8/17: Rainey, Demps, Floyd, Howard, Elam speak

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preseason practice preparing for their first game on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing.

REPORTS: BROWN OUT WITH KNEE; NAMED GATORS ON FIELD

Citing a source close to the team, the Independent Florida Alligator reported Wednesday evening that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown suffered a knee injury during practice and “could miss up to three weeks.” If that timeline is accurate, Brown (likely one of the team’s two starters at cornerback this season) could miss the Gators’ first game of 2011 against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3.

Additionally, The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu reports that the three Gators named in the Yahoo! Sports report alleging illegal benefits and impressible recruiting activities at Miami – wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, wide receiver Andre Debose and offensive tackle Matt Patchan – all participated in practice with the team on Wednesday.

THE WILDCAT IS BACK

Though offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has infused the Gators with an entirely new playbook, one carryover from the previous regime are some Wildcat formations featuring a trio of the team’s running backs – redshirt senior Chris Rainey, senior Jeff Demps and sophomore Trey Burton – taking direct snaps from the center and either reading rushing lanes or (rarely) throwing the ball.

“It’s fun,” Rainey said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I was nervous a little bit the first time, but I love it a lot. I ain’t never done it before. It’s fun, though.” Demps echoed a similar sentiment. “I haven’t been in the Wildcat very much, but when I got in it was pretty fun,” he added. “I can see the little hole a little faster and hit it.”

Rainey also conveyed his overall enthusiasm for Weis’s offense. “It feels good,” he said per The Sun. “I’m super happy. Everybody gets the ball in the offense. It’s not a one-man show. Basically, you see better. You see everything, you see the whole field. […] I’m super comfortable. I don’t even have to bring my playbook into the [meeting] room. I know everything. It took me a week to know it in the spring.”

As seems to be the theme, Demps shares Rainey’s opinion in the topic. “It’s a tailback-friendly offense,” he said. “It’s a run-first, pass-second offense. I think this year the running backs are going to get a lot of touches.” He also spoke about getting the ball deeper in the backfield. “It makes a difference,” Demps said. “You can actually see the holes developing and be able to track the linebackers and make your reads. The two yards was kind of fast, so everything was closing in on you [in the spread].”

DEFENSE PRAISES OFFENSIVE PLAYMAKERS

Every defender who spoke on Wednesday had something positive to say about their offensive counterparts, words that are likely music to the ears of fans who were disappointed with the offensive production one year ago.

Discussing Florida’s speedy running backs, sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd glowed. “Them boys – they can do it all,” he said about Rainey and Demps. “Preparing for a season with them two in the backfield is great because you’re going to get every look that you can possibly imagine. Rainey can cut on a dime, Rainey can do this, Rainey can do that, Demps can do the same thing. It gets you moving fast and gives you a better motor and all of that. That’s the plus side of it.”

For redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard, the Gators quarterbacks (especially redshirt senior John Brantley) are the biggest difference this year. “All I can say is the SEC better watch out, man,” Howard said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Brantley is on fire right now. His whole demeanor has changed. He’s taken charge of the offense. He’s running the show now and you can really tell it. In my eyes, he’s a Heisman candidate.” He provided equally lofty praise for freshman signal caller Jeff Driskel. “He’s great, man,” Howard added. “In my eyes, he’s the next Tim Tebow. He’s so fast. He’s explosive. If something happens and Brantley goes down, we feel reliable with him coming in the game.”

Sophomore safety Matt Elam, who tries to stop the team’s wide receivers all practice long, said two in particular stood out to him. “All of them are good, “Elam said. “The one[s] that stuck out the most to me [were] Frankie [Hammond, Jr.] and Quinton Dunbar. It seems like they don’t drop anything. They’re really good receivers.”

MUSCHAMP WINNING OVER THE TEAM

Whether you’ve noticed players tweeting #TEAMMUSCHAMP hashtags or the overall sense of camaraderie in the locker room, it appears that the Gators have once again become a cohesive unit after being pretty fractured during the 2010 season. As Floyd describes it, 2011 is a “new year, new era, and we’re just pushing forward,” with the team as a whole is looking to “control what you can control.”

