FOUR BITS: volleyball, soccer, swimming, lax win

1 » No. 3 Florida Gators volleyball (12-1, 5-0 SEC) continued its dominant 2010 season over the weekend with back-to-back home wins against the No. 16 LSU Tigers (13-1, 4-1 SEC) on Friday and Arkansas Razorbacks (9-8, 3-3 SEC) on Sunday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida took down LSU 3-1 (25-16, 20-25, 25-22, 25-18) and swept Arkansas 3-0 (25-19, 25-13, 25-17) with the help of juniors right-side setter Kelly Murphy and outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel. Murphy logged 10 aces and 21 kills combined in the two matches, while Jaeckel bested her with 22 kills (11 per contest). The Gators are now 8-1 against ranked opponents this season.

2 » No. 6 Florida soccer (10-1-1, 4-0 SEC) also kept its winning ways going on Sunday, defeating the Ole Miss Rebels (5-7-1, 1-3 SEC) 3-0 at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville to win their 10th match of the season. Redshirt senior goalkeeper Katie Fraine played the full 90 minutes and notched two saves as the Gators scored as the result of an own goal (21’), shot into the near post by senior defender Nicky Kit (74’) and one-touch strike from redshirt sophomore midfielder McKenzie Barney (90’).

3 » Florida’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams both won the All Florida Invitational over the weekend. In the first-ever instance of the event, the Gators won the men’s and women’s team categories by 259 and 184.5 points, respectively. Senior captain Connor Dwyer won eight men’s events both as an individual – 200-yard individual medley, 100-yard butterfly, 100-yard breaststroke and 100-yard freestyle, and member of a team – 200-yard freestyle relay, 400-yard freestyle relay, 800-yard freestyle relay and 200-yard medley relay.

4 » Also in action Saturday was Florida lacrosse (2-0), which began its second fall season in team history with two wins over the Jacksonville Dolphins (23-5) and Rollins Tars (25-8). 2009 star sophomore attacker Ashley Bruns along with junior A Caroline Cochran and sophomore midfielders Caroline Chesterman and Kitty Cullen each scored four goals during the contests with Bruns also posting four assists.

Extra BIT » Every Monday is “Music Monday” on Twitter, but this week that is true for OGGOA as well. Check out the song and music video: “Gator Like Me” by Big Uly.

Bulls, Noah agree to five-year, $60M extension

Former Florida Gators center Joakim Noah, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft, agreed in principle to a five-year, $60 million extension with the Chicago Bulls over the weekend.

The winner of back-to-back national championships at the University of Florida, Noah’s new deal includes a number of added bonuses, according to ESPN The Magazine’s Ric Bucher who spoke with Dan Fegan, one of Noah’s agents.

“Joakim is such an integral member of our team, and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement with him,” team general manager Gar Forman said in a statement on Monday. “His presence, both on and off of the court, is immeasurable and we look forward to him to continue to improve and develop his game.”

Only playing 22 minutes per game during his first two seasons in the league, Noah posted averages of 6.7 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks, leading many to believe he may have been overrated coming out of college.

That all turned around last year as Noah averaged 10.7 points, 11 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 30.1 minutes per game while playing through a nagging plantar fasciitis injury.

The Bulls now covet him as the team’s literal centerpiece for the future. In fact, Chicago turned down overtures for Noah from the Denver Nuggets, which hoped the team would include him as a piece in a trade for All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Loss drops Florida in USA Today, AP Top 25 polls

Trounced 31-6 to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide on the road at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Saturday, the Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) fell in both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls.

Ranked No. 7 in both polls last week, the coaches dropped Florida five spots to No. 12 leaving them as the highest-ranked one-loss team. The AP voters obviously disagreed, placing the Gators at No. 14 behind one-loss Arkansas (No. 11) and Miami (No. 13).

