FOUR BITS: Impressive weekend for UF women

1 » No. 12 Florida Gators soccer (14-2-2, 8-1-1 SEC) moved one step closer to earning the Southeastern Conference regular season title with a 3-1 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (5-10-3, 2-6-2 SEC) Sunday afternoon at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida, which is tied atop the SEC with No. 18 South Carolina, will play in a de facto championship game against them on the road to end the season on Fri., Oct. 29. Sunday’s victory came on the heels of three goals from the Gators. Sophomore midfielder Holly King got things started at 14:31 with a header, but Arkansas’ Ally Atkins tied it up at 53:35 with an eight-yard strike. Florida would have none of that, scoring on a goal from junior MF Sarah Chapman (her first of the season) at 62:58 and a 10-yard bullet from redshirt sophomore MF McKenzie Barney at 67:33 to put it away.

2 » Continuing their stellar play with another shutout victory on Sunday at home in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, No. 1/1 Gators volleyball (18-1, 11-0 SEC) rolled the Kentucky Wildcats (11-11, 5-7 SEC) to win their 13th-straight match 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 25-13). Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy led Florida by posting yet another double-double thanks to a match-high 12 kills and 16 assists. UF’s next match – against South Carolina on Wed., Oct. 27 – will begin at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPNU.

3 » Due to stellar play throughout the event, the only players remaining in the ITA Women’s Tennis Southeast Regional represent Florida. The Gators will have to go head-to-head in both the singles and doubles finals for the event in order to earn a qualifying spot in the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships. Freshmen Alex Cercone and Olivia Janowicz will go head-to-head in the singles final while the pair of sophomore Allie Will and freshman Sofie Oyen will face off against junior Joanna Mather and sophomore Carolina Hitimana in the doubles championship. Both matches will begin at 3 p.m. on Monday and be played at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, GA.

4 » Freshman forward Cody Larson, who committed to Florida on April 20 during a slew of new signings by head coach Billy Donovan, is contrite and regretful yet ready to move on after a tough end to his high school career. According to court documents, Larson was found with Hydocodone (pain killer) in his home during an investigation into extensive prescription drug use at his school and was charged with a misdemeanor for being in a room where it was known that drugs were stored and utilized. Accepting a plea deal, he received two years of probation and was ordered to volunteer three days a week until he left his hometown of Sioux Falls, SD, for Gainesville.

The Gainesville Sun‘s Kevin Brockway caught up with him recently and discussed his community service work. “It was a real humbling experience,” Larson said of working at homeless shelters and group homes. “I’ve moved past it though. I’ve learned a valuable lesson from it and I’m kind of just moving on. […] [I learned] not to take anything for granted. Appreciate the opportunities I have, especially at Florida. […] I’ve learned some lessons and I’ve made some changes in my life.”

Former Gators McDonald, Cooper shine Sunday

Though OGGOA will still be posting our Florida Gators in the NFL week seven recap on Monday, we wanted to take a moment to showcase the performances of two players in particular who made big plays for their respective teams on Sunday.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald with a pick-six:

» Philadelphia Eagles rookie wide receiver Riley Cooper brought in a great 43-yard reception. He also scored his first career NFL touchdown and was taught how with a Gator Chomp to celebrate by teammate running back LeSean McCoy:

Special thanks to OGGOA Twitter follower John C. for the final video.

Success: It’s how far will you bounce back?

As the Florida Gators coaching staff is spread out across the state recruiting and the players relax during this bye week, one thing in particular holds true: There is plenty of season left for this team. Florida controls its destiny in the Southeastern Conference and can still earn a berth to the championship game by defeating the rest of its conference opponents (notably South Carolina). A measure of success is still within reach for the Gators. With that in mind, OGGOA felt we should share with you this video.

Success has a single tense and a simple quantity: Now. It disregards the last title and cares little for the old trophy. The great moments pass. The grand leaders graduate. But the expectations never leave and the exams never cease. Success has another definition: It’s how far will you bounce back? The answer begins with the most urgent hour: Now. — By Tom Rinaldi, ESPN

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TWO BITS: soccer rolls, Newton for Heisman?

1 » No. 12 Florida Gators soccer (13-2-2, 7-1-1 SEC) continued its winning ways on Thursday by defeating the LSU Tigers (6-7-4, 3-3-3 SEC) 2-0 on the road in Baton Rouge, LA. Tied atop the Southeastern Conference with South Carolina, Florida earned the win with goals from freshman forward Taylor Travis (4’) and sophomore F/midfielder Natalia Torosian (71’). Redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine also made four saves. The Gators will play their final regular season match at home in Gainesville, FL, at the James G. Pressly Stadium this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against Arkansas. The 2010 SEC Tournament runs from Nov. 3-7 in Orange Beach, AL.

