Saturday, November 27, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

Illest.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fuck the Prom Queen.


So, yeah, today’s a big game. Florida v. Bama, Meyer v. Satan, Genetic Diversity v. Sisterfuckers. But, I’d rather concentrate on a rather underreported but wildly significant stat: This is the first time in 40 games that the Gators will not give points. In other words, for the first time in 3 years, Vegas thinks the Gators are going to lose.


Lose. What does this word mean, “lose”? It’s not an altogether familiar word in the Gators’ vernacular, but it’s not totally alien. It happens… about once a year. And it always sucks. Gator fans, especially the younger ones, don’t know truly what it’s like to lose. What it feels like to watch Auburn’s Wes Byrum kick a field goal to beat the Gators at home, and watch him Gator chomp. I hate that fucking guy. btw. Some Gator fans just like to watch the Gators play, and don't care about winning and losing. I never did understand those people, which is why I try to hit them with my car.


Maybe you’re one of those who thinks it’s okay for the Gators to lose because they’ll face Bama in the SEC Championship, and have another shot at beating them. Well, if I was King Shit of Turd Mountain, I’d have your head on a stake. When is it ever ok to lose? Never, unless you’re a loser, in which case, don’t you have a game against Clemson early this morning on ESPN’s the Ocho?


It’s never ok to lose. Ask Urban, losing causes heart attacks, heart attacks cause death. Ergo, losing kills. Trey Burton, on the other hand, saves. We can all thank Trey Burton for sparing Urban from another heart attack. If the Gators didn’t right the ship in time, Urban would have resorted to his old micromanaging ways again. This would have likely resulted in another natty, but inevitably in another heart attack. An unacceptable outcome? Maybe not for Meyer, who clearly hates losing more than he loves winning. In my estimation, Meyer would rather die a young winner than live to be an old loser.


So what’s the solution? Win. Winning, as it is often said, cures everything. The Navy Seals, known worldwide for their aphorisms, have the following phrase: “It pays to be a winner, it sucks to be a loser.” It's true. It's like Sean Connery said to Stanley Goodspeed said in The Rock, "Losers always whine about their best; winners go home and fuck the prom queen."


Go fuck the prom queen today, boys.
Go Gators.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

La Esquina – The Big One

This is the on you have been waiting for since December 5, 2009. On that wretched day I had a bird’s eye view of Urban Meyer’s most devastating loss as the head football coach of the University of Florida.

I said it then and I will say it again, Meyer was badly outcoached by Saban in that game. It just seemed like Bama was always 1 step ahead. Alabama surprisingly came out throwing to start the game and we had no answer, they also called the perfect play against Charlie Strong’s patented corner blitz (that screen pass to Ingram that went for about 80 yards) and I could go on like this for a while. The point is, they had us off-balance on defense the entire game. Meyer was owned and I know he has been consumed this entire offseason with nothing but figuring out how to best dickslap Nick “the dick” Saban this time around. It will be interesting to see what he has in store considering this is the first time in years that we have been underdogs. I have a feeling that being the underdog just might make Urban less conservative for once. Loosen up Urbs…let it all hang out, blitzes, trick plays, deep vertical throws…this is the “no rubbers” weekend, let’s roll the dice baby! I wouldn’t be surprised to see an onside kick in this game.

Three things I like heading into this game:

1) Our OL against the Bama DL. Alabama has actually had a tough time rushing the passer this year and our OL is finally getting healthy, the starting unit finally got a couple of games under their belt. I need to qualify this a bit, I am a lot more confident about our OL’s ability to pass protect than to run block. I doubt we can get much going in the running game against Bama (especially with a dinged up Demps) but if we throw on first down and stay unpredictable with our play calling Brantley should have some time against Bama corners that appeared a little bit shaky last week against Arkansas. Hopefully Deonte and the boys bring their sticky gloves.

2) Our secondary against Bama receivers. This is a little counterintuitive because our secondary lost a 1st and 3rd round NFL pick from the team that lost to Bama last year (Joe Haden and Major Wright) while the Crimson Tide still has Julio Jones and Marquise Maze out there – so why do you like this match-up you say? Simple, our secondary is the strength of our team (along with our D-tackles). You have in my opinion the best cornerback in the country Janoris Jenkins (although Patrick Peterson from LSU might have something to say about that), a safety that I wouldn’t trade for anybody else in college football in Ahmad Black along with Will Hill (who although disappointing this year, is still extremely talented and due for a coming out game) and finally, Jeremy “the Gambler” Brown who has proven to be a big time playmaker so far. I am concerned about Brown biting on a double move and getting beat deep…that kid is just so aggressive he is clearly susceptible to that kind of route. If I noticed that you can bet that Saban did too. We need to get turnovers in this game if we are going to have a chance to win and the best chance will come from our secondary since Bama doesn’t fumble, EVER.

