Monday, December 7, 2009

Guess What Gator Nation, Cincinnati is Better than Texas!

So, we (the Mighty Gators) are playing Cincy in New Orleans, instead of Texas in Pasadena. Well, my claim is that Cincy is a little better than Texas this year. Let's look at the tape.

(All of the stats below except passer ratings do not include Cincy's game against SE Missouri St. since they are not an FBS team. If included, the stats would obviously favor Cincy even more since the Bearcats won 70-3.)

Schedule: It's controversial, but I believe the Bearcats played a tougher schedule (even when we include the Big 12 Championship Game). I'm going to use year-end rankings because I believe they better tell the story (instead of what a team is ranked when you play them), and its easier. Texas beat BCS #22 (AP 20) Nebraska and #19 (21 AP) OK State. Cincy beat #16 (18 AP) West Virginia, #17 (17 AP) Pitt, and #18 (16 AP) Oregon St. Cincy also beat one more winning team (7 total, all FBS), but Texas beat one more bowl team (8 total). Texas' opponents winning pct. is a little better than the Bearcats', at 0.529 compared to Cincy's 0.511, when counting the teams' opponents winning pct. against FBS teams (i.e. a team that plays one FBS team and loses is counted as 0-1). The first two bowls (Dec 19) may tell us more on this. They are Wyoming (Texas beat) vs Fresno (Cincy beat), and Rutgers (Cincy beat) vs UCF (Texas beat).

Offense: Cincy is a better offense. Both teams averaged close to 40 points, but yards-per-play has more predictive and explanatory power. Cincy averaged 7.3 yards per play, Texas averaged 5.7. That's a 1.6 yard difference per play (almost one more first down for every 6 plays).

Cincy averages approx. 8.71 per pass attempt (Pass yds divided by attempts and sacks). Texas averages approx. 6.87 yards per pass attempt. That's a 1.84 yards per pass att. difference. That means that every time Cincy and Texas call pass play, the Bearcats will average almost 2 yards more than the Longhorns. Bearcats have a 166.20 passer rating, whereas the Longhorns have a 143.68 rating.

Rushing? Even counting McCoy? Cincy is still better! The Bearcats average 5.1 per carry while Horns average 4.1 per carry, a yard difference. If Cincy calls two runs, they probably have a first down. If Texas calls two runs, they probably are still nearly 2 yards short.

Defense: Texas is better, but by a lower margin than Cincy's offensive superiority. The Horns give up 3.8 yards per play, and the Bearcats give up 5 yards per play. That 1.2 yard difference is not as large as the 1.6 yard margin between the two teams on offense. Texas gives up 2 yards per carry, while the Cats give up 3.6 per play on the ground, a 1.6 yard difference in favor of Texas, meaning the Bearcats give up 0.6 yards to the Longhorns if we subtract each team's defensive rushing from their offensive rushing. The passer rating of Longhorn opponents is 101.23. The opponent passer rating of Cincy is 119.23. This margin of difference is similar to the offensive margin, but still in favor of Cincy overall (by almost 5 points). Counting sacks, Texas surrenders 5.06 yards per pass attempt. Cincy is a little worse, at 5.71 yards per pass attempt, but the difference (0.65 yds-per-att) is not as large as the difference between the two passing offenses, which was a 1.84 yard difference per attempt (nearly triple the defensive margin difference). So Cincy is approx. 1.19 yard per pass better than Texas when we subtract each team's pass defense from their pass offense.

Third Downs: Texas has a 46% conversion rate on third downs, while Cincy has a 42% rate. Negligible difference, and, since Texas has a weaker offense, it's actually a bad sign that Texas would have slightly better success on third downs, indicating they are even more inferior on first and second downs (first and second down success is more indicative of future success than third down conversion %).

Red Zone Scoring: Texas has scored 93% of the time when reaching the opponent's 20. Cincy has scored 90% in this category. Cincy scores a TD in the red-zone 71% of the time, while Texas scores a TD 70% of the time. Pretty close.

Field Goals: Texas was 88% on FGs (22 for 25) overall and Cincy was 67% (12 for 18). Texas has been better on FGs, but Cincy isn't a bust in this area and needs fewer FGs for their overall offensive success.

Returns: Kickoffs are basically a wash. Cincy holds their opponents to 2 fewer yards per kickoff return but both teams average the same on returns. Texas is better on punt returns, averaging 3.2 yards more per return. Cincy is a hair better at defending returns.

Turnovers: Texas averages a fumble about every 89 plays. Cincy averages a fumble about every 344 plays. That's not a typo! Texas recovers a fumble on defense once every 78 plays on average, whereas the Bearcats recover a fumble once every 403 plays on average. The Horns throw an interception every 42 pass attempts on average. The Bearcats average an interception toss about every 50 pass plays. The Texas defense intercepts a pass about every 19 pass attempts while the Bearcat defense averages an interception every 30 attempts (I did not count sacks in these pass attempt inputs). These numbers mostly cancel out. Texas gives up and recovers and fumble nearly every game, on average. Cincy rarely fumbles and rarely recovers fumbles. Cincy throws fewer ints but catches few ints. All things about equal, I'd rather be the team that fumbles less and throws fewer ints (Cincy), its more in your control I would guess. However, on a per game basis, Texas looks better on turnover margin, with a +0.9/game margin compared to +0.5/game for Cincy.

Penalties: Cincy is better in this area. Texas is penalized about 0.40 yards per play. They are penalized, on average, once for every 21 total plays. Cincy is penalized once every 26 plays, with a 0.34 penalty-yards-per-play average.

Computers: The computer averages say Cincy is a touch better. They are ranked #2 by the computer average, while Texas is ranked 3. It's close, though. But Florida is as close to Texas in the computer rankings as Texas is to Cincy: 0.01 point difference between each.

I encourage anyone to improve on these statistics, even if they contradict my initial conclusions. For instance, I realize there are more ways to analyze schedule strength. A few strength of schedule rankings have Texas with a little tougher schedule than Cincy. Cincy played a non-FBS team (like a Charleston Southern), and they had one fewer game overall since they didn't have a championship game. This means they beat 11 FBS teams while Texas beat 13. This fact hurts the computer strength of schedule calculations for Cincy, but I tried to subtract the non-FBS stats from Cincy where I could (their stats against SE Missouri St.) I also don't know out-of-conference records for their respective conferences.

On a possibly irrelevant note, I would add that Cincy only has a home crowd capacity of 35,000. While potentially loud, this number might mean that Cincy has less of a disadvantage in a bowl game because they gain less home advantage overall during the year compared to a Fla and Alabama and Texas.

While it's not so obvious that Cincy is the better team, I hope this at least muddies the waters and throws some doubt onto Texas' superiority over Cincy.

I may do a similar comparison as this for Fla vs. Cincy, and maybe Alabama vs. Texas and Boise/TCU. My initial impression, especially considering these numbers, is that Cincy will be a tough opponent for the Gators and the Tide will beat Texas.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pick 6: Week 10 (SEC Championship Game - Alabama)

Pick 6: Week 9 (FSU) Results

Most Touches: Rainey
Most Yards: Demps
Most Receptions: Hernandez
Most TDs: Hernandez
Margin: 27

Hicks 1 (2.0 Sacks)
Bushell 1 (Int)
Haden 1 (Int)

Participant Points (Total):

Mary 3 (40)
Sean 3 (36)
Galapagos Gator 3 (35)
Mark 3 (25)
Mike 0 (27)

You can post your Alabama picks in the comments of this post.

Play On!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Sunk-Cost Fallacy and its application to NFL


With Jamarcus Russel’s recent benching, there’s been a lot of talk about when it’s time for a team to cut its losses on a failed quarterback. I don’t have hard numbers at my fingertips, but I’d be fairly certain that if a QB isn’t playing above average football or there hasn’t been steady improvement, by the end of his second year, it’s time to move on. There’s no question teams tend to stick with struggling QBs well beyond their expiration date, even when better alternatives exist. The real question is, why?

Let’s say you’re an out-of-town Bills fan, and before the season began you were understandably optimistic about the team’s prospects. You bought prime tickets to the January 3rd game hosting the Colts, including parking and a hotel room. Altogether the bill comes to $400. In August, this feels like a great deal.

As the season wears on, it becomes clear the Bills aren’t contenders. The coach is fired, and the upcoming Colts game is not looking promising, as the Colts appear likely be playing for home field advantage in the playoffs. Everything points toward a humiliating blowout. What’s worse, as the game approaches the weather isn’t looking good. Bills fans are always the hardy type, but the foercast is beyond bad—snow, wind, freezing rain, and bitter cold. You’re not exactly excited about the prospect of going to the game.

A few days before the game, your friend invites you to watch the game at a party to inaugurate his new palacial home theater. You’d really rather do that than actually go to the game, but you’ve already sunk $400 and it’s too late to sell the tickets. Naturally, you can’t let those tickets go to waste, so you suck it up and go to the game.

But this is completely irrational. It’s called the sunk cost fallacy.

To understand your mistake, think of your options in terms of costs and benefits. We’ll call the $400 you spent a cost of -4. Actually going to the game would be a benefit of +0, since it doesn’t appeal to you. And going to the party is a benefit of +2.

Why Ravens made right call going for 4th-and-5 on own 48


Passing on First Downs is More Lucrative Overall


POTUS for Gators, and Wild-Haden too successful!

