means that’s not actually what Wetherell said. The first three letters are correct, and you can probably guess what the last four letters were.

As soon as it came out of his mouth, amid the laughter that filled the conference room in the Wescott building here at the heart of FSU’s campus, Wetherell paused. Some university officials in attendance appeared a bit mortified. (Probably the same ones who were mortified when this politically connected non-academician with no Ph.D. degree was named FSU president)

“I’m sorry, Lee,” Wetherell said to Lee Hinkle, FSU’s vice president for university relations. “I got wound up.”

Wetherell wasn’t finished, though. Moments after referring to small, Baptist college as a “[dipstick] school,” he used an elaborate hypothetical story involving Florida quarterback Tim Tebow. The story was meant to illustrate Wetherell’s disdain for the way the NCAA handled some aspects of its ruling regarding FSU’s academic fraud case. (We guess that's what he meant, because at this point, principles of rationality ceased to exist for T.K.)

“I mean, I figured out how to beat Florida,” Wetherell said. “I told them the other day – I’ve got the deal, man. I got the deal. We’re going to send a graduate assistant down to write a [paper] for Tebow, and go ahead and turn it in. (Buddy... that's the ONLY way FSU is going to beat Florida any time soon)

“And then we’re not going to tell anybody, until about the 15th of August. And we’re going to say, Oh, by the way, look what happened. Urban [Meyer] doesn’t know anything about this – he’s not involved. And the letter according to the NCAA – you think a violation occurred, not that it did occur, you think it occurred, you’ve got to sit him.

“Well, we’ve got the proof, we’ve the [paper], we’ve got the one he turned in, we’ve got the one the graduate assistant [did]. He violated the rules. He’s ineligible … now, they can redshirt him next year, (Regardless, UF will STILL kick FSU's a$$) and they may need to do that because they’re going to need a quarterback, anyway, in two years and that may not be a bad idea. But – that’s just not right. I mean, it’s just not right. That’s what’s the problem – it’s just flat wrong.”

It’s probably not a coincidence that, not long after Wetherell finished the above hypothetical story, Frank (“Job Security”) Murphy, the university’s lead spokesman, rose from his chair and told Wetherell that it was near time to end the press conference.

End of News article...

I find it somewhat outrageous that the idiot FSU prez made any references to the University of Florida, UF Coach Urban Meyer and Gator QB Tim Tebow. Oh well... 53 is the UF point total record vs. FSU and the nolies do play in the Swamp for Tebow's last home game....

When asked for comment, Bobby Bowden responded “DADDGUMMITT, DURN, DAD NABBIT ALL THEM WINS GONE BOYS YA SEE -- WE JUST CAIN'T DO THAT YA SEE -- WE GOTTA GIT DOWN TO, TO, TO JUSTA DOIN THANGS RIGHT- YA SEE DADDGUMMITT NOW IMMA NEVA KETCH JOE UP 'ER WITH THEM WINS YA SEE DAD NABBIT DADDY DANK DIDDY DIP DOP”




As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Pre-Season Rant

   
19 days and counting... Here is preseason rant.

In baseball, there is an unwritten rule that after mid-way through the game, if your pitcher is throwing a no-hitter, it is expressly forbidden for anybody on the team to mention that fact. The prevailing superstition is that the mere mention of the fact will certainly jinx the pitcher.

Fans and pundits are buzzing about how, with 20 returning starters and unbelievable depth at virtually every position, the 2009 Florida Gators are a consensus pick to defend their 2008 national title.

But there is one thing that nobody dares mention. The metaphorical "no-hitter."

In 102 previous years of football, no Gator squad has ever completed an undefeated season. There have been a couple of one-loss campaigns the 1996, 2006 and 2008 national championship seasons immediately come to mind, but never the and Oh season record.

Last year, the Gator fell ONE POINT short of perfection. UF's shocking 30-31 loss to Ole Miss was the springboard that refocused UF's effort and propelled it to 10 straight wins and the SEC and national championships.

Nobody really talks about why Gator QB Tim Tebow and fellow All-American linebacker Brandon Spikes spurned the lure of NFL million to return for their senior seasons.

"We play them one game at a time. Blah-blah-blah"

Yeah, Okay. More than just the physical prowess that Tebow and Spikes bring to the field, this is the heart and soul of UF's player leadership. They are the intangibles from which all other intangibles spring forth. They will take a great supporting cast and raise the level of each teammate¹s game and make them greater.

For sure there will be dramas and mini-dramas as the season unfolds. But if you believe as I do, this will be UF¹s greatest team ever. It will start the season ranked #1 and it will finish the season ranked #1. This team is on a mission. And Oh as in 14 and Oh.

But we can't talk about that.

Here is the 2009 season game-by-game breakdown. Charleston Southern and Troy no chance. Game 3 Tennessee no chance, although the score will be closer than expected. At Kentucky, no chance. LSU, at night in Baton Rouge

No chance.

Arkansas and at Miss State No chance. Georgia in Jacksonville

No chance.

Vandy, at South Carolina and Florida International. No chance. Florida State

In the loudest game ever at The Swamp No chance.

