Florida basketball to introduce new uniforms

In addition to the Florida Gators roster being adjusted for the 2011-12 season, the team will also be sporting new uniforms when they step out on the court this year.

Florida provided a sneak peak of their updated threads at the team’s media day last Tuesday as players donned the new blue away uniforms featuring a bold orange font for the letters and numbers. OGGOA has learned that the Gators will also have new home uniforms as well as an alternate jersey this year.

All three designs are the same general style (the letters and numbers will likely be altered on the home/alternate uniforms) with different color combinations. The home kit is traditional white, while the alternate uniform is orange. Below is a real picture of the away uniform courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel‘s Gary W. Green (view the rest of his gallery) next to some OGGOA-made mockups of the home and alternate jerseys.

Updated 2:45 p.m. Florida just decided to release two sneak peaks of the official home jersey for this season, which looks like this:

UF will play an exhibition game against Catholic University on Nov. 3 before beginning the regular season Nov. 11 against Jackson State. Tip-off for both games is 7 p.m.

FOUR BITS: Gator Day, Tebow, Georgia, Murray

1 » With Sunday’s Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL also serving as a Gator Day that will honor the 2008 national champion Florida Gators, Dolphins president Mike Dee said Wednesday that his team has sold 10,000 since Tim Tebow was named the Broncos’ starter last week. “The demand and interest in the game clearly has picked up since the announcement was made,” Dee said, according to the Palm Beach Post. In addition to a halftime ceremony honoring the team (which includes a performance by the Pride of the Sunshine University of Florida Fighting Gator Marching Band), there will be a pre-game event featuring Nat Moore, Louis Oliver and potentially other former Florida football players. Up to 20 Gators will be on hand including former head coach Urban Meyer.

2 » On a conference call with the media Wednesday, Tebow spoke about returning to Miami and the festivities surrounding the game. Though he said he appreciates the team being honored, he is not thinking about what is going on at halftime and is only concentrating on getting ready for the game right now. Tebow also said he’s excited that he gets to see Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and will be prepared to face Miami’s defense. “They have a very athletic defense. They have a lot of speed,” he said. “We’re just going to have to take care of the ball, be smart and ultimately execute.”

3 » The Southeastern Conference announced early Wednesday that two Georgia Bulldogs – defensive linemen Kwame Geathers and safety Shawn Williams – will be suspended for the first half of their next game for violations that occurred against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Williams – a starter – committed a flagrant personal foul, while Geathers was involved in a fight during the game. Georgia’s next contest is against Florida in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL on Oct. 29.

4 » The Gators are in the heads of at least one member of the Bulldogs, and that is quarterback Aaron Murray who admitted this week that he dwelled on his overtime interception to then-Florida free safety Will Hill. “I think the week after, I watched it five to eight times. Something like that,” he said, according to ESPN. “I watched it a couple of times a day for a while, and then throughout the offseason I watched it in the summer.” Murray attributes his poor performance in 2010’s contest due to excitement but believes that will be behind him this time around. “It’s a big game, so I was probably a little too juiced up,” he said. “Hopefully I got that out of my system last year and can go in there and just relax and play.”

UF coaches say winning starts with mental prep

If there is one thing Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan understands, it is the pressure of high expectations regardless of the age of your players.

Coming off of consecutive national championships in 2006-07, Donovan was faced with a young squad of up-and-comers who were expected to pick up where the Oh Fours left off. While his players had confidence and held those same expectations, there were plenty of factors working against them in addition to their inexperience.

“Players, when they’re young, they look at a program or a school or a team and think, ‘If I go there, this is going to happen for me.’ They don’t understand the commitment and the understanding of what goes into it,” Donovan explained on Monday. “When young guys are playing, it’s not just a guarantee that guys understand how to win.

“It takes time to do that.”

It all starts with understanding how to win at the collegiate level, something Donovan related to what the football team is going through right now after three-straight losses.

“Young players have to go through that to understand what goes into winning. There’s a process. You don’t just go in and just win,” he continued. “No one is immune from it. Everyone has to go through it. It just doesn’t happen because you’re ‘at Florida.’

“‘Because we’re at Florida, we’re going to win.’ It doesn’t work like that. That’s the beauty of competing – there are ingredients that go into practice habits, preparation, the mental part of the game, chemistry, covering for each other, knowing when it gets really hard how to handle adversity. A lot of times, when these guys are young, it’s the first time these guys have gone through adversity.”