Yeah, because we can't have too good of an offense, that would be problematic! No way Haden could take a few defensive plays off contra the lowly Tide passing game.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Galen Hall Thanks Dooley for 1984 Recognition

Dooley reads Hall's thanks at end of this week's Pat Dooley Show.

Video here, with guest Doug Johnson.

original article

Some (Sarcastic) Thanks for the BCS


• "If BCS not completely broken, don't fix it." We like our championship systems in that sweet spot between roughly 83 and 96.4 percent broken, anyway.

• "BCS is a friend to the Mountain West." And real friends always hang together to summarily dismiss one another's bids for equality and denounce each other to Congress. It's not like those wannabes would know what to do with all that money, anyway. It's for their own good.

• "Would a college football playoff be fair?" If you were intelligent enough to employ the "Fairness Index" instead of an irrelevant, abstract measure like "actual results of head-to-head competition," you would see clearly that no, no it would not be.

Pick 6: Week 9 (FSU)

Here are Week 8 (SCAR) results.

Use the comments section below to post your FSU picks.

Play On!

Dominant Pro Running Backs

Dominant Seasons

Also, receivers


Dan the Man

In the most sophisticated measurement of regular season QB value that has been invented, Marino comes out tops when computing for era/peer comparison, and comes out a hair behind Peyton, at 2nd place, for overall "converted yards" stats.

An explanation

All-Time Rankings

(Also, if you read the explanation post, you'll notice that rushing is also a factor, as well as sacks, fumbles, scores, yards/attempts, etc. And this is trying to measure QB value, not team and offensive value.)

Culpepper does better in these metrics than one might imagine, falling into the top 50 all-time, possibly close to top 40. He also apparently had one of the toughest all-time schedules amongst these all-time QBs ranked.

Here are adjusted rankings for weather, schedule strength, and post-season factors.

And here are some rankings on QBs with concentrated greatness at varying quantities of seasons or periods of time. Guys like Dan Fouts and Ken Anderson looking good here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More (Play-Action) Passing Needed on First Down


Game theory tells us that when there are two strategy options, like run and pass, the expected payoffs for both options should be equal. You really don't need game theory to intuitively understand this. If one option yields a better payoff, then it should be chosen until the opponent responds with a strategy change of his own. Eventually, as the opponent responds, the payoffs for the two options equalize. The point at which the strategy mix equalizes payoffs is known as the minimax, or sometimes called the Nash equilibrium. The resulting strategy mix, or run-pass balance in this case, produces the best overall, long-run payoff.

When there are two strategy options and one of them yields a much higher payoff, it tells us two things. In this case, passing is more lucrative than running on 1st down, and this tells us: 1) offenses should be passing more often, and 2) for now, defenses should continue to be more biased toward stopping the run.

I was screaming about this during last year's SEC Championship game against Alabama. The Gators insisted on running on first down with Demps, mostly, for three quarters, until opening up the pass and getting most of their offensive success in the fourth quarter. Notice, this is NOT about running, even if it doesn't work, in order to pass later. It is saying that teams are running well over the amount needed to effectively "set-up" the defense.

You'll also notice, further into the piece, that more red-zone passing is needed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Looking forward to a better offense, while still enjoying any championships this team brings.


Along with having a better overall quarterback (Yeah! I said it!), the Gators will also likely have:

• The single best player on Florida's current offense, Aaron Hernandez, will be back, if he scorns the NFL, presumably following up All-American status this year with a run at being a Top 10 draft pick in 2011.

• All three top running backs return: Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Emmanuel Moody. They are joined by top prep running Mack Brown, who might be better than all of them, and "the next Percy Harvin," Andre Debose, who lost his much-anticipated true freshman season this year to a hamstring injury.

• The offensive line may lose the Pouncey twins, but will be anchored by Xavier Nixon, who last week became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Florida since the early nineties and could be the best freshman lineman in the nation this season. He will protect the right-handed Brantley's blind side.

There is a dumb joke to be made that Florida's offense can't possibly get less inspiring than it has been this season. But the fact is, even with diminished expectations, next season's offense should be better than this year's version -- even if Brantley himself can't plunge ahead for four yards on third-and-short like Tebow can.

Is Miles Lying? Or does he not even realize?

Dr. Saturday posted a local news video showing Miles gesturing for a spike (on the last play of their loss against Ole Miss last Saturday night), despite saying he didn't know who would have told Jefferson to spike it. At the very least, he didn't give his QB good coaching points shortly before the play. He seemed candid after the game, but still somehow out of sorts and vaguely elusive. The blog also links to a shot of Miles calling for a timeout after a turnover, so it's not the only time he would have momentarily lost his perspective on viable options in the moment.

Watch it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pick 6: Week 8 (SCAR) Results

No Pick 6 this week due to the opponent. Will resume for FSU.

Week 8 (SCAR) Results:

Most Touches: Demps (9 carries, 2 receptions)
Most Yards: Cooper
Most Receptions: James
Most TDs: Cooper, Moody
Margin: 10

Haden 2 (Tackles + Int)
Cunningham 1 (for sacks)
Hill 1 (for sacks)
J Trattou 1 (for int.)

Participant Points (Total):

Mark 8 (22)
Mary 3 (37)
Galapagos 3 (32)
Mike 3 (27)
Sean 1 (33)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pick 6: Week 8 (SCAR)

Week 7 (Vandy) Results:

Most Touches: Moody
Most Yards: Hernandez
Most Receptions: Hernandez
Most TDs: Nelson, Demps
Margin: 24

Stamper 1 (Int)
Doe 1 (11 Tackles)

Participant Points (Total):

Galapagos 6 (29)
Sean 5 (32)
Mary 4 (34)
Mike 4 (24)
Mark 3 (14)
Brad (13)

You can use the comments section of this post to enter your selections for the SCAR game.

Note on margins: All margin picks are assumed to be for Gator wins unless noted differently. If a participant picks a 1 point margin without specifying (as I am doing this week), and the Gators lose by 2, that participant will still receive 2 points for being within 3 of the score. A player that picks a 2 point margin in this scenario will only receive 1 point unless they specify an opponent victory in their pick. "0" or "tie" is/are also accepted.

Here are the categories/scoring:

Defensive scoring (you make 2 defensive picks like you do for the other categories):

8 Tackles (solo and assisted)= 1 Point
1.5 Sacks= 1 Point
1 Interception= 1 Point
1 Score (TD or safety)= 1 Point

And here are the other categories:

Most Yards from Scrimmage
Most Touches from Scrimmage (runs + receptions + passes)
Most Receptions
Most TDs (including returns/blocks)
Point Margin (list one guess--earn 2 points for being within 3, 1 point for being within 6)
(No QBs)

Play On!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pick 6: Week 7 (Vandy)

Week 6 (Georgia) Results:

Most Touches: Moody
Most Yards: Cooper
Most Receptions: Cooper
Most TDs: Cooper
Point Margin: 24

Defensive Points:
Spikes: 3
Jones: 2
Black, Dunlap, Stamper: 1

Participant Points (Total):

Mike 7 (20)
Mary 3 (30)
Sean 3 (27)
Galapagos 3 (23)
Brad 3 (13)
Mark A. 3 (11)

You can use the comments section of this post to enter your selections for the Vandy game.

Here are the categories/scoring:

Defensive scoring (you make 2 defensive picks like you do for the other categories):

8 Tackles (solo and assisted)= 1 Point
1.5 Sacks= 1 Point
1 Interception= 1 Point
1 Score (TD or safety)= 1 Point

And here are the other categories:

Most Yards from Scrimmage
Most Touches from Scrimmage (runs + receptions + passes)
Most Receptions
Most TDs (including returns/blocks)
Point Margin (list one guess--earn 2 points for being within 3, 1 point for being within 6)
(No QBs)

Play On!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dooley's SEC Power Rankings

Here is Gainesville Sun Sportswriter Pat Dooley's latest SEC power rankings. Although I agree with the first three, I think he has some serious flaws after that.
For example, he has Tennessee behind Georgia. My rankings are below, please feel free to weigh in with your rankings or opinions.

Dooley's Rankings
1. Florida: Gators finally put it all together
2. Alabama: Still some hurdles to get to Atlanta
3. LSU: Tigers get their second big chance to make an impression
4. Auburn: Just when you thought the Tigers were dead
5. South Carolina: Steve Spurrier needs a win badly this week
6. Georgia: Just not a well-coached team
7. Tennessee: Vols are certainly making progress
8. Ole Miss: You try to figure the Rebels out. Go ahead
9. Mississippi State: Really nice win for Dan Mullen
10. Arkansas: A pretty good team to be at No. 10
11. Kentucky: Quarterback issues have doomed the 'Cats
12. Vanderbilt: Bobby Johnson's team won't be returning to a bowl

Mike's Rankings
1. Florida: No. 1 until I see Alabama play LSU.
2. Alabama: They looked better than Florida early on, but their offense is suspect.
3. LSU: Just the one loss-to Florida.
4. Tennessee: Though others have a better record, a close loss to 'Bama and wins over South Carolina and Georgia says they are the best of the next tier.
5. South Carolina: This was a tough one, because they just lost, but I still like them head to head over Auburn.
6. Auburn: A little schizophrenic, but I love Gus Malzahn's offense.
7. Mississippi: Sure, Jevan Snead is overrated and the Rebels have underachieved this year, but I still like them better than Georgia or Mississippi State.
8. Georgia: Joe Cox is not a very good quarterback and it affects how Mark Richt coaches the game.
9. Mississippi State: I don't know if Mullen will ever build the Bulldogs into a winner, but he has them playing better than in recent years.
10. Arkansas: Though Arkansas and Kentucky look to be identical-both are 1-4 in conference play and 4-4 overall and both have a win over Auburn, Arkansas played Florida closer and has a quality win over a team with a winning record-Texas A&M.
11. Kentucky: See above.
12. Vanderbilt: I thought for a second they had Georgia Tech's number. If they had won that game, then they would be at No. 10.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Be Offensive Coordinator/Quarterback


I like the fade, slant, or screen options. With the fade, Hernandez would have just needed to cut his route a step deeper and Tebow needed to hit it near the back corner-- an option that may have worked as is if he puts more on it (this would mean more/better execution on the original play I suppose).