3) Special Teams. A huge advantage historically for Urban Meyer coached teams, whether it’s returns, blocked kicks or superior punting….we always seem to have an edge. Field position is going to be incredibly important in this game. The one weak link here is Caleb Sturgis. I am so sick of that little tampon missing field goals and kicking the ball out of bounds on kick-offs that I could just scream. He could cost us the game next week. The worst part is that after he screws up he usually pouts like a little 5 year old that just had his lollipop stolen. He needs to man-up and get his sh*t together and fast. I also think that Jeff Demps is an inch away from breaking a kick-off return. This might be the week if Demps is healthy, which is a big if, he’s barely practiced all week with that bum ankle.

Three things I don’t like going into the game:

1) Our chances of shutting down Ingram and Richardson. This might be the best RB tandem in modern college FB history. Both of these guys will be starting in the NFL soon and they just so happen to be on the same college team. If you look at the tape last year, one thing that killed us (and we didn’t have this problem last year against anybody else) was our tackling against these two. We need to have the entire defense running to the ball because 8 out of 10 times the first guy is not going to bring down either of these two. Gang tackling! Look for a 5 defensive line front with 2 linebackers with Jay Howard moving to D-end (especially on obvious running downs). This so called “Heavy Package” should help against the run but concerned about them running play action off of that and finding Julio Jones deep in single coverage. Will be interesting to see how this formation works out.

Also, look for a lot of run blitzes coming from Teryl Austin. I have to say, that guy has been a breath of fresh air with his unique and timely blitz packages and ability to make defensive adjustments at half time so far this year. His NFL pedigree seems to be a real asset to the coaching staff. Bottom line here is that this is a tough matchup and I would be thrilled if we held both of these guys to under 150 yards rushing combined. We need to make Greg McElroy beat us through the air by forcing them to throw. Let’s stack the box and put the onus on McElroy to beat us instead of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. A little tidbit from the blogs this week…apparently McElroy is hurt and won’t be 100% for this game (hopefully he gets hit by a bus on his way to get a haircut at that place where every pretty boy from the south seems to get their bangs done…just kidding…not really…ok, I guess I am kidding).

2) Our ability to run the ball against Bama. I just don’t feel good about this, especially with Demps having a bum ankle. Although that may be a blessing in disguise because, as I have noted all year Demps doesn’t seem to hold up against SEC defenses (all of his big games have come against inferior competition). The fact that Demps is hurt means that Gillislee and Moody (both of whom are bigger backs who run better and more powerfully in between the tackles) should get more carries – which I think bodes well against this physical Alabama D. However, Demps is the one guy on the field who can go the distance anytime he touches the ball and is always very dangerous on those jet sweeps, swing passes and kickoffs. Thus, overall it’s obviously a big blow to UF’s chances to win if he is not 100%. It will be interesting to see if Urban comes out trying to establish the run or if he cuts Brantley loose and comes out chucking.

3) The Alabama Home Field Advantage. This is huge. You had to be at the SEC Championship game last year to really appreciate how active, insane and well synchronized the Alabama fans are. It will be an impossible atmosphere and in a game of emotion and momentum like football, the impact of home field is not to be understated. This is a big reason as to why we are a 10 point under dog going into Tuscaloosa (yes, you heard that right, double digit dogs). This is Brantley’s first big game also, just not a good recipe for success. All you Florida fans going to the game I implore you to back our guys up. Get on your feet, scream, use your blow darts and take down some red necks (i.e. do whatever you have to do) every little bit counts.

I just don’t know what to make of this Gator team yet. We looked like we are finally starting to turn the corner against Kentucky, but then again we were playing Kentucky. There were some big bright spots and none brighter than Trey Burton…really like the versatility this kid brings to our offense. He lined up at running back, quarterback, fullback, and receiver last week. I don’t know how as a true freshman he has managed to pick-up the offense so quickly but I sure am glad he’s done it. Look for him to line-up at QB and throw the ball multiple times against Bama…he has almost exclusively run the ball out of the QB position this year and you know Urban is going to set-up that Bama D, suck them in expecting Burton to run and then boom, hit somebody deep over the top. By all accounts Burton is a real quality person too, check out his link: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/andy_staples/09/30/florida-trey-burton/index.html.

Also, JB finally is starting to look like a difference maker and not just a game manager. The bottom line is he needs to have the game of his life if we’re going to beat Bama (similar to how McElroy played out of his mind against us last year). He needs to go out and win us that game, none of this no mistakes, conservative passing attack BS. No, think Rex Grossman gun-slinger mentality. Has anybody else noticed that essentially Brantley has two throws that he makes really well and is not asked to do much more beyond those two throws? He throws crossing route after crossing route in the middle of the field and also throws those wide swing passes to the RBs or WRs at the line of scrimmage, but that’s about it. When is the last time you saw him throw an out pattern to the sidelines? Or a deep ball? Or any type of pass that requires that he put some touch/loft on the ball? Not often. I think he has the arm to make all those throws so it must just be conservative play calling. Time to let the dog loose!

