Sorry, Dawg fans. But Gators look like the class of the SEC East again

 It was a busy weekend of Spring Football. So what did we learn?

 1. SEC East opponents who are expecting—or hoping—for a huge drop off at Florida may be disappointed. Of course Florida will not be as good this season as the past two seasons when the Gators went 26-2. The personnel losses—QB Tim Tebow, CB Joe Haden, DE Carlos Dunlap, LB Brandon Spikes, TE Aaron Hernandez—are just too great. But Florida clearly has its quarterback in John Brantley, who completed 15 of 19 passes for 201 yards in the spring game. The Gators obviously have a lot of guys who can catch the ball like Andre Dubose, a big time recruit who sat out last season after hamstring surgery, Carl Moore and Chris Rainey. They have two options to run the “Tebow package” in Trey Burton and tight end Jordan Reed. Yes, there is a lot of work to do on defense. But when you look at the schedule, Florida will be favored in every game it plays except for an Oct. 2 trip to Alabama and possibly a Nov. 27 trip to Florida State. The rest of the SEC East has even more issues than the Gators. Somebody in that division, like Georgia or South Carolina, is going to have to step up. Florida is coming back to the field this  season, but not that much.

 

2. It’s official. Tennessee is building for the long haul. Dave Hooker of the Knoxville News-Sentinel made this point over the weekend and I agree with it. The departure of quarterback Nick Stephens, who was losing his first team snaps, is further confirmation that new Tennessee coach Derek Dooley is in the process of changing the football culture back to something more stable and reliable than the blip of the Lane Kiffin area. The coaching staff pretty much knew Stephens was not going to be the guy, but at least he had played. They could have given him enough snaps to keep him in the program for insurance for this season.

 Whereas the Kiffin regime was all about selling Tennessee as the Southern Cal of the East and as a spring board to the NFL, Dooley wants to create a more stable environment and sell the entire experience at Tennessee: program, tradition, education, football, etc. I still think that approach can work with NFL obsessed teenagers and parents if it is sold correctly.

But it is a long-term approach that requires patience. Will the Tennessee fans have patience? The Tennessee fans I talk to absolutely know the deal and are prepared for the struggle ahead. It will be an interest process to watch.

 

3. All Clemson can do is wait for June: This much seems pretty clear after Clemson’s spring game on Saturday. If Kyle Parker returns as the Tiger quarterback, Dabo Swinney’s bunch can win the ACC Atlantic division for the second straight year. Despite a practice schedule interrupted from time to time by his commitment to the Clemson baseball team, Parker completed seven of 15 passes for 75 yards in the spring game. The numbers don’t tell Parker’s story. His presence does. Parker is expected to have a big decision to make after the Major League Draft in June. If the up-front money is good, does he walk away from college football and turn the job over to redshirt freshman Tajh Boyd? Boyd, who was once committed to Tennessee, is going to be a very good quarterback. He just isn’t ready right now.

 

4. Stephen Garcia would be wise to do a lot of throwing—and a lot of thinking—this summer. As a third-year starter you would think that the light is starting to come on for South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia. Unfortunately for the star-crossed junior there continues to be a short between his talented arm and his less than finely tuned decision making process. After Saturday’s spring game, a time when a quarterback with 16 starts should be in control, head coach Steve Spurrier refused to even acknowledge Garcia as the starter. “Stephen should be our best player but sometimes he doesn’t act like it or perform like it,” Spurrier told The State newspaper in Columbia. My advice to the young man: Don’t go to the beach this summer. Don’t go out partying with your friends. Spend every free moment throwing to your receivers and watching film.  In other words, work on your game. Your head coach thinks you’re lazy and has made it clear that he will not go into this season with you as the only option at quarterback. Spurrier once benched Danny Wuerffel, 1996 the Heisman Trophy winner. If freshman Connor Shaw proves to be a viable option, the Head Ball Coach will bench you.

