Great conclusion to the regular season that was the first step of a big rebuild. Lots of good things by our team, but still some inconsistencies and a couple of head scratching decisions that fortunately didn't harm us on the way to a big win. Biggest stories from the game have to be the defense, especially the ends and most notably Polite, Franks, and the ineptitude an lack of discipline displayed by F$U.
With the exception of a couple of series, the D kept the Nole O on the ropes. I thought like a lot of us that keeping pressure on Francois was job one and they obviously did a great job save the aforementioned two series where Francois threw and ran for a score. Otherwise, he was harassed effectively resulting in four sacks (I think), a fumble, two picks, and a number of errant throws. Franks is the Sunshine Kid for the day. Threw for three scores to Hammond, Jefferson, and Grimes, managed the offense, and didn't make any critical mistakes. He seems to have gained some momentum after the UGA and Missouri games and looked more poised than ever maybe. It'll be interesting to see what the bowl will bring where his continued development is concerned. The Clowns, on the other hand, looked more undisciplined and uncoached as ever despite obvious talent in their front seven and some aspects of their offense that doesn't include their
OL. Penalties by them came in waves, kids running on the field late, ineffective passing game for the great majority of the game (a lot of credit goes to our D, however), and poor execution of their coverage schemes add up to the hot mess that they are. Glad it's them and part of me wants to believe that they are getting what they deserve after making a snowflake decision on a coach. But I digress. Let's review some specifics...
*Our OL wasn't stellar today by any means. To wit, not getting a push when needed on a couple of fourth downs in the red (one featured a whiff by the LG) and some inconsistencies in the run and pass pro. But they were far superior to the hapless Nole$. They had a part in us putting up 41 and should be applauded as such. That said, this group needs to make great strides before next season as well as being fortified by some good gets in recruiting. Hevesy IMO has made them more functional than they've been in a while, so I believe we have the guy, but we've got to get him some good players to coach.
*Running game was decent overall despite some of the OL inconsistencies. Perine, as has been the case lately, was pretty good, rushing for over a hundred with the long TD run. Good blocking and the F$U safety getting sealed inside, which resulted in a zero look with nobody in the back yard playside to make a tackle led to the success of this play. Scarlett was better late, running hard with each carry, and scored the final TD to put the exclamation point on the game.
*Jefferson and Grimes stood out among the receivers. Jefferson's TD on the seam route was highlighted by a deft deke inside that put the defender on his @ss and left him "quarantined" to borrow Mick's catch phrase. Grimes was great on the comeback move throw from Franks that resulted in a TD and his post route and reception was text book on the Franks' RPO. Toney had a really nice catch in traffic and Hammond was effective as well. The receiving corps is an obvious strength and stronger still when Franks is playing well, meaning making good decisions and throwing accurately.
*As mentioned earlier, the D was pretty good, especially the ends led by Polite. If I have a criticism or two, it is that the ends often getting too far upfield which allows the QB to either step up and throw or escape on a run. Joseph still isn't good in coverage, but our secondary is growing and recorded several PBUs along with mostly solid coverage. The two picks by Dean and Stiner were not bad either. We've got something to build on with this group, but adding superior athletes is still necessary.
*MVP for the clowns was their punter, but I still don't think he was the best punter today. Townsend was remarkable, especially when he flipped the field with a 64 yarder when it looked like the Nole$ would have good field position and a chance to score and close the gap.
*I wasn't crazy about Mullen's decisions to go for it on fourth down twice instead of taking the FGs. I guess I understand his thinking, but the combination of poor blocking and play calls left us with nothing when any points would have added to the load on the Clowns. Wound up not hurting, so maybe it's a moot point?
*Polite needs more press. Monster game with 6 tackles, 2.5 for loss 3.5 sacks, a caused fumble, and several hurries. You know Frenchy had to be thinking about him every passing down. He's grown into an effective rusher and impact player who most likely will go into the draft. I'd love to see him stay, bulk up, and work on his consistency and technique, but most likely isn't happening depending on where he is projected. A successful story nonetheless.
*Shout out to my Bainbridge Bearcats. Went up to Buford and upset a strong team in the state quarterfinals. Buford looked like a college team, boasting 8 out of the top 100 recruits fron Georgia on their roster. Massive OL/DL and some of the best facilities you'll see in high school. There's something to be said for believing. David slew Goliath and will be at Stockbridge next Friday for the semi's.
I guess now we can drink a well-deserved beer/cocktail on a season that really exceeded most early expectations (I have a 1/2 case of Blue Moon awaiting just for this occasion). There's still the bowl to be negotiated and that is another important step in the rebuild, for the extra practices made available, and depending on what you believe, a final opportunity to put UF in the spotlight for future recruits and legitimization that our coaching hire was better than some might have wanted to believe. Make no mistake, Mullen's work is just starting as we look to get back into first the SEC and national pictures. But it's hard not to believe he has accomplished quite a bit in this first year. It's been said before, but what he's gotten out of Franks is deserving of a medal. He'll be judged more closely with what he can produce on the recruiting trail and there are some worries with the upcoming class that will have to be quickly addressed is they can. But all aspects of the program are a process and he is certainly deserving of the time to keep the ship turning.
Meanwhile, let's revel in the fact that our victory today provides the Clowns with a losing season and no bowl. Couldn't happen to a better bunch. I wish them continued similar success. They are most deserving and to Coach Taggert, here's to your longevity (**hoists beer**). It's great to be a Florida Gator!
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It finally got here. Seems like we’ve all been waiting forever, sorta like when you’ve asked Santa for that really neat gift, the one you’ve wanted all your life and will die if the big guy doesn’t come through. But it arrived. As openers go, there were a lot of things to weigh about the upcoming experience, much of it tied to COVID-19. Would we see signs of protest? What would the crowd be like? How prepared or how rusty would the teams look? Thankfully, when all was said and done, the game was played, the Gators won an opener against a conference opponent, we did a lot of really good things (offense / special teams) and some not very good (defense). But for three and a half hours, we were close to normal once more. That was a good thing.
Any disparagement of Kyle Trask after today needs to be retired. 30 / 42 for 416 yards and 6 TDs is both a statement of what he is capable of as well as a continuation of the progress he has made. Though Pitts was his primary target (8 receptions for 170 yds and 4 TDs), he also connected with 10 other receivers. He was cool in the pocket, showing great awareness of pressure and rarely rushed his progressions. As much as we’ve lamented a sideways offense, he sure made a bunch of nice vertical throws. Bottom line, the kid can play the game and the position at a high level, regardless of whatever pedigree (or lack) that has been assigned.
On the other hand, the defense was bad. At times they looked confused and slow, the latter being a result quite often of the former. Tackling was awful for the greater part, though Ventrell Miller had a couple of old school stones. I know that the game now is more predicated on speed than strength and technique, but we sure play way too high, which allows way too many ball carriers and receivers to run through the grabbing that results. And our DBs...they stayed lost all afternoon. Grantham and co. have a lot to repair and not much time to do it. I don’t want us to have to rely on the offense to bail us out all the time.
Now, let’s look at a few specifics:
*McPherson just confirmed what most knew...he’s a heckuva kicker. No KO returns and 3 / 3 FGs with a long of 55. Mullen was quoted as saying he thought he was the best kicker in America. Hard to disagree. And the punter, though he only punted once, looked up to the task. Still seemed a little strange not seeing a Townsend back there. Having a reliable kicking game may not always have the chance to win for you, but they can usually help keep you from getting beat. Low return yards is a pretty big stat.
*Not calling the OL completely fixed, but they looked better than we’ve seen. Pass pro was pretty good, as the QBs had time to throw. We’ve still got work to do with the run game, but we rushed for a little less than 200 on 29 attempts. A couple of technical things I noticed were we looked clean and quick on the G schemes and we had guys getting to and staying with their blocks. It’s a better start than we’ve had lately.
*Third and Grantham was likely screamed a few times today. Part of me gets that we had some youngsters out there, but there were some vets in the secondary who looked clueless for much of the time. Of course, they’ve looked like that before. Where’s the improvement? I also think Dr. Pressure needs to live up to his nick. Specifically, allowing them to convert 3rd and 19 with a 4 rush when your secondary can’t cover a soul is simply asinine.
*First time I can remember that a team responded to a two play length of the field TD drive with a two play length of the field TD drive. Kudos to the Rebs! And as bad as I hate to say it, Corral wasn’t too bad (against us).
*Pitts. The guys on one scoreboard show called him the best TE in the country. He certainly made a case for that high praise today. Great routes, concentration, hands and speed. AA potential. Stay healthy, Trask knows how to get it to you.