The WRs are coming along, Deonte and especially Carl Moore are coming on as is Debose, who finally showed signs of life last week. There was one catch where he is a shoestring tackle away from breaking it if you watch the tape closely. I like Debose’s size and ability to glide in the open field. Maybe he can be that x-factor this weekend. Although I am predicting that another player has a break out game…Jordan Reed. Watch for Urban to go to Reed early and often, this kid is CI in the making, he just needs the touches. And of course, don’t sleep on my favorite man-child Omarious Hines. He is really hard to tackle, we just have to figure out how to get him more touches.

I keep going back and forth on who wins this game, it is just too hard to pick. I will say this though; I think this game is more important for Alabama than it is for us. The SEC West is much stronger this year than the SEC East. We could lose this game, win out the rest of the way and then play Alabama again in the SEC championship game, putting us right back in contention. If they lose this game they might not get back to the SEC championship game the way Auburn is playing, and LSU is no slouch. I just hope Brantley won’t be overwhelmed against that D in that stadium with that kind of atmosphere. JB needs to show up for the big game. Turnovers and special teams play will be the difference.

We need a hero. We need a break-out game from one of the many 4/5 star young studs. Who wants to stick the god damn Gator flag in the ground and let these b*tches know that Florida is back and last year was a fluke? Pressure bursts pipes but it also makes diamonds…this is about as intense and pressure filled a game as you will ever find and we need to have our diamond in the rough (whoever he is) come out and show his face. Let’s go into Tuscaloosa and pillage, maim, rob and claw our way to a W. Let’s inject a few thousand pounds of kick-ass into Bryant Denny stadium. Let’s go be great, let’s reclaim the throne! UF 28-20.

Go Gators!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

WTF edition of La Esquina

First I want to apologize for the long hiatus; I figured I would wait for conference play to crank out the next edition, partly because I thought these first two games would be silly blow outs and partly because La Esquina has been busy at his new job. In case you were wondering, I do have a real job, I am not paid for writing this column -- I do it because I am a lunatic whose primary form of entertainment in life consists of watching young teenage boys smack into each other while chasing a ball around.

I am calling this the “WTF” edition because as I reflect on the season so far I feel like screaming from the top of my lungs, What the F*ck!!!!! I am not just talking about the play on the field, I am also referring to the many off the field shenanigans by current and former players…let’s just start there, one at a time.

WTF #1: Brandon Spikes sex tape
If you haven’t seen it yet, Google it. I don’t know what he was thinking when he made that cute little movie with the Kim Kardashian look-alike but I am sure Bill Bellichick wasn’t too pleased. Not a good way to start your NFL career Brandon. I want to see you GET sacks; don’t want to see your ACTUAL sack. Thanks. At least she was hot, when I first heard about this I was certain she was going to be of the overweight Caucasian variety.

WTF #2: “Time to die”
I have some many questions for Chris Rainey here that I don’t know where to start. First, how did you let yourself get so whipped? You are Chris Rainey, star RB/WR for the Florida Gators…women must be lining up to get with you. Second, on what planet is it ok to text somebody that? Not that it’s cool to think it or say it audibly, definitely not, but it’s uber-moronic to forever create a track record of your OJ Simpson idioms. Also, a 35 year old? Really? You are barely of drinking age and get sprung by somebody who is likely your mother’s age. I just can’t believe Rainey was this stupid, I think he will be made an example of…Urban is getting too much heat for these arrests in the media; I don’t think we will see Rainey on the field for the rest of the season.

I actually have some inside info here, a lawyer friend of mine in Florida who shall remain nameless might end up representing Rainey – word is his family is not too thrilled with the nonchalant approach displayed so far by his current lawyer, the infamous Huntley Johnson (who has literally represented every gator football player to have ever gotten in trouble). Unfortunately, business is a booming lately for old Huntley. We’ll get to the ridiculous number of arrests in the Urban Meyer era later…I have a theory.

WTF #3: Will Hill
I feel like I am playing where’s Waldo every weekend looking for this guy. Our starting stud safety, nominated for the Thorpe award in the preseason, is nowhere to be found. According to Urban, “he wasn’t ready to play” … that is code for, he effed up real bad. There’s all kind of theories floating around, failed drug tests, bad grades, there’s even reports of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time and getting himself mixed up in a grand theft auto investigation. Who the f*ck knows…those are all rumors. I just know that Will Hill apparently is not too concerned with feeding his son after all, because whatever he did is costing him many NFL millions as we speak. Get your sh*t together man…get on the field…and Urban, it would be nice to know what in god’s green earth is going on every once in a while?

WTF #4: Brantley
Ummmm…if this is what all the hype was about I am sorry to say that I am not too impressed. I know that we could barely snap the ball in week 1 and that our receivers are not exactly Duper and Clayton but in the words of Keyshawn and Chris Carter…COME ON’ MAN!!!

