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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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.
- Like x 66
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
- Like x 65
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 WiLLLLLLLie 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.
- Like x 60
- Thread: Welcome the newest Gator!
41-15 Peach Bowl victory over favored Michigan! Last year at this time, we were all sitting in the seat occupied by F$U this year, fresh off a 4-8 collapse engineered by famed offensive mind Captain Jim McElwain who staged his own death (so to speak) and left First Mate Randy Shannon to guide the SS Foley to the college football equivalent of Davy Jones' locker. Then came the hire of the less than ballyhooed Dan Mullen to raise the good ship and to meet expectations to not just raise the good ship, but to guide it to the forefront of the conference and perhaps all of college football at a speed likely faster than his inherited crew was capable. Yet here we find our ship closer to the CFB flagship than probably imagined. Instead of the garbage scow we'd become, we at least look like a sturdy destroyer if not a cruiser (not quite a battleship...yet). Pretty good finish after getting torpedoed by three Eastern Division foes and being led into battle by a QB who at one point looked more like Captain Bly than John Paul Jones!
Alright, enough naval references (you've got to forgive me as I watched In Harms Way a few nights back and it was still fresh on my mind - hey, the Duke was in it). But I think most get the picture. We've made a statement this season under Mullen that we're on the rise...not quite "there" just yet, but pointed in the right direction. We made it to a good bowl for the first time in a while, won it and in doing so beat a nemesis of sorts. And I'd be remiss not to remind you that we defeated the Nole$ and broke a five game losing streak (so what if they were coached by Taggert ). The good created, while not yet great, gives hope and high expectations. The offseason has to be better than the last several and it's good to feel some of the confidence that once shown in Gator football make a return. Now, for our date with the Wolverines in ATL...
*A tale of two halves. Though we didn't play terribly early on, we experienced some problems with UM's defense and failed to take advantage of a couple of TD opportunities in the red zone. Franks was looking more like his earlier version that couldn't connect on the long passes and who had no peripheral vision when flushed. We also seemed to be having our problems defensively both containing their ground game and generating consistent pressure on the QB, thanks mostly to the Wolverine OL. And we had a punt blocked! However, things changed in the second half. Michigan fans might tell you that not having their guys that are going pro (antiquated term) was the difference. I believe it was more a matter of Franks settling down and playing like he has lately and our RB's finding their groove (with a little help from the OL). The D got their second wind while UM looked to be spent (or disinterested somewhat) and suddenly our speed and tenacity overcame their strength and reputation. Mullen also deserves some credit for his game plan, adjustments, and setting an example of keeping your cool. All things that have been in short supply for some time.
*If I have a criticism of Coah Mullen, it would be for the double pass called. Certainly it might have been a big play if better executed, but the timing of it made me go
Fortunately it didn't cost us. Otherwise, I thought what he and the staff put together was pretty good.
*Looks like a great swan song for Chauncey, Scarlett, and Perine, should all decide to test the waters of the draft. All have made great strides this year. Especially proud of how far Chauncey has come. When he first got on the field here at UF, he was soft as chewed bubble gum where tackling was concerned. He improved that aspect of his game and added leadership to his resume. Good luck! I'm also sure we'll lose Polite and a couple more on the D side, so the rebuild will continue to a certain degree. I heard Vosean was contemplating entering the draft. He could certainly benefit from another year of coaching.
*Michigan's OL wasn't too bad. Big and with a lot of mobility. Hopefully we'll sort of resemble that prototype in a year or so. I thought our OL guys were obviously better in the second half. Even though our rush total was pretty good, I was looking for more misdirection (counters, etc.) as we seem to be more consistent blocking on the move parallel to the LOS than moving laterally in the zone concept. Evidently, we were good enough along with the RBs and Franks (to a degree) running like champions. Looked like this one meant a lot to the big guys and to all the Gators on this day.
*Tunnel screen and slants were open with UM's coverage schemes. Good to see us take advantage. Also good to see our receivers getting behind their DBs when coverage tightened, even if we didn't do a great job of getting it to them.
*A lot of key moments in the game, but I thought not allowing them to score a TD right before the half preserved a psychological advantage for us.
*Looks like the Gator fans showed up. Thanks to all the Chatter members in attendance. All of you made a difference!
