9/5: Will Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meets 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 this week’s availability.


Opening statement: “I thought it was a solid performance. I was really pleased with our mental focus coming into the game and how our kids approached the game, understanding we’ll play better people throughout the year to be realistic here. I thought for a first ball game we had some hiccups here and there, some things we got to get cleaned up, a lot to teach from the tape but a lot of positives as well.”

Offensive Players of the Game: RBs redshirt senior Chris Rainey and senior Jeff Demps
Scrap Iron Award (best offensive lineman): Redshirt senior transfer guard Dan Wenger
Big Play Award: Demps
Extra Effort Award: Junior left tackle Xavier Nixon
Defensive Player of the Game: Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Hard Hat Award (big hit): Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins
Special Teams Player of the Week: Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis
ST Big Play Award: Sophomore wide receiver Solomon Patton
Scout Team Players of the Week: Offense-Evan Holmes (fr.), Hygens Succes (jr.); Defense-Michael McNeely (fr.); Special Teams-Solomon Schoonover (sr.)

SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week: Redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard


Sophomore RB Trey Burton (bruise) and redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson (head) “should be fine” going into next week’s game. Redshirt junior WR Omarius Hines (hamstring) is expected to return this week.

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring) will be either probable or questionable based on how they perform throughout the week in both practice and the training room.


Muschamp provided his perspective on Saturday’s opponent, Alabama-Birmingham. He said he is familiar with head coach Neal Calloway and knows that he “understands about toughness” in regards to a football team’s mentality. Muschamp expects a one-back offense behind a very experienced offensive line that has combined for 118 starts and is returning all five starters from a year ago. He said UAB moved the ball on every opponent they faced one year ago, noting that offensive coordinator Kim Helton played at and graduated from Florida before beginning his coaching career. Muschamp said a new defensive coordinator, Tommy West, will provide the Gators with some unknowns heading into the game and that UAB’s rugby-style punt team will be an something Florida will be prepared for going into the contest.


» In regards to sophomore DT Sharrif Floyd’s NCAA eligibility and status, Muschamp partially deflected the question but seemed confident that all would work out in the end. “He’s fine. I have no comment on that at this point,” he said.”

» On if 32 combined touches were too many for Demps and Rainey: “A little of that had to do with Trey [being injured], but we scored 41 points, so we were kind of happy about that.”

» On redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s performance: “I thought John was outstanding. I thought he directed the offense, got us in and out of the right runs and passes – no different than I felt watching the film. I thought he was very accurate with the ball, took it to the right places with what they were giving us –t hey were playing more of a sink, soft coverage taking away some vertical things down the field. We hit swing passes all night.”

» On the 10th anniversary of September 11th: “That’s a tough deal. Obviously an attack on our country, to go through what I know a lot of people close to me went through with that is just a tough deal. To have to think through all of that happening – it seems like it was yesterday to me, not 10 years ago now. It’s a tough deal.”

» On how he dealt with his team that weekend: “Getting our team ready was an afterthought after that happened to me. It was more about circling the wagons, understanding why it happened, explaining it to young men why something like that happens. You can’t. You can’t think rationally with irrational people. What happened was totally irrational.”

» On freshman fullback Hunter Joyer’s performance: “We planned on playing him. He’s really progressed well. He really, for a first ball game going out there, was very productive for us in protections, in blocking. A guy that I’m very excited about having on our football team. He gives you a lot of variety of what he can do. He’s very tough; he’s going to be a really good football player for us and we’re very pleased with where he is right now in his progress.”

» Muschamp said that redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose is getting better and better each time he sees him and is one back-up who really stood out to him on Saturday. “Andre Debose continues to make progress,” he said, “made a really nice catch on third own there on the seven-cut on our sideline.” Defensively Muschamp shouted out freshmen safety De’Ante Saunders, cornerback Marucs Roberson linebacker Graham Stewart and redshirt LB Michael Taylor as players who caught his eye.

» On not getting any turnovers but giving up three: “Yeah, it was a huge concern. That’s something we’re trying to emphasize I think in camp. We did a decent job with that. We were minus-three in turnovers and we were plus-eight in explosives. We had 10 explosives offensively and gave up two defensively. Those are the two factors that we can talk about – all the others you want to talk about – those are the two most critical ones: big play ratio and turnovers.”

