Every week, the Florida offense seems to be getting better and I think this week will be no exception.
Not only has Johnny Brantley been coming on as quarterback, but the running game has taken shape with Jeff Demps developing into a good enough player maybe to deserve Heisman attention after his 255 all-purpose yards last week.
Emmanuel Moody stepped up against South Florida and I really love the way Mike Gillislee runs. So the running game can take care of its business, now that Carl Johnson and Xavier Nixon are back in the offensive line.
Despite the loss of Chris Rainey, these Gators are well-coached and talented. So I think they will take care of business on the road Saturday in Knoxville.
It looks like Urban Meyer has decided to start Omarius Hines as the slot position vacated by Rainey and I think that’s a good decision. Hines has not only been one of the team leaders, but with a big body and good hands, plus the ability to block, he will be a big asset to Brantley and the offense.
Behind him, I think Robert Clark could do fine. I’ve known Robert for a long time because he’s from my hometown of a Belle Glade and he’s one of the hardest working players you’ll ever see. He’s fast, has good hands and is fairly physical for a wide receiver. If he gets the call, I have confidence he can get the job done.
Of course, Andre Debose has a little more knowledge of the offense, being a red-shirt freshman, but not much more game experience that Robert. And he has been playing at the X poison. Debose is talented and I’d love to see him back in the slot some day, but he is needed at the X.
Tennessee week is quite a spot to get your first action or first start, but once Clark or Debose gets in the flow it will be like high school to Andre. Debose and Clark come from big-time high school programs and they are accustomed to playing in big games. They have played in front of thousands of people. Of course, college ball is a different deal, but I don’t think they’ll be nervous once the game gets underway.
I remember the first time I played at Neyland Stadium. It was 1994 and, as always, the place was packed, but it got quiet in a hurry when we put a whippin’ on the Vols, 31-0. As I recall when Fred Taylor scored, he cupped his hand to his ear as if he couldn’t hear the fans.
We spent quite a bit of time in those checkerboard end zones at Shields-Watkins Field that night and the Vols never touched them as our defense shut them out. As I recall that’s the last time Tennessee was held scoreless.
We went into the game ranked No. 1 and Tennessee was 14th. Terry Dean had a big night and his name was being mentioned as a possible Heisman winner until he ran into Auburn later in the year and got in Steve Spurrier’s doghouse for his statements about being benched.
But we’ll always have that night in Knoxville, because it was there we planted the seeds of three straight SEC championships for our class and a national title in 1996. And Peyton Manning made his debut that night in relief of Todd Helton – but he never beat the Gators. So thank you, Tennessee.
For me that was the beginning of my SEC competition and I didn’t do all that much – caught one or two balls. If Terry Dean hadn’t overthrown me, though, I’d have probably scored at least once.
I always loved the big crowds on the road and instead of getting nervous, I got excited. That’s what I’m hoping some of these young players for Urban Meyer will do Saturday afternoon.
On our Tuesday night GCTV Show, I was asked about the blocking of the receivers and the uncaught balls to Deonte Thompson. First off I think the blocking was better and, as I said before, desire is the key to wide receivers blocking.
As for Deonte, I think Johnny has it figured out: Keep throwing to DT even if he fails to catch one. He’s going to make big plays for you and Johnny knows that.
People looking in from the outside always say, “that was catchable.” But when you’re out there running around it’s different for the eyesight of the receiver. When Johnny says he’s going to stay with Deonte, he knows that all receivers drop balls.
Look at Terrell Owens. He’s led the league in drops several years and yet may wind up in Canton someday.
It all just depends on how many opportunities you get as a receiver. Deonte got quite a few against USF and made the most of them with six catches for 83 yards.
Receivers need confidence. They can’t get it on the bench of if the quarterback stops throwing to them. And with Johnny and Deonte, who have been together for four years, that’s not going to happen. Watch for them both to have a big game.
(Reidel Anthony, voted among the 50 greatest Gators players of all timw, was a consensus All-American in 1996 when Florida won the national championship. He was the 16th pick in the NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Bucs and now coaches receivers at Trinity Catholic in Ocala.)
GAME 3: FLORIDA AT TENNESSEE
(Sept. 18, Knoxville, Tenn., 3:30 p.m., CBS)
1. Martin Chronicles: Urban Meyer says “It’s SEC time” and so it’s time for his young Gators to grow up in a hurry, starting Saturday on Rocky Top. Click below:
2. Draining Poole: Florida should find out Saturday how good its defensive front is when the Gators encounter Tennessee running back Tauren Poole. Click below:
3. Defending his program: In the wake of the arrest of Chris Rainey, Urban Meyer met with the media Thursday and addressed the perception that his program is out of control. Click below:
4. First road start: Quarterback John Brantley has played before on the road for the Florida Gators. Saturday he gets his first start. Click below:
5. Seeing the Light: Offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert has come a long way as a player and even longer as a person. Click below:
6. The Gator Country.com Top 25: The poll for the third week of the college football season. Click below:
1. The Final Words: Florida head coach Urban Meyer addresses questions about his program, Chris Rainey’s suspension, the players who will replace him and the team’s young recruiting corps. Jesse Walker’s video. Click below:
ANALYSIS / COMMENTARY
1. The Matchups: Our Dugan Arnett beaks down the Tennessee Volunteers position-by-position for their battle with Florida Saturday on Rocky Top. Click below:
2. For the Defense: There’s certainly going to be congestion around 105,000-plus-seats Neyland Stadium Saturday, but Gator great Scot Brantley feels Florida needs to create some congestion to stop Tauren Poole and Co. of Tennessee. Click below:
3. On the Offense: Former Florida All-American Reidel Anthony likes the development he sees in the Gators’ offense, especially in the offensive backfield now that the offensive line is intact. Click below:
1. See and hear: Telecast and broadcast information for Saturday’s game. Click below:
2. Florida: Updated schedule, depth chart, roster and statistics for Tennessee game. Click below:
3. Tennessee: Updated schedule, depth chart, roster and statistics for Florida game. Click below:
4. Week 3: Who the schools in the Gator Country.com Top 25 are playing and the rest of the games this week involving all FBS teams and selected FCS and Florida college games. Click below:
1. Hometown kicks: Dallas Stubbs of Gainesville High School wouldn’t mind kicking for his hometown Florida Gators. John Patton’s story leads off a roundup of games around the Sunshine State and how select prospects from the Class of 2011 fared. Click below: