Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Email back n forth on 09 Gators

Chain of emails to follow between Threet and me discussing the upcoming season. The email that triggered was a cut n paste job from a message board post that served as a "season preview". It's much too long to include here.

The Emails

From: Threet Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:24 AM

My thoughts on the write up:

Interesting read. I agree about Arkansas, they concern me for the exact reasons he pointed out.

Additionally, I don’t think we completely blow out Tennessee. I think we dominate the game with the outcome never really being in doubt, but the score will not reflect the domination, 34 – 7 we win. However, I’d love 56 - 0.

Finally, I completely agree about Will Hill – but, the real question is who will he replace? Black or Wright? I think he’ll overtake Wright. Black has proven to be a opportunistic ball hawk with an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time. Wright, while a big hitter, seems to struggle in coverage occasionally, which is why I think Hill will take his starting job. Or maybe one of them gets injured, who knows? Hill seems capable of making the big hits and aptly covering WRs in the open field, plus he has a fun name to say. Last year on every kickoff, I’d look over at Erica and say watch Will Hill, sure enough he would usually come flying down the field and make the tackle.

From: Nate Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:16 AM

That guy started to lose me with his kooky details like “Tebow fakes an injury”. I jotted some notes as I read. Overall though it isn’t silly to predict an unbeaten successful
Defense of the title. A few thoughts in bullet form

· I disagree that TX/OU and USC/OSU are elimination games. Anything can happen in college football. That year GA Tech/and Colorado split the national title was dropped right in the middle of a run where Notre Dame and Miami were dominant and winning titles. Out of the blue we had a year when teams for seemingly no reason were losing multiple games.
· I agree that Penn State is a real possibility to go all the way. I wouldn’t call them dark horse though. An unbeaten Big Ten team, unless there are three unbeatens, should not be excluded from the title game.
· His logic on Tebow’s Heisman win is flawed. Voters aren’t going to get all misty eyed when they vote. His “third candidate” thing, referring to Harrell last year, is wrong. Harrell wasn’t on anyone’s ballot last August, so why can’t there be someone else potentially waiting to explode that isn’t talked about now (Reesing from Kansas maybe). I’m not saying Tebow won’t win, but it isn’t going to be due to anything that has to do with last season or lifetime achievement awards. If anything Colt McCoy has the lifetime achievement award potential because he doesn’t have that award on his resume yet.
· I agree that the defense stepping up and giving us more three and outs is going to play a big part in the offense’s ability to generate points
· Comparing the defense to the 60’s is asinine. That was a completely different era of football. To say “we won’t approach the 1960 defense for points allowed is like predicting that David Price won’t pass Cy Young for all time wins. But then he says we will compare to the1963 team, which is total BS. Our defense is good but they aren’t going to be that freakishly good, to where we routinely hold opponents to around 10 points a game.
· Black and Jenkins didn’t come out of the blue. Both guys were giant recruits that were expected to start and play well.
· I agree on Will Hill. No offense Major Wright, because he’s a good safety, but Black is too good to sit down. I think it is funny that he says nobody will emerge, and in the next point he predicts that Will Hill will supplant a current starter.
· Totally agree on Hernandez. I love that guy. I think there is strong evidence for his statement on the receivers. Percy was so good, we really couldn’t take touches away from him. There is a stable of talent that is untested, I think that is the best way to put it.
· Hysterical that he predicates all his statements on “no injuries” and then predicts a major injury in the Charleston Southern game.
· He has Brantley playing against LSU. Not going to happen. Tebow doesn’t sit in a game played on the road against a national title contender unless it’s 70-0.
· You and I discussed Arkansas a few weeks ago, so we’re all on the same page here. Agreed that this is the sleeper game.

