Franz Beard's Thoughts of the Day; May 29

A few thoughts to jump start your Memorial Day...

Florida has a long and storied history of producing great defensive linemen. Here is one man’s list of the greatest D-linemen in UF history.

Lynn Matthews (DE): Matthews’ reputation as a collegiate player was two-fold: big plays and mean. He was always around the football and made a lot of big plays and was known as one of the meanest (not dirty, just mean) players in the game. He was a first team All-American in 1965. Ironically, he never made first team All-SEC and was a second team pick in 1964-65.
Jack Youngblood (DE):
Before he played a Super Bowl with a broken leg, Youngblood was already a legend. Against Florida State in 1968 he sacked the quarterback four times. In 1969, he Youngblood had five of Florida’s 11 sacks of Bill Cappleman. In 1970, he was everybody’s first team All-American even though everybody ran away from him and he commanded at least a double team on every play. He’s a member of both the College and Pro Football halls of fame. 
David Galloway (DT):
Galloway played both inside and outside during a Florida career that was marred by injuries, but he still made second team All-SEC in 1980 and first team in 1981 when he also made first team All-American. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals and Denver Broncos.

Robin Fisher (NT): Fisher was an undersized but way too quick nose tackle from 1978-81. How he never made All-SEC is anyone’s guess. He was in on 346 tackles, an unheard of number for a nose tackle.

Tim Newton (NT): Newton was listed at 6-0 and that was generous. He was also listed at 280 pounds and that was kind (300 more like it). He could also dunk a basketball. From 1981-84 he was a fireplug nose tackle who filled two gaps and forced everybody the Gators played to give help to the center. Newton was second team All-SEC in 1983, first team in 1984 when he was a second team All-America selection. He went on to play nine years in the NFL with the Vikings, Bucs and Chiefs. 

Rhondy Weston (DT): He should have made All-America, particularly after playing the last four games of the 1987 season with a broken jaw. He made second team All-SEC that year and had nine sacks. In 1988, he had10 sacks and made second team All-SEC. You couldn’t run on him and blocking him was an impossibility. He spent two seasons in the NFL with the Cowboys and Bucs.

Trace Armstrong (DE): Due to what was deemed an “academic mix-up,” the NCAA wouldn’t let Armstrong finish his college career at Arizona State. So he transferred to UF, accounted for 19 tackles for loss and made first team All-SEC and first team All-America in 1989. He played 15 seasons in the NFL and accounted for 106 sacks.

Huey Richardson (DE): One of the best pass rushers in Florida football history, Richardson had 26.5 sacks and 50.5 tackles for loss in his UF career. In 1990 when he had12 sacks, he was first team All-American. He made first team All-SEC in 1989-90 and was a four-time All-SEC academic selection. After two years in the NFL, he got his masters degree in economics from Emory and went on to Wall Street. When the World Trade Center was attacked on September 11, 2001, Richardson was delayed in the lobby, otherwise he would have been on an upper floor and likely dead. 

Brad Culpepper (DT): When the Gators won their first SEC championship that counted in 1991, Culpepper was the anchor of a stout defense and a first team All-American selection. He finished his college career with 18 sacks and 47.5 tackles for loss. Culpepper was a grad student in 1991, a year in which he also won the Draddy Trophy as the NCAA’s top scholar-athlete. He was a four-time All-SEC Academic selection. Taken in the tenth round in the 1992 NFL Draft by the Minnesota Vikings, Culpepper played nine years in the league with the Vikings, Bucs and Bears
Ellis Johnson (DT):
It’s always been mind blowing that Johnson was chosen National Defensive Player of the Year in 1994 yet he was only honorable mention All-America. He was a first team All-SEC pick that year and was voted UF’s MVP by teammates. He had 16.3 sacks and 26.8 tackles for loss in his career. He went on to play ten seasons in the NFL with the Colts, Falcons and Broncos and accumulated 51 sacks in his career.

Kevin Carter (DE): It was a coup for the Gators to land Carter out of Tallahassee Lincoln in 1991 and he immediately paid dividends as a regular in the defensive line rotation for the SEC’s best defense. He made second team All-SEC in 1992, first team in 1993-94. He was first team All-America in 1994. He had 11.5 sacks in 1994 and finished his career with 21.5 sacks to go with 42.5 tackles for loss. He won a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams in his 14-year NFL career in which he had 104.5 sacks and made the Pro Bowl twice.

Alex Brown (DE): Tee Martin still hears the footsteps. In the third game of the 1999 season, Brown sacked Martin five times, forced a fumble, intercepted a pass and batted down two others as the Gators handed Tennessee a 23-21 defeat. It was perhaps the greatest game ever by a UF defensive lineman. He made first team All-American in 1999 and 2001, second team in 1999. He set the school single-season sack record in 2001 with 13 and holds the career record with 33 to go with 47 tackles for loss. He played nine years in the NFL with the Bears and Saints and sacked quarterbacks 45.5 times.