Maybe not among our greatest of seasons, but certainly one to be remembered. As mentioned, anticipation for what's ahead has got to be higher than what we have been expecting. Hearing the fans loudly chant "It's great...to be...a Florida Gator" as the awards were presented post game made me think of where we were and that it might not be only relegated to history any longer. A lot to be done still, but it's good to expect better than dreading the worst! Have a great off season and Go Gators!
- Like x 56
Despite the Vols being impotent, hapless, inept, etc., there was a lot to like about the state of preparedness that our Gators brought to the game. The D had a pretty good night, pretty much dominating the line of scrimmage. Secondary was efficient and the LB's made some plays. Turnovers were great to see. Tackling was decidedly better and the intensity looked to be what is expected in a SEC road matchup with one of your big rivals. The offense took advantage of the turnovers and some good field position opportunities. Franks made some nice throws and with a couple exceptions looked to better handle the pressure of the position. We looked to have gained a little something even though UT isn't very good. But it was a conference win, one you were supposed to even though there were probably some among us that had reservations. Bigger games upcoming, but a little confidence and momentum can't hurt. Time for some quick reviews and comments:
*Scarlett looked a little more like the pre-suspension Scarlett. Ran a little tougher. Good if he can regain earlier form and effectiveness. Wish we hadn't lost Davis, but we are good in the backfield.
*Brad Stewart had a coming out party. Better in coverage with a pick and made some good plays as a run stopper. Maybe a harbinger of good things to come with this young position group? Growing up on the run is a requirement for a lot of our younger players for this season and those ahead.
*Defensive front played both strong and quick. Several tackles for loss and a lot of pressure on the QB. Zuniga, Polite, Slaton all had some good plays. When we can both control the LOS and rush the passer effectively, it makes it easier for the LBs to clean up and the secondary to cover with little reason to peek.
*Even though Coach Mullen said Pierce earned more carries, he didn't get his until the second half. But what a great first run. Nice subtle cut inside off his lead block for a long TD run. Kid's gonna be a good one as long as he stays healthy and straight. But you knew that already, didn't you? More please.
*I was ready to fire Cleveland after his drop, but he made up for it with a nice TD catch. Wasn't the easiest catch to make either. Guy seems to like stickin' it to the Vols. Who among us doesn't?
*OL had to play a little better, didn't they? We got a better push against their DL and were able to generate some yards on the ground. A couple of protection breakdowns, but Franks had time for the most part. Still work to be done and we've got better teams ahead, so I'm not going to jump up and down too much.
*Freddy Swain...my man! I've bragged on him and he keeps delivering. Initially liked the depth that he added to the receiving corps, but he's looking like a budding star. Heard Lee say that he has already equaled his previous career TD total with three receiving this year already. Keep growing young man.
*The early onside kick by UT...you convert and you're fearless. You don't and you're desperate. Desperate it is. Perine did a good job of fielding on that play. Pruitt's got his work cut out for him, but there's a reason he was a late round draft pick. Who am I kidding? More like signing a free agent contract. Still got a SEC gig I guess.
*Anybody send a congratulatory text to WiLLLLLLLie T. up in Tally? Finally got a signature victory. My Nole in-laws are already crying about the possibility of ending a 40 streak of winning seasons and likely not making a bowl. Karma is the proverbial female dog.
Of course our enthusiasm has to be tempered somewhat, but there is something to be enthusiastic about as previously mentioned. As bad as we hated to lose to UK, and they are a better team than they have been with a decisive win over MissSt, we have been able to move some beyond it, which must be done. If we can take the positives of this game into the next, we'll have a chance. You have to think that our confidence has to have grown some, important for a young squad who had to have had some doubts after UK and the way the prior season played out. But when you get down to it, that was an expectation that Coach Mullen had placed upon him when hired. F' the psychologists, this is still a man's game even if it doesn't always look like it. I'll take a blow out win over a limping opponent rather than one that was a little too close for comfort against the same. Next game needs to be another step in the right direction. Go Gators!
- Like x 55
- Thread: Anyone else get good news today?
Not really a sports topic, but wanted to share the great news my son was accepted to UF today. (As was our neighbor across the street.). As you might imagine, Momma was stoked. He of course is too “cool” to show any excitement. No idea if he’ll “commit” & being out of state will be a challenge, but wanted to share nonetheless. Anyone else hear good news today?
