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

BrokeBackJacket

April 12th, 2010
4:22 pm

WOW!!!!!!!

By far most civil and realistic college football blog in a LONG time…few of the “crazies”, but not too many….I for one would LOVE to see AJC make posters have to give valid emil to participate here…thus we could have more actual “football” talk!

Old dawg fan here…first game 1959 and ardent fan of all things college football…more particularly southern football…and even more particularly UGA and SEC football!

It goes without saying that until someone takes it away from them…then UF is the class of the SEC east…and that is painful for me to say and i do resent the fact that most UF fans are in denial that the history of college football started circa 1990!
Bear Bryant was quoted in mid 70’s that UF was a sleeping giant…and Spurrier woke their ass up big time…dont have to like it…but will acknowlege it!

I may be wrong as UF is loaded with talent…BUT…i do feel there is chance that the Gators may be beatable this year! I think UGA’s offense will be potent…CTG’s 3-4 will take time to implement…BUT…UGA’s defense will be better this year by attrition alone…Martinez, Jancek, and Fabris should have been gone at least 2 years ago!

USCe will be pesky…and they ALWAYS give my dawgs fits..the game is always early and their lack of depth/injuries have not affected them so much.

I see UGA going 9-3 or 10-2…Arky with Mallett will be tough…MSU will be tough! UGA-Aub always tough…and we always get the bee’s best shot!

All that said…I think it will be a very interesting year in the always tough and definitely BEST college football conference this year!

BTW…Nesbit for heisman…..ludricrous!

Georgia is never a threat

April 12th, 2010
4:23 pm

Enter your comments here

Georgia stills sucks at football

April 12th, 2010
4:27 pm

nothing ever will change at uga.

Not Bad

April 12th, 2010
4:28 pm

Agreed! I am not that sure that UGA will be the SECOND best team in the East.

nucular

April 12th, 2010
4:36 pm

Yeah Tony, let’s see, a QB for Florida who after 3 year sin the program, in the 3 Spring games, throw for 58%, fumbles 8 times, and throws 2 interceptions?

And the defense for Florida gives up 43 touchdowns to a freshman QB and over 51 point sin the Spring game?

If scoring won the SEC, Arkansas would be the National Champ, instead they went 7-5.

Come on, get serious folks.

5IML

April 12th, 2010
4:38 pm

In the immortal words of Allen Iverson, “We’re talking about practice.”

Don’t get too hyped up over Spring scrimmage stats.

take jake

April 12th, 2010
4:39 pm

If Meyer couldn’t win a Championship last year, with 22 starters back, Tebow, and Strong as his defensive coordiantor, he SURE won’t win it in 2010.

Bill E. Goat

April 12th, 2010
4:39 pm

5IML

You’re missing the point. Regardless of what happened for Urban to retire it’s easy enough with your line of thinking to understand that he made a rash decision based on what happened and after consulting with doctors and his family discovered he could do what he loved without risking his permanent health.

Just because someone has a minor heart attack, which I also feel probably happened, doesn’t mean he has to stop doing what he loves forever.

Urban probably was scared he was risking his life and being around for his family and human nature leads one to make a rash decision. Human nature also allows for further discovery and to see what alternative ways there are to deal with such a health issue without causing further risk to one’s health and lifestyle.

Every bit of notion you’ve put forth from your angle can be used just in the way I did above and is every bit a logical explanation for why Urban Meyer retired and changed his mind. I fail to see how that makes him what you previously described him as.

Otto

April 12th, 2010
4:40 pm

Brantley also is not going up against a defense with a complete scheme change.

Mett’s INT was in a Hail Mary situation.

BrokeBackJacket, Agreed I can see UGA anywhere from 7-5 to a perfect season, most likely 9-3/10-2.

If the offense is clicking with a good QB and the RBs are producing, the defense executes on fundamentals the sky is the limit and after S Car the schedule sets up nicely. Mallet can be dangerous up against a new scheme, and Mullen is due a big win but UGA should be favored.

The entire SEC will be interesting. MSU and Auburn with 2nd yr coaches. Can Arkansas improve? Does Darth Visor have a QB and RB? Does Les Miles self implode with Clock management? Tony has plenty of material.

Charlie Bama

April 12th, 2010
4:42 pm

Tony — You are dead on with your comments about the Gators. They will be a handful for all their opponents, including Bama. Especially if the FL offensive line can do it’s job–but, BUT, that’s not a given. Defense will beat Florida, and there’s no chance they can be out-scored in a track meet, except by the more experienced Tide offense. (Remember, Ingram, McElroy, Julio, Richardson & company are all back this year.) It’s a good thing Dooley is rebuilding the Orange Killbillies for the long haul, ‘cuz this season will be ugly, ugly, ugly.

Anonymous

April 12th, 2010
4:45 pm

Who (or should I ask “What”) is dawgirl, anyway?
I have a deuce that says she’s a “sidewalk alumn.”
Any takers?

Bill E. Goat

April 12th, 2010
4:47 pm

Lee Corso

Seems you haven’t a clue about who the Gators return in the secondary.

