Florida Gators: Mike Bobo

SEC's lunch links

June, 3, 2014
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Suddenly my groom's cake designed like an indoor practice facility is looking a bit shabby.

SEC's lunchtime links

March, 12, 2014
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Hard-working reporters put in some long hours for the NFL's first day of free agency. It was so packed with news, it was almost like a mini national signing day.
Here are five matchups to watch when Georgia has the ball in Saturday's game in Jacksonville:

Todd Gurley's impact
[+] EnlargeTodd Gurley, Ahmad Christian
Dale Zanine/USA TODAY SportsDespite an injury-plagued season, Todd Gurley still rushed for nearly 1,000 yards and 10 TDs. He also improved as a receiver and had six TD receptions.
How important is All-SEC tailback Gurley to Georgia's offense? He hasn't played in nearly 15 quarters -- since spraining his ankle in the Sept. 28 win against LSU -- and he's still Georgia's leading rusher by more than 100 yards. Gurley (71-450) will return to the backfield against Florida's stout defense, but will he be the same player he was before the injury? He was averaging 112.5 rushing yards per game but has missed three-and-a-half games, and it's only reasonable to expect some rust on Saturday, particularly when the Gators are allowing just 3.7 yards per carry and 100.7 rushing yards per game (second in the SEC).

Thanks in part to injuries up front, they weren't as dominant in their last two games, both losses, allowing 175 rushing yards to LSU and 205 to Missouri. But with a few key faces returning up front -- including defensive tackle Damien Jacobs and possibly outside linebacker Ronald Powell -- Florida should pose a major test to Gurley and Georgia's rushing attack.

Georgia's depleted receiving corps vs. Florida secondary
By this point, anybody who follows Georgia football with even a passing interest knows about the debilitating injuries that struck the Bulldogs' offense over the last month. They have been especially debilitating for a once-explosive receiving corps, which lost Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley to season-ending knee injuries and Michael Bennett and Chris Conley to shorter-term ailments.

Conley is still out, but Bennett should be back from a two-game absence on Saturday, possibly bringing some productivity to a group that has struggled mightily in recent weeks. The Bulldogs passed for just 114 yards in a loss to Vanderbilt, with senior quarterback Aaron Murray failing to complete a pass of at least 20 yards for the first time in his career.

Facing Florida's aggressive secondary is no treat for the Bulldogs' passing game. The Gators surrendered an uncharacteristic 295 passing yards to Missouri in their last game, but with ball hawks like Loucheiz Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins and freshman Vernon Hargreaves III leading the charge, Florida leads the SEC and ranks fifth nationally in pass defense at 172.4 ypg.

Murray's composure vs. Gators
Murray largely put to rest questions about whether he was a big-game player in nearly flawless performances against South Carolina and LSU earlier this season. A composed performance against Florida on Saturday would place an additional nail in that particular coffin. The Florida native has never gotten off to a great start against the Gators, starting with his very first play as a freshman in 2010 -- when he threw an interception to Florida's Janoris Jenkins. Murray led a comeback to force overtime in that game but threw a back-breaking interception that helped Florida win 34-31 in the extra session. Georgia won each of the last two meetings against the Gators, but Murray was fairly shaky in both, going a combined 27-for-58 for 319 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. Georgia has a chance to build its first three-game winning streak against Florida since 1987-89, but it likely will need Murray to play his best game yet against the Gators for the streak to remain intact.

Will Mike Bobo "let it rip?"
[+] EnlargeAaron Murray
AP Photo/Wade PayneWith a few more weapons to work with, perhaps Aaron Murray and Georgia can open up their offense.
Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said Tuesday that Georgia needs to "let it rip" against Florida's impressive defense. After calling perhaps the most conservative game of his career in the Bulldogs' loss against Vanderbilt, that philosophy might apply to Bobo more than anyone else. The Bulldogs attempted only two passes of 15 yards or more in the loss to the Commodores and played it as close to the vest as possible -- a strategy that blew up in their face when turnovers and a bogus targeting call helped Vandy rally for a late victory.

With Gurley and Bennett back in the lineup, Georgia's offense should have some more punch on Saturday, and that will be necessary against Florida's tough defense. Bobo likely must break out of the conservatism that set in with multiple offensive weapons sidelined and show some aggressiveness if Georgia is to break through against the Gators.

Florida's pass rushers vs. Georgia offensive line
If Powell is able to play on Saturday, that would provide a huge shot in the arm for Florida's pass rush. Powell has Jarvis Jones-like ability, but injuries have been a regular problem for the junior. Even if he doesn't play, Georgia's offensive line -- which has dealt with consistency issues for much of the season -- will have its hands full with buck Dante Fowler Jr., who almost single-handedly kept the Gators afloat against Missouri even when the offense was performing pitifully.

