Tuesday, December 8, 2009


This article sums up my feelings on where our program can find that winning edge.  
Coach Larsen


By Robbie Andreu
Staff writer
Published: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 7:00 p.m.

Ask the Florida Gators to explain their amazing fourth quarter in last year's SEC Championship Game and the response is immediate, and always the same.

Mickey Marotti.

The players credit their strength and conditioning coordinator for that 14-0 fourth-quarter dominance that propelled Florida to a 31-20 victory over No. 1 Alabama and into last season's BCS Championship Game.

"Absolutely, a lot of (the credit) goes to Coach Mick," quarterback Tim Tebow said. "He brings a lot to our program, just the toughness, the character aspect of it. What he brings to the table is huge.

"Very little of our offseason program is getting physically strong. It's getting mentally stronger. When your back is against the wall, what are you going to do? The flight or fight syndrome. That is so much what our team is about."

The Gators found themselves in a flight or fight situation heading into the fourth quarter of last year's game.

Alabama had just physically dominated the third quarter, outscoring the Gators 10-0 to take a 20-17 lead. Alabama's touchdown drive covered 91 yards in 15 plays, consuming almost half the quarter. The other scoring drive covered 65 yards in 10 plays.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Tide seemed in control.
Somehow, the Gators turned the game back in their favor.
Tebow engineered two touchdown drives and the Florida defense held Alabama to 1 yard in the quarter.

How did that happen?

"Mickey Marotti," strong safety Ahmad Black said. "He does things in the weight room that keep us physically prepared, keep us mentally prepared. And we were able to stop them in the fourth quarter."

Coaches always stress that big games are won and lost in the fourth quarter, that the fourth quarter is the ultimate test of mental and physical toughness, of manhood.

The Gators passed the test in a big way in what will go down as one of the greatest fourth quarters in school history.

"It was because all year long we had been working on finishing. We had been striving to finish," Tebow said. "That's something that Coach Mick preached in the weight room, on the practice field, to our coaching staff. We have to finish. We have to be a tough team in the fourth quarter and we have to have heart.

"In that fourth quarter, we really rallied together and really came up with a lot of heart, found ways to finish. We just kept finding ways to get a first down, put it in the end zone against a great team. We weren't going to leave anything on the field. That's what I'm most proud of."

After getting punched in the mouth and knocked down in the third quarter, the Gators got up and delivered the knockout blow in the fourth quarter.

"To be honest with you, I don't even remember the fourth quarter," Alabama cornerback Javier Arenas said. "All I remember is we didn't finish strong.

"We didn't finish strong and that's something we've worked on all season. It's something that we tried to improve in, and I think we're better at it. So, I mean, we'll basically see."

We'll see early Saturday evening, because this SEC title game likely will come down to the fourth quarter, too.

"We always pride ourselves on dominating the fourth quarter," Alabama middle linebacker Rolando McClain said. "We didn't dominate the fourth quarter last year. Consequently, Florida won the game.

"This whole season, we pride ourselves on the fourth quarter."

So do Mickey Marotti's Gators.

"We feel we've won these games because of what we did in January, February, March, April and May," Tebow said. "The work that we put in then, that's why we feel we're 12-0 right now. The work we put in with him. He does such a great job."

Throughout the offseason conditioning program, the focus is on winning the fourth quarter, on finishing.

"Coach Marotti builds our bodies and minds to last the whole four quarters," offensive guard Mike Pouncey said. "We play our best in the fourth quarter."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"If you don't win it all, you can't feel like you've accomplished anything." - Ben Rothlisberger, Pitsburgh Steelers QB. 

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the above statement sums up how I feel because there were a lot of good things that happened this year.  We won more games this year than we ever have.  We built a coaching staff that will bring about great things in the future.  We had a great group of guys.  We are building a program that will be competitive.  All positive. 

Having said that, I also saw how far we can go.  And thankfully I feel like I know how to approach making the changes that will make us more competitive. 

I want to thank the seniors that have walked down the path of growth with me and the program.  Every graduating class is hard to lose but these guys have brought about some real change and we'll be able to grow from their examples.  Thanks guys. 

