Florida Gators 38 – USF Bulls 14

The big day has come and gone.  Florida and USF in The Swamp.  The game I’ve been waiting for since the two schools announced they would be playing each other.  It was pretty much as expected I would think and now we have five seasons to wait until the Gators and Bulls meet up again.

I’m putting this piece together while I watch Breakfast with the Gators, naturally.  Mrs. TBG loves college football, but she still doesn’t quite understand watching games twice.  Luckily the Sunday paper is bigger than usual and gives her something to do while I occupy the television.
For nearly two and a half quarters on Saturday, the games was exactly what USF wanted and might just have been Florida’s worst nightmare.  The Bulls were in the game a lot longer than the final score would indicate.  Up 7-0 deep into the first half.  Tied 7-7 halfway through the third quarter.  It was what the Bulls wanted.  To stay in the game against a top-10 team in one of the harshest environments in the nation.
For the Gators, it was the exact opposite.  An up-and-down offense and a defense that couldn’t do much against the run.  Luckily for Florida, the pass defense was stellar and continued to force USF’s B.J. Daniels into making a number of bad decisions.
At the 7:24 mark of the third quarter, the tide shifted as the Bulls would experience four minutes and 52 seconds of hell.  At that moment, Jeff Demps crossed the goal line after a spectacular 62-yard run that proved once again that he’s faster, shiftier, and better than anyone you know.  It would end with 2:32 left in the third when Justin Trattou reached the end zone, rumbling 35 yards after intercepting Daniels.  In the middle, Mike Gillislee punched in a touchdown from four yards out.  Four minutes and 52 seconds.  21 points for the Gators.  What was a tie quickly became a three-touchdown lead for Florida.
USF would score just over two minutes after the Trattou touchdown, but that was it for the Bulls.  Florida would add 10 more points in the final frame to finish off USF 38-14.
Before getting into the Florida-side of the game, let’s look at some of USF’s positives.  Yes, there were some.  First of all, the Bulls ran the ball well.  After the first game of the season, the Gators run defense looked like it would be a strength in 2010.  It may still be, but USF did a number of good things on the ground throughout the game.  The Bulls finished with 244 yards and ran for 6.3 yards per carry.  They say if you control the run game, you have a great chance to come away with the victory.  Early in the game, that was the case.  The problem was that second half.  Despite the Bulls great day on the ground, the Gators were better.  251 yards, 6.8 yards per carry.
Still, USF looked good on the ground against a team with a heavy rotation of defensive linemen and linebackers.  They came into The Swamp and ran well.  But they also may have done something Skip Holtz has not wanted to do since he became the head coach.  Daniels ran the ball 17 times for 107 yards.  That’s a good day.  A great day for a quarterback (well, unless you’re comparing it to Michigan’s Denard Robinson, then it’s only a mediocre day), but Holtz wants Daniels to be more of a passer and in that area, he had a day to forget.  Five completions to his teammates, four to the Gators.  84 yards passing, 51 of which came on one play.  I’m sure Daniels is more than ready for the bye week.
The other positive for the Bulls was the play of the defensive line, at least early.  When you give up 251 yards on the ground, you don’t want to think of your defensive line play as a positive, but USF got plenty of pressure on Gator quarterback John Brantley early and was able to slow the Florida offense.  Turnovers ended up being the problem and the heat didn’t help.  Having to be on the field as much as they did during the second half was tough and as the Gators got rolling, things got difficult for the entire USF defense.
Now for the Gators.  This Florida running back had a career-high 139 rushing yards and 255 total yards on the day.  Who is Jeff Demps?  Demps has now played in two games on the season.  Two games in which he averaged over 12 yards per carry in each.  Think about that for a second.  12 yards per carry (he actually averages 12.5).  There are plenty of receivers that don’t average that per catch.  In fact, Brantley is averaging only 8.1 per completion.  We expect high per carry averages for Demps – he averaged 7.8 as a true freshman and 7.5 as a sophomore – but over 12 is ridiculous.  Even if you remove his 62-yard run against USF and his 72-yard run against Miami (OH), you still get a back averaging over six yards per carry.  Can you say weapon?
Other than Demps, Florida has plenty of positives to build on as they head into SEC play.  The pass defense was once against its ball-hawking self.  That’s now two games and eight interceptions already.  Ahmad Black and Janoris Jenkins have accounted for five of those.  That’s now nine for Black in his Gator career, one away from jumping into a tie for tenth all-time in school history.  Not bad for a “recruiting mistake.”  Jenkins has stepped up and has clearly become one of the leaders on defense.  The young cornerbacks on the roster have a great player to learn from over the course of the season.
And the young players overall for that matter.  Those young players that stepped up and had good performances on Saturday.  Stephen Alli, Robert Clark, and Andre Debose all saw plenty of time on the field against USF.  While they only totaled one catch for 15 yards (the reception was Clark), they’re all learning and experience is key.  On the defensive side of the field, both Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins made great plays in coverage.  Depth in the secondary is a concern of many because of the youth at both cornerback and safety, but if the youngsters keep playing like they have been, it shouldn’t be much of a worry.
Good game for Florida and something to build on for USF.  The Gators don’t get a rest as they travel to Tennessee in a few short days.  The Bulls get a chance to rest after the loss before three straight home games.  Saw some good things from both teams and some areas where there can be improvement.  If the second half is indicative of how Florida will play from here on out, the Gators can and will have a very good season.  For USF, it’s not something to get too discouraged about.  This was definitely not a team to be ashamed to lose to.  Learn from it and move forward.

