Florida Gators: Charlie Weis

Top Florida recruit misses 

January, 22, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- In little more than a week, recruits across the country will sign national letters of intent, beginning what they hope will be college careers that culminate with their selection in the first round of the NFL draft.

It’s an amazing time for recruits. They are courted and wooed by some of the nation’s top coaches. Championships and All-American honors are promised. Stardom is just seven months away.

For some of those recruits, however, their athletic careers peak the day they sign. For whatever reason -- off-the-field issues, injuries, lack of drive, attitude problems, lack of talent -- they don’t make it. Sometimes they don’t even make it to the field. They’re labeled as busts.

UF WR Ja'Juan Story heading to TCU

August, 17, 2012
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Former ESPN 150 wide receiver Ja'Juan Story will transfer to TCU immediately according to Brooksville (Fla.) Nature Coast assistant coach Rob Kazmier said.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound receiver was at the school on a visit and posted his intentions on his Facebook page.

"I've been getting blown up all morning about it and I finally got a hold of Ja'Juan and he said it was happening," Kazmier said. "I talked to him on late Thursday too and he said he was having a great time there. It's going to be a good situation because Jaime Byrd is there and they grew up together."

Kazmier said that Story never felt comfortable with the offense at Florida. When he committed to the program, Urban Meyer was head coach. During the offseason, Meyer resigned from his position and head coach Will Muschamp came in with then-offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in late December. Weis left Florida after the 2011 season to take the head coaching job at Kansas.

"When Ja'Juan committed there, Coach Meyer knew he was going to be a project and he was excited to work with him," Kazmier said. "But the offense changed when coach Weis came in and things just never worked out.

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One good reason: Florida

July, 17, 2012
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We continue our "One good reason" series looking at the Florida Gators.

Good reasons:
Let's see what the Gators could have in store for 2012:

Florida will win the SEC Eastern Division: The Gators' defense is stacked

We all know that defense wins championships, and Will Muschamp has a group that could be one of the country's elite defensive units this fall. Led by All-SEC safety Matt Elam, the Gators return 10 starters from last year's squad. Buck Ronald Powell, who had an exceptional spring, could miss most of the season after suffering an ACL injury during the spring game, but the staff is confident that senior Lerentee McCray will fill in nicely in Powell's absence. Even without Powell, Florida's front seven is stacked. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley should be healthy after his ACL injury in last year's season finale, and Sharrif Floyd will be at his more natural position of tackle much more this fall. Veteran tackle Omar Hunter is back, and junior college transfer Damien Jacobs had a solid spring at tackle.

The linebackers are experienced, starting with All-SEC candidates Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins, and rookie Antonio Morrison was a real spark for the defense this spring. The secondary should be decent as well, with sophomore Marcus Roberson back after a solid freshman season. Fellow sophomore Loucheiz Purifoy could be a budding star.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Some extra thoughts and notes on my time in Gainesville from last weekend:
  • I'll start things off by talking about defensive end/Buck Ronald Powell, who will be out four to six months after tearing his ACL in the Orange and Blue Debut. Before the injury, most around Florida's program felt Powell was having the best spring of any of the defenders. After two seasons in which people expected more from Powell, he really turned it up this spring. He was more aggressive, tougher and caused more headaches for Florida's offense than he had during any other time. Coach Will Muschamp might have found that dangerous pass rushers he needs in his defense. Now, Muschamp must turn elsewhere and things will start with OLB Lerentee McCray. He was out with an injury this spring, but played the Buck in place of Powell at times last fall. He made his biggest jump as a player last season and is one player Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn are especially excited about.
  • True freshmen Dante Fowler Jr. and Jonathan Bullard will get chances to play at the Buck, too, but keep an eye on Neiron Ball. He didn't play last season because of the arteriovenous malformation found in his brain in February of 2011. There has been no word yet if Ball could resume playing for the Gators, but if he remains healthy and the SEC clears him, Ball could get a shot at play at the Buck.

