FOUR BITS: Elam, Harvin, Noah, Hernandez

1 » According to the Associated Press, Florida Gators sophomore safety Matt Elam has settled the misdemeanor alcohol possession charge he was served an arrest for over the summer. Elam, who was caught by a police officer with a plastic cup containing alcohol, entered a plea of no contest on Monday. He will do 12 hours of community service, serve six months of supervised probation and pay a total of $331 in fees to settle the charge. Elam did not miss any playing time and has started all three games of the 2011 season for Florida at strong safety.

2 » Even though Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had a dynamic kickoff return in the first game of the season and has proven to be the team’s second-most explosive weapon behind running back Adrian Peterson, he is not being used as much offensively has in the past. Tom Pelissero of 1500 ESPN Radio in Minneapolis pointed out on Monday that Harvin was only used in 44.1 percent (30-of-68) of the team’s offensive snaps in their second game of the season, which is more than 20 percent less playing time than just one week prior. The Vikings’ best receiver and deep threat, Harvin not being in the game has seriously stalled their offense, which is 31st (out of 32 teams) in the league in passing and has only scored 37 combined points in two games this season. His migraine and injury concerns are apparently a thing of the past, leaving many fans of the team to wonder why he is not being utilized more often.

3 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, aside from participating in international competitions, has been relatively quiet since his team was eliminated from the NBA Playoffs last year. Though you may not see him endorsing too many products west of the Atlantic Ocean, apparently Noah’s name is big enough in France to sell some shoes and clothing for the French sporting goods company Le Coq Sportif. Below is a video of the commercial Noah is currently appearing in for the brand.

4 » There may be some more bad news coming for New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, who reportedly tore his MCL in the team’s week two contest against San Diego. Though the Boston Globe initially reported that Hernandez would be out 1-2 weeks with the sprain, Comcast SportsNet New England believes he may be out more than a month and up to six weeks due to the injury. The loss of Hernandez would be a big blow for the Patriots, who have found success recently with two pass-catching tight ends and perhaps even bigger for fantasy football owners who were counting on him to continue his dominant 2011 campaign.

Gators defense still a work in progress

The Florida Gators offense was not instantly revitalized when Urban Meyer took over the team in 2005, so expecting new head coach Will Muschamp to completely turn around the defense in year one would be an unfair expectation.

However through his first three games at the helm, Florida is sporting the best run defense in the country (allowing an average of just 30.7 yards), the sixth-ranked scoring defense in the nation (8.7 points per game) and the seventh-best total defense in college football (209.3 yards per game).

As he preached from the moment he took the podium to discuss his decision to take over the Gators, Muschamp reiterated on Monday that everything in football starts with dominating the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.

“We’re talented up front. I think we’ve got good players up front. I’ve always felt that way,” he said. “I wish we had a little more depth than we have, but I’ll take the guys we got.”

From the push of defensive tackles redshirt senior Jaye Howard and sophomore Dominique Easley to the flexibility of defensive ends sophomore Sharrif Floyd and senior William Green, the players up front know the onus is on them to set the tone.

“They take a lot of pride in, and I always talk to them about dominate the line of scrimmage, making it a one-dimensional game,” Muschamp said. “You’ve got to be able to do that in this league.”

That is exactly what Florida has done up to this point. In Saturday’s Southeastern Conference opener against the Tennessee Volunteers, the Gators limited starting running back Taurean Poole to 18 yards on nine carries (they are holding all rushers to 1.2 yards per carry this season).

“Obviously the score dictated [that Tennessee starting throwing] the other night. We changed the game and our approach. The way we played the run early in the game kind of gets them out of it, too,” Muschamp noted. “There’s no question that [stopping the run] very important. If you can make an offense one-dimensional, it’ll give you a chance to win a lot of football games.”

The philosophy extends to the rest of the front seven, including junior mike linebacker Jon Bostic, who said the team has focused on attacking the line of scrimmage from the day the new coaching staff took over.

“All throughout two-a-days and even this summer – even when the coaches first got here in the spring -that was one emphasis we definitely wanted to make,” he said. “We want to stop the run. We want to be one of the most physical defenses in the country.”

Though the Gators are showcasing that strength and discipline up front, the team’s young secondary is still coming together. Out of Florida’s 16 penalties for 150 yards on Saturday, six were from the secondary including five pass interferences and a holding call.