USF Bulls, Florida Gators…The Comparison Piece

This is one of those useful, but rather pointless position comparison pieces before the big game.  USF and Florida in this case.  You’ve read them before.  A writer (me) puts together his thoughts on how each position matches up for each team.  A reader (you) takes in the opinions of the writer and agrees with some and vehemently disagrees with others.  Once the game comes to an end, we all realize that what was discussed had no impact on the game whatsoever because no one could have predicted some walk-on fifth-stringer would block a field goal in the final seconds.

There you have it.  The purpose of this piece and the comparisons it contains.  For me to give my opinions.  Both surprising and obvious.  Take it all in because I’m an expert in the field of athletic analytics.  At least someone told me that once.  And, yes, that someone was me.
The Quarterbacks: Both teams consider the quarterback position to be a strength.  After week one, Gator fans aren’t so sure about that.  They love John Brantley and support him, but a shaky first start (for a number of reasons, many of which weren’t necessarily his fault) has some wondering how long it will take him to get into a groove.  In the green and gold, B.J. Daniels is the leader and biggest star the Bulls have.  He looked every bit of great in his first game of the season and was comfortable in Skip Holtz’s system.  Even if it was limited against Stony Brook.  Still, Daniels was everything he needed to be.  Based on his experience as a starter and Brantley’s less than desirable game one, the verdict is…Advantage: USF
The Running Game: USF’s running game looked solid in week one, but you have to question the opponent.  No offense to the Stony Brook fans out there reading this (there aren’t any), but you have to do your best to ignore almost any result against an opponent of that caliber.  So the Bulls were solid.  Moving on.  I’ll get this out of the way, Florida has the advantage.  Jeff Demps showed that at any point, he can break one.  He’s faster than any other player on the field in any given matchup.  That’s fact.  If given a slight break in the defense, Demps can and will exploit it and there’s six points.  With Mike Gillislee looking like he’s ready to claim the backup spot, that’s two Gators that can take it to the house.  Advantage: Florida
The Pass Catchers: Based on talent alone, I’d have to go with Florida.  Deonte Thompson, Carl Moore, Omarius Hines, Chris Rainey, Andre Debose.  These are all highly capable receivers.  Looking across the sideline, you find Dontavia Bogan and a band of individuals just trying to stay healthy.  But here’s the thing.  USF always seems to find a way to get receivers to perform.  If we’re looking at what we know, which is really just what came out of week one, then the gap between the Bulls and Gators doesn’t appear to be all that much.  In that case…Advantage: Push
The Offensive Line: I’ve said several times that we’re looking at what could possibly be the best group of offensive linemen the Gators have ever put together.  Does anyone still think that after game one?  There were snap problems, injuries and suspensions, and players stepping in that weren’t ready.  Because of all of that, we have no idea what we’re getting in game two.  USF on the other hand looked (and here’s that word to be used against FCS opponents) solid.  Advantage: USF
Now Bulls fans don’t get all uppity to the point you start drafting letters to your congressmen, but here’s where it gets a little ugly.  The defense.
The Defensive Line: The defensive line has been one of USF’s strengths in recent years and it should be again this year despite losing two NFL draft picks.  Terrell McClain is a beast in the middle who loves to get dirty and disrupt any offensive play headed his way, but Florida’s depth wins out.  While the Gators might not have a star at defensive end (yet, Ronald Powell is only one game into his Florida career), they have a rotation that goes three deep.  Whoever is in is fresh and that can create a serious headache for any offensive line trying to keep defenders out of the backfield.  At defensive tackle, the Gators have two great starters, two guys behind those starters that were former starters, and a true freshman who looked superb in his first outing.  Advantage: Florida.
The Men in the Middle: During the Stony Book game, USF had a rotation of sorts going on when it came to the linebackers.  During the Miami (OH) game, Florida had much of the same.  Here’s the difference.  The Bulls seemed to do so because they weren’t entirely sure who should be on the field.  The Gators were doing it because they have the luxury of depth at the position.  Staying fresh on defense is one of the most important aspects to the game.  Florida has the ability to field two full units at both DL and LB.  Advantage: Florida
The Secondary: I’ll always be nervous when it comes to the USF defensive backfield.  Always.  Great one game, Pop Warner-ish the next.  Even against Stony Brook, there were players grossly missing assignments early in the game.  The Bulls have talent.  They need consistency.  Florida’s secondary, on the other hand, looked good and Janoris Jenkins seemed to make the leap to great in one game.  The Gators possess ball hawks and hard hitters all with amazing catch-up speed.  Daniels can have a good day, but he’ll have his work cut out for him.  Advantage: Florida
The Special Teams: This one should be easy.  USF’s punt return unit looked anything but good.  Florida has the advantage because of the turnover potential, but that doesn’t mean the Gators were all that much better.  The best punter in the world punted only once, but managed a paltry 27 yards.  Add to that some questions in the kicking game for both schools and special teams could get ugly.  Advantage: Florida
So add it all up and come out with a guaranteed winner, right?  HECK NO!  Florida scored a five.  USF managed two.  And the lords of push took home one.  Does this mean the Gators will come out victorious?  No.  Does this equate to a superior advantage for Florida based on the five-to-two margin?  Of course not.  It only means what I think and what you choose to take from it.
On paper, shaky first week and all, the Gators are the better team.  On the field, historically, Florida is still the top program.  But who really has any idea what will happen on Saturday?  It’s that shaky start that has people giving USF a chance, even if it’s an outside one.  The powers that set lines think the Gators hold a two touchdown or more advantage.  Could be.  My guess would be somewhere around there.  But that doesn’t mean you should bet on it either.
All I know is that I’ve been waiting for this game since March 19, 2008 (the date The Bull Gator came to life) and now it’s less than two days away.