SEC Championship and possible BCS Title Game

Stay tuned.



As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.



Charleston Southern

Hello Gator Nation….

Not much to say about Saturday’s 62-3 pasting of Charleston Southern at the Swamp. Coach Urban Meyer ran a “vanilla” offense and didn’t reveal anything useful to SEC opponents whom we will face later this season. The gritty Buccaneers didn’t really provide any kind of measuring stick for the defending National Champions.

Redshirt sophomore Backup QB John Brantley got some much-needed playing time and responded with two TD passes and 40 rushing yards. Brantley actually played more than starting QB Tim Tebow, who threw for one score and rushed for another. Running backs Jeff Demps, Chris Raney and Emmanuel Moody all did a good job, and no major injuries were sustained. That’s about all that needs to be said.

You probably don’t know that the University of Florida is the winningest football program since 1990. I choose 1990 because that’s the year Steve Spurrier became coach and established what has become the second epoch in UF Football lore. During the 19 seasons since ’90, UF has won 189 games with a .786 winning percentage, two more wins than runner-up FSU (187 wins and .782). Ohio State is third (182 wins and .774).

Speaking of the Nolies, I watched a good game between FSU and Miami. The Canes prevailed 38-34 in Tallahassee. I guess an FSU loss doesn’t help UF’s “strength of schedule,” but it will be moot if the Gators run the table as expected.

Georgia also lost, 24-10 to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. South Carolina squeaked by NC State 7-3. Alabama overpowered Virginia Tech 34-24, showing surprising strength in the fourth quarter. I noticed a Bama fan waving a sign that read “See you in December Tebow.” Be careful what you ask for, Bama fan. LSU beat Washington 31-23, handing the Huskies their 15th straight loss. LSU was not impressive and I thought was outplayed by Washington for most of the night.

Brigham Young stunned Oklahoma 14-13, after OU lost Heisman trophy winning QB Sam Bradford in the first half. Bradford sprained his throwing shoulder and will be out of action for 2-4 weeks according to news reports. The analysts say that the injury will eliminate Bradford’s chances of winning the Heisman this season.

Troy invades the Swamp this Saturday for a 12:15 kickoff. The Trojans lost 59-21 during their last appearance (2007), and they had a pretty good team that year. The word is that the Trojans are not as good as they were in ’07. Look for another vanilla blowout as the Gators tune-up for Tennessee in week 3.


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Troy / Pre Tennessee Rant

Not much to say about UF’s 56-6 thrashing of Troy at the Swamp in the rain Saturday. It was a good tune-up game.
Now the “real” season begins for the Gators as the Tennessee Volunteers invade the Swamp for an important SEC East Division game.

In two games this season against less-than-stellar opposition, the Gators have outscored the opposition 118-9. Tennessee is 1-1, having trounced Western Kentucky and then lost at home 19-15 to UCLA. The Vols were pathetic last Saturday, scoring only one TD. The game came down to first and goal for Tennessee with about four minutes to play. The Bruins stuffed UT on four plays.

Normally there is a lot of enmity between the Gators and the Vols, but Tennessee’s new coach Lane Kiffen upped the ante by making disparaging remarks about Gator Coach Urban Meyer during the off-season. To refresh your memory, Kiffen said publicly that Meyer broke recruiting rules by phoning wide receiver prospect Nu’Keese Richardson (who had committed to UF during the recruiting process) as he was making his official visit to Tennessee. This is not a violation of either NCAA or SEC rules.

Kiffin was reprimanded by SEC commissioner Mike Slive for falsely accusing Meyer and for himself committing two minor recruiting infractions. I’m sure Vol fans love the chutzpa demonstrated by their brash young coach, but as we (and Georgia) know, Meyer takes this stuff personally.

Last year, UF beat the Vols 30-6. Tennessee had its chances, driving inside the UF five-yard-line twice and committing turnovers. Yet, at the end of the game, with UF inside the Tennessee red zone, there was Tim Tebow taking a knee rather than attempting to embarrass UT by scoring in the waning minutes.

Don’t look for that to happen Saturday. Tennessee is going to have to “man up” or they are going to be totally embarrassed on national TV. Again…

Oh… the all-time series between Florida and Tennessee is tied at 18-18. UF is 13-5 since the teams began playing annually in 1990.

With the win against Troy, the Gators have tied the school record for consecutive wins at 12, set by the 1995 team. Next up is the unbeaten streak of 18 games, set by the 1984 and 1985 teams, who went 16-0-2.

Gator QB Tim Tebow added one rushing TD against Troy to continue his climb in the career SEC history books. Tebow has 45 rushing touchdowns, tying him with Auburn’s Carnell Williams for 3rd place. Next up is LSU’s Kevin Faulk in 2nd place with 46. The record is held by Georgia’s Hershel Walker with 49 career rushing TDs.

Tebow also passed for four touchdowns against Troy, moving him into a tie for 11th place all-time with Tennessee’s Erik Ainge and Georgia’s David Greene. His next TD pass moves him all alone into 10th place.

