65 Reasons to Be Happy, If Even for a Moment

65-0 should be enough. For me, it is.

I woke up Sunday morning—one day after our beloved Florida Gators dismantled Eastern Michigan—and took to Twitter. There was plenty of positivity in Gator Nation and, for the most part, fans were happy. But there were still the few. Those that have to find the flaw in the win. Those that may finally be happy at an undefeated season and a national championship. Those that may never be pleased.

Kelvin Taylor - Florida Gators

That’s their right. Every fan has that right. Cheer when you want; critique when you feel the need. The type of fan a person chooses to be is a choice they stand by and I’m not here to tell them they’re wrong. All I’m here to do is to say that I’m happy and that happiness will last for more than just one moment.

EMU was far from an SEC opponent. They were not a world-class team. The Gators should have beaten them 65-0. But here’s the thing: one season ago, Florida didn’t beat the teams they were supposed to beat. The Gators lost to Georgia Southern at home. Go back one season further and you find a narrow win over Louisiana. Lately, Florida hasn’t been taking care of business against the teams they’re heavily favored against. Saturday was different; be happy.

To start, we saw football. The game wasn’t delayed. There wasn’t one play hours after the scheduled kickoff. There wasn’t a postponement that turned into a cancellation. Instead, there was football. Good football at that. For 60 minutes, it felt like the orange and blue channeled the teams of old. 65 points, 655 yards, and big plays. Oh those big plays. I grew up in the PlayStation generation. Video game offenses didn’t exist in real life, but they could get close. Steve Spurrier kept scoring. The brakes were never applied. That was Saturday. When your backup quarterback—a true freshman making his first appearance in The Swamp at that—goes deep on his first pass attempt (AND COMPLETES IT FOR A 70-YARD TOUCHDOWN!!!) you aren’t letting up.

Let’s stop there for a second and look at Treon Harris’s line:

2 completions, 2 pass attempts, 148 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, 1,051.6 rating.

Read that last stat again. The highest rating a college quarterback can possibly achieve is 1,261.6. To do so, he would have to have every pass attempt result in a 99-yard touchdown completion. Harris was darn close.

Yes, I know it was against a team without a great defense and he was doing so late in a blowout, but those facts do little to diminish what was a great first showing by the freshman. We may have ourselves quite the backup quarterback.

There were plenty of more good performances in the win. Jeff Driskel was solid and looked calm in Kurt Roper’s offense. The running game accounted for 259 yards on the ground and the trio of Kelvin Taylor, Matt Jones, and Mack Brown averaged 8.7 yards per carry. Demarcus Robinson had 5 catches for 23 yards his freshman season; he had 6 for 123 and a touchdown on Saturday. Clay Burton led the team with 7 catches, more than doubling his career total of 3 going into the game. Andre Debose looked like the player we thought he could be all those years ago. Duke Dawson had quite the debut. Brian Poole was everywhere on defense. And the entire defense was smothering. Like I said, I’m happy.

Many will call this a warm-up game, and they would be correct in doing so. The Gators were supposed to get two warm-up games. Lightning wiped that plan away. Now, Florida will head to SEC play with one game and a big win under its belt. Kentucky has not looked like the Kentucky of old and could present a challenge, but I will gladly accept that challenge after Saturday’s showing. There are many worse ways to go into your first SEC game.

The Gators will be favored, and rightfully so, but we may not completely know what we have just yet. An explosive offense, check. A shutdown defense, check. Capable special teams, check. All looked good on Saturday and that’s enough to keep me positive, so for now I will be.

In one game, the Gators answered as many questions as a team could in only 60 minutes. There are 10 games to go, though, and Florida will be questioned going into every one. That’s fine and perfectly acceptable, but all I ask is that you try to keep that positive outlook. I’m not sure if cheering for a team is all that much fun if you go into a game seeking gloom and doom. Call it naiveté, but I enjoy hope and I’ll keep that hope going a little longer after the 65-0 win.

