Florida’s Solomon Patton transforms from “jet sweep guy” to game-breaking wide receiver

It’s fair to say senior wide receiver Solomon Patton was an afterthought for the vast majority of his career with the Florida Gators.

As Florida struggled to find playmaking wideouts in each of his first three years with the program, Patton (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) was viewed as not much more than speedy guy who could play a role on special teams and occasionally be used as a gadget player.

And he did all of those things quite well. In 2010, Patton appeared in 10 games on special teams. He returned some kicks, brought back a blocked punt for a touchdown against Vanderbilt and blocked a punt of his own in the bowl game against Penn State. In 2011’s season opener against Florida Atlantic, Patton blocked another punt.

Then in 2012, head coach Will Muschamp and then-new offensive coordinator Brent Pease handed him a new task – running jet sweeps on offense. Patton succeeded there as well, taking 14 for a total of 140 yards (with a long gain of 54) before breaking his arm against Georgia and missing the remainder of the season.

Through three seasons, Patton had registered just eight receptions for 79 total yards with a long gain of 17. The coaching staff, and Patton himself, decided it was time for a change in his final collegiate season.

Muschamp challenged Patton to become more than just a “jet sweep guy.” He wanted him to improve his route running and become a complete receiver, someone the Gators could count on to make vertical plays rather than just horizontal ones.

The first sign of his hard work paying off was the second week of the season against Miami when Patton grabbed a career-high six receptions for a career-high 118 yards and the first receiving touchdown of his career. He gained more receiving yards that game than in his previous three seasons combined.

Continue Reading » Florida’s Solomon Patton transforms from “jet sweep guy” to game-breaking wide receiver

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10/5: Florida vs. Arkansas post-game report

The No. 18/19 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) prepared all week for a hard-nosed, physical contest and got just that from the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After winning the game 30-10, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its latest victory.

CHRIS DIMARCO AS MR. TWO BITS

HIGHLIGHTS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida extended its winning streak against Arkansas to nine games dating back to 1995 and hold a 9-1 record in the all-time series. The Gators have won nine-straight contests against the Razorbacks. UF has yet to lose a game to UA since the latter program joined the SEC in 1992.
» The victory pushes Florida to 3-0 in SEC play, marking the second-straight season it has begun the conference slate undefeated through three games.
» UF’s 20-point margin of victory is its largest so far in 2013.
» The Gators improved to 7-9 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 18-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-6 when an opponent scores first and 18-1 when leading at the half.
» The Hogs have not defeated a ranked opponent since 2011.
» Florida improved to 18-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Gators won the time of possession battle once again and have done so in every game this season. But the 32:22-27:38 margin was the smallest of the 2013 campaign.
» Florida registered two sacks on Arkansas, more than three times the average number of sacks the team was allowing per game entering the contest (0.60).
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 16-straight games.
» UF has forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (358).
» Florida has registered a nation-leading 104 interceptions since 2008. UF is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (17) and interception return yards (1,832).
» The Gators registered at least one passing touchdown for the seventh-straight game but were held without a rushing score for the first time since Nov. 10, 2012.
» Florida gave up 275 yards of total offense to Arkansas, the most allowed by UF’s defense in a single game this season.
» The Gators have now yielded eight red zone trips through five games. In those eight appearances, opponents began two of drives already in the red zone.
» UF has held 12-straight SEC opponents to 20 points or less.
» Florida did not commit a penalty in the first half, the first time that has happened in a single half under Muschamp during his three seasons with the team. UF was flagged eight times for 84 yards in the second half, however.

» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 72.7 percent of his passes (16-of-22) for 240 yards and three touchdowns, all career-best marks.
» The Gators have not failed to score in the red zone since Murphy took over as the primary signal caller. UF is a perfect 9-for-9 on scoring opportunities inside the 20.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton also set career marks with 124 yards, two touchdowns and six receptions (tying a career-high) on Saturday. He is the first wideout since Riley Cooper to catch two touchdowns in a single game and register two 100+ yard games in a single season (2009).
» Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy grabbed his first career interception and celebrated by returning it 42 yards for a touchdown. He also forced a fumble on a sack.

Continue Reading » 10/5: Florida vs. Arkansas post-game report

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Gators hogtie Razorbacks 30-10 in Gainesville

Despite looking shaky early, the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) stood strong defensively and used some big plays on both sides of the ball to complete a 30-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators gave up more rushing yards in the first quarter than it did in any full game in 2013 but tightened the reigns over the final three quarters, holding the visitors to three points over the last 47:09 of the game.

Meanwhile, Florida redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy continued to flash improvement as a signal caller, completing 16-of-22 passes for career-highs of 240 yards and three touchdowns.

