1 » Celebrating their birthday 11 days early at a club in Miami, FL, on Saturday night, former Florida Gators centers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey both wore an item of clothing that garnered some major media attention on Saturday. The Pouncey brothers (pictured below) sported “Free Hernandez” hats in the club, showing their support for former teammate Aaron Hernandez, who is currently jailed in Massachusetts facing six charges including first-degree murder. Reaction to the hats, first discovered by Deadspin.com, has understandably included plenty of criticism for the Pounceys. While the brothers are close friends of Hernandez (Mike an ex-roommate), they are also public figures and (by proxy of being NFL players and first-round draft selections) role models for children. Asking for freedom for a man accused of murder, especially considering the circumstantial evidence against him (at this early stage) is strong, is not necessarily the smartest decision these soon-to-be 24-year-olds could have made. In a related note, the Pounceys along with numerous other former Gators spent a good portion of their weekend in Gainesville, FL, working out with current Florida players.
Another pic of Mike Pouncey with 'Free Hernandez' hat on (one on right is not Maurkice) pic.twitter.com/cBCt6ZPO10
— Mark Kaboly (@MarkKaboly_Trib) July 14, 2013
Read three more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
2 » A rising junior, defensive back/wide receiver Loucheiz Purifoy has thus far lived up to the billing of his No. 15 jersey, one he was lightly criticized for taking just two years after Tim Tebow left the program. In a feature penned by Florida in-house writer Scott Carter, Purifoy discusses growing up with a single mother who suffered congestive heart failure (he totaled 372 yards and two touchdowns in a game she watched from her hospital bed) and how he developed his lunch-pail mentality. “I really didn’t play football with the younger people because I was always faster than them,” he said. “So the older boys always ended up picking me up on their team and I ended up playing ball with them. That’s how I got tough. I don’t like to get hit and not hit back.” His mother and high school coaches also talk about his talent and success.
3 » There is no question that Florida junior quarterback Jeff Driskel taking a step forward will be integral to the Gators’ success in 2013, but CBS college sports analyst Gary Danielson went as far as to tell the Orlando Sentinel’s Edgar Thompson that Driskel’s progression (or lack thereof) could turn the tide in the Southeastern Conference this year. “As I go into 2013, the most important player in the SEC is Driskel,” he said. “He is the key player for Florida to be a dynamic football team this year. He must come through. He’s the key.” Thompson’s feature goes in-depth on Driskel, who noted that not entering the season in a quarterback competition will do wonders for him. “It’s a lot easier to be a leader, which I feel like is probably the biggest thing that’s changed.”
4 » In a recent study conducted by The Birmingham News, the Gators were determined to have the easiest overall conference schedule since 1992 (based on opponents’ SEC win percentage). According to the calculations, Florida’s opponents’ SEC winning percentage is at .469. The Gators played 42 total games against long-time bottom-dwellers Kentucky and Vanderbilt (42, same as every other SEC East team) and 83 against the SEC’s “six best teams” (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee). The 83 games ties UF for most in that category among the six best teams. Florida has won 10 SEC East titles and also has the most wins over a division champion with nine. Finally, LSU having a problem playing UF annually (the two teams serving as permanent cross-division opponents) is understandable, statistically speaking. The two teams “have both been ranked in the top 25 in nine of their past 10 meetings” whereas Auburn-Georgia (four of 10), Alabama-Tennessee (one of 10) and Arkansas-South Carolina (one of 10) are nowhere near that competitive.