And with 117 combined rushing and passing touchdowns, Tebow is just five behind the career record-holder, former Gator QB Danny Wuerffel at 122 (114 pass-8 rush).

I will resist the urge to further light into Tennessee. I’ll just say that I believe that the score will be worse (for Tennessee) than last year’s 30-6 beating.


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Tennessee

The top-ranked Florida Gators passed their first real test of the season, thumping Tennessee 23-13 at the Swamp Saturday.

The bad news is that the Gators passed with a C- rather than the A+ that everybody expected.

UF was favored by more than four touchdowns, so in one sense it was a “moral victory” for the Vols and their brash, punky coach Lane Kiffen. Gator Nation wanted an ass whipping on the order of the 49-10 whipping that Urban Meyer put on Georgia last year, a year after fielding a slight from the bulldogs during the 2007 game. Kiffen had upped the ante by making derogatory statements about Florida and Meyer from the day he was hired at UT. Meyer has demonstrated that he doesn’t take such things lightly…

For the most part, UT had some success in driving the football and making big plays on defense when it mattered. Florida took a 23-6 lead into the fourth quarter and was poised to blow the game open when QB Tim Tebow fumbled after picking up a first-and-goal. The ball was returned to near mid-field and the Vols drove to their only TD. After 11 straight quarters, it was the first touchdown surrendered by UF’s defense, which, for the most part, UF contained Tennessee, limiting the Vols to 210 total yards.

Tebow had a decidedly un-Heisman-like day. His stats were pedestrian; 14 completions in 19 attempts passing for 115 yards and 76 yards rushing on 24 attempts for one touchdown. He did rush for seven of UF’s 20 first downs. Tebow moved into second place all time for rushing TDs, tyiing Kevin Faulk with 46. He is now three rushing TDS behind Hershel Walker. Tebow’s 30-game string of TD passes ended.

With the win, UF set the school record 13-consecutive game win streak. Next up is the 18-game unbeaten streak (which includes two ties -- 16-0-2) set by the 84-85 teams. Saturday’s win is Florida’s fifth straight win vs. UT for UF, and moves the Gators ahead in the all-time series, 20-19.

Next up is a road game at Kentucky. The ‘Cats beat Louisville this week and enter the contest 2-0. Last year the Gators blasted Kentucky 63-5 in Gainesville. UF has won 29 of the last 30 including last 22 in a row. The Cat’s haven’t won since 1986. This sets up very nicely as a “trap” game… UF will certainly be a huge favorite to win, but UKy will spare no effort in embarrassing the Gators. The only way Kentucky can win this game is if UF turns the ball over multiple times. Kick off is 6 p.m., I’ll be watching.

Until then, as always…


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Kentucky

The air seemed to suck right out of my hotel room in Lakeland. Tim Tebow lay motionless on the turf of Commonwealth Stadium in Kentucky after a good hit by a UKy linebacker. “Come on Timmy, get up,” I remember thinking. “This can’t happen to Superman… to the franchise.” For several tense minutes, I could hardly breathe.

The unthinkable had happened. Gator Quarterback Tim Tebow had a concussion. For the first time in four years, he was knocked out of a football game. Collectively, the emotions of Gator fans everywhere who were watching the telecast, mirrored those of the Gator fans shown at the stadium. Deep concern.

Tebow led a 31-point first-quarter outburst that totally outmanned Kentucky. UF led the Wildcats 31-7 late in the third quarter and were poised to cash in another score when Tebow got hurt. The Gators eventually won 41-7, extending their mastery over Kentucky to 23 consecutive games and extending the nation’s longest win streak to 14 games.

The 4-0, number-one-ranked Gators get a much-needed off-week this Saturday. That allows two weeks until they have to travel to Baton Rouge for a key SEC match-up with LSU. At this writing, it is unknown if Tebow will be cleared to play, but my guess is that he will. It is certain that if he gets to practice at all, it will be non-contact.

Before his injury, Tebow rushed for two touchdowns, numbers 47 and 48, moving him into second place all-time in the Southeastern Conference behind Hershel Walker. He also passed for one touchdown, giving him 73 for his career, good for 11th place all-time in the SEC. He is closing on Danny Wuerffel’s SEC “touchdown responsibility” record (rushing plus passing touchdowns). Tebow now has 121 combined TDs; Wuerffel has 122. Tebow also eclipsed the 7,000 yard passing mark for his career, giving him 9,342 total yards, which is 10th all-time in the SEC. Tebow actually ran for more yardage than passing vs. Kentucky and as a team, UF rushed for 368 yards. Would’ve been more except for those darned yellow flags…

Looking ahead, LSU must play Georgia this week. The Tigers were unimpressive against and average Mississippi State team Saturday, winning 30-26. LSU got a pick-six interception and a punt return for a score. They also muffed an extra-point try, blew a field goal attempt and hiked the ball over their punter’s head, handing MSU a one-yard TD drive. If LSU plays like they did vs. MSU, The Gators will roll, Tebow or no Tebow.

Georgia heads into the LAS game having nipped Arizona State 20-17 in Athens on a field goal at the gun. The Dawgs have been enigmatic, having given up huge point totals in wins against Arkansas and South Carolina. This should be a good game to watch as it will reveal a lot about both teams.