The Long Snapper (8/10/10)

College football.  James Smith.  Pageant contestants.
Urban Meyer’s health scare has him wishing the best for everyone around him as well.  After getting to the point that he actually resigned his post as head coach at Florida (I hope by now you all know he decided to come back), Meyer has taken his health very seriously and has now extended that to the rest of his staff.
As part of their jobs, the Florida assistants will be going through extensive physicals from now on to make sure everything is running as expected.  This year’s staff did so in April at the request (read: command) of Meyer.  All of the coaches are doing well and can now expect this to be a yearly occurrence.  Meyer won’t let them take any chances with their heath.
This is, of course, a good thing as this season could shape up to be of the “edge of your seat” variety.  The rematch with Alabama is less than two months away and the Gators have to get by a few others on their way there.  As with every year, Meyer expects a lot from his assistants so they must keep healthy.
A few quick notes from Florida practice: Chris Rainey has missed some time due to an accelerated heartbeat, but should be okay soon; Matt Patchan broke his wrist and will be out for up to two weeks; and Josh Haden – the Haden between Joe and Jordan – plans on joining the Gators in January.
And a breakdown of those points from TBG:
Rainey’s condition seems scary at first sight.  Anything with “heart” included in it isn’t to be treated lightly.  But supposedly it’s just that – a light condition that Rainey should have few, if any, problems with.
Just plain bad luck for Patchan.  Hopefully he is only kept out the two weeks and nothing more.  He’s had a rough go of it already and doesn’t need anything else to derail him.  When 100%, Patchan looks good and provides the offensive line with a great backup at the tackle positions.  He may even provide them with a starter, but he has to stay healthy.
Good to see another Haden make his way to the Gators.  Rumors have put Josh at defensive back with Florida despite him seeing time as a running back at Boston College.  We’ll see in the spring when he joins the team.
• The wide receiver position at USF has had its share of issues lately.  Injuries have put a gigantic question mark over who will step up come game time.  A couple pass catchers are performing well in practice and might make you feel a little better.
Isaac Virgin has progressed nicely and seen some time with the first team and junior college transfer T.J. Knowles has become a threat across the middle.  Someone is going to have to step up during the first half of the season.  B.J. Daniels needs to do more with his arm in 2010 and losing receivers isn’t helping.  If Virgin and Knowles keep performing, some of the pressure may be off.