Friday, October 30, 2009

Red-Zone Percentages and Pass Protection

Two excellent analysis on Gator offensive woes. The first, by Gator Country, takes a look over the last three years at the percentage of Tebow carries in the red-zone. What the author finds is that as TD percentages in the red-zone have gone down, there has simultaneously been a trend upward in the percentage of Tebow carries. Quite stark, really. If you take the top third of games that Tebow carried the most in the red-zone, you have most or all of our worst games in the last three years. Nice charts and graphs included.

The next piece is by Smart Football's Chris Brown. It focuses on pass protection issues. Keen, as always. Snapshots/diagrams and video included, as always.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pick 6: Week 6 (Georgia)

Week 5 (MSU) Results:

Touches, TDs, Yards: Rainey (Doe also tied for lead in TDs with 1)
Receptions: Hernandez
Margin: 10

Defensive Points:
Dunlap 2 (3 Sacks)
AJ Jones 1 (Int)
Doe 2 (Int, TD)
Wright 1 (Int)
Stamper 1 (13 tackles)

Participant Points (Total):

Galapagos 5 (20)
Sean 4 (24)
Mary 3 (27)
Mike 4 (13)
Mark 3 (8)
Brad 1 (10)
John (4)

You can use the 'comments' section of this post to enter your selections for the Georgia game.

Here are the categories/scoring:

Defensive scoring (you make 2 defensive picks like you do for the other categories):

8 Tackles (solo and assisted)= 1 Point
1.5 Sacks= 1 Point
1 Interception= 1 Point
1 Score (TD or safety)= 1 Point

And here are the other categories:

Most Yards from Scrimmage
Most Touches from Scrimmage (runs + receptions + passes)
Most Receptions
Most TDs (including returns/blocks)
Point Margin (list one guess--earn 2 points for being within 3, 1 point for being within 6)
(No QBs)

Play On!

The Pat Dooley Show With Norm Carlson


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Pick 6: Week 5 (Mississippi State)

Week 4 Wrap-Up:

Touches: Demps
Yards and Receptions: Hernandez
TDs: Demps and Thompson
Margin: 3

Defensive Points:

Cunningham 1 (for 2 sacks)

Weekly Participant Points (Total):

Mary 5 (24)
Sean 5 (20)
Galapagos 4 (15)
Michael 5 (9)
Mark 4 (5)
Brad (9)
John (4)

You can use the 'comments' section of this post to enter your selections against Mississippi State.

Here are the categories/scoring:

Defensive scoring (you make 2 defensive picks like you do for the other categories):

8 Tackles (solo and assisted)= 1 Point
1.5 Sacks= 1 Point
1 Interception= 1 Point
1 Score (TD or safety)= 1 Point

And here are the other categories:

Yards from Scrimmage
Touches from Scrimmage (runs + receptions + passes)
TDs (including returns/blocks)
Point Margin (list one guess--earn 2 points for being within 3, 1 point for being within 6)
(No QBs)

Play On!

Differences with New Offensive Coordinating

First, from EDBS, on not coaching offense from the Booth:
Understatement. It’s always fun. The Orlando Sentinel gently suggests Florida misses Dan Mullen in the booth. Answer this: has there ever been an offensive coordinator who was better from the sidelines than one from the booth? Did we ever see Norm Chow looking up from his sixth brilliantly called touchdown of the day when he wasn’t glowering menacingly from behind the plate glass of the booth? When we think “brilliant offensive coordinator,” we inevitably see someone working silently from the aseptic, quiet environs of the booth, watching dots move around on the field like an indifferent, all-powerful deity. When we think “offensive coordinator on the sidelines,” we see Ed Zaunbrecher. Two fun facts! Steve Addazio calls the offense from the field, and is leading an attack tallying 18 points less than last year’s epic slaughtering crew.

A few commentators brought up Spurrier as a counter-example this.

Here's the Sentinel piece.

This part doesn't sound good:
Meyer says Addazio is doing a "heck of a job."
(Remind anyone of something?)

On the new setup vs. the old:

"The only person who's going to get heat is me," Meyer said. "We're just maneuvering through a difficult part of the schedule. We're trying to get some things worked out."

Not much has changed with the play-calling process.

Florida still calls plays by committee, with Meyer having the final say.

First-year offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, also the offensive line coach, still calls the running game but is more immersed in the overall scheme. Meyer says Addazio is doing a "heck of a job."

Wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales still organizes red-zone offense.

The Gators still draw plays Thursday and Friday they'd like to run early in the game.


Mullen was an extra voice of reason from the press box. Mullen had no problem telling Meyer no.

At last year's FSU game, the field at Doak Campbell Stadium was soaked and Meyer wanted to run Tebow all night. Mullen convinced him to stick with the passing attack because players looked unaffected by rain. The Gators won 45-15.

"That was eight years of being able to say that," Meyer said. "Not many people will say that to me during a [game]. Steve will. Billy Gonzales will."

And you thought Mullen was the overly careful-conservative of the bunch.

More hurry-up?:
After Arkansas flustered Florida with different blitz packages, Addazio said the Gators will rely more on hurry-up offense to avoid "standing there so long watching."

"We have to change tempo," Addazio said.

Still getting comfortable? Really?:

Three offensive assistants have been with Meyer for two years or less, which makes transition inevitable. Quarterback Tim Tebow is building chemistry with quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler after three years with Mullen.

"It's going to take a little time to just get used to each other," Tebow said.

The Pat Dooley Show with Billy D.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Stop Punting!

Here and here:

Pulaski Academy does not punt.

I first heard about Pulaski from Peter Giovannini of Morrilton, Ark., a high school football official who wrote me to report in astonishment that he had just worked a conference championship game in which the winning team never punted, even going for a first down on fourth-and-6 from its own 5-yard line early in the game. "As a devotee of TMQ, I thought you might like to know at least one coach in the vast football universe has experienced the epiphany and refuses to punt the ball away," Giovannini wrote.

That team was Pulaski -- 9-1-1 after having just won its opening-round game in the Arkansas 5A playoffs. Coach Kevin Kelley reports that he stopped punting in 2005 -- after reading an academic study on the statistical consequences of going for the first down versus handing possession to the other team, plus reading Tuesday Morning Quarterback's relentless examples of when punting backfires but going for the first down works. In 2005, Pulaski reached the state quarterfinals by rarely punting. In 2006, Pulaski reached the state championship game, losing by one point -- and in the state championship game, Pulaski never punted, converting nine of 10 fourth-down attempts. Since the start of the 2006 season, Pulaski has had no punting unit and never practices punts. This year, Pulaski has punted just twice, both times when leading by a large margin and trying to hold down the final score. In its playoff victory Friday night, Pulaski did not punt, converting three of four fourth-down tries.

"They give you four downs, not three," Kelley told TMQ. "You should take advantage. Suppose we had punted from our own 5. The odds are the opposition will take over at about the 35, and from there the stats say they have an 80 percent chance of scoring. So even if you only have a 50 percent chance of converting the first down, isn't that better than giving the other side an 80 percent chance of scoring?" For fourth-and-short attempts, the odds of converting are a lot better than 50 percent.

As TMQ endlessly notes, NFL teams convert about 75 percent of fourth-and-1 tries. Yet highly paid professional coaches endlessly send in the punt unit on fourth-and-1, handing a scoring opportunity to the opposition. In the 2006 edition of my annual don't-punt column, I summarized the odds this way: "Nearly three-quarters of fourth-and-1 attempts succeed, while around one-third of possessions result in scores. Think about those fractions. Go for it four times on fourth-and-1: Odds are you will keep the ball three times, and three kept possessions each with a one-third chance of a score results in your team scoring once more than it otherwise would have. Punt the ball on all four fourth-and-1s, and you've given the opponents three additional possessions. (It would have gotten one possession anyway when you missed one of your fourth-and-1s.) Those three extra possessions, divided by the one-third chance to score, give the opponent an extra score."

Kelley says that when he began to shun the punt, people thought he was crazy: "It's like brainwashing, people believe you are required to punt." Players and the home crowd needed to get acclimated to it. "When we first started going on every fourth down," he says, "our home crowd would boo and the players would be distressed. You need to become accustomed to the philosophy and buy into the idea. Now our crowd and our players expect us to go for it, and get excited when no punting team comes onto the field. When my 10-year-old son sees NFL teams punting on short yardage on television, he gets upset because he's grown up with the idea that punting is usually bad."