I haven’t seen the guy make a play yet. He’s been ok, he can clearly throw the ball…but he doesn’t strike me as a leader or playmaker. I really hope I am wrong here…maybe they are holding him back and not really opening up the offense yet, maybe we unleash him this week against Tennessee. Whatever the case, so far he seems to struggle going through his progressions and gets rid of the ball too quickly if his primary receiver is not open. He needs to extend some plays, whether by rolling out or stepping up in the pocket, he just needs to do something that is above average. So far, I haven’t seen it.
I guess it’s hard to manage your own expectations after being spoiled with Tebow for the last 4 years. Brantley is in a tough position but if he doesn’t get better real soon we will lose 4 games this year.

WTF #5: Deonte Thompson
Catch the ball! You have rocks for hands…imagine yourself cupping a nice breast as the ball is in the air; maybe that will help you soften up those paws. Seriously though, my biggest pet peeve with this guy is that he lets the ball get into his body. Guys who catch the ball by cradling it against their body inevitably have many more drops. Catch the ball with your hands…find the point of the football while it is in the air, stretch your arms out, reach for it and snatch it. If you notice, that is how all the good receivers catch the ball. You need look no further than your homeboy Carl Moore…look at how he sucked in the ball on that big 4th and 3 play where Brantley made a poor throw and Carl Moore a.k.a. Louis Murphy laid out for it and bailed Brantley out.



I want to move on from the WTF section to get into some X’s and O’s real quick.

DEFENSE

First I want to praise the best corner/safety tandem in the nation. Jackrabbit Jenkins and Ahmad Black are playing out of their minds. Jenkins is superior athletically and seems to be a step ahead of every WR and QB we’ve played this year. I want somebody to show me a better cover corner in college football. Black is not too far behind…he will sneak into your house through the screen door, walk into your kitchen, make a sandwich, slap you in the face, steal your wallet and you will say “thank you sir may I have another.” He is that stealth. These guys have 5 picks between them in 2 games and have had a few called back. Let’s hope they can keep it up.

The d-line play has been erratic. I haven’t seen much from the d-ends…they have made some plays (Trattou with the pick 6 and Lemmens with the fumble recovery) so I guess we should be happy about that but those seem fluky. I want to see one of them beat a tackle with a dirty swim move and crunch the QB. If they didn’t do it against Miami of Ohio and USF I am not holding my breath against Alabama. I think Teryl Austin is going to have to start mixing in more blitzes as the level of competition gets better. I just don’t see Trattou and Lemmens generating a pass rush. In my opinion, it’s never a good sign when your starting D-ends are both white. How about a little more William Green and Ronald Powell?

The key is for that 2nd cornerback opposite Jenkins to hold his own (whether Jeremy Brown or one of the freshman). If we can trust that we are not going to have wide open receivers streaking down the field if we blitz then I think Austin gets a little more aggressive with the defensive play calling. I do like the way the tackles are playing, as predicted in my pre-season column Jay Howard has played like a beast. Omar Hunter is occupying a lot of blockers and although unheralded, he is the reason why the other guys are making plays. Also coming on quietly and surprisingly is Shariff Floyd (it sure is nice to finally get some early production from a highly touted 5 star d-tackle at Florida).

The linebackers have been inconsistent. AJ Jones has looked good and Jelani Jenkins looks very athletic…he looks like he’s got that “it” factor when you watch him run around. Brandon Hicks has been hurt but he is very gifted and a senior so we really need him to get healthy fast. I am disappointed in Bostic, he has not looked great in the middle, seems like he gets juked too easily and overruns a lot of plays. We need to give some of these young guys some time but so far they have looked inexperienced out there.

OFFENSE

I would like to see us throw the ball down the field more but generally I don’t really have too many issues with Adazzio’s play calling. I thought it was interesting towards the 2nd half of the FSU game that we went to a lot of I-formation football. Very unlike Urban Meyer but then again, it does speak to his ability to adapt to the personnel. Hell, whether it’s the spread offense or power eye if it’s effective, keep running it. I think they realized that when healthy the strength of this football team should be the offensive line. With the return of Xavier Nixon this week they can all get back to playing their natural positions and I think we will look much improved on offense and much more fluid.

A lot of people have been complaining about the option plays with Brantley but I don’t mind the call so much as the execution. It looks like on a couple of those double option runs where he pitched it inside to Omarius he should have pitched it outside for big gains and just misread the play. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want Brantley running around too much…if he gets hurt we’re done…but it would be nice to get him to roll out and help him find other ways to make plays.

I am also a little hesitant to get excited about Demps. Yes, he looks incredibly fast out there, especially on those kickoff returns when he gets a head of steam (I predict he will take a kickoff to the house soon) but I am skeptical because he always seems to get these 60/70 yard runs against the Miami of Ohio’s of the world. I want to see this kind of production against SEC teams. He seems to have turned a corner and maybe he is indeed ready to take his game to the next level but I want to see it against Alabama and LSU. On a sidenote, I really like Mike Gillislee. He runs with some real venom…very aggressive. I think he is going to start to eat into Moody’s carries soon.

