Posted on: July 17, 2009 12:21 am

10 Questions for Florida Gators Football 2009

Written by James Brown, Gatorsfirst.com Co-Founder

There has never been, and probably will never be, a more anticipated season of Florida Gators Football than 2009.

I've been wading through all this information about the national college football scene for my college fantasy football season previews (beginning later this week), but what I really need to do is get to my favorite team- the team anticipated to be the best in the land.

I came up with ten questions for the Florida Gators coming into this season, and avoided the obvious 'Can they keep their focus?' question that every other preseason preview uncreatively addresses.

Before I get to the questions, let me call a big 'no jinxies'. I'm not saying in this piece we will win it all, merely pointing out some of the potential roadblocks, and storylines I'll be sure to address again during the season.

1. Will an outside receiving threat develop to complement TE Aaron Hernandez?

I fully expect Hernandez to be the leading receiver for this team. Several players could end up with more total yards, but he is easily the most proven threat, and he should only improve for his junior season. My problem: it is too easy to double a TE over the middle. We lost the top two receivers from last year. This isn't the same as 'who will replace Percy', as others will ask you, as I don't think any one person will. It will be more action for the Chris Rainey / Jeff Demps / Brandon James crew (with a dash of Andre Debose) for the RB-ish plays, and more balls for Riley Cooper and David Nelson. But the big deep threat will come from Deonte Thompson (CBS college fantasy's pick), Frankie Hammond, Jr. or Omarius Hines.

2. Can Urban Meyer win a game in the state of Louisiana?

He's 0 for 2 at LSU. Ron Zook won there in 2003. I think Urban and this team are certainly capable, but looking at it today it's easily the game of the year.

3. What will change with the offensive coaching changes?

Last year's coordinator Dan Mullen is in Starkville. No one really knows how things will go differently under Steve Addazio. It's noteworthy that Urban Meyer has replaced an OC at other times, including promoting Dan Mullen to the position when he came down from Utah. Ultimately, it's &his& system, but it's hard to expect everything to be exactly the same. Addazio definitely got the keys to a Ferrari, however. The other noteworthy change is the new blood- QB Coach Scot Loeffler.

4. Will Florida really be able to put up 50 points on the Vols?

Urban and his boys have the bulletin board material up. The Tennessee offense could be terrible, but the defense is led by all-world DB Eric Berry. I am one of the few Gator fans who think this score could be lower than you expect, although I wouldn't be surprised by a 30-point blowout. I am just not sure we'll have the opportunity to get the 70+ some of the crazier fans are calling for.

5. How will the re-shuffled offensive line perform?

We now have a Pouncey twin at each guard. Sam Robey moves to center, and OT Phil Trautwein and Jason Watkins are gone from last season. I don't think this will cause a major issue, but this is one of the few areas in which anything has changed from last year's juggernaut. I'll also make a quick note to point out Sam Robey as proof of how Urban Meyer and staff are actually good recruiters, getting one of the few three star recruits (out of the many star-studded classes) to become a starter as a (redshirt) freshman. Larry Coker and his recruiting-service oriented staff should take note.

6. Will Heisman voters tire of the hype surrounding Tim Tebow?

He is the greatest player in the game. The most outstanding. The most valuable. Every sort of superlative you could take your Heisman vote to mean. We missed out on the opportunity to be talking about a three-time winner, don't discount the voters getting bored of the same storylines and playing up Jahvid Best or some other candidate. The pick here is for the finalists to remain the same trio as last year, but stranger things have happened- and a season's worth of peculiar events and statistical anomalies await.

7. How many snaps will Johnny Brantley get?

This could also be 'how many second halves does Tebow play in' or 'how many competitive snaps does Brantley take?' I hope they get Tebow out of there, and jump to the early leads like they did down the stretch last season. I also am eager to see if they bring in Brantley while games are close, and with his own package of plays, as they did for Tebow in 2006. There have been reports of that being the plan.

