Football Recap: Florida Gators 37 – Tennessee Volunteers 20

The Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 37-20 on Saturday night after putting together a near perfect second half. I’ll get into the game as a whole, but first, a new feature I call What I Wrote at the Half. (Everything in italics was written at the half without any knowledge of the final 30 minutes. No, I can’t predict the future.)

The offense might not destroy the Florida Gators chances of success. The defense not reaching the highest levels of greatness that everyone expected might not either. What could, and probably will, ultimately kill any chance of the Gators competing throughout the entire 2012 college football season will be penalties. Against Bowling Green, it was infuriatingly comical. Against Texas A&M, it was like a different team was out there…in a good way. In the first half against Tennessee, stupid took on a whole new meaning. Luckily, the Vols had their own problems with penalties too.

This is a team with heaps of talent in the defensive backfield. So much talent that I used the word heaps for probably the first time ever (and hopefully the last). But there is pass interference and holding and pass interference and holding. There are occasions where those penalties are okay. If you’re just flat out beat and the receiver is going to make a big play, take the penalty. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than a big play or a touchdown. But when you’re in coverage and you have position and don’t need the hold, well, don’t hold.

And then there was the removal of a helmet on the field. Xavier Nixon, you’re better than that. Or at least, you know better than that. You got dug into by Will Muschamp when you came to the sideline and rightfully so. That wasn’t smart football by any means of the term. That’s just not something you do. You knew where you were on the field and you let your emotions get to you. It was a moment of stupidity. We’re sure you’ll learn from it, but it can’t happen. Not again, and not even once in the first place.

Since I mentioned Muschamp, I might as well express my feelings toward him as well. Yelling, screaming, crazy, red-faced Muschamp used to be funny. Then it became a disturbing sideshow act. Now it has reached the point that I’m about one more profanity-laced tirade away from being disgusted. Get in the face of a player that commits a dumb penalty. Get excited when something goes right. But cut out whatever it is you think you’re doing when you go after the referees. There are bad calls; every game has them. There are also calls that were right on even if they negatively impact the Gators. You screaming and yelling at a ref does nothing and it makes you look like a joke. 16 games into you’re head coaching career at Florida, I’m sick of it and I’m not the only one. You’re the head coach at the University of Florida. It’s a job desired by many. Quit the antics and coach your team.

I now go back to the game and the second half. The Gators are down 14-10. There’s been good and bad, but that’s common of Florida teams of late. I’m surprisingly calm overall, but that’s because I may just be used to this. I’ll throw out another JUST WIN and head back to the television.

That was the first half. The second half was oh so wonderfully glorious, I don’t know what to cover first. Let’s start with the arrogant fan route…

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Drafting The Florida Gators To Go Head-To-Head Against…The Florida Gators

The football offseason brings about boredom and plenty of it. It has forced us at The Bull Gator to come up with ways to occupy our time whether they are fun or trivial exercises in futility. Some examples include past attempts at coming up with the best Florida Gators of all-time at each jersey number and a draft consisting of only players available from the schools we have attended. This is another one of those exercises.

One Eyed Willy and I conducted a draft where we each attempted to fill a starting roster made up of all Gators. The rules were simple: 1) you need to fill each position with a player that could realistically line up at that position, and 2) your only real wildcards are going with a fullback or a third wide receiver and playing either a 4-3 defense or a 3-4.

Once we were done, we gave the teams to Evandagator and he let us know which team he thought would win if they went head-to-head. We didn’t tell him which team belonged to which one of us, so he could give his unbiased opinion (we aren’t completely sure which one of us he likes more just yet). We also posted the teams on Alligator Alley (one of the message boards on Inside The Gators) to see what they thought as well.

First up, the teams:

*The numbers in parenthesis indicate the overall pick the player was selected. Some players don’t have numbers next to their names because once we realized we only had positional openings left where we wouldn’t be competing for players, we each filled our rosters in one lump selection.

