TWO BITS: Boynton’s ankle, Tebow and Fredette

1 » Injuring his ankle after coming down awkwardly on a three-point attempt, Florida Gators sophomore guard Kenny Boynton is expected to be fine for Thursday’s Sweet 16 match-up with the BYU Cougars. “There’s a bit of swelling at this point,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “We do not expect him to be in a position where he shouldn’t be able to play. [He] should be fine, should be ready to play.” Donovan also mentioned that Boynton may miss some practice this week while rehabbing the ankle and making sure it is strong enough to play starter’s minutes in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament in New Orleans, LA. When Florida and BYU squared off just one year ago, Boynton posted a career-high 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting (5-of-10 from downtown). However, he fouled out with 3:57 remaining in the second overtime and the Cougars, fueled by star G Jimmer Fredette’s 37 points, went on to win 99-92.

2 » Speaking of Fredette, the comparisons drawn between him and former Gators now Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow over the past week have been plenty. Both team leaders who have strong convictions, the players have each received their share of praise and criticism. Asked about having a lot in common with Tebow last Wednesday, Fredette was pleased with the comparison. “I think Tim Tebow is a great guy, a great football player and a great leader,” he told The Denver Post. “I think that one of his greatest qualities is that he knows how to get his team to play the best [it] possibly can. That’s what I try to do, go out there and lead by example, try to say some things, try to get my team motivated to go out and play. He’s been a great story, similar in that people have doubted us throughout our careers. But one thing about both of us I think is that we’re very mentally tough. And we want to show these people that we can do these things, we can go out there and be successful at any level.”

Florida vs. BYU start time set for Thursday

The No. 2-seed Florida Gators (28-7) will face the No. 3-seed BYU Cougars (32-4) in the Southeast Regional Semifinal of the 2011 NCAA Tournament on Thursday at 7:27 p.m., the NCAA announced Sunday evening. The game will air live on TBS with Gus Johnson doing play-by-play and Len Elmore providing color commentary.

Florida and BYU will square off in a rematch of the first round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. The Cougars defeated the Gators 99-92 in double overtime with BYU star guard Jimmer Fredette scoring a game-high 37 points on 50 percent shooting. Florida, a No. 10-seed to their opponent’s No. 7-seed, had opportunities to win the game at the end of regulation and at the conclusion of the first overtime but failed on both occasions.

Gators head coach Billy Donovan will speak to the media on Monday as the team begins practice for the Sweet 16 contest in New Orleans, LA.

Florida baseball wins three at LSU for first time

No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (18-2, 3-0 SEC) completed a three-game series sweep of the No. 5 LSU Tigers (16-4, 0-3 SEC) over the weekend on the road in Baton Rouge, LA to mark the first time in school history that feat has been accomplished.

Florida outscored LSU 13-7 during the series, hit three home runs and batted .314 (32-for-102) as a team compared to .260 (27-for-104) for their opponent.

Friday: Down 3-2 headed into the top of the ninth inning, the Gators rallied to score three runs in the frame and eventually held on to defeat the Tigers 5-4. Sophomore left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson got the start for Florida and gave up two earned runs in five hits through 5.1 innings. Junior right-handed pitcher Tommy Toledo (2-1) relieved him and picked up the win, while junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (S3) tossed a solid ninth only giving up a single unearned run. Leading the Gators offensively were Johnson (2-4, RBI), sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, 2 RBI, BB) and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino (2-4, HR, 2 RBI, R). With one out in the ninth, Zunino hit a solo shot to left to tie the game at three runs apiece. Fonatna finished the rally with a two-RBI single to right field four batters later.

Saturday: The second game in the series saw much less offense as trio of UF pitchers – sophomore RHP Hudson Randall (3-0) and juniors RHP Greg Larson and LHP Nick Maronde (S1) – combined to complete a 1-0 shutout of LSU. Florida scored their single run just minutes into the game as Fontana (1-3, R, BB) began the contest with a leadoff walk and junior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-4, RBI) doubled to right center to send him across home plate. Randall scattered eight hits over 6.2 innings but never gave up the tying run as the Tigers were unable to capitalize. After Larson finished out the seventh and began the eighth, Mardone came in to close it out and notched strikeouts in four of the game’s five final outs.