The unit also gave up 288 yards and three touchdowns to Volunteers quarterback Tyler Bray. UF wound up intercepting him twice but missed out on some game-changing opportunities by dropping a number of other balls thrown right at the defense.

“It’s nice to be there, but you got to finish the play. You don’t get your name in the paper for dropping one,” Muschamp said when addressing the drops. “When you’re able to have an opponent that’s down, you’re able to knock them out with a turnover like that. You’ll be able to get out of the red zone – we had three opportunities the other night to defend the goal line and get off the goal line.”

In the end, the Gators prevailed on Saturday; however, against a better opponent, the numerous penalties and missed turnover opportunities may have come back to bite them.

As much as Florida has impressed from a defensive standpoint, two of their stellar efforts were against lower level non-conference opponents. With Alabama and LSU looming in the next three weeks, UF has a lot of work to do if they truly want to be one of the elite defenses in the SEC.

SIX BITS: NFL injuries, Tebow, Munroe, women

1 » New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, one of the team’s leading receivers this year with 165 yards and a pair of touchdowns through two games, sprained his MCL during Sunday afternoon’s game and will be out of action at least 1-2 weeks, according to the Boston Globe. Also injured on Sunday was Chicago Bears free safety Major Wright, who was hit hard in his contest and was removed from the field with what was considered a head injury. After further evaluation, Wright was diagnosed with a “stiff neck” and not a concussion, which means he does not have to miss his team’s next game. However, Wright may not start anyway as, according to the Chicago Tribune, the team is considering moving Brandon Meriweather into the starting role.

2 » Denver Broncos second-year player Tim Tebow has yet to see the field as a quarterback in 2011 after leading his team to a 1-2 record in three starts to conclude the 2010 season. However, Tebow got into his team’s game on Sunday as a wide receiver due to injuries to some of the other players. According to NBC Sports, Tebow asked the coaching staff if he could play receiver on the scout team rather than do nothing during practice. The coaches agreed and allowed him to fill the role and he wound up playing out wide on Sunday as a result. Head coach John Fox said Monday that the Broncos only consider Tebow a quarterback and have no plans to play him at receiver going forward.

3 » Former Florida Gators safety Dorian Munroe, who OGGOA recently profiled as we broke the story that he would be playing for the Toronto Varsity Blues of OUA Canadian college football, was interviewed in a profile piece on The Score out of Canada. Through three games with Toronto, Munroe has 13 tackles and an interception.

4 » In unrelated Tebow news, he told the Associated Press last week that, while he appreciated the support of fans who were raising money for billboards declaring that he should start for Denver, he hoped they were “going to do the right thing” with the money and donate it to charity. Fox, asked about the billboard, said, “I’ve seen a lot of billboards and I can’t remember one that really influenced me.”

5 » No. 9 Florida soccer (8-2) ended its non-conference slate over the weekend with a pair of decisive road victories. On Friday, the Gators defeated the Missouri Tigers (7-2) behind a pair of goals by freshman midfielder Annie Speese at 43’ and 86’. Sunday’s 7-2 blowout of the Kansas Jayhawks (6-3) was a total team effort with six different players scoring. Speese added her third goal of the weekend at 20’, but freshman forward Tahnai Annis opened and closed the contest with goals at 9’ and 89’. Florida will continue its four-game road trip with a pair of games against Georgia (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) as they open Southeastern Conference play. UF will then return to Gainesville, FL for a five-game homestand.

6 » No. 6/7 Gators volleyball (8-2, 1-0 SEC) began league play on Friday with a 3-0 shutout (25-20, 25-18, 26-24) of the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-5, 0-1 SEC) on the road in Starkville, MS. Senior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy, who was named SEC Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts, posted a triple-double with 10 kills, 19 assists and 11 digs in the match. Also excelling Friday was senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel, who led the team with 14 kills on the evening. After playing their last three matches on the road, Florida will return home for a two contests next weekend against Kentucky (Friday) and Tennessee (Sunday) before hitting the road the following weekend.

9/19: Will Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp and a few players meet with the media each Monday to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availability.

OPENING STATEMENT AND PLAYER AWARDS

Muschamp began his portion of the press conference by commending Florida for a terrific team effort against Tennessee. “The thing that jumps out at you when you watch the film is that we played with great effort, toughness, passion, energy on both sides of the ball and in special teams,” he said. “I really thought our players really played hard in the game, and that’s the thing. If we can continue to have that kind of effort, we’re going to have a lot of success. [...] We got to clean some things up. We got to play smarter in some situations on both sides of the ball. There’s a lot of teaching points from the film.”

