FOUR BITS: Martin transfers, Haden, Caquatto

1 » For the third time in his post-high school career, former Florida Gators defensive end/linebacker Chris Martin is putting on a different uniform. According to the Palm Beach Post, Martin joined the Navarro College Bulldogs over the summer and is set to play defensive end for the team this fall. The former five-star recruit, who first enrolled at California before transferring to Florida and choosing to leave the team following his redshirt season in June, will likely look to go the Cam Newton-route and spend a year at Navarro before moving on to a more prominent program.

2 » The word “fan” is derived from the longer term “fanatic,” and perhaps no individual can stake a greater claim to that title than Don Crews, who was profiled by Florida Today in a piece over the weekend. Set to attend his 500th Florida game on Sept. 3 when UF takes on Florida Atlantic, Crews lives 171 miles away from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium but has managed to attend nearly every game since 1963.

3 » Much has been said about Cleveland Browns second-year cornerback Joe Haden truly embracing the city of Cleveland, OH ever since he was selected by the Browns with the No. 7 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft. A recent story by The Cleveland Plain Dealer dives into the topic even deeper. “What else would I be doing — sitting at home by myself?” Haden joked when asked why he does so much for his fans. “It’s all about giving back, and at the same time, it’s so much fun. […] It’s really easy to do, honestly. Even if I didn’t play football, I’d be doing all this stuff. I’m just trying to have a good time and make sure everyone knows I care about this city and appreciate the fans.”

4 » Congratulations are in store for Florida sophomore gymnast Mackenzie Caquatto, who finished in fourth place at the 2011 Visa Championships in the senior all-around competition and second place in the uneven bars on Saturday. Due to her placement in the all-around portion of the event, Caquatto earned a spot on the U.S. Senior National Team for the fourth-straight time.

Florida soccer starts 2-0 with two wins in Miami

With the triumphs of last year now in the rear-view mirror, it was up to No. 9 Florida Gators soccer to get the 2011-12 athletic season off with a bang. Florida (2-0) accomplished this feat over the weekend, defeating the Miami Hurricanes (0-1) and Florida International Golden Panthers (0-2) with a pair of 2-0 victories in Miami, FL.

The Gators opened the season on Friday against the Hurricanes and took it to their in-state rivals right from the get go. Sophomore forward Taylor Travis scored Florida’s first goal of the season at 37’, and freshman midfielder Havana Solaun tacked on another at 51’ to lead the Gators to victory.

Junior MF/F Erika Tymrak got the assist on both goals, setting up a cross for the first score and passing it from the top of the box to the left side for the second.

Before returning to Gainesville, FL for a week of practice, Florida stayed in town, took a day off and faced FIU on Sunday. Like their first match of the season, the Gators scored once in each half and came away with a 2-0 win.

Freshman F Tessa Andujar placed the first one in the net, converting a cross from senior defender Jazmyne Avant in the 40th minute. Joining her on the scoreboard was senior MF/F Tahnai Annis, who corralled a through pass from freshman MF Annie Speese and struck it in from 12 yards out at 63’.

Florida split up the goalkeeping duties over the weekend with senior Brooke Chancey (five saves) and freshman Taylor Burke (three saves) each registering a shutout while playing the full 90 minutes.

The Gators will continue their road trip with a pair of contests next weekend in Knoxville, TN. Florida will take on Texas A&M on Friday and UCLA on Sunday before returning to the University of Florida for a three-game homestand.

8/20: Muschamp discusses injuries, names position leaders, rewards walk-ons

With the Florida Gators now having completed training camp and headed into fall practice, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media early Saturday to provided updates on how the team is progressing on both sides of the ball heading into the 2011 season, which begins on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic.


As allegations from a Yahoo! Sports report suggesting he could have been involved in the illegal and illicit recruiting of players while with the Miami Hurricanes, Florida wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill received a vote of confidence from Muschamp on Saturday. “I’ve talked to Aubrey after the article came out. I feel very comfortable with he and I’s conversation,” he said. “I support Aubrey 100 percent. I’m glad he’s here at Florida, and that’s all I’m really going to comment on.”


Confirming a report from the Independent Florida Alligator, Muschamp noted that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown has indeed been out with a knee injury but is respected to return to practice next week. “I expect him probably next Wednesday or Thursday of next week,” Muschamp said.