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Spring shoes to fill: Florida

March, 26, 2012
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Florida is looking to revamp its offense in 2012, but the quarterback spot has the biggest hole to fill:

OUT: Quarterback John Brantley: Brantley had a rough last two years in Gainesville. He couldn't effectively run the spread offense in 2010, and while he improved under Charlie Weis, the middle part of his senior season was taken away by an ankle injury. Brantley finished the 2011 season with 2,044 passing yards, 11 touchdown passes and seven interceptions. He certainly had his off moments in the pocket, but he was Florida's best option. Even through his struggles, players continuously rallied around Brantley. He was more comfortable running Weis' pro-style offense, but never really had the confidence or consistency needed to be truly effective in the SEC. The Gators now have three underclassmen with little experience vying for the starting spot.

IN: Jacoby Brissett, Jeff Driskel or Tyler Murphy: These rising sophomores are in for an intense battle this spring. Brissett enters the competition with the most experience of the three, after backing up Brantley for most of the 2011 season. Driskel began the year as the No. 2 quarterback, but fell behind Brissett after a rough showing in the second half of the Alabama game (the game Brantley was injured). Drikel also suffered an ankle injury in that game. Brissett eventually started and played the entire LSU game. He and Driskel both played in the loss to Auburn. Brissett finished the season with 206 passing yards, two touchdown passes and four interceptions, and filled in for Brantley a number of times last season when the Gators went under center because of Brantley's lack of mobility after the ankle injury. Driskel arrived at Florida last season as the nation's top high school quarterback, but was better suited to run Urban Meyer's spread offense. He was recruited by Meyer, but stayed on and enrolled early even after Will Muschamp took over. As for Murphy, he has been on campus a year longer than the others, but has yet to take a collegiate snap. He fits a spread offense much better, but has earned praise from his teammates for his passing ability. Still, it seems as though he's looking up at both Brissett and Driskel. Heading into spring, Brissett held the edge in experience, and seemed to have the most confidence in his play and his understanding of the offense. However, he and Driskel have been getting almost equal reps in practice.

Opening spring camp: Florida

March, 14, 2012
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Schedule: Florida opens spring practice Wednesday afternoon and concludes on April 7 with the Orange & Blue Debut, presented by Sunniland, at 1 p.m. ET in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. In conjunction with Florida Football's Annual Coaches Clinic, practice will open to the public twice -- March 16 and March 17.

What's new: Florida welcomes in new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who left Boise State, as its new offensive coordinator after Charlie Weis left to become the head coach at Kansas. Florida also hired former Utah offensive line coach Tim Davis to replace Frank Verducci, while Jeff Dillman replaces Mickey Marrotti as the Gators' strength and conditioning coach.

On the mend: Florida will be down a few players this spring. Defensive tackle Dominique Easley is out while he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered at the end of the regular season. Cornerback Jeremy Brown is out with a knee injury that kept him out all of the 2011 season. Offensive linemen Ian Silberman, Tommy Jordan, Kyle Koehne and Cole Gilliam, along with linebacker Lerentee McCray and defensive end Kedric Johnson, are all out with shoulder injuries. Cornerback Marcus Roberson (neck) was cleared for non-contact drills. Linebacker Neiron Ball, who was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation after a blood vessel burst in his head before the 2011 season, has been cleared to resume physical activity, but not for practice.

On the move: Redshirt senior Omarius Hines is moving from wide receiver to cross train at running back and tight end. Hines has always been some sort of a hybrid player, recording 41 career receptions for 559 yards and two touchdowns and carrying the ball 13 times for 164 rushing yards and two more scores. Nick Alajajian is moving from offensive tackle to defensive tackle to provide depth with Easley out.