The Long Snapper (6/18/10)

College football.  Quick and to the point.
Florida picked up commitment number five this week.  Tampa Catholic (Tampa, FL) fullback Hunter Joyer became the latest Gator and a very happy one who was basically waiting for Florida to offer.  Joyer – who is 6’0”, 245 pounds – is an agile back with the power to be a good blocker at the next level (might we be seeing more traditional two-back sets?).  He had received offers from a number of other schools including Georgia, but was waiting for the Gators to pull the trigger.  Joyer is already saying the right things and is ready to help Florida in any way he can, even if it means he won’t get a lot of carries in the Gator offense.  He’s just glad to be a member of the orange and blue family.
USF was busy picking up another commitment of their own.  Safety Chris Garye continues the Tallahassee Lincoln (Tallahassee, FL) pipeline to the Bulls.  The 6’3”, 205-pound defensive back has a high football IQ and was impressed with the new coaching staff.  Garye has played a number of positions on both offense and defense, but projects to find a home at strong safety at USF.  He’ll be joining former Lincoln star B.J. Daniels with the Bulls.
My ever-expansive search for a favorite Pac-10 team (it wasn’t all that expansive, in fact, there wasn’t even actually a search) may have finally come to an end.  Congratulations Utah you get the honor of being named a TBG favorite.  With it comes great responsibility and the expectation of a Pac-10 title within the next few years.  Do me proud.  The Utes will join the Pac-10 in 2011 as the twelfth member of the conference (possibly the eleventh depending on when Colorado comes aboard) leaving the Mountain West for the possibility of an automatic BCS bowl bid.  While some the conference moves may leave you scratching your head (a lot of the rumors definitely did), this one makes sense all around.
I can’t be the only one that wishes this news hadn’t come out.  Florida will add statues of Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, and Tim Tebow outside of The Swamp after the 2010 season.  Maybe it’s the fact that many others have done or are doing this.  The three definitely hold a special place in the hearts of many Gator fans, but I’m just not onboard with the statue thing.  Maybe it’s because Steve and Danny are going to get pretty lonely as picture seekers run to Timmy before every game.  But it’s mostly because my vote for animatronics was denied.

The Long Snapper (5/26/10)

Get used to me mentioning Nelson Agholor.  Especially because he’s only going to be a high school junior this fall.  That means lots of time left in his recruitment.  And boy has it started.  The athlete from Berkeley Prep (Tampa, FL) received a big offer to kick off the excitement that will be the next few years.  Agholor – who could end up at running back, wide receiver, or safety at the next level – received an offer from USC and…wait for it…is getting serious looks from Florida.  He may be from a small school that doesn’t tend to get a lot of national attention, but Agholor is one to keep an eye on.  In September when schools can officially offer (the Trojans’ is basically a good faith offer), expect them to start rolling in.  Along with USC and Florida, Rutgers and USF have early interest.
What’s in store for USF this season?  A transition period as Skip Holtz implements his schemes?  A step back?  A leap forward?  It’s hard to tell based on the fact that year after year no one really knows what to think of the Bulls.  Quick starts.  Awful finishes.  Climbing the polls early.  Finishing in the middle of what could be considering the worst of the big six conferences.  USF has some star power (B.J. Daniels), but has also lost some (Mike Ford).  Odds are the Bulls will win a game they’re not supposed to, but also lose one (or two) they probably shouldn’t have.  Although the Big East is not considered the cream of the crop for the most part, they are competitive within their conference confines.  If I had to venture an early guess, I’d say we’re looking at something within the eight-win range again.
While everyone keeps their eyes on the Big Ten, the Big East is looking into expansion possibilities as well.  Not wanting to be caught with his pants down, Big East commissioner John Marinatto has looked into options for his conference.  Although the Big East won’t be able to attract the level of programs the Big Ten can, they can strengthen their base before they’re raided.  With rumors of as many as three Big East teams being Big Ten targets, the conference may need to act before the “power” conferences do.  Already a small conference by numbers, the Big East needs to build its size in preparation for what is most likely going to occur sometime in the not too distant future.
Former Florida guard/new Florida center Mike Pouncey has been named to the Rimington Trophy watch list.  You may recall his twin brother – Maurkice Pouncey – taking home the award last year.  Pouncey should make the transition to center look easy and be the anchor and leader of the offensive line.  I don’t know for sure, but I’d be willing to be bet twins have never each won the award.  Too bad the McCollums never became Thorpe candidates.
The List: The list is but one today.  One that relates to the G in TBG and one that relates to the first item above.
1. Jim Barrie
The Sixth Man: Goodbye Nimrod Tishman.  We hardly knew you.  No breaking news here, but it’s official: Tishman will not return to the Gators.  The point guard will instead return to Israel where his talents are a better fit for the style of play.  Tishman appeared briefly in seven games for Florida last season, but was unable to contribute much due to the speed of the game.  Tishman’s expected departure could have weighed heavily on Scottie Wilbekin’s decision to come in a year early.  Wilbekin will be a development project during his first year with the Gators, but may be needed for depth as well.