Fowler leads the team with three sacks, eight tackles for a loss and three forced fumbles. He hasn't gotten a ton of help from his comrades up front -- Florida is tied for 10th in the league with 11 sacks -- but getting some line depth back should help. Georgia's line has struggled against speedy edge rushers, particularly in the Clemson and Missouri losses, so keep an eye on the edges Saturday.

SEC's 'Dandy Dozen' of assistant coaches

December, 12, 2012
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The head coaches are the ones who make the big money in the SEC.

But without a quality staff, a head coach isn’t going to survive very long in this league.

So as we look back on the 2012 regular season, let’s pay tribute to 12 assistant coaches who separated themselves from the rest. Each of these guys made a huge difference in their development of players and units.

We’ll call it our “Dandy Dozen” of SEC assistant coaches, and they’re listed in alphabetical order:

Mike Bobo, Georgia, offensive coordinator/quarterbacks: A finalist for the Broyles Award, Bobo has the Bulldogs ranked in the top four in the SEC in both rushing and passing offense. They scored 28 or more points in 11 of their 13 games, and did it with an offensive line that was both young and unproven when the season began.

Burton Burns, Alabama, associate head coach/running backs: Despite injuries to Dee Hart and Jalston Fowler, Alabama didn’t miss a beat in its running game. In fact, Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon became the first two players in school history to each rush for 1,000 yards in the same season.

John Chavis, LSU, defensive coordinator/linebackers: Like clockwork, Chavis just keeps on churning out rock-solid defenses at LSU. The Tigers are No. 8 nationally in total defense and No. 11 in scoring defense, and that’s despite losing their top playmaker on defense (Tyrann Mathieu) in the preseason.

D.J. Durkin, Florida, special teams coordinator/linebackers: When you play as many close games as the Gators did this season, you better be good on special teams. They weren’t just good. They were excellent in all facets, which is a credit to Durkin and the job he did in coordinating the entire kicking game.

(Read full post)

UF-UGA: Top 10 recruiting battles 

October, 24, 2012
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The Florida-Georgia rivalry doesn't just take place in Jacksonville. The two schools compete all year long on the recruiting trail around the Southeast. Kipp Adams of DawgNation and Derek Tyson of GatorNation take a look at ten of the top battles for blue-chip players, five from each school's perspective.


Florida

WR Jacquez Green (Fort Valley, Ga./Peach Co.): Green played quarterback in high school and was recruited by the in-state Bulldogs to be a cornerback. Green, however, admittedly wasn't a fan of Georgia head coach Ray Goff and wanted to play offense on the next level. Green signed with Florida to play wide receiver for Steve Spurrier. Green caught 61 passes for 1,024 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior and was a consensus All-American in 1997. He was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1998 draft.

DE Jermaine Cunningham (Stone Mountain, Ga./Stephenson): The four-star defensive end had offers from Auburn, Georgia, Florida State, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. Cunningham had his most productive year at Florida in 2006 when he produced 64 tackles, including 12 for a loss and 6.5 sacks. A second team all-SEC selection in 2008 and 2009, Cunningham was a second-round draft pick of the New England Patriots in the 2010 NFL draft.
ATHENS, Ga. -- Five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil (Lake City, Fla./Columbia) toured the University of Georgia campus for the first time since November. The No. 3 player in the nation is highly coveted by the Bulldogs and the Georgia coaching staff had a simple message for Tunsil.

“They need me,” Tunsil said.

To that end, Tunsil was given the red-carpet treatment during his stay in Athens.

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Josh Harvey-Clemons down to two 

January, 17, 2012
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Last weekend, the top prospect in Georgia, linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons (Valdosta, Ga./Lowndes), was in Athens to check out the Bulldogs on an official visit. Harvey-Clemons took an official to Florida in December, and it appears that a Bulldogs versus Gators battle is brewing for the Army All-American. Having been to Georgia with his family three times, Harvey-Clemons had already seen most of what Athens has to offer. What caught the Valdosta native off-guard was seeing how well the players were rewarded for their successful season.

[+] EnlargeJosh Harvey-Clemons
William Wilkerson/ESPN.comGeorgia coaches spent a lot of time last weekend showing top in-state prospect Josh Harvey-Clemons how well he would fit into Todd Grantham's defense.
“We were excited and surprised by the number of gifts the athletes receive for winning the SEC East and going to the bowl game,” said Woodrow Clemons, Josh’s grandfather and adoptive parent. “They get new watches, iPads, tote bags and several other items. I was very impressed with that.”

With the two neighboring programs being so comparable, it was tough to determine a leader. So Josh and his family inquired about where each program would play him and evaluated what each program will offer on the gridiron next season.

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