Sunday: Down 3-0 through three innings in the third game of the series, the Gators rallied to score seven unanswered runs as they completed the road sweep in exciting fashion. Freshman RHP Karsten Whitson began on the hill for Florida but struggled with his command, giving up six hits, four walks and three runs (two earned) in 4.2 innings while striking out four. Sophomore first baseman/RHP Austin Maddox (1-0) earned his first career win in relief of Whitson, allowing only two hits and striking out three over the final 4.1 innings of the game. Faced with a three-run deficit, the Gators rallied to score five in the top of the fourth and immediately take the lead.

With the bases loaded on three-straight singles, Zunino (1-4, 2 RBI, R) added a fourth to drive in two runs. After two ground outs, junior Jeff Moyer (3-3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) pinch hit for sophomore third baseman Cody Dent (1-1); he hit a two-RBI single to center. Fontana (2-4, RBI, BB) completed the rally with a triple to right center to score Moyer and put UF on top 5-3. Solo shots from senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-4, RBI, R) in the sixth and Moyer in the ninth completed the Gators’ scoring efforts and ensured they would leave Baton Rouge with the clean sweep.

Florida, currently on a season-long eight-game winning streak, returns to Gainesville, FL for a five-game home stand including two against Winthrop (Tuesday-Wednesday) and a three-game series against South Carolina (Friday-Sunday).

TWO BITS: Meyer visits Utah, Weis happy at UF

1 » Former Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has been making his rounds of other college football programs over the last month and paid a visit to the Utah Utes, where he also used to coach, on Thursday. After addressing the team and surveying the program, Meyer spoke with the Desert News about how it feels not to be coaching these days. “I guess it’s been great. I don’t know. I’ve got a knot in my stomach right now, missing it awful bad,” he said. Meyer also told the paper that his new job with ESPN will have him work only 60-70 days a year.

2 » In addition to meeting with the media last week, new Florida offensive coordinator Charlie Weis sat down with the school’s senior writer Scott Cater to discuss the journey that led him to decide to run UF’s offense for at least the next few years. Weis shared a touching story about Super Bowl XXXVI, explained how his son is closer with New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick than he is these days and discussed starting a charity because of his daughter and children sharing her condition. He also talked about his decision to coach the Gators and shared a little bit of his philosophy.

“Too many coaches wait until it’s too late,” Weis said of when he would adjust his game plan if it’s not working. “They’ll wait until halftime, but the game might be over already. There have been games where I’ve thrown out the game plan nine plays in.’’ He also talked about his in-game play calling. “One of my pet peeves is coaches who take too long to get a play in,’’ he said. “I call them quick. I like to rapid fire. I was fortunate to be around people who were really good at [play calling], regardless of the level. I like to sit there and say that it’s all you, but it’s an acquired trait that you either get it or don’t get it, like the timing of a play call.’’

NCAA Tournament: Gators’ postgame thoughts

Shortly after the No. 2-seed Florida Gators completed a hard-fought 73-65 victory over the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins, a handful of players and head coach Billy Donovan participated in the postgame press conference. OGGOA has compiled some choice notes and quotes from the media availabilities.

LOCKER ROOM VIDEO

MR. BIG SHOT

Scoring 10 of Florida’s final 12 points including the last seven with 1:15 to go in the game, the only word to describe junior point guard Erving Walker on Saturday is “clutch.” However, Walker’s triumphant second half actually began with four minutes to go earlier when he drove into UCLA center Joshua Smith in an attempt to force his fifth foul but instead bounced off the 6’10” 323-pound freshman and hit an awe-inspiring bank shot to put UF up five. Though Donovan and his teammates were all pleased with his performance, not a single one of them were surprised by his heroics.

“Erv’s fearless. Anytime that guy shoots the ball, I think it’s going in,” senior forward Chandler Parsons said. “He’s got a knack for hitting big shots. This one [over Smith] definitely ranks up there. He was just trying to draw contact; it was a crazy shot and just went in. He’s been doing that for us all year long, so it really doesn’t surprise me because he’s a gutsy player who is willing and wants to take the last shot like that.”

Freshman PG Scottie Wilbekin is similarly not fazed by his teammate’s accomplishments. “I’m not surprised no more. I’m like, ‘That’s just Erv,’” he said. “When he shoots it, I always get excited, because I know there’s a high probability it’s going in.”

Donovan also praised Walker’s evening. “He really played well. He was out of sorts a little bit in the first half,” he said. “He had a couple plays where he took a bad three and he had a drive that got blocked; both of those plays led to free throws and fouls for our frontcourt. I was pretty hard on him during the game and at halftime because I felt like he was going to need to step up. Not so much making shots but just… When he’s got his engine running and he’s got that fire and that passion, it changes the complexion of our team and opens up things for other guys on our team. He is a great competitor.

