1 » The No. 8 women’s soccer team opened up the 2014-15 athletic season for the Florida Gators on Friday with a dominant 3-0 win over the in-state rival Miami Hurricanes at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Senior forward Jillian Graff scored two goals, the first in the eighth minute of the contest, and sophomore F Savannah Jordan added one of her own to fuel the victory. The match marked the first in Florida’s 20th season of women’s soccer, each of which has been led by head coach Becky Burleigh. The Gators have won seven of the last eight Southeastern Conference regular-season titles and were predicted by the league’s coaches to finish on top of the SEC once again this year.
1 » The 2014-15 athletic season officially kicks off for the Florida Gators on Friday at 7 p.m. when the No. 8 Florida soccer team hosts the Miami Hurricanes at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Gators soccer will be kicking off its 20th season, all of which have been led by head coach Becky Burleigh. Florida returns all 11 starters from 2013 with sophomore forward Savannah Jordan looking to build on her incredible freshman campaign. UF shared the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championship with Texas A&M and has been voted as the preseason favorite to repeat. Florida has won 13 SEC regular-season titles including seven of the last eight dating back to 2006.
2 » The school will be holding its first-ever Rally in the Swamp student pep rally on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m., six days before the Gators kick off their 2014 season against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Aug. 30. The event will include “Florida cheerleaders and dazzlers, mascots, head coach Will Muschamp and members of the Gator[s] football team.” While there, “students will learn some of the great traditions” of the program, distribute student section t-shirts, win prizes and eat pizza. As OnlyGators.com first reported on Wednesday, there are approximately 2,000 student tickets still remaining out of the school’s allotment of 21,500. According to executive associate athletics director Mike Hill, Florida has sold out its student section every season during his 21-year tenure with the program.
1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas captured his fourth career PGA Tour title over the weekend when he won the 2014 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took home a winning share of $954,000. Villegas, who had not won an event since finishing first at the 2010 Honda Classic four years ago, edged Bill Hass and Freddie Jackson by a single stroke with a -17 on the tournament. He opened and closed the event by shooting 63 on Thursday and Sunday. Villegas jumped up to 37th in the new FedExCup standings, moving up 68 spots from No. 105. He is the second former Gators golfer to win on tour this year as Matt Every picked up a victory in the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational back on March 23. Every is currently ranked 35th in the FedExCup.
Man it feels good!!! pic.twitter.com/xGMD2zIIBR
— Camilo Villegas (@CamiloVillegasR) August 18, 2014
1 » As former Florida Gators centers Maurkice Pouncey and Mike Pouncey await word on the civil lawsuit that has been brought against them in a nightclub incident where three patrons allege the brothers committed battery, among other acts, it appears as if only one of the two will actually be formally charged by law enforcement. According to Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald, the attorney for the victims claims that that Miami Beach Police Department will charge Maurkice Pouncey of the Pittsburgh Steelers with misdemeanor battery, while Mike Pouncey of the Miami Dolphins will only have to contend with the civil suit. However, the Pounceys’ attorney does not believe a misdemeanor battery charge is on the horizon. “Until such time [as an assistant state attorney is assigned to review the evidence], no charges can be formally filed against either of my clients,” he told Beasley. “From what we’ve discovered, the evidence supporting the battery claims is flimsy, at best.” No charges have been filed as of press time.
2 » Two days after being praised by Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano for his on-field ability and chance to make an impact with the franchise in 2014, former Gators running back Chris Rainey was cut for a violation of team rules. Pagano did not offer any explanation about Rainey’s dismissal in a press conference the next day and no light had been shed on the incident…until Thursday night. While tweeting during the Indianapolis-New York Jets game, Rainey send the following two messages consecutively: “Yeah im piss watchin the colts game when I should be out there too. Even tho I didnt break no f**kin team rules, not even,” he wrote first. “Nice TD Boom even tho u was in the hallway with me that nite when we was horsing around with the fire extinguisher. Man up like I did.”
Rainey in those messages was referring to RB Dan Herron, nicknamed “Boom,” who he is insinuating was involved in some mischief with a fire extinguisher presumably during training camp. Hours later, Rainey deleted the aforementioned tweets and issued the following statement: “Hello twitter fam, my apology for my cousin mistake earlier. I wasn’t aware of his actions til now. He’s been check truly sry, God Bless! My twitter account is in my control now, my apology once again. Goodnight twitter family and God Bless!!!” More likely is that Rainey tweeted his true, passionate feelings while watching his former team and then realized how sharing those thoughts made him look to prospective employers afterward. Either way, the earlier tweets seem to check out. According to the Indianapolis Star, a fire extinguisher was used in a break room at the team hotel on July 27, setting off a fire alarm. Rainey was released the following morning.