In case you missed it, the South Florida Bulls beat FSU in Tallahassee 17-7 and it wasn’t that close. FSU didn’t score until 11 minutes left in the game and mustered 19 total yards rushing against USF. Also, Virginia Tech throttled Miami 31-7, hopefully, ending all of this blather from the sport talking heads about “the U” being back.

Among the top 10, the teams ranked 4, 5, and 6 all got beat. Congratulation to Coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina on beating #4 ranked Mississippi 16-10. It was South Carolina’s first win over a top-five ranked team in 28 years. #5 Penn State lost to Iowa at home, eliminating another potential hurdle to a UF march to the BCS title game. And #6 California – the latest pretender from the Pac-10 -- got clobbered by Oregon.

That’s all for now. If you’re so inclined, keep Tim Tebow in your prayers. As Always,


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Pre LSU Rant

When top-ranked Florida takes the field against fourth-ranked LSU in Baton Rouge Saturday night, it will be one of those proverbial games where you can throw out the record book.

No doubt the crowd will be marinated and rocking at Tiger Stadium, a.k.a. ³Death Valley.² But really, how is that any more intimidating than 90,000 Gators chompin¹ in the Swamp, where the Gators dismantled LSU 51-21 a year ago.

The record book says LSU has won 32 consecutive Saturday night home games. Yet UF has prevailed there. Two night games stand out; the 2007 game in which the Tigers needed 5-for-5 fourth down conversions to out-point UF 28-24, and the 1993 game in which Gator Coach Steve Spurrier unleashed a 58-3 a$$-whooping on the Tigers.

The record book says Urban Meyer has never won in Tiger Stadium. Neither has Tim Tebow, who might play or might not play after suffering a concussion against Kentucky.

LSU has gotten by the skin of its teeth this year. Last week¹s 20-13 victory over Georgia 20-13 was another in a series of skin-of-their-teeth wins for the Tigers. LSU beat Washington 31-23 in a game that was closer than expected. LSU was unimpressive the next week at home against Vanderbilt, winning 23-9 and then needed a goal-line stand to escape at Mississippi State 30-26. They needed a miracle ­ and got one ­ against Georgia last week to escape the Bulldogs in Athens.

Could it be that the Tiger are just a bit overrated? Seems like nobody has problems scoring on LSU. For sure, it sets up perfectly as a trap game for UF, which has everything to lose.

The question on everybody¹s minds, though, is whether or not Gator QB Tim Tebow will play against LSU this week. UF coach Urban Meyer says he doesn¹t know. This isn¹t Meyer¹s call or Tebow¹s call. It¹s a doctor¹s call. We might not know for sure about Tebow¹s availability until game time. The only sure thing is that nobody knows. And you can bet, Meyer isn¹t talking ­ even if he knows.

The next question would be how effective would Tebow be after such a long layoff from not practicing. So much of football is timing.

One thing we¹ve all come to know about Tebow is that if anybody can pull it off, it¹s him. In the meantime, the Gators are preparing as if backup John Brantley will start and play against the No. 4-ranked Tigers.

The key to this game will be Florida¹s defense. Just like it rose up against Okalahoma, the Gator D is going to have to hold LSU out of the end zone. If it can limit LSU to 21 points, then with John Brantley directing the offense, UF should win.


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Post LSU Rant

In a game the lived up to its hype, the top-ranked Florida Gators upended #4 ranked LSU 13-3 on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

There were as many subplots for this game as your average television soap opera. Coming into the game, LSU had won 32 straight Saturday night games at Tiger Stadium and Gator Coach Urban Meyer had never won there in two visits. Would Gator QB Tim Tebow play after suffering a concussion against Kentucky two weeks ago? If he played, would he be effective? If he didn’t play, could backup QB John Brantley lead UF to a win? And on and on and on…

Turns out, Tebow and the Gators were just fine, thank you.

What wasn’t fine was LSU’s offense versus the Gator defense. LSU managed just three points and 162 total yards against the nation’s top defense. The Tigers were a dismal 2-for-12 on third-down and fourth-down conversions. Florida also dominated offensively, rolling up 327 total yards, punting just once and holding the ball for 36 minutes.

Tebow fired one touchdown pass to Riley Cooper. Tebow is now tied with former Gator QB Danny Wuerffel as tops all-time in the Southeastern Conference for touchdown responsibility Both have accounted for 122 touchdowns rushing and passing. Tebow also has 74 career TD passes, moving him into a three-way tie for 9th all time in the SEC. The Gators remain the nation’s #1 ranked team and extended their school-record consecutive win streak to 15 games.

If there is one are of concern it is the receiving corps. Aaron Hernandez was a star, catching six balls for 70 yards and Cooper caught the 26-yard TD from Tebow, but nobody else has elevated their game and stepped forward.

