Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Take Brady Quinn?

Sitting there at the stadium, I was debating the pros and cons of what the Jaguars should do with their first round pick with a couple of other members of the local media. The team was on the clock and Brady Quinn had fallen to the 17th spot and was there for the taking.

“How many games does Reggie Nelson win for you this year,” I asked to no one in particular. “None,” was the collective answer. “And how many does Brady Quinn win for you this year? None,” I answered my own question.

“So, all things considered, and if you’re Jack (Del Rio) you have to know you’re on the hot seat. You take Quinn, you clear up the quarterback situation, you buy yourself another year, and you probably buy yourself another year or two to win,” I said with logic following my thought process. That’s when the Jaguars traded out of the 17th spot, picked up two more draft picks and took Denver’s position at 21.

“They still can get Quinn there,” we observed, “and probably Nelson too” The only player the Jaguars couldn’t get any longer who was on their radar was Jarvis Moss. That’s whom Denver wanted and moved up to get him. Nobody was going to jump in front of them at 21 to take Nelson, and it didn’t look like teams were that anxious to do that to get the Notre Dame quarterback either. So when their pick rolled around again, both Nelson and Quinn were still there.

“We had already made up our mind,” Jack Del Rio said later. “We don’t want to be making any decisions while we’re on the clock. Reggie was a combination of the best player available and he filled a need for us.”

But what about Brady Quinn?

“We decided that we weren’t going to take a quarterback at that spot and we’re excited about Reggie Nelson,” Jack said quickly in coach-speak.

Even though they had Nelson and Quinn rated nearly equally on the board, Nelson was the pick, despite the things that Quinn brought to the table outside of his ability as a quarterback. There is a reason he lasted until the second half of the first round. He was the “buzz” pick, the hype guy in this draft. Some teams rated him among the top three players available this year; others didn’t even have him in the first round.

Clearly the Jaguars were among the latter.

The questions about Quinn started with his accuracy, his ability to win big games and his decision-making process as a quarterback. If you’re not convinced he’s the guy for the future, then you pass on him and move on. But don’t expect to get a free pass because of it.

“I was really angry,” one fan told me on Saturday night. “I’m a Gator,” she explained, “and I like Reggie Nelson, but Brady Quinn! Come on! We get rid of Byron, we get a likable guy at quarterback, we have a player for the future and he’s better than what we have,” she went on to explain, voicing the opinion of a majority of fans in one sentence.

So the Jaguars passed on a golden PR opportunity, twice, in order to take a safety that might fill a need but doesn’t excite anybody. He’s not apiece to the puzzle that changes anybody’s opinions about a team that went 8-8 last year.

I was fascinated by the ESPN panel’s “Yeah, but,” assessment of last year’s Jaguars team. “Boy they have a great defense,” they kept saying “but they’re the ‘Yeah But” team. “They beat Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and Dallas, “Yeah But Houston beat them twice.”

So that’s what everybody thinks about the Jaguars, and rightfully so. They need to hope that fans don’t translate that into this year as in, “They took Reggie Nelson. Yeah, but they passed on Brady Quinn.”

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Gators Times Two (Plus 1)

“I’m telling you, that’s inspiring,” is what I told Billy Donovan as we walked out of the Georgia Dome Monday night. Billy looked at me and chuckled but then realized I was serious. “I really appreciated you saying that,” he said as we continued to chat about how different and special this team has been. […]

Jacksonville Sports News, Sam Kouvaris - SamSportsline.com

Florida Vs. Ohio State II

“We’re just a mediocre team that wins a lot of games,” Chris Richard said with a sly smile after Florida moved into the National Championship game with a ten-point win over UCLA. Richard was responding to the question I asked him about playing defense, something the Gators didn’t get much credit for while playing through the NCAA tournament.

“We take that personally,” Chris said. “Everybody was talking about UCLA’s defense but we think we play pretty good defense too.” Walter Hodge, Taurean Green and Corey Brewer all echoed the same sentiments. So that’s what Billy Donovan used to motivate his team against the Bruins! They were playing hard but things weren’t going their way early in the game.

“It was a defensive kind of game,” Brewer told me outside the locker room. “What was it 6-2 ten minutes into it?” While the defense was strong, Florida wasn’t hitting the shots they were getting, but the lead by six at halftime anyway. “It’s my job to hit those open jumpers,” Lee Humphrey explained. “We’re going to create chances and when I get them, I have to knock those down. I got plenty of good looks in the first half but they just didn’t go. I started making them in the second half.”

It was interesting to see the Gators take over the game in the span of about five minutes in the beginning of the second half. They played their inside/out game, getting the ball into the post to either Joakim Noah or Al Horford who were instantly double-teamed. As soon as that happened, the guards would go to the open spot on the perimeter and the ball would come back out to them, leaving an open look at a 3-pointer. Once Humphrey and Green found their range, the game was over.

Plus, Brewer was feeling it from the outside and when that happens, he’s unstoppable. “I was comfortable and got into the flow early,” Brewer said.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game was Richard who was called on early when Horford had some foul trouble. But that wasn’t his only role because occasionally he was in the game with Noah and Horford giving the Gators a rather imposing front line.

“I’m a senior and I want to go out with another championship,” Chris told me outside the locker room. “I just wanted to play hard and contribute.” That attitude has the Gators in the title game again with Richard getting put backs and slams and key rebounds epitomizing what the Gators are all about.

“We like it when our teammates play well,” Humphrey explained. “We like to see each other score and have success.” That’s such a simple phrase but so different from just about everything that’s going on in sports these days that it could easily be laughed off as just talk, but with this team, it’s true.

In a twist that just doesn’t happen, Florida will play Ohio State for the title, this time in basketball. The Buckeyes beat Georgetown with a steady game both inside and out. Greg Oden virtually didn’t play in the first half because of foul trouble, but it didn’t seem to matter. The Buckeyes get into the flow without him and have enough perimeter shooters with Lewis and Conley to run with anybody.

I like the Gators on Monday night but it won’t be a walk.