He also said that redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley got the day off to rest his sore back and will return to action for the team’s scrimmage on Wednesday, while redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed returned to practice Saturday after missing 3-4 days for a sore hamstring. “[Brantley] has had a very productive camp,” he said. “We felt like Wednesday’s scrimmage was much more important as far as progressing our offense further to get ready for game plan than this one and if we needed to take a day off, [Saturday] was the best day to do it.”


Plenty of positions are up for grabs this fall due to graduations, players leaving early and the new coaching staff implementing difference schemes than a year ago. On Saturday, Muschamp explained that a few more starting jobs have been coming into focus over the last week of camp.

Senior punter David Lerner is currently set to start over freshman Kyle Christy. Lerner, a walk-on who learned in late July that he has Chron’s disease, has been practicing through the health issue and was put on scholarship by Muschamp this week. “Kyle Christy has done some really good things, has got a tremendous leg,” he said, “but David has punted consistently better.”

Redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan, who had been competing with redshirt freshman Chaz Green for the starting gig, has currently taken the lead and the chance to solidify the right side of the line.

With junior Xavier Nixon holding down the starting left tackle job, redshirt sophomore Kyle Koehne (who was backing him up) has been moved to left guard and quickly jumped ahead of redshirt freshman Ian Silberman and redshirt senior James Wilson, both of whom were competing for the position.

Florida’s starting offensive line (for now) consists of: LT Nixon, LG Koehne, C redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison, RG redshirt sophomore Jon Halapio, RT Patchan.


Three other Gators walk-ons in addition to Lerner earned scholarships from Muschamp this week. The coach informed redshirt sophomore safety Tim Clark, redshirt junior linebacker Scott Peek and senior OT/TE William Steinmann that they had all received the honor after performing well during the spring and summer. Muschamp, a former walk-on himself, described them as, “Four guys that have all been in our program for a number of years, have both demonstrated themselves well on-and-off-the-field, academically they’ve done an outstanding job.” Muschamp said they made the announcement in front of the team and it was very emotional for all involved.


» On practices being closed: “It was hot out there today. Ya’ll glad it was closed today?”

» Muschamp said the team got in a lot of good work in Saturday including stuff in the red zone, on third down and with all four special teams units. He said the band was at practice (so it was not totally closed) and the team worked an end-of-game scenario with 5:18 left on the clock. The Gators were in “full game day operation,” which Muschamp said resulted in a “very productive day.”

» The team will take pictures on Sunday and have its next scrimmage on Wednesday. Thursday and Friday are when the Gators will start preparations for the Florida Atlantic game on Sept. 3.

» Muschamp said sophomore safety Matt Elam had an interception on Saturday and is easily the most consistent player at his position. Everyone else has “shown flashes” but is still competing and trying to earn a spot.

» On the defensive line: “I really like our guys, but we don’t’ have any depth. […] I feel very good about our talent level; we just don’t have any depth.”

» On redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose’s recent improvement: “Andre made a nice catch on a deep ball today. Andre, really the last couple of days, has taken a step forward. […] I was very pleased with Andre today. He made a nice play on the side – well-covered, well-thrown ball. He just continues to show the consistency in his performance, and I’m very pleased.”

» On the AP Top 25 preseason poll: “I could care less about the poll.” When told the phrase is “couldn’t” care less: “I was never very good in English, I’ll be honest with ya.”

» On offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: “Charlie’s experience speaks for itself, and his track record – you all know that. From the standpoint of him working with the players is probably his strongest point. You really talk to people that played for him – whether it was at Notre Dame, New England or Kansas City – the players have a great respect for him because he’s all about the players. He’s hard on them, he’s tough on them, it’s tough love, but they have a great respect because he has answers when things don’t go right.”

» On closing practices to hide details: “That’s why we’ve closed everything. I do think it is an advantage for us this season. […] We put a wild rumor out there about Wildcat. […] That’s why we’ve closed things.”

» On redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar’s improvement this offseason: “The hardest thing for a young player is to consistently perform every day. You try to explain to them it’s your consistency in your performance [that’s important]. We’ve really challenged Quinton as far as, ‘OK, you want to be a starting receiver, I’m good with that. But to add your value as a player to this football team, you need to be on special teams.’ So when we have scout-look teams as far as our special teams, Quinton Dunbar’s the first guy that jumps in there if he’s not already on the special team. That to me shows tremendous strides and commitment to help our football team. He’s willing to go in there and give our guys a good look.”

