FOUR BITS: Noah, recruiting, Chaney, Wambach

1 » Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah, with his team up six and the clock ticking down, took a three-pointer during a game Tuesday in an effort to eclipse 100 points and earn the fans in attendance a free Big Mac. Though his team was up a comfortable margin when he took the shot, Noah received a stern talking to from head coach Tom Thibodeau and said Wednesday that he regretted the move. “You have to respect the game because you never know what can happen in a game,” he said, according to ESPNChicago.com. “I just got caught up in the moment and I was trying to get the people a Big Mac. They really wanted a Big Mac [judging by how loud the crowd was getting] and I felt like, not only did I take the shot and miss the shot, we didn’t even get the Big Mac. Next time, I won’t take that three-pointer.”

2 » The Florida Gators’ 2013 basketball recruiting class is already filled with talent – two five-stars and top-10 players to be exact – but the Gators may very well add at least one more big piece before all is said and done. UF is very much involved with four of best players left in the class in five-star forward Julius Randle (Plano, TX), five-star F Jabari Parker (Chicago, IL), five-star center Dakari Johnson (Montverde, FL) and four-star C Joel Embiid (Gainesville, FL). In fact, as far as Parker, Johnson and Embiid are concerned, Florida seems to be in a very good spot for each. Parker visited the Gators over the weekend, Johnson reclassified to the 2013 class this week and has Florida in his top five, and Embiid on Wednesday night cut his list to three with UF making the cut.

Embiid is the closest to making a decision and will do so shortly. The Gators being the local team is certainly a bonus as is the fact that Florida has junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the roster and is recruiting his brother 2014 PG Mitchell Wilbekin. (Both are also from The Rock School, where Embiid is attending.) UF also has a connection with Parker, who head coach Billy Donovan coached and won a gold medal with over the summer, and Johnson, who is set to play for Monteverde Academy this season, which is where five-star PG commit Kasey Hill (Clermont, FL) is currently attending.

Read the two more BITS (and an extra BIT) in this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Noah, recruiting, Chaney, Wambach

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9/24: Muschamp talks Gators’ injuries, bye week

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review his team’s dominant 38-0 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday while also previewing the bye week and the activities planned for the Gators over the next few days.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt sophomore tackle Chaz Green (ankle), junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee), junior running back Trey Burton (back), junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (head) “should be fine for LSU based on the information I have,” Muschamp said Monday. He also noted that Reed suffered a head injury (read: concussion) and not a shoulder injury as initially reported.

Furthermore, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) will be reevaluated on doctors by Wednesday as it will be determined whether he can begin practicing and potentially return to the field on Saturday with a club on his hand.

Redshirt junior OT Matt Patchan, on the other hand, will miss yet another game while continuing to deal with his strained pectoral and torn muscle.

“Yeah, I expect him to play this year. I certainly do,” said Muschamp when asked if Patchan would miss another season. “If we played this week, no, I would say probably not LSU [either] but maybe the week after. That’s what I’m hoping based on meeting with our medical staff [Sunday]. We’re hoping to hopefully get him some work next week on the field. How healthy he’ll be at that point, I don’t know. It’s a pec strain; he had some tear on the muscle. It’s a painful injury and up front you’ve got to be able to use that to block. Rehab has gone well. He’s worked extremely hard as far as that is concerned. We’re just hoping we can get him some snaps. But he will play this year, yes.”

BYE WEEK BENEFITS

In addition to giving Florida the opportunity to rest and heal, the bye week coming early for the Gators this year will also help the team clean up a number of issues.

Muschamp wants the offense to focus on figuring out how to make the passing game a bit smoother. He envisions the timing between the quarterback and wide receivers improving so that Florida can convert more third downs and throw the ball vertically to move down the ield. The Gators will also work on short-yardage and goal line plays while figuring out how to block better on the perimeter.

“That’s where you get big runs is when you’re blocking on the perimeter and finishing blocks down the field,” he said.

Defense has been pretty solid for Florida so far though Muschamp wants the Gators to get better pressure while rushing four guys without a blitz. He also hopes to see improvement in red zone defense as UF has allowed seven touchdowns in 10 total opponent trips through four games this season.

Where Florida may be able to take the biggest leap is special teams. The Gators must find a way to produce better in the return game, especially on punts. “We’ve got some explosive guys. We need to settle on a guy and get a guy back there that’s, number one, going to field the ball but, number two, can get the ball north-and-south, stick your foot in the ground and get north-and-south,” Muschamp said.

UF has also yet to block a single punt this season despite Muschamp and special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin calling a handful of designed punt block plays. Florida no longer has Chris Rainey to count on in that regard but does still feature junior Solomon Patton and other young, speedy and elusive players.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Game: redshirt senior left guard James Wilson

Scrap Iron: redshirt juniors right guard Jon Halapio and RT Kyle Koehne

Big Plays: redshirt senior TE Omarius Hines

Defensive Players of the Game: redshirt senior DT Omar Hunter and junior cornerback Jaylen Watkins
* Hunter was also named SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Ball Hawks: Watkins, redshirt sophomore LB Michael Taylor and sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders

Special Teams Player of the Game: sophomore punter Kyle Christy

Scout Team Players of the Week: freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell, freshman defensive lineman Alex McCalister, redshirt sophomore walk-on wide receiver A.J. Mobley

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On what he’s seen while watching LSU on film so far: “Typical LSU – physical, tough, recruited extremely well, good job developing their players, a physical style of play that you appreciate as a coach.”

» On the progression of sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel: “The more snaps he continues to get, the better he’s going to get. He’s going to work hard at it. He’s a cerebral guy. He’s going to learn and work at it and watch the film and understand. He takes coaching very well. It’s just the more snaps you get, the more opportunities you get. The game starts to slow down; you start to see it better. Obviously the timing with the receivers will continue to improve, in my opinion.”

» On the bye week: “We got three huge days to improve – Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – opportunities for our team to get better.”

» Muschamp said sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy is the only player at his position who is “really excited” about tackling running backs and that the others need to take a cue from him and become better at stopping edge rushing.

» On the Gators being confident at 4-0: “I just think that confidence is a great thing. We were a confident football team last year at 4-0…and then we lost our quarterback.”

» On some of the recent struggles for senior LT Xavier Nixon: “He’s been banged up. He’s had a shoulder; he’s had a legitimate injury there. He’s a guy that’s pushed through it. Run assignments the other night were very good; he blocked extremely well in the run game, needs to finish on a couple things. Protection a little bit we need to solidify as far as his pass protection is concerned.”

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