4 BITS: Horschel, tough schedule, Florida Field

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel was in contention to win the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship…all until his second shot on the final hole of the event. Trailing by one stroke, Horschel was 198 yards away from the hole and set to reach the green in two on the par-5 18th, a hole he birdied thrice before, when he instead chunked a 6-iron into the marsh. Instead of finishing with an eagle or birdie, which respectively would have won him the tournament or forced a playoff, Horschel posted a bogey on 18. He finished in a three-way tie for second, losing the event (and the chance for the full winner’s purse of $1.44 million) to Georgia’s Chris Kirk. Horschel still brought home $597,333. Horschel’s second-place finish vaulted him from 82nd to 20th in the FedExCup, and he should receive a spot in the 2014 Tour Championship. He could also be a dark horse candidate for the United States’ Ryder Cup team.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Horschel, tough schedule, Florida Field

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4 BITS: Horschel, U.S. Open, Spikes, Grossman

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel (-11) is in contention at the Deutsche Bank Championship, one stroke back of leader Russell Henley (-12) with the event’s final round set to begin Monday afternoon. Horschel and Henley will tee off at 1:55 p.m. as the final pairing but will also face stiff competition from Rory McIlroy, Jason Day and Chris Kirk, all of whom are just two shots back at -10. Horschel’s best finish this season has been sixth (twice, most recently at the FedEx St. Jude Classic in June). He’s looking for his first tournament victory since 2013 when he won the Zurich Classic of New Orleans. Horschel has already earned $1.3 million this season. Former Gators golfers Camilo Villegas and Matt Every also made the initial cut at the Deutsche Bank, but Villegas is at the back of the pack and Every got cut after shooting an 86 in the third round.

2 » Florida freshman tennis player Brooke Austin is competing in the junior’s bracket of 2014 U.S. Open, facing Evgeniya Levashova in opening-round action. The match is suspended, as of press time, with Austin up 4-1 in the second set after falling 6-0 to Levashova in the first. Former Gators star Lisa Raymond, also participated this year, teaming with fellow American Vania King in the women’s doubles draw. Pushing past opponents in the first two rounds, Raymond/King fell 6-3, 6-7(4-7), 6-2 to Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova of Russia on Monday. The oldest woman to ever win a Grand Slam doubles title (back in 2011 at age 38 with partner Liezel Huber), Raymond has won nearly $10 million in her career with 15 Grand Slam doubles titles and a bronze medal in mixed doubles from the 2012 London Olympics.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Horschel, U.S. Open, Spikes, Grossman

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TWO BITS: Gators soccer, Florida All-Access

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.

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FOUR BITS: soccer, Florida-Georgia, Donovan

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.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: soccer, Florida-Georgia, Donovan

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FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

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.


Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

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4 BITS: Pounceys, Rainey, Parsons, Big Brother

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.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Pounceys, Rainey, Parsons, Big Brother

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SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

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.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Miami, Cunningham, Starks, Dolphins

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

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.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

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