*Pierce and Davis looked pretty fair running the ball. They combined for 103. Toney had 55 on 2 carries. Where he’s concerned, we’ve all wanted him to get more touches...and today he got them, adding 5 receptions for 59 yds and a score. Was it Brian Johnson or Mullen? Who cares. Keep feeding him.
We weren’t perfect today, especially defensively, and that can be worrisome, but we’ll have to rely on the adage that a team shows its greatest improvement between game one and game two. Lord, I hope so. A quick glance makes me believe we’ve got the makings of a championship caliber offense barring significant injuries. The defense has a lot of catching up to do in that regard. It might get a little nerve racking. But at least football’s back and we can cheer and gripe about something other than politics. Stay tuned. It’s just getting started and who knows what’s around the next corner! Go Gators!
- Like x 76
As many of you already know we are having a baby.
6-7 years ago, my wife got pregnant, only to have a miscarriage a few months in. It was rough on her.
We kept trying and trying after that only to find out she has severe endometriosis, which was probably a big factor in not having been able to get pregnant in that time period.
It took months to decide, but eventually we decided that a baby wasn't in the cards for us and that a full hysterectomy was the solution to ease the problems endometriosis causes. It was a tough decision for her.
That surgery was set to take place in late August of last year.
Well we never got there, because a month before the surgery we found out that she was in fact pregnant.
We were completely shocked!!!
We were slow to tell people she was pregnant, because you just never know, especially with the previous miscarriage.
Yesterday it all came to fruition.
Carly was born 6 lbs 8 oz.
Best "early" birthday present I could have asked for!!!!
- Like x 75
- Thread: Newest Recruit
I have a confession...I fired Dan Mullen tonight. Twice. It’s not like it wasn’t merited. Lord how we looked so unprepared, falling behind on the Dawgs first play of the game, a 75 yard TD run by Garrison Hearst, er, Zeus White, then following that up with a quick three and out. And a failed 4th and nine late when a field goal would have been quite nice. What the hell, Dan?
Ultimately, I rehired him. Twice. A 24 point outburst in the second quarter that gave us a 38-21 lead at the half and a win over a bitter rival, ending a three game slide in the series, will give pause for reconsideration. Besides, I wouldn’t want to hand Todd the car keys. So, Dan is still our man and I’ve got to give him credit for his 44-28 “masterpiece.” More Pollock than Rembrandt, however .
The real artist on the night was Kyle Trask. 30/43 for 474, that eclipsed his previous high, with 4 TD passes was pretty special. If there was a criticism it was that he probably could have thrown for over 500 with at least one more score. Still, his night was worthy of the Heisman consideration he’s received. But more importantly, and it can’t be overstated, he beat the Dawgs! Should be enough to put him on the cover of the latest edition of Whipped Puppy, which is praise enough at this juncture of the season. Hell, any season!
*Defensively, I wouldn’t say it was pretty by any means. If it wasn’t for the UGA quarterbacks’ lack of accuracy on several long balls, our secondary, and most likely our collective Gator @sses, would have been lit up like Portland during a peaceful protest. Our safeties were bad. Any hope of improvement generated against Mizzou last week went up in a puff of smoke when the Dawgs #2 guy threw a TD strike right between Davis and what’s his name (T. Johnson, maybe?). The 112 yards we “held” UGA to was more on them than anything we did. However, we won, had some picks, and tackling overall didn’t look as bad as it has in previous games.
*As rough as I was on Dan earlier, I have to give him credit for pretty good game planning. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen as many wheel routes open as I did this afternoon. Backs, tight ends, you name the skill guys and they slipped up the sidelines, usually in a mismatch with a LB or a squatting DB for any easy pitch and catch for a big chunk of yardage. And Kirby had no answer. Who knew?
*I hated to see Pitts get knocked out of the game. Haven’t heard the diagnosis, but after seeing the glazed look in his eyes as he headed to the locker room I’d have to believe he was concussed. Hope that’s all and that he’s good to go next game. The hit was what used to be text book safety play and would essentially cut the arms off of a receiver before he ever left the line in a route over midfield. I know safety is paramount, but that was football in times past.
*The game was about as physical as I’ve seen lately. There were some big hits and guys limping to the sidelines about every other play it seemed. Hated to see the Dawg receiver break his ankle, though CBS didn’t seem to mind showing it over and over a la Joe Theisman. The lick put on the UGA QB was significant and pretty much nulled him. I believe I heard his throwing shoulder was subluxed. Hard, clean football. I’m enjoying it while I still can.
*Toney was pretty much neutralized and why wouldn’t UGA be prepared with the season he’s having? Still, there was a little too much of this...
...and not enough north and south. Against a better defense, one juke is about all he’ll get.
*The DL wasn’t bad this evening, if you take away the long TD run to start the game. Without that play, the Dawgs only rushed for 90. They kept the pressure on in the second half and it felt like they were energized by Carter’s return. Cox, Slaton, and others played the gaps pretty well. Have to mention LB Houston’s great form tackle (I won’t mention Miller’s bad read and whiff or the LB’s trouble in coverage, though). For this game at least, the Dawgs were held to 277 total yards. We’ve got a chance in most games with a similar number.
*The OL was fairly solid, giving Trask time to throw most of the night. Losing Reese and DeLance later on allowed the Dawgs to put a little pressure on Trask and was a factor in our second half TD drought. Our rushing total of 97 yards wasn’t eye popping, but it was enough to convert some third downs and keep the defense somewhat honest. We’ll need to be better by the season’s end if we expect to have a chance with the big boys. We’ve got to get to that point first and the OL will be a key part if we do. Improvement is still necessary.
*I’m glad to see the backs become a bigger part of the throw game. We’ve got three that can catch and run it afterwards. The CBS guys mentioned how Spurrier used to utilize the backs in that manner and that little circle route that Davis ran was very much an SOS staple. Not a bad guy to copy. I’m glad to see us add this wrinkle and hopefully it’ll be more than just a one game thing.
*And speaking of the throwing and catching, with Pitts leading the way, Grimes making a couple of catches, one really big, and Shorter rising, we’ve got some big, talented targets for Trask to throw to. How about Gamble? He made Pitts’ departure not quite so worrisome. Zipperer looked pretty good on his lone reception, too. As far as the others go, Copeland’s hands have been his biggest nemesis. He seemingly has all the other tools, but I’m not sure he’s earned the confidence of the QB or the OC. Young Henderson isn’t quite ready for prime time. He clearly had no idea what was going on when he led his defender into a pick six. But he’s young and I’ve got to give Mullen most of the credit for that gaffe. Henderson obviously didn’t need to be part of the personnel in that hurry up set.
I can’t tell you how difficult it is to not be preparing this piece while blind drunk. In fact, I’m sober as a judge with only a couple of Miller Lights and an Oyster City Dark Ale under my belt (the latter wasn’t to my liking by the way, so I’m glad it was a gift and I didn’t pay for it!). Truth is that after the election, my old liver probably needs a break! But it was a pleasure, as always, to do a little autopsy, especially after a win in Jacksonville over the Mutts. We can’t ever win enough of these games and I hope to live long enough to see us on the plus side of the series.
Next week, we welcome the Hogs and Felipe back to the Swamp. Fresh off a win against the Vols and with Franks no doubt dying to shush the crowd (such as it will be), the game should provide another test for our growing Gators. Time for us to take some more forward steps. Until then, savor the Dawg tears and dust off the grill. I’m hoping for barbecue next Saturday! Go Gators!
- Like x 73
Maybe it wasn't quite the way most of us would have scripted it, but the 2019 Gators defeated the pesky and maybe underestimated Virginia Cavaliers. I mean, this was the same ACC team that got obliterated by Clemson. Certainly it was expected that we'd give them more of the same? Only we aren't Clemson and they came into this game with a lot to prove. They also have a pretty good QB, who didn't hurt us with his legs (Grantham's plan made sure of that) outside of extending some plays, but kept them in it with his arm. He had two receivers that weren't bad. We had several DB's that were. But that's been somewhat of a theme this year, hasn't it?
I know what many of you are thinking. 11-2 means little when you didn't win your division, losing to the Dawgs along the way, and you weren't in the playoffs. Disappointing? Yeah, I suppose. But regardless of who or what they did or didn't do that left us on the outside looking in, it's clear that Dan Mullen has a plan and some ideas about the direction the program is headed. Loosely quoted, he expressed that from last year to this we went from 10 wins to 11 (or from 9 to 10 if you consider the bowls meaningless ) and the next step, which will be harder, is to move from 11 to 12. Got to figure UGA will be pretty critical if that is to happen. If this plan isn't fast enough to suit you, well, tough sh!t. There's still work to be done in several areas. We all should know that. Perine reminded us that we were 4-7 his sophomore year. Yeah, there's a little bit to be proud of.