“When you’re that small, and you’re always having to fight for respect, he’s adopted that kind of thing that he knows he’s got to earn it. He’s got that mentality that he realizes he’s going to be evaluated and judged on winning and losing on a point guard and as a player. With his size, he really takes on those challenges.”

Equally complimentary of Walker was Bruins head coach Ben Howland. “He’s so quick. He’s very fast, athletic, and he’s very skilled. He can really shoot it. He’s a fearless little guy,” he said, before discussing Walker’s shot over Smith. “It was a big play. He just kind of bounced off him and hung in the air. That was a very big play.”

Walker took his two clutch shots in stride. “I tried to get past him and I thought he fouled me,” he said of his shot over Smith. “I felt a lot of contact so I tried to just get the ball up on the rim and I was expecting a call, but I didn’t get it and it luckily went in.” Walker also discussed his big three with 1:15 remaining. “We was having a little trouble getting the ball in bounds so Scottie threw it long to me. Malcom Lee went for the steal and I check just to make sure I had time to get the shot off. It was a good look and I felt that would have been a good shot for me to take. I was able to knock the shot down.”

TAKING BACK THE GLASS

Out-rebounded 20-10 in the first half, Donovan wanted to make sure the Gators made a conscious effort to reverse that disparity coming out of the break. That is exactly what they did, out-rebounding their opponent by the same margin to finish the games with each team grabbing 30 apiece.

“We just wanted to stop them from getting second-chance shots. They were really going hard on the offensive glass in the first half,” said senior F Alex Tyus, who brought down a career-high 13 rebounds in the contest. “We answered that in the second half. Alex did a great job on the glass,” Donovan said. “A big key in the game was both frontcourts were battling foul trouble back-and-forth. People can see why I made some of the comments about Smith the other day, because he’s certainly a load. He’s a terrific player, has great hands.”

Donovan also praised Tyus’s efforts. “When he’s playing active like that, even against front lines that are big and strong, he’s so athletic that when he plays with that kind of motor, he’s really a hard guy to block out,” he said.

GREAT EXPECTATIONS

Florida’s trip to the Sweet 16 is a huge step up from how they have finished the past three seasons. That being said, no one on the team is content with the multiple accomplishments the Gators have already obtained. “We’re not satisfied. We want to keep going,” Parsons said after the game. “We’re excited to see who we play, and we’re excited to get back to work tomorrow and keep taking it one game at a time.”

Freshmen Wilbekin and C Patric Young agreed. “I knew coming in we had a chance to go deep in the tournament with this team. That’s part of the reason I chose to come early, because I knew we had a great team, great starting five returning,” Wilbekin said. “We’re happy for this win but we can’t celebrate it too much. We have more games to go. We’re trying to get to the Final Four and win the championship.” Young shared a similar sentiment on the team’s goals. “You want to make it all the way. We all have our dreams of winning a national championship,” he said.

TWO OTHER BIG MOMENTS

In addition to Walker’s athletic bank shot and dynamic three-pointer, a number of other memorable plays were made down the stretch. Walker and Parsons discuss two game-changing plays they were involved in near the end of the game.

Walker on the trap turnover he and Wilbekin forced: “We were just trying to force the tempo the whole game and they did a good job handling our pressure. Scottie got him in a speed dribble when I came from behind and we got a huge turnover. I think that just changed the momentum for us.”

Parsons on his athletic block of the much-bigger Smith: “There were multiple plays in the game that were big, like Erving’s shot and different defensive stops we made. It was actually my fault on the block because I was late rotating there, so I just tried to get a hand on the ball. That guy’s really strong. It was just a big play.”

QUOTES

Donovan on UCLA as a quality opponent: “UCLA was as good as any team we’ve played all year long. […] We were as tested by them as any team we’ve played all year.”

Donovan on coaching Walker: “I love coaching him just because he’s highly competitive. When you’re dealing with a guy that’s highly competitive, you can always do things to get that competitiveness to come out. It is pretty remarkable what he has been able to do at his size. Six-seven years ago, when his high school coach called me about him, he visited our campus when he was a sophomore in high school and he’s telling me how good he is. I’m like, ‘Listen, you got to be kidding me. This guy is like 5’2”. He’s got no chance.’ Erving’s one of those guys that kind of bides his time during the game and I want to see his engine running a little bit earlier. What you saw the last six minutes of the game, I want that for 40 minutes when he’s out there. I’m always pulling and grabbing for more time to play like that.”

Donovan on how the team will be viewed after this win: “If we would have lost today, my dealing with them every single day would not change at all just because we made it to the Sweet 16. I understand how fragile winning and losing is in this tournament – and even during the year. It has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to see where these guys have gotten to at this point in time. Because we’ve won and gotten to the Sweet 16, people now want to talk about the interesting story of where these guys have come [from] to get to that point.”

Parsons on beating UCLA three-straight times: “Any game that has take place before our team is really irrelevant to us. It’s definitely exciting to beat a team of that caliber, because they’re very good.”

Parsons on the team having experience in close games: “Our schedule all year long has really prepared us for teams we’re going to face this late into March. Our freshmen have been great all year long just asking questions and being listeners. They understand their role perfectly and they’ve been providing us good minutes all year long.”

Walker on the team’s toughness: “We try to do everything in a total team effort. All five of our starters are basically averaging double figures, and if one person is down, we try to pick each other up. Coach does a good job of keeping us connected and all on the same page.”

Walker on if he has/had a nickname: “I had a couple, but we can just go with what Kenny [Boynton] said [Big Shot Erv], I like that one.”

Young on the team’s balance: “Any given night one of our guys can just go off and have whatever amount of points. If someone’s not having a good game [scoring], they can still affect the game in another way and help our team out.”

Murphy on Walker’s big shot ability: “I’ve seen him hit some ridiculous shots. The Georgia game? That was unbelievable. I inbounded him the ball on that play when he hit that three to send it to double overtime. He told me as I inbounded it to him, he told me he was going to hit it. He just makes crazy plays.”

Murphy on Walker: “He’s got that New York swagger to him.”

Gators claw past Bruins 73-65 to reach Sweet 16

Fighting for a berth in the Sweet 16, the No. 2-seed Florida Gators had to deal with a familiar postseason foe in the No. 7-seed UCLA Bruins. Utilizing a spectacularly clutch three-pointer by junior point guard Erving Walker as part of a 7-0 run over the final 1:15, the Gators (28-7) defeated the Bruins (23-11) 73-65 in the third round of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa, FL on Saturday.

Walker scored a team-high 21 points – on 5-of-8 shooting (3-for-5 from downtown) with eight free throws in 10 attempts – to give UF their third-straight victory over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament and a 3-0 all-time record against the Bruins. The Gators improved to 20-1 on the season when leading at the half and 23-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points while reaching the Sweet 16 for the seventh time in school history.

Florida and UCLA each achieved four-point leads in the first half, which was filled with plenty of back-and-forth action including four ties and eight lead changes. The Bruins started with a 20-10 rebounding advantage (9-0 on the offensive glass), but the Gators outscored them 7-4 to close the half and took a 35-33 lead going into the break.

The give-and-take action continued in the second half with either the score being tied or Florida holding a slight advantage through most of the latter period. With the contest coming to a conclusion and 6:34 left to play, the Gators stepped up their efforts.

UF senior forward Chandler Parsons registered an athletic rejection on UCLA center Joshua Smith with the game tied at 55, an action that jump-started his team to a 6-0 run via a pair of threes from sophomores guard Kenny Boynton and F Erik Murphy.

Bruins F Tyler Honeycutt immediately cut the Gators’ lead in half with a big trey and Florida held on to their three-point advantage until Smith hit a layup to reduce UCLA’s deficit to one with 1:33 remaining in the game.

Back on offense, Gators redshirt senior C Vernon Macklin missed a layup; UF got the ball back and inbounded it near half court to Walker, who drained a triple from beyond the arc. With Florida up four and the clock ticking down, all UCLA could do is foul. Walker hit four free throws down the stretch and scored 10 of his team’s final 12 points to give the Gators a game-high eight-point lead, which also ended up as the margin of victory.

Florida utilized a total team effort to take down Los Angeles. Macklin finished the game with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting and three boards (two offensive), and freshman C Patric Young posted eight points, four rebounds and a pair of blocks in reserve minutes behind him. Senior F Alex Tyus contributed eight points as well as a career- and team-high 13 rebounds, and Murphy scored seven points on 3-of-4 shooting.

Walker and Boynton were responsible for all of the backcourt production, with Boynton scoring 12 points even though he was limited toward the end of the game after injuring his ankle coming down from a three-pointer. Parsons and Boynton each posted a team-high five assists with Parsons also adding seven points and five boards.