As for Kentucky, there’s a win streak to keep alive. We’ve seen some of those fall recently and would like the bleeding to stop. Let’s keep the Kentucky streak alive and in a few weeks extend the Tennessee streak. The Gators may not be a championship-caliber team yet, but they need to win the ones they should. Fall against the Wildcats and progress may be a dream at the moment. Handle their business against Kentucky and go into the Alabama game with two impressive wins and we’re headed in the right direction. All in all, just win. Win more then you lose. Don’t go 4-8. Becoming the orange and blue we all know they can be.

It’s hard to imagine that after just another 60 minutes, we’ll be a quarter of the way through the season. AH! MAKE IT SLOW DOWN! We were shorted a game and now that the season has started, it’s going ahead full force. 10 games to go, each one counts, blah, blah, blah. I could hype it up one hundred different ways. You don’t need me to get you hyped for the first SEC game. You know the importance. Go Gators! And again, Just Win!

Florida Gators Will Play Freshmen Early And Often During 2012 Football Season

The Florida Gators will play a number of true freshmen during the 2012 football season and that trend will start during Saturday’s opener against Bowling Green. It’s not surprising* as it’s become quite the frequent occurrence not only at Florida, but around the nation.

Among those expected to contribute and even see time in the first game are running back Matt Jones, wide receivers Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman, tight end Kent Taylor, offensive linemen Jessamen Dunker and D.J. Humphries, defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, linebackers Dante Fowler Jr. and Antonio Morrison, and defensive back Brian Poole.

We’re far past the days where a redshirt season was the norm. In today’s college football world, you redshirt if you’re hurt or you’re really, truly not ready to see the field. Otherwise, game experience is a desire of coaching staffs across the nation. The Florida freshman will earn valuable playing time in 2012 and (hopefully) be more prepared for 2013 and beyond.

*We should just go ahead and add a new category to the mix – Things That Don’t Surprise Anyone But Are Still Considered “Newsworthy.”

Brian Poole Moves From Cornerback To Safety

One of the prize members of the Florida Gators 2012 recruiting class has already experienced a position change. Incoming freshman Brian Poole has been moved from cornerback to safety.

Poole was one of the Gators star recruits and someone expected to contribute immediately during the 2012 season. He was one of the nation’s most sought after cornerbacks, but definitely had the talent to move around. Will Muschamp and the coaching staff believe safety will be a better spot for him in the longrun and hope to get him comfortable in the position from the start of his Florida career.

With Florida’s perceived depth at corner (I say perceived because there’s talent, but consistency will be the need in 2012), Muschamp believes Poole can do more at safety early in his career. Poole should have little trouble making the transition. He’s a talented defensive back with the ability to play either side of the field and cover a variety of receivers. Poole is also a solid tackler and someone that can add some bulk to his frame without blowing up to linebacker size.

2013 Football Recruiting: Vernon Hargreaves III Commits To Florida; Gators Add 5-Star Cornerback

Wharton (Tampa, FL) cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III made it official on Thursday when he committed to play college football for the Florida Gators. Hargreaves instantly becomes the Gators’ highest rated commit and boosts the overall ranking of the 2013 recruiting class. According to Rivals, Florida now comes in at fifth overall after making Hargreaves their first five-star commitment.

“I can officially say I am committed to THE University of Florida ! #GoGators CHOMP CHOMP” – Vernon Hargreaves III, 2013 Cornerback (via Twitter)

The recruiting services tend to agree on where to place Hargreaves and his elite level of talent. At the highest, he’s the nation’s No. 4 overall player (ESPN) and at the lowest he comes in at No. 15 (Scout). All four major services give him five stars.

Hargreaves is the type that has instant starter written all over him. Once he arrives in Gainesville permanently, Marcus Roberson will be entering his third year with the program and Brian Poole his second. While others such as Loucheiz Purifoy have made strides recently, Hargreaves will compete for playing time immediately. He’s of the instant impact type that recently included cornerbacks like Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins.

Hargreaves chose Florida over Clemson, Miami, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt. Look for more on him in the form of a recruiting report coming soon.

