SIGNING DAY LEFTOVERS:
If they did the class rankings in August, when the February signees actually have to enroll in school, Florida's class would have a chance to jump at least one or two places, perhaps more.
Florida State did its usual last minute charge on signing day, moving up all the way to number three in the final rankings. Getting Antone Smith of Pahokee on the final day was a shocker that even FSU insiders couldn't have predicted. The FSU class looks very good in February but let's see how good it looks in August when school starts. There are at least 10 in the Seminole signing class who have serious grade issues and even optimists wouldn't project more than five or six of those ten to make it in.
Two of FSU's three five-star recruits and at least five of the four-star recruits all have serious issues. I'm guessing there will be at least five or six sign and place types in this class when August finally arrives.
Tennessee (nationally ranked number one) and Georgia (number four) have quite a few with grade issues as well that will take some of the luster off their signing classes in August. Tennessee has at least one five-star recruit who won't make it and at least three four-star recruits who are in deepest and darkest linguine when it comes to grades. Georgia's got problems with at least five of its recruits.
Florida has two high school players who have some work to do but both are expected to qualify easily. Reggie Nelson, Florida's lone junior college signee, will finish up the one class he needs for graduation from Coffeyville (Kansas) Junior College. He'll be enrolled at UF in Summer A.
LUTZ COMES THROUGH AGAIN:
For the third straight week, when the Florida gymnastics team had a meet on the line, Samantha Lutz came through with a superb performance in the clutch. Against Nebraska, her floor routine won the meet. Against Alabama, her floor routine started a Gator rally that helped UF beat the then ranked number four Crimson Tide.
Last Friday night against Georgia, with a hostile crowd of 9951 making as much noise as possible, Lutz saved the Gators on the balance beam. Florida had a huge lead on the final rotation. With Georgia on the floor, the Gators were on the beam, but two straight Gators fell off the beam, putting the match in serious doubt.
No need to fear. Lutz came through with a 9.750 which enabled the Gators to beat Georgia in Athens for the first time since 1983.
With the victory, the Gators have beaten in successive weeks two (Alabama and Georgia) of the four teams (UCLA and Utah are the others) that have ever won NCAA gymnastics titles.
Florida returns to the O'Connell Center Friday to face Auburn in an SEC match.
YOU CAN CALL ME AL:
One of the more popular songs that the Gator band plays at home basketball games is Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al." When the band played it in the second half Saturday, you can bet that Alabama was thinking perhaps it would be best to call Al Horford, "Mr. Al."
All Al did was yank down 18 rebounds, 12 in the second half. His 14-point, 18-rebound performance is an indicator of where he's going to be in the future. This is a hard working, talented young center who is going to become a dominator in the Southeastern Conference.
His season numbers are 7.3 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, but those totals are only going to improve in the remaining eight games of the regular season. He's already got the ability to be a dominating rebounder and a top defender in the post. His offensive game lacks some creativity, but that is an area that will come around in the future.
He's often compared to a young Udonis Haslem. In his freshman year, UD averaged 10.5 points per game and 5.0 rebounds. Here are the freshman numbers of a few other Gator centers: Dwayne Schinntzius (10.9, 6.1), Eugene McDowell (9.9, 8.8), Dametri Hill (1.1, 0.6) and Andrew DeClerq (8.8, 6.2).
THREE BLIND MICE:
You have to feel for Carolyn Peck and her Gator women's basketball team. They were flat out robbed last Thursday night by a crew of Southeastern Conference officials who give new meaning to the word incompetent. I have no idea where the SEC came up with Tina Napier, Mary Day and Eric Brewton, but I would suggest the league send them to a YMCA League somewhere.
Florida lost the game, 91-82, in overtime against the fifth ranked Lady Vols in a game that featured 62 personal fouls and 80 free throws. There were times when it seemed that Napier, Day and Brewton were trying to see who could come up with the most creative calls.
With 21 seconds remaining, Tennessee's Shanna Zolman went to the basket only to be roofed by Florida's Bernice Mosby. It was all leather and as clean a block as you would ever want to see. Replays confirmed that Mosby didn't even come close to fouling Zolman, but a foul was called and Zolman went to the line to tie the game and send it to overtime.
After the game, Peck was understandably hot about the poor officiating but she maintained her cool throughout. The same was true with Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt, who likewise thought these zebras should be sent to a game preserve somewhere.
This is the third SEC game this season that the SEC zebras have absolutely turned in disastrous performances in games in which the Gators were playing. I'm not one to complain about the referees but I've watched Peck and her team wind up on the wrong end of the whistle one too many times this year. It's time that the SEC is held accountable.
The Gators are going through mat drills with new strength coaches Mickey Marotti and Matt Balis. I've gotten a few hints from a few well placed sources that tell me that the drills are tougher than what we've seen in the past years.
Now, this isn't to knock Rob Glass, because Rob was tremendous. If you don't believe it, then look at how our injuries declined every year he was in charge of football and how our recovery time from injuries sped up. Rob was outstanding in those areas and he's to be commended.
However, there has been an element of toughness that's been missing for years, probably since the days of Rich Tuten (strength and conditioning) and Rich McGeorge (offensive line). I think that the first place we'll see the toughening up of the Gators is in the weight room and during the mat drills. I also think that we'll further toughening up on the practice field.
Everything that I've heard and read about Urban Meyer is that his practices are very tough and that he expects his teams to have a "we're tough and we're going to beat your brains out" attitude.