Ray McDonald (DE/DT): When he was signed out of Belle Glade in 2002, he was an undersized (220 pounds) defensive end. He was a 290-pound tackle who had 36 tackles, three sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in the Gators 2006 national championship season. Injured most of 2005 (eight tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack), McDonald had 39 tackles, 8.5 tackles for loss and three sacks in 2004 and 54 tackles with four sacks and eight tackles for loss in 2003. First team All-SEC in 2006, he played eight years in the NFL with the 49ers.

Jarvis Moss (DE): If Moss isn’t 6-6 with a serious wingspan, the Gators don’t win the 2006 national championship. He blocked two field goals against South Carolina in the fourth quarter including one on the last play of the game to secure a 17-16 UF victory. Moss was on his way to a bust of a career until doctors figured out what was wrong with him (infection in the bone of his hip) in 2005. From that point on he became a fierce pass rusher who had 7.5 sacks. In Florida’s national championship season he had 56 tackles with 7.5 sacks and 11 tackles for loss. His NFL career lasted only five years.

Derrick Harvey (DE): He was the MVP of the 2006 national championship game when he sacked Ohio State Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith three times, He had 11sacks that year and followed that up with 8.5 in 2007. He made second team All-SEC in 2006-07 and finished his UF career with 20.5 sacks and 31 tackles for loss. He spent four years in the NFL after being selected with the eighth pick in the first round by Jacksonville.

Carlos Dunlap (DE): His UF career is clouded by the DUI he received on the Monday night before the SEC Championship Game in 2009. He was first team All-SEC that year with 38 tackles including 10.5 for loss and nine sacks. A vital member of the 2008 national championship defense, he totaled 39 tackles including 13.5 for loss and 9.5 sacks, earning second team All-SEC honors. In his seven years in the NFL with the Cincinnati Bengals, he has made the Pro Bowl twice while accumulating 57 sacks.

Sharrif Floyd (DT): Floyd’s big year was 2012 when he made first team All-SEC and first team All-America with 31 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. In his three years with the Gators, Floyd finished with 115 tackles, 26 tackles for loss and 9,5 sacks. A first round NFL pick by the Vikings, he’s spent all four years of his pro career with the Vikings.

Dante Fowler Jr. (DE): Second team All-SEC in 2013 and first team in 2014, Fowler finished his Florida career with 130 tackles including 33.5 for loss and 14.5 sacks. His most productive season was 2014 when he had 60 tackles, 15 for loss and 8.5 sacks while forcing two fumbles. The third player taken in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft, Fowler has spent two seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

WOOLCOCK WILL PLAY FOR NCAA SINGLES TITLE

What a week it has been for Florida’s Belinda Woolcock. First, she helps the Gators win their seventh NCAA women’s tennis championship and now she is on the brink of winning the singles championship. Sunday, Woolcock earned a 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 win over Miami’s Estela Perez-Somarriba to earn a spot in Monday’s 11 a.m. national championship match with Michigan’s Brienne Minor.

Woolcock is the first Gators to make it to the NCAA singles finals since Jessica Lenhoff did it in 2002.

GATORS BACK TO OKIE CITY ON GUTSY CALL BY WALTON

The easy thing to do Saturday afternoon would have been to pitch Delanie Gourley. Considering the way Kelly Barnhill lost her poise in Florida’s 3-0 loss to Alabama on Thursday and Gourley’s masterful four-hitter on Friday, conventional wisdom said Florida coach Tim Walton would come back with Gourley, his unflappable senior in the third and deciding game of the NCAA Super Regional at Katie Seashole Presley Stadium.

Walton made his decision to go with Barnhill (24-3, 0.36 ERA) at breakfast Saturday morning when he asked his sophomore ace, “Are you ready?” Without hesitation, Barnhill replied, “Let’s go.” Walton gave her the ball and she delivered a one-hit, 12-strikeout performance to lead the Gators to a 2-1 win over the Crimson Tide, punching Florida’s ticket to Oklahoma City for the Women’s College World Series for the eighth time in Walton’s 12 years on the job. 

In Oklahoma City, the #1-seeded Gators (55-8) will face SEC foe Texas A&M (47-11), which came back from an opening game loss to beat Tennessee two straight in Knoxville to earn a trip to the WCWS.

