If only Urban Meyer could dress them out for just one game this season, maybe he could figure out what the issues are in the red zone and pass that on to the guys trying to get it done. The Florida Gators are 9-0 and ranked No. 1, but the offense is ailing and part of it may be the fact that Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy are no longer in the program, but they were in The Swamp Saturday.
It shouldn't be much of a surprise that there is a bit of fall off from the loss of two of the NFL's best rookie receivers. Percy Harvin and Louis Murphy have been stars for their respective teams this year.
Harvin currently stands second on the Minnesota Vikings with 28 catches for 369 yards and three touchdowns this season. He leads the NFL with 860 kickoff return yards and leads all NFL rookies with 369 yards receiving. Murphy leads the Oakland Raider receivers with 16 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown.
Murphy and Harvin were on the sideline in the Swamp as the Gators defeated Vanderbilt 27-3. They remain stars for Florida fans and their former teammates. They both looked like they were very happy to be back in The Swamp.
“I am glad to be home and see the guys again,” Murphy said on the sideline as the game was winding down.
He also hears all the stuff going around about the offense and believes that the Gators are on course to do reach the goals they have set for themselves. Murphy almost took exception to the thought the Gators were not doing well.
“Struggling?” he asked. “We are undefeated right. I haven't been able to watch them, but I have been hearing some things. They just need to take it each game. That was always our motto and the way we did things. We took it one game at a time and never focused on the stats.”
The loss of he and Harvin has been used extensively as excuses for the offense not moving well.
“That is what everyone says, but they have some good receivers,” Murphy said. “As long as they get the win, I don't see the problem.”
Harvin believes they are just utilizing different players than the receivers this year, but believes one of his former teammates is taking a little too much of the brunt of the defenses they are facing every week.
“I think a lot of explosive plays are coming from the running backs instead of the receivers,” Harvin said. “Tim Tebow is taking too many hits and I don't like seeing that at all. They have to take a lot of hits off of him and a lot of pressure and they will be fine.”
“They still have a lot of talent, they have Cooper and Deonte. They have a lot of fire power, they just need to put it a little better together and take some heat off of Tebow.”
Murphy and Harvin both believe they took a lot away from their Florida experience that has helped them at the next level.
“The speed is as fast and the training here at Florida helped a lot,” Murphy said of making the transition to the NFL. “(I got a lot from) the physical training, we trained here very hard with the mentality that we have to last through the entire season.”
Harvin was always gifted with extreme football ability and knew what to do when he got his hands on the ball. At Florida, he learned to make his teammates better by blocking for them. It is a trait that has paid huge dividends for the Vikings and their star-studded cast of offensive players.
“I think here I learned about toughness,” Harvin said. “Being able to block. Up there teams respect you a lot if you can block. We have a dynamic running back in Adrian Peterson, so being able to block for him is big.”
Murphy placed a lot of his blocking ability on the teaching of receiver coach Billy Gonzales.
“Coach Gonzales,” was the answer Murphy gave when asked who taught him how to block for his teammates so well. “With all the explosive players we had like Percy and all the other explosive players, you never know when the play can end. When the ball is caught, that is when the play begins. You have to just go down the field and continue to block The coaches love my ability to block and the intensity I bring to the game. I just like going out there and helping my teammates.”
Murphy also took a lot from the program in terms of mentally preparing for the grueling task of a football season. It was all about the details stressed at Florida.
“The approach to the game,” Murphy said. “Coach Meyer really stressed a lot about being a professional and taking it serious. Just bring attention to detail in everything we do. We needed to act like a real professional athlete, study. They say rookies come in and don't know the answers, but we just went in and worked hard and that is what helped me translate over to the NFL.”
Murphy and Harvin have been two of the best rookies in the league at any position. Harvin is on pace to possibly be the rookie of the year in the NFL.
“I don't worry about that right now,” Harvin said. “Our main goal is to get to the Super Bowl, so if I get that award along the way, then I'll be thankful for it. If not, I am aiming for the bigger goal.”
He and the Vikings only have one loss on the season and the star power on offense is maybe the best ion the league with the emergence of Harvin. He seems to have found the best place he could be, outside of Gainesville of course.
“I love Minnesota, I don't like the cold weather, but I love playing there,” Harvin said. “They have a great fan base, not like here, but other than the cold weather it is great up there.”
“I am blessed. When you have Adrian Peterson and Brett Favre, maybe the best quarterback in the history of the game...I am living the dream right now and I am blessed.”
Murphy was asked if he believed Tim Tebow could translate to the next level and play football in the pros as a quarterback. It is a question asked and pondered by draft “experts” all the time.
“No doubt,” Murphy said. “I think Tim will be a great quarterback in the league, especially with his work ethic.”
Harvin has two kickoff returns for touchdowns so far this season and leads the league in return yardage. He was asked if he took anything away from the Gators dynamic kick returner Brandon James who is the all time kick returner in Gator and SEC history.
“I learned it from him,” Harvin said.
“So, what did he take from it?” was the next question.
“I am just kidding,” he turned and said with a smile and he meant it. “(James) will be playing for a long time. The one thing up there is you just have to hit a hole and not do a lot of dancing, Once you find the hole, hit it and hope for the best.”
It has taken only half a season to see he is the best.