Sophomore CB Hargreaves focused on leadership

Hauling in a pair of interceptions in the first two games of his career, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III raised his already-high expectations basically the very moment he stepped on the field as a freshman for the Florida Gators.

A five-star recruit, he may have started that first game had Florida not had three NFL-caliber corners returning, but he basically outplayed each of them as the season went on and wound up as a first-stringer for the final 10 games of the campaign.

His 11 pass breakups tied Janoris Jenkins for most by a freshman in school history, and his lockdown defense made him a national name in no time at all.

As a result, Hargreaves was named a third-team Associated Press All-American, first-team Freshman All-American by a number of organizations and got chosen unanimously to the first-team All-SEC and SEC All-Freshman teams.

To him though, it was all a blur.

“My first year was kind of fast. It went fast. I had to learn quick cause they told me I was going to play early. But I enjoyed it, it was fun. Had a lot of great guys behind me showing me the ropes. I enjoyed it,” he said.

“All that [award] stuff, it was good. I guess I was proud of myself for it, but I’d much rather win games than have all of that stuff for myself.”

Continue Reading » Sophomore CB Hargreaves focused on leadership

Roper enthused heading into Gators spring game

Two days before spring practice ends with the 2014 Orange & Blue Debut, new Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media to provide his final thoughts on his unit heading into Saturday’s spring game.

“LET’S GO SCORE SOME POINTS”

Fans that had time to attend got a sneak peak at Florida’s uptempo offense during the Gators’ open spring practices, but the rest of the base has been patiently waiting to see how Roper has turned around a downtrodden unit in just over two dozen practices.

Roper believes his group is ready to deliver and hopes that fans come away from the spring game confident in Florida’s ability to move the ball up and down the field in 2014.

“What you want to see from the offense is really, ‘Hey, let’s get the right personnel on the field, let’s get lined up, let’s get set with motion, get the ball snapped before the play clock runs out, and let’s have possession of the ball at the end of the play.’ If we’ll do those things and look like a well-coached offense and guys that are locked in, we’re going to make plays in this offense,” he confidently explained.

“That’s going to happen. There’s enough opportunities that will take place. The biggest thing is not beating ourselves, going out there and looking like a well-coached team.”

In order for that to occur, the players need to be as confident as their coach, which Roper believes they are even though the system is still quite new to these Gators. But he is not concerned about their confidence heading into the game. Rather, he wants to see the same thing as fans: points on the scoreboard.

Continue Reading » Roper enthused heading into Gators spring game

Roper’s offense has Florida QB Driskel confident, prepared for spring game

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

A season-ending injury suffered against Tennessee during the third week of the 2013 season robbed Florida Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel of football, and it has become quite obvious this spring that he is intent on making the most of his fourth year in the program.

Driskel is by all accounts adjusting nicely to the new up-tempo spread scheme offensive coordinator Kurt Roper is installing. He believes it is a much better fit not just for himself but the rest of the offensive playmakers as well.

“There are a lot of guys who can make plays in space, and this offense creates space. We’ve made some big plays against our defense, which is exciting,” he said. “When you turn on the film and you see a bunch of guys making big plays from last year at Duke, it just gets guys really excited for the offense.

“I think we’ve done a good job for only having 12 practices.”

Driskel feels a lot more comfortable in the new system, which focuses on quick reads, easy progressions and fast decisions.

“You’re working on less than three seconds, really about 2.8. It doesn’t matter what route concept we’re trying to throw, we’ve got to get the ball out,” Roper explains.

The fourth-year gunslinger no longer has the time to get into his own head and make a bad decision by forcing a ball that should otherwise be thrown away.

“Coach Roper’s big thing is get the ball out quick, so that’s always something I can hang my hat on is just get the ball out of my hands and move on to the next play,” he noted.

Roper has tried to ingrain that into Driskel’s head, ensuring his does not tie himself up in making a mistake or throwing the ball away but rather focusing on the next play and how he can move UF down the field.

Continue Reading » Roper’s offense has Florida QB Driskel confident, prepared for spring game

SIX BITS: Noah, Masters, Alexander, Ridley, Lee

1 » Already in the midst of a Most Valuable Player-caliber campaign, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah on Wednesday became just the fourth center in NBA history to record four triple-doubles consisting of points, rebounds and assists in a single season. The other three? Wilt Chamberlain, David Robinson and Bill Russell. Noah, whose final line was 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists, has led the Bulls to a 46-32 record despite the fact that Chicago has been without star point guard Derek Rose nearly the entire season. The “point-center,” who leads his team with 5.2 assists per game, achieved double-digit dimes for the seventh time and also became the first Bulls player since Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen (1992-93) to record four triple-doubles in a single season. For comparison’s sake, Noah posted just three triple-doubles and two double-digit assists games – combined – during his first six years. Additionally, Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale just last month said Noah “should be the defensive player of the year.” Check out this extensive feature on Noah from USA Today.