 

5. A healthy Christian Ponder will contend for the Heisman Trophy: Ponder, Florida State’s rising senior quarterback, was playing as well as anybody in the country last November when he decided to tackle Clemson safety DeAndre McDaniel during an interception return. The monster hit caved in Ponder’s right shoulder and he was done for the year. There was some concern that he might not be ready for spring ball, but last Saturday he completed 16 of 34 passes for 266 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game. Despite missing the last four games of the 2009 season, Ponder led the ACC in total offense with an average of 321.8 yards. “He’s gotten better every day that he has been on our campus,” head coach Jimbo Fisher told me. “He knows exactly what he is doing out there.” With a veteran offensive line and improving receivers, I think this guy is going to have a monster year.

 

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242 comments Add your comment

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
2:11 pm

Bill E. Goat…5IML is just someone else who believes what he wants to believe. Like you, I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t have a copy of Meyers EKG or CAT SCAN but he’s gonna make unqualified medical assumptions anyway…DawginLex…and I won’t assume that your a redneck with no teeth driving an old pickup with a gun rack…And for whom it may concern…It is documented that Shelley Meyer actually wanted her husband NOT to resign and to take a leave or absence instead. And ultimately, that’s what he did and is doing for some of the summer.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
2:12 pm

Sorry, that’s a “you’re” before I get jumped on here.

SOOHSO

April 12th, 2010
2:14 pm

ZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Otto

April 12th, 2010
2:15 pm

I agree with Tide Rising, Gerald makes some solid points. UF can be as strong as ever and the scary thought is what if the defense improves? Strong was not that great until he was at UF with great talent.

UGA will take full benefit of the scheme in year 2. The defense will make some mistakes next year. The question is how fast does Grantham implement the new defense and how well can judge how much he makes the kid’s handle. OCs scale down the playbook at the time for young QBs. Goond ones know how much to scale it down. UGA should repsond quicker than Bama just due to depth. The same scheme with some better DB coaching and along with finishing a tackle would give UGA a few more wins alone over the past 2 years.

OC is a serious question mark at UGA. OL coach? IMO Searles has done a good job, it is the RBs that have not produced with a mediocre OC calling pays that makes them look bad. UGA was 6th in the country for fewest sacks allowed.

My pleasant suprise for the spring which nobody is talking is how well Jackson carried the ball. I am still not sold on King and UGA will need a 3rd RB. My biggest disappointment was Ealey throwing a punch but I also was not surprised with Murray’s mediocre showing.

Back to Bama and depth, Shula was given 3 years, he needed 2 more. Shula gave Bama a 2 loss regular season when they’re biggest games were at the end of the year and depth was thinnest. LSU and Auburn were those 2 big games he lost at the end of the year and they were locked in at the top of SECW. They were still close games despite Prothro being lost for the season. IMO not a bad job by Shula and he may have set the bar a little to high in ‘05 for ‘06. Dooley has more discipline than Shula and should do better. Shula’s weak point seemed to be discipline.

Tide Rising

April 12th, 2010
2:19 pm

ReptilesRule,

I’ve got both Urban’s EKG results and his Catscan and the results read like this. If he beats Bama in the regular season next year I recommend that he should probably retire. If he beats Bama in the regular season and in a possible SECCG rematch then I would recommend that he definitely retire due to health reasons.

EW

April 12th, 2010
2:20 pm

We will see how much impact Tebow had on and off the field now. I really believe that kid has something you can’t always put a number or a grade on…Some call it intangibles…I really think his absence will have a measured effect on the Gators this season. Not to say Brantley isn’t a REALLY good replacement…

5IML

April 12th, 2010
2:22 pm

Bill,

I am no one’s doctor but I can read and use reasoning. So, you think Urban decided to retire as the head coach of one of the greatest programs in modern college football history because of a hang nail or because he got an eyelash in his eye?

Use your brain! If you have the drive and abilities to become one of today’s top coaches, it would take something very serious to make you walk away. Something like…uh…let me see here.. uh…waking up in the middle of the night with chest pains, no feeling in your arm, and lightheadedness then falling on the way to the bathroom (probably because of no feeling in at least one of your legs). Those symptoms are not caused by dehydration. Again, I’m not doctor but that sounds like a mild heart attack to me. But next week you’re okay.