2 » Florida has a track record for producing Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks. However, this year, it looks like a former Gators QB may have the opportunity to win that award for a rival school. As if you didn’t know already, Cameron Newton (now of the Auburn Tigers) has been tabbed as a frontrunner for the award, but if it was his choice he’d be competing for it while still wearing the Orange & Blue. “If it was up to me, I would still want to be at Florida,” Newton told ESPN early this week. “My heart is still at Florida because of the long-lasting relationships I have with my teammates there. Leaving them was the hardest part.”

SIX BITS: Harvin, Haden, Miller, Wilbur, Kentucky

1 » Former Florida Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin was added to the Minnesota Vikings injury report on Thursday with what is being called a hamstring injury. Minnesota did not decide to release how severe the injury is but the Vikings certainly need Harvin on the field Sunday night for their divisional rivalry game against the Green Bay Packers. Harvin has been a big scoring threat for Minnesota recently, returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown last week and hauling in two receiving touchdowns the previous week.

2 » Grabbing his first career interception last week against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns rookie cornerback Joe Haden wants more playing time, and he just might get it, according to the Akron Beacon Journal. “I thought he had his best week of practice since he’s been with us,” head coach Eric Mangini said of how Haden prepared last week. “I think that he’s starting to understand what it means to be a pro. He’s starting to understand what it takes to prepare each week, and there’s no doubt in my mind that that week of preparation, the way that he was last week, led to his best performance since he’s been here. If he keeps developing, he’ll keep pushing for playing time. That’s what you want. That’s what I want. That’s what he wants, and I don’t mean I’m looking to replace anybody. I’m looking for him to get better to push those guys to replace them because that competition makes everybody better.”

3 » Miami Heat forward Mike Miller, who is currently participating in his first preseason with the team after being signed over the summer, injured and possibly broke the thumb on his shooting hand Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined for up to six weeks. Teammate and fellow former Florida player power forward Udonis Haslem told the Associated Press that doctors believe the injury is “not season ending.”

4 » Former Gators punter Eric Wilbur has been shining this season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL, and his ability to kick “high and deep angled” punts has provided his team with “a stunning field-position advantage,” according to the Hamilton Spectator. “We’re asking him to place the ball in a certain spot, so there were a couple which could have been better but overall it was excellent,” said special teams coach Dave Easley. “He gets tremendous height on the ball because he’s got a very, very strong leg.” Wilbur may be asked to kickoff as well next year for Hamilton though his eyes are still set on a bigger stage. “My ultimate goal is to be in the NFL,” Wilbur told the paper. “But I love it up here. I love the atmosphere, I love the games. If I have to stay up here, I’ll be happy.”

5 » Upsetting South Carolina last week at home, Kentucky’s fans were rightfully excited. After the final whistle blew, plenty of blue-and-white faithful stormed the field to celebrate – something that is seen all over the country after a home team upsets a top-ranked opponent. Unfortunately, when it comes to the Southeastern Conference, such celebrations are not allowed under league rules. That is why, on Thursday, Kentucky was fined $25,000 for a sportsmanship policy violation by the SEC. The policy that was violated states that “access to competition areas shall be limited to participating student-athletes, coaches, officials, support personnel and properly-credentialed individuals at all times. For the safety of participants and spectators alike, at no time before, during or after a contest shall spectators be permitted to enter the competition area.”

6 » Join former Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel and Desire Street Ministries for a 90’s Gators Reunion Celebration from Nov. 12-13 in Gainesville, FL. Wuerffel and other Gator greats like WR Chris Doering, QB Doug Johnson, QB Shane Matthews, WR Travis McGriff, offensive tackle Jason Odom, safety Lawrence Wright and others will be in attendance to celebrate a great decade of Florida football while raising money for DSM. For more information on the event and how you can participate, please click here to read the invitation.

Photo Credit: Unknown

2010 SEC Media Day: Georgia better than Florida?

Florida Gators head coach Billy Donovan and senior forward Chandler Parsons represented the University of Florida on Thursday by appearing at a number of press conferences at the 2010 Southeastern Conference Media Day from Hoover, AL.

GEORGIA, NOT FLORIDA, THE BEAST OF THE EAST?

Though Donovan is thankful that his team is getting recognition, he believes going into the season that Georgia is the best team in the SEC East and one of the most talented in the nation. “Clearly Georgia was a team last year that was on the cusp of really having an unbelievable season,” he said. “Georgia, to me, is as good as anybody not only in our league, I think they’re as good as anybody in the country. [...] They have two [F Trey Thompkins, guard Travis Leslie] placed on the All-SEC first team. We have none.”

Donvoan continued to downplay the hype surrounding Florida pointing to how the team struggled to make the NCAA Tournament. “Would the feeling be different if we didn’t make the tournament than it is right now? We’re kind of a feel-good team,” he said. “The reality is we got knocked out in the first round, we finished fourth in the East last year.”