The Long Snapper (4/15/10)

USF has gone the way of a new trend that seems to be occurring in spring games.  For this Saturday’s game, the Bulls will be going starters against starters.  There will be no mixed lineups this year, but instead the first team offense will take on the first team defense and the second teams will match up against one another.  Everyone else will be subbed in accordingly.  New head coach Skip Holtz feels this gives the team the best chance to really see where it is in terms of readiness.  With months left until the 2010 season begins, this will be the last chance for quite some time to see USF in the closest thing there is to an actual game situation.  Might as well pit the starters against the other starters and see who comes out on top.  And to that point, see who realistically shouldn’t be considered a first teamer.
The NCAA has solved one of the bigger problems plaguing college football.  Personalized messages on eye black are now banned.  Forget issues with the BCS, player arrests, sketchy recruiting practices, and all those other problems; the true downfall of the sport was personalized eye black.  Although he wasn’t the first, Tim Tebow’s eye black was the most famous.  B.J. Daniels used to put on a message of his own.  No more B.J.  No more.  Apparently you are one of the things wrong with college football and you must be stopped.  No more religious messages, no more shout outs to the 813, no more “I LUV MOM,” no more ill-advised Michael Vick support.  This is a proud day.  The problem is over.
In addition to eye black, taunting has run rampant and needs to be ended.  Well, that’s what the NCAA says.  And if you want to taunt your opponent, you best be sure you’re already in the end zone when you do so.  Beginning with the 2011 season, if a player begins taunting an opponent in any way (including high-stepping, which I’ve always seen as a beautiful, playful art form) before they reach the end zone, the spot of the ball will be determined by where they began the taunt.  Basically meaning no touchdown for you.  So watch yourselves premature celebrators.  The NCAA will be watching you.  Celebrate too soon and you may have nothing to celebrate about.
Trying to find a good place to spend your hard-earned money?  How about here?  Gator Tailgating, who I have to give a giant chomp-inspired salute to, is taking donations to make the above billboard possible.  Their goal is to have it up throughout the 2010 season just outside of Tallahassee.  Some may think this is over the line, but I think it’s high comedy.  What good is it if you can’t poke fun at your rivals?  This is part of what makes the FloridaFSU rivalry strong.  Good-natured shenanigans.  So pony up a few bucks and make the billboard possible.  And let’s hope the next time you’re rolling into Gainesville for a game, you don’t see a gigantic tribute to Chris Rix staring back at you!
The List: A friendly debate recently ensued between me and another Gator fan.  He didn’t have the stones to bring that debate public, so instead of commenting here, he sent me an email (and yes, Vanilla Bear, I just called you out).  The debate in its simplest form was that he wouldn’t mind one-and-done guys coming joining the Florida basketball team while I felt the opposite (there was more to it than that, but that’s the basic gist).  My debate centered mostly on if those one-and-done guys help their school accomplish the ultimate goal of winning it all.  In most cases, they do not.  Here are the two prominent examples of those that actually won championships:
1. Carmelo Anthony
2. Marvin Williams
And both of those individuals did so before the current NBA Draft eligibility rule was in place.  Not sure if that impacts the debate in anyway, but it’s worth pointing out that they weren’t one-and-done because they had to be.  They were because they chose to be.  Basically this was all just a ploy to try and get Vanilla Bear to come out of hiding and comment for all to see.
The Sixth Man: In the end, Brandon Knight chose KentuckyIt’s not surprising, but still somewhat disheartening.  Knight is an elite talent and gives the Wildcats a better chance at not losing as much ground as I may have originally predicted, but don’t expect him around for the 2011-12 season.  Then again, I’m sure Kentucky fans already know that.  As One Eyed Willy has said before, it must be hard cheering for a team that is constantly reloading.  I’m sure the wins ease the pain, but it’s difficult to really get attached to a team that changes year after year.