Again, use your brain.

FSU MAN

April 12th, 2010
2:24 pm

FSU fan here and must say I have been very impressed with the knowledge and respect that most of you have shown on this board. Let me first say that I think UF will be the favorite to beat FSU even in Tally this year.. They where just too good for us last year, and I don’t think we have closed that gap “Yet”. With that being said, Ponder is certainly going to turn some heads in the Heisman race. Look out for the game against Oklahoma September 11th.. in Norman. If Ponder and the Noles can come away with a “W”, the Nation will finally see in Ponder what we have seen in him as Nole fans. Jimbo has got this team playing as a team again, and Stoops (our new DC) will have the defense running more of a zone D (better suited for our current personnel).

In the SEC, I see a UF vs Bama rematch in the SECCG, but don’t count out LSU, UGA, or Auburn.. Ark has an outside shot, but they will lose at least 2-3 SEC games, Bama and UF won’t..

Tide Rising

April 12th, 2010
2:25 pm

Otto,

Georgia does have a lot more talent and defensive depth then what we had in 2007. The only question is how quickly they ramp up defensively playing a whole new 3-4 scheme. If they can get everyone playing cohesively and at full speed at the season’s midpoint than that would be making great strides. But to me it will take at least a year and 2011 will be the first full year of really feeling comfortable in what they’re doing. JMHO of course.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
2:27 pm

Tide Rising…You have plenty of room to crow and you should. But it’s also good to see that you have kept a solid sense of reason and objectivity about you. And I agree, I don’t see Saban going anywhere unless something totally weird happens as he’s gotten to that age where stability is so important, he’s at a place where he can win championships and he has such solid backing and I’m not just refering to $$$. I mean, what else do you want?? And for goodness sakes he sure doesn’t need the money!

Lee Corso

April 12th, 2010
2:29 pm

Tony:

Not so fast my friend! Seems you understated the Gators’ defensive questions. Urban’s secondary this season will remind you of Waffle House toast… BURNT!

jarvis

April 12th, 2010
2:31 pm

So no more wild boys?

Otto

April 12th, 2010
2:34 pm

Tide agreed it will take a year for it to fully implement. IF Grantham can judge how much to feed the payers without confusing them they will be dangerous.

IMO the scheme is an improvement but the 2 biggest improvements on UGA defense are better coverage by DBs and finishing opeen field tackles. UGA defenders blew open field tackles with chest bump and arm tackles far to often. 3rd Qtr against GT in ‘08 being the obvious example. UGA had players in position to make tackles on majority of the big plays but blew it. Grantham and Belin will put an end to that or explode trying.

Reptiles Rule, agree with you at 2:27. Don’t forget Bama is the closest powerhouse program to his lake house and I don’t see him going back to the NFL like Pete Carrol.

gdawginkalamazoo

April 12th, 2010
2:37 pm

Hell, I can’t wait to actually play the games. Then we can figure out how good everybody is.

Tide Rising

April 12th, 2010
2:37 pm

Anyone heard from Atlanta Gator lately? We all like his opinions and input but now that Tony has restarted the college football blog I haven’t see the Atlanta gator yet this year.

Hilton Head Jacket

April 12th, 2010
2:38 pm

Sorry Hokie fans. But thr Yellow Jackets look like the class of the ACC Coastal again.
ACC Coastal opponents who are expecting — or hoping — for a huge drop off at Georgia Tech may be disappointed. Of course Georgia Tech will be better this season than the past two seasons win the Ramblin Wreck went 20-7. Georgia Tech clearly has the best quarterback nation wide in Josh Nesbitt.
Georgia Tech will be favored in every game it plays including their trip to Athens.

Lane Pimpin

April 12th, 2010
2:40 pm

Dawg girl who does not want to be married to the top ranked CFB coach in America.

Guess what? He definitely does not want to marry you and live in your trailer in So. Gawga.

Otto

April 12th, 2010
2:43 pm

Tide don’t think so.

