CFS Daily Hot Reads: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

CFS Daily Hot Reads: Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Former Florida Gator player Robert Gillespie is embracing a new shade of orange. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

Ex-Florida Gator Robert Gillespie is wearing a new shade of orange. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

  • Robert Gillespie rushed for nearly 2,000 yards during his career as a Florida Gator. Now, as running backs coach at Tennessee, he’s embracing a new shade of orange. Gillespie, who played for the Gators from 1998-2001, was part of the some of the most memorable games in the heated rivalry. Gillespie went 2-2 vs. the Vols. None of the four games were decided by more than four points. The total points scored: Florida 99, Tennessee 98. Evan Woodberry of the Knoxville News-Sentinel takes an interesting look back at Gillespie’s games against his new employer. The 1998 game, in particular, stands out. Gillespie dented the box score just twice, with one rush and one pass reception. But his impact on the game – and on the Vols’ season – was much bigger than it appears just looking at the statistics. The Jacksonville (Fla.) Times-Union described his catch this way: “Gillespie caught a swing pass and ran 36 yards toward what looked like an apparent touchdown. But he inexplicably tried to cut back at the 3 and was tackled, when all he had to do was make a move and walk into the end zone. The Gators settled for a field goal.” Tennessee won the game 20-17, and went on to win the national championship. “I’m a freshmen and I get thrown into the game and I had a chance to make a play,” Gillespie said. “On the next play, I came out, the staff put in a senior and he fumbles on the next play. I’ll never forget it. When I had a chance to make a play and score, I did not. Those are just things you never forget.” Now, from the other side, Gillespie hopes the Vols can get the rivalry back to what it once was. “I played against some really good (Tennessee) defenses,” Gillespie said. “I know Coach (Jones) is going to get these guys fired up to get them back to where they should be.”
  • With just five scholarship players available this spring, new BYU offensive line coach Garrett Tujague is earning every penny of his paycheck. Of the five, only two have any significant playing time on a group that generally underperformed last year. It probably wasn’t what the former all-conference lineman for the Cougars had in mind when he left the head job at College of the Canyons (Calif.) community college after six successful seasons to join Bronco Mendenhall’s staff, but he’s excited nonetheless. “There’s great energy; I love being around coach Mendenhall and how he does things,” he told Brandon Gurney of the Deseret News. “I also love being around coach (Robert) Anae again.” Thankfully, reinforcements are coming. Ryker Mathews, generally considered as the best OL in the program, and reserve center Brock Stringham will miss spring ball due to injury but will return in the fall, along with tackle Jordan Black, who recently returned from an LDS mission. In addition, the Cougars will bring in four junior college transfers and one highly-recruited high school prospect in the fall. Tujague’s experience from the junior college ranks, where he had just one or two years to bring his players up to speed, could be an advantage. During the Cougs’ first week of spring practice, he’s established an aggressive, up-tempo pace that the players like. He’s using the grueling practices to mold his limited number of troops into a cohesive unit. “Coach Tujague always tells us that we can’t have the attitude to survive the workouts, but continually improve during them,” returning starter Solomone Kafu said. “He also always points out that if one of us is weak then all of us are weak. That’s the way it is on the offensive line, and I think we’re gaining a better sense of playing together and feeling the pressure to not let any of us down, and it’s good.”
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