Adversity is exactly what the football team has been faced with recently, and head coach Will Muschamp on Tuesday agreed with Donovan’s assessment that it all starts with gaining an advantage in the mental aspect of the game.

“I talked to Brian Orakpo this summer, a guy I coached at Texas,” Muschamp said. “He was an All-Pro his rookie year. I asked him, I said, ‘Being an All-Pro as a rookie is very difficult. How did you do that?’ He said, ‘Will, everybody I play against is as good as I am. I watch 30 more minutes of film. I stay on the field 25-30 more minutes after practice.’ He’s gaining the mental edge of what it takes to be successful.”

Muschamp has been trying to explain to his team how important that factor is for winning for months, but he notes that the inability for some young players to understand that from the start may be due to how much success they saw in high school.

“That’s what’s hard, especially with the way recruiting is nowadays,” he said. “Young men have an inflated opinion about where they are as a player. So when they come in, they don’t understand what Billy referred to as the process it takes to be a good player. What is that process? The mental preparation. The physical attributes may be the same as the guy you’re lined up against. What’s going to be the difference at the end of the day? The mental preparation, the mental edge, the mental belief in what you’re doing and how you’re doing it. And that’s called ‘discipline.’

“There’s no question that young players that generally mature quicker are players that understand what it takes to be successful and understand that it’s not just about what happens on the field. It’s about what happens in the classroom. It’s about what happens in the meeting rooms. It’s about what happens in the weight rooms. And they continue to advance their professional career the right way off the field not necessarily what you’re doing on the field. There’s no question that’s a huge growing process. Generally the ones that play as freshmen and contribute and play a lot and play well are the ones who are mature enough to understand what it takes.”

That’s not to say Florida’s mental preparation is lacking in all areas, but it certainly needs to improve. Another thing the Gators have to fix is the team’s health, something Donovan said has undoubtedly cost them some victories thus far in the season.

“The other thing with the football situation just to me on the outside looking in – and I know nothing about football,” Donovan joked, “it is very clear that if you take a team’s starting quarterback and starting tailback away and replace them with a freshman quarterback…that would be like taking Erving Walker and Patric Young out of our team and expecting to be really good. That would be an incredible blow to our team.”

Muschamp, who has refused to use injuries as an excuse because they happen every year in one way or another, did admit Tuesday that he does not think Florida has a long ways to go in order to step up their game to the next level.

“We’re not that far away. I really don’t believe that. I just don’t. I think the biggest issue we have as much s anything is depth right now,” he said. “In this profession, something that has held true for me is that it’s never as good as it seems and it’s never as bad as it seems. It’s somewhere in between. I don’t think we’re far off – I don’t. I don’t believe that. I think we’ve got good players in this program.

“I think we’ve got some depth issues we have to work through because that helps competition. It’s different when you got a guy standing behind you that’s ready to take your job. Right now, quite frankly, at some positions we don’t have that. That gets better play – it gets more consistent play.”

Considering the Gators have half as many upperclassmen (19 seniors, 16 juniors) on the roster as they do underclassmen (34 sophomores, 33 freshmen), depth is looking like something Florida may find very shortly with another solid recruiting class or two.

How those future Gators prepare mentally to be part of a winning football team is what remains to be seen.

10/19: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators over a week away from their eighth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the Georgia Bulldogs, he spoke during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into the bye week.

BRANTLEY ON HIS WAY BACK FROM INJURY

Updating an item he touched on Tuesday, Muschamp reiterated that Brantley (though he has shed his crutches) is not expected to practice at all this week and that the overriding hope is that he will be able to return on Monday. “He’s very limited as far as his running around, and he has not practiced,” he said. “I don’t foresee him practicing at all this week. I hope to get him back Monday. That’s where we are at this point. His rehab has gone well. He’s worked awful hard, done everything we’ve asked him to and then some. He’s lived in the training room trying to get back and get healthy.”

When he does return, however, Muschamp believes the turnaround will be fast and that he will be ready to play in any given week. “John’s very sharp mentally. For him to be able to get back pretty quickly shouldn’t be an issue,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the SEC East race: “I think it’s pretty obvious that we need some help at this point.”

» On favorite memories from Florida-Georgia series as a player: “There weren’t many good ones, that’s for sure. It’s a great game, a great rivalry game. The setting there in Jacksonville is pretty amazing. Of course when I was a player, the [Jacksonville] Jaguars were coming in and they were redoing the stadium. We played one game in The Swamp my senior year. It’s a great rivalry.”

» On playing Florida-Georgia at a neutral site: “I don’t think there’s any question that the game needs to be in Jacksonville. It’s a great environment and a lot of fun to be a part of.”

Florida’s Marcus Roberson arrested in Sept.

Florida Gators freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson was served a written arrest for underage drinking on Sept. 14, according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel.

Roberson, who has started all seven games for Florida after winning the job in the offseason, was charged with a misdemeanor for drinking a can of Four Loko in the Springs Complex parking lot on campus of the University of Florida.

He is the second member of the Gators to be cited for underage drinking and handed a notice to appear in court this year. Sophomore safety Matt Elam also received a written arrest in July after being spotted with a cup containing alcohol.

The Sentinel reports that Roberson’s attorney Huntley Johnson entered a not guilty plea on his client’s behalf on Sept. 28 and that a pre-trial conference is set for Nov. 7. Robinson is unlikely to consider visiting an alcoholic rehab center.

Wuerffel’s recovery may take another year

Back in June, former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with and hospitalized for Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which, as the Mayo Clinc puts it, “your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.”

He has been undergoing extensive treatment and rehabilitation for the disease ever since in an effort to recover from it as quickly as possible. As he continues on the road to recovery, Wuerffel has been releasing updates on his condition through Desire Street Ministries, of which he is the executive director. Below is his latest [truncated] update:

Dear Friends,

I am tired…and I’m really tired of being tired!

I’m over 4 months into my battle with Guillain Barre. The optimistic part of me (the part most of you usually see) is very grateful that I’m making progress and is truly thankful for this incredible spiritual journey I’ve been able to take as a result of the illness.

But truth be told, there is another part of me that feels just like my son. “Lord, fix it and fix it now! What’s taking so long?!”

Three times last week I woke up with a few plans for the day. Not many, just a few. After helping the kids get up and ready for school, I lied down for a short rest before starting the day…and slept for 3-4 hours each time.

It’s hard for me to schedule anything because I’m never quite sure how I’ll feel in the future. Sometimes I feel pretty good, other times really tired, and sometimes I get so worn out that I have a bad headache and life is quite uncomfortable.

A doctor told me last week this could last for another year or more…Really?! As much as I’m ready to be past all this—as much as I’ve prayed it would go away—I’m realizing it is simply part of my current reality. […]

My body is weak and tired, but my heart is growing each day. My soul feels more and more anchored, better prepared for the harder things in life. My spirit feels lighter, as if the breeze of the Spirit might lift me gently off the ground for a stroll in the clouds.

The refiner’s fire is molding and shaping a deeper and better me.

I’m thankful…and I press on.

God bless you,
Danny

Wuerffel has requested that any gifts, donations or letters of support be made to DSM rather than him personally. Should you wish to send any of the aforementioned, please direct them to adam@onlygators.com, and I will forward them to the appropriate contact.

10/18: Muschamp’s Tuesday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meets with the media each week 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.

AN APOLOGY FOR HIS LANGUAGE

Muschamp was caught by ESPN cameras on Saturday not only berating officials for what he perceived as a blown call on what was ruled a muffed punt by redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey but also using some foul language while doing so. He felt it was necessary to apologize for his language and did just that on Tuesday.

“I do want to apologize for my language on the sidelines the other night. That’s not something that’s going to be tolerated here at the University of Florida first of all by me and our program. That’s certainly not represented of what this program or this university is about,” he said, specifying that he was not apologizing for his intensity on the sideline.

“It’s the language. You got a 6-year-old and a 10-year-old at home and you got to go home and explain to them what you said. It’s not good and it’s not how we’re going to run our program. That’s it. As far as the sideline stuff is concerned, we’re going to be who we are. I’m just apologizing for the language, nothing else.”

OPENING STATEMENTS

“It’s tough to always have an open week after a loss – certainly after three. We really are a banged up football team. We really need to work on fundamentals and what we need to do up front on both sides of the ball. We’re searching for some answers offensively. Tuesday and Wednesday are fundamental days of really just working on us good-on-good, and then Thursday we will start our preps on Georgia as far as on the field. We start[ed] as a staff on Sunday. That’s kind of where we are and then Friday we’ll have a team lift and run them and then Sunday come back for a team dinner, some walkthroughs and some meetings as we move forward to Georgia.”

He also spoke about Florida’s next opponent on Oct. 29, Georgia.

“They have a talented football team with three seniors on the offensive line. Aaron Murray is a guy that can hurt you running and throwing; he’s completing over 60 percent of his passes. Isiah Crowell is a guy that has come in as a freshman and done a really nice job in their run game. Orson Charles is a very talented tight end, a guy that can stretch the field vertically, block at the point. Malcolm Mitchell is a freshman receiver that has been really good for them playing the X position. Defensively they have really improved from a year ago. They’re playing well on the defensive side of the ball.”

WEEKLY INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

In addition to his statement about the health of redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, Muschamp gave one general status update for a number of other players on the team who are banged up and were limited last week.

He said that the following Gators should practice at some point this week, most likely Wednesday or Thursday depending how their injuries are healing: sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (shoulder/neck), senior running back Jeff Demps (ankle), redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (strained knee), junior RB Mike Gillislee (ankle), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) and redshirt senior left guard Dan Wenger (foot). “We’re hoping to get all of those guys this week for practice and certainly for the Georgia game,” he added.

POSITION-BY-POSITION EVALUATIONS

Muschamp took time Tuesday before answering any questions to provide a short evaluation of the team position-by-position.

Quarterback: Outside of Brantley, Muschamp said he was pleased with how freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are progressing. “They both have natural leadership ability because of their presence. They’re both competitive,” he said. “They’re very well-liked on the team and very well respected on the team for a freshman, which is hard. It’s hard at that age to have the command and the respect and the presence, and I think both guys have that. They have the ‘it’ factor in my opinion. They have a lot of the intangibles you look for at that position. They certainly are guys that I am very pleased with, and I think the future is bright as far as those two young men are concerned.”

Offensive line: Muschamp said that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio has been the most consistent performer and that redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan has played great over the last two games. “Up front we need more consistent play in being able to run the football. We got to play better around the quarterback position regardless of who is playing,” he said. Muschamp added that others aside from those in the standard rotation are still competing for playing time but they have to show they deserve it in practice.

Wide receiver: “We need more playmaking ability outside and more consistent play,” Muschamp said. He noted that redshirt junior Frankie Hammond, Jr. was the most consistent pass catcher and Debose has “done some nice things” as far as making big plays vertically.

Running back: Aside from Rainey, Demps and Gillislee, Muschamp said he was pleased with freshman fullback Hunter Joyer’s freshman campaign. He also praised sophomore Trey Burton for succeeding in the package of plays that he has been given. “We’ve been able to move the football in the last two games using that package,” he said, “so we’ll continue to build on that.”

Defensive line: Muschamp praised redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard, sophomore DT Dominique Easley, sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd, redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter and senior DE William Green for all making improvements throughout the season. “Defensively I think we’ve taken some steps up front and played a little better,” he said. We’re not where we need to be, but I do feel good about the improvements we’ve made in the last three weeks as we head into the last five ballgames.”

Linebackers: He similarly praised redshirt junior Lerentee McCray and said the team would not be where it is from a defensive standpoint without junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins. “We need to develop some guys past those two to get more production from that position,” he said.

Secondary: The praise, of course, started with the position’s best player. “Matt Elam is having a solid year as we hit the half-way point. He’s paying very productive for us. We moved him to the nickel in the Auburn game because I saw a lot of the perimeter runs where they were very effective. We felt like we needed to put him in at a point of attack in the game, and he certainly was very effective,” Muschamp said. He added that freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson has been a pleasant surprise but that the unit has a long way to go. “We need to be more productive on the back end,” he said. “Let’s be realistic. We’ve played three teams in a row that have run the ball over 40 times, so we haven’t exactly been tested on the back end. We need to play better when those opportunities come up.”

Special teams: Muschamp said that Sturgis has been “outstanding” and has been kicking the ball well not only on field goals and extra points but for kickoffs, too. As far as freshman punter Kyle Christy, who earned his first start Saturday, Muschamp noted that “he’s a guy that can flip the field for us” and said he was “really pleased with how he punted last week.” He reiterated that the team has had no problems at punt returner until Saturday night but that he is going to look at other players to do the job in addition to Rainey, Debose, Hammond and sophomore WR Robert Clark.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the team’s biggest flaw at this point: “Things that have really hurt our team obviously is turnover margin. We’re -7 – last in the SEC. We haven’t had a turnover defensively in the last three ball games. It’s something we emphasize and talk about. Obviously we’ve got to find different measures in order to create some positive momentum for our offense whether it’s in special teams or offense. Gaining possession of the ball is critical for us.”

» On improving the offense: “We’re looking for answers right now offensively. We’re working diligently as a staff to find what we can do to move the ball and score points. We certainly understand in the last three games we have not done that effectively enough. Regardless of the circumstances and the situation, we’ve got to find way to move the ball and score. That’s what we’re searching for at this point.”

» On the plan for the bye week: “This week for us is more focused on Florida and what we have got to do to get better. As we move forward in the open week here, we just need to make tremendous strides and improvements with our team, identify the weakness which we obviously have some and move forward with our guys. Our guys competed hard against Auburn. I thought they played hard and laid it on the line. We just came up short.”

» On if he thought about playing Georgia each year when taking the Florida job: “I’ve faced Georgia a lot before as a defensive coordinator. I enjoyed my time there, but I’ve worked at LSU, I’ve worked at Auburn in this league. I’ve worked for different coaches that are coaching at different universities. My loyalties reside with people, not places necessarily. Certainly my loyalty is here with the University of Florida.”

» On Driskel and Brissett possibly competing for three more years: “I wouldn’t necessarily want that to happen. Both guys are really good players and both guys deserve the opportunities that they have gotten. That’s something, as we work through the week, that we’ve got to manage. And there are no better hands to manage that then Charlie Weis’s, in my opinion. […] That’s something that we’re going to cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now we just need to get these guys the 50-50 reps for this week and continue to improve our football team moving on to Georgia.”

» On if playing Brissett changed his long-term plans at that position: “It doesn’t really alter anything.”

» On Christy stepping up into the starting punter role: “Kyle – from a leg-strength standpoint – has been the guy. It’s been an operations standpoint. He got his operation time down in being able to kick. Obviously he flipped the field and was a big difference in the game and for our team, that’s not something we necessarily have done well throughout the season up to this point.”

» On his own intensity on the sideline: “I don’t think it hurts anything. I can tell you that. I’m going to be who I am. That’s what I’ve said from the beginning.”

Brantley recovering but not back yet for Gators

Already sidelined two weeks with a high ankle sprain suffered against Alabama, Florida Gators redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley has shed the crutches but is still wearing a boot and is not expected to return to practice this week, head coach Will Muschamp said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday.

Florida is cautiously optimistic and hopeful that Brantley can return for their next game on Oct. 29 against the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, FL, but his status will be reevaluated next week after a few more days of treatment and rehabilitation. He will do some throwing exercising this week with the hope that he can return on Monday.

“Most of all, [it’s his] mobility,” Muschamp said. “As far as the straight ahead, he’d probably be OK. As far as the lateral movement, that’s where you get into an issue with the ankle, just being able to move laterally. We feel like right now treatment is the best option. As far as that treatment is concerned, there is some physical action but not a whole lot. He’s staying off it as much [as possible]. John’s been living in the training room for the last three weeks. He’s doing everything he can do to get back. So it’s been very frustrating for him. Hopefully, as we work through this week, he continues to get better.”

Asked if Brantley could play at less than 100 percent health, Muschamp indicated that decision is out of his hands.

“That’s not my call. That’s the trainers’ call and that’s John’s call,” he said. “If he feels confident playing and our trainers say he’s OK to play, then he’ll play, but I don’t get into those decisions. That’s something the medical staff needs to handle. I certainly never want to put a young man in a situation where he can’t be successful.”

Freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett will split repetitions at quarterback 50-50 this week and going forward until the Gators’ starter is able to return to the field.

“Whether or not – and I think it was Urban [Meyer] I heard say it – whether or not you say your quarterback is your leader, he is your leader,” Muschamp said. “Certainly John being a fifth-year senior, playing at a high level, was our leader offensively if not with our team. When you lose that, it’s tough.”

Photo Credit: Unknown

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