» On comparisons between freshman QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett: “Well, I think they are very similar. They’re both athletic, big, strong, big arms, good decision makers. They both have a certain command about themselves as quarterbacks. Jeff’s probably a little more of a scrambler and a runner, as opposed to Jacoby. But they are very similar quarterbacks. Their skill set is very similar. Talking to Charlie about our plan as we move forward is – will be a very similar plan as far as gaming for them and putting them in situations to be successful.”

» On his demeanor at practice: “I’m just myself. There is a key to every young man and you have to find that key. I’m going to be who I am, and I don’t plan anything. I just kind of do what I do.”

» On freshmen playing early: “I always feel like the further your position is away from the ball, the better chance you got to play because your athleticism takes over quicker as opposed to you being close. I think it’s hard for offensive and defensive linemen – I’m not saying it’s impossible because I’ve had guys do it – to come in and play because the bodies are bigger, it’s a faster game, it’s a more complicated game than they’re used to.”

» On if he thinks the team is coming together: “I do. I’m cautiously optimistic when I say that form the standpoint of, what real adversity have we faced? I do think that we’ve battled through some tough practices heat, exhaustion, fatigue; I think we’ve managed that. I wouldn’t say we’ve passed with flying colors, but we’ve managed that. What’s going to happen when we get down 14-0? How are we going to respond to that? That’s when you find out a lot about your team.”

Gators at No. 22 in 2011 AP preseason poll

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners earned the No. 1 spot in the Associated Press preseason poll released Saturday with the Florida Gators being slotted in the bottom fifth of the rankings at No. 22.

Oklahoma received 36 of 60 possible first-place votes with Alabama (17), Oregon (4), LSU (1) and Boise State (2) rounding out the top five.

Other Southeastern Conference teams ranked by the AP this preseason include 2010 SEC East champion South Carolina (No. 12), Arkansas (No. 15), Georgia (No. 19), Mississippi State (No. 20) and 2010 SEC West champion Auburn (No. 23).

The Gators were ranked No. 23 by USA Today in their coaches preseason poll.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

Florida began the 2010 season at No. 4 in the AP top 25 and No. 3 in the USA Today poll but finished unranked after going 8-5 (4-4 SEC).

8/19: Thompson and Dunbar bond, Brantley’s progress, Hammond, Driskel, Brissett, Watkins

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


Though the news may not be so great for senior punter David Lerner on the health front, head coach Will Muschamp informed the walk-on Friday that he will be awarded a scholarship for his final season in the Orange & Blue. Lerner, who is competing with freshman Kyle Christy for the starting job, was said to have been emotional when learning of the team’s decision.

“I thought it was a great opportunity for him,” redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “He’s been here for a few years now and he’s worked his tail off. I’m just happy to see it because he’s such a good kid.”


The 2010 season is likely the most disappointed redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar will feel in an Orange & Blue uniform, but a strong friendship with redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson got him through the struggles and made him appreciative of the opportunity he has with the Gators. “Since I got on campus, Deonte grabbed me under his wing,” Dunbar said Friday. “That’s the only person I really hang around. We do everything together. He’s like my older brother. He teaches me route running, adjusting to the ball, just different things as a receiver.”

Part of the reason the relationship is so strong is that Dunbar leaned on Thompson to help him become a more consistent player after he was disappointed to learn that he would redshirt his freshman season. “Physically I was probably ready, but mentally I wasn’t ready,” Dunbar said, according to “I was immature. Some days I would come out wanting to practice, some days I didn’t. Some days I’d show up, some days I wouldn’t. So it was more of a maturity thing than a physical thing last year.”

Now Thompson, who sees himself as a leader this season as well as a mentor for his “little brother” Dunbar, hopes he can set a good example in his final year at Florida. “I’m not old, still young, but time is running out here,” he said.


Ask anyone the main difference between Brantley’s demeanor in 2010 and 2011 and the default word that is always pointed to his confidence. Placed in a system that did not best utilize his skill set and forced to lead a young team that had just lost many veteran playmakers, Brantley’s improvement this offseason both on- and off-the-field is widely agreed upon by his teammates.

“He’s having a great camp, doing real well and [being] a great leader,” Thompson said. “He’s taking control of the team, and it’s been like that all summer. I’d just say his swag and confidence is higher than they have been in the past.” Dunbar was even more specific. “From the spring, I felt like he was more comfortable, so coming into fall it was expected because he was more comfortable in the spring,” he said. “One thing I will say is he’s more vocal than last yaer. Last year he wasn’t really into it. This year I’d say he’s more into it. More vocal. More happier.”