The problem at receiver could be huge next week versus Arkansas. The Hogs have shown that they can score, knocking out previously unbeaten Auburn 44-23, and UA QB Ryan Mallett has a cannon arm. If Arkansas is able to bust a couple of long passing scores and get out ahead of UF, it could make for a long, trying homecoming afternoon. My thought is that UF didn’t get to this point by losing its homecoming game to an unranked conference opponent with a 3-2 record. Through five games, the Gator Defense has given up just two touchdowns. And while it may have to dust off its Oklahoma defensive scheme to shut down the high-flying Hog offense, it will do what it must do.

Fortunately, Arkansas’s defense has demonstrated nothing. They lost 35-7 to Alabama and lost 52-41 to Georgia. Even without a go-to receiver, UF running backs should have a field day.

Hopefully, Tim Tebow will provide the homecoming crowd with two much anticipated moments… specifically rushing touchdowns #49 and #50. This will push him past Hershel Walker as the conference’s most prolific rushing touchdown producer. It should make the crowd go berserk.

Can’t wait.


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Arkansas

The University of Florida Gators remain the nation’s top-ranked college football team, surviving a near upset by unranked Arkansas at the Swamp Saturday. The Gators pulled out the 23-20 win with a Caleb Sturgis field goal with just 0:09 to play.

Florida fumbled the football four times including twice inside the Arkansas 10-yard line and another time at their own 30. Those miscues, coupled with a scrappy effort by the underdog Razorbacks kept Arkansas ahead on the scoreboard for most of the game.

UF was down 10-3 at halftime in one of the worst offensive showing of the Urban Meyer era, Although the Gators rolled up 24 first downs, they were a dismal 2-13 on third-down conversions. Arkansas was determined to stop UF’s nation’s best rushing attack, putting eight and nine men in the box to choke off the dive play. That limited UF to 136 net yards but did free QB Tim Tebow for short gains and Tebow responded by carrying the ball 27 times for 69 net yards after accounting for six sacks, Tebow did pass for 255 yards, including a career long 77-yard TB to Deonte Thompson.

The TD pass was Tebow’s 75th and moved him into a tied for 8th place all time in the SEC. More significantly, Tebow passed Danny Wuerffel to become the SEC’s all time leader for touchdown responsibility, with 123 combined rushing and passing touchdowns.

UF remained atop the USA Coaches poll and the Harris poll and was rated highest by the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) computers. Alabama was ranked #2 and Texas was third. Alabama currently tops the Associated Press poll. Assuming that all three continue to win, just like last year, Florida and Alabama appear to be on a collision course for the conference title game and a spot in the BCS title game.

From a fan’s perspective, there are a lot of angles that one can take on the season so far. While there is no doubt that UF has not displayed the potent offensive capability as last year, the Gators have managed to find a way to win each week. On the game winning drive, UF started on its own 21 and rolled up five first downs to the Arkansas 10 to set up Sturgis for the game winner. The passing game is suspect, although Riley Cooper did step up this game to catch six balls for 56 yards. Aaron Hernandez turned in another sterling effort, catching seven passes for 92 yards. Time for the rest of the team to jump into the mix.

The good news is that the defense has performed well overall. The bad news is that the defense gave up three rushes or passes of more than 40 yards and missed a slew of tackles. Also Brandon Spikes injured his groin.

The bottom line is that there is a lot more football to be played. The Gators are 6-0 and number one for now and with the athletic talent available, I believe they will continue to find ways to beat opponents.

This week, UF heads to Mississippi State for a reunion with former Gator offensive coordinator Dan Mullen. While inferior in talent, Mullen will have the greatest insight into UF’s talent and schemes. Get ready… it won’t be a walkover.


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Mississippi State

A month ago, Gator QB Tim Tebow sustained a concussion. Recall, how in the space of two weeks, sportswriters turned into medical expert concussion specialists. “Don’t play Tebow vs. LSU,” they cried.

Today’s focus du jour is the declining percentage of touchdowns scored by the Gators after intruding the opponents ‘red zone,” which is an alarming 7 for 21 in conference games. ‘Oh boo hoo.. what’s wrong with the Florida Gators offense, we can’t score in the red zone, we’re not beating people by the same margins like we did last season, wah wah wah…’ This translates to “we’re not beating the outrageous point spreads” established by the Vegas oddsmakers.

The rumbling began when UF ‘only’ beat Tennessee by 23-13. It grew louder when UF struggled mightily to pull out a last-second 23-20 win against Arkansas. And the cry has reached a crescendo as UF stumbled in a 29-19 win at Mississippi State.

OK… done crying now?

Let’s put the Mississippi State game into focus… Gator QB Tim Tebow gift-wrapped 13 points for MSU on two pick-six interceptions. Meanwhile, the MSU offense managed two measly field goals (six points) and never seriously sniffed the goal line, because when it mattered, MSU could not move the ball consistently against the Gator defense.

Despite all of the hue and cry, UF remains unbeaten at 7-0 and atop the BCS poll. The Gators even recaptured the top spot in the AP poll, after Alabama staved off an upset at home against Tennessee by blocking a field goal on the game’s final play. The Tide won 12-10, did not score a touchdown, revealing that they too have their own vulnerabilities.

This week, UF faces the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville. UGa was off last week, allowing the Dawgs two weeks to let the Gators get deeper inside their heads.