*We didn't get the 2 score victory that everyone seemed to be predicting. We made plenty of mistakes. Good grief I haven't seen as many of our kids slip and fall down like they did tonight in a long time. Unfortunately I have seen the blown coverages and an inability to compete with the receivers for some balls that were in abundance. But I did see a team that played hard. That will save you on a night when schematically some things aren't going well and your opponent is believing. This is a good trait to have when you're good, but not great. If you maintain it when you improve, you can be hard to beat. I think that has been a Mullen goal in his idea of progression.
*Hats off to the OL. We ran the ball better tonight than anytime during the season. Was Virginia a great D? Nope, but we have fared worse against worse. Good note to end on. And hats off to Perine. He looked as complete tonight as he ever has. Speed, some deft cuts, getting some tough yards after contact. Great way to finish your career. Good luck ahead to a great Gator!
*The 4th down option was a ballsy call. Mullen believed in his guys and they didn't let him down. There's a big difference in thinking you can do something and knowing you can. This is part of the team and individual character development that the really good teams understand and embrace.
*We will all miss Greenard. He more than earned his keep this year. Only regret was that we didn't have him his entire college career. He's a warrior and a class act. It was also good to see Zuniga out there. He looked a little rusty, but there's nothing wrong with his motor. David Reese is another guy I'll miss. All the departing receivers, Jefferson, Swain, etc. Thanks to these guys and all the seniors.
*Trask had a few erratic moments, but made enough good throws, play executions, and decisions to get the job done. EJ had some good runs, no pass attempts however. Forgotten, overlooked, still growing?
*MacPherson had a great night to end his season. Townsend not so much. Both are great at what they do. They are a part of what is a strength of the special teams...the coverage teams and FG/PAT. The return teams? Even though KO returns have been pretty much neutered, the best I can say about PR is that Swain is pretty reliable with the fair catches. I'm not sure our return scheme allows for a lot of opportunities. Hopefully that changes in the near future .
*On a sad note, RIP Edward Aschoff. I always enjoyed his take. The announcers described him as "a proud Gator alum." He's what affiliation with our school s all about. A good person gone too soon. Prayers for his family and friends.
Another season completed and as Mullen said post game, the 2020 Gators will be "born in two weeks!" Can't wait to see them as they coalesce from winter to spring and summer and finally to next fall. Even though I find myself in the all too familiar position of wanting more, I feel like it is getting within reach. I didn't feel like that the last 10 years or so. Happy New Year to you all. Looking forward to many good things in 2020! As always...Go Gators!
- Like x 71
- Thread: Check out my retirement gift
Last night we held my retirement ceremony from the Coast Guard at the VFW in Arlington, VA. One of my buddies played college football at Oregon State and retired last year - he's a big Patriots fan as well. So we got in touch w/ the OSU AD's office and they flew an OSU flag over the stadium and sent it to us. The Patriots flew an American flag over Gillette and sent it w/ a picture and letter congratulating him on his retirement. We put both flags in his shadow box. So, not to be outdone, he got in touch w/ UF's AD's office (he said he had to 'pester' them for a while) - he was able to get an authentic UF helmet, worn in a game (whoever #44 was - there's a small sticker inside the helmet w/ the #44) and it's signed by Dan Mullen, "To Chris, Thank you for your service. Go Gators. Dan Mullen":
- Like x 70
The only way to begin is with "What a game!" And if there's not a compelling reason for one of our oldest and strongest rivals to be returned to the schedule on a yearly basis, then I don't know anything. We were treated to a couple of heavy weights (and it's been a while since I could classify us as such) going at it toe-to-toe until the final bell. It's beginning to feel that we are returning to the conference A-list once more. And it feels good.
A lot of the questions leading up to the game were answered. Yes, their DL was superior to our OL and we struggled to block them. With one notable 88 yard exception, they stuffed the run (but what an exception!). No, Bo Nix would not repeat his dad's success at BHG. Our DL, which played the second fiddle in the lead up kept the pressure on all afternoon. The legacy would have to wait for another Saturday for his notoriety to grow. Yes, our skill speed on both sides of the ball were difference makers. We all know how good the receivers are, but we were wondering just how the secondary would fare. They showed up...in a big way. No, Malzahn wasn't better than his counterpart on this Saturday, despite the feelings of some that he might be the best offensive strategist in college football. Yes, Dan Mullen can coach.
I made mention last week that we weren't interested in just giving the Tigers a good game and that winning was what would validate the stage of our program under Dan Mullen. I'm satisfied that we accomplished what we needed to do...for this week! Make no mistake, there's still a lot more that needs to unfold before a final verdict is in, but what a huge step we took. Mullen encapsulated the feeling when he said in his post game conference that "winning a big game would make us want to come back and prepare even harder for a bigger one next week!" This is where we need to be. This is what has been lacking for a decade.
*One other question was answered: Is Trask ready for a really big time game! I think it's safe to say that the answer, emphatically, is yes! 19-31 for 234 yards and 2 TD's was big time against a good defense. Though he wasn't perfect, fumbles and staying in the pocket too long sometimes, he was certainly solid and very courageous as well. Coming back from the knee injury made me hear whispers of another Gator great. Not exactly the same scenario, but I couldn't help but be reminded of Kerwin against these same Auburn Tigers in '86. Even though Trask didn't have to come from behind, he showed the same kind of grit and determination. He's still got a ways to go before we anoint him, but he's growing on us. He throws the ball where it needs to be and by all accounts is a good leader.
*My hat's off to Perine. I've been critical of him trying to be too much of a speed back and not enough behind the pads, but boy he showed us some speed on one critical play! Even though I still don't think we can make it unscathed without a run game between the tackles, I was glad to have that bounce yesterday. Maybe we're going to be that team that just finds a way? I was looking forward to a good dose of Pierce, but that helmet-to-helmet (or so it appeared) ended that before it began. Hope he's alright. Haven't heard the extent of his injury.
*The receivers, especially Freddie Swain in this game, continue their dominance. Looked like they all got mugged pretty regularly yesterday by the Tigers' secondary, or the score might have been greater. I think Mullen did a pretty good job in the preparations of finding ways to get our speed guys isolated on AU's LBs. Kind of reminiscent of what he did as Meyer's OC.
*The secondary was obviously up to the mark. Three picks and holding Nix to 145 (which would have been significantly less if not for a blown coverage) was a big statement. Many of the national pundits are talking about our speed on defense. I think we can add growth and toughness to the description as well. They have matured since the beginning and even though they still have some room to grow, they're headed in the right direction.
*How about the third and short stops by the D (and one fourth down stop)? We know what we've got on the DL and they were definitely up to the mark, but we got some good play from our LBs. No surprise about Reese, however. Another great game from a defensive leader. He's not afraid to stick his hat on the ball. The lead up might have been Auburn's front, but the real story turned out to be ours (we actually out-rushed the Tigers 132 to 124 even if there's an asterisk by Perine's name!). The D led the way.
*Townsend had a great day punting the ball and kept the Tigers pinned. If there is a critique, it's that a couple of punts slipped in the end zone, but he still did a great job and even adjusted on a punt when there was no rush, hesitating before he kicked to give the gunners time to get down to cover. I think the fake punt, however, is not a secret anymore.
*I have to admit to getting nervous when Corso picked us. He's usually dead wrong it seems, but he was spot on yesterday along with Herbstreit of all people. Good to see Emmitt and I guess he's still a Gator . Desmond Howard continues to be, well, Desmond Howard.
*Got to give Grantham and the D staff a shout for a good game plan. We held the Tigers' rush in tact and didn't give Nix an opportunity to have a second straight game where he was effective through the air. Though we still have some mistakes in assignments (e.g. the blown coverage completion and the ends losing contain), we have shown significant improvement from a consistency standpoint.
*The crowd looked electric! I'm certain that it being homecoming (how do you do, Auburn?!) and having the Game Day bunch on campus ramped things up, but from what was seen and a couple of friends that I talked to, the Swamp was like the Swamp of old! Hope it continues!
I'm getting a good feeling that we are becoming relevant again and I'm also getting a feeling of consistency in that regard. It's hard to argue the merits of Mullen's coaching abilities today (we can save the recruiting argument for later). His next step will be to find a way to contain LSU's high powered O, in Baton Rouge no less. Next Saturday should make for some good theater. Here's looking at you, Coach O...
And Joe Alleva, even though you're gone, I say...
Until then, a day or so to savor this one (us fans, not the team!) is in order and finding a replay will be a pleasant Sunday chore!
