Florida Gators

Mizzou Arena

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“They’re one of the best teams in the country, if not the best.” This statement came out of Missouri basketball coach Frank Haith’s mouth in a press conference after his team had just taken down the fifth ranked Florida Gators. As the Tigers prepared for their game on Super Tuesday, they knew they had a tough battle ahead of them. Many believed that Florida was going to be too big of an obstacle, especially for a Missouri team that has lost to teams like LSU and Arkansas. Yet the players and coaches knew that something was going to go their way on the chilly Tuesday night at Mizzou Arena.

Picture from Yahoo.com
Picture from Yahoo.com

For many, it was simply impossible for Missouri to beat Florida, and those people had reason to believe that it couldn’t happen. After an obliterating and embarrassing 83-52 loss in Gainesville earlier this season, it was only logical that Missouri wasn’t going to make this a game. However, there was one thing the Tigers had going for them; they were playing at Mizzou Arena. Any team that steps foot on the floor at Mizzou Arena, no matter how good they are, better be ready for a dog fight, and Florida was not.

So what is so special about the Tigers’ home floor? Well, over the last 86 games at the arena, the Tigers are an impressive 82-4. They also currently hold a 16 game winning streak at home, which has overlapped from last season. Current head coach Frank Haith has been a very successful coach at Mizzou posing a 30-1 career record in the building. But what is it that makes this place so special? “Deep down inside, it took everyone to win this game,” said junior point guard Phil Pressey about the win against Florida. The thing is, he meant everybody. Yes, the players and the coaching staff, but the fans were the ones keeping the game alive. The fans who helped Mizzou keep momentum when attempting to cut two different 13 point deficits, one in each half. The fans are the most special part of the Tigers success at home.

So what is there to conclude from this article? Well I can tell you one thing. There is magic at Mizzou arena. Yes, the Tigers have had a poor record on the road, and have played very inconsistently. However, when they come home, there will always be a challenge. So I say to any team that ever tries to step on the court at Mizzou Arena, watch out.

Trevor Weinrich

National Signing Day

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The most stressful day in recruiting is clearly National Signing Day. Decisions made by 18 year old “men” can determine a program’s future. There can only be one team that is happy with a decision. That means three or four schools have their heart ripped out and thrown away. National Signing Day is a war. Coaches have been on the recruiting trail for years building relationships with these recruits and their families. This year is filled on the defensive side of the ball with players like Robert Nkemdiche, Vernon Hargreaves, Chris Jones, and Jaylon Smith. This year is exceptionally filled with NFL caliber cornerbacks. This select group is led by Florida commit Vernon Hargreaves and Tre’Davious White. According to Rivals.com this class features four 5-star corners.

There are always winners and losers from NSD and it is clear that the biggest winner is Ole Miss. While the commitment from Nkemdiche was expected, closing and executing was crucial for    Hugh Freeze and the rest of his staff. Along with getting Nkemdiche to sign his name on the dotted line, they were able to sign three more 5-star recruits according to 247sports.com. The most important player besides the 6’4” 285 beast on DE was signing a playmaker with the athleticism as Laquon Treadwell. The Ole Miss offense will rely on Treadwell immediately for explosiveness just as Clemson did with Sammy Watkins his freshman year. Also on the offensive side of the ball is OT Laremy Tunsil.

The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post
The ultimate recruiter. Picture from Washington Post

The best overall class is hands down Alabama. No surprise here. Nick Saban and his staff were able to continue the momentum from the beating the laid upon Notre Dame. Bama was able to build upon another great defense with 5-star defensive end Jonathan Allen and linebacker Reuben Foster. Foster will follow in the footsteps that have been laid forth by Dont’a Hightower and C.J. Mosley. The one thing these three linebackers all have in common is the ability to follow the ball and attack at the point of contact. Foster recorded 80 tackles and 6 sacks in his senior year. The 6’2” 242 linebacker looks to be in the rotation for the 2013 season.

The team that underperformer for the 2013 class would be Stanford. While they were limited in their number of scholarships, I still expected a team that has had so much success in recent years to build a better class. The bright spot of their 2013 class is the quarterback out of Virginia Ryan Burns. Burns stands in at 6’5”218 pounds so size is a major plus when analysts have graded him. 247sports.com graded Burns all the way to a 92/100. The major let down for Stanford and David Shaw is only signing two players in the trench for offense. Center Thomas Oser and OT Tyler Bright both earned three stars. Shaw has instilled bullying the Pac 10 as a trademark.It will be hard in the future to dominate the line of scrimmage with only 2 lineman signed. This was a major whole in the class that brought their rankings into the 60’s.