» On whether or not he is pleased with how the team has bought into his blue collar mentality: “I want to credit Urban [Meyer] and his staff. A lot of that credit goes to Mickey [Marotti] in the weight room because that’s really where the foundation of your team [is set]. Coaches can only touch the athletes so many times out of the year by the rules. Mickey is with them 12 months out of the year. Certainly his work ethic, his approach and what they’ve been engrained through this program – and that’s why I wanted to retain Mickey for the job he does. They knew how to work, they knew how to compete, they knew how to work out, they knew how go to the practice field every day and have a business-like approach to what we’re trying to do. They certainly have bought in from day one, in my opinion. Some better than others and the ones that didn’t as much aren’t here anymore. I feel very comfortable where we are as far as the work ethic and the approach. Can we do it consistently? We’ve got some young guys that have got to display that over a period of time. We’re talking about one football game at this time. We’ve got a long season ahead of us. That’s the big challenge, and I’m going to challenge the football team today. ‘You’ve got to do it consistently. Now you’ve shown you can, now it’s a week-in, week-out deal. It’s a day-in, day-out. You can’t just show up some days because you’re excited because it’s the first game. It’s got to be week-in, week-out.”

Report: NCAA to hold Floyd’s hearing Tuesday

It came as a shock to fans following the Florida Gators when they learned just minutes before Saturday’s season opener that sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was declared ineligible by the University of Florida and could not participate in the game.

Set to start at defensive end for the Gators, Floyd was declared ineligible due to “an issue that is not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida,” the school announced. UF did not, however, say specifically why they were forced to declare the former five-star recruit ineligible.

A report from the Palm Beach Post on Sunday notes that Floyd’s high school coach, Ron Cohen, said the NCAA’s hearing with the player is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Gators have not confirmed this and will not until speak on the matter until the situation is settled one way or another.

Cohen also told the Post that he “believes” Floyd’s “name came up with the NCAA” in regards to North Carolina’s pursuit of him as a top high school prospect.

9/3: Muschamp, players speak after opener

The No. 22 Florida Gators (1-0) defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls (0-1) in their season opener at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Below are choice quotes from head coach Will Muschamp, the game’s most valuable player redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey and redshirt senior starting quarterback John Brantley following their team’s first victory of 2011.


Opening statement: “It was a good opening night. If you had a script of what you wanted to occur in the night for the most part… We faced some adversity. I thought we did some very positive things in the game. Procedural issues. Offensively we were at a minimum, we did have a couple issues we got to get ironed out, but I thought we moved the ball well, I thought John played extremely well in the game and we got the ball to our playmakers – Charlie [Weis] does a phenomenal job of accentuating those guys. Defensively I thought we played pretty clean in the game. We had a couple issues I think we’ve got to tie up. Obviously in the kick game, on our coverage units on the kickoff coverage, was disappointing. We have covered very well all through training camp and it was disappointing to see some of that tonight.

“To open the game with a kickoff return – and then we got called for holding there – but if they call it, it’s holding. [I was] really excited to see Jeff [Demps] and Chris on the field. […] they are very special with the ball in their hands. Very pleased with how john directed our offense, and thought we played pretty clean defensively – just have to clean some things up. They say your most improvement is from your first to second game and I’m looking forward to that because we certainly have some things we need to work on.”

On what Brantley did well: “Taking what they gave him. How many swing passes did we throw to Jeff and Chris? Get the ball in space to your playmakers. I thought they did a great job with that. […] Just very pleased with how he directed the offense. Got us in the right runs, got us in the right protections, took the ball to the right spots. Certainly we’ve got some things to clean up, but for a first ball game, first offense, new scheme, all the newness to everything we’re doing, [I was] very pleased with the performance.”

On Rainey’s three touchdowns: “He’s just a very talented young man. He works extremely hard. If you came to practice, you’d see a guy that gives 100 percent all the time in everything he does. He loves competing and he’s a lot of fun to coach because he really enjoys the game of football.”

On coaching his first game: “It was exciting. The preparation I enjoy as much as anything, and then game day being able to run out of the tunnel and knowing the excitement our players had. It’s about players to me. It’s about seeing those guys fulfilling a lot of their work and seeing their work coming to a conclusion as far as game time and playing a game. I enjoy that as much as anything.”

On the bad snap in the first quarter: “We had the dagum bad snap there, we got to get that ironed out. I know you all rolled your eyes when you saw that there, didn’t you? That was disappointing.”