As some of you recently know my beloved dog Rex was suddenly taken from my wife and I last Friday when he was hit by a car. Many of yall on this board sent us prayers and it is amazing to me how much this board cares for one another. It's nice to know we can each come here for a pick me up if needed. I hope that never changes there are a lot of amazing people here
Well let's get to the reason for the title. As we sat here morning the lose of Rex God had something in motion for us that will change our lives forever. Some on this board might remember and I wont hold it against anyone if they dont but my wife and I have struggled with infertility for the past 3 years including a failed IVF cycle that ended in 2 miscarriages. Well I'm happy to say that we got a call to foster 2 twin newborn boys with the possibility of adoption. It came as a major surprise to us so weve been scrambling to put a nursery together which has been fun.
I had started to wonder if I'd ever get the chance to be a dad, but It just goes to show you that in hard times God always finds a way to bring you joy. I can't wait to raise them to be Gators. I've got some championship games to let them listen to when they get home. Can't wait till they are old enough to go to their 1st game. I've dream of this day for so long is surreal but I'm super excited.
I don’t believe many Gator fans are surprised with the outcome of the SECCG. I suppose there is some solace to be found in the final score of 52-46, with the Gators having a chance in the second half, albeit a slim one, to pull out a victory. After trailing 35-17 at the half and Bama scoring on five possessions while running twice as many plays, most college football fans had already penciled in the W for Nick Saban and the Tide. They were simply perfection with the football. Actually, their only hiccup was a great takeaway by Trey Dean that was immediately turned back over to Bama when Dean coughed the ball up when he was KTFO’d on the return. When Bama scored on the next play, the pride of a lifelong fan allowed the thought that this probably won’t be our night to creep in.
To their credit, the Gators and Heisman hopeful (unfortunately not shoe in) Kyle Trask kept competing and made it close. The defense, as beleaguered as it was the first half and for all of the season, really, was able to keep Bama out of the end zone in the third quarter and all of a sudden 35-31 didn’t seem insurmountable. But it was not quite enough and the Tide out scored the Gators 17-15 in the final stanza, securing their place in the CFB playoffs. Florida, on the other hand, slinked back to Palooka-ville on the heels of a two game skid and the fear of an 8-4 record looming, depending on the bowl matchup. What could’ve been unfortunately turned into what was and Mullen and Co. begin the self-reflective phase that must require some honest appraisals of what went wrong and what has to change lest this be our high water mark for the second consecutive coaching staff.
*However you cut it, Harris and Smith were more than our defense could handle. I don’t think I’ve seen as much diving at the ankles in one game since my middle school football days. Obviously, Harris engendered some fear in many of our defenders, but that was a total reversal of the grabbing and high tackling that has been our trademark. And it wasn’t any more successful. We couldn’t cover Smith consistently, even playing quite a bit of zone and his TD over Marco Wilson, who was giving him a big cushion in the red zone, pretty much punctuated our futility. Bama’s Mac Jones may well win the Heisman, but if so it would truly be a team award. He was good, but all he had to do was keep the car out of the ditch.
*It seems like there are some head scratchers from Mullen each game in terms of critical play calls. One that sticks out was a Trask keep on third and nine in the first half that was woefully short and killed a possession. It was mentioned that it may have been an automatic if we formationed a numbers advantage in the box and Trask scored a couple of times on this, but third and nine was too big a gamble at that point in the game.
*Bama’s OL is what we wish ours was. If you didn’t see anything else, their two tackles kept our guys on roller skates with their drive blocks and did a great job riding our edge guys up the field on pass plays. They paved the way for 605 total yards that included 187 rushing (178 by Harris). We rushed for 54. It’s Bama, I know, but that’s a pretty staggering difference.
*Trask wasn’t quite as sharp as he could have been, missing a couple of long throws that he usually makes that would have gone for scores. Still, he passed for 408 and three scores while rushing for another as well as a two point conversion. That’s probably good enough to beat anybody else, but not Bama. I appreciate that he left it all out on the field and his competitive spirit, though not as demonstrative as we’ve seen, is there every time he takes the field. He may not win the Heisman, but he is worthy of mention with the other great QBs we’ve enjoyed.
*Toney was a man last night. Eight receptions for 153 yards and a score was big. He has electrified us with his speed and quickness, but the development of his hands and route running was very special.
*What could’ve been. If we hadn’t shot ourselves in the foot in the first half with three Bama drives we had stopped or had a chance to. The winners find a way to make it happen. The other guys talk about what could have been.
*I’ve enjoyed watching Kyle Pitts. Bama was definitely aware of him, he still wound up with seven catches for 129 yards and a score on a great catch over the defender. He’s a special talent and it’s been a pleasure to get to see him develop. I wish there could’ve been one more game we could have seen him .
*Boo Chris Doering! It wouldn’t have hurt you to give Trask a little love last night while talking about the Heisman hopefuls. The three Bama guys you pegged are very worthy and I suppose you wanted to avoid the “Homer” tag, but Trask is more than deserving. You’re a great Gator, but the optics were that there was some embarrassment-induced separation.
One more game. Against who is yet to be determined. It doesn’t really matter. There simply has to be a good conclusion to the anti-climax of last evening. Mullen needs it. Even though this season has been anything but normal, some of Dan’s decisions and comments have certainly lessened the confidence and enthusiasm of his leadership in year three. What he does, or doesn’t do, with the defensive personnel will likely make or break him. It’s pretty widely held that he’s a loyal guy and that’s commendable, but ultimately what good is a captain who goes down with the ship?
In parting, I want to thank Ox and all the readership of Gator Chatter. You guys make it easy to get up on Sundays, win or lose, and talk about Gator football! I hope you all have a great Christmas amid this topsy turvy time in our nation’s history and that Santa brings us all a little respite. A lock down D would also be nice! Merry Christmas and Go Gators!
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- Thread: Waiting on Mullen
Thought this might be of interest to some, but I attended the South Georgia High School Football Awards Banquet in Valdosta last evening, sponsored by In The Game Magazine (headquartered in Valdosta and Jacksonville). The event typically has a top college coach as the keynote speaker (last year was Nick Saban) and this year our own Dan Mullen was slated to address the players, parents, coaches, and sponsors. This would be the first time I would hear him in person and I was looking forward to hearing what he had to say. Unfortunately, the emcee announced that due to our commitment to play in the Orange Bowl, there was a conflicting meeting that came up that required Coach Mullen to cancel his appearance. Bummer. In his place however, was OL Coach John Hevesy.
I don't know what goes into preparing for a bowl and I'm sure there is a ton to meet on, but I couldn't help but think that there might be a recruiting connection with Early Signing Day coming up next Wednesday. I can only hope that was part of the case! Hevesy talked for about 20 minutes or so, apologizing for us having to hear him and not Mullen and telling the audience about his background in coaching and how good the high school ball was in South Georgia. He talked a lot about what separates the really good recruits from all the others...character, attitude, and the ability to lead and positively influence their teammates. That was a big focus when they recruited a player. It rang true to me when he said that one of the best indicators of character was the reaction from the school secretary when he arrived and asked to see Player X. If they lit up, you knew he had the people skills; if they were less than enthused, he was probably a dud!
Of course he referenced Tebow as the type kid that was full of character, attitude, and leadership and what good chemistry that provided. It certainly helped that Timmy could play the game pretty well, too. One other guy he talked about was a kid that wasn't as highly-touted, but really had command of all the other players when they saw him in the camps and visited his practices. They knew he had enough of a skill set that they could make him physically better, but the leadership was off the charts. That part was very hard to cultivate. They ended up getting the guy while at MSU and he went on to become a pretty good college and pro QB. Of course he was talking about Dak Prescott.
It would be easy to say that his message was only about character and diminished the need for football and athletic skills, assuming that the latter could be overcome by great coaching. There'll always be a need for the great athletes and some might lack the character, but you've got to have strong leaders that can both talk it and walk it sprinkled throughout the team to provide that level of leadership that is beyond the coaches. Seems we've been a little short in both areas, so I'm glad of the current focus. I have plenty of confidence in the staff to find some good leaders, now go get the talent for them to lead!
At the conclusion, I got to meet Coach Hevesy. Seeing him on the sidelines doesn't do him justice. He is one large individual and I imagine he can play the part of the Floor Walker quite well! He appreciated my well wishes, particularly coming from an alum, and said that they were happy for the chance to finish with 11 wins. Even though his OL has not been very good these past two seasons, I can't help but think that once we get better bodies for him to work with, we'll get this part fixed. To restate the over-stated, it will all depend on recruiting and I'll remain cautiously optimistic.
- Thread: Note from your old Cane lady
Dear Gator friends, just a short note to let you know I will be out of order or commission for a few weeks. Going down to Miami tomorrow to have open heart surgery - replacement of the mitral valve with a pig valve by a specialist, Dr, Joseph Lamalas who does this microscoply vs. sawing into the sternum. Hope this doesn't mess up my Sat. football games. Say a good Gator prayer for me and as Arnold says, "|'ll be back"!!!