He also handed out his weekly awards, which can be found below along with honors that two Gators received from the Southeastern Conference:

Offensive Player of the Game: Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey
Scrap Iron Award (best OL): Redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison
Big Play Award: Rainey/redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley for the check-down pass that resulted in an 83-yard touchdown
Extra Effort Award: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian for down field blocks that sprung big plays
Defensive Player of the Game: Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Ball Hawk Award: Sophomore safety Matt Elam, junior S Josh Evans, sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell (for helping create both interceptions)
Special Teams Players of the Week: Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (4/4 on field goals), freshman cornerback Louchiez Purifoy (four tackles on kickoff coverage)
Scout Team Players of the Week: Jabari Gorman, Tommy Jordan, Jason Traylor

Rainey was also named the SEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week, while Sturgis earned the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honor for his performance.

INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown, who has yet to play in 2011 due to a knee injury, will be out “probably for a couple of weeks,” Muschamp said. “The knee has just not responded coming back off the injury. There’s no surgery required. Very frustrating for Jeremy. He’s a great young man, and I’m just hurt for him as far as that’s concerned.”

In other bad news, freshman offensive lineman Trip Thurman is now done for the season due to a shoulder injury. “Trip had shoulder surgery this morning, so he’ll be out for the season,” Muschamp explained. “He’s a guy we felt like could help us this year. He’s a very talented guy, we’re glad he’s a Gator, but we felt like with the situation with his shoulder, we needed to get that cleaned up.”

Redshirt sophomore TE Jordan Reed (hamstring) remains questionable for Kentucky, but the rest of the team’s injuries are bumps and bruises, none of which should affect the injury report for Saturday’s game.

Additionally, redshirt sophomore LB Dee Finely – arrested last week for two misdemeanors – will return Saturday after serving a one-week suspension. Muschamp did not comment on the situation last week, but Finley was not in pads for the game.

A TAKE ON KENTUCKY

Muschamp provided his perspective on Saturday’s opponent, Kentucky, from all three facets of the game.

“They lost a lot of their core offensive playmakers from last year – some really good players – so I think they’re still searching for an identity offensively.

“Defensively they’re only giving up 13 points a game, so they’re playing very well defensively. They’ve got some playmakers on defense that are doing a nice job.

“Special teams, they’re leading in kickoff coverage and kickoff return in the SEC – two of the four categories I know they’re leading the SEC.”

ON THE ROAD AGAIN

For the first time this season, the Gators will leave the friendly confines for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and head out for a road game in Lexington, KY. Muschamp said Monday that even though 16 players on the two-deep depth chart will be making their first road trip with the team, he does not plan to change the team’s preparation.

“In the preseason I wanted to fly to Canada, but Jeremy [Foley] turned me down,” he said joking about the team preparing to go on the road. “We do the same routine through practice schedule, and then Friday we have our normal walk through and meetings that we have here. We get on the plane and go to the hotel. Generally we go to a movie the night before the game if we play a night game, which we are playing a night game. All of our game day stuff is the same; it’s just a different hotel and a different stadium to play in. We try to approach everything with a real methodical approach in everything we do. We don’t change a whole lot as far as what we do, just the surroundings are a little different.”

WEIS’s INFLUENCE DRIVING THE OFFENSE

It makes sense that the team’s offensive coordinator have a major impact on the performance of that unit’s players, but with Charlie Weis in the fold, the turnaround has been perhaps quicker than some expected even if it hasn’t been painless. Muschamp expressed on Monday how impressed he is with Weis from a coaching standpoint, especially how he deals with quarterbacks and his methods during the game.

“I think when you coach the quarterback, it’s a different mentality. It’s a different temperament. Quarterback is a position you’ve got to handle. Charlie, I think, does a great job on the sideline as far as finding out what’s working and what John feels good with,” he said. “His experience speaks for itself, and the experience he’s had with quarterbacks. He manages it the way he likes to manage it, and I think it’s been very productive obviously for us to this point.

“I really enjoy the interaction he and I have on game day as far as where we are and what we’re doing as far as how we’re playing defensively, how we’re playing offensively, special teams what we need to do in the game to take advantage to try to win the ballgame.”