Just getting to game three was a gut check for Walton and the Gators. They got the win Friday when Justine McLean beat out an infield hit and Amanda Lorenz followed with a homer to deep right center field. From there, Gourley (21-4, 0.67 ERA) handled everything Bama threw at her, stranding a runner in each of the last four innings to get the win and force game three.

Saturday, Barnhill got off to a somewhat rocky start with a walk and a hit batter in the first but the Gators staked her to a 2-0 lead in their half of the inning. A sharp single by Aleshia Ocasio drove home Lorenz, who led off the game with a single, and a bases loaded walk to freshman Jordan Roberts scored Kayli Kvistad with what proved to be the game-winner.

Barhnill gave up an unearned run in the second on a two-out triple and a rare error by shortstop Sophia Reynoso but after that, she was virtually untouchable. The only base runner she allowed the rest of the way was on a wild pitch third strike in the top of the seventh.     

 

Softball facts: Three SEC teams made it to Oklahoma City – Florida, LSU and Texas A&M – along with three from the Pac-12 and two from the Big 12. LSU lost its first game against Florida State in Tallahassee but came back to win the final two games to earn a third straight trip to Oklahoma City.

Florida leads the nation with 37 shutouts, 16 coming against top 25 teams.

Since 2007, the Gators are the winningest softball program in all of Division I with a 619-110 record.

GATORS WILL HOST BASEBALL REGIONAL

Ahead of today’s announcement (12 noon) of the full 64-team field for the NCAA Baseball Tournament, the 16 sites for regionals was announced with Florida (42-16) one of four SEC teams selected to host. Also hosting will be SEC Tournament champ LSU (43-17), Arkansas (42-17) and Kentucky (39-20).

With their SEC regular season championship and the #3 RPI, the Gators are expected to be no worse than a top five national seed, which would also make UF a host for a Super Regional if they win the regional.

The Gators have made it to the College World Series in Omaha five times in Kevin O-Sullivan’s 10 years on the job including the last two seasons.

SEC Tournament thoughts: Forget what happened to the Gators in Saturday’s SEC semifinals. The Gators already knew they would be hosting a regional and with their SEC title and RPI, a top eight national seed was secure. So just getting to the semifinals was mission accomplished.

Nobody counts on losing a game 16-0 and Brady Singer certainly isn’t accustomed to getting roughed up the way he did (eight runs in the first inning), but all you have to do is look at who O’Sullivan threw the rest of the way to tell you the rest of the game was all about getting young pitchers some innings and experience in tournament play. 

Now that the Gators are in regional play, they can get by with three starters (Alex Faedo, Brady Singer and Jackson Kowar), a long reliever (Garrett Milchin) and a closer (Michael Byrne) if they win. If they need a fourth starter for regional (and beyond), freshmen Austin Langworthy and Milchin have the experience.

In addition to Florida, LSU should be a national top eight seed so the Tigers will have home field advantage all the way to Omaha. Had Kentucky played better in the SEC Tournament, the Wildcats might have been favored to squeeze in as the #8 seed but it’s unlikely they’ll make the top eight. Arkansas, on the other hand, is a very real possibility.

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Saturday night former Gator lefty Brian Johnson went the distance for the Boston Red Sox, pitching a 5-hit shutout with no walks and eight strikeouts to beat the Seattle Mariners, 6-0.  Johnson struck out his former UF batterymate, Mike Zunino, twice. 

All I can say about Pittsburgh Pirates righty Jameson Taillon is you’re a better man than I am Gunga Din! Three weeks after undergoing testicular cancer surgery, Taillon pitched three scoreless innings and struck out six in a rehab start at Class AA Altoona of the Eastern League.

I’ve watched the replay 20 times but how Scott Dixon walked away from that crash at the Indy 500 Sunday might be the closest thing I’ll ever see to a true miracle straight from heaven.

Tiger Woods has had spinal fusion surgery and says he feels better than he has in years but it will be months before he can swing a golf club again. 

QUESTION OF THE DAY

How would you rate the greatest defensive linemen in Florida football history?

MUSIC FOR TODAY

Gregg Allman died over the weekend so another piece of the musical tapestry that helps me define where I’ve been, what I’ve done and how I’ve grown up is gone. Formed in Jacksonville when Gregg and brother Duane put together a band with Berry Oakley, Dickey Betts, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johanson, the Allman Brothers went on to define Southern Rock and Roll. Duane and Dickey Betts made their guitars scream. Gregg was on organ and did the singing. Berry Oakley was incredible on bass and Butch Trucks and Jaimoe pounded away on the drums. Damn they were in a league of their own. The music was so good that it survived the deaths of Duane and Berry Oakley and it will survive the death of Gregg Allman too. Today’s music is the memorable concerts in San Francisco on January 29 and 31 in 1971. 

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZyIGMQH0JM


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