Preparing the players for the no-punting future of football is a practical concern. If a coach unexpectedly kept his offense in on fourth down in his own territory, and failed to convert, the crowd would boo and the defensive players become demoralized. If the defensive players understood that a no-punting philosophy occasionally would hand great field position to the other side but overall would keep the other side off the field, they would buy into the idea. Imagine, in turn, the demoralizing effect on the opposition if its defense stops its opponent after three downs, only to realize that no punt will follow. For the 2007 edition of my anti-punting column, the stats service AccuScore did thousands of computer simulations based on 2006 NFL games and found that, on average, rarely punting added one point per game to the score of the teams that didn't punt, while not adding any points to their opponents' final scores. Computer simulations showed that rarely punting amounted to roughly one additional victory per season at the NFL level. At the college and high school levels, the bonus might be even higher.

Why do coaches punt on fourth-and-short -- and worse, when trailing or in opposition territory? "Most punting is so the coach can avoid criticism," says Kelley, who has coached Pulaski for five years and got his start in high school coaching in football-crazed Texas. "If you go for it and fail, the first question in the postgame press conference will be, 'Aren't you to blame for losing the game because you didn't punt?' If the coach orders a punt, the media will blame the defense." TMQ has always speculated that the desire to shift blame explains why big-college and NFL coaches send in the punting team. But take note, these days, the media and the postgame news conference are factors even at the high school level.

Pulaski Academy is providing real-world evidence of the future of football. The most important innovation in years is being field-tested by the Pulaski Bruins, and the test is going quite well. But don't just take Kelley's word for it. The decisive snap of Illinois' upset of No. 1 Ohio State on Saturday came when the Illini, leading 28-21 with six minutes remaining, went for it on fourth-and-1 in their own territory. Sports radio generally called this a huge gamble. Actually, it was playing the percentages; Illinois converted and held the ball for the remainder of the game. Had Illinois boomed a punt, the Buckeyes would have been in business. On Sunday, while trailing at Washington, Philadelphia went for it on fourth-and-1 in its own territory in the second half -- Fox television announcer Daryl Johnston called this "a huge gamble!" It was playing the percentages; the Eagles converted, and they scored a touchdown on the possession, igniting a comeback. Trailing 10-2, Buffalo went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Dolphins' 24 in the fourth quarter: a conversion, followed by a touchdown on the possession, keyed the Bills' comeback. Leading defending champion Indianapolis 16-0, San Diego went for it on fourth-and-2 at the Indianapolis 37, converted and scored a touchdown on the possession, going on to win by two points. Three times Jacksonville went for it on fourth-and-short in Tennessee territory, all three times converting and going on to score touchdowns; the Titans went for it on fourth-and-short twice in return, once failing and once scoring a touchdown. As noted by reader Rene Derken of Leuth, the Netherlands, Green Bay went for it twice on fourth-and-short in Minnesota territory, both times scoring on the possession -- but Minnesota punted from the Green Bay 42. Carolina went for it on fourth-and-1 from the Atlanta 20, and the play reached the Falcons' 2 before the Panthers' runner fumbled. Yes, New Orleans failed on a fourth-and-1 attempt in its own territory and went on to lose, and San Francisco failed on a fourth-and-1 on the Seattle 2-yard line when trailing big. But of the high-profile fourth-down tries in the NFL and in the Illinois-Ohio State game this past weekend, 10 were a total success, one a qualified success and three a failure. Not too shabby, compared with passively punting the ball.

And consider the punts that boomed when a play should have been run. Trailing 10-0, San Francisco (2-6) punted on fourth-and-1 from their 48-yard line and several minutes later was trailing 17-0. When the game was still tied, the Giants punted on fourth-and-2 from the Dallas 45. Not coincidentally, by game's end they were desperate for points.

Klosterman on Innovation in, and Love For, Football

Passing, Trust, Etc.

From here:
Last year, Florida had three players with 30 or more catches. In 2007, four Gators had 30 or more receptions.

This season, Hernandez and Cooper have combined for 51 catches for 693 yards and five touchdowns. Starters Brandon James, David Nelson and Deonte Thompson have accumulated 20 catches for 299 yards and four touchdowns — three from Thompson.

Outside of Hernandez (28 catches) and Cooper (23), no other receiver has double-digit catches, and only Thompson has 100 yards (127).

Meyer insists it's not a talent issue and that a few factors have played into the pedestrian numbers by Gator receivers.

For one, Meyer said defenses are causing protection issues for his quarterback. Defenses are giving unexpected looks to Tebow and his line. Players are getting open, but Tebow isn't getting enough time.

Poor protection is also causing Tebow to hold onto the ball a bit longer, causing him to try and make more plays with his feet. Meyer said it can sometimes be an issue to have Tebow hold onto the ball, but he can't blame his quarterback for trying to play smart.

"He’s not a guy that’s going to go take that shot if it’s not there," Meyer said.

Meyer said that while a heavy amount of the passing game has been directed to Hernandez and Cooper, not all those plays have been specifically called for them. They're getting open more because opposing defenses are dictating that.

Tebow took some of the blame for the receivers' numbers, saying his running mentality has caused him to miss open guys. He added that his trust in them isn't a problem.

"In some of those situations it’s me tyring to make a play instead of throwing it away," he said. "I don’t think it’s not having confidence in some of the players," he said. "I have complete confidence in all those guys who are out there playing."

I would add that it's also about trusting the passing pocket. Tebow seemed to often bail it too soon even when he maybe had time to check another receiver.

Tebow And Mullen

Ten months ago, Megan Mullen was packing up her husband's office at the UF Football Complex when a confused Tim Tebow entered.

Former Florida offensive coordinator Dan Mullen and his wife were starting to move on.

Tebow wasn't ready for that.

The Florida quarterback wondered why Mullen had to leave.

He asked Megan why Mullen took the first head-coaching job available.

He even asked if Mullen, now Mississippi State's head coach, really thought he would defeat the Florida Gators when the two collided Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Starkville.

"It was the first time I ever saw his youthfulness," Megan said. "He's so mature and beyond his years in everything, but on that day he was an emotional young man."

Getting Offensive With Demps

From here, by the author of TIMTEBLOG:
At the snap, the number called wasn't Tebow's, but Jeff Demps', who scampered into the end zone untouched around the left end. Tie game. Momentum shifted.

Even for Tebologists who follow No. 15's every step, this felt like a moment of clarity for offensive coordinator Steve Addazio: Florida doesn't have to depend entirely on Tebow to win games. In fact, recent history tells us Demps' stiletto style is a necessary contrast to Tebow's sledgehammer -- it wasn't until Demps and Chris Rainey emerged late in the win over Arkansas last year that Florida's offense really spread its wings and took off into the death phoenix it would become en route to the SEC and BCS championships.

People keep saying that this team is missing its "Percy Harvin," that versatile figure who can stretch the field in the passing game, and the Gators have already held below 24 points -- their lowest point total throughout 2008, against Oklahoma in the BCS title game -- three times. I would argue, though, that the game-tying moment on Saturday illustrated why Jeff Demps is as dangerous as Harvin -- if not as a receiver, then as a runner, and as a change of pace from the onslaught of Tebow that often defines the Gator running game. It is worth asking why Demps doesn't get more touches per game.

Tebow would be Tebow on the Gators' final, game-winning drive: A couple of runs right in line with his four-to-five-yards-per-carry adjusted average for the game, with a couple of completions to Riley Cooper (including the key play on 3rd and 10 to put the Gators in field-goal range -- a great play, but hardly a "Heisman moment.")

The point is this: Even if Arkansas was the "trap" game -- although if you win, it's positioned in hindsight as a "wake-up call" -- it is clear that both the coaches and Tebow are going to ride Tebow's legs all the way to Atlanta for the SEC title game. Theoretically, I would love to find out if Tim Tebow could win an SEC title (or BCS title) all by himself. As a practical matter, he can't. Now that Tebow has re-established himself as the team's thunder, it can't afford to forget about the Harvinesque lightning of Demps.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Getting Away With It

The great EDSBS had this spot-on post, with an accompanying song by one of Ode's favorite groups. The thick of it:

The dazed aftermath doesn’t shield a few essentials about Florida, though. Something is terribly palsied in the offense, in the execution, and in the playcalling. Arkansas played like mad bastards, especially Dennis Johnson the rolling water buffalo on rails, last seen bowling through the entire Florida defense, and wideout Greg Childs. The playcalling is relentlessly uninventive, and the line buckled under pressure from the Razorbacks’ d-line, the other set of Ro-beasts hounding Tebow and sacking him six times. This offense is, in the words of Sophocles, “kinda shitty.”

Arkansas deserves not your pity, nor any opining about the officiating. If they hit two field goals, they win this game, horrific calls and all. The one irritating us most: another inane taunting penalty in the first half, moving SEC officiating further away from the application of rules from a handbook, and more towards the spontaneous review of interpretive dance.