Brantley agreed, stating that the conversations they have on the sideline after drives really help him throughout the game. “Depending on how the drive goes, he picks out the coverages, what they’re bringing, trying to figure out early what it’s going to be – a man-to-man game or a zone game,” he said.

The signal caller also mentioned that Weis is well-prepared from a play calling standpoint heading into each contest. “He’ll script, it seems like, two-to-three drives almost. He’ll try to stick with it as much as he can,” Brantley said. “He’ll put down some ideas and ask me how comfortable I feel about everything and if I feel comfortable with what he’s got, then we’ll go with that. So far so good.”

SECONDARY NEEDS TO SOLIDIFY, BUT IT IS GETTING THERE

Though Florida’s secondary had its share of struggles on Saturday, Muschamp was pleased with the overall effort of the young group. He insisted that, even though there were numerous pass interference calls against them, they remain aggressive even as they improve and get smarter going forward.

“You coach off the tape. You look at the tape technically and say, ‘You’re in position here. You could’ve done this, you couldn’t have done that. That’s a bang-bang play. You’re in good position, you make the play on the ball. Those things happen,’” he explained. “We’re going to stay and we’re going to play aggressively. I told them this morning, ‘Continue to play aggressively in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.’”

NOTES & QUOTES

» Muschamp on Powell’s play and effort on Saturday: “Played his best game out of the first three, got some really good pressure. [...] More than anything he played fast, played physical, and that’s what we’re needing out of him. He certainly had it in him, and we just got to do a better job of coaching.”

» Muschamp on if he is worried he is garnering a reputation with officials: “No.”

» Muschamp on how the offensive line is playing: “We’ve made a lot of progress on the offensive line. I don’t know that we played our best game against Tennessee. We had a couple procedural issues that set us back on the sack in the red zone going in. A lot of missed protection, which was the first sack we have given up this season. I don’t think we played our best game up front offensively. Jon Harrison played very well, but across the board we can played better.”

» Muschamp on freshman CB Marcus Roberson’s penalties and positioning: “I thought he played extremely well. I thought he kept receivers cut off down the field. He’s very disruptive on the line of scrimmage. He’s got good ball skills and had some good opportunities in the game. Very pleased with his progress. He works hard at practice. He has good retention day-in and day-out in what we do and how we do it. I’ve been very pleased with his progress.”

» Muschamp on Florida having won 24-straight against Kentucky: “I think it has zero factor in what is going to happen Saturday night. Absolutely none. Most of our guys weren’t alive then.”

» Muschamp on if fumbles drive him nuts: “It’s not good. Fumbles…we don’t want it to happen. We coach and talk about holding the ball high and tight and the pressure points of the ball. We emphasize ball security a lot. We got to continue to emphasize that, especially in the situation the other day when you’re in a pile. Certainly the protection of the ball is the most important thing, possession of the ball.”

» Muschamp on if Purifoy is earning playing time on defense with his efforts on special teams: “He’s played well, he’s practiced well and deserves the opportunity.”

» Muschamp on looking ahead to Kentucky: “It’s a series of one-game seasons. Whatever you did the last time out really doesn’t matter. It’s about the next time out and the match-ups and the opportunity you have to make plays on the ball and play on the line of scrimmage and make plays on offense and special teams.”

» Brantley on if he trusts the receivers: “I think the receivers have done a fine job. I trust them no matter what happens. I’m going to keep throwing to them, and I trust that they’re going to be able to get open.”

» Brantley on the 24-game winning streak: “You got to put that in the past. That’s a cool thing, but we just got to worry about this year, this weekend coming up.”

» Brantley on reducing miscues on offense: “We just got to be better with the communication. We got to be more precise. There should be no mixed signals or anything. That’s what you try to work on during the week, have a little bit of noise out there during practice and work on that communication.”

» Brantley on the offensive line so far: “I have all the confidence in the world with my offensive line. We studied real hard this offseason during spring ball and camp, so we know where our outlets are. We’re just trying to give what the defense gives us.”

» Brantley on Muschamp’s intensity during the game: “I think Coach Muschamp has a different kind of energy – you saw him go after the refs a little bit. He’s really into the game just like any other coach would be. Very supportive with the offense and defense. He might just have a little different kind of intensity.”