The Bull Gator (3/18/10)

Florida’s pro day has come and gone and the new and improved Tim Tebow was on display.  Scouts believe Tebow has worked well on his release and his footwork and probably improved his draft stock.  He keeps the ball higher when he drops back and is getting rid of it quicker, but Tebow still has a tendency to drop it before he makes a throw.  He’s getting there though and a number of coaches were impressed with the former Gator quarterback.  Two other former Florida defenders improved their draft stocks as well as both blazed through the 40-yard-dash.  Cornerback Joe Haden may have solidified himself as a top 10 pick with times of 4.39 and 4.41.  Many thought Haden would drop in the draft after posting a 4.57 at the NFL Combine, but that time doesn’t seem important now that he has shown what he can really do.  Carlos Dunlap also impressed with times of 4.57 and 4.59.  Great times for someone with his size.  Dunlap warrants a good, long look from anyone picking in the first round.  The only former Gator that didn’t seem to really help himself on Wednesday was Brandon Spikes.  Spikes didn’t run very fast, although I’m not sure if many expected him to, but is still seen as a special talent.  He could definitely be a case of someone who plays much faster than he runs in drills.
As expected, Urban Meyer is back as the head coach of the Florida Gators.  After a vacation or leave of absence of sorts (we should really call it a scaling back of involvement), Meyer is back in the driver’s seat and feeling well.  He won’t mention much about his health other than to say he’s doing fine.  And we shouldn’t expect him to comment on it too much anytime soon.  Meyer is tight-lipped about his health and he should be.  At this point in spring practice, Meyer takes on more of an observatory role.  This time of year gives him a chance to see how his assistant coaches interact with players and how all of the new faces get acclimated to the Gators’ system.  Many seem to think 2010 will be a transition year for Florida, but Meyer believes there is still plenty of talent in Gainesville and the Gators will be ready to compete in the fall.
SI.com’s Andy Staples shared his thoughts on the upcoming season in the SEC.  Among them was a belief that the East could be a little more open than the past few years.  While I will admit Florida will be entering a period of adjustment, the level of talent and coaching staff should assure the Gators won’t exactly get off track either.  One interesting point Staples makes about Florida is that the Gators need to find a way to get four – count ‘em, four – linebackers on the field at once.  There were rumors of Florida converting to a 3-4 defense when George Edwards was the coordinator (Everyone remember that week? Fun times!).  But Edwards left and was replaced – if you can call it that – by Teryl Austin who has mentioned there will be a few tweaks although he won’t overhaul the defense Charlie Strong perfected.  With the talent at linebacker, he may have to change more than he planned though.  Brandon Hicks and A.J. Jones have plenty of experience and should see the field a lot, but Austin won’t be able to keep Jon Bostic or Jelani Jenkins on the bench either.  I can’t be the only one drooling at the thought of Bostic and Jenkins on the field at the same time.
B.J. Daniels’ recently repaired non-throwing shoulder won’t keep him out of spring practice after all.  The USF quarterback will be doing pretty much everything during practice except taking hits.  You probably don’t want your starting QB, and the only one with any substantial experience, taking too many hits this far ahead of the season anyway.  Being able to do basically everything else will be extremely beneficial for Daniels as he learns the offense under new head coach Skip Holtz.  Daniels is still developing as a quarterback and a leader and this spring is really his chance to step and take over the Bulls’ offense.  Exciting things are coming and hopefully fans won’t have to wait too much longer for that first Big East championship season.
The List: I’ve given up attempting to come up with some catchy name for this.  Sometimes simplicity is the way to go.  So it’s The List.  Nothing fancy or memorable.  Sort of like the list itself.  Today’s list focuses on that man who improved his throwing motion.  Clip #1 is a quick shot of that new motion that’s all the rage.  It’s just a glimpse, but maybe you X and O junkies can fully appreciate what has changed.
1. The new, improved Tim Tebow.