- Thread: Bits & Pieces: Florida vs. Miami
Welcome to another year of Gator football! Expectations are high after a good (not great, mind you) start of the Mullen era that featured a strong finish after a couple of disappointing conference losses. My own expectations are high, but tempered considering positional question marks (OL, LB, Secondary, etc.). While I'm glad we are playing an old rival in the season's first real game, I'm not real wild about playing so early, yet it should be an opportunity to be embraced. The audition for deserving top ten and conference contender...do we nail it, or forget our lines?
The answer in the first half was that we weren't ready for Broadway. Hell, we weren't ready for summer stock in the Pocanos! The only consistency was our inconsistency. OL got no push. Ground gains were mostly due to athleticism, speed (Toney), and second effort. Ball security cost us a couple of scores. Defensively, we tackled like dog sh!t, couldn't get off of blocks, and gave up several big plays that gave the Hurricanes life when they were seemingly ready to croak. We lacked a lot of things, but poise was not to be found when needed.
Second half has featured more of the same and looked more like an AAU basketball game...or an adolescent male trying to "score" for the first time. Holy Sh!t and praise the DL! We dodged a bullet but got our pants pulled down in the proces. Let's look at a few specifics:
*Tommy Townsend stood out. Converting the fake punt early was a gutsy call, but the kid obviously has the stones that make it an easy decision for the coaches. Like his brother before him, he can boom it with hang time.
*Zuniga and Greenard stood out on the DL. Campbell made some plays, too. They made good plays against the run and applied pressure (with sacks) in passing situations. Zuniga, if he can stay healthy, can have a special year and maybe as important, draw enough attention that it will take some of the pressure off of the developing defenders. This whole group saved our @ss.
*Despite a couple of security issues (fumble, pitch in a bad relationship), he didn't hurt us with his decision-making early on. I think he still has problems making his mind up before the snap despite what a proper read would suggest. He did have a couple of good check downs, but I also think he gave up in the pocket prematurely on several plays.
*We cannot continue to give up big plays to opposing offenses on third down. Leadership can be overused to explain these type of gaffs, but I think it's clear that we are looking for some players to provide that component and it needs to be from the back seven. My kingdom for a Peterson, Spikes, etc.
*We look like we're back to square one with the OL. As stated earlier, we got little to no push for most of the running plays. Pass Pro was 50/50 at best. Hevesy will have to do his best work...and quickly. This unit resembled a scout team for much of the game.
*We break coverage almost every time a play is extended. Occasionally you can understand, but as often as seen tonight speaks toward a lack of experience and communication/cohesion among the coverage players. Hard, thorough coaching provided rapidly and consistently can help. Keeping contain up front is a factor as well.
*Im going to share a pet peave. In my opinion, a lot of football nowadays on the defensive side relies way too much on speed and not enough on proper technique (esp. tackling, pursuit, and body position/control). I know the rules (penalties and coach/player contact time) makes it difficult, but a lot of what I see today is just hot garbage, especially our tackling. Though all position groups were guilty, our secondary looked a lot more like Matador U than DBU tonight. Combined with a distinct lack of "want to," you get what we all saw. We played like the Fightin' Camel C0cks in terms of pad level when tackling.
*To quote Lombardi on the pass play/INT late..."What the hell's going on out here?!" That call was beyond dumb. Same could be said for the late interference penalties. I thought we upgraded the coaching position with this group?
*Can't say the officiating crew was at peak form, but we were the beneficiary of a couple of their goofs. Unsportsmanlike call hurt, however. Our lack of disciple was a contributing factor to the quality of the officiating.
We've got problems' but at least they weren't compounded by a loss. The adage that a team improves the most between the first and second games could be severely tested. I hate sloppy, inconsistent play punctuated with moments of poor effort. Show us some players that want to be the guy who makes the plays and I'll be happy. Until then, I'll just have to be content that the Hurricanes are 0-1! **wink**
NO NAME POS HT WT CLASS HOMETOWN
1 James Blackman QB 6' 5" 181 lbs SO Belle Glade, FL
16 Alex Eleyssami QB 6' 1" 196 lbs FR Orlando, FL
19 Beau Fillichio QB 6' 4" 193 lbs FR Fort Lauderdale, FL
12 Deondre Francois QB 6' 1" 215 lbs JR Orlando, FL
10 Bailey Hockman QB 6' 2" 206 lbs FR Powder Springs, GA
14 Nolan McDonald QB 6' 2" 179 lbs FR Long Beach, CA
3 Cam Akers RB 5' 11" 210 lbs SO Clinton, MI
10 Anthony Grant RB 5' 11" 190 lbs FR Buford, GA
4 Khalan Laborn RB 5' 11" 205 lbs FR Virginia Beach, VA
37 Blaik Middleton RB 5' 10" 199 lbs JR Hutchinson, KS
9 Jacques Patrick RB 6' 3" 234 lbs SR Orlando, FL
22 Amir Rasul RB 5' 11" 205 lbs JR Miami, FL
28 D'Marcus Adams WR 6' 0" 168 lbs FR Ormond Beach, FL
41 Michael Barulich WR 5' 11" 195 lbs SO Orlando, FL
11 George Campbell WR 6' 4" 207 lbs JR Clearwater, FL
84 Adarius Dent WR 6' 1" 172 lbs FR Pahokee, FL
89 Keith Gavin WR 6' 3" 213 lbs JR Crawfordville, FL
88 Tre'Shaun Harrison WR 6' 2" 179 lbs FR Seattle, WA
20 Keyshawn Helton WR 5' 9" 162 lbs FR Pensacola, FL
29 D.J. Matthews WR 5' 10" 156 lbs SO Jacksonville, FL
85 Tyrell Moorer WR 5' 11" 193 lbs JR Jacksonville, FL
8 Nyqwan Murray WR 5' 11" 192 lbs SR Orlando, FL
14 Deonte Sheffield WR 5' 10" 195 lbs FR Destin, FL
15 Tamorrion Terry WR 6' 4" 197 lbs FR Ashburn, GA
18 Warren Thompson WR 6' 3" 205 lbs FR Seffner, FL
13 Caleb Ward WR 6' 1" 167 lbs FR Pensacola, FL
80 Ontaria Wilson WR 6' 0" 170 lbs FR Ashburn, GA
83 Jordan Young WR 6' 2" 191 lbs FR Conyers, GA
81 Alex Marshall TE 6' 8" 237 lbs FR Andover, MA
87 Camren McDonald TE 6' 4" 221 lbs FR Long Beach, CA
6 Tre' McKitty TE 6' 5" 245 lbs SO Wesley Chapel, FL
32 Gabe Nabers TE 6' 3" 240 lbs JR Hahira, GA
82 Naseir Upshur TE 6' 2" 235 lbs JR Philadelphia, PA
26 Johnathan Vickers TE 6' 1" 241 lbs SR Quincy, FL
77 Christian Armstrong OL 6' 4" 316 lbs FR Warner Robins, GA
72 Mike Arnold OL 6' 5" 328 lbs SO Winter Haven, FL
66 Andrew Basham OL 6' 1" 278 lbs JR Tampa, FL
75 Abdul Bello OL 6' 6" 312 lbs JR Warri, Nigeria
68 Jeremy Czerenda OL 6' 3" 285 lbs FR Fort Lauderdale, FL
69 Landon Dickerson OL 6' 6" 308 lbs SO Hickory, NC
54 Alec Eberle OL 6' 4" 295 lbs SR Mechanicsville, VA
61 Jalen Goss OL 6' 7" 273 lbs FR Valdosta, GA
51 Baveon Johnson OL 6' 3" 295 lbs SO Lakeland, FL
74 Derrick Kelly II OL 6' 5" 320 lbs SR Gretna, FL
52 Christian Meadows OL 6' 4" 344 lbs FR Montezuma, GA
70 Cole Minshew OL 6' 5" 329 lbs JR Pridgen, GA
71 Chaz Neal OL 6' 7" 286 lbs FR Zephyrhills, FL
59 Brady Scott OL 6' 6" 301 lbs FR Powder Springs, GA
76 Arthur Williams OL 6' 4" 320 lbs SR Waycross, GA
73 Jauan Williams OL 6' 7" 295 lbs SO Washington, DC
NO NAME POS HT WT CLASS HOMETOWN
91 Robert Cooper DL 6' 2" 378 lbs FR Lilburn, GA
93 Peter Osimen DL 6' 2" 292 lbs JR Tampa, FL
94 Walvenski Aime DE 6' 5" 270 lbs SR Boynton Beach, FL
58 Dennis Briggs Jr. DE 6' 4" 277 lbs FR Kissimmee, FL
99 Brian Burns DE 6' 5" 235 lbs JR Fort Lauderdale, FL
95 Jamarcus Chatman DE 6' 2" 269 lbs FR Rome, GA
31 Kris Dixon DE 6' 1" 238 lbs JR Tallahassee, FL
13 Joshua Kaindoh DE 6' 7" 256 lbs SO Baltimore, MD
97 Malcolm Lamar DE 6' 5" 295 lbs FR Seffner, FL