He also opened up a bit about how the team is more unified this year. “The chemistry is way better on both sides of the ball,” Floyd explained. “We’re not just the offense and not just the defense anymore, we’re a team and we break as a team. After practice we don’t break it down as an offense and a defense, we break it down as a team.”

Evan Elam, who had a close relationship with former head coach Urban Meyer, is beginning to become a big-time fan of the new top dog, Will Muschamp. “I feel like [our relationship is] getting better every day,” he said. “He’s teaching me a lot, and I respect him a lot, and I’m learning a lot from him. So that’s making us closer.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Rainey on Muschamp’s attitude during practice: “We just saw him yelling at a trainer across the field and everybody looked at each other like, ‘Wow. He’s the real deal.’ He’s bipolar, too. Don’t tell him I said it.” (PBP)

» Rainey on Burton being an unselfish player: “He do[es] the same thing every year. He’s a ‘program guy,’ they call it. He’s great. He do everything right. I love him. We need people like that. It’s very rare. It would be nice to have the whole team like that.” (PBP)

» Demps on how he and Rainey are different: “I’d say he’s more shiftier than I am, but other than that we’re fast guys, tough and can run the ball.”

» Demps on where he is struggling “I have a little problem with protections. Going through the plays in the spring, I never really had a chance to go over the protections. I’m trying to catch up now.” (SUN)

» Floyd on how he likes playing on the end: “You can’t get double-teamed at that position; I’m loving it. I’m getting a feel for it, learning everything I can get, learning the situations and everything like that. It’s a good opportunity for me, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

» Floyd on the defensive line’s rotation: “It’s the biggest rotation we’ve had since I’ve been here. We’re doing good with it. Each player is learning and we’re just trying to get better.”

» Floyd on how often the defense is in the 3-4: “It’s pretty balanced 3-4 and 4-3; the whole front can play either position. Now it’s just seeing what we’re going to get and learning from it that way.”

» Floyd comparing Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn: “Different personalities, but you can say that – they have the same style of coaching, getting after it. The big thing with them is aggressiveness and sticking your face in someone.”

» Floyd on if the defensive line feels pressure to lead the unit: “We’re not really worried about it. We’re just honestly trying to get better every day and just learn what is told to us and taking what we learn in the meeting room out to the field.”

» Howard on which formation he is more comfortable playing in: “I’ve become more accustomed to playing a 3-4 now. It fits my body type and it’s working well with our team, so it’s going to look good this season.”

» Howard on the offensive line’s progression since last year: “The offensive line, I can really tell a difference from last year. They’re coming off the ball, they’re putting their face into the blocks, I think they’re going to help Brantley out a lot this year.” (ITG)

» Elam on freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson: “I expected a lot with him coming in, and he’s living up to everything I expected.”

» Elam on what he learned from Ahmad Black: “I learned a lot from him – practice tempo. I learned toughness and just the way to practice and how to approach things; how to approach practice and how to approach games. I learned a lot of mental things.”

» Elam on how Brantley has been playing: “Brantley has been looking real good to me. I’ve been seeing a lot of good things from Brantley this camp – a lot of good things.”

Source Key: SUN = The Gainesville Sun; PBP = Palm Beach Post; ITG = InsidetheGators.com

FOUR BITS: Tebow, Brantley, volleyball, Herring

1 » Writing for ESPN Insider, columnist Chris Sprow makes a case for why Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow will indeed be a successful NFL signal caller – whether or not that ends up happening in Mile High. In the piece, Sprow cites quotes from 1986 that were said about Steve Young but are just as applicable to Tebow and uses ESPN‘s advanced metric “QBR” to point out how effective he is each game.

Ultimately, Young struggled and was traded away from Tampa in frustration; he was viewed as a bust. He didn’t become a starter, then a star, for years. Perhaps Tebow also will be traded at some point, a wasted pick, a project for another coach. But there’s also good reason to think that Tebow can be a very good NFL quarterback because, in the same way Tampa once miscalculated on Young, there’s reason to think we haven’t done a good job of accurately deciphering what a quarterback like Tebow can do. […]

The bottom line is this: If you want to evaluate Tebow as a quarterback, you have to understand that what he lacks as a passer can be made up for by what he brings with his legs. This isn’t a new argument, but it now has additional context. […]

Orton is a much better passer but a statue in the pocket, costing the Broncos points with sacks — and Tebow’s 82.1 passer rating in 2010 would have been the best among rookies if it had stretched for 16 games. […] Tebow, were he to start in Week 1, would continue to be as raw a passer as you can find in the NFL. But this unrefined product is a lot better than some believe, and he might even be more valuable than Denver’s other option.