TONY!!!! pass this on to the AJC
Wish we could register our name to email addresses like AL.com. It would also be nice to have an option to PM or e-mail other posters.

Gatorzone

April 12th, 2010
2:50 pm

Tide Rising, you should contact Cuz about our side group. You have good opinions.

Tide Rising

April 12th, 2010
2:53 pm

Otto,

People have suggested the registering or at least a tie in between handles and email addresses to cut down on the number and amount of juvenile stuff that goes on like stealing someone’s handle but apparently it keeps falling on deaf ears.

Tide Rising

April 12th, 2010
2:55 pm

Gatorzone,

I just plagiarize other folks opinions and pass it off as my own. I find that works well. Pretty soon I’m going to pass myself off as Tony Barnhart himself.

Debose

April 12th, 2010
2:58 pm

How come everybody spells my name wrong? That’s cool, soon enough the whole conference and the country will know and fear the name Andre Debose.

Urban Meyers Doctor

April 12th, 2010
3:03 pm

You guys should stop commenting on my patient. Because of privacy laws, I can’t tell you his exact physical condition. But between you and me I can tell you……When I first looked at his X-ray, I thought he had no spine. But then I realized he had one, you just couldn’t see it because his mouth was so big! Then I thought he had no man parts, (I wasn’t judging from any test, just the number of times he kissed and hugged Tim Tebow–and then there was all the crying.)

No really everybody leave Urban alone. If you don’t, he may take his ball and go home again.

winterDawg

April 12th, 2010
3:08 pm

I wish the best of luck to a certain degree to Derek Dooley. However, I just don’t see any history of the UT fan base being patient. They basically allowed Fulmer to steal Johnny Majors job while he was recouping from a heart attack. Then, after 17 years, a national title and a whole lot of top 10 finishes they demand the resignation of Fulmer and don’t give him the chance to turn it around. Throw in the fact that they bought into the snake oil salemanship of Kiffin and this is a fan base that does not have patience. Especially from a person with such a high degree of background at UGA. Two 7-4 seasons and they will run him off in the middle of the night.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
3:09 pm

Tide…RE: Atlanta Gator…saw a post from him the other day…or at least by someone using that name and it sure sounded like him. Hope he’s OK, I’ll bet you he’s just busy…also 5IML.. per your 2:22 post you claimed you are using your power of reasoning in reference to Urban Meyers health. Then you go on to say…” I’m not (a) doctor, but that (meaning his symptoms that you had pointed out) sure sounds like a mild heart attack to me. Sooo…you’re not a doctor, so I guess not a cardiologist either, but you are going to diagnose his symptoms as a mild heart attack?? That’s not the power of reasoning, that’s the foolishness of assumtion. And we all know what you do when you assume…

DostaDawg

April 12th, 2010
3:14 pm

Hey Barnhart, Nothing You’ve Ever Predicted Has Actually Came True So I Really Don’t Even Know Why Your Still A College Football Writer……………………….Just Saying.

Falcon34

April 12th, 2010
3:15 pm

Another pre-season, another Florida wins it all prediction. Nice job Tony. How’d that one work out last year?

Agreed that UGA has issues, but to say that UF is heads and shoulders above Georgia is completely ludicrous. Another factoid is that the SEC no longer gets to face one of the worst D-Coordinators in the Nation every year. Grantham is still unknown, but can he be any worse than Soft Willie Martinez?

FalconUGAFan

April 12th, 2010
3:22 pm

Agree…UF is top dog until they get knocked off. Maybe we grow a collective pair and try playing some football rather than worrying about celebrating or what we plan to wear to the game…Sorry old school here.

cindy hendrix

April 12th, 2010
3:30 pm

I watched the spring game & it is different alsoTG & MR are not going to show too much on live t.v. for our opposition to see. They will have to wait just like the rest of to see how the new 3-4 defense is. It will take some time but
I think if we give it some time hopefully when the players learn it we will have more wins but who knows if they catch on well we could suprise some folks TG is obviousy a good coach Saban hied him once & tried to a second time & we all know his record. I am sure he only hires the best. remember dawg fans this old saying good things come to those who wait I know we would all like it sooner but better they learn it right & it make a difference where it counts wins baby!! GATA As Always GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!! Cindy