The Gators will enter the game riding a nation’s best 17-game winning streak and having beaten Georgia 16 of its previous 19 games. The Dawgs are 4-3, having lost to Oklahoma State, Tennessee and LSU this year. Is this the proverbial ‘trap game’ the writers love to spew about?

No. I’ve watched Georgia on TV this year and QB Joe Cox doesn’t have the stuff to beat Florida. Period. He ain’t no Tebow.

To add a little more drama to the match up, Tebow enters the game tied with UGa great Hershel Walker as the SEC’s all-time rushing touchdown leaders. Both have notched 49 rushing TDs. How sweet it will be when Tebow punches into the end zone for his 50th rushing TD vs. Georgia to move past Walker and stand alone as the SEC’s greatest TD rusher.

Getting back to the matter at hand, UF’s red zone woes are a major concern. However, if you believe as I do that the Gators have the best players in the nation and are coached by the nation’s best coaches, I have to believe that they will figure it out and correct it.

Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and the Gators will find a way to win.


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Georgia

The top-ranked undefeated Florida Gators punched their ticket to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference Championship Game Dec. 5 by defeating Georgia 41-17 in Jacksonville Saturday.

It was the earliest that a team has clinched a division championship since the SEC went to its current format in 1992. As nice as that is, even nicer is the fact that it was Florida’s 17th win over Georgia in the last 20 games.

The Dawgs tried to conjure up some kind of voodoo – they came out in black helmets instead of the traditional red. I don’t think that they “get” that black jerseys, black britches or silver britches or any of the other supposedly inspiring wardrobe change-ups we’ve noted during the 20-year run really matters. It’s comical though… they are really admitting how deeply that orange and blue demon resides inside their collective psyches.

Forgotten were those red-zone scoring woes the UF experienced during the previous month. Florida struck quickly, building a 14-0 first quarter lead behind two touchdown passes from QB Tim Tebow to his roommate Riley Cooper. The scoring tosses covered 22 and 29 yard respectively and raises Tebow’s career total to 77, tying him with Rex Grossman for 7th place all time in the SEC.

Tebow saved his most significant play until the final minutes of the 2nd quarter. Georgia had closed to 17-10 when Tebow bolted through the middle of the line and raced 23 yards to the end zone. It was Tebow’s 50th career rushing touchdown and moved him past Georgia’s legendary Hershel Walker as the top rushing touchdown producer in SEC history. Tebow also tacked on a five yard TD run in the second half.

Technically, Walker actually rushed for 54 TDs during his career… bowl records are not included in statistical totals prior to 1990. This gives Tebow a second opportunity to pass the Georgia great in a week or two.

The Gators will host 2-7 Vanderbilt in the Swamp this Saturday night in what should be a name-that-score walkover. The game everybody will be eying Saturday will be #9 LSU at #3 Alabama. The winner of that game will have the inside track to the SEC Western Division title and the spot against UF in the championship game.

The season so far might not have lived up to all fans expectations. However, UF is 8-0 and remains #1 in the BCS standings. The Gators should be prohibitive favorites over each of the teams remaining on their schedule – Vandy, @ South Carolina, Florida International and Florida State. That should give Coach Urban Meyer the luxury to experiment with personnel and allow key players to rest and recuperate in time for the SEC title game.

So let’s sit back and enjoy this one for a while -- Florida 41, Georgia 17…


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Vanderbilt

If you expected an offensive blowout against a physically outmatched opponent at the swamp Saturday night, you were left wanting and sorely disappointed as top-ranked Florida stumbled to a 27-3 win over hapless Vanderbilt.

The Gator’s offensive woes -- a topic of concern for most of the season – returned after a one-game hiatus against Georgia. And the problem seemed to rest squarely with all-everything QB Tim Tebow.

When the offense sputters, you look to the offensive line or the quarterback as the reason why. It seemed that this was Tebow’s worst performance ever as a Gator, although the statistics certainly don’t support that. It seemed that Tebow made some poor decisions in holding onto the ball too long on passing plays – hard to believe Vandy could manage pass coverage well enough to allow “coverage sacks” -- but that seemed to be what was going on. Or else maybe the receivers just were not doing their jobs.

Although Tebow netted 27 yards rushing, he lost 30 on six carries, including three sacks. This contributed to three “three and out” offensive series during the game. One other time late in the game, Vanderbilt stopped Florida on fourth down at the nine-yard-line, denying a “style points” touchdown.

To be fair, UF’s defense also recorded three “three and outs” and managed an interception. The defense seems to get better and better. Vanderbilt never seriously threatened to score anything other than a field goal during the game.

UF is now 9-0, only the third UF team to start 9-0. Only the 1996 team (10-0) and the 1995 team (12-0) have recorded better starts. No UF team has finished the season undefeated, although both the 2008 and 1928 teams lost a single game by a single point.

Against Vanderbilt, Tebow passed for one TD (#78) and rushed for another (#52). He moved into sixth place all-time SEC for TD passes. He also moved past Danny Wuerffel in sixth place all time for career yardage in the SEC. He needs just 96 yards to pass Jared Lorenzen and just 68 yards passing to surpass 8,000 yards passing for his career.