2 » ESPN also takes a look at Florida Gators redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley and in what ways he needs to improve under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis this season. Specifically, he points to Brantley’s first down completion percentage and touch with balls thrown more than 20 yards down the field. Brantley completed passes on first down with a 110.8 efficiency in 2010 (113th in the nation), 28 points lower than the FBS average (138.8). On deep balls, Brantley only completed 20.8 percent of his passes (5-of-24) including only two against Southeastern Conference opponents. It is also noted that 41.7 percent of Brantley’s deep passes were overthrown.

3 » A pair of Florida senior volleyball players, outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel and setter/right-side Kelly Murphy, were named to the 2011 Preseason All-SEC Team on Tuesday. The first volleyball players in league history to be named to the preseason All-SEC Team (2009-11, All-SEC First or Second Team (2009, 2010) and SEC All-Freshman Team (2008), the duo hopes to lead their team to another conference championship this season. The Gators are ranked No. 9 nationally in the preseason poll and begin competition at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL on Aug. 26 against Boston College.

4 » Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan has officially lost his fourth staffer this offseason. Following the departure of three assistants in the late spring, Donovan’s strength and conditioning coach Matt Herring has decided to leave the Gators to take the director of athletic performance job with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. With Florida for both national championships, Herring is excited about his new opportunity. “I really hadn’t thought about it until San Antonio came calling,’’ Herring told UF senior writer Scott Carter. “The main reason why we even considered it is one, it’s a great organization and we certainly follow them, and then the draw to get closer to family and see my little girl get a chance to get closer to her grandparents and foster those relationships. It was just a tremendous opportunity for us on a personal level. The University of Florida is a fantastic place to be and Coach Donovan and the administration certainly tried to encourage me to stay here, but at the end of the day, they can’t move Gainesville to Texas, and that was the biggest draw.’’

Extra BIT » Incoming freshman golfer J.D. Tomlinson has a unique opportunity next week as he will be competing to win a U.S. Amateur event at the age of 18. Only four former Gators have accomplished this feat thus far, but Tomlinson plans to give it a go before even taking a swing in an Orange & Blue polo shirt.

Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford: “It was a no-brainer for me to represent my country.”

Atlanta Hawks forward/center Al Horford, having recently completed his fourth NBA season, is in his prime and playing the best basketball of his career.

Averaging career highs in points (15.3), field goal percentage (.557) and free throw percentage (.789) while also posting 9.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in 2010-11, he was named a NBA All-Star for the second-straight season just months after Atlanta locked him up long-term with an impressive five-year, $60 million contract extension in November.

OGGOA caught up with the two-time National Champion, two-time NCAA Finals Most Valuable Player and member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie Team while he was in Lexington, KY practicing with the Dominican Republic National Team. Horford, who is working out in facilities usually occupied by the Kentucky Wildcats due to his team being led by Kentucky head coach John Calipari, has found himself learning a new system in enemy territory. He spoke with us just after completing practice about a variety of topics including his new contract, reminiscing with the Oh Fours, representing his country and performing some Gator Chomps in the near future.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: Last time we spoke was a year and a half ago just before you played in your first All-Star game. You went back and posted some career highs this season. To what do you attribute your continued improvement?
AL HORFORD: “There’s really no secret behind that, it’s all about putting in the time in the summer. I always try to focus on something different in the offseason that I want to work on and improve. This past summer I got a chance to work with [veteran skills trainer] Rob McClanaghan, a great basketball trainer who works with a lot of other guys in the league including Derrick Rose. He helped me a lot with my game, but I think at the end of the day it is just all about taking the time and making a commitment to work and keep getting better in the offseason.”