What a win, Sports Fans! Lot of eyes on this game. Lot of early speculation and questions as well. After playing better against a lowly Vol team, would we have enough momentum and confidence to go on the road and win in a place that has been difficult to say the least for our Gators to find a victory? How would we fare on the line of scrimmage, particularly against a team that has one of the best DLs in college football? What would we get from the offense to help us to a win (might read that as could Franks do what it takes to at least keep the D off the field)? Well I think we saw the answers unfold in a tough, old fashioned 13-6 SEC road victory where the D, who played some bend but don't break early on, but hit the switch and just took over in the second half. Even 25 yards in penalties that got them out of a hole on MissState's final possession couldn't derail the D, particularly the front four and notably Jachai Polite.
I also think an acknowledgment of the improvements and positive steps we are taking is due Dan Mullen. You haven't got to like him or even think that he was the best guy we could have hired at the time. We aren't where we want to be yet and it will take time to get there, but we should all appreciate the direction that we are moving. Hell, I'd almost be willing to give him an extension for what he's done with the Special Teams (OK maybe not an extension, but a beer and several "atta boys" at least). The only criticism I can give him is not using a time out earlier at the end of the first half (those time outs don't do you any good in your pocket going into the locker room), but at the conclusion I guess it's a moot point. Otherwise I think he had a pretty good game plan and the D obviously came to play. Team was very well prepared. Something we couldn't say very often the last few years.
So let's look at some specifics of the big win in Stark Vegas:
*One big sequence in the game that could have turned it in two different directions was Franks' long ball that was negated by Taylor's holding call and MissSt's drop on the deep pass. Either that would have been complete likely would have resulted in points and could have impacted the momentum and in the Bulldog's case might have impacted the outcome. But it didn't and the good guys sealed the deal on the backs of a dominant defensive performance. We held them to about 200 yards of offense and no TDs. How about that?!
*Franks threw well enough to go over 200 passing. He made some really nice throws and a couple of bone headed ones that resulted in a pick and a couple more that probably should have been. He ran the offense pretty well and played with what looked to me as more confidence in a game that obviously had a lot of pressure attached. He might not have necessarily won the game, but he sure didn't lose it! Seems to be growing and this is something I wasn't sure he could do at the pace I think we've seen this season.
*We didn't rush for a ton, but we got some gains when we needed them. I was surprised at the stat line that Scarlett only had 21 yards. Seemed like he should have had a few more, but Perine had a nice game as did Pierce, who looks to be our "closer" if you will, bringing fresh legs and power into the game when the opposing D may be a little gassed. He'll eventually get some touches earlier, but he's playing his role nicely at this point. Did I mention Toney had a couple of good runs? Nice QB counter on one.
*The OL had some good moments, obviously, as we had somewhere around 350 yards of offense. Couldn't pull that off against there D if they weren't doing some good things. But we had some of the usual blunders as well, such as Fred's two false starts, Taylor's aforementioned hold, and a whiff by Ivey. Still, there are some improvements, effort and knowing their assignments perhaps, even if consistently executing them continues to be a work in progress.
*Lot of names in the secondary that I am not familiar with. Made some mistakes (like letting the guy get behind them on the drop), but overall they held the Bullogs to around 100 yards passing. Henderson and Chauncey are really dependable, if not pretty good, and are leaders of that unit. Little #21, whose name escapes me, made some good plays. Best thing is that this group actually looks like they are being coached.
*The front seven, especially the DEs, played well. As mentioned earlier, they bent but didn't break early when MissSt was fresh, attacking, and having success moving the ball. But they answered the bell in the second half and put the hat on the QB, rendering him virtually ineffective when the Bulldogs had to have his best to have a chance to tie or win late. Polite, Zuniga, and CeCe were big with the rush and the whole unit kept the ground game from hurting us. Something for the DEs to work on however is that we don't always read run very well and the success MissSt had off tackle was a result of us getting upfield. Gotta love what this group is doing and the steps they've made under Grantham.
*Listened to the ESPN broadcast after the game and I think they mentioned that 11 Gators caught balls today. Pretty good job of spreading it around. And who would have thought one of if not the biggest catches came on a flanker pass to the TE? Timing on when to call those plays is everything.
*Another SEC road game and another home fan base that cleared out so fast you'd think they were handing out commodity cheese Chek soft drinks in the parking lot.
*In other football news, Taggart gets an unlikely win when Petrino steps on his d!ck and calls a pass play after getting a first down deep in Nole territory with about a minute and a half remaining. The pass, of course, was intercepted and the Noles went on to score the winning TD. SMH.