2. No list would be complete without the pledge.
3. A little practice Tebow.
4. The ad the world lost its mind about.
5. Tebow vs. Eric Berry. Surprised existence didn’t end after this collision.
The Sixth Man: Despite losing to NC State in the first round of the NIT, we have to give a big round of applause to the USF men’s basketball team for the season they just completed.  It’s easy to assume nothing out of the Bulls.  Since the move to the Big East, they’re just not expected to compete.  The size of the school should allow USF to build something over time and have a decent season now and then, but I’m not sure if anyone really saw this season as being the one in which they broke out.  At times, there were serious talks about the Bulls possibly making the NCAA Tournament.  As you know, they didn’t.  But an NIT appearance shouldn’t be seen as a letdown.  This program is headed in the right direction under Stan Heath and if Dominique Jones returns, the Big Dance could definitely be in sight for next season.  Watching the Bulls improve over the course of this season was exciting and has fans actually looking forward to the future.  Good job men, you should be proud.

The Long Snapper (2/2/10)

Not really sure what is going on with Urban Meyer and his health these days?  Join the club.  Although I would hope most sane people would wish only the best for Meyer when it comes to his physical and emotional health, we really don’t know what’s going on with it.  After saying he would slow down, the opposite seems to have happened.  Hopefully that well publicized leave of absence does occur after National Signing Day.  Villanova head coach Andy Talley seems to be among those that think Meyer needs a break.  After suffering a heart attack eight years ago, Talley scaled back in terms of his responsibilities and started to make sure he took care of himself first.  Something Meyer should definitely keep in mind.
Many Florida fans may have already written off Seantrel Henderson as a possible Gator commit.  The feeling is the big man is headed to Ohio State and the rumor mills are pumping out Henderson to the Buckeyes all over the place.  But according to Henderson’s father, that just isn’t the case…yet.  The star offensive lineman’s dad has said that Henderson has not committed anywhere and all six of his finalists – Florida, Miami, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC – are still in it.  That’s hard to believe, but you never know.  I’ll still lean toward him ending up at Ohio State, but don’t rule out any of the others.  Although still technically still in it, it seems more likely the offensive lineman the Gators end up with will be Chaz Green.
The USF spring game should be interesting this year.  It you like the run game that is.  Starting quarterback B.J. Daniels will be out of all drills for four to six weeks after having surgery to repair a partially torn rotator cuff (don’t worry, it’s his non-throwing shoulder).  Odds are Daniels will be able to participate in most drills that don’t involve contact.  With the backup spot completely up for grabs, don’t expect for Daniels to be allowed to do much during the spring game.  If he’s allowed to play at all.
Skip Holtz definitely has a plan and an idea of what he sees USF becoming and what players he wants to be part of the program.  Jimmie Green is the latest he has deemed not worthy.  Green – a junior college player – had hoped to be ready to enroll in a four-year university in the fall.  Now he may not be on that schedule and Holtz is ready to move on without him.  If you can’t cut it academically, Holtz doesn’t want you near the program.  Something I’m sure most of us can get on board with.
Normally an athlete from Colorado committing to Notre Dame isn’t incredibly newsworthy in my world unless he’s one of the top prospects in the nation.  Danny Spond isn’t, but the choice Irish head coach Brian Kelly is giving him would make you think he is.  Spond could play a number of positions in college with linebacker and tight end being the most likely.  He could also get a chance at wide receiver and even end up at defensive end when all is said and done.  The intriguing part is that he’ll get to choose where he plays.  Although coaches will say almost anything this time of year to get a kid to commit, promising a player who isn’t one of the top 25 (maybe we can extend that to 50) prospects in the nation he can play whichever position he wants doesn’t happen often.  Kelly likes something about Spond to give him that choice, but we’ll see if he actually gets to make it in the end.

The Long Snapper (2/1/10)