Though Dunbar would not co-sign the lofty prediction by redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (who said that Brantley would be in the conversation for the Heisman Trophy), he did note that the signal caller is steadily improving. “He’s a work-in-progress,” he said. “He’s getting better each and every day, making his reads and making great throws. I won’t vouch for [the Heisman yet], but he’s getting better every day.” Dunbar also pointed to the fact that Brantley is not zoning in on one player but giving all of his teammates equal opportunities to help him out. “He’s throwing the ball in different places. He hits the tight ends and wide receivers, so he’s just feeding everyone,” he said. “He’s very confident in his offense and he’s very confident in [offensive coordinator Charlie] Weis and what Weis teaches him.”

For his part, Brantley is trying to lead by example and is obviously doing a good job based on the way his receivers react when his name is brought up. “We got a group of us leaders on offense and on defense. I consider myself one of those,” he said. “I just try to step up in practice every day and try to be that leader.”


With an extensive history of developing quarterbacks and helping them mature at a rapid rate, Weis once again has another reclamation project in Brantley and, from how things sound early on, may very well already be succeeding. Brantley, who said Weis doesn’t yell but likes to “do his thing,” considers him “an all-around great coach. He knows when you can laugh a little bit in the meeting room to break everything up. He knows when to be serious.”

Though Weis is “very demanding” (“If a ball is just a little high, he’s telling us to get it down even if it’s a completed pass. He expects perfection, and that’s what great coaches do.”), Brantley notes that his impact on his game has been monumental already. “He’s a great coach, a real smart guy. I learn something new every day in that film room,” he said. “It’ll be the same play but he’ll pick out something new to teach us with. That’s what makes it interesting and fun to go in there and keep learning.”

One lesson Weis has taught Brantley is to pick himself up if he makes a mistake, brush his shoulder pads off and get ready for the next series. Redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond has noticed that Brantley is more comfortable, relaxed and settled in the pocket and can tell Weis’s lessons are already paying dividends. “He takes control,” Hammond said of Brantley. “Whether we’re progressing or it’s a bad [play], he just regroups and has short-term memory, moves on to the next play.”


Just like how “confidence” is a key word when players talk about Brantley, “progress” is used whenever the names of freshman QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are brought up. Below are some specific thoughts on the two young signal callers from their teammates.

Brantley: “They’ve done a great job. They’ve made a lot of progress also this camp. With helping them also helps me understand everything. I’m just glad I can be there to help them, and I’m happy to see that they’re progressing so well. […] [Brissett is] a little confused and everything but that’s normal. He’s worked really hard. He’s studied his playbook and when he goes in there and gets his reps, he does a fine job. […] Jeff, he does a little more mentally prepared just because he was here during the spring. Coach Weis puts them in good situation – plays they know they can run and everything. He keeps testing them each day and they keep doing well.”

Dunbar: “They both are working, getting better. I see a lot of potential in both of them. Both got mobility, so they’re getting better. They’re both the same – both of them got mobility, got nice arms – can throw the ball deep. Both of them are going to be good players here.”

Hammond: “Both of them are pretty much on-point. Being that Jacoby got here in the summer, he has to pick it up a little bit quicker, but he’s picking it up. Being that Driskel came in the spring, he has a little bit of a jump start, so he’s a little bit more comfortable with it. They’re both progressing and moving forward. […] If you ask me, they’re similar quarterbacks, just because they’re a little bit more mobile, they can scramble and get out of the pocket and make more things happen with their feet. It definitely brings a different type of style to the offense.”


» Thompson on if he has a nickname for being one of the older players: “The only person that gives us a hard time is Coach Weis. He gives me and [Chris] Rainey a hard time every day, says we’re the old guys and were playing college ball when he was in college.”

» Sophomore safety Jaylen Watkins on Muschamp being tough on the secondary: “He just tells us if we mess up, then it’s a touchdown. If the D-line messes up, we can cover them. We have nobody to cover us, so we have to be right on point.”

» Watkins on freshman De’Ante Saunders’s work at safety: “He looks pretty natural. Pop’s a good tackler, so if you can tackle and play corner, obviously you can cover.”