» Brantley said he is able to recognize some of the stuff that New England QB Tom Brady does during games (when he watches him on TV). He notices how he identifies the Mike linebacker and even sees how some of the plays look familiar as they are being run. Though the two have never spoke, Brantley thinks he can learn from watching Brady, especially considering many of the plays they run are in Weis’s offense.

» Junior LB Jon Bostic on the defensive line helping blitzing linebackers: “It helps us out a lot. With them taking on double teams, basically holding those offensive linemen off us, basically they have to choose one, where we can come freely or it allows us to come freely.”

» Bostic on redshirt junior LB Lerentee McCray: “He’s one of those guys who can put his hand down and rush the passer, he can stand up and play Sam and drop back in pass coverage. From a physical standpoint, that’s where you’re seeing Lerentee come along. He’s one of those guys that can come down, hit a fullback right in the mouth, and make the fullback not want to come that way anymore. I’ve known that since I first got here. He’s always been one of those tough guys who likes to go hard and always likes to prove a point every play he’s on the field.”

» Bostic on Muschamp yelling at the officials: “He’s one of those coaches who kind of just likes to get after it. Wants to make sure all of the calls are right and the game is just played fair.”

Florida basketball’s complete 2011-12 schedule

Florida Gators basketball on Monday announced the times for all of the team’s non-conference games this season, officially completing the 2011-12 schedule. In non-conference action, Florida will face six opponents who took part in the 2011 NCAA Tournament; it will also participate in four events scattered throughout the country – the Global Sports Shootout, Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, BIG EAST/SEC Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

During non-conference and Southeastern Conference competition combined, the Gators will play 18 games on national television including the conference’s season finale.

Below is the team’s complete 2011-12 schedule:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
11/6 at 7:00 pm (SECN+)vs. Barry (Exh.)EXH.
11/14 at 6:00 pm (SECN)vs. William & Mary
11/17 at 7:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Miami
11/21 at 8:00 pm (SECN)vs. La.-Monroe
11/26 at 9:30 pm (AXS)vs. GeorgetownB4A
11/27 at TBD (TBD)Wisconsin or UABB4A
11/28 at TBD (TBD)vs. TBDB4A
12/5 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at KansasSEC-Big 12
12/8 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. Yale
12/12 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. Texas So.
12/14 at 4:00 pm (FSN)vs. Jacksonville
12/20 at 5:00 pm (FSN)vs. Wake ForestOBBC
12/30 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Florida State
1/3 at 2:00 pm (CBS)vs. UConn
1/7 at 7:00 pm (SECN)at So. CarolinaSEC
1/10 at 7:00 pm (FSN)vs. Miss. StateSEC
1/15 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. AuburnSEC
1/17 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at GeorgiaSEC
1/20 at 7:00 pm (ESPN)vs. LSUSEC
1/24 at 8:00 pm (SECN)at Ole MissSEC
1/27 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at AlabamaSEC
1/31 at 1:00 pm (CBS)vs. ArkansasSEC
2/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at VanderbiltSEC
2/7 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)vs. KentuckySEC
2/12 at 7:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. Ole MissSEC
2/14 at 6:30 pm (SECN)at Texas A&MSEC
2/18 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. VanderbiltSEC
2/21 at 1:00 pm (CBS)at LSUSEC
2/24 at 9:00 pm (ESPN)at MissouriSEC
2/28 at TBD (ESPN/2)vs. TennesseeSEC
3/3 at 9:00 pm (ESPNU)vs. Texas A&MSEC
3/7 at 2:00 pm (CBS)at KentuckySEC

SCHEDULE NOTES

» Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, Jr., is a guard for Catholic University.
» Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship in 2010-11.
» Florida will play four games in the state of Florida but not in Gainesville.
» As OGGOA first reported on April 28, the Gators’ participation in the GSS is part of a five-team “tournament” featuring a collection of games played at different arenas.
» Florida will play in the FCSS for the second-straight season; UF lost to Central Florida in the series’ inaugural game at the Amway Arena last season.
» Twelve teams each from the Big East and SEC will each compete in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge from Dec. 1-3.
» Transfer guard Mike Rosario will square-off against the team he left, Rutgers.
» It is the fourth-straight year the Gators will play a non-conference opponent on Jan. 3 (3-0) and second-straight year they will play one on New Years Eve day.
» Florida will face two pairs of SEC opponents in three-day spans. The Gators will go to Ole Miss on Jan. 26 before playing Mississippi State at home on Jan. 28 and will host South Carolina on Feb. 2 before Vanderbilt comes to town on Feb. 4.
» UF will play nine games in February (28 days) but compete just seven times in January (31 days). The Gators usually play seven games in February and have not played more than eight since at least the 1998-99 season.
» Florida’s will face Kentucky on Senior Day, a game that is also the SEC’s final regular season contest of the season.
» This will be the first SEC regular season without the conference utilizing divisions. Nevertheless, the Gators will play their traditional SEC East opponents twice (home-and-home) and SEC West opponents once.
» Florida has a three-game conference home stretch from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4 and never plays more two consecutive games on the road (Feb. 14 and 18, Feb. 25 and 28).
» The 2011 SEC Tournament will take place from March 8-11 in New Orleans, LA.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 2