If I had one wish this year it would be for some of the young receivers to step up. I think most of this has to do with the fact that Urban doesn’t let them get out there but for whatever reason I have not heard or seen much from guys we all expected to be big playmakers this year. Where is Debose, Alli, Dunkley, Dunbar? Some of these guys may be too young but some of the others have been in the program enough where they should be able to contribute if they were as talented as advertised. Something has to give…at some point you need to get these guys on the field and let them sink or swim Urban.

One quick thought on the Tennessee game before I get to my Urban/Arrest theory. Don’t sleep on Tennessee…this is a rivalry game and they will get up for it, especially after being embarrassed by Oregon last week. That is a very tough environment to play in and yes we should win handedly but if they gave out awards on paper we would have been National Champions last year. The way we are playing on offense, I don’t feel comfortable against USF, much less Tennessee. I hope our guys bring their A game. We will need it.

BLAME THE COPS
There is no way we can give Urban a pass for the fact that we have had 30 arrests since he started coaching this team. Equally as shocking is that Randy Shannon has only had 1 in his tenure at UM (at least we have some wins and rings to show for it).

Anyways, that sh*t is really not that cool. I understand that these are kids and that they come from tough backgrounds etc. but we are recruiting the same kids Miami, Alabama, LSU and Auburn recruits, so why the disproportionate number of arrests at Florida? Maybe Urban has been too lenient (see Dunlap last year), maybe they think they can get away with it, maybe we have been compromising on character for the sake of talent…but if you look deeper I think one variable that should not be understated is the Gainesville police department. Who do you think sticks out more big black guys in Miami or big black guys in Gainesville? And who do you think will be more tolerant, a diversified police force made up of blacks, whites and Hispanics or one made up strictly of Alachua county red necks? Maybe this is a stupid/biased/homer analysis but I am not the first to espouse this theory. We all know what pricks cops can be in Gainesville, both GPD and on campus/university cops. I just think the detection rate is higher in Gainesville than in larger cities and I don’t think the cultural differences between your standard cop and football player in Gainesville help the situation much. Whatever the case, we are getting a bad rap and I think Urban is going to make an example out of Rainey. There is one thing that can help take some attention away from this bad publicity…WINNING!

Gators 31 Tennessee 17.

Go Gators!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.




It’s time
. It’s time to don your Saturday best and celebrate this sacred day: from this day forth there will be no more Saturdays without college football— for months. No longer will you be required to drink your own piss in the desert by watching Baseball Tonight and The International Badminton Championships on ESPN and Versus—you’ve survived. You never know how you do it, how you got by for 8 months without seeing your team on the pitch, without the music of ESPN’s College Football Gameday, without a justification shared by millions for drinking before noon— okay, before ten— on a Saturday morning, but you do. And you did. Why? Because college football is the greatest creation ever created, next to the blowjob with the twisty hand thing. And much like such blowjob, college football not only brings out the best in us but it often leaves the one on other with a bitter taste in their mouth.

College football is, what St. Anselm’s famous ontological argument called, “something than which nothing greater can be imagined.” St. Anselm was talking about God, who, let’s face it, is arguably as controversial as college football. But St. Anselm’s point is no less true: college football is the greatest conceivable conception. Better for the world than religion, I reckon. Really. Consider that while college football has been responsible for at least as much factious, absolutely convicted, multi-generational hate as the three Abrahamic religions, it does not share the body count religion does.

I’d venture to say college football is better for the world than democracy. Much like Rome needed the coliseum’s spectacle of human death to distract the masses who would otherwise rise against the emperor, the world needs college football to distract red meat-eating, deeply drunk American males who would otherwise annihilate enemies with a fiery rain of depleted uranium. College football is good for humanity because it promotes world peace. Yup.

College football is not without its incidental benefits. College football raises our self-esteem, self-worth, and self-indulgence. Unless your team loses of course, in which case it can suck as much as learning your girlfriend is on PornHub. But a win over a rival can have the normally shy and quiet rage and scream that not only is their dick bigger, but it pisses farther and has been inside your mothers. In a league of computer and poll rankings, there exists a fandom who believe that not only is their grandeur not delusional, their superiority is not complex.

There’s nothing like college football. Pro football is whoredom, passionless, overpriced, oversold, and overdone. It's like fucking a hooker, which is all nice and fun, but nothing to brag about. College football, on the other hand, is like taking down a nice scotch, aged 18-22 years, pure, unadulterated, and you don't have to wear a rubber. I mix my metaphors, but you understand. Pro football has salary caps, signing bonuses, and, soon enough, lockouts. College football has pageantry, traditions, fight songs, and parades. It has dark horses, red shirts, bcs busters, recruits, BMOC’s, and Kansas City tiebreakers. It has rose, international, outback, sugar, and Gaylord hotels bowls.
It has coaches named Mack, Urban, Joepa, Bear, and Wannstache. And teams named Cocks, Gators, Wolverines, Hurricanes, and Green and Crimson Tides. One cannot go to school at their pro football team’s home, one can only live in its city, which makes them as exclusive as the other residents. College football is about exclusivity, which is a nice way of saying that college football is about being a fucking snob. It's about looking down your nose at the other school, its student body, and football team.