» Watkins on adjusting from cornerback to safety: “Just being more vocal. You have to be vocal; you have to know a lot. You can’t mess up. You play a bigger role in the defense.”

» Watkins on if the secondary’s communication is improving: “We’re pretty young on the back end, so it’s coming along pretty good. The past couple of days we’ve had great communication and great adjustment. The more we get the defense, the more vocal we get. All of us are starting to get it and become one, so that’s when we talk more.”

» Hammond on how long it took him to become consistent: “It just takes time. Coming off of my redshirt sophomore year when I was just basically playing special teams, I wanted to focus on catching and becoming a better all-around receiver. Coming off that year, I just tried to focus on that. I’ve just been getting better and progressing at it every day. All of us try as a whole, as receivers, to focus on being consistent and not have any drops at all. Nobody’s perfect and there’s always somewhere you can critique and get better at.”

» Hammond on specializing in pass blocking on the edges: “Blocking helps because it’s more than just catching the ball and scoring touchdowns. To be a good football team, you have to establish the run game. Part of that is springing plays – those big 60-yard runs – that contributes to a receiver blocking down field. I understand that’s a great deal of our offense and that’s what keeps things moving and opens up things for the passing game as well. So I focus on blocking just as well as catching the ball.”

FOUR BITS: Moore, Tebow, soccer, interviews

1 » Former Florida Gators running back Kestahn Moore received some good news Thursday evening when he learned that the Tennessee Titans decided to sign him and bring him into camp as a free agent. Moore, who was signed with Kansas City in training camp a year ago and was worked out by Tennessee last November, is back with the team on a trial basis and could play as soon as Saturday against St. Louis. He told The Tennessean that he originally thought he was heading to Nashville, TN just to work out for the team. “That’s why you have to stay ready and working out,” he said. “I’ve got a chance now and I am ready.”

2 » Speaking with the Associated Press on Thursday, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow found humor in the alleged $5,000 bounty placed on his head by a Miami Hurricanes booster. “I didn’t know about that,” Tebow said. “It’s funny, though.” Tebow, who said he had “good memories” from his one game against Miami, is confident that no one went after him during the game. “That’s never what you want in sports. You’re playing to win,” he said. “You go hard. I mean, it’s a violent game, people get hit, people get hurt. But to go out there and purposely try to hurt someone? I don’t believe in that at all. That’s not why we play the game. So, that’s unfortunate if some people would go [such extremes]. But I don’t think all the Miami Hurricanes went out there trying to hurt me or anything because I had quite a few friends, as well. So, I think there were a lot of good players on that team, good kids on that team.”

3 » Just like the volleyball team, Florida soccer received plenty of praise from Southeastern Conference coaches this week. Surveyed in preseason poll, 11 of the 12 league coaches chose the Gators to win the 2011 SEC title. Additionally, two Florida soccer players – senior midfielder/forward Tahnai Annis and redshirt junior defender Kathryn Williamson – were named to the watch list for the 2011 Hermann Trophy, the highest individual award in NCAA soccer.

4 »

Over the last few weeks, OGGOA has conducted a number of interviews and posted them throughout the site. Due to the large amount of content posted each day, we wanted to make sure you did not miss any of them. Below are all of the the interviews that have been conducted since early July. A list of all of our exclusive interviews is available as a widget on the right sidebar of every page.

- Defensive lineman Kevin CarterPart I | Part II
The three-time SEC champion, first-team All-SEC member, first-team All-American selection, No. 6 overall draft pick, two-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl champion and UF Athletic Hall of Fame member spoke to us about his time with the Gators, extensive NFL career, charity work and new job as a television analyst while also providing some unique insight on head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

– Center/forward Al Horford8/17/11
The two-time national champion and two-time NBA All-Star, who was also a member of the 2008 NBA All-Rookie Team caught up with OGGOA for the second time to discuss his new contract, relationship with the Oh Fours, thoughts on the NBA lockout and decision to play for the Dominican Republic National Team.

– Punter Chas Henry8/12/11
Just days after being signed as an undrafted free agent by the Philadelphia Eagles, Henry spoke with us about NFL lockout ending, his fantastic opportunity in Philadelphia, winning the Ray Guy Award and, of course, his game-winning field goal against Georgia.

– Forward DeLisha Milton-Jones7/8/11
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, two-time WNBA champion and two-time Euroleague champion who is also a two-time WNBA All-Star, was a No. 4 overall draft pick and was up for inclusion on her league’s Top 15 Players of All-Time list, Milton-Jones talked with OGGOA student correspondent Nicole Boyett about her time at Florida, extensive career, desire to come back and help the lady Gators and more.