Janoris Jenkins, Ahmad Black and Will Hill were all part of one of the best secodaries in the country for the past 2 seasons all played a big role in winning the National Title in 2008 and all are back in 2010.

The Florida secondary is in MUCH better shape than UGA’s going into 2010 who only return one starter in the secondary.

richtfan

April 12th, 2010
4:47 pm

i am not convinced uf will be able to maintain. they’re much more predictable with brantley and the losses on defense, and in the coaching booth, will be greater than they can stand.

5IML

April 12th, 2010
4:49 pm

Bill,

Maybe you’re right. I may have incorrectly deduced that his family would prefer him to stop coaching for health reasons. But perhaps they want him to keep doing what he loves even if it kills him. Either way, I hope his health holds up. (If I was a Dawg fan, I’d probably feel differently.)

G8R GRAD

April 12th, 2010
4:51 pm

5IML:

Regarding your 4:04 post, I sincerely hope you’re mistaken, but I can’t dismiss the possibility.

5IML

April 12th, 2010
4:57 pm

Neither the Meyer family nor sports, in general, need another Eric Gregg incident. Hopefully, Meyer will be on some serious medication.

I’m heading home. Y’all have a good evening and remember what Allen Iverson said.

longtimesecfan

April 12th, 2010
5:01 pm

Tony thanks for a very interesting article. especially enjoyed the
comments at least the intelligent ones not the stupid ones. many
good points on all sides of the issues. thanks to Gerald,Reptiles
Rule, Lord of Lizards, TIDE RISING, Tommy P and others on both
sides. I miss Atlanta Gator don’t know what happened to him.
You make the long dry spell w/o f.b. bearable Tony.

Dave In Tampa

April 12th, 2010
5:06 pm

I have to agree with Tony. For now the Gators would have to be the favorite. However, IF UGA can pull out an impressive win in Columbia that could set a tone for the rest of the season. That will be a confidence builder. That SC game will be hard fought. Spurrier has yet to beat UGA on his SC field. He’s seething to do so. SC will be tough this year.
Still I see UGA winning at least 9 this Fall.

Erk

April 12th, 2010
5:22 pm

Running a new defensive scheme and having another new QB in the upcoming season will make it tough for the Dawgs to beat the strong teams. Until we show that we can start beating Florida we just need to drop that discussion entirely, irregardless of the talent UF has supposedly lost. I do think the yardage we give up learning the new 3-4 will be somewhat offset by an improved turnover ratio as it was dismal last year – close to the bottom of div I-a from what I remember. And at least Murray or Mettenberger can’t make much worse mistakes than Cox did. But we’re not near the level of Florida and Bama yet. Let’s win the games we’re supposed to win and get back to that conference championship level, but let’s also be realistic and admit we’re not there yet.

rogeriter

April 12th, 2010
5:30 pm

Well, being Barnfart has spoken, I guess there is no reason for our Dawgs to even play this year.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
5:31 pm

Wow folks…no need to get a medical degree anymore…you can save all that time, dedication and money. All you have to do is Google! So now 5IML is qualified to dispence medical diagnosis’ because he went to the U of G. No, not THAT U of G……. the University of Google! Hilarious!

mike

April 12th, 2010
5:35 pm

Uhh, doesn’t Florida ALSO have a new defense to install, and a new qb with like 31 snaps of experience?

1. Georgia’s QB is better than Florida’s
Uhh, didn’t Mettenberger blow away Brantley over the 3 scrimmages?
58% completion vs. 64%? Same amount of TD’s, less interceptions

2. Georgia defense is better than Florida’s
Florida gave up 51 points in the Spring game, Georgia’s defense only gave up 24 points.

So, since both have the same challenge, and Georgia beat them in both areas, Georgia will RUN AWAY with the SEC AND National Title.

Bill E. Goat

April 12th, 2010
5:36 pm

Wow Mike that must be some pretty strong crack you’re smoking. get help immediately.

jumbeauxtiger

April 12th, 2010
5:36 pm

Tide Rising:

: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.:

He posted on here late last week. It caught my eye as I haven’t seen him on here in months.

Geaux Tigers
Go SEC

ed

April 12th, 2010
5:37 pm

Brantley fumbled 8 times over Spring, thrwew a couiple of picks, and got sacked 26 times. Brantley threw for a 41% completion rate in one scrimmage. It was so bad Meyer had a TE trying out for QB.

Jim's Place

April 12th, 2010
5:39 pm

I thought Florida’s defense looked HORRIBLE in the Spring game. Gave up 3 or 4 td’s to a freshan quarterback, and another to their #2 QB Brantley, scored over 50 points on the Gators defense. Looks like another 9-4 season for Meyer.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
5:40 pm

OMG…I just Googled “operation” and “brain” and suddenly I’m a freakin’ Brain Surgeon!!! I’ll tell you what, to anyone out there….I’ll do your brain surgery and charge you 25% of what your Doctor will (since I don’t have all that Med school to pay for)….ANY TAKERS??????

ed

April 12th, 2010
5:40 pm

Mettnberger had a 5 to 1 td to int ratio, Brantley’s was 2.5.

mike

April 12th, 2010
5:43 pm

The freshman QB Burton scored more than Brantley for Florida. That Florida defense giving up 51 points in the Spring game need s serious help. Worse than Alabama giving up 491 yards and 6 touchdowns in their Spring game. Both defenses are MUCH worse than last year.

pi$$onatechie

April 12th, 2010
5:47 pm

I have a question for all Florida fans, if what you say is true that Florida will have no trouble beating Georgia this year why Urban Meyer elected to have his week off prior to the Georgia game? not LSU not Bama but Georgia, I guess he knows something that you all dont know.
I’ll say watch out gaytors

mike

April 12th, 2010
5:53 pm

last time i checked, the Georgia QB’s threw for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Spring game, that ain’t too bad folks.