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)

USA TODAY
Last Week 1-10: Alabama (57), Ohio State (2), Boise State, Oregon, TCU, Nebraska, Florida, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, LSU

This Week 1-15: Alabama (57), Ohio State (1), Oregon, Boise State, TCU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Auburn, LSU, Utah, Arizona, Florida, Arkansas, Miami, Iowa

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Last Week 1-10: Alabama (57), Ohio State (2), Boise State (1), Oregon, TCU, Nebraska, Florida, Oklahoma, Stanford, Auburn

This Week 1-15: Alabama (58), Ohio State (1), Oregon, Boise State (1), TCU, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Auburn, Arizona, Utah, Arkansas, LSU, Miami, Florida, Iowa

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

Week 5: Gators post-game news and notes

After a slow start to the season, the No. 7/7 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) performed spectacularly against Kentucky last week, only to play their worst game of the season Saturday in a 31-6 loss to the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) on the road at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes.

SECOND-WORSE LOSS SINCE…ALABAMA

The 31-6 beat down by the Crimson Tide on Saturday was Gators head coach Urban Meyer‘s worst loss since his team fell in similar fashion 31-3 in Tuscaloosa in 2005. In addition to both games having been road contests in Alabama, each were the only times under Meyer that Florida has failed to score a touchdown in a game.

BURTON THE HERO ZERO; BRANTLEY’s FAILURES

No, freshman quarterback Trey Burton did not play awful. In fact, as a receiver he caught four solid passes for 33 yards. But one week after being absolutely everything for the Gators, Burton was comparatively nothing, especially when throwing an interception on the goal line on 4th and 1 to conclude the Florida’s first offensive series of the game.

He was not alone as, one week after the best starting performance of his career, redshirt junior QB John Brantley was also brought back to Earth. Brantley completed just over half of his passes for 202 yards but threw two costly interceptions including one which was returned for a touchdown to ice any chance of a comeback by the Gators. Brantley also injured his ribcage in the fourth quarter trying to evade pass rushers and gain a 4th down on a pretty inconsequential play. He is expected to be fine.

TIDE’s RUSHERS STIFF-ARMED

Florida’s defense made it their primary goal to contain Alabama running backs Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, one of the few things the Gators actually accomplished Saturday night. Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Ingram was limited to 47 yards on 12 carries, though he did get into the end zone on two short-yardage touchdowns, and Richardson rushed 10 times for 63 yards with a long of 30 that inflated his statistics.

BETTER BUT NOT IMPROVED IN SECOND HALF

Of note is that the Gators actually outplayed the Crimson Tide in the second half, especially when you look at yards gained on offense. However, Florida was unable to gain large chunks of yardage, had too many plays fail and made costly mistakes that did not allow them to take advantage of their improved play. Alabama’s only score of the half was Brantley’s interception return, and Tide QB Greg McElroy was held to 84 yards the entire game (though he did complete 11-of-17 passes).

MVP FOR HENRY

Filling in for injured junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (who was 2-of-4 this season on field goals), senior punter Chas Henry was perfect on the night knocking through both of his attempts. Henry kicked a nice 39-yarder to end the first half and a 21-yard field goal in the beginning of the third quarter. He also punted the ball three times for 187 yards (62.3 average) including a long of 75 and two inside the 20.

QUOTES (After the break…)
Continue Reading » Week 5: Gators post-game news and notes

No. 1 Tide topple No. 7 Gators 31-6 in Tuscaloosa

The rubber match of the last two Southeastern Conference Championship games was expected to be a heavyweight battle. Instead, the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0, 2-0 SEC) showed their might with a 31-6 victory over the No. 7/7 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL, on Saturday evening.

Scoring on their first four offensive possessions, Alabama took a 24-0 lead over Florida halfway into the second quarter. The Crimson Tide scored a field goal on their opening drive and intercepted a pass from Gators freshman quarterback Trey Burton on the following possession in the end zone on fourth down.

Alabama would then get on the board with back-to-back rushing touchdowns from Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram in the second quarter, also scoring on a 19-yard pass from wide receiver Marquis Maze to tight end Michael Williams with 6:09 left in the first half. Maze’s touchdown pass came after redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley threw his second interception of the season to cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on 3rd and 11 from Florida’s 27.

Gators senior punter Chas Henry, filling in for junior kicker Caleb Sturigs, ended the second quarter with a 39-yard field goal and opened the third quarter with a 21-yard field goal to give Florida its only points of the contest.

Down 24-6 halfway through the third quarter, Brantley threw another interception, this one to linebacker C.J. Mosely on 2nd and 5 from Florida’s 33 yard line, which Mosely returned for a touchdown to give Alabama its 31-6 lead.