A couple of teams that also came up short this year according to the rankings would be Oklahoma and Oregon. While Oregon can slightly blame this on Coach Kelly jetting to the NFL so late in the recruiting process, Oklahoma just whiffed on there top recruits. Oklahoma, usually a dominating team on the recruiting pitch was unable to sign a single 5-star according to rivals.com. This is astounding because of the dominance they have had on the Midwest stars. One team that made a huge jump in the rankings is Kansas. Usually it is rival Kansas State that runs the Junior College crew but Coach Weis was able to snag 20 JUCO players DT Marquel Combs. Combs comes in as a 4-star and the highest rated JUCO player for this years class.

Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com
Gator Chomp! Picture by Gamedayr.com

Did you really think I would go this far and not tell you about the most important teams recruiting class? That’s right the Gators had one of the best classes because of how they filled their class. Will Muschamp has a liking to sign one quarterback a class and he achieved that with the record setting Max Staver. Hargreaves should lineup as a starter next year at cornerback and early enrollee Kelvin Taylor should split carries with sophomore Matt Jones. The most impressive feature of this dominant class is having signed 12 lineman. Muschamp has been extremely successful with signing highly regarded linemen such as D.J. Humphries from the 2012 class. Also, Florida’s staff was able to sway Alex Anzalone from Notre Dame and get him to early enrollee.
My final thought is that the NCAA needs to move back the National Signing Day around 2 months so coaches have more time to get to evaluate recruits. Also, this should be able to cut so many early commitments. While yes this would cut down on some of the recruitment circuses we have this year. Players will be able to take more visits and evaluate his options with a more informed belief.

Spencer Montgomery

Superman (Cam Newton) The “Thief”

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My boy Cam Newton has been stealing since he was born. He first stole the hearts of Gator Nation when he committed to Florida as a senior in high school. And later in his college career, the story of the “stolen computer” emerged, only to add to his stealing notoriety.

Facing alleged rumors of cheating three times at Florida, instead of taking a suspension, he transferred to Blinn College. After a short time at Blinn College, he decided to continue his football career at Auburn. When he made his commitment to Auburn, he worked, and eventually earned a starting job. Throughout the 2010 season Newton became a polarizing figure in the Southeastern Conference. By the end of the season, he ran away with the Heisman and the National Championship.

What the Carolina Panthers saw in Newton is exactly what they have received. Newton has dominated since day one of his young career. When people told him that he could not throw, he came out and threw for over 400 yards in his first two games. When people said he was not accurate. He shut his critics up with a completion percentage of 60%. Even with a sub par team, Newton was able to perform at the highest level. Just check out the stats below.

GP 15
CMP 295
ATT 492
CMP% 60%
YDS 3,893
AVG 7.91
TD 20
LNG 91
INT 16
RAT 85.0

The most important number in my opinion are the interceptions. As a rookie, Newton was bound to throw picks. And he did, 16 total on the year. But I expect Newton to improve drastically by next year. As a rookie, Newton was able to steal the epic passing yards record that Peyton Manning set his rookie season. Numerous analysts have said that Peyton’s rookie year was one of, if not, the best rookie seasons by a quarterback in the history of the NFL.

Newton is the first rookie with 10 touchdown passes and 10 touchdown runs in a season, the first rookie with back-to-back 400-yard passing games, and the first player with five touchdown passes and five scoring runs in the first five games of career. Along with all of his records, Newton is currently second behind LeSean Mccoy for rushing touchdowns. Newton currently has 14 rushing touchdowns which is not only a rookie record, but a record for all quarterbacks in one season.

Superman to the rescue!

With Newton’s signature Superman celebration, he has given an identity to his heroics. The Superman celebration has spread across all of sports. In the last three days I have seen the quick flash of the chest six times. While Dwight Howard is the Superman of basketball, Newton has fully embraced the title for football. He has been stealing the spot light and does not plan on giving it back. His Rookie season was the best that has ever been seen in the NFL, even better than Manning’s.

I’m just waiting for him to steal a Super Bowl and MVP.

Spencer Montgomery