Archive for the ‘Urban Meyer’ Category

On the Spot: Four or Five Guys at Florida

July 21, 2009

Florida fans will take this as heresy, but Tim Tebow wasn’t the Gators’ best–or most important–offensive player last year. The guy who really kept opposing defensive coordinators up at night was Percy Harvin.

Jump passes and stirring speeches are cool and all. But whether he was lined up behind center or split out wide, Harvin provided coach Urban Meyer with a unique multipurpose weapon who was a threat to take it the house whenever he got his hands on the ball. Think Reggie Bush, Rocket Ismail, Desmond Howard–Harvin was that kind of playmaker par excellence during his time in Gainesville. So, if you’re looking for the biggest chink in the consensus number one’s armor, I think this is it.

(Yes, Homerism realizes that Florida beat Alabama in the conference championship with Harvin on the sidelines, so it’s not like he’s irreplaceable. The flip side: in my opinion, Harvin was the difference in the national championship game.)

Heading into 2009, Meyer will look to a host of Gators young and old to give his offense that Harvinesque spark.

Brandon James
The diminutive James has made some electrifying plays on special teams for Florida, returning four punts for touchdowns in the past three seasons. He has yet to make much of an impact otherwise. In his entire college, James has just 357 total yards and four touchdowns.

Frankie Hammond, Jr.
Hammond redshirted in 2008, making him somewhat of an unknown. The 6-0 wide receiver is cut from the classic Gator mold, though. In other words, he has plenty of speed to burn (4.4 40-yard dash). 

Jeff Demps
Demps may be the fastest of the heralded speedsters Meyer brought in with his 2008 recruiting class. Listed on Florida’s roster as a classic all-purpose “athlete,” Demps made immediate contributions in a variety of ways during his freshman season. He averaged 7.8 yards per rushing attempt, scoring seven touchdowns. Five of those scoring scampers covered more than 35 yards. He also caught 14 passes for an average of 9 yards per reception and blocked two punts.

Andre Debose
Debose, a true freshman, was rated as the second-best wide receiver in the country by ESPN coming out of high school. Despite being listed as a receiver, expect to see Debose line up as a running back frequently in ’09. With his speed and athleticism, there’s no question Debose has the skills  to be a home run hitter in the UF offensive scheme. How much of that scheme he can absorb in his first season is a big question, though.
Debose, Demps, Hammond and James clearly have the talent and athleticism to thrive in Florida’s offense, which feasts on friendly match-ups in space. Here’s the problem: none are Harvin.

Just because a committee of players can replace a departed superstar’s production, that doesn’t mean they can replace all the benefits he brought to the offense. For example, USC’s backfield has been populated by a fleet of outstanding players since Bush left campus, but not one has been able to match the Heisman winner’s brilliance. USC’s offense has continued to click in the past three seasons, but not to the level of the Bush era.
Like Bush, Harvin impacted a game in ways that were both measurable and not. Now that Harvin’s gone, who’s going to preoccupy opposing defenses? Who’s going to open up opportunities for the offense’s other players? And, most importantly, who’s the go-to guy when the Gators are in a tight spot?

Catching Up

July 7, 2009

Homerism has come across a few items in the last couple days that I thought were worth passing along.

*This will be Urban Meyer’s final season in Gainesville.
We know this “because his lips were moving” when asked about his interest in taking over at Notre Dame, per noted SEC authority Paul Finebaum.
In his weekly column that ran in the Mobile Press-Register today, Finebaum postulated–with curious certainty–that Meyer will light out for the greener pastures of South Bend after the season. Seeing as Charlie Weis’ ample frame is still keeping the coach’s seat plenty warm at ND, this seems just a bit premature. But that’s not the most shocking revelation in Finebaum’s missive; Meyer apparently slept with Finebaum’s wife!
OK, so we don’t know that for sure, but what else could have spurred Finebaum’s vitriolic hatred for arguably the best college football coach in the country?
*Texas, West Virginia have the right stuff; OU doesn’t.
The good people at Doc’s Sport Service have identified five criteria shared by all BCS champions. They eliminate all but six schools from competition this year: Florida, Iowa, Ole Miss, Texas, West Virginia and Virginia Tech. What’s wrong with OU? The Sooner defense finished outside the top 20 in scoring defense last season.
Oh well, I used to think my life had some kind of meaning. Cancel the season. Thanks for ruining the party, Bin Laden.
*Sports information directors, although slow and dangerous behind the wheel, can still serve a purpose.
SIDs usually are quick with a stat sheet or directions to a press conference. So imagine Homerism’s surprise when he came across this insightful take on college football scheduling from Oklahoma SID Kenny Mossman. By the way, if you’ve never seen “the little Chinese gal” Mossman references in action, it’s breathtaking. (Few halftime acts could top this one, although Quick Change would give her a run for her money. Also, Homerism’s mom claims to have seen “Little E,” a midget Elvis impersonator, perform during a college basketball game once. Sounds spectacular, but I have yet to find evidence of his existence online.)
*The season seems so close.
In addition to the season preview stuff I’ll be writing for BH, I’m also going to be contributing to Tilting at Windmills’ ongoing Big 12 preview series. Somehow I drew Baylor and Colorado. Anyway, check it out if you have time.

Unfettered Capitalism

February 24, 2009

New York Times article published today revealed that USC head coach Pete Carroll raked in a whopping $4.4 million in 2007.

A study conducted by The Chronicle of Higher Education found Carroll to be the highest paid private university employee in the country in the 2007 fiscal year, one of 88 seven-figure earners.
This isn’t going to be some rant about the outlandish compensation of college coaches, a la the spectacle that occurred at UConn basketball coach Jim Calhoun’s postgame press conference last weekend. Coaches such as Calhoun and Carroll and Urban Meyer and Rick Pitino are worth every penny. (Charlie Weis may be a different story.)
Sure, we may be stumbling through the most significant financial downturn since the Great Depression. But ultra-successful college sports teams–particularly in football–tend to be profit centers for universities, generating substantial returns on the investments athletic departments make in them. Also, if wasn’t USC shelling out that kind of dough for Carroll, it would be Tennessee or Daniel Snyder. It’s the way the labor market works. If top professors want to complain about excessive coaching salaries, they should consider how they’d feel if their salaries were depressed artificially on the open market.
However, news like this drives home that at the end of the day, this is an obscenely lucrative business for college coaches. Believe what you want about their care for their players–or their schools. Taking care of your players’ best interests before your own isn’t going to get you to the point where you’re being paid $4 million per year to coach football, though. It’s not going to help you stay there, either.