Even with the Gators’ poor execution, the offense outperformed the Crimson Tide’s 281-273. Brantley was 16-of-31 for for 202 yards compared to Alabama QB Greg McElroy’s 11-of-17 performance for 84 yards. Ingram was held to 47 yards on 12 carries, though RB Trent Richardson ran for 63 yards on 10 touches. Florida RB Jeff Demps carried the ball 11 times for 47 yards, and redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson led the Gators with 60 yards on three receptions.

Hoping to rebound from their worst performance of the season, the Gators will take on the No. 10 LSU Tigers (5-0, 3-0 SEC) in Gainesville, FL, next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m., and the game will air live on ESPN.

Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

No.7 Florida Gators at No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Location: Bryant–Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, AL [Capacity: 101,821]
Weather Forecast: 67°F, clear skies
Time: 8:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 122/143
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

No. 7 FLORIDA GATORS No. 1 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 4-0 (2-0) Record: 4-0 (1-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Alabama -8; O/U 48

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida has won 24 consecutive regular season games, 13-straight road games and 16 regular season SEC games in a row. Combined with Alabama, the duo have combined to win 52-straight regular season games. The teams have also won three of the last four national titles and have two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners.
» UA is 21-14 all-time against UF, holding a 6-5 lead in the series at Tuscaloosa. The Gators and Crimson Tide are an even 8-8 in the state of Alabama and have split the last two SEC Championship games with Florida winning in 2008.
» The Gators are 4-10-2 against defending national champions all-time, 3-2-1 since 1990, 4-6 when the team is from the SEC (3-0 since 1993). Florida is also 3-7 against Associated Press No. 1-ranked teams all-time and 2-1 in those contests under Meyer.
» The Gators lead the nation with 12 interceptions through three games. Their +8 turnover margin is tied for fourth in the country.
» For the third time in four games this season, Florida got a defensive touchdown via an interception return against Kentucky. UF has recorded at least two interceptions in every game this year, four coming from outside the secondary.
» Alabama (11.3) and Florida (12.8) are ranked first and second in the SEC (second and fourth, respectively, in the nation) in fewest points allowed per game since 2009.
» The Gators have the best red zone touchdown percentage in the SEC since 2007 (156/226 – 69%) and have the best red zone scoring defense in the nation (59/82 – 72%) in that same time period.
» Florida has gone 14-for-14 in the red zone over the last two games with 13 touchdowns and a field goal. The Gators’ red zone efficiency is 89.5 percent on the season including 16 touchdowns and one field goal.
» UF has scored 30+ points in five straight games, the longest active streak in the SEC.
» Florida has committed a nation-low 87 turnovers since 2005 and has had 24 games in which they did not give up a single turnover (best in the nation). Alabama is ranked third in the nation, only having given up 90 turnovers in the same time span.
» The Crimson Tide’s defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38-straight games.
» Gators redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan attended Armwood High School (Tampa, FL) with the Crimson Tide’s Petey Smith.
» Florida redshirt senior left tackle Marcus Gilbert and freshman wide receiver Solomon Patton both attended St. Thomas Aquinas high school (Fort Lauderdale, FL) along with Alabama’s Nick Williams.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who threw 156 consecutive passes without an interception and has a 16-2 TD/INT ratio while playing for the Gators. He set career-highs in completions (24), attempts (35) and yards (248) vs. Kentucky.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game last week. Burton has eight scores on the season and has been working extensively out of the Wildcat formation while also playing H-back, WR, tight end, fullback and special teams.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who has led the Gators in rushing in every game this season with totals of 98, 139, 73 and 57 yards. He ran the ball a career-high 26 times two weeks ago against Tennessee and left the Kentucky game early with a sprained foot. Demps is also No. 2 in the SEC with a 32.5-yard kick return average.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson…who set a career-high in yardage (86) for the second time this season last week. As Brantley’s primary pass catcher, 16 of Thompson’s 18 catches this season have been for first downs.
» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore…who is improving each week. After catching two first downs against Tennessee, Moore notched four more on four catches against Kentucky.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted eight balls this season. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) and are leading the way for the unit. Brown returned one for a touchdown last week, and Black is tops on the team with 30 tackles on the year while also being the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233). Jenkins leads the SEC with seven passes defended.
» Sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic…who has nabbed three interceptions in four games (all in UF territory) and been a tackling machine (20 in the last three contests).
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who has not only been Florida’s most valuable special teams player but will also be handling all kicking duties for the Gators for the foreseeable future with junior kicker Caleb Sturgis out of action.
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard…who had one of the best games of his career against Kentucky and will pay tribute to deceased walk-on defender Lamar Abel by wearing his No. 62 jersey.

» Alabama’s “Start Fast – Finish Strong”…which is a motto held by the team that has been utilized extensively this year. The Crimson Tide have a 56-16 edge in the first quarter and a 31-3 advantage against opponents in the fourth quarter this season.
» Crimson Tide RB Mark Ingram…who has 12 100-yard performances in his career and is second on his team with 33 carries for 308 yards and four touchdowns after missing the first two games of the season.
» Alabama RB Trent Richardson…who leads his team with 47 carries for 356 yards and four touchdowns.
» Crimson Tide WR Julio Jones…who leads his unit in receptions (20), yards (303) and touchdowns (2). The team has three receivers with double-digit catches this season.
» Alabama QB Greg McElroy…who has yet to lose a game as a starter in college (18-0) and is 34-0 dating back to his senior year of high school. McElroy has not lost a game since the 8th grade. He has thrown 70.9 percent of his passes for completions this year with 899 yards, seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
» Crimson Tide S Robert Lester…who leads the SEC with four interceptions.

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Game-time decision – Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot)
Out – Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan

Inactives
(Will update closer to game time)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators are set to be heavily featured in during ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. Even though the “World Wide Leader in Sports” did not choose to host the event in Tuscaloosa on Saturday, Florida and Alabama will be given an entire segment during the main program. There will be a “rivalry revisited” look at the recent history between the two teams and how the series has played out over the last few years, columnist Pat Forde will take a look at the game, and Desmond Howard, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit will talk about UF’s defense. The Crimson Tide will also receive a feature on McElroy, while the Gators get one on Burton. Chris Fowler, Herbstreit and Corso will conclude by discussing the Gators’ chances of an upset while making picks at the end of the show. [Notes in this section are as of press time.]

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators at Alabama Crimson Tide preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » No.7 Florida Gators at No.1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Track the Florida Gators en route to Tuscaloosa

The No. 7/7 Florida Gators are on their way to Tuscaloosa, AL, to face the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide in their biggest regular season game of the 2010-11 season. An ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive EXCLUSIVE, the following is the flight information for the Gators, who are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 twin-jet. You can also track the flight live while it is in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (KBHM)

DURATION: 58 minutes

DEPARTURE: 5:27 p.m. EDT [scheduled 5:00 p.m. EDT]
ARRIVAL: 5:25 p.m. CDT [scheduled 5:09 p.m. CDT]

BREAKING NEWS: No. 7 Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis expected out Saturday at No. 1 Alabama

No. 7/7 Florida Gators junior kicker Caleb Sturgis is “not expected to play” Saturday against the No. 1/1 Alabama Crimson Tide after aggravating a back injury, a source close to the team confirmed to OGGOA on Friday.

Senior punter Chas Henry will handle all of the Gators’ offensive kicking assignments for the foreseeable future. He kicked field goals with the team “all week,” our source said, and will be supplemented by freshman K Brad Phillips on kickoffs. Phillips converted 90 percent of his kickoffs into touchbacks in high school.

Henry should be able to handle the additional duties respectably. He was the punter and kicker for four years at East Paulding High School in Dallas, GA, and made a school-long 52-yard field goal his junior year.

Sturgis’ injury, which has been called a stress fracture by WKMG Local 6 reporter David Pingalore (who first reported the story), could land him out of action for up to two months. OGGOA‘s source said there was not yet a definitive timetable for his return.

Florida’s starting kicker was 2-for-4 on field goal attempts this season missing from 44-yards against Miami (OH) and 39-yards against South Florida; Sturgis made from 22-yards vs. USF and 44-yards at Tennessee. He also missed an extra point (vs. Miami) and had another blocked (vs. Kentucky).

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