They didn’t, and now Florida will fall to where they properly belong: number two at best, and possibly three if you’re partial to Texas. If they faced Alabama tomorrow, the Gators lose by ten. There’s time to improve, but the problems go deeper than Percy Harvin demonstrating his mutant skills in the NFL. For now, we’re the Iowa of the SEC, and like Iowa, we’re getting away with it for the moment. As dirty as it feels, it is better than the alternative.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Anyone notice that Mullen's new offense scored twice as many points as ours against LSU? Here's a nice love letter to UF's current best coach. The Spurrier and Miles quotes:
"I told Urban Meyer this summer that Charlie is a better coordinator than he was three years ago," said Steve Spurrier, who was Strong's boss from 1991-94. "He said, 'You're right.' ... They seem to know what the other team is doing all of the time.

"Charlie, like all good coaches, if there is a better way to do something, he looks for it."

In a lot of ways it's a perfect storm, Strong evolving constantly and having all of the checkers to line up in whatever defense makes sense.

"The way he attacks you," said LSU coach Les Miles, "he's constantly stirring the pot looking to be better."

Friday, October 16, 2009

OH MY!!! The Pat Dooley Show With The Voice Of The Gators

Some good observations here by Mick which include the differences in interviewing the various UF coaches, calling games in different venues, and the origins of "OH MY!"

(Sorry, I've had trouble embedding these videos.)

Dr. Saturday On Similarities Between '09 Arkansas and '08 Ole Miss

I had also called '09 Arkansas the most likely candidate for our annual SEC West upset. One big difference that should be added to this scenario is that Ole Miss played a close game with the Gators in '07, whereas Florida at Arkansas last year wasn't close (though it was for awhile).

From here:

• Arkansas at Florida.
Arkansas was already designated the Official "Trap" Game of Florida's mythical championship run, a status the Razorbacks solidified by hanging unbeaten Auburn out to dry last week, 44-23. With that score, the 'Hogs have put up 40-plus as underdogs against Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn in a four-week span, and continue to look alarmingly like the Ole Miss outfit that upset Florida at home last year. The scenarios are a little eerie:

• Florida is coming off a big road win. (Over Tennessee in '08; over LSU in '09).
• Ole Miss, while not hyped at all coming into the season, returned four starting offensive linemen, a deep set of maturing receivers with a lot of catches to their name and eight starters on defense from 2007. Arkansas, with only slightly more respect coming into this season, returned three offensive linemen, a deep set of maturing receivers with a lot of catches to their name and nine starters on defense. from 2008
• Both teams have revamped offenses built around a big, hyped slinger who transferred from his original destination. (Jevan Snead in '08; Ryan Mallett in '09)
• Ole Miss consistently hit Tim Tebow with one of the best rushers in the SEC, Greg Hardy, who had two sacks and made the cover of Sports Illustrated on another hurry. Arkansas has one of the best pass rushers in the SEC in Malcolm Sheppard, who already has three sacks and 7.5 tackles for loss despite drawing more attention following his All-SEC breakout as a junior.

Still, Ole Miss needed three Gator fumbles and a missed extra point to pull out an improbable win then. Even if Arkansas gets that kind of fortune, the otherwise high-flying Razorback offense was tied up in a burlap sack and beaten within in an inch of its life in a 35-7 loss at Alabama, and the only defense on par with 'Bama's at the moment is the one the 'Hogs get here Saturday.

(Dr. Saturday predicted a 38-18 Florida win over Arkansas.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

S.B. and Football (hint: it's not "Super Bowl")

Interesting overlap, but a different appraisal on the benefits of SB. Check this Meyer quote against the Shannon video below:

Meyer said he made the mistake early in his coaching career at Florida by not having injured players attend meetings during the season. Naturally, the danger in that is having players fall even further behind in the playbook.

Now, Meyer makes it mandatory for players like Patchan (knee), Andre Debose (hamstring), Jeremy Brown (back) and Carl Moore (back) to attend meetings and to be around the team as much as possible, so when they return they’ll be ready to play.

“The worst thing that can happen to a football player is he sits home and watches TV or ‘Sponge Bob’ or whatever the heck those kids watch,” Meyer said.

Pick 6: Week 4 (Arkansas)

Week 3 (LSU) Results:

Touches: Demps
Yards: Demps & Hernandez
Receptions: Hernandez
TDs: Cooper
Margin: 10

Mary: 9 (2 Defensive Points for Spikes' 2.5 sacks and 11 tackles)
Sean: 9 (2 Def. pts. for Haden's int.-- I picked Haden twice.)
Galapagos: 7 (2 Def. pts. for Spikes' output listed above)


Mary: 19
Sean: 15
Galapagos: 11
Brad: 9
Michael: 4
John: 4
Mark: 1


I've tweaked the defensive scoring on sacks. Instead of 2 sacks equaling 1 point, 1.5 sacks now equal 1 point.

Here is the defensive scoring (you make 2 defensive picks like you do for the other categories):

8 Tackles (solo and assisted)= 1 Point
1.5 Sacks= 1 Point
1 Interception= 1 Point
1 Score (TD or safety)= 1 Point

And here are the other categories:

Yards from Scrimmage
Touches from Scrimmage (runs + receptions + passes)
TDs (including returns/blocks)
Point Margin (list one guess--earn 2 points for being within 3, 1 point for being within 6)
(No QBs)


You can use the comments section on this post to make your picks for the Arkansas game.

Play On!

Is this really the offense?

Apparently so.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

This Week's Pat Dooley Show (with guest James Bates)

What Might a Brantley-led Offense Look Like?


Mumme Poll

Thanks to Smart Football for this link. The 2 main criteria for the poll:

1. The first vote does not take place until after the games of Week Six have been played. Voters are not asked to evaluate teams based on preseason expectations and are not expected to use those as a baseline from which to rank teams for the rest of the year.
2. Rather than being required to rank twenty five D-1 teams in order of preference, Mumme Poll voters submit ballots of the top twelve teams in the country, without ranking (other than to designate the top five of those twelve, for use as a tiebreaker). The poll rankings are then compiled by means of approval voting; that is, the teams are ranked in the order of the total number of times they appear on voters’ ballots.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Best Upsets of the Decade

Pick 6: Week 3-LSU (Including Defensive Changes)

Week 2 (Kentucky) Stats:

Touches: Demps
Yards: Demps
Receptions: Hernandez
TDs: Rainey (off punt block), Hernandez, Cooper
Margin: 34

Participants' Week 2 Points (Total Points in Parenthesis):

Brad 6 (9)
Mary 5 (10)
Michael 3 (4)
Sean 2 (6)
Galapagos 1 (4)
Mark 1 (1)
John 0 (4)

The Gainesville Sun did not declare a Defensive MVP so no points were allotted for that category for the Kentucky game. However, we will include a defensive category for the future, starting this week. Participants will continue to select 2 players (same player may still be selected twice). Points will be allotted for those defensive picks if the players that are picked achieve any of the following:

8 Tackles (solo and assisted)= 1 Point
1.5 Sacks= 1 Point
1 Interception= 1 Point
1 Score (TD or safety)= 1 Point (Just defensive scores, i.e. Haden getting a direct snap TD on offense does not count)

Quick example:

I pick Haden for both of my selections. He intercepts a pass and returns it for a TD. I get 4 total points for this output.

Another example would be if I picked Dunlap and Spikes and Dunlap got 2 sacks, including 1 for a safety, and Spikes intercepted a pass and got 12 tackles. My total points would be 4 again, according to these stats.

Sacks and safeties also count towards tackles, of course.

Here is a handy site for stats, including tackles.

Use the comments section for this post to give your picks for Week 3, the LSU game.

Play On!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

On Tebow's Concussion

The best thing I've come across that sums things up. It also references this piece from the NY Times, which shows this issue is about a lot more than Tebow, but, as EDSBS smartly argues, it is because of Tebow's celebrity that a point can be made about the problem of brain injuries in football and how they are dealt with.

Oh, and Brantley is able.

Also, Harvin has had head issues throughout his life in the form of migraines.

Harvin said he had suffered migraines since middle school and that he has been able to sleep them off in the past. But he required medical attention after a severe bout as a sophomore. Harvin said he experienced nausea and dizzy spells along with the headaches and spent time in the campus health center. He received painkillers, medicine and fluids to combat the effects.

“By the sixth day, my mom and everybody was just crying,” he said at the time. “There was nothing anybody could do. I just had to cry myself to sleep some nights. It got that bad.”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Prediction Week 4

The two biggest questions this week are: Will Meyer open up the Florida offense this week and show some trust in some of his other playmakers? And, How will the flu, that now seems to have hit Tebow, Haden and Wright just prior to game time, affect the Gators performance this week against Kentucky?

The answer to the first question is yes. Sometimes Meyer gets “meyered” in his own “old school” conservative upbringing and the offense suffers. How many times in the past have we heard him say we have to consciously think to get the ball in this playmaker’s hands or throw to that receiver more? I think last week’s conservative game plan was not planned, but developed as the game unfolded.

The answer to the second question is impossible to predict: Who knows how sick these players really are?

Now, let’s talk match-ups.

Florida’s offense vs. Kentucky’s defense

This again will be the key match-up to determine whether this is a blowout or a close game. Kentucky has a highly touted defensive back in Trevard Linley, but that is where the similarity between their defense and Tennessee’s defense ends. Kentucky does not have the speed or talent on defense to contain Florida’s backs or handle Tebow’s runs. Plus, Florida coaches worked hard on getting freshmen receivers Omarius Hines, Frankie Hammond Jr., and T.J. Lawrence game ready this week by giving them the majority of snaps. The talk is they responded. I look for Hines to have a breakout game and Florida’s offense to sail.