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2013 Football Recruiting: Tyrone Crowder Could Bring More North Carolina Talent To Florida

The state of a North Carolina has been good to the Florida Gators football program in recent years. Very good in fact. North Carolina has given the Gators Brandon Spikes, Xavier Nixon and newcomers Jonathan Bullard, D.J. Humphries, Rhaheim Ledbetter and Alex McCalister, who have opened the pipeline down to the Sunshine State. Tyrone Crowder – a star offensive guard in the 2013 recruiting class – could keep it open.

Crowder has 15 offers and has mostly focused on schools in his home state. However, the 6’2″, 325-guard from Richmond Senior (Rockingham, NC) is also considering both Florida and Alabama and has a connection of sorts to the Gators – new strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman played at Richmond. That may not be enough to push Crowder to Florida (he hasn’t even narrowed his list down to his finalists at this point), but connections never hurt when it comes to recruiting and if the Gators can find one inroad, that could be enough in the end.

Crowder plays tackle at Richmond, but projects as a guard at the college level. He’s known to have quick feet and is a tenacious blocker with a mean streak. 247Sports, Rivals, Scout and ESPN all give Crowder four stars. He peaks on 247 as their No. 54 overall player in the 2013 class. He plans to narrow down his list of choices to his top five over the next couple of weeks.

2012 Football Recruiting: Florida Gators Add Alex McCalister; Defensive End Verbally Commits

The train started on Saturday with the commitments of 2012 defensive end Brian Cox Jr. and 2013 running back Adam Lane and continued into Monday with the announcement of 2012 defensive end Alex McCalister. McCalister becomes the seventh defensive line commitment the Gators have picked up and the second in three days to be considered a fit for the buck position.

McCalister – listed at 6’7″, 212 pounds – chose Florida over Georgia Tech and North Carolina. He will have to add considerable bulk before he’ll see significant playing time in a Gators’ uniform, but his quickness off the line makes him an intriguing prospect. Out of Clemmons, North Carolina (West Forsyth), McCalister becomes the latest in a line of recent recruits from the state of North Carolina to commit to Florida. There are three others in the 2012 class alone – Jonathan Bullard, D.J. Humphries, Rhaheim Ledbetter – Xavier Nixon will be back in a Gators’ uniform this upcoming season and we can’t forget about Brandon Spikes.

McCalister makes it 20 commitments for Florida with more to come as National Signing Day approaches.

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Florida Gators Offensive Line – 2010 vs. 2011

One Eyed Willy and I finish up the Florida offense with the offensive line. To read past installments, click each position: quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks, wide receivers, tight ends.

2010: Marcus Gilbert – RSR, Maurice Hurt – RSR, Carl Johnson – RSR, Mike Pouncey – SR, Matt Patchan – JR, William Steinmann – JR, James Wilson – RJR, Nick Alajajian – SO, Xavier Nixon – SO, Sam Robey – RSO, David Young – RSO, Cole Gilliam – RFR, Chaz Green – FR, Jon Halapio – RFR, Jonotthan Harrison – RFR, Kyle Koehne – RFR, Ian Silberman – FR
Preseason Rating: B
Postseason Rating: D
I’ll start this one off by saying One Eyed Willy and I don’t dislike Florida. It’s quite the opposite. We love the Gators and are as diehard as you can get. However, we’re also very realistic fans who unfortunately can come across as negative from time to time. We joke that I’m the positive side to Willy’s negative, but we can both have our moments. Keep that in mind when reading these position comparisons. We aren’t the “rah rah” types that will go blindly into the future thinking Florida can do no wrong. We love the Gators and support them until the bitter end, but we also analyze practically anything and everything and sometimes that means pointing out areas which can be (or need to be) improved. We don’t apologize for these doses of realism; we’d like you to take a look at the whole picture when discussing your team and not just the fact that you’ve been a fan as long as you can remember. That’s a prelude to saying the 2010 Florida offensive line gets a D.

Let’s start by running down the starter numbers: Mike Pouncey – 13 games, Marcus Gilbert – 13, Maurice Hurt – 11, Carl Johnson – 11, Xavier Nixon – 8, Jon Halapio – 7, Jonotthan Harrison – 1, James Wilson – 1

Look at that and things don’t seem all that bad. Four players started 11 games or more and only eight total started any games. That would make you think the Gators had a relatively stable offensive line that stayed healthy for the most part. Well, see what had happened was…
First off, Matt Patchan didn’t play and Wilson only appeared in two games. The move to center by Pouncey was a disaster at times and only average at others. Hurt and Halapio were inconsistent and the line as a whole struggled to find balance. This is yet another position that can blame its performance on a number of things. From injuries to inconsistent play to schemes, nothing seemed to, for lack of a better term, click. While John Brantley wasn’t the quarterback we all hoped he’d be during his first year as the Gators’ starter, he was given very little time to even think in many situations. The offensive line didn’t give up some jaw dropping number of sacks – 27 total on the season (and four of those came in a game in which Florida beat Vanderbilt by 41 points) – but also didn’t provide a secure pocket for the quarterbacks to work out of.
It was a rough season for the line and one that hardly got better as it progressed. 2011 needs to be a turning point for the unit or the offense may struggle to get started early in games.
2011: William Steinmann – SR, James Wilson – RSR, Dan Wenger – RSR, Xavier Nixon – JR, Matt Patchan – RJR, Sam Robey – RJR, David Young – RJR, Nick Alajajian – RSO, Cole Gilliam – RSO, Jon Halapio – RSO, Jonotthan Harrison – RSO, Kyle Koehne – RSO, Ian Silberman – SO, Chaz Green – RFR, Tommy Jordan – FR, Trip Thurman – FR
Preseason Rating: C
I hate giving a unit a C. I really do. I debated this unit for quite some time. Should I give the 2010 version a D? Should I give the 2011 one the same grade? It would have been extremely easy to give 2011 a B instead of C, but I had to go with my gut on this one.
The 2011 offensive line has potential, but must stay healthy and consistent. Yes, they get a C, but if they finished 2010 with a D, lost the only players that started more than eight games, and added nothing more than a transfer and two freshmen that are very likely to redshirt, giving them another D would have been reasonable as well. However, because of that potential, they’re bumped a grade.
There are a few keys to the line and since we like to make lists around here, I’ll go ahead and make another one:
• The returning players started a total of 17 games in 2010. That isn’t a lot. Not a lot by any means. The unit has to get through its growing pains quickly. Quickly as in the first two games of the season.
• Patchan can be great. He’s a lineman with a mean streak. Unfortunately, he just can’t stay healthy. If Patchan can stay on the field for an entire season guess is there’s one spot we don’t have to worry about.
• This is the last hurrah for Wilson. This is it. He has one last chance to prove he’s the player many thought he could be. This is it. Put up time.
Chaz Green has been said to be an absolute warrior. We’ll see him on the field for the first time this season and we may see him a lot. He could steal a position and not let it go for a few years.
• IS THERE A CENTER?!? Harrison was moved to the position and Dan Wenger transferred in. Why? Because the position is wide open and the main reason is because Sam Robey hasn’t claimed it as his own. Two years ago we heard of the possibility of the Pounceys both playing guard because of this young lineman who was doing so well in practice that he could bounce a potential All-American from the position. Today, the Pounceys are gone and Robey still hasn’t been named the starter. This will be his fourth season with the team. He’s not in the same territory as Wilson, but he’s getting dangerously close.
The line plays an unbelievably important role in the offense and is the key to allowing plays to develop. In 2010, it didn’t come together as expected despite having four seniors across it. This season, the seniors on the roster are a question mark and that will make you lose some sleep. What Charlie Weis and Frank Verducci do with the line could be one of the most important things to follow during the offseason. It won’t take us very long to see how it all went and how it will all go. This is the definitive “keep your fingers crossed” unit.