Florida Gators basketball’s 2011-12 schedule

Florida Gators basketball announced the team’s 2011-12 schedule on Thursday. In non-conference action, Florida will face six opponents who took part in the 2011 NCAA Tournament while also participating in four events scattered throughout the country – the Global Sports Shootout, Florida Citrus Sports Shootout, BIG EAST/SEC Challenge and Orange Bowl Basketball Classic.

During Southeastern Conference competition, the Gators will play 11 games on national television including the conference’s season finale.

Below is the team’s complete 2011-12 schedule:

Date/TimeGator BaitResult
11/13 at 9:30 pm (CBSSN)vs. Navy (Md.)Veterans'
11/16 at 8:00 pm (SECN+)vs. N.C. A&TTip-Off
11/21 at 2:30 pm (ESPN3)at St. Joseph'sTip-Off
11/22 at TBA (TBA)vs. TBA (Ct.)Tip-Off
11/25 at 3:00 pm (SECN)vs. Vermont (Ct.)Tip-Off
11/27 at 6:30 pm (SECN)vs. FGCU
12/1 at 7:00 pm (SECN)vs. Richmond
12/8 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)at Miami
12/12 at 6:00 pm (ESPN2)at Michigan State
12/19 at 4:00 pm (FS1)vs. Okla. StateOBBC
12/22 at 7:00 pm (SECN+)vs. Jacksonville
12/29 at 7:00 pm (ESPN2)vs. Florida State
1/30 at 12:00 pm (ESPN/2)vs. West VirginiaSEC-Big 12


» Donovan’s son, Billy Donovan, Jr., is a guard for Catholic University.
» Ohio State won the Big Ten Championship in 2010-11.
» Florida will play four games in the state of Florida but not in Gainesville.
» As OGGOA first reported on April 28, the Gators’ participation in the GSS is part of a five-team “tournament” featuring a collection of games played at different arenas.
» Florida will play in the FCSS for the second-straight season; UF lost to Central Florida in the series’ inaugural game at the Amway Arena last season.
» Twelve teams each from the Big East and SEC will each compete in the BIG EAST/SEC Challenge from Dec. 1-3.
» Transfer guard Mike Rosario will square-off against the team he left, Rutgers.
» It is the fourth-straight year the Gators will play a non-conference opponent on Jan. 3 (3-0) and second-straight year they will play one on New Years Eve day.
» Florida will appear on national television at least 13 times this season.
» The Gators will face two pairs of SEC opponents in three-day spans. Florida will go to Ole Miss on Jan. 26 before playing Mississippi State at home on Jan. 28 and will host South Carolina on Feb. 2 before Vanderbilt comes to town on Feb. 4.
» UF will play nine games in February (28 days) but compete just seven times in January (31 days). The Gators usually play seven games in February and have not played more than eight since at least the 1998-99 season.
» Florida’s will face Kentucky on Senior Day, a game that is also the SEC’s final regular season contest of the season.
» This will be the first SEC regular season without the conference utilizing divisions. Nevertheless, the Gators will play their traditional SEC East opponents twice (home-and-home) and SEC West opponents once.
» Florida has a three-game conference home stretch from Jan. 28 to Feb. 4 and never plays more two consecutive games on the road (Feb. 14 and 18, Feb. 25 and 28).
» The 2011 SEC Tournament will take place from March 8-11 in New Orleans, LA.

8/18: Christian comfortable, defense making adjustments, Lerner dealing with Crohn’s

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


It may have taken a talented freshman to go down for him to get more playing time, but redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian is happy to have the opportunity and plans to make the most of it. “You don’t want to wish injuries upon people, but since there have been injuries I’ve had to fill a bigger role, take more snaps in practice and show what I can do. I feel like it gave me more of an opportunity,” he said.

Moved to linebacker in the spring to help the team improve its depth, Christian was transitioned back to tight end at the end of those practice periods and has not been back since. “It was tough but after spring ball, they told me they wanted me to be more on the offensive side, so I’ve been good now,” he said.

With offensive coordinator Charlie Weis using the two tight end set “a lot,” Christian knows the time is now for him to make an impact. “I’ve just been busting my butt every day trying to make plays and show them that I can contribute to the team,” he said.


Head coach Will Muschamp’s defensive mantra has already been engrained in his players’ heads. “We just want to be physical – physical up front – we want to stop the run and play great defense,” junior linebacker Jon Bostic said when asked about the unit’s goals on Thursday.

As Muschamp has related previously, the strength of the defense will start in the trenches, and Bostic believes that similarities with the team’s schemes under former defensive coordinators Charlie Strong and Teryl Austin are helping the players adjust quickly. “Most of the stuff carried over from the two defenses in the past,” he said. “A lot of the concepts that we ran before were pretty much brought over to this defense. One more thing is that we’re going to be a lot more aggressive coming after the quarterback.”

To that end, Muschamp was critical of the defense’s consistency in the pass rush. Bostic echoed those sentiments with parallel thoughts. “We just got to have guys coming out day after day with their assignments,” he said. “We can’t come out one day be a dominant pass rusher, the next day not be a dominant pass rusher. We need the whole front seven out there; even the safeties are coming on blitzes, too. Everybody has got to be able to get home.”

Bostic also realizes that the entire defense needs to be on the same page and praised sophomore safety Matt Elam for his improved communication during fall practice. “Everybody’s got to work together, so we need the guys on the back end to be on the same page as the front seven. We all go tot communicate,” he said.

“Matt was always one of those guys who was kind of quiet on the back end; they needed him really to step up. These two-a-days, he’s really stepped up. With some guys going down and some position switching, every guy has had to keep everyone on the same page. Matt’s been doing a great job of getting the new safeties that have moved into that position into the right look.”


Diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in late July after he began feeling sick around the 22nd of the month, senior punter David Lerner’s primary job – aside from getting the ball down the field – is staying hydrated and eating as much as he can whenever he can.

Down 15 pounds since being diagnosed, Lerner is pleased that team doctors were able to figure out his health issue quickly. “Within a week I knew I had Crohn’s,” he said. “The athletic training team and the doctors did an amazing job really helping me out. Within five days I knew what was going on and sometimes it can take literally months for people to find out that kind of stuff.”

Lerner received the support of the coaching staff, trainers and his teammates immediately, something that helped him get through a very scary episode in his life. “I didn’t have to really convince them at all to stay on the team,” he explained. “Two days after I got diagnosed, Coach called me and said, ‘Whatever you need we’ll get for you. We want you.’ He was very supportive in that. I was definitely depressed with everything that was going on, and that definitely gave me some hope.

“I was definitely very worried at first [that I might not be able to play], but then the doctor, Coach Muschamp, the training staff and really all the coaches were just very supportive and helpful. It was very, very emotionally helpful for me.”


» Christian on how the offense as a whole is doing: “Every area needs improvement – all positions can use improvement – but the offense we have has been clicking as team. We’re coming together and getting better every day.”

» Christian on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley: “Right now Brantley, he’s been here the longest, he knows the offense the best and has more experience than everybody else. I’m not knocking the other quarterbacks; they’re good, too. I see Brantley as the starter the first game.”

» Christian on freshman QB Jeff Driskel: “Jeff is good, too. Jeff is really good. It’s good that we have younger players stepping up. I feel like if anything happens that he can fill the role. I trust him. […] He’s made a big improvement. He looks really good.”

» Christian on redshirt sophomore TE Jordan Reed: “He’s just real athletic, he’s a real athletic kid.”

» Christian on the tight end drills: ”We have Coach [Derek] Lewis, and he emphasizes a lot on us pads low, hand placement, keep your feet moving. When we first go through it, that’s all we do – blocking stuff. He’s trying to get us good and effective.”

» Bostic on how running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey compare and contrast: “Rainey is probably the more elusive one out of the two, he’s probably the better route runner. Demps, you give him a seam and he’s gone. He’s starting to pick up some of the elusiveness from Rainey, but both of them are pretty much similar.”

» Bostic on junior LB Dee Finely: “Dee Finely is a guy who moved from the safety position, and he’s done very well. He’s picked up a lot of things in these two-a-days, too.”

» Bostic on freshman S Chris Johnson, who is also playing some linebacker: “You can tell he’s an athlete. He’s just got a nose for the ball and can find the ball very well. He’s still new to the position, so he’s learning a lot out there. […] He’s one of those guys that can play both. He’s just got a head for the ball. He loves to hit, and I think that’s one of the reasons they brought him down in the box, because he’s real aggressive.”

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