On the orange jerseys: “Our seniors wanted to wear orange today. Our staple uniform will be our blue jersey at home and white pants. And if you get mad and want to e-mail, e-mail me. Don’t e-mail anybody else. I was the one who made the decision.”

On how encouraged he is by the first performance: “Well I think we need to be realistic here – we will face better opponents through the season. […] As we roll through the season, we’re going to get to know our team a lot better. We didn’t face as much adversity as maybe we would have hoped for in the game … but I’m very pleased with the attitude and the effort of our players. They worked awful hard, they compete – that’s a credit to Urban [Meyer] and his staff. These guys know how to practice. They know how to come and approach work every day and they’ve had a great attitude in everything they’ve done. I’ve been very pleased with that and we’ve got to continue to improve and get better because we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a long season ahead of us.”


On his three touchdowns: “I’ll give all the credit to the offense. They were really good out there.”

On his spin move for a rushing touchdown: “That’s a God-given gift, so I can’t explain that one. You got to ask God. [Laughing] I did a stretch play, just reading the tackle and I guess I read it right and scored a touchdown.”

On if Brantley’s confidence is back: “Oh he definitely do. He looks like the old John Brantley you saw in high school – being a leader, taking over, got all of his confidence back, feel good in the pocket, trust everybody.”

On his touchdown return on the punt block: “I love special teams, especially on punt block. We work on that every day all day. That’s our favorite phase of the team, so you’re going to see a lot of blocked punts this year.”

On the limited offensive playbook: “We only did like six plays – that’s it – the whole game.”

On Muschamp being excitable on the sideline: “Well he scared me on the sideline. He was too fired up. [Laughing] I don’t know what he said, but he was yelling at the officials.”


On how comfortable he felt on the field: “We felt real comfortable. We had great preparation throughout camp this past week, and we were just happy to be able to go out and execute.”

On how confident he is after Saturday’s performance: “My confidence is pretty high right now. The team played well; the offensive line blocked amazing. The running backs ran very hard and those receivers got open. So right now confidence is high – not just with me but this team. The team played great and also that offensive line did amazing, too.”

On Rainey’s performance: “Chris is a huge factor for this team and he did a great job tonight – running back, slot receiver, everything. He’s all for doing that and he’s going to have a great season.”

On freshman QB Jeff Driskel’s first pass interception: “That’s always tough for your first pass for that to happen, but he’s a great quarterback and he knows to forget about it and move on. […] Once he got a first couple of plays underneath his belt, I saw his confidence growing, and he did a great job on that one drive [in the fourth quarter].”

On winning Muschamp’s opener: “It feels to introduce Coach Muschamp to the Gator Nation [with this win]. That was a good feeling.”

On Rainey saying they only ran a few plays the whole game: “It seemed like it. It seemed like we were calling the same plays. But Coach Weis, if it’s working, he’s going to keep calling them until they don’t work.”

On Rainey’s impressive spin move for a touchdown: “I didn’t see that when it actually happened and I looked on the replay a couple drives later. I was impressed. I’m happy to see he’s using what I taught him on the field.”

9/3: Gators vs. Owls post-game news & notes

With the No. 22/23 Florida Gators‘ 2011 season opener against the Florida Atlantic Owls now in the books, OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s 41-3 victory at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.


Perhaps the most important moment of the evening came before the game started when Florida announced that sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was ineligible and would not play. The Gators will not allow Floyd to rejoin the team until he is cleared by the NCAA, and the University of Florida would not immediately provide many specifics.

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and redshirt junior wide receiver Omarius Hines (hamstring) were questionable going into the game and wound up inactive. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely (shoulder) ended up playing after it was originally thought he would miss the contest. Sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring) did not dress either.

Florida did not escape the Florida Atlantic contest unscathed. Sophomore running back Trey Burton appeared to injure his hip in the first quarter and did not return, likely for precautionary reasons. Redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson, catching a ball low to the ground, suffered a helmet-to-helmet hit that popped his off and left him on the ground holding his head. Thompson rose and left the field under his own power but did not return.


The Gators’ offense rolled on Saturday due in large part to dominant performances by running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey. The duo combined for 272 yards of offense and five total touchdowns with Rainey grabbing three on a rush, reception and special teams return on a punt block by sophomore WR Solomon Patton.

The pair ran up the middle and off-tackle, caught passes in the flats and were simply all over the field making both explosive cuts (Demps) and awe-inspiring spin moves (Rainey). Demps even ran the opening kickoff back 88 yards for a touchdown until it was called back due to a holding penalty.


Hoping to shake the rust off and rebound from a rough first season as a starter, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley played quite well on Saturday, completing 21-of-30 passes for 229 yards and a touchdown. However, Brantley also threw two interceptions in the contest. His first was tipped and eventually brought down, but his second was picked off in the end zone as he tried to fit the ball into traffic for a touchdown.

Florida’s offense, though dynamic, did not go deep into the playbook on Saturday and many of Brantley’s completions were on short passes. That being said, he also made some impressive throws and definitely showed an increased level of confidence, something he can improve on each week.


Not only did the Gators hold the Owls to three points, they barely let them move the ball until the game was already over. Florida held FAU to just 30 rushing yards and 137 yards of total offense on Saturday. Though UF did not achieve any turnovers in the contest, they succeeded in turning a first-and-goal from the four into a 27-yard field goal and did not let Florida Atlantic capitalize on either of the other two interceptions they grabbed.

The young secondary – consisting of safeties sophomore Matt Elam and freshman De’Ante Saunders as well as cornerbacks sophomore Jaylen Watkins, sophomore Cody Riggs and freshman Marcus Roberson – played well but did make some mistakes.

Redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard and sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell each had a sack, while redshirt sophomore LB Jelani Jenkins led the Gators with five total tackles including a powerful hit felt by the entire stadium. Elam, Howard and redshirt junior LB Lerentee McCray each had four tackles.


» Muschamp said after the game that Florida’s blue jerseys would be their standard going forward but that seniors on the team wanted to wear the orange on opening night. A Gainesville, FL native himself, Muschamp often used to see the Gators don orange jerseys at The Swamp.

» Redshirt senior transfer Dan Wenger started at left guard ahead of redshirt sophomore Kyle Koehne and redshirt freshman Chaz Green began the game at right tackle instead of redshirt junior Matt Patchan.

» Florida honored soccer stars Abby Wambach and Heather Mitts of the 2011 U.S. Women’s National Team during a break in the first quarter. The crowd chanted “U-S-A” for the duo, which has been in Gainesville all weekend.

» Former safety Ahmad Black, who was waived by Tampa Bay on Saturday, was on the sideline for the game. Former defensive end Kevin Carter was an honorary captain.

» The Gators sold out 137 consecutive home games before Saturday’s contest, which was only filled with 88,708 fans, according to UF.

Gators chomp Owls 41-3 in Muschamp’s debut

No one really doubted that the No. 22/23 Florida Gators would take down the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The question was how Florida’s offense and entire team would look in its first game since former head coach Urban Meyer resigned.

Will Muschamp’s new squad got off to a quick start, overwhelming Florida Atlantic on both sides of the ball and eventually capturing a 41-3 victory.

The Gators started out with an explosive kickoff return for a touchdown by senior running back Jeff Demps; unfortunately it was called back due to a holding penalty and the team had to start from scratch. They subsequently drove the ball down the field, but a snap over the head of redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley eliminated some of their gains and forced redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis to kick a 51-yard field goal, which he made.

After forcing a three-and-out, Florida completed a 12-play, 67-yard drive that ended with Brantley tossing a 14-yard swing pass to redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey for his first of three touchdowns Saturday.

The Owls did not run more than three plays in a series in their first four possessions, allowing the Gators to get the ball back quickly and put more points on the board. A 35-yard run by Demps on the first play of the second quarter resulted in Florida’s second touchdown of the game, and a thrilling 14-yard touchdown run including a dynamic spin move by Rainey capped a nine-play, 91-yard drive.

UF’s victory was not without a few mistakes. Freshman QB Jeff Driskel, inserted late in the second quarter for Brantley, sailed a ball for an interception on his first career pass. FAU drove the ball inside the five but was pushed back and settled for a 27-yard field goal. On the Gators’ subsequent possession, Brantley had a pass tipped for a pick but Florida Atlantic missed a 34-yard attempt and the half ended with Florida leading 24-3.