So LSU is up next at our place. Suddenly it looks like we may have a shot. Who'd a thunk it post-UK? Again, gotta give this group and the staff some credit. They are starting to meet, maybe exceed, many of our expectations. But one game at a time and the Bayou Bengals are it. If we get the same defensive effort against them as we gave today, I like our chances. Unless I missed something, we seem to be staying pretty healthy and we are building depth. Lot of football left, but we are doing good things and maybe the belief of the fan base is growing? I know that the belief of the team certainly is. Like one of the radio guys said after the game, finally after the last three unfulfilled years, the players' work is now paying off. It may be more appropriate to say that this year's work is paying off and the veterans are finally overcoming the lack of decent coaching they were previously exposed to, which is a testament to the fortitude of these kids. Lesser ones would have cashed it in by now and some did. Keep on rockin' Gators. Liking what we are doing and look forward to continued growth and development. Go Gators!
- Thread: Conversation with Spurrier
Since it's a slow period on the board, I thought I'd share this story and apologize in advance for the length:
Last weekend I was at an event where Spurrier was also attending. When he wasn't surrounded by the rest of the crowd, I went to talk to him for a bit and the 4-5 minute conversation was 100% pure Spurrier - almost as if Bates was doing the shtick.
I started by introducing myself and then thanking him for immeasurably improving my college experience. He asked when I was there (1994-2003 in Gainesville). Then, he smirked and said "Yeah, those were some good years to be a Gator." It took a more Spurrier-esque turn from there.
I told him the 1997 FSU game, was both the most exciting and cathartic moment of my life. Spurrier immediately gives me a quick, maybe half second glance of disapproval and says "Weren't you there in 1996". As I try to explain how great the NC was, especially beating FSU, but that while gratifying, it wasn't the same, singular excitement level.
He chimes in immediately with, "yeah, and FSU was number 1 . . . till we beat em", to which I foolishly respond, "plus, our season had been a bit more disappointing that year up to then." While he politely, yet in a wise-ass manner, disapproved of the prior choice of 1997 FSU as my favorite game over the 1996 National Championship, this comment about the season being disappointing prior to FSU got him riled up.
Spurrier was now more lively, almost bouncing on his toes back and forth and says, "welp, we did finish 4th in the Country that year and only lost two games. Ya know, that FSU game, I would have traded that for either of the LSU game or the Georgia Game. Shoot, we win one of those and we play for the SEC title. That was always my number 1 goal." [ You often hear that was his priority during interviews and reading it in type, but it's hard to tell if it is coach speak or not. In person, from a foot away, and in a 1 on 1 conversation, I can tell you he emotes this as his reality. He was passionate about it.]
I had hit a nerve and now his competitive spirit was getting riled up a bit. He continued, "That 1997 team. Ya know, we only lost 1 time in 12 years to either LSU or Georgia and that 1997 team lost em both. We win either and we win the SEC [He just takes it as given we beat Auburn for the second time that year, this time on a neutral field, which is pretty great]. But, we lost em and that FSU game, I'd trade it out."
He was taking what many of us in the favorite thread email suggested was our favorite game and putting it in the afterthought pile. It was funny as he was pissing all over my greatest Gator moment with some flare.
Then, since he's bragging about the records against LSU and UGA, he's on a roll and says:
"Ya know, those were some good years. In Gator history we've only won 9 sec titles. Urban, he got his two, but we got 7 of em [yes, he used 7 & 9 with no need to explain, which he was right about. He delivered this line with the most zing of the conversation]. We had never even won one until I got there. And LSU and Georgia, we did go 11-1 against each of them though, so that wasn't too bad. Yep, pretty good run."
Me - "Agreed Coach. Thanks for the time and the memories."
SOS - "Yep, Enjoy your weekend."
The lasting takeaway was that he is still the most competitive, confident, and cocky guy in the same way we all love. It's also easy to see why our rivals hated him. I could have spent another 15 minutes asking questions about topics from this last regime, the resume request, Free Shoes U, Darnell Dockett, Foley and more, but I let him go back to the crowd after he was so gracious in jumping right into the conversation with me.
The next day, he took a pic with my kids, but first said, "shoot, these kids don't know who I am."
When they said, "yes we do and we have a picture with your statute", he pepped up and said "Aah, you know the statute. Aiiright. Get in here for a picture." Then he later threw a souvenir football right to my youngest son, who was super excited and now has his catch from a Heisman winner displayed.
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