I love college football. It reminds me that everything is going to be ok, so long as everyone else loses. It brings me close to my old college friends, who, despite seeing me at my worst, covered in my own urine, another’s blood, and Beam’s finest, still want to see me every year. College football is an American celebration of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness through schadenfruede.

God bless college football (except non-UF teams, naturally).

Monday, August 30, 2010

Smartest Gator


Test yourself




Monday, August 16, 2010

LA ESQUINA (RE-LOADED)


Welcome back after a long off-season folks. We all have to get ready for Gator Football A.T. (After Tebow) and there’s no better way to move forward then to start thinking about the upcoming season and new rising stars of the program. I hope everyone has had a chance to decompress, recharge and is looking forward to the 2010 campaign as much as I am. We are going to cover a few key topics in this issue, mainly (1) John Brantley, (2) Position Battles, (3) the Freshman, (4) the Now or Never players and (4) Expectations for 2010. Ain’t nuttin to it but to do it…here we go:

BRANTLEY

Everybody knows that Brantley comes from a long line of Gator sports royalty. His dad was a Quarterback at UF and his uncle was a linebacker for the Gators and went on to have a very successful career in the NFL for the Bucs. He’s had 3 years to learn the system, get physically and mentally stronger and most importantly, learn from Tim Tebow. Early reports from practice are that he is starting to come out of his shell a little bit and is really beginning to own his new leadership role. This is his team and he is starting to vocalize and project that more and more. We know he has a gun and is very accurate. We know he understands Urban’s spread offense. We know his teammates believe in him. The flipside to that is that he is following a legend (never good) and is completely unproven when it counts. On 3rd and 8 in the 4th quarter with 5 minutes left when we are down against Alabama and Dan’ta Hightower is coming in free from the A gap on a monster blitz…is JB going to stand tall and deliver or buckle? I don’t know.

I do know this, he has a lot of weapons around him, he needs to rely on them early in the season and not try to make every play, he is a better athlete than people give him credit for (apparently he has a little more straight line speed than Tebow, although obviously nowhere near the caliber of overall runner) and Urban Meyer deeply trusts him. Lets hope for the best with JB but the truth is only time will tell. I will say this though, having the luxury of not playing the former high school Gatorade national player of the year for 3 years is a testament to the type of program Urban has built. It shows the tremendous depth we have been able to stockpile. By all accounts that kid could have started at about 90% of the teams in Division I-A from day one, yet Brantley was willing to patiently wait and endure all of the hardships and demands of the program for 3 years in order to play quarterback for the University of Florida. Truly refreshing in the “me” first, play me or I’ll transfer era of college football. Now go out there and start throwing mother f*cking darts JB!

On a quick side note, you know the sorority house chicken heads are circling him like piranhas. Happy hunting ladies.

POSITION BATTLES

The most intense battles are by all accounts taking place at linebacker. You have A.J. Jones and Brandon Hicks coming back, who should (and I say that cautiously) have their two outside LB spots locked up and then you have the mother of all battles at middle linebacker. Who is going to replace Brandon “Poke You In The Eye” Spikes? (Who by all accounts is having a really good training camp with the Pats and may even start for them this year). Behind door# 1 we have Jon Bostic from Wellington (shout out to my peeps in Palm Beach). He is built like a true middle linebacker, weighing in the 240 range and very fast. This guy just looks like a middle linebacker. After last year everyone assumed it was but a formality that he would start this year.

But in the words of the immortal dunce Lee Corso…not so fast my friends: Behind door# 2, coming straight at you is Jelani “Flash” Jenkins. The 5 star top 5 overall recruit from Maryland who redshirted last year. He came in kind of light for a LB, weighing around 205…but folks, after going through our vaunted strength and conditioning program with the hard ass of hard asses Mick Marotti, he is up in the mid 220s now and has been able to preserve what new Defensive Coordinator Teryl Austin called “just absolute flat out speed.” The way the coaches talk about this guy it’s as if he’s Jeff Demps playing linebacker. I don’t think you necessarily need to be a big orangutan to be a successful MLB, look at Patrick Willis for the 49ers…he is the best in the business right now and gets it done with speed and instincts more so than size. If you read between the lines, it sounds like Flash will be the starter in the middle on opening day. Although, it’s going to be hard to keep Bostic off the field. A.J. Jones and Brandon Hicks better watch out! And don’t forget Dee Finley. He was moved from safety to LB this year and is really starting to pick up his play after adding much needed weight. We have some nice freshman here as well, Michael Taylor who coach Meyer compared to a Ryan Stamper type and Darren Kitchens…a really gifted athlete from Homestead who, when it’s all said and done, might be the surprise under cover recruit in last year’s class.