59 Xavier Peters DE 6' 4" 225 lbs FR West Chester, OH
11 Janarius Robinson DE 6' 5" 259 lbs SO Panama City, FL
67 Adam Torres DE 6' 4" 265 lbs SR Lake Mary, FL
39 Claudio Williams DE 6' 0" 259 lbs JR Hialeah, FL
90 Demarcus Christmas DT 6' 4" 305 lbs SR Sarasota, FL
16 Cory Durden DT 6' 5" 290 lbs FR Newberry, FL
55 Fredrick Jones DT 6' 2" 304 lbs SR Miami, FL
53 Ja'Len Parks DT 6' 4" 304 lbs FR Newberry, FL
21 Marvin Wilson DT 6' 5" 317 lbs SO Houston, TX
49 Cedric Wood DT 6' 3" 300 lbs SO Tallahassee, FL
45 Demetrius Artis LB 5' 10" 220 lbs JR Sanford, FL
28 DeCalon Brooks LB 5' 10" 211 lbs FR Tampa, FL
51 Josh Brown LB 6' 3" 230 lbs JR Charlotte, NC
33 Amari Gainer LB 6' 3" 208 lbs FR Tallahassee, FL
41 Joseph Garcia LB 6' 2" 212 lbs SO Miami, FL
5 Dontavious Jackson LB 6' 3" 228 lbs JR Alief, TX
48 Armani Kerr LB 5' 11" 231 lbs SO Miami, FL
56 Emmett Rice LB 6' 2" 208 lbs JR Miami Gardens, FL
22 Adonis Thomas LB 6' 4" 233 lbs JR Atlanta, GA
35 Leonard Warner III LB 6' 4" 232 lbs SO Snellville, GA
27 Zaquandre White LB 6' 0" 210 lbs FR Fort Myers, FL
15 Carlos Becker III DB 6' 2" 192 lbs JR Kissimmee, FL
29 Isaiah Bolden DB 6' 2" 187 lbs FR Wesley Chapel, FL
10 Calvin Brewton DB 6' 0" 189 lbs SR Miami, FL
32 Array Culmer DB 5' 6" 171 lbs SR Jacksonville, FL
24 Cyrus Fagan DB 6' 1" 192 lbs SO Daytona Beach, FL
37 Kameron House DB 5' 10" 175 lbs SO Duluth, GA
12 A.J. Lytton DB 5' 11" 175 lbs FR Upper Marlboro, MD
14 Kyle Meyers DB 6' 0" 175 lbs JR New Orleans, LA
46 John Moschella III DB 5' 9" 202 lbs SR West Palm Beach, FL
23 Hamsah Nasirildeen DB 6' 4" 214 lbs SO Concord, NC
38 Izaiah Prouse-Lackey DB 5' 8" 184 lbs SR Atlanta, GA
26 Asante Samuel Jr. DB 5' 10" 178 lbs FR Sunrise, FL
8 Stanford Samuels III DB 6' 2" 183 lbs SO Pembroke Pines, FL
43 Joseph Schergen DB 5' 9" 176 lbs SO Loxahatchee, FL
1 Levonta Taylor DB 5' 10" 181 lbs JR Virginia Beach, VA
19 A.J. Westbrook DB 6' 0" 190 lbs SR Daytona Beach, FL
20 Jaiden Woodbey DB 6' 3" 215 lbs FR Fontana, CA
NO NAME POS HT WT CLASS HOMETOWN
23 Ricky Aguayo PK 6' 2" 205 lbs JR Mascotte, FL
30 Tommy Martin P 5' 11" 195 lbs FR Chesapeake, VA
21 Logan Tyler P 6' 0" 192 lbs JR Nixa, MO
63 Tanner Adkison LS 5' 10" 189 lbs SO Tallahassee, FL
40 Ken Burnham LS 6' 0" 210 lbs SR Lithia, FL
44 Grant Glennon LS 6' 3" 224 lbs FR Tallahassee, FL
42 Garrett Murray LS 6' 0" 241 lbs FR Tampa, FL
Starting to feel like the Little Engine That Could is working toward becoming a bona ride freight liner. The win over the top 10 ranked Coon @sses was a classic! Paraphrasing Mullen's requirement that the toughest team would come out on top and it certainly did. Lot of punching and counter punching in this one with LSU scoring a knock down on their first possession and us finally knocking them out on their last. In between was a lot of back and forth. Clearly both teams were tough, LSU that and big and talented in many areas to boot, but as has been a theme to me this season, our S & C program and the part it has played in player confidence was again a difference maker. We didn't fold when we would have on recent teams and have shown the ability to turn it on late in games. Yesterday was a true test of this mettle with the time the defense was required to spend on the field when the offense had periods of ineffectvity. This is also a fact IMO that adds to the pride felt, relates to the reliability and tenacity of many of our great Gator defenses of the past, and a good part of what is making our team fun to watch and rekindling what was a waning spirit among the fan base.
If you looked at LSU objectively, there's a lot to admire about what Ed O has developed and put on the field. His OL is big, strong, and pretty well coached. The QB is a good fit and is effective when he has time to read the field. Lot of speed in his LB corps and his secondary pretty damn good. Ensminger and Aranda are two good coordinators as well. So what I'm saying is that we rose to the occasion and beat a pretty good team that gave us their best shot. This is the direction we have been looking for and that most of felt we were beginning to head toward, but weren't quite as confident that this game was one of the ones that was do-able on this schedule. It's nice to be surprised this way and it certainly whets our appetite for more. It'll be interesting to see if this team that is starting to resemble the Spurrier and Meyer led teams in outcomes and expectations (though it's still very early) will have the Vandy swoon with the Dawgs on the horizon. Making it even more interesting is UK's loss yesterday, cracking the door to a shot at the SEC East, but let's not get ahead of ourself. Keep the next step as the most important one. Now, as @oxrageous might say...let's discuss:
*Starting with the D, I've got to give POTG shouts to Reese and Chauncey, though there were a lot of stars yesterday on that side of the ball. Each had 11 tackles I believe. Reese has a knack for finding the ball and probably the best position instincts among the LBs that we've had in a few cycles. That first LSU drive it looked like he was going to have a rough day with their RG wearing his @ss out on a couple of snaps, but he was money afterward and his leadership can't be undersold. And while on the topic of leadership, Chauncey is providing just that to our young and emerging secondary while making plays. His 11 stops from a DB is significant when considering what that means to not only stopping gains by the opponent's receivers, but also the support provided against their rushing attack.
*Still on the D, Polite and Zuniga are giving us a couple of book ends that can effectively rush the passer and are getting better each week in run defense. They were a big part of the stat line for this group that recorded 11 tackles for loss that included 5 sacks and 3 turnovers. The interior got punched on a couple of drives, but obviously fought back pretty hard. These guys are showing an ability to fight back and play bigger than some of their light @sses might have been able to last year. The D coaches are doing a job with the entire unit that shouldn't be overlooked.
*It is most notable that we forced Burrow into his first interception of the season (first two actually). The guy is a pretty good player and leader for them and we didn't let him beat us.
*The offense and Franks obviously had some positives and negatives yesterday, struggling after LSU's first drive and score, then coming alive only to stagnate after blowing what looked like a sure TD on a bad interception to start the second half, then coming back to life to take the lead that was eventually extended by the pick six late. This group owes one to the D, but still did what they had to do for us to win. Franks made some nice throws, the corner route to the TE for example, that last year he couldn't make stood out. Chizik, love him or hate him, pointed out how much more comfortable he looks each week in the pocket which obviously has led to his improved effectiveness. No Pierce yesterday, but Perine and Scarlett collectively rushed for 150 (85 and 65 respectively) and each got some key first down runs. You had to love the little option twist Mullen used to help in this department and Franks and Toney had some nice runs as well.
*The OL took another step forward IMO. Still some false starts and missed assignments, but gave up no sacks and did their part in allowing us to rush for close to 200. We still aren't elite on base blocking, but we are pretty good on the angles and G schemes. Hevesy is an obvious upgrade to what we've had since, well, Hevesy! It remains to be seen just how good this group will finish the season, but from where they have been, they're doing a pretty good impression of Lazurus right about now. Tip of the cap to these guys and their coach.