I’m not ready to predict a final outcome to our season. I will say though:

· I know we are deep on offensive line, but you cannot avoid the fact that we’ve lost both starting tackles. The poster discounts OU as a contender because they lost starters on the line. Well so did we. I wasn’t a big fan of Trautwein, but he was a 5th year senior. I have a little concern about our tackles. I’ll leave it at that.
· Ironically the Gainesville sun has an article on this today. I think losing Murphy is a big f-ing deal. I worry that we won’t have a receiver that can play the role he played last season. He was a completely different player than Percy, and we need someone like him to run those routes and make those catches. Riley Cooper is not up to the challenge. Cooper has a role that he plays nicely, and he shouldn’t be asked to do anything differently this year. I’m hoping Nelson can fill Murphy’s shoes.
· I’ve always felt that people worried too much about LSU. I’ve been a big believer that, even in the years we’ve lost to them, we were good enough to beat them. This year I think people are underestimating LSU. They went in the tank at the end of last year. They’re a better team than their record indicates. I think we can all agree that Auburn, Mississippi State, and Arkansas are not serious threats to win the West. Of the remaining three (LSU, Bama, and Ole Miss) LSU looks like the favorite. I question our ability to beat a team more than once, simply because we’ve never been given that task in the Meyer era. In my years of watching Gator football I can only recall four rematches within a season.
o 1994 FSU – Tied in the regular season and lost in the Sugar Bowl
o 1996 FSU – Lost in the regular season and won the Sugar Bowl
o 1999 Bama – Lost both games
o 2000 Auburn – Won both games
That 2000 Auburn team pales in comparison to the LSU teams of recent years. If we played Auburn 20 times that year I think we would have won 20 times. The other three examples are good indicators of why I am worried about rematches. That 1994 tie felt like a loss by the way. That reminds me. I saw a message board poster yesterday comment that the 2007 LSU game was the most upset he has ever been watching a gator game. Most people agreed with him. I think this is a pretty strong indicator that the message board community, by and large, is made up people who were out of touch prior to Meyer’s arrival. I’ve had other losses that stung more, but I’ve never been blindsided the way I was in November of 1994 when FSU tied us. I remember Bobby Bowden being interviewed on the field afterward and he slipped and called it a win. I can’t blame him for that.

The poster also alluded to our rivals being giddy over our impending doom when Timmy graduates. I have a lot of faith in Brantley. I feel he is better positioned than Doug Johnson was in 97 to take over for a seemingly irreplaceable quarterback, and Doug Johnson was two Friday night benders away from having a really nice season that year.

I think the Gators are in really good shape. It’s really just the tackles and the untested WR talent that concern me. Other than that I see no reason why we shouldn’t be able to beat everyone on our schedule. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Ole Miss or Bama to win the west.

From: ThreetSent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 2:07 PM

- Agree about Penn State being a legitimate contender for BCS NC game, but let’s say at the end of the year Texas is the undefeated Big 12 Champion, Penn State is the undefeated Big 10 Champion, and either Florida or LSU is the 1 loss SEC Champion. I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility to think a 1 loss SEC Champion, especially considering Florida and LSU completely destroyed Big 10 Champs in recent BCS NC games, could get in ahead of Penn State. I don’t want to delve into the math of the BCS, but I do know human polls account for 2/3 of the final BCS tally. If both the human polls voted the 1 loss SEC team ahead of Penn State, couldn’t the SEC team get in? Now there are a lot of other factors out there, mainly – would voters (including other coaches) do that to an aging Joe Paterno? Who knows what would/could happen, but as usual the BCS could turn into a real mess.

- He’s right on about our rivals (and other non-Gator fans) being giddy about Tebow finally being gone in 2010 and predicting mediocrity. I hear this all the time – “you better enjoy it this year, because next year you won’t have Tebow,” etc.. Usually I just smile and say, “We’ll see.” Many people don’t realize how well Meyer has recruited the past few years and how much talent we have. I don’t expect 2010 to be a NC year, but I certainly think we can contend for the SEC. I think the common misconception is that Tim Tebow is Florida football, but in reality Urban Meyer currently is Florida football, which is why we’ll be fine after Tebow leaves.

- It’s probably too early to chart this, but it’s still fun. Barring injuries, Meyer has the depth chart at QB setup perfectly. Brantley, after 3 years on campus, will be a redshirt junior next year, 2010, when he will likely be the starter. Behind Brantley we have Jordan Reed, who will likely redshirt this year, and we have Trey Burton committed in the 2010 class, who will likely redshirt in 2010. So we have 2 years of Brantley, then Reed, who will be a redshirt junior, and Burton, who will be a redshirt sophomore, left to compete for the 2012 starting job. Granted a lot of things can happen, Jordan Reed can decide he wants to steal a laptop, Trey Burton could go somewhere else, John Brantley could suffer a career ending injury, maybe Brantley develops a lazy eye, but it’s interesting to look at how Meyer has built the depth at QB. I had to make a table to make sure I got it all straight:

Year Starter Backup 3rd String
2009 Tebow (Sr.) Brantley (R So.) Reed (Redshirt)
2010 Brantley (R Jr.) Reed (R. Fr.) Burton (Redshirt)
2011 Brantley (R Sr.) Reed (R. So.) Burton (R. Fr.)
2012 Reed (R. Jr.)? Burton (R. So.)?