Game Preview: Vanderbilt Commodores @ Florida Gators – 11/7 – 7:15

I’ve said it a million times this week, so I’ll lay off it today.  But I will say if you happen to be golfing in the Carrollwood Village area of Tampa today and see a man in a suit at the clubhouse bar alone and cursing the institution of marriage, buy him a drink…he’ll need it.
10 things for today’s game…
1. The game trophy.  Last week, Florida defeated Georgia to take home the Okefenokee Oar.  This week, if they beat Vanderbilt they get a first edition copy of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt.
2. Ignoring the spread.  35 points is a lot.  It’s a shellacking.  An absolute annihilation.  Odds are it won’t happen.  That’s not to say it can’t.  It just hasn’t since Bobby Johnson took the reins of the Commodores.  The Gators could do it if they wanted, but this is a team that’s had its ups and downs on offense it seems unlikely they will keep their foot on the gas the entire game.  Then again, they could to simply prove they can.  Either way, ignore the spread.  Just win.  Do it convincingly, but just win.  A solid game on defense and enough points so that no one says “how did Vandy keep it close?”  That’s all that’s needed.
3. Random Omarius Hines fact: In a game where the Gators are favored by that many points, we may actually have a Hines’ sighting.  Here’s to 4 catches, 56 yards, and a late touchdown catch.
4. The future.  It’s hard to determine how Mike Gillislee will fit into the offense over the next few years.  Jeffery Demps and Chris Rainey are both only sophomores and Emmanuel Moody will be around next season as well.  But Gillislee seems to have it all.  Burst, power, agility.  Gillislee may only get mop up time this season, but expect him to be part of the regular rotation in 2010.
5. A second half full of John Brantley.  This is one of those games where #15’s backup can get some valuable experience.  Although it’s unlikely to happen, I say let Brantley come in to start the second half if the Gators are up by more than 20.  I respect Vanderbilt, I really do, but they aren’t coming back from 3 scores.  Let Brantley run the offense for an entire half and get some good reps in front of the home crowd.
6. The freshman linemen.  Xavier Nixon.  Nick Alajajian.  Jon Halapio.  Get those guys in the game as well.  The offensive line has had a number of bury their heads in the sand this season, but in the end the Gators are 8-0 and the SEC East champs, so you really can’t complain too much.  However, the depth is more than lacking.  If one of the big dogs goes down, things could get interesting come SEC Championship Game or bowl time.  Nixon has put himself into a position to get some playing time with the first unit.  Like my last 3 points, this is a perfect game to get these guys some more experience.
7. Let’s keep this thing going.  Brandon Spikes is out.  Brandon Hicks is out.  There are 3 linebackers left with plenty of experience who will see the field early and often – Dustin Doe, A.J. Jones, Ryan Stamper.  But what about all those other guys who were all-world recruits?  Jon Bostic, Lorenzo Edwards, Lerentee McCray, Jelani Jenkins.  Watch closely.  The future at linebacker is bright.
8. Less than 10 points allowed.  The Gators have held 4 of 8 opponents to less than 10 points.  Make it #5.  A lot of second teamers will get action today, but there’s no room for error.  No mental mistakes.  No brain trips.  Keep the pressure on for 60 minutes and don’t let Vanderbilt get a big play or two.  Be the best defense in the nation.
9. 9-0.  Get it.  Simple.  Remain undefeated.
10. Don’t think about LSU/Alabama.  Florida is in the SEC Championship Game.  Who they play is completely irrelevant.  There are 4 games left.  Take one at a time and don’t worry about who the opponent will be on December 5th.
 

Rumor Alert: Jon Bostic and Xavier Nixon Likely to Commit to Florida at Army Bowl

Palm Beach Central (Wellington, FL) linebacker Jon Bostic and Jack Britt (Fayetteville, NC) offensive lineman Xavier Nixon are both expected to commit to Florida on Saturday at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Although rumors until they announce, signs point to both signing with the Gators.

Bostic – one of the top prospects in the state of Florida – is known as an explosive tackler. He has great sideline-to-sideline speed and is said to have the athleticism to excel at the college level immediately.

Nixon is a relentless lineman with a quick first step and incredible athleticism for someone his size.