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You've already seen Chris Low's to-do lists for the Western Division teams, so now it's time to check out what the East teams need to take care of before next fall:

FLORIDA
  • Two major areas new offensive coordinator Brent Pease needs to hit during his first offseason with the Gators is running back and wide receiver. Florida must find a downhill running back for Pease's offense, and a reliable go-to wide receiver -- two things Florida lacked in 2011.
  • With quarterback John Brantley graduating, Pease must find a new starting quarterback. That means developing rising sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, who struggled in relief of Brantley at times last season, and Tyler Murphy, who has yet to take a snap.
  • Toughen up mentally and physically. The Gators ranked 89th nationally in penalties, and were called out by coach Will Muschamp as being too soft in his first season. Soft can't win in the SEC.

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Here are three keys for Florida heading into the Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl against Ohio State Monday:

Let loose on offense: Florida's offense struggled yet again this season, so it's time to open things up. Charlie Weis has left for Kansas, so running backs coach Brian White should use his audition for the offensive coordinator job to throw the conservative play calling out. Florida's offense really has nothing to lose. The offense needs some confidence and Florida needs to start by stretching the field.

Contain Braxton Miller: Miller has run for at least 100 yards in three of his past five games, and is averaging 13.3 yards per rush on draw plays. The Buckeyes' offense hasn't been very explosive all season, but Miller can extend plays and can be that much more deadly because of his ability to run. Florida's rush defense had some bend to it this year and a scrambler like Miller could keep the Buckeyes on the field longer.

Protect Brantley: The Gator's thin offensive line must keep John Brantley upright and out of trouble if Florida intends to move the ball against the Buckeyes. Florida only gave up 23 sacks on the season, but Brantley isn't much of a runner, so when he has to try and escape pressure, plays usually breakdown. With his lack of mobility, Brantley needs much more time in the pocket.

Season report card: Florida

December, 27, 2011
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It was a rough first year for Will Muschamp in Gainesville, but he did pass his first year with the Gators:

OFFENSE: F

A year removed from the offensive disaster that was 2010, immediate improvement was expected. With Charlie Weis and his pro-style offense coming in, quarterback John Brantley was expected to rebound after his first year as the Gators' starter. There was just no way things could get worse for this offense. Florida was near the top of the SEC in offense after the first four games, and had a star in running back Chris Rainey, but after getting blasted at home by Alabama everything changed. Brantley was sidelined for two games after going down with an ankle injury before halftime, and undersized Rainey and Jeff Demps just couldn't get going against SEC defenses. The offense completely fell apart. Starting a young, very thin offensive line, the offense averaged less than 300 yards in eight league games. Florida relied on true freshmen quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel while Brantley was down, but experience was all Florida got from them. Florida also had no consistent receivers and Weis bolted for Kansas after the season, leaving Florida with an offense that's No. 101 nationally.

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Who has the most to prove in the bowls?

December, 26, 2011
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Later this week, the bowl season kicks off for the SEC with three games.

On Friday, Mississippi State faces Wake Forest in the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl. And on Saturday, Vanderbilt takes on Cincinnati in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl, while Auburn meets Virginia in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Who in the SEC has the most to prove this season in the bowl games? And we’re talking head coaches, assistant coaches, players, teams and particular units on teams.

[+] EnlargeSteve Spurrier
AP Photo/Brett FlashnickCan coach Steve Spurrier get the Gamecocks their fifth overall bowl win in school history?
Here’s a look:

Florida's offense: Charlie Weis has taken off for Kansas, meaning Brian White moves in as the Gators’ interim offensive coordinator. He could be auditioning for the full-time job. The thing he has going for him is that it can’t get much worse than the regular season. Not counting the Furman game, the Gators scored more than one offensive touchdown in a game only once in their last seven contests. The other bit of good news is that Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey should both be as healthy as they’ve been.

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SEC predictions: Non-BCS bowls

December, 26, 2011
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We’ve picked nearly 100 football games this season, and we’re dead even.

I’m 83-14 for a .856 percentage, and so is my soccer-loving colleague, Edward Aschoff. You know him best as the ATL Kid.

There was a time, not long ago, that he held a three-game lead. Something says you’re already well aware of that given how much he crowed about it.

But that was then, and this is now.

It’s bowl season, meaning it’s time to separate the pretenders from the contenders … and the rookies from the veterans.