Putting a drive together to start the third quarter, the Owls got four first downs but were forced to punt at midfield. Sophomore wide receiver Solomon Patton was able to block the attempt, and Rainey picked it up, returning it all the way for the touchdown. With the score, he became just the third player in the country since 1996 to notch a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game.

Again threatening to score late in the third quarter, the Gators failed to do so after committing their third turnover of the evening. Brantley – via multiple completions to Demps and Rainey and a few stellar rushes by the same two players – drove Florida from their 14 to FAU’s six. However, on first and goal, he was picked off in the back of end zone trying to fit the ball into traffic.

Forcing a punt to start the fourth, the Gators began taking it to the Owls again. Brantley’s 17-yard pass on third-and-seven to redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson kept the drive alive, and Demps’s 20-yard rushing touchdown completed Florida’s 78-yard series.

Eleven total players caught passes from Brantley and Driskel, the latter of whom returned late in the fourth quarter and led the team on a 10-play, 52-yard drive capped by a 29-yard field goal by Sturgis.

Demps and Rainey were dominant all game, combining for 272 yards of offense and five total touchdowns. Brantley finished 21/30 for 229 yards and one touchdown, but his two interceptions – including one negating a scoring opportunity – will certainly be a concern for offensive coordinator Charlie Weis heading into preparations for next week.

The Gators posted 468 yards of offense Saturday compared to only 137 from the Owls. (UF outgained FAU 264-62 in the first half alone.)

The announced attendance of 88,708 broke the University of Florida’s 137-game sellout streak, but Florida did win their 22nd straight season opener.

Florida Atlantic head coach Howard Schnellenberger, who will retire at the end of this season after a storied career, lost his fifth-straight game in Gainesville and has not led his team to victory at Florida Field since 1983 (31 years).

The Gators will remain at home for their next contest, a 7 p.m. showdown with Alabama-Birmingham on Sept. 10. The game will air live on FSN.

Check back with us later for news, notes and quotes following the game.

Sharrif Floyd ruled ineligible before opener

Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, set to start at defensive end for the team in 2011, was declared ineligible by the University of Florida prior to Saturday’s season opener against the Florida Atlantic Owls.

The school released the following statement just before the game:

“We have declared Sharrif Floyd ineligible and he is not eligible to compete until his eligibility is reinstated the NCAA. We have been and will continue to work with the NCAA until this matter is resolved. This is an issue that is not related to sports agents, University of Florida boosters or his recruitment to Florida. We will not have any additional comment on this matter until it is resolved.”

A five-star high school prospect and one of the top players in the Gators’ stellar 2010 recruiting class, Floyd is expected to be a big-time contributor for Florida this fall.

No. 22 Florida Gators vs. FAU Owls Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 72°F, partly cloudy
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

SiriusXM: 205
Online Audio: GatorVision.tv
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Howard Schnellenberger
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -34.5; O/U 50


Need to catch up on the Gators after a long offseason? No problem. OGGOA has been here the entire time. Check out the links below and do your homework on the team’s offseason before the final exam Saturday evening.

Latest depth chart | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense


As first reported by OGGOA last Friday, former Florida dazzler now ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was in Gainesville, FL on Monday to interview Muschamp. The segment will air live on College GameDay (which starts at 10 a.m. ET on ESPN) and will be followed by a discussion between Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso about Muschamp and what impact he will have on the team in 2011 and going forward.

A clip of Andrews’s interview with Muschamp is available below:


» Florida is 1-0 in the all-time series against Florida Atlantic, defeating them 59-20 in 2007, the only time the teams squared off.
» The Gators have never lost a game against a current member of the Sun Belt and are 13-0 against such opponents.
» Florida is 77-27 all-time to start the season and 62-6 in the friendly confines of Florida Field. The Gators have won 21 consecutive season openers, the second-longest streak in the country (Nebraska, 25) and best in the SEC by 10 games.
» Muschamp will take the field with Florida as the team’s head coach for the first time on Saturday. He has never served as a head coach on the collegiate level before and, at 40-years-old, is the second-youngest to hold said position in the SEC (Dan Mullen, 39).
» On the other side, Schnellenberger will be beginning his 27th year at the helm of a college football program – his last as he will retire at the conclusion of the 2011 season. He is 157-140-3 all-time and 57-63 at FAU since taking over the team 11 years ago.
» After defeating the Gators the first three times he faced them with Miami (1979-81), Schnellenberger has failed to notch another win. All four of his losses (1982, 1983, 1992, 2007) were games played in Gainesville, where he has not won in 31 years.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida has won 88 percent of its home games (117-16) since 1990, the best home winning percentage in the nation. In that period, the Gators are 55-4 against non-conference opponents and 92-4 against unranked teams.