1 » ESPN announced on Monday that the Florida Gators will help kick off the network’s annual 24-hour college basketball marathon when they host the Miami Hurricanes on Monday, Nov. 17 at 7 p.m. live on ESPNU. Florida is one of four Southeastern Conference teams that will participate in the event, joining Auburn, Kentucky and South Carolina. The two featured contests for the marathon include a doubleheader on Nov. 18 featuring Duke vs. Michigan State at 7 p.m. and UK vs. Kansas at 9 p.m.
2 » For the third time in the last two offseasons, a former Gators football player has been sidelined for the entire season after suffering an injury during practice. The New York Jets announced on Saturday that linebacker Jermaine Cunningham suffered a torn Achilles and will miss the entire 2014 campaign. Cut in training camp last year by the New England Patriots, Cunningham was not picked up by the Jets until November. He played in two games for New York without registering a tackle and was considered on the roster bubble for 2014 entering team workouts.
3 » The Arizona Cardinals on Friday announced the signing of former Florida offensive tackle Max Starks, who barely played in the NFL in 2013 after spending less than a month on the roster of the St. Louis Rams. A 10-year veteran who has started 96 games in his career, Starks is well-known by head coach Bruce Arians, his former offensive coordinator with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Whether Starks ultimately makes the team out of training camp remains to be seen.
Best- and worst-case scenarios
Between e-mails, messages on social media, comments here on the site, radio interview questions and text messages from friends, I seemingly get asked on a daily basis how good or bad I think the Florida Gators football team will be in 2014.
It’s simple, really.
No one knows. There are some analysts predicting Florida pieces together a shocking turnaround, while others believe the Gators will only be marginally better than they were a year ago. Consider how many variables there are in regards to any given team succeeding or failing, let alone a storied program coming off its worst season since 1979.
Therefore, let’s look at the absolute best- and worst-case scenarios for Florida in 2014…
Best-case scenario: Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel stays healthy and puts it all together with an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who finally allows him to utilize his full skill set… Florida’s shuffled offensive line solidifies under position coach Mike Summers… Head coach Will Muschamp finds a way to put forward a top-notch defense despite another batch of top talent leaving the program in the offseason… UF starts the season 4-1 with its lone loss to Alabama, finds a way to beat LSU at home, earns Muschamp his first victory ever in the Florida-Georgia game and takes the SEC East crown, putting it in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2008… Despite falling to its SEC West opponent in the league title game, UF earns the fourth spot in the first College Football Playoff as a two-loss team and is eliminated in its playoff game.
Florida Gators fans across the state of Florida and country can rest easier as ESPN and the SEC Network announced Thursday that they have reached a deal for the channel to be distributed by Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks when it launches nationwide on Aug. 14.
Already set to be available on AT&T U-Verse, DISH Network, Google Fiber, Cox Communications and Xfinity TV, as well as a variety of local cable carriers, SEC Network will now be in approximately 60 million homes after these latest agreements.
“We know we have customers who want the SEC-ESPN Network, and are pleased to bring it to them,” said Andrew Rosenberg, Senior Vice President of Content Acquisition for Time Warner Cable in a press release. “This deal will help ensure that fans and alumni of SEC universities won’t miss any important games.”
Multiple reports over the last few weeks have DirecTV near a deal with ESPN to carry the SEC Network. It and Verizon FIOS are the only major providers not currently slated to have the channel when it launches.
Every major cable operator in Florida, plus DISH Network subscribers, now has access to the SEC Network. DirecTV is available throughout the state, while Verizon FIOS currently only available in Sarasota, St. Petersburg and Tampa.
1 » Five days after junior guard/forward DeVon Walker tore his ACL and four days after the news officially broke, Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan has addressed losing a key role player for the entire 2014-15 season. “DeVon had two years under his belt. He was really finding out who he was as a player and looking good at workouts,’ Donovan said in a story on the school’s website. “I feel terrible for him because he had worked so hard to get himself to this point.” Florida also announced that Walker, who tore the ligament during an individual workout, is scheduled to go under the knife at some point later this summer.
2 » According to The Miami Herald’s Armando Salguero, the torn labrum suffered by Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey is likely to keep him out up to eight weeks of the regular season, three more than initially predicted. Though Pouncey was only projected to miss the Dolphins’ first four games (the team has a bye week in week five), he is now a candidate to be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list to start the season. Players on that list cannot return to their team until after the sixth game of the season. Pouncey will be included on the PUP list during training camp and into the preseason, but Miami will have the opportunity to decide whether to keep him on it before the first week of the regular season.