Then we come to the field corner position. Janoris “I am from the Muck” Jenkins has the boundary corner position locked-down. He is a preseason 1st team SEC corner and is on a short watch list for the Jim Thorpe award (best defensive back in the country). Lets face it, he is a baaad dude. The top contenders for the field corner position are (in no particular order) Jeremy Brown, Moses Jenkins, Josh Shaw and Jaylen Watkins. If you recall, Adrian Bushell, a very promising player who was in line to start got kicked off the team this year for bad grades. It’s sad when these kids don’t get it…he will most likely just fade away into oblivion with nobody hearing from him ever again. If you have a chance to play for Urban and “the Program” you need to claw, kick and fight your way onto the field…it’s a springboard to fame and fortune people…how hard is it to get a B in that Wildlife Issues class? Tighten up. Anyways, Jeremy Brown who came in with Janoris and was actually ahead of him on the depth chart when they were freshman, looks like the early leader to start on the other side. He’s been plagued with chronic back injuries for the past 2 years though and has yet to get on the field. Hopefully he can stay healthy and reach his potential. Moses Jenkins is a senior who hasn’t done much to date other than on special teams. He is tall and lanky and apparently made some big strides recently. Then you have Josh Shaw and Jaylen Watkins who are both true freshman. Shaw was a borderline 5 star from California who was a big get for us this year. Very physically imposing for a corner, looks more like a safety. But Watkins, the slightly lower rated Florida talent (who is much thinner and really needs to get stronger) apparently is more of a natural right now and generally looks to be making more plays out there. At corner, instincts, anticipation and fluid hips are very important and Jaylen Watkins seems like the scrappy little engine that could right now. Don’t count out Cody Riggs, the St. Thomas Aquinas star, but this true freshman has a lot of ground to make up as he didn’t enlist for Spring ball (unlike Shaw and Watkins). Like I said, Jeremy Brown is the early leader but there’s a long evaluation period between now and the first game of the season.

We knew there was going to be a dog fight between James Wilson (Tebow’s former teammate and 5 star lineman from Nease) and Mo Hurt (perfect name) for the right guard spot but what we didn’t know is that Xavier Nixon’s job might be on the line. Matt Patchan is back. Apparently he made a miraculous recovery from that awful knee tare he had last year (where his ACL, MCL and every other CL there is seemed to implode) and is looking real big (at around 300 pounds) and athletic. He had another minor injury setback (fracture in his wrist) but it looks like they are just going to put a cast on him and tell him to keep rocking. This guy can’t catch a break. If you recall he was shot in the shoulder at a party as a freshman, busted his sh*t after falling off a scooter and then had the knee tare prior to this latest injury. Patchan is a really interesting character by all accounts, he is a bit of a nutritionist and monitors every calorie that goes into his body…and also has that crazy white-boy mean streak you need to survive at this level, a la Lattimer from the Program. At the end of the day, I don’t think anybody is really taking Xavier Nixon’s spot, that guy is a future 1st round NFL pick. But it’s amazing that Patchan is even in the conversation after that injury he had.

Who is going to step up at receiver? It’s pretty safe to say that Deonte Thompson will start, however, it gets real murky after that. Either Rainey or Debose in the slot with Carl Moore and Omarius playing as well. Maybe Frankie “DUI” Hammond or Stephen Alli or Dunkley on the outside (although I doubt Dunkley does anything this year). One of those last 3 guys has to emerge. If you put a gun to my head I say the three starters right now are Deonte, Rainey and Carl Moore with Omarious heavily involved in the rotation. I need to go on a tangent for a second about Omarious (my personal favorite). Check out this picture, homeboy has been putting in some work. He is weighing 220 and apparently still runs a sub 4.4 forty. He is so tough to bring down after the catch I can definitely see him running that inside shovel pass play that Hernandez used to run all last year. Big O has indeed been getting some work at tight end as well in the pre-season. I love the way that guy just sheds tacklers (think Anquan Boldin). I just hope his lingering leg swelling issues (yes, leg swelling) don’t come back.

Before I forget, I do predict that Andre Debose will emerge at some point in the season…this guy was supposed to be the closest thing to Percy Harvin 2.0 (sans migraines hopefully) before his hamstring injury that put him out for the season last year. Let’s hope he still has the juice and jiggle. He just looks so thin though…a few trips to Shoney’s bbq can’t hurt…it’s right on Archer Andre, get you some ribs and sweet tea!

The Freshman

This is as highly rated and celebrated a freshman class as there’s ever been at the University of Florida. So many 5 star recruits…so much hype…such high hopes…it’s like our own little version of the Fab Five. Early reports are that Matt Elam is straight up balling at safety and will be the nickel back (i.e. the first db off the bench in passing situations) since Ahmad Black and Will Hill have the safety spots locked-up. None of the 5 star d-lineman enrolled early in the spring so the jury is still out on Ronald Powell, Shariff Floyd and Dominique Easley…YEA RIGHT!!! Who am I kidding…these guys are all natural born ballers.