Florida’s defense vs. Kentucky’s offense

Kentucky has a few weapons. All-purpose offensive threat Randall Cobb and the speedy Derrick Locke, who anchors a running-back-by-committee approach for the Wildcats, can score from anywhere on the field. But Florida’s defense may be the best in college football. They are two-deep across the board in quality players. What team could have an All-American linebacker the caliber of Spikes miss most of the game and have his back-up win SEC defensive honors for the week? Points will be at a minimum for Kentucky this week, though I think they are a little better than Tennessee on offense.

Special Teams

Both teams have special players returning kicks: Locke for Kentucky and Brandon James for Florida. Locke returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD last week. The key though, is that Kentucky has allowed more big returns than Florida this, giving up a 65-yarder already this year, whereas the longest return against Florida has been 25 yards. Florida has the edge.

Streaks: Florida has beaten Kentucky 22 straight years and has won 13 straight ball games.
Playing No. 1: Kentucky has played a No. 1 team 11 times and won three of those games. The last one was a 43-37, 3-OT win over LSU in 2007. Kentucky has played Florida two other times when they were No. 1 and lost 65-0 in 1996 and 55-28 in 1997.
Last year: The Wildcats expected to play Florida tough last year, based on their overall steady improvement (re: OT win over LSU the previous year), but Florida crushed the Wildcats 63-5 in Gainesville.

Prediction: Florida, 48, Kentucky 10

Thursday, September 24, 2009

'The Percy Position'

On why he could be the Vikings' most valuable. By Smart Football's Chris Brown, with videos.

Rich Rod On Spread Runs

I know his team is not very popular to Gator fans, but this video is helpful.

Mullen's New Offense

For those curious. Thanks to Smart Football for the link. Before getting to nostalgic, especially after the Gator offense struggled, remember that the margin wasn't close on many of these plays and Tennessee arguably has a better defense than Auburn.

Big Football Bias

Kiffin up to his old tricks

Follow the link to a story about Kiffin calling a Florida commit asking him to visit Tennessee on the "down low."

Meyer named coach of the year by Sporting News

No exact date of when the magazine will be here other than sometime this week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Co-ed appeals to Tebow

Pick 6 Kentucky Open Thread

Post picks in comments of this post.

Everyone seemed to know the rules, but just to recap for convenience:

Pick 2 players for each category. You may pick same player for both picks in a category. No quarterback picks (Tebow was already banned, but after thinking this through, it became apparent that many issues would arise if Brantley were to start or if any number of scenarios took place with backup QBs).

Also, picks can be changed: the final submission (in comments) will count unless it's after kickoff.

Yards from Scrimmage
Touches from Scrimmage (runs + receptions + passes)
TDs (including returns)
Defensive MVP (according to Sun)
Point Margin (list one guess--earn 2 points for within 3, 1 point for within 6)

Play on reptilia!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pick 6: Week 1 Points

Happy to be corrected, but here goes:

Yards from Scrimmage & Touches: Rainey
Receptions: Hernandez
TDs: Demps
Defensive MVP (according to Sun): Stamper and Black
Margin: 10

Participant Points:

Mary 5
John 4
Sean 4
Brad 3
Galapagos 3
Michael 1

Play On!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Urban Meyer of the Florida Gators and Lane chatting it up

Week 3 prediction--Tennessee

I don't want to dwell on the obvious emotional layer of this game, so I will set it aside for now and talk match-ups.

Florida Offense, Tennessee Defense
This I believe will be the most intriguing and evenly contested match-up of the afternoon. Tennessee's strength is their defense, both from a talent and a coaching standpoint. Their talent allows them to play a lot of different schemes and throw a bunch of different blitz packages at you. Tennessee will stymie Florida early on by playing Eric Berry as a spy on Tim Tebow. But as the game progresses, Florida's offense will wear them down, while making the necessary adjustments to move the football. Plus Tennessee's offense is prone to mistakes, so the defense will have to defend the short field several times throughout the game.

Florida Defense, Tennessee Offense

This is a mismatch and why I think Florida will win handily. Johnathon Crompton has been so bad at QB, I think Tennessee will try to run first and dink and dunk second. With Lawrence Marsh back at nose, Florida will shut the run down and Crompton will be asked to do something he is not very good at--throw the ball downfield. I think Florida's defense will score at least once and will get at least three turnovers while holding the Vols out of the end zone.

Special Teams

Advantage Gators. The talk has been Nu'Keese Richardson, the super frosh who jilted the Gators. He returns punts, and I look for him to fumble at least one time during the game giving the Gators a chance for an easy score. I also see Brandon James affecting field position. If they kick it to him, he will burn them. If they kick it out of bounds, they will give up valuable field position.

We have all heard over and over again Lane Kiffin's off-season comments. I have no problem with coaches running their mouths because it will all be settled on the field. The real intangible will be the Swamp. Tennessee has a lot of freshmen who see significant playing time (both punt returners are freshmen), and they will not be prepared for the noise or the intensity of the match-up. Can you imagine trying to field a punt with 11 thoroughbreds drawing a bead on your chest while 90,000-plus fans are screaming DROP IT?

My Prediction: Florida 38-9

Pick 6 Update

The rules were tweaked for Pick 6. The updates are in the original post (below). Changes include:

--only 1 guess (instead of 2) at margin-of-victory is accepted. A guess within 6 points of the correct margin will earn a player a point, while guesses within 3 points of actual margin will earn 2 points.

--kick returns for touchdowns count for the touchdown category

--instead of declaring an overall winner per game, we will add our points for any category wins or ties as we go, and an overall winner will be declared after the bowl game. (Ties are ties--no breakers, even at the very end.)

--also, just to be clear, if you select two players that tie for the lead in a category, you get a point for each just like you get 2 points when you select a player twice that is the winner of the category

(If anyone does not specify which margin guess they want to keep, we will accept their first guess of the two. Submissions can be entered or changed anytime before kickoff. The previous post's comments section will still contain our picks this week, so make any changes in those comments and latest entries will count.)

Thanks for playing.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Pick 6- Tennessee

If you would like to play Pick 6 for the Tennessee game, write your picks in the comments section of this post

Pick 6 (updated!)

Welcome to 'Pick 6'- The Gator fantasy game

Here are the rules:

-Anyone can play. Each week there will be a 'Pick 6' post; participants just need to write their picks in the comments section

-We will post the results and declare a winner after each game for each category. There will also be an overall winner at the end of the season which is based upon cumulative points. Points will be based on number of categories that you pick correctly on.

-Only SEC, FSU, and championship/bowl games count

*The Game*

-There are 6 categories: most yards from scrimmage, most touches from scrimmage, most receptions, most touchdowns, defensive mvp (according to 'the Sun'), and margin of victory (regardless of winner)

-Each week you will make 2 picks in each of these 6 categories. You get 1 point for each correct pick, even if the player you pick ties for the lead in that category. On the margin pick, you only get 1 guess--1 point is awarded for being within 6, 2 points for being within 3.

-You make your picks independently of other participants. For example, if I picked Demps for 'most yards', anyone else may also pick him for any category, including 'most yards'

-You can pick the same player for multiple categories. You can also pick the same player twice for the same category. For example, if I feel strongly that Hernandez will have the most receptions, I can use both of my 'most receptions' picks on him. If he ends up with most receptions I would get 2 points, because both of my picks are correct.

--if two players tie for the lead in a category, and you picked both, you get the 2 points

--Kick returns for touchdowns count in the touchdown category

-All stats are according to

-QBs are off limits

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some cool stats--enjoy them while you can

I found these little tidbits at the end of Edward Aschoff's article this week on Gatorsports:
--Florida leads the nation in total offensive yards (1,287)
--Florida leads the nation in yards per touch (10.5)
--Florida leads the nation in offensive touchdowns (16)
--The Gators have three running back in the top 10 nationally in yards per carry:
--No. 1 Jeff Demps (14.7)
--No. 5 Chris Rainey (9.8)
--No. 9 Emmanuel Moody (9.8)
--No other school in the country has two in the top 10.
--With a win Saturday, it would be the first time Florida has led in the all-time series with Tennessee. The series sits at 19-19

These stats were culled from ESPN:
--Tim Tebow (197.9)is second in the country in QB rating to Arkansas' Ryan Mallet (210.3). ND's Jimmy Claussen is third (196.3).
--Jeff Demps ranks 40th in the country in rushing yards (176), but he does only have 12 carries, with three TDs.
--Riley Cooper ranks 23rd in the nation in receiving yards (187 yards on 10 catches).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Week 2 prediction

Today's game against Troy will give the fans a much better indication of what types of new wrinkles the Gators will have on offense and hopefully a peek at how dominating the defense can be.

The Gators still have questions at wide receiver. We had two significant drops in the first game that worry me. Brandon James dropped a short one out of the slot and then Deonte Thompson dropped an easy one that would have been six points. We also don't know if our running game can produce big numbers like last week against the better talent. We will need it to be in high gear when we play Tennessee. I wonder how much of the speed-up offense we will see this week and if will we see Joe Haden at QB. I hope so. I want Tennessee to have to spend time preparing for it before we play them.