The Bruins saw four players score in double figures with Smith and F Reeves Nelson each contributing a team-high 16 points; Nelson also notched a team-high 11 rebounds. Honeycutt scored 13 and hit three of his six attempts from downtown, while G Malcom Lee added 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Though the differential was two-to-one in the first half, UF and UCLA each grabbed 30 rebounds. The Gators outshot the Bruins 50.0 percent to 41.8 percent from the floor and 42.9 percent to 23.1 percent from downtown. Florida was also faced with a 5-15 free throw disparity early but saw a 12-10 advantage in the second half.

UF will face the winner of BYU/Gonzaga (to be contested Saturday at 7:55 p.m.) in regional semifinals action on March 24. Additional information forthcoming.

Photo Credit: Chris O’Meara/Associated Press

2011 NCAA Tournament: (2) Florida vs. (7) UCLA

Event: 2011 NCAA Tournament – Round of 32
Location: St. Pete Times Forum – Tampa, FL [Capacity: 20,500]
Time: 2:45 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS / CBSHD
Online Video: —->
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(2) FLORIDA GATORS (7) UCLA BRUINS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Ben Howland
Record: 27-7 Record: 23-10
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Pac-10
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -5; O/U 135

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida is making its second-straight and 16th overall NCAA Tournament appearance. The Gators are 30-13 all-time in the event with two national titles, three championship game appearances and four Final Four appearances.
» UCLA is making its 44th NCAA Tournament appearance. The Bruins are 99-46 all-time in the event and have the third-most wins behind North Carolina and Kentucky.
» UF’s No. 2 seed is their second-highest opening position in school history.
» Donovan is 23-8 all-time in the tournament including two national championships and three Final Four appearances. His .742 winning percentage at the Big Dance is fourth among active coaches and second all-time among SEC coaches. He is also the youngest active coach to win a national title (age 40 in 2006).
» Florida is 14-3 against the 2011 NCAA field and finished the regular season with the third outright SEC championship in school history (1989, 2007). The Gators have captured five overall SEC titles including four under Donovan (2000, 2001, 2007, 2011).
» The Gators and Bruins are meeting for just the third time in the history of the two programs. Florida is 2-0 in those match-ups, defeating UCLA in back-to-back seasons, first for the national championship in 2006 and then in the 2007 Final Four to eventually go on and win a second-straight title.
» Florida is 5-3 all-time in the St. Pete Times Forum (2-1 in the NCAA Tournament).
» UF is averaging a +14.3-point margin of victory in 23 tournament wins under Donovan.
» The Gators are 22-2 when holding an opponent under 70 points this year.
» Florida has won 19 of their last 23 games (and 11 of their last 13) including 16 against RPI top 100 teams. The Gators have not lost back-to-back contests since Feb. 2010.
» UF is 10-3 when senior forward Chandler Parsons takes 10+ shots from the field. He has moved into the top 20 in school history in scoring (1,412 points) and is one of only two active Division I players with over 1,300 points, 800 rebounds, 300 assists and 100 steals. He also became the sixth player in school history with 500+ career field goals.
» Florida bests UCLA in in three of four major national statistical categories. The Gators lead the Bruins in points per game 71.5-70.0 (98th-137th), rebounding 37.5-37.3 (49th-61st) and field goal percentage .462-.456 (51st-74nd); however, UCLA dishes more assists 14.6-13.7 (57th-106th). UF also sports a superior defense, holding opponents fewer points per game 62.6-65.8 while they grab more steals 6.0-5.5 and force more turnovers 12.7-12.1. Florida ranks 10th in RPI (.6353) and sixth in strength of schedule nationally compared to Los Angeles being 43rd (.5785) and 60th, respectively.