Dawglover

April 12th, 2010
3:37 pm

We all think just because it’s SC they will suck again. I think it took Visor Boy an extra couple of years but he’s going to be hard to beat with an improved run game. The Garcia thing? What else is new? It’s a smokescreen. The chickens are going to be hard to deal with this year (I’m afraid). Special teams beat them last year. It sure wasn’t our O or D.

athensdawg

April 12th, 2010
3:37 pm

I think Shakespere had the best description of spring football practice…
“full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

ugafan

April 12th, 2010
3:37 pm

man, hilton head jacket is truly delusional. losing your top four players off your team and you think y’all will be favored in athens? tech won’t even win their division this year. but it is fun seeing the tech fans so delusional. yall just keep holding on to the memory of 45-42, b/c that was a fluke, and everyone knows it.

Sanford Drive

April 12th, 2010
3:43 pm

UF has an “easy” road to the SECCG this year with both TN and UGA being down. Of course, LSU has a shot at beating them, but I don’t see that happening. If FSU didn’t have such an awful defense, I might say they have a good chance of beating UF as well.

Brantley will be better than Tebow (passing wise). Tebow was a workhorse. Brantley has a good arm & throws a nice ball. UF has been slim at receiver but I believe they have some talented redshirts on their roster that will get a chance to step up? Obviously they have some key losses on both sides of the ball – Pounceys, Spikes, Hernandez.

Bama obviously has the best running game in the SEC, and probably the country. McElroy doesn’t impress me, but Bama has shown that you don’t need a star QB to win big games – especially with RBs like Ingram and that tough D.

I believe the Gators reclaim the SEC title this year in a grind against Bama.

RomeDawg

April 12th, 2010
3:50 pm

I am of the mindset that Florida is the “class” of the SEC east until that is TAKEN from them! I thought they were the class of the SEC until ‘Bama took it! I hope this is UGA’s year to whoop Urban.

gdawginkalamazoo

April 12th, 2010
3:50 pm

What’s up with the headline Tony. You don’t need to apologize to us. Until we start beating Florida again we have to count on somebody else to do our dirty work. We have been too inconsistent to be solid contenders. It is what it is.

gdawginkalamazoo

April 12th, 2010
3:54 pm

Sanford, McElroy didn’t particulary impress me that much either unitl he managed the SECCG and the NC game. He managed things well all season for the most part but when it really counted in those two games he looked like a seasoned veteran not a first year starter.

D

April 12th, 2010
3:57 pm

“IF uga gets good qb play, they COULD”
If and could are the key words. Uf doesn’t have to use those words for their qb.

sven

April 12th, 2010
3:57 pm

Number of players in the Pro Bowl:

ACC – 23
SEC – 15

The ACC is right up there year after year in overall talent (#1st rounders in the past decade, overall numbers in the NFL). They beat up on each other in conference play and somehow send the wrong team to the BCS every year.

I understand that the nation prefers a conference to have a UF and Alabama as opposed to parody. Im just confused as to why people are so dismissive of a conference that proves in every draft that it is chock full of talent.

GATOR88

April 12th, 2010
3:59 pm

UT: Good for them-Lane was a joke.

PONDER: Great talent-for his sake maybe he will get some blocking and some players stepping up around him. UF/FSU game might once again be a biggee. I will be in Tally again to witness my favorite game.

UF OFFENSE: Throw out spring game #’s. Untested QB’s scare anyone. UF could have rocky ride on offense especially if we don’t have the guy on offense to go to and get 1-3 yards as needed. Brantley has potential but in the SEC-anything goes especially for road games.
UF DEFENSE: I always thought Charlie STrong called a conservative then predictable defensive scheme. (See SEC Champ game where Bama was in his head) We will miss him most on the recruiting and leadership side. Our LB’s are gonna be nasty as will the safeties but we might be soft up front and beatable on the corners. That’s why they play the game.