On defense, I want to see lots of three and outs and more turnovers.

Troy has enough talent to make the Gators work but not enough depth to stay with the Gators for four quarters. I see the Gators starting slow, but building momentum. Look for a 21-3 halftime lead that eventually expands to a runaway.

My prediction: Florida 51, Troy 6.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


USA Today sportswriter Danny Sheridan, who set the line for all sports in the publication, was in Gainesville this week.

He originally set the Florida-Charleston Southern line at 73 then amended it to 63. But the most interesting thing he said was that Florida right now is favored by 21 or more points in nine of its 12 games. In fact the only game they are not double digit favorites is the one against LSU (9 points).

With such high expectations can come disappointment. My thought is, try to enjoy this year, whether we win by 21 or 1. A win is a win and if we win the eight in the middle (the SEC slate) we play for the SEC title. Those are the most important to win. It helps (or could hurt-more on that later) that three of the four remaining games are patsies, so if you win the SEC, more than likely we will be playing for the BCS title.

Now the hurt part. Say we lose a middle to late SEC game like Georgia or South Carolina. Our strength of schedule outside the SEC is so weak, we may not have time to play back into the title picture unless another SEC West team goes undefeated or is ranked 1 or 2 and we beat them in the SEC Championship.

Enough of the negative vibes. All things now point to a great season for the Gators, so take it one game at a time and sit back and enjoy history being made.

PS: Florida 70, Charleston Southern 3

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Who do you want Florida to play opening day?

There is no dancing around this--Charleston Southern is not going to be much of a challenge. In fact, unless you like watching bullies ganging up on one little kid half their size on the playground, then you won't be much interested in this game after half time. This begs the question: Who should Florida be playing in its opener? An SEC opponent? Utah? Miami? FSU?
According to Urban Meyer, the Gators almost had Utah as an opener. Remember the Utes? They were undefeated last season and some said they should have shared the title with the Gators. That would have been sweet.
I prefer Miami or an SEC opponent because I want there to be more excitement heading into the opener. No matter how you spin it, no one can get excited about playing the Buccaneers (Chas So). Sure, I get excited about opening day. But not about our opponent. What makes the game special is the fear that you might lose. That elevates the game to a whole other level for me.
Just think how pumped you would be right now if we were playing Mississippi State on Saturday!

Percy replacement?

Highly touted freshman Andre Debose sore hamstring is more than just pulled. An MRI revealed he has a tendon tear where the hamstring connects to the bone. If he has to have surgery, he could be out for the year. Debose was tabbed as the heir apparent to take over as next Percy Harvin. Sad for Debose, but it always seemed like Demps, Rainey, Moody and James weren't getting their fair share because Harvin got the ball all the time. it will be exciting to see those other guys get to show what they can do.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Florida loaded for bear...or tiger, or bulldog, or wildcat..

Gainesville Sun Sportswriter John Patton gives 10 reasons why Florida will have an awesome team this year. It's stuff Gator fans already know, but we love to read about how "great it is to be a Flor-i-da Gator."

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Put a leash on Old Smokey

At least one person in Knoxville is grounded in reality. Follow the link to Knoxville News-Sentinel Sportswriter John Adams column on Tennessee's prospects over the next few years.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gator Football Schedule

Sept. 5, 2009 Charleston Southern (FSN-FL) 7:00 pm ET
Sept. 12, 2009 Troy (SEC-TV) 12:00 pm ET
Sept. 19, 2009 Tennessee (CBS) 3:30 pm ET
Sept. 26, 2009 at Kentucky TBA
Oct. 10, 2009 at LSU 8:00 pm ET
Oct. 17, 2009 Arkansas
Oct. 24, 2009 at Miss. State
Oct. 31, 2009 Georgia (CBS) 3:30 pm ET
Nov. 7, 2009 Vanderbilt
Nov. 14, 2009 at South Carolina
Nov. 21, 2009 Florida Int'l
Nov. 28, 2009 Florida State

Gators are No. 1 in AP preseason Top 25 poll

As Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators prepare to make a run at their third national title in the last four seasons, the defending champions have already made some history.

Florida is No. 1 in The Associated Press' preseason Top 25 released Saturday, followed by Texas, Oklahoma, Southern California and Alabama. But the Gators are in a class by themselves, the most overwhelming preseason No. 1 in the history of the media poll.

Florida received 58 of the 60 first-place votes, or 96.7 percent. Texas got the other first-place votes.

The previous highest percentage of first-place votes for the AP preseason poll, which started in 1950, was 95.4 percent for USC in 2007. Those Trojans got 62 of 65 first-place votes — and didn't play for the national title.

Ten preseason No. 1s have won the national championship. If the Gators can become the 11th, they will have put together one of the great runs in college football history. Only one program since 1950 can claim three national championships in four years; Nebraska won it all it 1994 and 1995, then earned a split title in 1997.

With expectations soaring in Gainesville, Fla., coach Urban Meyer has been on a mission to keep his team's eyes on the small prizes — to heck with history.

"There's a lot of guys getting patted on the back and being told how good they are," Meyer said in a recent telephone interview. "Their only focus is on survival to the next day and working hard in practice.

"I don't want them to even think about that kind of stuff. Our goal is to get to Atlanta" for the Southeastern Conference championship game.

The rest of the top 10 includes two Big Ten powerhouses (No. 6 Ohio State and No. 9 Penn State) and the defending Atlantic Coast Conference champion (No. 7 Virginia Tech).

No. 8 Mississippi is in the preseason top 10 for the first time since 1970, when the Rebels were ranked fifth.

Florida is preseason No. 1 for the third time (1994 and 2001), and the Gators are the 20th defending national champ to start the season on top.

From the moment Florida wrapped up its 24-14 victory over Oklahoma in the BCS championship game in January, talk of a repeat started.

And when Tebow a few days later announced at a rally on campus celebrating the national title that he would come back for his senior year, there was no doubt the Gators would be the runaway preseason No. 1.

Florida's rugged, multidimensional quarterback won the Heisman Trophy in 2007 and finished third behind Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and Texas quarterback Colt McCoy last year.

As good as Tebow is — he has a chance to end his career as the most decorated player in college football history with three national title rings and two Heismans — Meyer sees areas for improvement.

"I'd say in the passing game he can certainly improve some things," Meyer said. "Leadership-wise he used to get angry when he felt other guys weren't working as hard as he was. Now he gets those players to play at that level."

While Tebow leads an offense with plenty of speedy game breakers, All-American linebacker Brandon Spikes — another guy who passed on a chance to enter the NFL draft to return for his senior season — leads a defense that has potential to be the best in the country.

All 22 players on the defensive depth chart for the BCS title game are back. Among the standouts are defensive end Carlos Dunlap and cornerback Janoris Jenkins and Joe Haden.

All that experience will allow defensive coordinator Charlie Strong to go deep into his playbook.

"Our defense has been installed at a much greater pace than ever before," Meyer said. "That allows you to put in a lot more different packages, three down (linemen) and four down."

The Gators are one of five SEC teams ranked in the Top 25, matching the Big 12 for the most from any conference. Joining Florida, Alabama and Ole Miss are LSU at No. 11 and Georgia at No. 13.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Meyer to make $4 million a year after agreeing to extension at Florida

Florida football coach Urban Meyer has agreed to a deal that will make him the first $4 million a year coach in the Southeastern Conference — if only for a few moments — and extend the life of his agreement through the next six years, Florida Today has learned.

UF athletic director Jeremy Foley said: "Coach Meyer has certainly proven to be one of the top college football coaches in the country and should be compensated as such. We are proud he is our coach and we appreciate all that he has done for the Gators."

Meyer expressed his appreciation in a statement.

"I continue to be very thankful and appreciative for everything the University of Florida and the Athletic program has done for me and my family. Dr. Machen, Jeremy Foley and the community make this a special place and I'm honored to be a part of it," he said.

He will become the third SEC coach with a deal approaching $4 million per season. He had four years left in his current contract that was worth a little under $3.5 million per year.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Orange and Blue Game

Just got back from the Orange and Blue game. It's difficult to tell the true measure of the team with a scrimmage because so many key players are limited in their playing time, there is no hitting the QB and you have a lot of non-scholarship players filling in gaps. (Andrew Blaylock and Johnathan Phillips alternated at QB in the last couple of series.

Let's start with some high points. I had heard throughout Spring practice that young guys like Frankie Hammond Jr., T. J. Lawrence, Jon Bostic, Brendan Beal, were having great springs and they did not disappoint. Hammond especially had a good game at receiver, even though he missed a couple of catches, granted they were in traffic, but he made some nice grabs, had several good YACs and showed speed and elusiveness.

With Spikes (actually all 11 defensive starters sat) sitting out the game as a precautionary measure, Bostic and Beal made a ton of tackles from their MLB spots. The Gators are ridiculously deep at linebacker and in the secondary. Anytime you have guys like Will Hill and Dorian Monroe running with the twos, you know you've got talent. Monroe, by the way, made a nice one-handed interception of a tipped Tebow pass and had a good return on it.

Two walk-ons who've gotten some press this spring made some good plays in the game. Christopher Scott ran hard and made some good runs. Rick Burgess scored on a 12-yard run and caught a pass out of the backfield. Looks like the Gators plan to throw some to the fullback this year.