Next week UF travels to Columbia to face Coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina. The Gamecocks are 6-4 and have struggled recently, losing three of their last four games, including 31-13 to Tennessee and 33-16 against Arkansas. USC has its own offensive problems, having scored only 45 points in its last four games. Because it’s Spurrier, and because UF handed him his worst ever beating (56-6) last year, there’s no telling what might happen. On paper, the Gators appear to have too much for USC and should win their 10th game handily.

Alabama beat LSU 24-15 last week and got its wish. The Tide will face UF in the SEC title game Dec. 5. As it stands, like last year, these teams will again enter the game ranked 1-2 in all of the polls – except this time UF will wear the #1 mantle.

That’s it for now… as always,




As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


South Carolina

Oh it was close and man it was interesting, as the top-ranked Florida Gators managed to eke out a 24-14 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia Saturday. UF is now 10-0 for only the third time in school history and remains #1 in the BCS poll.

I knew UF was in for a long night when USC opened with “Emery & Henry,” the unusual wide receiver split-stack formation that Coach Steve Spurrier used to confound defenses during his tenure as UF’s head coach. Charlie Strong’s defense matched up and held USC, however, on fourth down, USC completed a long pass from punt formation that was called back on a penalty.

It was going to be that kind of night.

On the other hand, the Gators’ first possession went 86 yards in four plays, the payoff being a 68-yard pass over the middle from Tim Tebow to Riley Cooper. Cooper caught the pass in stride and simply outran two defenders to the end zone.

Then UF reverted to its recent somnambulistic form as USC put together a solid 14-play TD drive to tie the score. UF countered with a field goal and 17 yard TD by Emmanuel Moody. USC came back with a TD in eight plays to cut the margin at halftime to 17-14.

The teams traded filed position in the third quarter, but USC drove 11 plays for what was shaping up to be a momentum-stealing score. But Gator Defensive End Justin Trattou stole the momentum on the first play of the fourth quarter, picking off a tipped pass and rambling 53 yards to the USC 26. From there it took UF four plays to seal the game, with Tebow getting the TD on a one-yard plunge.

UF botched several opportunities to put the game away. Caleb Sturgis missed field goal attempts from 52, 54 and 29 yards and Cooper dropped a sure TD pass in the end zone. As usual, the Gator defense did its job, holding USC to -17 yards in the fourth quarter, sacking USC QB Stephen Garcia four times. USC’s final threat ended when Joe Haden picked off Garcia with three minutes to play.

Tebow threw for one TD, his 79th, moving him to fifth place all-time in the SEC. He also rushed for a TD, increasing his SEC career record total to 53 in that category. He has now accounted for 132 total TDs, tops all-time in the SEC. With four games to play, he is just 618 yards shy of Chris Leak’s SEC record for career yardage. He needs a combination of about 155 yards rushing and passing per game to pass Leak.

One final “thank you” to the generous and hospitable South Carolina fans who hosted Kerry & I at “The Coop.” I have never been treated so well or felt so welcomed at an opposing team’s venue. These folks are the absolute finest, first class all the way. Our trip to Columbia will always stand out as one of the best ever. I hope that I can return their hospitality at a tailgate with us in Gainesville. “Go Gamecocks, beat the hell out of Clemson!”


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Florida International

The top-ranked Florida Gators ran their record to 11-0 overwhelming Florida International University 62-3 Saturday. UF’s inspirational leaders set the tone against FIU as linebacker Brandon Spikes picked off a Panthers pass on the game’s fifth play and returned it 41 yards for his fourth career touchdown. On UF’s first offensive series, QB Tim Tebow circled left end and scored on a beautiful 55-yard run down the east sideline. It was Tebow’s longest career run and is his 54th career rushing TD. Tebow finished with 102 yards rushing and passed for two TDs and 215 yards. He is tied with Eli Manning for fourth all-time in the SEC with 81 career TD passes, and moved up to third all time for career yardage. He now has 11,079 combined passing and rushing yards and needs just 301 more to surpass former Gator QB Chris Leak for number one all time.

Usually blowout games against overmatched opponents reveal nothing useful about the winning team. However, this game did provide a glimpse into the Gators post-Tebow future and it is promising. UF backup quarterback John Brantley played for two quarters and looked sharp, passing for 146 yards and three touchdowns, each to a receiver catching his first career TD pass.

All in all, it was a nice tune up for this week’s regular season finale against Florida State at the Swamp.

The Seminoles have provided more drama this season than an MTV reality TV program. FSU’s lack of success – the ‘Noles are 6-5 – has factions calling for legendary Coach Bobby Bowden’s resignation. Bowden’s contract runs through next season.

FSU’s defense is really bad. How bad? FSU ranks 106th (out of 120) FBS teams in total defense, 105th in rushing defense, 92nd in pass defense, 95th in scoring defense –FSU is giving up 30 ppg. - and are 10th in the ACC in sacks with 18. The Noles have surpassed a team record for futility, having surrendered 332 points in 11 games this season – one more than the 331 points surrendered by the 1973 0-11 Seminoles. This year, FSU has given up more than 40 points in three games and 38 in a loss to Miami. The Noles’ offense is better, but has shown inconsistency, having scored just seven points in a 17-7 home loss against South Florida and a 19-9 win versus non-FBS Jacksonville State – a game in which FSU trailed 9-7 with a minute left.