2 » A pair of former Florida Gators golfers will compete in The Masters for the first time in their careers as Billy Horschel and Matt Every will be teeing it up at Augusta National Golf Club in Augusta, GA over the next 2-4 days. Horschel, who finished sixth in the 2013 FedExCup standings with one win and seven top 10 finishes in 22 events, won the Zurich Classic exactly one year ago. Every, via his first career PGA Tour win just over two weeks ago at the Arnold Palmer Invitational, is currently ranked eighth in the FedExCup. The golfers will open the first round teeing off back-to-back – Horschel at 8:51 a.m., Every at 9:02 a.m. – while former Florida golfer Andy North will be on the call for ESPN during the first two days of the event on Thursday and Friday.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Noah, Masters, Alexander, Ridley, Lee

Freshman PF Chris Walker announces return to Florida Gators for sophomore season

Freshman power forward Chris Walker announced Wednesday that he intends to skip the 2014 NBA Draft, continue playing college basketball and return to the Florida Gators as a sophomore for the 2014-15 season.

“This year has been a great one, and I’m happy to say I will be joining the gatornation again for one more year!” he wrote Wednesday afternoon on Twitter.

Walker, an athletic frontcourt player who joined the team in mid-December after being declared academically ineligible for the fall semester, did not play his first game until Feb. 4 while serving an NCAA suspension for accepting impermissible benefits.

He averaged 4.8 minutes over the 18 games he did play, amassing a grand total of 34 points, 24 rebounds and eight blocks on the season.

As he neither went through the offseason strength and conditioning program nor spent the summer and fall practicing with the team, Walker was far behind when he eventually became eligible for the Gators.

His length and athleticism were apparent in his rebounding and shot blocking, but he often rushed shots when getting post touches and was considered a liability on defense.

Continue Reading » Freshman PF Chris Walker announces return to Florida Gators for sophomore season

FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

1 » Linebacker Brandon Spikes became the third former Florida Gators football player to find a new home this offseason when he agreed to a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Buffalo Bills in late March. Spikes is guaranteed just $900,000 (his signing bonus) as part of the deal, which has a base salary of $1.25 million and an additional $1.1 million available via bonuses. he can also earn up to $250,000 through incentives. Though Spikes was a favorite of New England owner Robert Kraft, he did not enjoy his time with the Patriots. Especially bothersome to Spikes was the fact that he played injured the entire 2013 season and was suddenly placed on injury reserve before a playoff game despite not suffering a setback. Now Spikes will be able to go head-to-head with his former team as he is on another squad in the AFC East.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Spikes, Murphy, Wright, Tebow

4/8: Muschamp pleased with Driskel, special teams & scrimmage, but lines, secondary need work

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday, four days before the 2014 Orange & Blue Debut spring game to provide updates on individual players and how the team as a whole is progressing heading into its final practices.

HE LOVES LONG KICKS, THAT (WAS) A PUNTING PROBLEM

Just one season after averaging 45.8 yards per punt and being a finalist for the Ray Guy award, punter Kyle Christy fell off in a major way. He was only able to average 39.6 yards on 21 attempts before losing his job to freshman Johnny Townsend, who was supposed to take a redshirt and not play during his first season.

Now a senior entering his last season with the Gators, Christy appears to have turned things around and was praised accordingly by Muschamp on Tuesday for his performance in the team’s last scrimmage. “Kyle Christy punted the ball extremely well, really hit the ball well,” he said.

With Townsend (wrist surgery) out for the remainder of spring and expected to miss 8-10 weeks, Christy has every possible opportunity to win his job back entering summer workouts and fall camp. He seems to be making the most of it.

“I think he’s had a good spring, I really do,” Muschamp added. “I think he’s punted well. He’s done some nice things, absolutely.”

Special teams as a whole was abhorrent for Florida last season, especially when it came to the kicking game. Muschamp also praised UF’s kickers for the work they did Saturday, combining to go 14-for-17 on field goal attempts.

Austin [Hardin] was 7-of-9 field goal-wise; he missed from 47 and 41. Frankie [Velez] was 7-of-8 and missed from 46,” he noted. “So, I thought we’ve made some improvement as far as being more accurate in kicking the football.”

Continue Reading » 4/8: Muschamp pleased with Driskel, special teams & scrimmage, but lines, secondary need work

Florida Gators end 2013-14 season ranked No. 3

The Florida Gators (36-3) were bumped down to No. 3 in the final 2013-14 edition of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll after falling on Saturday to the eventual national champion and new No. 1-ranked Connecticut Huskies (32-8) in the Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

UF entered the tournament as the No. 1 team in the country and earned the event’s top overall seed, advancing to the Final Four for the first time since 2007 but falling two wins short of the national championship. UConn earned its second victory over Florida this season on the way to its title.

Kentucky (29-11) checked at No. 2 – and even received a first-place vote from the coaches – after falling 60-54 in the title game. The Gators beat the Wildcats three times with Florida winning those games by an average of 10 points.

The Gators at 36-3 finished the 2013-14 season with the best record in program history. Florida also swept the Southeastern Conference Championships, winning the regular-season title for the seventh time and tournament crown for the fourth time.

UF finished 9-3 against teams in the final top 25.


Via TheBigLead.com

Florida’s opponents in italics. Wins in blue; losses in red.

USA TODAY COACHES’ POLL
This Week 1-5: UConn (30), Kentucky (1), Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona
6-10: Michigan, Wichita State, Michigan State, Louisville, Virginia
11-15: Iowa State, San Diego State, Villanova, Kansas, UCLA
16-20: Duke, Syracuse, Baylor, Dayton, Creighton
21-25: North Carolina, Cincinnati, Tennessee, Stanford, Saint Louis

Check out the Gators’ week-to-week top 25 rankings…after the break!
Continue Reading » Florida Gators end 2013-14 season ranked No. 3

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