- During FSU’s glory years, I think a significant part of their success was how they managed depth at QB, of course they also had great defenses and skill position players. Once someone graduated, the incumbent starter was usually a junior who had been on campus for at least a couple years and was familiar with the system and the game at the collegiate level, which seems to translate into more consistency between years and ease the transition of breaking in a new QB. Take a look back at their QBs in the 90s, it’s a pretty solid list – 2 Heisman trophy winners. Things really started to go downhill once Weinke graduated and they were forced to play a young, inexperienced Chris Rix.

Year Player Class Comments
1990 Weldon Jr.
1991 Weldon Sr. Later on as a Buc, had it out with Trent Dilfer on the golf course
1992 Ward Jr.
1993 Ward Sr. Won Heisman and NC
1994 Kanell Jr.
1995 Kanell Sr.
1996 Busby Jr. Played for NC
1997 Busby Sr.
1998 Weinke So. Played for NC
1999 Weinke Jr. Won NC
2000 Weinke Sr. Won Heisman and played for NC

- Not really related to the QB depth and progression, but I got started with this and I thought it was interesting - Looking at recent NCs it appears having an upperclassman at QB is a prerequisite (except for 2003 USC):

1993Florida StateWardSenior
1999Florida StateWeinkeJunior
2002Ohio StateKrenzelSenior

From: Nate Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 2:45 PM

Good table on big ten champs. I had no idea it was that bad. I agree that Florida, regardless of what happens on the field against the SEC, would destroy any team from the Big Ten this year. But then again, I would have said the same thing going into 2007, and look what we did in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan.

Your hypothetical involving FL/TX/PSU is the BCS nightmare for this season. I still think Penn State would get in over Florida. If the schedule plays out the way it should, your scenario would have Florida losing the toughest game on the schedule. The only quality win to our name would be Georgia (neutral site). Yes, I know your scenario also calls for us mopping the floor with LSU in Atlanta, but that still wouldn’t erase the fact that our only true test on the road was failed. I think there is a big backlash against SEC hype in this country, and given the amount of respect (deserved or not) that the Big Ten gets, I cannot envision a scenario that puts the screws to Penn State like that. Plus their coach is Joe Pa. Joe Pa has been f-ed numerous times by polls in his younger days. I think the human polls would see to it that their votes outweighed anything the computers would do to them because of their paltry schedule. Check out Penn State’s schedule

(Bold games are conference games prior year’s record in brackets)
Iowa (9-4)
@Illinois (5-7)
Eastern Illinois
Minnesota (7-6)
@ Michigan (3-9)
@ Northwestern (9-4)
Ohio State (10-3)
Indiana (3-9)
@ Michigan State (9-4)

These guys will probably win their home games. So we’re counting on Northwestern or Michigan State to hand them an L.

Other than UGA and LSU our schedule isn’t very daunting. We can’t afford a misstep.

From: Threet Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:51 PM

Our schedule may not be daunting, but I wouldn’t mind trading it for Penn State’s schedule, which is a joke.

I enjoyed the On Rocky Top except. I’ll probably read it once my old man is done with it.

From: Nate Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 2:56 PM

We talked about Jordan Reed earlier. This was in the Sun today:

Days after freshmen Jonotthan Harrison and Mike Gillislee got their black stripes taken off their helmets, coach Urban Meyer said that quarterback Jordan Reed had his removed as well.
It wasn’t necessarily Reed’s progression as a quarterback that has impressed Meyer; it was his ability to take down freshman defensive lineman Kedric Johnson in the “Circle of Life” drill.
“He’s really going hard,” Meyer said after Monday’s practice. “(He has) no idea what he’s doing, but we’ll get that done.”
Reed’s performance might also have an affect on how future quarterbacks are treated.
“I guess we’ll start that tradition. If you’re a quarterback and you defeat a defensive lineman (in the circle of life drill) you get your stripe off,” Meyer said.
From: Threet Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:03 PM

I’ve heard a little bit about him and that clip from the Sun reinforces what I’ve heard – he’s a big physical guy, similar to Cam Newton. Maybe in 2010, we’ll use him in the 2006 Tebow role.

