Hollywood Hollas Back - 9-24-08

OK, the mailbox was getting full so we had to go ahead and answer several of the "Holla at Hollywood" questions. We here at FightinGators.com certainly enjoy the interaction with Gator fans on the site and message boards. Here is the second installment of what I hope to be a twice a week segment here on FightinGators.com.

Holla 1: We've not seen the offense open up much yet this season. Have opponents been daring UF to run, or is the play selection more a function of capabilities the staff wants to develop for later in the season? With conservative offense by UF and opponents wishing to slow and shorten the game, are Florida games seeing fewer plays/possessions (by both teams) on average than those of other teams or conferences?

Holla Back: Two great questions here. I think there is a little bit of daring the offense to run the ball and inevitably they may have to turn Tebow loose a bit. Monday, Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer told the media that teams are dropping four deep and not allowing deep passes. He has seen that from all three opponents this year. To cure that, they are going to have to give a steady dose of the running game and short passing game and that will likely mean more designed Tebow draws and other runs. Remember, after thee Miami game Meyer said, "we probably should have run a few play action passes". You just have to make them believe Tebow is going to run, but starting the game early with that happening is a sure fire way to open it up late.

I will look into the number of plays in the games so far, it would be easy to do if everyone played the same number of games, but not so easy when they haven't. I can assure you teams are shortening the game clock by using the new clock rules and this will help to try and keep the games close. It might be why Randy Shannon was so mad at the final score of the game, because he "master-minded" a game plan to take advantage of the new rules and keep it close, only to have the Gators wake up from a funk and make the score look bad.

Holla 2: Meyer said, "In the Spurrier era no matter where he was, he would stop and watch his teams because they played with swagger" and he wanted that. Now I know a win is a win is a win but...Do you think he knows that the swagger came from pounding teams week in and week out so it would demoralize them from year to year and teams would come to the ball park apprehensive and scared knowing they were in for a beating? It seems the close to the vest style of offensive gives opponents hope that they're close and one mistake or a big play will win it and thus keeps them playing hard and believing. Also it does not give our backups a chance for game experience. Do you think he will get to the point where he will open it up and stretch leads offensively or will he continue to be content with three yards and a cloud of dust style?

Holla Back: This is my favorite question and one I am glad you asked. I agree and disagree on your point about swagger. Your opinion was based on a time and a place when Spurrier ran rough shod through the SEC and there were times he really did do anything he wanted. Those times changed and in his last four years, the Gators only won one SEC title. Sure they scored a lot of points at times, but it was clear that SEC defenses were catching up. Look at his team now, I think his offensive personnel is as talented as the offense he had in 1990 (whoa, did I say that?), minus the quarterback. Yet the SEC is extremely tough on passing defense now and makes it look not so great.

I will say that Meyer's offensive teams right now are tougher than Spurrier's ever were. The receivers are relentless, the quarterback will bruise linebackers, the starting tailback takes out linemen and the linemen are pretty nasty when they want to be. I think there is some swagger in knowing you really just demoralized a team by beating them soundly, but also hurting them.

Now please don't think I am jumping on Spurrier and the way he did things, that is far from the case. He was one of a kind and changed the way things are done in the SEC. That said, this is why it is hard to put up these huge numbers with all this talent and why the SEC is always the best in the nation in defense.

Holla 3: It always my understanding, a well coached team will always put a drive together in their first second half possession. So that got me thinking on when the last time the Gators were able to put a TD scoring drive in their opening 2nd half drive...Please don't count the Hawaii game because Chas Henry decided to take off on his own for the fake punt. I am more interested in an SEC competition or when were in a close game.

Holla Back: You have a good point. Coming out in the second half and running a plan that was shaped at halftime by the flow of the game is a sign of a coaching staff that really knows how to make in-game adjustments. And, after investigating last season's stats, I realize that Dan Mullen must have sent this question in. You want to take away the Hawaii drive to start the third quarter because of Henry's fake punt, but last season the Gators punted only one time on their first possession after half time. They scored touchdowns in eight games on that first possession from 56, 62, 57, 80, 66, 54, 75, and 70 yards. They settled for one field goal on a drive that went 48 yards and was stalled at the seven in the Auburn game (appendix game). They punted one time, in the season opener against Western Kentucky. Finally, they had three of their first drives in the third quarter halted by turnovers in the Vandy, Tennessee, and Troy games. All in all, that is some pretty impressive game planning during half time. Thanks for the question coach.

Holla 4: This year we've been scratching our heads about not seeing much of Moody until game 3, not seeing any of Lo Edwards, and so and so forth. The explanation is usually that they are missing practice or not practicing well, perhaps because of a nagging injury that wouldn't prevent them from playing on Saturday. One thing I've heard is that Meyer insists that you be able to practice on Tuesday to play on Saturday. How literal or absolute is this rule? If an established starter like Jermaine Cunningham is hurt but likely to be ready by Saturday, does he get a pass for missing practice Tuesday? And if he does, how does this go over with guys like Moody who stand out in practice but are simply the victim of minor injuries during game week?

