The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 20

Couple thousand student season tickets remain unsold

Attendance at sporting events is a growing problem across the nation, and the Florida Gators have been attempting to do whatever they can to try and address the issue in order to reach full capacity at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium each week.

Florida has wired the stadium to drastically improve cellular phone reception (though high-speed wireless internet, at a cost of about $3 million, has not yet been implemented throughout the stadium), begun offering more affordable tickets to recent graduates, opened spring and fall practices to all comers and even formed a council of boosters and students to ensure the program is doing everything it can to get its tickets sold.

UF also worked with the Southeastern Conference and its television partners to ensure that its early-season games were played in the late afternoon or evening, rather than the grueling early-afternoon heat.

Unfortunately for the Gators, the problem has only continued to grow. What was once limited to declining season ticket sales from boosters, those unwilling to spend thousands of dollars to get a couple of seats in The Swamp on Sunday, has now jumped across the field to the student section.

A Florida spokesman told OnlyGators.com last week that the school had “a couple thousand” student season tickets unsold with just two weeks to go before the start of the season. Pressed for a more specific number with 10 days left, the spokesman divulged this week that there are approximately 2,000 student season tickets available (as of press time) with that number shrinking minimally each day.

Continue Reading » The Silver Lining for Wednesday, August 20

TWO BITS: Ice Bucket Challenge, Easley practices

1 » The Florida Gators football team and head coach Will Muschamp were officially singled out on Tuesday to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden challenged the team, while Nick Saban called out Muschamp before he and the Alabama Crimson Tide completed the task.

UPDATE: Muschamp completed the challenge on Wednesday.

Check out the videos and another Gators news item…after the break!
Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Ice Bucket Challenge, Easley practices

Steelers extend Gilbert thru 2019 with big contract

The Pittsburgh Steelers spent a total of $74 million on contract extensions for former Florida Gators offensive linemen this summer after signing offensive tackle Marcus Gilbert to a five-year extension on Tuesday.

Gilbert’s extension is worth $30 million, according to ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, making his new six-year deal worth a maximum of $31 million as he will be paid $1.03 million during the final year of his rookie contract in 2014. The portion of his contract that is fully guaranteed is information that was not available as of press time.

“It means I am locked in hopefully as a Steeler for the rest of my career,” said Gilbert in a team press release. “It’s a blessing to work for a great organization, the Rooney family, Kevin Colbert and Coach [Mike] Tomlin. Just to be around in Pittsburgh, where they show you so much love, I couldn’t be happier and in a better place.”

Just over two months ago on June 12, the Steelers locked up center Maurkice Pouncey with a similar five-year, $44 million extension, including $13 million in fully-guaranteed money. The extension, which put his new contract at six years and up to $48 million, made him the highest-paid center in the NFL.

Continue Reading » Steelers extend Gilbert thru 2019 with big contract

8/19: Roper talks backup quarterbacks, Leak

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday after practice to provide his thoughts on the installation of his offense to this point. Roper also evaluated a number of Gators who should be big factors for Florida in 2014.

BACKUP BATTLE CONTINUES

Redshirt junior Jeff Driskel will be Florida’s starting quarterback. That much has been known for months. As far as who will be backing him up on game days, well, the Gators do not seem to be any closer to making a decision on that despite previously pinpointing this week as the ideal time to come to a conclusion.

Roper on Tuesday indicated that the battle between freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris is “fun to watch” with both players competing hard and still being good teammates to each other. He is just waiting to see some separation.

“The biggest thing is you look for production on their team reps as big as anything else. Sometimes production isn’t making a play, it’s keeping a bad play from being worse, if that makes sense. So really playing fast, playing quick, being decisive and being productive,” he explained.

The battle remains “fluid,” according to Roper, who said that even though it is “getting close to decision-making time,” the winner out of fall camp may not be the second-string quarterback throughout the entire season.

Continue Reading » 8/19: Roper talks backup quarterbacks, Leak

Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 2

The 2014 NFL preseason continued with 46 former Florida Gators spread out over 23 of the 32 teams in the league.

Fifteen teams have multiple Florida players on their rosters including Miami and Tampa Bay (four each); Baltimore, Indianapolis and Philadelphia (three each); and Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Denver, Kansas City, Minnesota, N.Y. Jets, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington (two each).

Below are full game statistics for all 35 players that saw action along with select updates on some Gators during the second week of the preseason.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK
WR Deonte Thompson: Target; three kickoff returns for 188 yards, touchdown (108-yard return)

Check out how the rest of the Gators in the NFL performed…after the break!
Continue Reading » Former Gators in the NFL: 2014 Preseason Week 2

4 BITS: Wilbekin, Sturgis, Pouncey, Shanahan

1 » Former Florida Gators point guard Scottie Wilbekin has found a professional home, according to RealGM.com, which reported Monday that he signed a one-year deal with the Cairns Taipans of Australia’s National Basketball League. Wilbekin is not currently on the roster and his signing has not yet been reported by another outlet, however, it is supposed to contain an out clause that would allow him to leave for the NBA if a team makes an overture for his services before the end of December.

Update: Head coach Billy Donovan, during a speaking engagement with the Atlanta Gator Club on Monday, confirmed Wilbekin’s destination.

2 » Beat writers that cover the Miami Dolphins believe former Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis may be on the verge of losing his job but not due to anything he is doing on the field. In fact, that is exactly the problem, as Sturgis suffered yet another groin injury early in training camp and aggravated that injury this past week. The Dolphins brought in third-year K John Potter to challenge Sturgis, and he impressed during Miami’s second preseason game by drilling field goals from 48 and 51 yards out. Sturgis struggled during his rookie season but was also put in tough situations. Before he got injured, the Dolphins had not brought another kicker into training camp as competition.

Continue Reading » 4 BITS: Wilbekin, Sturgis, Pouncey, Shanahan

8/18: Muschamp on depth chart, competition heating up as season approaches

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to kick off his team’s final few days of practice before preparation finally begins for the team’s first opponent on Saturday, Aug. 30.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators were dealt their first notable injury blow this season as Muschamp announced that freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who was already dealing with scar tissue on a sports hernia he had repaired in high school, also had an undetected torn labrum in his hip and was scheduled for surgery on Monday. Holley will take a redshirt.

Senior offensive guard Trenton Brown (foot contusion), redshirt sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye (hamstring) and freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe (ankle) were all injured in practice this week, though all are expected back soon. Brown will return to practice on Tuesday, while Maye and Sharpe are scheduled to get back onto the field next Monday after a week on the sideline.

Continue Reading » 8/18: Muschamp on depth chart, competition heating up as season approaches

FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Camilo Villegas captured his fourth career PGA Tour title over the weekend when he won the 2014 Wyndham Championship in Greensboro, North Carolina, and took home a winning share of $954,000. Villegas, who had not won an event since finishing first at the 2010 Honda Classic four years ago, edged Bill Hass and Freddie Jackson by a single stroke with a -17 on the tournament. He opened and closed the event by shooting 63 on Thursday and Sunday. Villegas jumped up to 37th in the new FedExCup standings, moving up 68 spots from No. 105. He is the second former Gators golfer to win on tour this year as Matt Every picked up a victory in the 2014 Arnold Palmer Invitational back on March 23. Every is currently ranked 35th in the FedExCup.


Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Villegas, Cooper, White, Jenkins

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