Confidence Could Be Loucheiz Purifoy’s Biggest Asset

The position battle at cornerback may be one of the most open on the Florida Gators roster. There’s experience, youth and youth with experience, but anyone could steal playing time at any moment.

Here’s the rundown of the returning cornerbacks that were on the roster in 2011:

Jeremy Brown, RJR, 0 games, 0 starts*
Loucheiz Purifoy, FR, 13 games, 0 starts
Cody Riggs, SO, 13 games, 10 starts
Marcus Roberson, FR, 10 games, 10 starts
Jaylen Watkins, SO, 13 games, 8 starts

*Brown received a medical redshirt in 2011 and will be a redshirt junior again in 2012. He appeared in 11 games and started 10 in 2010.

You can ask just about anyone and they will tell you Roberson will occupy one side during the 2012 season. Although his play was shaky at times during his freshman season in 2011, he is the most talented corner on the roster and should excel in 2012 with a better grasp of the defense.

The other side is up for grabs. The Gators aren’t sure what they have in Brown. Injured for much of his career, Brown is a talented player that just can’t stay healthy. Both Riggs and Watkins have gained experience while playing plenty, but neither is seen as a lock opposite Roberson and both may be better suited for the nickel back role. Then you have Purifoy.

A special teams standout in 2011, Purifoy was held back by a hamstring injury and didn’t get a chance to earn playing time in the secondary early. As the season progressed, opportunities increased and now he finds himself with a great chance to earn a starting nod. Of all the talents Purifoy possesses – speed being a big one – his confidence may be the most important.

A cornerback has to be cocky to a certain extent. Let’s be honest, all athletes have to be, but Purifoy plays one of those positions where you specifically are targeted. Not only is a quarterback throwing to a wide receiver, he’s throwing at you. He’s daring you to make a play. That doesn’t faze Purifoy and could be one of the key reasons why he could be lined up on the field for the opening snap of the 2012 season.

Florida needs help at a number of positions and cornerback is one. Purifoy has pushed Riggs and Watkins and will get pushed by incoming freshman Brian Poole. Anyone could come out on top, but the new No. 15 is making his case and doing it well.

Florida’s D.J. Durkin Named Rivals Recruiter Of The Year

I’ve been hard on D.J. Durkin during his two seasons with the Florida Gators. During the 2010 season, the linebackers struggled and during 2011, special teams left more than just something to be desired at times. But I can swallow my pride and give the man credit where credit it due. On Monday, Durkin was named Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.

Durkin’s unit started to show life as the 2011 season progressed and definitely had their moments. I’m sure we’re all hoping 2012 is the season players like Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins reach All-American levels of play. Durkin’s biggest impact, though, may be happening off the field.

Durkin was credited for seven commitments in the 2012 recruiting class, including five-star offensive lineman D.J. Humphries and five-star defensive end Johnathan Bullard. He played a major role in kicking the door to North Carolina wide open. Durkin was also instrumental in keeping cornerback Brian Poole committed to Florida and following up with linebacker Jeremi Powell to ensure he would become a Gator.

Southeast CB Brian Poole Commits To Gators

Florida has added to its 2012 commitment list by receiving a verbal from Brian Poole. Poole – a 5’10”, 187 lb. cornerback from Southeast (Bradenton, FL) – is rated the no. 8 CB in the nation by Rivals. At no. 75, he joins Jessamen Dunker as a Gators commit that is also a member of the Rivals 100.
Poole was no stranger to scholarship offers and had them from basically every big school in the Southeast as well as others across the nation. He is believed to have had Florida at the top of his list for quite some time and figured he might as well pull the trigger now.

Poole is a smart defender who is always aware of his position on the field and where the ball is or is going. He has superior talent as well, but uses his field intelligence to make himself an even more intriguing prospect. Poole should have no trouble finding playing time early for the Gators.

For more on Poole, head over to Alligator Army where you can check out my report and video breakdown of the latest Florida commitment.