*Receivers played against a pretty good secondary who provided tight coverage pretty consistently, but there were some good catches, Jefferson and Hammonds stand out, and this group shows they have bought into their part in blocking downfield.
*Special teams continue to be very consistent if not spectacular at times. Coverage has been strong consistently and we have not had a drop off with our new punter and kicker. Young Raymond did his job of pinning the Tigers deep and flipping the field with a couple of boomers and McPherson's kick off after the penalty when we scored was pretty phenomenal. Even after the face mask penalty LSU still started at their 27, giving them a longer field than expected. This group's value is pretty evident and certainly makes us a more effective team in all three phases.
*Mullen's ability to have us prepared for the weekly challenges and his game planning continues to impress. The fact that we have learned not to panic when we have break downs offensively and defensively is a testament of the belief that is being instilled in the players. It is clear they have bought into him and the coaching staff and what they seek to accomplish. Still more tests to come, but thus far Mullen may be exceeding the early expectations. If you weren't initially enthused with his selection, hopefully he is growing on you.
*Probably the only negative about watching us yesterday was that I forgot to switch over to see the Noles blow a 20 point lead to Captain Coma and the Canes. I guess Willie and the tribe isn't back after the Christmas present from Petrino and the turnover chain is > than the turnover purse/backpack after all.
*A deserved shout out to Vosean Joseph. Always plays hard even if technique and fundamentals have been lacking, but he seems to be getting it and is making more plays less gaffs from what I see. Played through several dings yesterday as well. Good to seethe improvements to go along with the toughness.
*I know we got plenty of dings yesterday, but I don't recall any significant injuries. You have to think our level of fitness is playing a big part in this thus far.
*Cant forget Timmy's induction into the ring of honor. Much deserved for a great Gator and pretty special human being. He's a guy that makes you proud of our team and university.
*The Swamp looked electric on TV. Good to see us on the way back to being one of if not the toughest place to play in college football.
Next up...Vandy. As mentioned earlier, they always seem to give us fits or benefit from us letting down a bit after preceding tough games. However you want to look at it, the game with them is important to keep the momentum going. Their HC is a pretty good defensive guy and they always seem to bring a good effort when they play us. They played Notre Dame close, so they have the ability to surprise us. It will be interesting to see our approach. Again it is the next step and hopefully we don't look beyond them. I know I'm repeating myself, but you have to like our direction. And those characterization so far of what Mullen's offense was going to be? Well, it looks like the guy is making it more about his personnel than a predetermined scheme. Certainly there's still room to grow and improve, but some early fears and preconceptions should be soothed somewhat. Kinda getting the feeling that the best is yet to come, in following seasons if not this one. As always, Go Gators and beat the Commdores!
- Like x 63
Gator fans and Chatter members...first of all, I hope everyone is safe and doing ok after the storm. I really appreciate the concerns and it makes me proud to be associated with such a good bunch. I'm at school today preparing for a softball playoff series, so I thought I'd do some catching up since we are still without power and internet at home. I hope that @LagoonGator68 , @Tunaboat , @Durty South Swamp and any of our other friends at the coast are ok. We've had a time share at Mexico Beach for years and that whole place as most know looks like Hiroshima. Incredible. But perspective comes from these situations, whether we want it or not and in my particular instance, even though we likely will be without power for another 1-3 weeks, we are pretty fortunate. Living off of generators isn't ideal, but we can get by. Told @Detroitgator that we have an assortment of fish cookers and grills to cook on and one generator keeps the pump going to supply the houses with water and keeps the cattle supplied. Makes you appreciate what we normally have and also that we could be a lot worse off than we are. Others were not so fortunate and our prayers go out for them.
As for our Gators, I got to watch the game at my mother's house via generator assisted satellite. Like most, I was raising cane after the first half. Looked like as good as our preparations had been prior, we came out pretty unfocused. Franks' turnovers were definite downers, though the interception was as much the palycaller's fault IMO as the execution (more on this later). Thankfully, we were able to square things up in the second half and come away with victory even if it was much harder than it probably should have been. Let's look at a few specifics...
*The D was not what we had come to expect from the past two games. No pressure early and giving up a 75 yard screen pass was pretty disheartening. Credit Vandy's OC, as they cleared the left side and when Reese false keyed to the right side, it was smooth sailing for the Vandy RB. That's why it's so important to be fundamentally and technically sound on your assignments.
*As good as the LBs and Joseph in particular had been, they look pretty reckless for much of the game. Joseph's ejection might have been questionable, but his suplex of the Vandy back was pretty dumb. Like many of our defenders, he's getting better, but he ain't all that just yet. Playing with a controlled fury is so important for that side of the ball.
*Not saying the officials were on the take, but that was a poor crew IMO. I thought that Vandy's OL pretty much did as they pleased, especially in pass pro. but we were able to overcome. Hopefully the message from the game is that we didn't fold (when last year's team would have packed it in at the half) and we persevered. Good football and life lesson, particularly for our players given their experience level and the coaching (or lack thereof) that they have previously been exposed to.
*Franks' pick...I wasn't crazy with the call (quick slant from a tight formation), but when looking at the replays and seeing the DL standing tall, it was no wonder the ball was deflected. I know I'm old and things have changed, but at one time that play would have called for a cut block to get the defenders' hands down.
*Perine and Scarlett had good games and the OL did enough to help the rushing attack pay dividends. Pierce got the early action we all have clamored for. Unfortunately, he coughed the ball up (he only had one lost fumble in four years of HS ball), but had some good runs. Impressive to me that Mullen didn't do like some coaches and fired him for the rest of the game. Sticking back in there was a confidence builder and showed how much the kid is and will be counted on.
*I think we've got something better than we thought in Mullen, even though the jury is still out. A lot of coaches would have lost that one though it can be argued we never should have been in that position. Hey, it's Vandy, the weak sister that we always seem to struggle with and we kept alive the streak of not having lost in their stadium since 1988 (I think).
*I was pissed at Mason when he got into the exchange with Mullen when he had the injured player on our side of the field, but emotions run high in football games and it was good to see them with it worked out at the end. I'd rather see that rather than a melee at the 50 post game. As far as the injured player, it's still hard for me to reconcile a targeting call for well executed peel back on a punt return. Crucify me for lack of concern for safety, but that's how we coached punt return when I was still active. Whatever happened to keeping your head on a swivel?
*With the Dawgs' loss to Ed O and the Tiggers, we have a hope that no one could have forecast at the beginning of the season. I'm happy, but don't want to get to far ahead of myself. I have to remember that we are rebuilding even if we've had greater success thus far than was imagined. Pups are up next and are beatable. That is the next step and we should bring our best to Jax for that one. How our D handles Fromm, their backs and receivers is important, but how our O does in terms of scoring and controlling the ball might be the big key.
I apologize that this edition doesn't have as much as I normally try and discuss, but the timing has me kind of off kilter. Maybe things will be back to normal for the Cocktail Party and we can enjoy our usual dissection. Until then, I wish well for all affected by the storm and a swift return to normal. As always, Go Gators!
Ten years ago or longer, the title might have read "Gators Easily Dispose of the Bucaneers; Tune Up for SEC Opponent a Success." And maybe it still could, but this one was a little different coming off of a decade of misery. So many unknowns to be found out about (as much as you can in a game against Charleston) and maybe even the specter of Georgia Southern looming for a few! Really, one of the biggest things everyone wanted to see, myself included, was what the QB picture looked like, at least as much as we could in a warm up, and what would we look like with Mullen's offense, termed "middle school" and other such descriptors? I don't know that we have complete answers, but the results were maybe better than many expected, but what was hoped for. The key will be if they carry over against UK and progress each game thereafter (injuries, suspensions, etc. notwithstanding). So, let's talk about last night...
*I'd have to say I was pleased with Mullen's plan and execution for the opener. We threw the ball much more with the ones than I expected, special teams were solid and featured some of the established players (very Meyer-like), and the D, while pretty vanilla with the exception of a couple of blitzes, flew around and made plays and looked to tackle much better than with the previous staff. Mullen clearly wants to be here and be successful and that came through to me in his words, demeanor, and what we saw on the field. A welcome change.
*What has been gained in the S&C program with Savage was very evident to me. We not only looked leaner and more fit as well as stronger in most positions, but I don't recall seeing the multitude of cramping nor injuries that a first game can bring. So we must have shelved the Pilates, PB&J's, and the optional workouts!
*We looked to have some playmakers that want to step forward on D. Polite gave us a glimpse last year and he looks like he's ready to be the next big DE. Great first step on the rush and a motor that doesn't quit. But maybe his most impressive play was the feather technique on the option when he forced the bad pitch and turnover. You don't see that everyday. Secondary was solid in coverage, even if it was against a team not noted for a vaunted passing attack, the LB's had some good plays, and the front was pretty good as well. All in all what you want to see in the warm up.