Edward has fought the good fight. He’s learned not to pick his alma mater, Florida, every week, and he’s not basing his picks solely on how his Xbox games turn out anymore.

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Top surprises in the Eastern Division

December, 22, 2011
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Now that you've seen our SEC West surprises from the 2011 season, it's time to take a look at the surprises in the SEC East:

FLORIDA

The offense didn't take a step forward: Even though quarterback John Brantley appeared better suited for Charlie Weis' pro-style offense, the Gators didn't look much better after last year's ugly offensive output. Things looked better during the first four weeks, but the more SEC defenses the Gators saw, the worse they got. A complete turnaround wasn't expected, but improvement was and Florida just didn't have it.

Weis leaving for Kansas: Staying with the offensive theme, Florida received quite the surprise when Weis left Florida to take over as Kansas' head coach. People around the program were pretty surprised when they received the news, but it seemed especially odd considering how outspoken he was about staying at Florida for the long haul.

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Borges not interested in Florida

December, 20, 2011
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Michigan offensive coordinator Al Borges has spent much of the season with his name as candidates for other jobs.

First was the head coaching position at New Mexico, which eventually went to Bob Davie. Then, it was a potential replacement for Charlie Weis as Florida's offensive coordinator.

On Tuesday, Borges said he isn't interested.

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Florida program coordinator staying 

December, 15, 2011
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When Florida’s director of administration and recruiting Mark Pantoni left to join new Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer in Columbus, Florida replaced Pantoni with program coordinator Brendan Donovan.

A source close to the Florida program confirmed on Wednesday that Donovan has turned down an offer to join Charlie Weis’ staff at Kansas, electing to stay at Florida.

The source said Donovan, who worked under Weis at Notre Dame, chose to stay because Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Weis were good friends, and Donovan didn’t feel like he was betraying Weis by remaining in Gainesville.

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Who was the SEC's most disappointing?

December, 13, 2011
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We have received a few messages regarding our final SEC superlatives and it appears some had other suggestions for the SEC’s most disappointing team.

Obviously, it’s not the most flattering award to win, but some felt we missed on this one.

It was hard to argue against Florida, considering the talent the Gators returned and the fact that the offense was supposed to be better under Charlie Weis. However, the offense sputtered along after Week 4 and the Gators finished 6-6. But Florida was going through a transition year with new head coach Will Muschamp and dealt with the growing pains of having a ton of young talent running around the field.

So, here are some of the suggestions we got: Mississippi State, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Mississippi State was a team viewed as a dark horse candidate in the SEC Western Division at the beginning of the year, but fell short of expectations with a 6-6 record. While the defense had to replace some key part, the Bulldogs seemed to have the offensive pieces in place to make a charge at last year’s 9-4 record. Unfortunately for Mississippi State, that group could never truly get going after the second week of the season and held the Bulldogs back at times.

South Carolina won 10 games for only the second time in school history, but failed to make it back to the SEC championship game after being the heavy favorites in the SEC East. The offense certainly underperformed for most of the season, but the defense was the backbone of this team and without it, South Carolina doesn’t get to its double-digit win total. Plus, this team was without Stephen Garcia and Marcus Lattimore for most of the year.

Still, that ugly Auburn lost shouldn’t have happened and it cost the Gamecocks their shot at Atlanta.

Depth and injuries wrecked Derek Dooley’s second season at Tennessee. The defense was young and the offense lost Justin Hunter in Week 3 and Tyler Bray for most of the second part of the season. Before the season, the thought was that Tennessee would slip into a bowl game, but the Vols ended the season by losing 10-7 to Kentucky, which hadn’t beaten Tennessee in 26 years. The loss dropped the Vols to 5-7 and has them sitting at home for bowl season.

Maybe you have other teams in mind. Was Auburn disappointing because the Tigers started hot and then fizzled out after a national championship season? Did you think Arkansas would win the SEC West? Should Ole Miss have won more than two games?

We gave you our choice for the SEC’s most disappointing team, but here’s your chance to tell us if we were right or wrong.

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