Florida and Florida Atlantic have only met on one other occasion – Nov. 17, 2007 – when the Gators stomped the Owls 59-20. Quarterback Tim Tebow went 25/34 for 338 yards with three touchdowns and an interception through the air and also rushed 11 times for 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Andre Caldwell did most of the receiving with 13 catches for 164 yards, but tight end Cornelius Ingram corralled a pair of touchdowns and 60 receiving yards. After UF scored 21 unanswered points in the first quarter, FAU answered back with 13 points to start the second quarter. However, the Gators outscored the Owls 38-7 the rest of the way to hold on for the victory.


» Active: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (back)
» Questionable: Redshirt junior cornberback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (shoulder), redshirt junior receiver Omarius Hines (hamstring)
» Inactive: Freshman tight end A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus)


» Brantley…who completed only 60.8 percent of his passes (200-of-329) for 2,061 yards with nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2010 butis said to have been revitalized by offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s pro-style system.
» Running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey…who are co-starters in the backfield and two of the most dynamic and explosive players in the SEC. Demps and Rainey, both of whom missed game time in 2010, combined for 917 rushing yards (6.4 yards per carry) and five touchdowns on the ground as well as 332 receiving yards and three scores through the air.
» Sophomore Trey Burton…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam…who stood out all offseason as the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary. Elam played in all 13 games in 2010 and is looking to make a name for himself this year.
» Sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell…who steps into a brand new position somewhat unique to Muschamp’s defense. Powell only started one game as a true freshman but will be entrenched from the get-go in 2011 as a hybrid player.
» Sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd…who is a defensive tackle but moved to defensive end this year to help the team. Floyd also started one game as a true freshman but plenty of pressure on his massive shoulders as a full-time starter in 2011.
» Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard…who is the man in the middle for the Gators and is the most experienced player (17 starts) on his side of the ball.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. His consistency on special teams should help the Gators be more confident overall.

» RB Alfred Morris…who was the team’s leading rusher in 2010 with 928 yards and seven TDs. A redshirt senior, Morris is being counted on as the Owls’ primary playmaker.
» QBs Graham Wilbert…who will make his first start for FAU. The signal caller battled for his job all spring and summer but is very inexperienced only having thrown five passes in his college career.

Parsons heads to France to play for Cholet

With the NBA lockout ongoing and potentially not ending any time soon, former Florida Gators forward Chandler Parsons decided to take advantage of another opportunity and will play for two months across the Atlantic Ocean in France.

Parsons signed a two-month deal with Cholet Basket, one of 16 teams in Pro A of the Ligue Nationale de Basketball, the top men’s French professional basketball league. He is signed through Oct. 31 but has an out clause on Oct. 3 – the day the NBA is supposed to open training camp – in case the league does start on time.

“It’s a great opportunity. Cholet is one of the better teams in France and they have a great history,” Parsons told OGGOA Friday evening. “It’s really prestigious team. I’m just happy they were flexible enough to allow me to come over there and play with a NBA out to return to Houston whenever [the lockout] ends.”

Though he has never been to France, Parsons is excited about the opportunity and feels some comfort knowing that a long-time friend, guard Taylor Battle formerly of Penn State, is currently playing for Cholet.

“It will be nice to have him there and know somebody,” he said. “I think it’s good just to keep competing and playing, and they have a high level of talent over there, so I think I’m better off going there, competing and practicing every day and getting better as a player.”

After his two-month deal is over, if the NBA has not begun playing, Parsons has the option to re-sign with Cholet, return to the United States or play for any other team.

“There were other teams in a few other countries [that offered],” he said. “If you look, not a lot of guys are getting the option to go overseas with an out [clause]. I’m real fortunate. My agent [Mark Bartelstein] did a great job, and I’m just excited to go do it and be able to compete instead of just being around home and working out here.”

The No. 38 overall pick in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft, Parsons was selected by the Houston Rockets, who had originally traded the pick but bought it back for $1.5 million. He is expected to sign a guaranteed contract when the 2011-12 season begins.

Photo Credit: US Presswire

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