From: NateSent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:05 PM

One thing I forgot to mention about the 2010 team: the way recruiting has gone on defense, we have a ton of great players on that side of the ball, it makes it easier for the offense to transition between key players at the skill position when in all likelihood we will have a defense every year that keeps opponents at bay. I think we have more talent on defense now than I can ever remember.

From: Threet Our depth at LB is ridiculous. There’s another beast at LB we’re after this year – Jeff Luc. He looks like a hoss and I think Urb will reel him in.

From: Nate
Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 3:24 PM

I just got through listening to Finebaum interview some media type (named Hooker) from Knoxville about the Vols upcoming season. Hooker painted a pretty bleak picture. Said that they are lacking in talent. For all his shortcomings Kiffin did reel in a decent class. Even if he can’t coach a lick, if Kiffin hangs around for 3 or 4 years and stocks their cupboard Tennessee could be in good shape to bring in another coach and their program could be back on track. Kiffin had a good track record recruiting at USC, but you could argue that isn’t hard to do. Imagine how easy any of the big 3 Florida schools would have had it in the 90s if they were the only school worth going to in the state.

I understand where UT fans are coming from. In the summer of 2002 we were all spinning the impending Ron Zook era to be something we all subconsciously knew it would not be. My uncle from Maryland predicted in the summer of 1997 that we would go undefeated and repeat as national champions because he had been reading glowing reports about Doug Johnson in “Gatorbait”. He was dead serious too. I get more worked up thinking about the 98 team than I do the 97 team. Neither of those losses should have happened. 2001 is the most referenced disappointing season, but 1998 ranks right up there. We had a really good team, and our season changed on two plays. We would have torched Tennessee in the Fiesta Bowl that year if given the chance.

From: Threet Funny you mention both ’97 and ’98 – I was thinking about those teams on the can earlier (I’m serious, that isn’t a joke) and I came to the same conclusion – ’97 was a good team, tough loss to LSU and a bad loss to UGA. Then they assumed the underdog role and pulled the upset on Florida State and finished the season with a ho hum Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State. The ’98 team was very good, potentially great. We lost a heartbreaker to UT in Knoxville and somehow lost to FSU with the Rooster as QB (f-ing Marquand Manual) and we finished the season by destroying a Donovan McNabb led Syracuse team in the Orange Bowl.

From: Nate Sent: Tuesday, August 18, 2009 4:00 PM

That literally made me laugh out loud.

The five season of Spurrier after the national championship did not go the way people envisioned. From 90-96 the program was on a steady ascent to the top. All the pieces were in place.

In 97 LSU beat us by one lousy touchdown. Doug Johnson threw 4 freaking interceptions that day, and no touchdowns. Any average QB could have quarterbacked us to a win that night. I know Georgia beat us by 20 that year, but Johnson and Brindise combined for 0 TDs and 3 INTs. The Gators basically gave up in the 4th quarter of that game. It was almost like the team decided not to give a sh1t because we already had a loss.

98 we’ve covered ad nausea. That team could have won a national title.

The 99 season turned when DJax dropped that punt against Bama. We probably still lose to FSU, and Bama probably still drills us in Atlanta, but the season seemed to turn after that home loss.

In 00 heading into FSU our only loss was to Miss St (inexplicably). I still can’t believe Spurrier started Jesse over Rex in that game. His biggest mistake as head coach

01 – We all know what happened

The Meyer era has a different tone. We ascended to the top so fast, and it feels like the whole goal now is to stay on top. Quite a different feel than the 90s. The difference makers from year to year are always one or two games, and our championship teams completed the task and teams like 97 and 98 I guess just weren’t good enough. 98 for me is becoming increasingly difficult to swallow.

From: Threet That ’99 loss to Alabama in the Swamp was tough. I remember strutting into that game with no doubt that we would win. I also remember some lunatic slamming his visor into the aluminum seating at Ben Hill Griffin about 700 times that afternoon.

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