With the 2011 NFL season officially underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 2 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the second week of the 2011 campaign.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: 10 receptions [team-high] for 83 yards (targets: 13, long: 15), touchdown [game-winner]
Video: David Nelson’s game-winning touchdown [start at 2:57]

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCES
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Five solo tackles (one for loss)
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Seven receptions for 62 yards, touchdown (targets: 8, long: 16)
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: 25/43 for 291 yards, two touchdowns [game-winner], two interceptions (QB Rating: 74.9)
Video: Rex Grossman leads Washington to a come-from-behind victory

THE REST

LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Played as a reserve
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Five tackles (three solo)
FS MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Five tackles (four solo)
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Three receptions for 27 yards (targets: 4 long: 10), touchdown
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Four solo tackles
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Four tackles (three solo)
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Denver Broncos: Solo tackle
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: Played as reserve wide receiver
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Solo tackle
C MIKE POUNCEY*, Miami Dolphins: Played as a starter
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Seven receptions for 76 yards (targets: 8, long: 19), two rushes for 18 yards (long: 10), fumble, kick return for two yards
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Played as a reserve
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Two solo tackles
G COOPER CARLISLE, Oakland Raiders: Played as a starter
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Played as a reserve
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Played on special teams
P CHAS HENRY*, Philadelphia Eagles: Four punts for 179 yards (avg. 44.8, long: 52)
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a starter
OT MARCUS GILBERT*, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a starter
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Sack, two QB hits
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Three rushes for 18 yards (long: 7), five receptions for 21 yards (long: 8 )
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Washington Redskins: Five receptions for 62 yards (targets: 8, long: 22), two rushes for 18 yards (long: 10)

NOTES
C DREW MILLER: A reserve on St. Louis, Miller cut by the team early last week.
DE JUSTIN TRATTOU: A reserve on the New York Giants, Trattou was cut by the team early last week and signed to their practice squad.

INJURED / INACTIVE
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Pectoral
LB BRANDON SILER, Kansas City Chiefs: Torn achilles (season)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Sports hernia

PRACTICE SQUAD PLAYERS
TE Cornelius Ingram (Detroit), DE Justin Trattou* (New York Giants), SS Ahmad Black* (Tampa Bay), OG Maurice Hurt* (Washington)

NOTABLE FREE AGENTS
DE Alex Brown, DE Bobby McCray, CB Lito Sheppard, OT Max Starks, DT Gerard Warren

* Rookie

2011 WEEK: 1

Gators continue upward climb in Top 25 polls

The Oklahoma Sooners held on to their season-long No. 1 spot in the latest edition of the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls released Sunday, while the Florida Gators, fresh off a 33-23 defeat of the Tennessee Volunteers at home on Saturday, continued to advance in the rankings.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

USA TODAY COACHES POLL
This Week 1-5: Oklahoma (50), Alabama (4), LSU (5), Boise State, Stanford
6-10: Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Nebraska, South Carolina
11-15: Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Oregon, Florida State, Florida
16-20: West Virginia, South Florida, Texas, Baylor, TCU
21-25 Michigan, Clemson, Michigan State, Georgia Tech, North Carolina

Last Week 1-5: Oklahoma (44), Alabama (8), LSU (7), Boise State, Florida State
6-10: Stanford, Oklahoma State, Wisconsin, Texas A&M, Nebraska
11-15: South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Oregon, Michigan State
16-20: Ohio State, Florida, Arizona State, Auburn, West Virginia
21-25: Texas, South Florida, TCU, Baylor, Mississippi State

ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL
This Week 1-5: Oklahoma (37), LSU (14), Alabama (7), Boise State (2), Stanford
6-10: Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Nebraska, Oregon
11-15: Florida State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Florida
16-20: West Virginia, Baylor, South Florida, Texas, TCU
21-25: Clemson, Michigan, USC, Illinois, Georgia Tech

Last Week 1-5: Oklahoma (32), Alabama (9), LSU (17), Boise State (2), Florida State
6-10: Stanford, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Nebraska
11-15: South Carolina, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, Michigan State
16-20: Florida, Ohio State, West Virginia, Baylor, South Florida
21-25 Auburn, Arizona State, TCU, Texas, Mississippi State

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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DE Sharrif Floyd’s focus returns to football

For the entire offseason, sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd knew he would be starting for the Florida Gators when they took on Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3. He concentrated on learning a brand new position after switching from defensive tackle and planned to do as much as he could to help the team win.

That plan changed for Floyd just two-and-a-half hours before kickoff when the University of Florida‘s compliance office told him that the NCAA finally decided he would ineligible to compete based on information they had for more than six months.

Floyd, who received financial benefits in high school that the NCAA deemed against their rules, was told he would have to sit out the game and await their ruling.

“We’d been fighting it since last February, so they wanted until game day to give us an answer,” he said on Saturday. “[The NCAA] just kept coming back with the same questions and all of that.”

Just days before Florida’s second game of the season, Sept. 10 against UAB, Floyd found out the NCAA had officially suspended him two games and required that he repay $2,700 to a charity of his choice for receiving improper benefits. He was forced to wait one more game before he could finally compete.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my life,” he explained. “[I had to] sit down and watch my team go out to war, and I had to watch and cheer. I hope I never have to do that again.”

Fortunately for Floyd, who is described by coaches and teammates not only as a leader and great player but also an upstanding member of the community, it is not likely he will be faced with a similar situation. Especially because of his positive attitude and refusal to let what many are calling an injustice affect him long-term.

“I don’t feel like I’m grouped in with all those other players who did bad things. I’m not a bad guy. I stay positive. I’m always doing the right thing,” he said. “I go to class. I have a 3.0 GPA. There’s nothing wrong in my profile. I don’t think I should be grouped in with those type of athletes, because that’s not the type of athlete I am.”

In fact, it was Floyd’s honesty and character that put him in this situation to begin with. He is the one who brought the potential violation to UF’s attention because he learned it might be an issue and was concerned that it could affect the team.

“One of my friends that was also being recruited was starting to get investigated, so I felt the need to come to our compliance office, tell them everything I’ve been through and help them to understand my story,” he explained. “They told me nothing was wrong so I had no worries. I kept working out and kept getting ready for the season. And then it popped up. I just took it like a man and did what I had to do to get back on the field.”

That is what Floyd did on Saturday. He performed in live game action for the first time since January, was named a team captain, registered three tackles, broke up one pass and hit the quarterback twice.

“I’m at a new position that I need a lot of experience at. Took me a couple plays to get in a groove and then a couple cuts slowed me down a little bit, but I got back into it. Trying to get pressure off the edge is not as easy as it looks,” he said.

Not only did Floyd succeed from a physical standpoint, he also provided an emotional lift for the team facing its first Southeastern Conference foe this season.

“He’s a leader. He’s an outstanding young man – as good as we’ve got in that locker room,” head coach Will Muschamp said after the game. “When he walks on that field and he says something, he commands a lot of respect because of his honesty and his integrity and the type of man he is.”

What Muschamp, the other coaches and some of his teammates may not know is that it is their support that has lifted Floyd up when he needed it the most.

“I love Coach Muschamp and the whole staff. When that happened, our bond just got closer because he understands my situation and he understands the type of person I am and so do all the other coaches, especially the defensive staff who’s around me every day,” he said before discussing the support he received from his teammates.

“It actually just showed me how much I mean to the team and how much the team cares about me. I love all the guys, and I’d do anything for any of them. Really anything for any of them – the walk-ons, too. I was happy to see that. [It was] pretty touching.”

Now that his trials and tribulations are behind him, Floyd has one remaining focus this season: football. He proved that when he was asked to evaluate his performance, which included some good plays but no quarterback sacks.

“That’s what defenses want – sacks,” he said with a smile. “They want to hit the quarterback – the pretty boy, the you-can’t-touch-me guy. That’s what defensive linemen want. We want quarterbacks.”

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