DEPARTURES ARE GOOD AND BAD

Being able to help players develop into future NBA stars is a talent that would fill any head coach, including Donovan, with pride. However, being successful in that regard is not without its disadvantages for the program as a whole. “It’s a positive when you can have players go through your program and have the opportunity to play in the NBA,” Donovan said. “In a lot of respects, we were constantly starting over, and the early departures were something that was very difficult to deal with.”

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TWO BITS: volleyball wins, Crowder on helmets

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators volleyball (17-1, 10-0 SEC) improved to 9-1 against top 25 opponents this season with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-20) shutout victory over the No. 21 Tennessee Volunteers (15-5, 7-4 SEC) on Wednesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel led the Gators with a team-high 12 kills. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy contributed a match-high 15 digs along with seven kills and 17 assists, while senior OH Callie Rivers added nine kills and seven digs. Florida is rated No. 1 in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and has won 12-straight matches since falling to then-No. 1 Penn State on Sept. 10.

2 » Former Gators linebacker Channing Crowder of the Miami Dolphins, spoke out Wednesday when asked about the NFL’s decision to seriously crack down and possibly suspend players for helmet-to-helmet hits. “If I get a chance to knock somebody out, I’m going to knock them out and take what they give me,” Crowder said. “They give me a helmet, I’m going to use it. If I’m knocked out, I don’t know where I’m at, I can’t say my name, now I can’t play football. If I get hit in the head and black out for a second and now I get back up dizzy, OK, I’m ready to go.” Crowder believes the NFL is “making a big deal about nothing, adding, “They want to save the receivers and quarterbacks because they sell all the jerseys. They don’t give a damn at all about the defensive players because we don’t sell as many jerseys as them. If they want to change football to a graceful sport, change it all the way to a graceful sport. Don’t try to save the quarterbacks and receivers because they make the money, which that’s what they’re doing.”

Extra BIT » Over the summer we here on OGGOA covered former Florida defensive end Thaddeus Bullard‘s journey with World Wrestling Entertainment as he “competed” on the WWE NXT television program created to find the company’s next breakout star. Though he was eliminated early on, Bullard’s background as a football player and master’s degree recipient from the University of Florida was played up heavily by the producers/announcers; he even did a Gator Chomp at the top of the entrance ramp before entering the ring. As his in-ring character Titus O’Neil, Bullard returns to Gainesville on Friday, Oct. 29 as he competes with current and future WWE superstars in a Florida Championship Wrestling event at the Alachua County Fairgrounds. A member of UF’s Hall of Fame, O’Neil was also a Student Body Vice President in 2000.

10/20: Addazio, Brantley talk about execution

Florida Gators offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley, senior center Mike Pouncey and senior safety Ahmad Black spoke to the media Wednesday as the team took a final look back on its close loss to the Mississippi State Bulldogs and ahead to its match-up against the Georgia Bulldogs on Oct. 30.

EXECUTE ON FIRST AND SECOND DOWN

Asked about how the offense has been evaluated since the Mississippi State game, Addazio said that the process is “always intense” and “ongoing” especially during the bye week. “You’re going to sit down as a staff and evaluate what you see on tape and you’re going to move forward the next day,” he said. “On a bye week, you sit back and kind of have a chance to almost take a deeper look at everything.”

And what has that deeper look revealed? “You got to be on schedule [for] first and second down. We’re actually pretty good converting on the downs you don’t want to be in; we’re actually pretty good on those downs,” Addazio said. “Obviously, in an ideal setting, you’re looking to get four or more yards on a first down call. We’ve got to be much more efficient on first and second down.”

Addaio, like head coach Urban Meyer, pointed out that lacking healthy running backs has been a hindrance to Florida’s offense recently. “The run game is a big part on first and second down. That’s something obviously we’ve been very good at [in the past]. So that becomes a factor, yes,” he said. “The injuries to the running backs are certainly a factor on first and second down. Not having the availability to practice with them during the week [hurts].”

OFFENSE GOING THROUGH CHANGES…OR IS IT?

Wednesday morning Meyer said that the offense would be tweaked before the Georgia game with a focus on execution and making sure the right personnel were on the field to make plays. Addazio expressed a similar sentiment but did not speak about wholesale changes. “What you do is you try to make decisions to put your players in the best positions they can [be in] to make the plays they need to make,” he said.

BLITZ PROTECTION AND PICK-UP

Another topic of serious contention after Saturday’s game was how well the offensive line was picking up the blitz and whether or not Brantley was handling it correctly in the pocket. Addazio believes both are doing well though he admits they could be better. “You can always improve. We just have to improve overall in our protection as a group,” he said about the OL. “When you get a lot of pressure like that and you’re throwing the ball in third down-and-long scenarios, they’re pinning your ears back, there’s no threat of run. […] I think John’s done a great job. He’s got to do a better job picking those up and handling all that. […] He does a good job of flipping protections and trying to get the protections slid to match the numbers.”

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