Think of Powell as the Jermaine Cunningham type, strong and quick…but more athletic and explosive. He has Cunningham’s body right now, imagine what a few years in the program will do to him…I hope we don’t get him too big though, we need him to be that speedy rush end. Shariff Floyd is the space eater, think Vincent Wilfork. And Easley is a combination of Powell and Floyd, apparently he put on a lot of weight before getting to G-ville and almost weighs as much as Floyd now but has been able to preserve that notorious first step off the line, which by all accounts is second to none for a tackle. I am not really going out on the limb by predicting that Powell will be the best of the three, he was the top high school player in the country last year, at any position. Although right now Easley and Floyd are the ones standing out and may end up being bigger stars, they were all top 10 high school players. I do think Powell will be starting opposite Trattou by the Alabama game -- if not, he’ll be heavily involved in the rotation (sorry Duke but RoPo has LT as in Lawrence Taylor type talent, hopefully without the horse-like cocaine intake and statutory rape charges).

Mack Brown, our lone RB from last year’s class has also shown some flashes early in practice. Besides Elam and maybe one of the three d-lineman I don’t think any other freshman make a big impact this year, we are just too deep and nasty. Look for these guys next year though.

Now or Never

I am talking to Carl Moore, Duke Lemmens and Emmanuel Moody for obvious reasons (they are seniors, this is absolutely it) but I am also talking to you Will Hill. Wake up and show the world what you got this year Thrill! It’s your show, you are starting every game…are you going to be Reggie F*cking Nelson or Kyle F*cking Jackson? You got Ahmad Black out there who gets off the bus looking like a JV player but ends up balling all over the field. And here you are, the top rated athlete in the 2008 class, looking like a physical specimen if I ever saw one, with those lovely predator-esque dreadlocks to boot…now it’s time to be a game changer. You’ve shown flashes of greatness and you’ve had some embarrassing moments (see Alabama game). You have a child now, you have a mouth to feed…are you going to feed your baby Will? ARE YOU GOING TO FEED YOUR SON? Lets go!

I am talking to you William Green…you should have locked up the d-end spot by now. These freshman lineman are going to jump you in the rotation unless you make it happen RIGHT NOW. And most of all, I am glaring, staring and fuming at you Deonte. Lots of cute articles in the paper about how you ran a 4.22 this summer and how you have great hands and are really “impressing” – guess what, talk is cheap. In the infamous words of Rod Tidwell – “SHOW ME THE MONEY”. For such a highly rated player in a position of need you sure have under-delivered. If you don’t get it done this year you’ll be an afterthought. Do you want to be Louis Murphy or David Nelson? Two words for all of these guys this year, “NO EXCUSES”!

EXPECTATIONS FOR 2010

Let’s face it, it’s the University of Florida, expectations are always going to be through the roof. However, considering who we are I do think we are flying a bit under the radar right now. I am not saying that teams aren’t going to get up to play us or that they are going to overlook us, not at all. I do think though that the stress level stemming from the expectations to be perfect is going to be way down. This isn’t last year’s team, coming off a national championship and going to war with Tebow and Spikes. This year’s team is sitting pretty, like a rattle snake just waiting for the right time to strike.

Everybody knows that there are a lot of unknowns and there are going to be some growing pains for this team. If you think we are going to lose 9 NFL players, including Tebow and be as good as we were last year from jump you are out of your little gator mind. I think we’re ranked right in that sweet spot where it’s high enough to help us so that we won’t drop too far if we lose a game and low enough that we don’t have those insane expectations and that big target on our backs (that target is now squarely on Alabama and that little evil Napoleonic Nick Saban, who by the way straight up outcoached Urban in the SEC championship game last year). That series is tied 1-1 between Urban and Saban, this year we will see which coach has made the appropriate adjustments.

Worse case scenario we lose 3 games this year best case scenario is going undefeated (I don’t think that is completely out of the question given the level of talent on this team if John Brantley ends up being who we think he is, although it’s highly unlikely). I think we lose 1 or two games, the first game against Alabama is not going to be as important as people think. We can lose that game and if we win out and beat Bama in a re-match in the SEC championship game we should still get a seat to the big dance.

The strength of this team is the offensive line, if they play how they are capable of and JB shows up, we can beat anybody!

There is a lot of practice left and the main thing is to continue to develop all of the players (especially the freshman who have to learn the playbook and their respective assignments) and most of all, to come out of practice without any huge injuries. Stay healthy boys.

I will leave you with a few little known players who I think will break out this year and really make a name for themselves nationally. Jay Howard, Jelani Jenkins and Jeff Demps. Demps is already fairly well known, but he is going to jump to that next level this year and will be getting Heisman hype when it’s all said and done. He won the indoor and outdoor national titles in track this year and is officially the “fastest man in college football.” With Tebow gone and more carries to go around he will flourish. Another couple of players who could break out are Stephen Alli, Debose and Mike Gillislee, although I am hesitant to put their names in the hat because young players rarely have a big impact at Florida, especially the receivers, it always seems to take them a little longer to come around.

Go Gators!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Chimera.

Monday, May 10, 2010