Meyer even pulled out a little trickeration for the game. Tebow handed off to Carl Moore for what looked like an end around, but Moore pulled up and completed a pass to Deonte Thompson for a nice gainer. I can see the SEC East defensive coordinators going "Oh crap," as they add another thing to what they must prepare for when they face the Gators.

Other good news is that I didn't see anyone get hurt. injuries have been a problem this Spring, but looks like everyone made it out alive.

Friday, January 23, 2009

ESPN Prestige Rankings

An Explanation.
Gators at 15 (and rising). Early futility and probations are factors that bring down an otherwise impressive recent standing.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Tim Tebow ripped off his sling at the Arkansas-Florida basketball game

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow walked onto the basketball court Saturday with his right arm in a sling.

When he walked off, the sling was dangling from his left hand.

Tebow, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, ripped off his sling at the end of a brief speech at halftime of the Arkansas-Florida basketball game in an effort to assure Gators fans he would be fine following surgery on his non-throwing shoulder.

"Don't worry about this. I'll be fine," Tebow said as he pulled off the sling.

Tebow had surgery Monday, one day after he announced he was staying at Florida for his senior season, and was expected to be ready for spring practice in April. He had a bone spur removed in hopes of reducing chronic inflammation.

Tebow's appearance Saturday came as the Gators were honored again for winning their second national championship in three years.

Several players, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong and coach Urban Meyer received standing ovations as they walked to midcourt.

Strong took a mild shot at anyone who thought Oklahoma was going to continue its streak of scoring at least 60 points against his defense.

"Anyone who thought Oklahoma was going to score 60 on us, it's a shame," Strong said, adding that he has everyone on his two-deep depth chart returning. "If someone scores a touchdown, don't get too excited. We're going to find a way to win."

Then he added, "When you have Tim Tebow, you always have a chance."

Cornerback Joe Haden thanked Tebow and linebacker Brandon Spikes for staying in school, then said, "We're going to win it again next year."

The loudest ovation -- not surprisingly -- was for Tebow.

He earned the offensive MVP award in the Bowl Championship Series title game. Tebow was 18-of-30 passing for 231 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions in the 24-14 victory. He also ran for 109 yards, most of it in the second half.

"I think we proved who should have won the Heisman this year," receiver David Nelson said.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Spikes to return !

ESPN is reporting that Florida linebacker Brandon Spikes is returning for his senior season.

An official announcement from UF is expected to come later today. The deadline for underclassmen to declare for the draft is today at midnight.

UF is still awaiting word on junior wide receiver Percy Harvin. Harvin has not made an official announcement yet, but at least one family member has said he is going to enter the draft.

Will Forte debuts his BCS song on Weekend Update.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tebow returning for senior season

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow began to walk off the stage to close the Gators' national title celebration Sunday. Then the junior stopped.

"Oh, and by the way, one more thing," Tebow said. "Let's do it again. I'm coming back."

With Tebow back, the Gators probably will begin the 2009 season atop the polls. Florida returns most of a defense that held Oklahoma -- which averaged 54 points a game this season -- to 14 points in Thursday's BCS title game.

Gators coach Urban Meyer said Sunday that linebacker Brandon Spikes and receiver Percy Harvin, both juniors, are still trying to decide whether they should enter the NFL draft.

"They're still researching," Meyer said. "That's all I want is for them to make a good decision."

Friday, January 9, 2009

"It's Amazing"

"Amazing" an "Ode to the Gators" original video with Kanye West featuring Young Jeezy

Best win of them all

Thursday night's national title win over Oklahoma was the Gator's best title win ever, capping their best season.
1996 was special because it was the first and it came against FSU, a team we lost to earlier in the season, but it was a blowout.
In 2006, the season was special because I didn't believe we had the offense to be national champs, but our defense carried us the whole way. Again the title game was a blowout.
But this win, and season, was special. We beat No.1 teams in back-to-back games with all the chips at stake. Our offense-talent wise- was the best ever and the defense was one of the best ever. And the final game was a classic, the best BCS title game yet. It was the first time the title game had been tied in the fourth quarter. It featured the greatest offense in the history of college football against one of the best defenses in the country. It pitted a conference known for its offensive firepower against a conference loaded with great defenses. And in the end, it was the greatest college football player/leader refusing to let his team lose.
I like the blowouts, but they aren't as satisfying as winning a tough battle. And this season was a battle the whole way. The 2008 champs battled through dozens of injuries, a loss to Mississippi and two No. 1 teams to win it all.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Bowl records by conference

With one bowl game remaining--Florida vs. Oklahoma--we can get a clearer picture of how each conference fared during the bowl season.

ACC (10) (4-6)

Big East (6) (4-2)

Big 12 (7) (4-2)

Big Ten (7) (1-6)

Conf USA (6) (4-2)

MAC (5) (0-5)

Mountain West (5) (3-2)

Pac 10 (5) (5-0)

SEC (8) (5-2)

Sun Belt (2) (1-1)

WAC (5) (1-4)

Independent (2) (1-1)

Making a case for a BCS Buster

Everyone who reads this knows we favor a college football D-1 playoff system.
With that out of the way, I want to make a case for why the AP should vote Utah No. 1. The BCS No. 1 ship has sailed; whoever wins the UF-Okla game is BCS champ.
--Utah is the only undefeated team. Sure they didn't play as tough of schedule as other traditional BCS schools day-in-and-out, but they beat everyone they played and some of those teams were the toughest teams in the nation.
--Utah bookended their season with wins over two of the greatest college football programs in the history of the game: Michigan and Alabama.
--The Alabama win was especially impressive. They beat Alabama a its strength--in the trenches--something all the experts said couldn't be done. They also showed they have the speed to match up with any team in the country and a quarterback who makes great decisions.
--Utah beat Oregon St., right after Beavers beat USC.
--Utah beat TCU, another program on the rise, which showed it belongs in the BCS talk in the future.

Now could I make a case for Utah as No. 1 and call myself a true Gator fan? Well it is my confidence in the Gators, but also my desire for college D-1 presidents to ditch the archaic postseason play system we have now and put in a real playoff system where the games have meaning. Bowl game supporters argue just the opposite--that the playoffs will render the regular season as meaningless. I can now only point to Utah's win over Alabama and say if the AP doesn't name them co-champ, then their win is truly meaningless.

Bowl Winners by conference

I have calculated the results of the bowl games up to the Utah-Alabama. I'll update again after each game up to the title game between UF and Okla.

So far, the ACC, Pac 10, Sun Belt, WAC, Mountain West and Independents have finished their games with the Pac 10 going undefeated.

--The numbers in parentheses next to the conference names are the number of teams in bowl games and the conferences' record so far.
--Following each team is W or L with their opponent in parentheses.

ACC (10) (4-6)

Virginia Tech-W (Cincy)

Wake Forest-W (Navy)

Florida State-W (Wis)

Maryland-W (Nev)

North Carolina-L (WVA)

Miami-L (Cal)

NC State-L (Rut)

Boston College-L (Vandy)

Georgia Tech-L (LSU)

Clemson-L (Neb)

Big East (6) (3-2)

USF-W (Memphis)

W. Virginia-W (NC)

Rutgers-W (NC St)

Pittsburgh-L (Ore St)

Cincinnati-L (Va Tech)

Connecticutt- (Buff)

Big 12 (7) (3-2)

Missouri-W (NWstrn)

Kansas-W (Minn)

Nebraska-W (Clem)

Okla St-L (Ore)

Texas Tech-L (Ole Miss)

Oklahoma- (UF)

Texas- (OSU)

Big Ten (7) (1-5)

Iowa-W (SoCarol)

Wisconsin-L (FSU)

Northwestern-L (Mizzou)

Minnesota-L (Kansas)

Michigan St-L (Georgia)

Penn St.-L (USC)

Ohio St.- (Texas)

Conf USA (6) (3-2)

Southern Miss-W (Troy)

Houston-W (Air Force)

Rice-W (W. Mich)

Memphis-L (USF)

East Carolina-L (Ky)

Tulsa- (Ball St)

MAC (5) (0-3)

Buffalo- (UConn)

Ball St.- (Tulsa)

W. Michigan-L (Rice)

C. Michigan-L (FAU)

N. Illinois-L (LaTech)

Mountain West (5) (3-2)

Utah-W (Ala)

TCU-W (Boise St.)

Colorado St-W (Fresno St)

Air Force-L (Houston)

BYU-L (Ariz)

Pac 10 (5) (5-0)

Arizona-W (BYU)

California-W (Mia)

Oregon-W (Okl St)

Oregon St.-W (Pitt)

USC-W (Penn St.)

SEC (8) (5-2)

Vanderbilt-W (Bos Coll)

LSU-W (GaTech)

Georgia-W (Mich St)

Mississippi-W (Texas Tech)

Kentucky-W (E Carol)

South Carolina-L (Iowa)

Alabama-L (Utah)

Florida- (Okla)

Sun Belt (2) (1-1)

Troy-L (SoMiss)

FAU-W (C.Mich)

WAC (5) (1-4)

Louisiana Tech-W (No Ill)

Fresno State-L (Colo St)

Boise St.-L (TCU)

Hawaii-L (ND)

Nevada-L (Mary)

Independent (2) (1-1)

Navy-L (Wake Forest)

Notre Dame-W (Hawaii)