All of this bodes well for the Gators, who are 3-0 vs. FSU in the Tebow era with wins of 21-14, 45-12 and 45-15. The Gators currently rank #9 in rushing among FBS teams – one place higher than Alabama – and 15th nationally in total offense (also, better than Texas (17) and Alabama (30)).

Usually I hold my breath when FSU comes to town… remember the “swindle in the Swamp” in 2003? But the factors aligning against FSU are many and formidable: Such as:

Rivalry Game. During his five years, Urban Meyer is 13-1 vs. UF’s three rivals Tennessee (5-0), Georgia (4-1) and FSU (4-0). Many of the state’s best recruits will be attending this game and Meyer figures to make it a recruiting showcase.

Senior Day: Final home games for 18 seniors including Spikes and Tebow.

FSU Defense: See above. FSU Offense: Inconsistent, and that was with Christian Ponder at QB. Ponder, an excellent quarterback, was lost for the season three weeks ago with a shoulder separation, handing the reins to EJ Manuel. While Manuel has shown promise in leading FSU to two wins, he is not ready nor does he have the supporting cast to engineer an upset of the top-ranked Gators on national television in the Swamp.

The Swamp: It’s a cinch FSU didn’t sell out its allotment of tickets for this game. Heck, they had whole zones of unfilled seats at home last week against Maryland. The Nole faithful aren’t inclined to travel to see what should be an ugly a$$-whipping. Which means even more UF fans in the stadium. The Swamp is a tough venue for experienced quarterbacks. The fact that Manuel will be making only his third start overall, facing the nation’s second-best total defense and taking snaps in deafening noise in a hostile environment should prove to be overwhelming.

Can’t wait to see the Gators roll to their 22nd consecutive win!!

As always, s


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


Florida State

The game had been over for 15 minutes, but very few of the record 90,908 who witnessed Florida’s 37-10 whipping of arch-rival Florida State had left the stadium. I would estimate that 80,000 fans remained, including most of the FSU contingent.

The occasion was the final home game appearance for 20 UF seniors, including All-Americans Brandon Spikes – who kissed the Florida Field turf on his entry into the stadium -- and Tim Tebow, who entered with tears streaming down his face. With a 47-6 record, it is the winningest class in Southeastern Conference history. But make no mistake; this was all about Tim Tebow.

The man whom some have dubbed as “the greatest player in the history of college football,” had completed the post-game rituals of handshakes, interviews and singing the school Alma Mater and fight songs and was about to embark on his final traditional victory lap. With camera flashes popping at a dizzying rate, UF’s reluctant rock star began at the southwest corner of the stadium and wound his way along the Swamp, slapping hands with the adoring faithful, many of whom wore black eye swatches as a Tebow tribute. Nine minutes later, Tebow bypassed the FSU band in full tomahawk chop mode, before turning and offering a hearty Gator Chomp to the FSU contingent.

And then he was gone.

Four years, 47 wins, two SEC titles, two national championships and who knows how many inspired converts, UF’s third son-of-a-preacher-man Hesiman trophy winner, had left the Swamp for the last time.

In between, it was all business for the top-ranked Gators, who rolled up 545 yards and simply overwhelmed FSU in every phase of the game, before turning the game over to second- and third-teamers to mop-up. Consider that FSU gained 268 of its 269 total yards after UF had built a 30-0 lead with 11 minutes to play in the third quarter.

Here are the superlatives:

Tebow was 17-21 for 221 yards passing with three TDs and added 90 yards rushing and two TD. He became the SEC’s all-time leader for career yardage with 11,390 yards. He now has an SEC-best 56 rushing touchdowns and 84 passing touchdowns. Tebow is #1 in SEC annals for touchdown responsibility with 140.

The Gators remain as the number one team in college football, a mantle they have held since the first preseason poll. UF is 12-0 for just the second time in school history. Florida has the nation’s longest win streak – 22 games (also a school record) – and recorded their sixth consecutive win versus FSU.

If it turns out that FSU coach Bobby Bowden is forced into retirement after this season – the Noles are 6-6 and their program has markedly declined since the end of the 1990s -- Bowden will exit with a losing record against Florida 17-18-1 overall and 7-10 in the Swamp.

Now UF can turn its attention to BCS #2 ranked Alabama whom it will face next week in Atlanta in the SEC Championship game. Last year, both teams entered the game ranked 1-2, with then-second ranked Florida taking a 31-20 decision. Alabama, 12-0, escaped Auburn with a 26-21 win in the final minute. It is no secret that Alabama has dreamed of a vengeful rematch with UF for a year.

My honest instinct tells me that Florida has enough to beat Bama. Bama does not have Tebow…


As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


SEC Championship




As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


National Championship




Ever more, As Always, it’s Great to be a Florida Gator.


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