*McPherson looks like he will be a solid kicker. Maybe not quite as much fanfare as Edie, but we should have him longer and with just as much if not more effectiveness. I looked around, but couldn't find any shots of him and Mullen riding around campus taking selfies in an Escalade. Kinda warmed my old heart!
*OL was good in pass pro, a little less blocking the run IMO. Not ready to run for the hills just yet because we all know just how poorly or erratic this group has been for so long, but we need to see improvement each week and the building of depth. Hevesy should be an upgrade to what we've had, but he's still got his work cut out for him.
*Got to give a shout out to my man from Bainbridge Dee Pierce. Even though his carries were in the second half with the two's against Charleston, he ran like he did in HS. His lower body strength, which has grown even more under Savage, was impressive and even on the shorter runs he can move the pile. The RB position really looks to be as strong and deep as reported. Dee also made the highlight reel on a kick cover. Great way to start for a young guy with a lot of promise.
*Last but not least, it was clear why Frank's was named the starter. I have some crow to eat because I didn't think he would be able to show the development that he displayed. He was very efficient and showed some touch on many of his passes that most expected would be the missiles he would previously have thrown. There were even a few check downs that were here to fore unseen and not the typical forced throws that we had come to expect. In short, it looked as if he'd actually been coached and put more time into his own preparations than was expected. Mick and Lee made a good point post game when they pointed out that of his five TD passes, four were under ten yards and could have been run in for scores, so clearly Mullen was trying to build confidence with his plan for Franks and his continuing development. He also looked very comfortable in the pocket and his decision making was much better than expected, particularly when he ran. Looking for carry over and the next step up from him against UK and something tells me he won't get the uncovered receivers this time around! As for Trask and Jones, they'll remain the back up and work in progress respectively, so we all should root for Felipe's continued development and good health.
A lot to like for the beginning of the Dan Mullen era. Not quite ready to crown him king just yet, but the throne may be out there somewhere, at least comparing him with the last two HC's. I'm excited enough that I'm planning to try and get down for the Colorado State game and the tail gate. Got to cover a cross country event first thing that morning, but hopefully can get there in time to meet you guys in real life. Should be a blast. It's early, but the vibe is that Gator football might just be fun again. Go Gators!
I don't know if we'll ever compete for any championships under Mullen, but I do know that he's going to actually run a competitive program.
Team looked outstanding. Prepared and disciplined - barely any penalties. Special teams was unreal - kicking and punting as well as the coverage play - night and day from the Nord era. Hell, TWO blocked kicks!
The players were fired up and actually looked like they were having fun out there, and the crowd responded in turn. Fun football.
I'll tell you this: if Franks can play anywhere near that level against real competition, this team could be tough to beat.
Let's beat Kentucky by 50.
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My first car was a ‘65 Mustang, classic in name only. We paid $200 for it and it had a burnt valve, a transmission that slipped, leaking water pump, a hole in the floor board, and rust along the rockers. It got me to where I needed to go, but about every other day I would have to stop on the side of the road to add oil, transmission fluid, or stop-leak in order to make my destination. It was a “get by” at best.
For the last few seasons, every time the Gators go on defense, I can’t help but feel like I’m driving that old clunker again, looking like crap and barely getting to where I need to go and wondering when it’s finally going to leave me on the side of the road. It hasn’t yet, but it just feels like it’s only a matter of time.
The sad part, and I’m repeating myself from past articles and recent seasons, is that we have a really dynamic and potent offense, led by a Heisman Trophy contender with a really good receiving corps, and a running game that’s getting a little better and more reliable each week. I shouldn’t have to fret so about having to out score each opponent instead of knowing we can get the stops when we have to. But that’s where we are and that looks to be the script. If we make it to face Bama in the SECCG, we may need to score a hundred as long as we’re just getting by defensively.
Some fans will tell me that I can’t be satisfied since we won by three TDs. They’ll also remind me that Vandy always gives us their best game. Always. Yeah, maybe so, but I’m a big believer that you are what you consistently do and for a while now, stinking it up defensively is half of what we are. We missed a ton of tackles...again, and we gave up 400 yards of offense to a winless team with a freshman signal caller. At times, we couldn’t cover and we struggled to get lined up. We’re seven games in. When do we see consistent and better play from the defense?
*Vandy did a good job with their tempo and as noted, we had trouble with our alignments and assignments for much of the afternoon. We also reverted to terrible tackling, highlighted by poor angles, grabbing or diving, and poor football positioning (too damn high). Sean Davis was guilty on numerous occasions and I point this out because he usually brings the effort, but his technique was pretty poor. He wasn’t the only one.
*It’s one thing as a Safety to keep the action in front of you, but when the opponents catch the ball 10 yards in front of you, they have the advantage. We look like we’re in prevent / umbrella with our Safety techniques much of the time.
*Ventrell Miller was a bright spot prior to dinging his shoulder. Effort has always been there, but technique hasn’t. That seems to be improving as his angles look much better. Hope he’s healthy next week. I’m hoping Houston is back next week also. I don’t like it when we have the skinny minnies playing ILB.
*I like Elam and think he’ll be a good one before all is said and done, but right now he’s simply a little better than his struggling position mates. His pick was timely, but his protracted dance and subsequent penalty was ridiculous.
*We did seem to get a grip at times on their running game, holding the Commodores to 87 yards rushing. Of course, they were without their #1 back. We also found a way to get some pressure on the QB with Cox getting a sack and Bogle and Dexter combining for one. Slaton, Carter, and Campbell didn’t seem to get pushed around as much as our fronts have earlier in the season.
*”Third and Grantham” was back as Vandy was 7/15 on third down conversions.
*Is it just me or do we have trouble covering the post / slant? It’s not good when their TE beats us off the line with these routes.
*Offensively it didn’t seem like we were clicking even though Trask threw for 383 with three TD passes and we rushed for 173. 586 total yards isn’t too shabby, but maybe coming on the heels of our 63 point explosion last week just makes it pale by comparison. If this was an “off” game offensively, we’re doing okay even though A&M is still in the back of my mind.
*Tip of the cap to Jacob Copeland. Five receptions and some good routes is refreshing and long awaited. I’ve been critical, but maybe he’s turning the corner. If he’s blocking, then he made strides today.
*Pierce had a good day with 55 yards on 11 caries with a TD. He’s our most dependable, but it’s nice to see Davis doing good things on the ground and as a receiver. Ball security has been good also.
*Good to see Gamble step up in Pitts’ absence. Between him and Zipperer, we haven’t lost a step, but just the same, I’ll be glad to get Pitts back healthy. He’s still pretty sporty and a matchup nightmare.
*Toney, Grimes, Shorter, et al are a pretty special group. I didn’t expect the group to be as good on the heals of the guys we lost from last year, but they have quickly made a name for themselves. Toney’s release on his TD catch was a thing of beauty. Another ankle breaker that left him wide open. Now if he’ll just cut out some of the jukes and work on gaining ground vertically.
*The OL isn’t perfect and we’ve got a couple of guys who struggle, but they’re better than what we’ve had for what seems like forever and they’ve gotten a little better each game. It’s good to see us rush the ball effectively. You might say we ought to be able to with everybody dropping seven or eight against us, but we have struggled against these favorable alignments previously. I’m glad to take the positives with this group wherever we can get them.
*I was thinking this afternoon that we’ve been a lot better where penalties are concerned, the holding that negated Toney’s return and Elam’s boner notwithstanding. Seems like forever we’ve always had double figures in penalties. I hope this trend continues.
* I wouldn’t mind all the replays if more would have worked in our favor.
All debate aside, I’m always happy with a win, but I can’t help but be critical of our defense...
We might do great things things at the season’s end and we’ve certainly got one of the best offenses and QBs to do it. But my brain tells me that if we haven’t corrected the fundamental deficiencies by this juncture in the season, we likely won’t. It would be a shame not to reach the loftiest of goals, especially with our high octane offense, because our defense can’t get a stop (or stops) when we need them. But even Saban said things have changed in the game, that a great defense no longer beats a great offense most of the time. You have to have a D that can allow you the opportunity to score at least one more time than the opposition and so far Grantham and Co. aren’t close to that. I’d hate to think we’d need the stars to line up in our favor, but until we see otherwise, that might be what it takes.
Next up...UK. You know we’ll get their best, but that’s ok as long as we give them ours. With Trask and the offense, we’ll always have a chance. That part of the season has certainly been the most pleasant and feels very similar to our O under SOS. You feel like we should score every time we get the ball. That’s a great feeling. May it continue. Go Gators!
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