8. Would you take the under or the over on 1.5 shutouts this year for the D?

When the entire two-deep is back, and we are bringing in some stud recruits and working in some extremely talented redshirts, to expect one shutout (Charleston Southern, anyone?) is not a stretch. But I am wondering how many more we'd actually get- will they work in a lot of the young studs with a 30 point lead? Or keep some of the starters around and try to preserve some shutouts? Will Jon Bostic and Co. hold some shutouts?

9. Can Urban Meyer work his magic in an odd-numbered year?

Utah 2004. Florida 2006. Florida 2008. I sense a pattern, and it involves modulo division. I don't think there's a lot to the even-numbered thing, but I'm probably the most superstitious fan I know. Let's see how 2009 plays out before discussing 2010.

10. Will USC finally get the SEC ass-beating they so richly deserve?

I certainly hope so. Though, living in Texas, I would be satisfied with another Big XII team going down to the Gators. Bottom line is, I'll be happy if we win the title, period. But putting some of the heathens in their place would also be nice.

Take your own stab at answering these questions, and let me know some of your own! We'll compare notes in January.

You can view the original article here: http://gatorsfirst.com/index.php/fl

Posted on: July 10, 2009 9:16 am

Urban Meyer Is Not Going To Notre Dame

Written by James Brown, Gatorsfirst.com Co-Founder

I really think it’s ridiculous that I still have to address this story line.  But when columnist Paul Finebaum says Urban Meyer is “probably” leaving for Notre Dame, it’s apparent that some people just don’t get it.   I will link to the column only for completeness and with great reservation, as it seems to me that when you write a teaser for your column a day early, saying “a big storm is brewing in Gainesville”- and proceed to follow it up with little or no facts- your column is written less to make a point and more to get the wrong kind of attention.  Don’t click this link.  I’ll quote the relevant portions.  In the course of this column, he uses inflammatory language and throws the best coach in the SEC under the bus.  And by that I’m referring to two different coaches!

For all the mainstream media piling on blogs for being off-base and traffic-whores, in this case it is a newspaper columnist that is out of line.  And I’m the blogger here to set the record straight.

I have many issues with this column.  The first begins with the terrible accusation of dishonesty.  Finebaum writes “So how do I know Meyer is not telling the truth? Easy. Meyer's lips moved when he denied the story.”  When, Mr. Finebaum, has Meyer shown himself to be worthy of such character assassination?  You’re telling us the entire basis of your idea that Urban Meyer is headed to Notre Dame is that he has said he is not? Remember, your own headline said he was “probably” (my dictionary says this means “in all likelihood”) leaving Florida after the coming season.  And you don’t “think” Urban Meyer is lying- you “know”.

Here, let’s discuss some facts about Urban Meyer and Notre Dame. 


  1. The Notre Dame job is not open.  And it will not be open, as a ‘resurgent’ Notre Dame, with 10 scheduled wins, will get the hype-machine treatment and allow Charlie Weis to stick around for Jimmy Clausen’s senior season.
  2. He’s already had the opportunity to take the Notre Dame job.  Why, after landing one of the premier jobs in his sport, and earning lifetime job security at that job, would he then take the Notre Dame job, when he could have easily taken it in 2004?  Don’t give me a talent argument- Weis’ most successful team had as much talent as the current crop, if not more so (no nine-loss seasons for that group).


Finebaum goes on to weigh in on internal Gator Nation matters of which he has little knowledge.  Read a few “bottomlines” on ESPN, Mr. Finebaum?  Urban Meyer came into Florida and brought back many more of our older players than had been around the program before his arrival.  He wants them in the locker room, on the sidelines, visible to the current players.  When he “strong armed” Shane Matthews, he was taking a stand for his team.  He was not casting out those with dissenting football perspectives- he was drawing a line between media types and the average Gator alum.  You can rip our program, but the players in the locker room don’t need to have it shoved in their face.  This is a story that has long since blown over to anyone who even casually follows the Gators.