AS: Is there any type of competition between you and Jo[akim Noah]? Obviously you were came out of the same school and were picked high in the 2007 NBA Draft, but you’re also playing the same position and competing in the Eastern Conference, too.
AH: “Nah, not really. Me and Joakim, when we talk, we rarely talk basketball. I’m sure he wants to do good and great for his team, and I do the same, but I think at the end of the day we’re not caught up on so much individual stuff. For us, it’s more about our teams and winning and stuff like that. Obviously he has the upper hand on me because of their team because of the playoffs. I know he was happy about that. We’re not competing individually, it’s [more like] how much we impact our individual teams.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Al Horford after the jump!
Continue Reading » Atlanta Hawks center Al Horford: “It was a no-brainer for me to represent my country.”

Erin Andrews fills in for Ripa on Regis & Kelly

ESPN reporter and former Florida Gators dazzler Erin Andrews filled in for Kelly Ripa as co-host of Live with Regis & Kelly Wednesday morning in an appearance met with rave reviews by fans of the television program.

Andrews, who has extended her brand recently by appearing on Dancing with the Stars and Good Morning America while also doing endorsements for Reebok’s ZigTech brand and helping raise awareness for prostate cancer and the implementation of anti-stalking laws, spent all morning with notorious Notre Dame Fighting Irish fan Regis Philbin on the nationally syndicated program.

Below are two videos of her appearance courtesy of Timothy Burke. The first is the beginning of the show, and the second is a five-minute clip of Andrews playing with a bunch of puppies. You can view them after the break.
Continue Reading » Erin Andrews fills in for Ripa on Regis & Kelly

Hill, Debose, Patchan named in Yahoo! report on Miami booster providing improper benefits

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

A report released Tuesday by Yahoo! Sports concerning the intricate dealings of a Miami Hurricanes booster who was jailed for heading up a $930 million Ponzi scheme contains the names of three members of the current Florida Gators football team.

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and, on one occasion, an abortion.

Of the seven coaches specifically named in the report, one is current Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, who was hired by head coach Will Muschamp as he assembled his brand new staff this past offseason. Hill, a former UF player and also the Gators’ new recruiting coordinator, was receivers coach at Miami from 2008-10 and added the recruiting coordinator role to his responsibilities last season.

Among the specific incidents, Shapiro or other sources say Hurtt, Hill, Stoutland, Pannunzio and Allen all delivered top-tier recruits to Shapiro’s home or luxury suite so the booster could make recruiting pitches to them. Among the players who were ushered to Shapiro while they were still in high school: […] eventual Florida commitments Andre Debose (Hurtt) and Matt Patchan (prompted by Stoutland and Pannunzio) […]

In accompanying reports detailing specifics about each coach and player, Robinson notes Hill was “on hand when three recruits – Andre Debose, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Dyron Dye – were brought to Shapiro’s $6 million Miami Beach mansion for the purposes of the booster recruiting the players. Hill was on hand while Shapiro toured the players through his home and made a pitch to lure their commitment to Miami.” Shapiro also said he took the recruits out in his $200,000 Mercedes S65.

Robinson goes on to report that “Shapiro alleges he provided Debose with extra benefits during recruiting visits.” In addition to the dealings listed above, Shapiro said he “gave Miami equipment assistant Sean Allen approximately $2,000 to $3,000 in cash and instructed him to show Debose, Armstrong and Dye a good time. Shapiro said Allen ultimately used the money to take the players to nightclubs, including Take One Cocktail lounge and strip club.” Debose (now a redshirt sophomore) allegedly visited Shapiro’s house again “for another gathering” where he was “served food and drinks” and attended a meeting at Lucky Strike Lanes where Shapiro hosted recruits as they watched NFL games, ate and drank for free.

As far as Patchan (now a redshirt junior) is concerned, he allegedly joined “multiple members” of his family at Shapiro’s mansion for a meal. “Shapiro said the recruiting visit at his home was attended by the two Miami coaches, Patchan, Patchan’s mother, Patchan’s father and Patchan’s uncle.”

Due to their inclusion in the report, a situation may arise where Hill, Debose and Patchan might be forced to remain off the field at the very least as a precaution until a conclusion is reached one way or another on their respective eligibility.

As noted by Yahoo!‘s Charles Robinson early in the report, Shapiro’s admissions bring a lot of the Hurricanes’ recruiting practices into question and could severely damage the program and those associated with the allegations for some time to come.

All told, the length, breadth and depth of the impropriety Shapiro has alleged would potentially breach multiple parts of at least four major NCAA bylaws – and possibly many more. Shapiro described acts that could include violations of multiple parts of bylaw 11, involving impermissible compensation to coaches; multiple parts of bylaw 12, involving amateurism of athletes; multiple parts of bylaw 13, involving improper recruiting activity; and multiple parts of bylaw 16, involving extra benefits to athletes.

In addition to all of this, Robinson also details Shapiro putting bounties on the heads of star players from opposing teams, giving Miami’s student-athletes an even greater reason to play hard and make an impact on the field.

The booster told Yahoo! Sports he had a number of individual payouts for “hit of the game” and “big plays.” He also put bounties on specific players, including Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and a three-year standing bounty on Seminoles quarterback Chris Rix from 2002 to 2004, offering $5,000 to any player who knocked him out of a game.

In the one contest against the Hurricanes that Tebow participated in (Sept. 6, 2008), the Gators signal caller went 21-of-35 for 256 yards and tossed two touchdowns while also carrying the ball 13 times for 55 yards. He was only sacked once.

One more Florida reference from the report involves former Gators guard Teddy Dupay, whose name was used as an alias by Shapiro when registering rooms at the Mercury Hotel in South Beach for players to copulate with prostitutes.

The University of Florida declined Yahoo!‘s request to make Hill, Debose or Patchan available for comment, but associate athletics director of communications Steve McClain released an official statement Tuesday evening.

“While we declined comment for Yahoo’s request, Coach Hill indicated he was very comfortable with, and very confident in how he conducted himself while at the University of Miami.”

Robinson’s report, which details alleged widespread illegal activities throughout Miami’s football and basketball programs, can be read in full by clicking here.

Florida basketball on ESPN Super Tuesday

ESPN and the Southeastern Conference have announced the match-ups set for their 2012 Super Tuesday showcase, and Florida Gators basketball will be featured in four of the contests. Below is the official 2011-12 non-conference schedule with the four additional ESPN Super Tuesday games added at the end:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
1113 at 9:30 pm (CBSSN)vs. Navy (Md.)Veterans'
11/16 at TBA (TBA)vs. N.C. A&TTip-Off
11/21 at TBA (TBA)at St. Joseph'sTip-Off
11/22 at TBA (TBA)vs. TBA (Ct.)Tip-Off
11/25 at TBA (TBA)vs. Vermont (Ct.)Tip-Off
11/27 at TBA (TBA)vs. FGCU
12/1 at TBA (TBA)vs. Richmond
12/8 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Miami
12/12 at 6:00 pm (ESPN2)at Michigan State
12/19 at 4:00 pm (FSN)vs. Okla. StateOBBC
12/22 at TBA (TBA)vs. Jacksonville
12/29 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)vs. Florida State
1/30 at TBA (TBA)vs. West VirginiaSEC-Big 12

Tags: ,

8/16: Muschamp’s updates on players, scrimmage

With the Florida Gators fully entrenched in fall practice and having completed their first scrimmage, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media early Tuesday and provided updates on how the team is progressing on both sides of the ball heading into the 2011 season, which begins on Sept. 3.

FRESHMEN ROBERSON, DRISKEL STEPPING UP

Every year there seems to be a few freshmen who take it upon themselves to earn major playing time in their first season. Two players who have already begun proving themselves, according to Muschamp, are four-star cornerback Marcus Roberson and five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Competing with seniors, juniors, sophomores and fellow freshmen, Roberson in particular has stood out and could supplant all of them as the latest Florida freshman to start at cornerback. “I think he could possibly start. He’s played well,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to play the best players. I don’t care what grade they are, where they’re from, it don’t matter to me.”

Driskel, fighting with redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and classmate Jacoby Brissett for the back-up QB job behind redshirt senior John Brantley, has emerged as the leader for the job after showcasing his intangibles during a great performance in the team’s first scrimmage on Saturday. Muschamp said Driskel completed approximately 70 percent of his passes during scrimmage while Brantley (who he again said is “far and ahead” of the pack) was around 60 percent.

“His growth process from spring, obviously he has worked extremely hard through the summer dedicating himself to the playbook and learning what to do and how to do it and why we’re doing it that way,” Muschamp said*. “He’s had a very good camp at this point.”

INDIVIDUAL PLAYER & POSITION UPDATES

» Redshirt junior Lerentee McCray – Listed as a defensive end, McCray has earned the starting strong-side linebacker job and is being backed up sophomore Darrin Kitchens. Muschamp said he can also play the buck position if needed, though it will not be his primary assignment. Sophomore Ronald Powell starts at buck linebacker, and redshirt sophomore Kendric Johnson has been backing him up.

» Senior punter David Lerner – Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and getting IVs regularly when participating in practices and workouts. Lerner is the likely back-up to freshman Kyle Christy, who enrolled in January and is expected to be the starter. “He was diagnosed with Crohn’s in July, and his body is taking to the medication. There have been a couple days where he hasn’t felt well, and I’ve just told him to take it to the house, just go and get some rest. He’s in high competition right now to be our starting punter – he and Kyle both. David has had a great camp. This is something he will battle and be fine.”

» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins – “Both of them have played, so they understand what it takes to be successful in this league. Both of them are extremely intelligent. God’s blessed both of them – they’ve got really good athletic ability. They’re both instinctive players and they like playing the game. And they’ve learned to be better communicators, in my opinion, from spring to now. That, to me, is where they’ve taken the next step as players. We need for both of them to have really, really good seasons, and I certainly think they’re both capable of having really good seasons.”

» Sophomore Sharrif Floyd – Listed as a defensive tackle, Floyd has spent most of his time at defensive end for depth reasons but is also being moved inside during rush situations. He joins senior William Green and redshirt junior Earl Okine as the team’s primary DEs.

» Redshirt senior Jaye Howard, redshirt junior Omar Hunter and sophomore Dominique Easley are all rotating inside at the nose tackle/three position. Redshirt freshman NT Leon Orr is also “coming along” because he has kept his weight down and improved his endurance.

» Redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson – “I want to say this about Deonte: He is a senior and a guy that we really challenged in the offseason about special teams and understanding, if you want to play after college and if you’re not the lead role at your position in the National Football League, you’ve got to play special teams. The guy has done a phenomenal job on special teams. He’s on our punt team; he’s on our kickoff coverage team. I’m very proud of his effort.”

» Freshman De’Ante Saunders – The cornerback has been spending time at nickel but will be worked out at safety soon as the team is in need of trustworthy tacklers. “Pop is playing well. He deserves the opportunity to be a starter at this point,” Muschamp said. “Pop has played more nickel than anything – more than even at corner. We need to shore up some things at safety as far as our tackling is concerned, our space play is concerned. Pop has got good instincts on the back end – when to play the ball, when not to play the ball. We’ve got to tackle better at that position; we cannot continue to miss tackles in the secondary.”

» Freshman Chris Johnson – Listed as a safety, the 5’9”, 205 lbs. Johnson will continue to be worked out at linebacker in order to improve depth at the position. “Chris Johnson is undersized but is a guy that can run and strike,” Muschamp said. “He’s instinctive in the box. He’s got natural box instincts. He comes down in the box and naturally gets it. That’s part of being a good linebacker – having some sort of instincts.”

» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose – Currently in the second group of pass catchers because he continues to be inconsistent in his performance practice-in and practice-out. “[He’s] got to block better, got to catch the ball better, got to run routes better – there’s a lot of things,” Muschamp said. “But it’s consistency in your performance. You can have one great day, and the next day has got to be a great day. You can’t be up-and-down in your performance in this league. The teams are too good.”

» Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley – “Had a good scrimmage yesterday, did some nice things, had an interception. He’s a guy that’s got to continue to progress.”

» Redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Taylor – “[He] is an instinctive, tough player and has done a nice job with some things. Mike has got to continue working on football off the field. He likes sticking his face in there; he likes the physicality of the game, but we’ve got to play smarter at that position.”

» Redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian – “We feel like he’s a very good on-the-ball tight end, blocking. He can also do some things as far as movement is concerned because he’s really a tight end and a fullback. Some tight ends can’t move very well, they don’t move very well as far as the point-of-attack and blocking. Fullbacks do. Some fullbacks can’t line up on the line of scrimmage and block the edge because they don’t have the length to block against some of the defensive ends and outside ‘backers they play against. Gerald can do both, and we will use him to do both.”

» Senior tackle William Steinmann – A walk-on who has only seen action in 18 games over three seasons, Steinmann is also being tried out at tight end as an additional blocker.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the grind of fall practice: “The older players understand the grind of camp, they understand how to work through camp. The younger players generally let the external circumstances – the heat, the fatigue, the soreness – soak in a little bit, and that’s when they lose their mental focus. Those are things we’ve got to battle through at this point.”

» On the difference between running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey: “About 0.4 seconds maybe, I don’t know. Jeff I would say is a little bit bigger stature-wise. The other day he did a really nice job chipping one of our defensive ends coming out on protection. I thought he may have cracked his ribs – he turned him upside down.”

» The team worked on end-of-game situations with hopes of putting a bit of pressure on the players in order to test their resolve. The scrimmage consisted of 130 snaps.

» The heat index was 118 degrees on the field Tuesday morning during practice. Muschamp understood the heat and wanted his team to play in those conditions. “You find out a lot about your leadership especially when you face some adversity. We put them in some adverse situations on both sides of the ball,” he said. “You find out a lot about your football team at this time. We’re going to use the heat to our advantage. We ought to be used to playing in the heat and when its hot. When we started camp, we worked early in the morning and late at night to avoid [the heat]. Now it’s time to shore up and get ready for that – we’re going to use that to our advantage.”

» Muschamp said a few prominent individuals recently met with the team including the Southeastern Conference head of officiating Steve Shaw, University of Florida president Bernie Machen, former Gators safety Lawrence Wright and Iraqi war veteran Lt. Greg Gadson (who inspired the New York Giants in 2008).

» On inheriting a roster and not recruiting it himself: “At the end of the day, they’re Florida’s players. They’re not my players.”

* Driskel quote courtesy of InsidetheGators.com

Three drafted Gators shun MLB for 2011-12

Eleven Florida Gators baseball players were selected in the 2011 MLB Draft in June, a school record for the University of Florida. Three of those 11 players – outfielders Preston Tucker and Tyler Thompson as well as right-handed pitcher Greg Larson – have returned for their senior seasons and a shot at the College World Series.

Tucker was picked with the No. 498 overall pick in the 16th round by the Colorado Rockies, Thompson was chosen at the 1,387th spot in the 46th round by the Washington Nationals, and Larson was a 29th round selection (No. 885) by the Los Angeles Angels.

The following now former Gators accepted their deals and left the team:

Junior LHP Nick Maronde – Round 4, Pick 104 – Los Angeles Angels
Junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani – Round 6, Pick 199 – Toronto Blue Jays
Junior LHP Alex Panteliodis – Round 9, Pick 282 – New York Mets
Junior RHP Tommy Toledo – Round 11, Pick 341 – Milwaukee Brewers
Senior 2B (SS) Josh Adams – Round 13, Pick 403 – Florida Marlins
Junior C Ben McMahan – Round 23, Pick 701 – Milwaukee Brewers
Senior RHP Matt Campbell – Round 24, Pick 751 – Philadelphia Phillies
Senior OF Bryson Smith – Round 34, Pick 1,045 – Cincinnati Reds

Additionally, four of Florida’s 2011 high school signees were picked in the first four rounds of the event including two on the first day, which consisted of picks No. 1-60. Though there were indications some might pass on the money and end up playing for UF in 2012, all four players were signed by their respective clubs.

RHP Michael Kelly – Round 2, Pick 48 – San Diego Padres
RHP Hudson Boyd – Round 2, Pick 55 – Minnesota Twins
1B Daniel Vogelbach – Round 3, Pick 68 – Chicago Cubs
RHP Kyle Smith – Round 4, Pick 126 – Kansas City Royals

That leaves the Gators with a eight-person 2011 signing class, which includes four players who were drafted in June but chose not to take their deals.

INF Casey Turgeon – Round 22, Pick 672 – New York Mets
INF Joshua Tobias – Round 31, Pick 937 – Washington Nationals
RHP John Magliozzi – Round 35, Pick 1,080 – Tampa Bay Rays
RHP/OF Ryan Harris – Round 37, Pick 1,139 – New York Yankees
C Brandon Sedell
RHP/3B Justin Shafer
LHP Corey Stump
3B/OF Sean Trent

 Page 456 of 750  « First  ... « 454  455  456  457  458 » ...  Last »