Holla Back: First off the rumor about Moody missing practice was absolutely false. It was categorically denied by the coaching staff and was totally unfounded. Moody was supposed to see time in the Miami game, but he was the fourth guy for that game. The way the game went, they never got to the fourth guy. Are there reasons he was fourth at that time? Sure there are. But, things have changed. As we said, we thought Moody would get a lion's share of the carries against Tennessee and it happened. It will still be a dog fight between he and Percy as to who touches it more each week and I think Percy wins that battle and rightfully so at the moment. Bottom line on Moody is, if his attitude is a good one, he will get the playing time that he should get. That attitude has been great for three weeks now.

As for injuries on Tuesday, etc. The coaches talk about a player's investment on the team. Meyer said it about Wondy the other day when asked if Janoris Jenkins would start. Wondy's investment means that he has proven a lot over time to stay on the field...that in my opinion is what they base who plays on. Can they trust them to perform at a higher level than the guy behind them? They will put the one they believe will perform at that level.

Holla 5: I am in the minority that still worries about the D. We were fortunate that UT wasn't a tighter game b/c of their stupidity inside the five. I know we shut it down on O and milked the clock. Nevertheless, we were a bad call in our favor away from being a one score game in the 4th with Miami. While I do think they have made some plays, overall, I think the LB's are the spot on the team where we CAN see some improvement. Spikes has been a beast. But Doe has been hurt ALL year (groin and partially torn hammy) and Jones is either feast or famine (remember he did try and tackle Hankerson on that overthrown pass in the 1st half of the Miami game; he just flat missed and a good throw is six...even JJ was toast on that play). It seems w/ LoEd and Hicks there is potential for improvement. I single the LB's out b/c I believe the DT's are maxed out for this year on how effective they can be.

Holla Back: Well I have to disagree in the tone against the linebackers here. I think they are playing well and it is shown in the number of tackles by the linebackers in the last two games. With Spikes out of the first game, the defensive backs actually made most of the tackles against Hawaii. Since Spikes return, A.J. Jones and Doe have played well and made their share. Stamper is an animal whenever on the field, and Hicks has made some plays. On the Jones' pass coverage, he was on a wide receiver 40 yards down field. It was apparent the Gators were in a deep cover three and Janoris Jenkins missed his third covering that zone. If it was a cover three, Jones was not responsible for covering Hankerson that deep. Besides that, it was a tough throw to make and would had to have been right on the money. These linebackers are playing well in my opinion. I do agree that Edwards out of the line up is puzzling but Meyer intimated last week that he needs to get a killer instinct.

Holla 6: Clermont East Ridge has a RB named Jeremy Wright WHO is fast, elusive, and pretty good size(5'11" 185) -he is averaging over 150 yards a game against some pretty stiff competition yet I don't even see a blip on anyone's recruiting screen. It baffles me. We had a kid in '05 that now starts as a DB for Ohio State and he never even got a look from not only UF but just about any Florida schools. It just surprises me and was wondering about your thoughts.

Holla Back: I have heard of Wright and heard he is very talented. He does have great size and is elusive, but one issue I hear is speed. As we know, Florida is trying to build and maintain the fastest team in America.

Holla 7: What is Florida's status with mammoth Junior Brent Benedict from Bolles. He is a beast.

Holla Back: Benedict is highly regarded no doubt. Florida is recruiting him hard, but I believe until they finish the 2009 recruiting class with offensive line, they won't offer. There are still possibly two more spots to fill in 2009 and in my opinion when that happens, they will start to go after another 2010 lineman with an offer like they did Ian Silberman who is already committed to the Gators.

Holla 8: I was wondering what you know about the junior QB out of North Ft. Lauderdale Prep, Brandon Doughty. Is Florida interested in him and is the kid going to be very highly sought after?

Holla Back: I know Doughty is also another highly regarded player. The issue is the numbers at quarterback. Florida is still trying to get Denard Robinson from Deerfield Beach and they already have a commitment from 2010 super QB Trey Burton from Venice. How many should they take? I don't think they can take another personally, but they may feel differently.

Holla 9: We've not seen any new commitments lately. Any "silents" out there? What do you see as prospective timing for filling out the class, steady additions or more toward the end?

Holla Back: I think the LSU weekend could drum up one or two...actually, I am pretty sure of it. But, I don't believe there will be a ton until January. These last prospects are a lot of the big time recruits and for the most part, the big time guys go late in the South.

If you want to "Holla at Hollywood", it is real easy...just send your questions to me via email at Bob_Redman67@yahoo.com and I will do everything I can to answer them in this format. Let us know what you think.

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