To the up and coming classes, I have a challenge for you.  Be leaders.  Be determined to succeed.  Be willing to put in the time and make the sacrifices to be champions.  Be mentally tough and don't back down from a fight.  We've been told to fight good fights and I believe that has everything to do with learning how to put your whole soul into accomplishing something.  Learn to be the guy that wants the ball when the game is on the line. 

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Everyone, and I mean everyone, I've talked to is very concerned about our turnovers.  So, let me address it here. 

1.  Two of the turnovers were called turnovers when they shouldn't have been.  It wasn't that the calls were questionable and I'm complaining, it's that the man was clearly down and mistakes were made. 

2.  We made some adjustments that caused our timing to be a little off.  The adjustments made it so we ran the ball for more yards than we ever have but it also took some time to get used to.  As we went on we did better. 

3.  We had some legitimate fumbles and we've worked on how to fix those.  Our fumbles came from kids trying too hard to gain more yards.  It's a problem we are glad to deal with. 

So, for all those that are Lobo fans:  Keep cheering, look forward to a good night of football, and don't worry, the kids and coaches have addressed the problem.  I'm confident the kids will do very well. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Great teams are born out of adversity and courage.  Both of them are good for you.  But it's like going to the dentist.  It's scary, but in the end you're better for going through it.

These past few weeks have been tough for us.  Emotionally, it's tough to find out you aren't perfect.  It was hard to bounce back.  But I feel like I've learned some lessons from our boys. 

Here are a few:  

Adversity strips a team down and exploits it's weaknesses.  It creates doubt and humility.  Adversity is a fire that burns to ashes all of the facades and false pretenses.  It chases away false friends and scourges pride out of a heart.

Courage rises up out of the ashes.  It heals the wounds.  It reminds us of those who have stayed by our side and it brings hope and faith back to the heart.  Courage replaces facades with brick walls and creates iron out of raw ore. 

Every team deals with fear, doubt and discouragement.  Every player questions the ability they have to succeed.  That's a part of life and, honestly, it's healthy.  Great teams fight back through the adversity and show great courage.  Great players fight back the doubt they feel and find renewed purpose.  The team that goes through adversity and doesn't give up finds stockpiles of courage that make it better than the team that hasn't been challenged.

My kids have learned the lessons that adversity had to teach.  They have been through the fire and they have found the courage to work on the weaknesses and fix the problems.  I feel very proud of each of them because they each made a conscious decision to fight back and improve.  I can't see the future so I don't know how the story will end but I will step out just far enough to say this:  I wouldn't want to play us. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


I can't say enough good about how tough our kids played this week.  They were especially stingy on defense.  Coach Reidhead has created an identity and personality for our defense.  Show Low was a great opponent and a good football team and it was a great game.  Final score 35-14 with Snowflake on top.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


We've spent the last week evaluating and changing our practice schedule.  It's been a tough process because we had to look at the way we were doing things and ask hard questions.  Why isn't this working?  Why are we still doing that?  Is this worth our time?  Tough questions, but necessary ones.  We really feel like the process of improving at something takes time, evaluation, change and reevaluation. 

There's no question that I work with great coaches.  The best thing about them all is that they take criticism well.  It's hard to be the best at what you do if you aren't willing to change the things that don't work.  So, when we evaluate ourselves we are pretty critical.  Pointing out weaknesses in the program is tough.  This program and it's kids are my biggest concern outside of my own family.  To hear that it's not perfect is tough.  Having said that, the progress that this kind of assessment has lead to is staggering. 

The other great thing about my coaches is that we aren't convinced that the way we are doing things is the only effective way.  They are constantly learning, studying and evaluating.  They are willing to listen to others that have a different viewpoint.  I believe this is the key to our success.  Everyone has a voice in the success of our program. 

It's fun to work in an environment when the people around you are like this.  It's a breath of fresh air to work with men that are so eager to succeed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Robby Martindell gets ready to play.
The guys on the car at the homecoming parade.