La Grange (La Grange, GA) quarterback Jamius Gunsby made it official this weekend.  He will sign with USF on National Signing Day.  Gunsby had previously mentioned if all went well on his official visit to Tampa, he would most likely commit to the Bulls.  The QB had a great time at USF and said he felt extremely comfortable with the school and the coaching staff.  If Evan Landi does indeed move to wide receiver full-time as rumors suggest, Gunsby could find himself as the primary backup to starting quarterback B.J. Daniels from day one.  Go back and take a look at Gunsby’s highlight video and get excited. Despite not receiving a lot of national attention, he looks like he could end up being a great player for the Bulls.
USF also picked up a commitment from Thomas County Central (Thomasville, GA) safety Reshard Cliett over the weekend.  Cliett is considering a diamond in the rough and had been recruited by Skip Holtz while he was still the head coach at ECU.  Although not highly recruited, Bulls’ coaches believe they have something of a project in Cliett.  With his speed and height (6’2”), USF may look to bulk him up and move him to outside linebacker.
Big time prospect Todd Chandler may be back in the mix for the Bulls.  After committing to Miami early in the process, Chandler made the switch to USF back in December.  Following the commitment, Chandler started to waiver.  He mentioned taking a number of official visits, but also said he remained committed at times.  Eventually, the defensive tackle dropped off of USF’s list and Louisville was rumored to be the leader.  Now Chandler appears to be done.  He has mentioned the recruiting process is over for him and on National Signing Day he will decided between USF, Colorado State, Louisville, and Syracuse.  Good money says the Bulls and Cardinals lead the pack.
The Senior Bowl didn’t give us the best picture of Tim Tebow the NFL quarterback: 8-of-12 for 50 yards with one carry for four yards and two fumbles.  After that “ehh” performance, we might as well do our best to talk up the former Florida star.  To many pro scouts, the actual game doesn’t matter.  It’s the week of practice they look at.  And while there were those teams that shied away from Tebow after seeing him in person, there were also those that noted he improved over the course of the week.  Not tremendously, but enough to make them think at the very least.  Tebow may never be a star quarterback in the NFL, but he could be turned into a contributor and someone who plays a large role in the offense.  It’ll be a long process, but Tebow showed he can learn.  20 years from now, we may not remember him as an All-Pro, Hall of Fame quarterback, but we may remember him as a solid force that helped his team do the most important thing.  Win.
For those of you who aren’t as obsessed as the rest of us, but still want updates, I’ll be typing away feverously throughout National Signing Day, but you have to do a little work to get it.  I’ll be providing updates as fast as my fingers allow on both The Bull Gator’s Facebook and Twitter pages throughout the day.  So become a fan or follow me and get updates on who ends up where.  For those of you not so inclined, the Twitter widget in the left of the two menu bars provides my last five updates, so make sure you come back here often.  I’m sure they’ll be a story or two posted afterwards as well.  And definitely make sure to come back throughout the week after National Signing Day as I profile each and every recruit who signs with Florida and USF.

The College Football Season Comes to an End, Mourn It

This is a bad day for college football fans.  We don’t know what to do with ourselves.  There are other sports still in season, but they don’t compare.  I read somewhere that it’s 41 days until pitchers and catchers report to camp.  I nearly threw up.  I tried baseball last summer.  Can’t do it.  College football is the penultimate.  The pinnacle.  And it’s done.  Luckily for us who can’t get enough recruiting is in full force, then there’s spring practice, then before we know it, fall practice and games.
The season brought us – as Florida fans – the end of the Tim Tebow era (and, yes ladies, the end of the Riley Cooper era as well).  Some of the greatest Gators to ever play their respective positions will never again suit up for the orange and blue.  Tebow.  Brandon SpikesAaron HernandezJoe Haden.  More could come with several of the juniors still deciding.  They will all be missed for their individual and team accomplishments.  They were the leaders of back-to-back 13-1 seasons and part of the most prolific run in team history.  2009 brought the Urban Meyer resignation.  Quickly followed by the Urban Meyer leave of absence.  Despite yells of mediocrity from most fans, 13-1 is good.  Exceptionally good.  Good enough for a #3 ranking.
USF, on the other hand, had a forgettable season similar to those of the past few years.  The season wasn’t a bad one, but after a hot start, the end result shouldn’t be praised.  Initially, the year would be defined by a win over FSU in Tallahassee, but all that is now forgotten with the news of Jim Leavitt’s firing.  And not because he was fired due to expectations not being met, but because he was dismissed over a moment in which he apparently lost his mind.  The Bulls now head toward the 2010 season unsure of who will lead them.  B.J. Daniels will be back.  So will Mike Ford.  But from a coaching standpoint, it’s anyone’s guess.
So what do you do know?  Do you immerse yourself in the NFL playoffs?  Sure, that’s a possibility.  Super Bowl odds are out, so make your picks accordingly.  Do you get involved in the world of college basketball?  You could, but until March you may not be able to get too excited.  You want college football and it’ll be back soon enough.  Next season will be here quicker than you think.  At least it better because I, for one, am eager to see how the John Brantley era takes shape.  Until then, USF will find a new coach.  Pete Carroll could move on.  And recruiting…ah, recruiting…will take the forefront.