KNOW THE OPPONENT

Coming out of the Pac-10, No. 7-seed UCLA defeated No. 10-seed Michigan State 78-76 for the right to face Florida in the round of 32. The Bruins blew a 23-point lead by missing a ton of free throws towards the end of the game but were able to hold on for the victory. They finished second in their conference, just one game behind leader Arizona, with a 13-5 record. Prior to taking down MSU, the Bruins fell 76-59 to Oregon in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tournament. UCLA is 2-2 vs. top 25 opponents, defeating BYU and Arizona but falling to Villanova and Kansas.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Parsons…the 2011 SEC Player of the Year and a unanimous All-SEC First Team selection…who is averaging double-digit points (11.5) while leading the Gators with 7.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.
» Junior point guard Erving Walker…who was marred in a shooting slump but has rebounded and is still leading his team in scoring with 14.5 points per game while also leading the backcourt in both field goal percentage (.416) and three-point percentage (.387). Walker also leads Florida in both turnovers (81) and steals (38).
» Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton…who is arguably the Gators’ most talented player but was struggling with consistency shooting the ball. Boynton is hitting 38.3 percent from the field and 33.2 percent from beyond the arc; however, he is second in scoring with 14.1 points per game and makes a team-high 81.7 percent of his free throws.
» Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin…who is shooting a team-best 57.8 percent from the floor as a starter this season with most of his buckets coming inside the paint. He averages 11.3 points and 5.5 rebounds a game while being a major presence for UF.
» Senior F Alex Tyus…who is averaging career-lows in points, rebounds and field goal percentage and is the only starter who does not score in double digits. He averages just 8.6 points and 5.5 boards each game.
» Freshmen PG Scottie Wilbekin and C Patric Young…who are Florida’s primary reserves each averaging approximately 17.5 minutes per game. Wilbekin leads UF in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.33:1), while Young averages 3.4 points and 3.8 boards.
» UCLA F Reeves Nelson…who leads his team in scoring (13.9 points) and rebounding (9.0 boards) average this season. Nelson also shoots a team-high 57.3 percent from the floor and is second on the team in turnovers with 81 on the year.
» Bruins F Tyler Honeycutt…who averages 12.8 points and 7.3 rebounds per game in a team-high 34.9 minutes.
» UCLA C Joshua Smith…who scores 10.7 points and grabs 6.3 boards as a true freshman for the Bruins. Standing 6’10” and weighing 323 lbs., he will be the largest player on the court Saturday.

3/18: Muschamp’s thoughts from spring practice

With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2011 season on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp met the media late Friday to discuss how individual players are performing and the injury statuses of others. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his availability.

JENKINS ACCEPTS PLEA DEAL ON MARIJUANA CHARGE

Earlier in the day, senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins accepted a plea deal to resolve the misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession he was arrested for in January. Jenkins had adjudication withheld by the State Attorney’s Office (meaning he was technically found guilty of the crime but will not be convicted for it) and will close the matter by paying $316 in fines and expenses.

EXPLAINING THOMPSON’s ROLE

Following practice on Thursday, redshirt senior wide receiver Denote Thompson suggested that the preliminary depth chart released by the coaching staff on Monday may have had a misprint because it listed him as the primary F-11 receiver. Muschamp clarified Thompson’s responsibilities, noting that the F-11 is not always a slot position. “Depends on what formation we call,” he said.

“If we’re in regular personnel, 21 or 12, he’s going to be playing the X position. But when we’re in 11 personnel, he’ll be playing the X or the F position,” Muschamp added, noting that the every receiver position on the field can play both inside and outside. “We cross-train all the wide receiver positions so those guys – we can get the best three or four or two or one receiver on the field at a time.”

TALENT UP, WEIGHT DOWN

While discussing the team’s depth at running back, Muschamp was certain to point out two players who have already received high praise from his offensive coaches. “Chris Rainey’s done a nice job, and Trey Burton has [too],” he said. “After [them] we just need to have some guys step up. It’s hard in helmets to really [evaluate], but you see Mack [Brown]’s made a couple nice cuts here and there.”

However, Muschamp was less enthused to talk about the weight of junior tackle Xavier Nixon, who has recently appeared noticeably thinner. “You’re always either in a position of a guy’s in perfect weight, a guy’s overweight or a guy’s underweight. And he’s certainly not where we want him to be right now, but Xavier’s working hard at that. I’m proud of his efforts and what he’s trying to do.” he said.

INJURY UPDATES

– Redshirt junior T Matt Patchan (wrist): “Matt has been cleared for exercise but not contact. He has been cleared to lift. [He] will not have any contact this spring. He is lifting and we’re going to amp up that a little bit so he can get his strength back.”

– Redshirt senior guard James Wilson (knee): Called “very limited” though he is doing some reps on the field.

– Redshirt sophomore tight end Desmond Parks (wrist): Placed on medical hardship due to injury and no longer with the team

QUOTES

On his thoughts from practice Friday: “The timing in the passing game looked good today as far as hitting some balls. John [Brantley] threw some nice balls. […] There’s a lot of teaching going on, a lot of learning going on. A lot of learning about our tempo and how we want to do things.”

On redshirt freshman defensive end Chris Martin: “Chris is a guy that’s got some pass rushing ability. He can move his hands and feet in the rush. We’re expecting him to continue to grow as a football player, as a human being, and be a contributor for our team. How much? He will determine that, not us.”

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