August 12, 2011

The Silver Lining: 8/12 Orange & Blue News

In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.

Looking to change the minds of his critics while simultaneously putting on a solid performance, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow was successful Thursday, completing six-of-seven passes for 91 yards (including a beautiful 43-yard pass down the middle of the field) in his team's preseason opener against Dallas. Tebow also had both an interception and a rushing touchdown negated by separate penalties, was hit hard when two rushers broke through Denver's second-team offensive line, and scrambled to make a play near the end of the first half that was impressive but not legal. While Tebow's performance Thursday will certainly not change the mind of his doubters or naysayers, it was certainly a step in the right direction for the oft-debated signal caller.

In another game played at the same time, the New England Patriots and their slew of former Gators took down the Jacksonville Jaguars 47-12. Tight end Aaron Hernandez brought in six catches for 68 yards (and fumbled the ball once), while linebacker Jermaine Cunningham had one of the most impressive defensive plays of the night with a big-time sack. On the other side, Jeremy Mincey got the start at defensive tackle.

Not only did those four play, there were a few other former Florida players in action on Thursday. Wide receiver Riley Cooper came down with a great 42-yard catch from Michael Vick in the first quarter for the Philadelphia Eagles, and defensive end Jarvis Moss and LB Duke Lemmens each got two solo tackles for Oakland and Arizona, respectively. (Wide receiver Louis Murphy missed that game due to an undisclosed injury.)

Intriguing and a bunch of fun for those in attendance, the Student Town Hall Meeting concept will be repeated for a second-straight year by Florida. I was told on Wednesday that the Gators plan to hold the second occurrence of the event on Aug. 25. One year ago, it was located at the Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Over 600 students filled every seat in the house and stood around the perimeter (some started waiting as early as 4:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. event) as they received a DVD, t-shirt, pizza and drinks and listened to a number of coaches and players speak. The 2010 panel consisted of head coach Urban Meyer, offensive coordinator Teryl Austin, strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, director of player and community relations Terry Jackson and players quarterback John Brantley, safety Ahmad Black and running back Jeff Demps. Questions from the students ranged from running the triple option and team expectations to jersey selections and calling trick plays.

Not necessarily a playmaker during his time in the NFL, former Florida LB Channing Crowder retired from professional football on Tuesday while on the radio with 560 WQAM in South Florida. "I'm hanging it up," he said. "I woke up, saw my pregnant wife, and all the teams that were talking to me were way up north in the northeast, and I said, 'I don't want to do it.'" Some are questioning Crowder's decision to retire by saying it is simply because no one wanted to offer him a contract this year (he was cut by the Miami Dolphins just days after the lockout ended), but he remains steadfast in his decision and says he is set for life. "It's just not worth it. People say it all the time about retirement. I'm not hurting for money. I've saved all of my money. I've got plenty of money saved. Me and my wife will live great," he said. "I looked at my wife and I was like, 'I'm going to be a family man now.'"

Gators forward Al Horford spoke with me last week after practice while sitting in Kentucky's locker room. Why is he in Lexington? Horford is currently practicing with the Dominican Republic National Team and will be competing with them this fall in hopes of helping them qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. The team is working out in Lexington because it is being coached by Kentucky's John Calipari, who has recruited four current or former NBA players to the team and expects to win with his group. Horford said he is fitting in well with the other players but that Calipari's offense is a bit different than he is used to. Nevertheless, he thinks the Dominican team will make some noise when the FIBA tournament rolls around.

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