Throughout the column, Mr. Finebaum sticks up for his boy Nick Saban, the Head Coach of the Crimson Tide.  He states Urban Meyer helped Utah in the Sugar Bowl because Saban is “stockpiling warehouses loaded with blue-chip talent in Tuscaloosa.”  I have many issues with this statement, and the entire premise.  Here are a few:


  1. While the Tide have had great recruiting classes, Florida’s cupboard is more full, and a #1 recruiting class should be on the way.  The thinking of Urban leaving after the season is that Tebow will be gone and the Florida program will be in for a downfall.  His accepted premise is that Florida goes undefeated and wins the National Title,  so that is why I will discuss such things, not because I think they are a certainty by any measure.  In this premise, Florida will be the premier team of the last decade, so any 2010 season will probably be somewhat of a step backward.  And this season’s depth chart is stacked with juniors.  Johnny Brantley will have plenty of toys and plenty of help on D, hardly a reason to walk away from a contract extension and a raise.  In a down economy, when Notre Dame is losing ground to SEC teams, no less.
  2. Mr. Finebaum paints a picture of Urban Meyer developing the Utah gameplan for defeating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl for his own personal gain.  Not only is the idea that a coach heading into a National Championship game will be game-planning for anyone other than his opponent (while losing a coordinator, even) absurd, Mr. Finebaum seems to actually believe it to be true. 
  3. The only evidence that any conversation between Kyle Whittingham and Urban Meyer took place are some comments made a month before the game by Mr. Whittingham, “We talk at least weekly throughout the course of the season, and it will be a situation where the familiarity they have with Alabama will obviously work to our favor, we hope.  It will give us a head start on our game-planning and what we plan on doing.  We share ideas all the time, so that’s not new to us”.  It seems to me that Mr. Finebaum should look for fewer excuses for Mr. Saban, and instead be searching for the real reason Utah won the game: Utah’s dominance by their defensive line, some of the blame for which must fall on Alabama’s head coach.  Alabama lost to a team it should have been able to beat, because it could not cope with the loss of Andre “Manboobs” Smith.  Who should have been game-planning for the absence of that player?


Mr. Finebaum, once again, brings up another tired storyline: the number of arrests in Urban Meyer’s tenure at Florida.  Yes, we should hold our Gators to a higher standard.  Yes, some of the arrests are utterly indefensible (it should be noted those players committing the heinous acts had their Gator careers ended prematurely- and at least one of them has found his way into the SEC West.)  But, I would really like to see the list for all the other programs.  Has Alabama had much less than 24 arrests in the last 5 years (the only number I found was 8 under Saban, a similar pace)?  The Gainesville Sun (whether it was a good move or not) told us Tennessee and Georgia had numbers comparable to UF over the same time period.  Should anyone be pointing a finger at Urban Meyer before they point it at their own coach?  Mr. Finebaum, I suggest you worry about the cleanliness your own program, which is currently losing wins to the NCAA.  I feel sick defending any sort of arrest, but when a sports columnist- remember, supposedly the ‘responsible arm’ of sports coverage, at least compared to we bloggers- compares the UF program to the TV show “Cops” and references the police blotter, he at least better be addressing a program that is far and above in worse shape than the others, and especially the one he is supposed to be covering.

I’ll only dispute one more “fact” Mr. Finebaum states about Urban Meyer.  He takes issue with UF President Bernie Machen’s push for a raise for the Gators head football coach.  Finebaum states, “He works at a school that recently cut $40 million from its general budget.”  Mr. Finebaum, even you have to realize Urban Meyer isn’t paid from the general budget- he’s paid from the UAA budget.  And that UAA budget is donating an extra $6 million to the University. Urban Meyer is making a lot of people money; he might as well be earning some of it.

The end of the column borders on lunacy, which is saying something after the way it began.  Mr. Finebaum takes several unfounded shots at Billy Donovan, and states he “is no longer even considered the best coach in his division”.   Uh, he’s the best coach in the SEC.  By a longshot.  I have my issues with Calhoun and Boeheim, but those are the types of names he’s competing with, legacy-wise.  Not Horn, Fox, Stallings, Calipari, and Pearl.  And my opinion is that, before his career is over, we’ll be talking about him with the all-time greats.

You can view the original article here: http://gatorsfirst.com/index.php/fl

Category: NCAAF
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