Lord of The Lizards

April 12th, 2010
6:00 pm

I think UF had an open date almost every year that Spurrier was there. Worked pretty well then I think. I personally am more concerned about South Carolina this year and I’m glad it’s at home. As far as the spring game and Florida’s defense…when you sit out your entire starting secondary and play walk ons through much of the second half, well there you go. Spring games are more for entertaining the fans with a littleoffense while restricting the defense, building some depth and rewarding little used players in my opinion. Plus Brantley had a great game in LAST years spring game as well…and that defense as I recall, was pretty good outside of 1 game…

Lord of The Lizards

April 12th, 2010
6:12 pm

Frankly, come to think about it, I’m more concerned about USF this year than Georgia. At least they got a QB.

Is Meyer Feeling OK?

April 12th, 2010
6:17 pm

Not so sure looking at his face when he went off on this reporter. Glad Tony think Meyer has it all together, I’ll let you decide, take a look at this RECENT meltdown by Urban Meyer:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgqQshESm8s&feature=related

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:20 pm

mike says, “the Georgia QB’s threw for 385 yards and 3 touchdowns in the Spring game”…… Oh no…looks like that new UGA DC ain’t workin’ out too well if those three clowns can put up those numbers…sounds like UGA has some serious problems on defense…..can you imagine what Brantley’s gonna do to ‘em?!

ed

April 12th, 2010
6:22 pm

1) Florida just can’t find running backs that don’t fumble. Meyer only called 1 play to the running backs in the 2nd half of the SEC Championship game because they arn’t productive and they fumble too much. They have to replace their #1 rusher, their QB, believe it or not
2) Lost all WR’s, don’t have a go-to WR.
3) Havn’t found a Percy Harvin to play that role since Percy left = No Championships
4) Can’t figure out a way for the spread offense to beat the 3-4 (see Bama game for great video footage)
5) QB’s don’t look good, at all after 3 Spring Games, Meyer said we have no offense. I agree.

mike

April 12th, 2010
6:22 pm

Grantham only gave up 24 points, Florida and Bama both gave up over 50 points in their last Spring game.

Dennis G. Berdanis

April 12th, 2010
6:23 pm

It’s not UF’s offense that is a concern. It’s all they lost on defence. That shut down defence is gone.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:24 pm

385 yards/3 TDs/3 no talent QBs=Georgia has no defense this year.

ed

April 12th, 2010
6:27 pm

Mettenberger average 25 yards a pass completion in the Spring game, how does compare to Brantley in the Spring game?

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:28 pm

Givin’ all the tremendous emphasis on Spring ball statistics by all these UGA fans and patrick, you should fire the new DC immediately and promote Bobo to head coach. Hey, I’m just using bulldawg logic here….

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:30 pm

My God, Berger Boy averaged 25 yards per completion in the Spring Game??!! Fire that DC NOW!!

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:32 pm

And bring me ANOTHER beer while you’re at it!!! Thats OK, don’t bother, my underage drinking son is going to go get me one.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:37 pm

mike…which is it??… the 385yrd and 3 TDs or the 24 points??…your talking out both sides of your mouth, son.

ReptilesRule

April 12th, 2010
6:42 pm

Oh, that’s right…The Spring Game…it was Georgia vs Georgia!! So none of that really matters, now does it. When you can beat UF in October and in an actual real game, not based on you vs you in the spring and some obscure irrelevant stats…and on an actual SCOREBOARD…come back and talk to me…

Delusional Dawg

April 12th, 2010
7:06 pm

It’s now wonder that Mark Richt has such a golden glow. He has had his hide tanned so many times by Florida he doesn’t even need a spray-on anymore.

FalconUGAFan

April 12th, 2010
7:08 pm

ReptilesRule…calm down man….

mike

April 12th, 2010
7:12 pm

Going to be a blowout on Oct. 30, 2010, Georgia wins by 20+. Here’s why:

1) Georgia’s defense was better than Florida
Grantham only gave up 24 points, Gators gave up 51 in their Spring game
2) UGA QB’s are better
Mettenberger outperformed Brantley, Murray and Gray beat out Burton
3) UGA RB is better
4) UGA WR is better
5) UGA Offensive line is better
6) UGA Punter is better
7) UGA Kicker is better

Mark Richt

April 12th, 2010
7:13 pm

Praise the Lord and pass the goggles!

Mark Richt

April 12th, 2010
7:16 pm

We’re Spring Mythical National Champions! Can’t wait to order the rings!