UF still team to beat-as one Dawgfan pointed out. Should be a fun year with new coaches/players/QB’s and schemes. Look for the UF/Dawg game to be a great game also!!!

Urban: if everyone is hating him, I know we have the right coach!!!!

out

5IML

April 12th, 2010
4:04 pm

Reptiles,

Google the common symptoms of a cardiac event. Now, open a new tab and Google what happened to Urban (not the lie he initially reported about dehydration but what he said later). Now, go back and forth between the tabs. It doesn’t take six years of medical school to see the similarities.

Hey, I know where you’re coming from. For the Gator nation, the days after Urban’s retirement were the worst since the announcement of Zook’s hiring. I’m sure if Saban’s head literally fell off his shoulders, if Mal said he was okay to coach, I’d roll with it, too.

Anybody that can play

April 12th, 2010
4:04 pm

Sven, nice try man. The Pro Bowl Players mean we are great. What a moron? It is about the entire teams you put on the field and the coaches that coach them not the top two players on each team. ACC sucks and everybody in college football knows it but you. I assume the RPI, computer polls, coaches poll, and all the rest are wrong and you are right. DUH!!!

tony

April 12th, 2010
4:05 pm

I see the dawgs going underfeated this year. They only lost 1 decent player on offense(Moore) and they no longer have Willie Martinez running the defense. Aaron Murray, AJ Green, Ealey, Orson Charles and our strong offensive line will be too much to handle.

I believe Grantham will do a much better job than Martinez in preparing our boys this season. I saw a huge difference in the way the defense performed in the G-day game. The man must be a dawn good coordinator to have our boys playing this good in just a few days. I really feel good about this team.this season.

Gatorzone

April 12th, 2010
4:10 pm

88, I agree on Strong being VERY conservative. I kept asking myself during the BAMA game, where are the blitzes? No pressure the whole game. Really, not many blitz schemes the whole year, just base pass rush from front 4. UF played both sides of the ball last year with a huge monkey on their back. The pressure of undefeated and Tebow hoopla was a huge distraction. They will be looser this year, and in turn play better. The offense will be less predictable with Brantley and that will keep opponents playing from behind and in turn help the defense. I will be surprised if they don’t upset BAMA in Tuscaloosa on October 2.

Dawg Huh Whut?

April 12th, 2010
4:16 pm

Tony,
You, like rule dude. Your so right on that the Dawgs will win it all man. These other lame dudes are just dreamin when they say that anybody will be our mighty Dawgs!! Dawgs go undefeated and beat the Gators by, like a jillion!!! Whoa. What happend. Pass the Dawg Bong dude.

Iceman

April 12th, 2010
4:17 pm

No reason at all the Dawgs can’t beat FL.

Carolina will never be a factor in the east.

5IML

April 12th, 2010
4:18 pm

Gatorzone,

Because of the sheer talent on the Gator’s D last year, there was really no need to blitz. Conservative playcalling on D was not the issue in the SECCG. It was predictability. Of course, without offensive talent, noticing tendencies does no good.

Gatorzone

April 12th, 2010
4:21 pm

They were predictable, but they are loaded on offensive talent.

Bruce mac

April 12th, 2010
4:22 pm

Dang, you Gators are so good you should be playing in the NFL. We have no shot at the Mighty Gators as they apparently have third stringers better than anybody else in College Football and there coaches are better now than ever and CUM is a better coach now that he is part time. I say we just cancel that little game in TTown, no reason for Bama to show up either.

The Refs,coaches and god hates Georgia

April 12th, 2010
4:22 pm

5 loss or more for Georgia. mark it down girls.

john "58% completion rate" brantley

April 12th, 2010
4:22 pm

Tony-

Here’s what Brantley did over the 3 scrimmages in the Spring for Florida:
1) 10 sacks
2) 8 fumbles
3) 2 interceptions
4) 5 td’s
5) 58% completion rate

UGA’S QB blew him away.

Surely you’re not saying having 1 good game, makes him the next great thing?

Mettenberger went 64% in the Spring, 5 td’s, 1 interception. Keep that in mind next time.