Improving to 9-1 all-time against the Razorbacks, the Gators have won nine-straight games in the series dating back to 1995.

Arkansas opened the contest by gashing Florida in the running game, picking up 48 yards on the ground in its first two series, the same amount UF gave up in four quarters to Kentucky last week. One play after Hogs running back Alex Collins exploded for a 28-yard run, the Gators made their first huge defensive play of the game.

Florida junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy rushed in on a blitz, strip-sacking QB Brandon Allen and forcing a fumble that was recovered by redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor. UF was unable to capitalize, however, as redshirt freshman Austin Hardin kicked a 48-yard field goal attempt into the line of scrimmage for a block.

Continue Reading » Gators hogtie Razorbacks 30-10 in Gainesville

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Plane crashes on Flavet Field in Gainesville hours before Florida-Arkansas kickoff

A two-seat plane crashed onto Flavet Field on the University of Florida campus just hours before the No. 18/19 Florida Gators were scheduled to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.

The plane, which contained two pilots and was flying an advertising banner across the campus, crash landed on a popular tailgating spot but did not injure any pedestrians in the area, according to initial reports.

The school released a statement shortly after the crash occurred:

“A small plane attempted an emergency landing at an open area of Flavet Field and has crashed. The plane landed upside down on a vacant pickup truck. Both pilots were ejected and transported to a local hospital. No additional injuries to report at this time. Will release any further info[rmation] as it becomes available.”

According to WUFT, the plane is registered to Beach Banners, Inc., an aerial banner advertising company out of Jacksonville, FL.



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Gameday: No. 18 Florida Gators vs. Arkansas

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 80°F (feels like 83°F), mostly sunny, winds E at 7 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

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No. 18/19 FLORIDA GATORS ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Bret Bielema
Record: 3-1 (2-0 SEC) Record: 3-2 (0-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -13 | O/U: 43

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you missed via the links below!

Story: Chucky inspiring Florida defense in Easley’s absence | Notebook: Brent Pease talks Gators’ offense, Hogs’ defense | Notebook: D.J. Durkin talks Florida’s defense, Arkansas’ offense | Notebook: Players look back on UK, ahead to UA | Story: Key to success: Gators dominating on third down

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 8-1 all-time against Arkansas. The Gators have won eight consecutive games against the Razorbacks including two SEC Championships (1995, 2006) and six regular-season contests. UF’s sole loss to UA came in the 1982 Bluebonnet Bowl, when the latter team was a member of the SWC.
» Arkansas has not defeated a ranked opponent since 2011.
» Florida failed to open the season 2-0 for the first time since 2005.
» The Gators are 15-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (6-9 when rushing for fewer than 150 yards). Florida is also 17-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 13-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 14-3 when scoring first (7-6 when an opponent scores first) and 17-1 when leading at the half (4-8 when tied or trailing at the break).
» UF is 17-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Gators rank first nationally in time of possession (39.0 minutes), rushing defense (53.5 yards) and third down conversion defense (.178); second in the country in total defense (202.5 yards) and first downs defense (46); sixth in passing efficiency defense (86.15) and fewest passing yards allowed (149.0); eighth in scoring defense (12.8 points); and 10th in completion percentage (.699).
» The Razorbacks rank second nationally in fewest sacks allowed (0.60) and sixth in fewest tackles for loss allowed (3.60)
» Florida has forced at least one turnover in 15-straight games.
» The Gators have forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (357).
» Florida has registered a nation-leading 103 interceptions since 2008. UF is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) and interception return yards (1,788).
» UF has scored a rushing and passing touchdown in all four games thus far in 2013; the Gators only accomplished that seven times in all of 2012.
» Florida has gained more than 400 yards of offense in three of four games; UF had the same number of 400+ yard games in 13 contests in 2012.
» On the other hand, the Gators have not allowed a single opponent to gain more than 220 yards of total offense in a game this season.
» Florida has only yielded six red zone trips through four games. In those six appearances, opponents began two of those drives already in the red zone.
» The Gators will be wearing pink accessories – including gloves, wristbands, towels and cleats – to help raise awareness for breast cancer.

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 18 Florida Gators vs. Arkansas

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10/2: Durkin on Hargreaves, Bullard, Arkansas

Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday ahead of the fifth game of the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Oct. 5.

FRESHMAN SENSATION EARNING RESPECT

It only took four games, but freshman Vernon Hargreaves III appears to have become the most feared cornerback on Florida’s roster.

“Well, he was the SEC Freshman of the Week for a reason,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said on Wednesday. “He’s very talented. I remember recruiting him out of high school, at least watching him on film. He’s everything that you want at the position. He’s very, very confident. He’s very aggressive. I think there’s probably some people that went after him and maybe they regretted that decision afterward. … I know this: he’s impressed me on film.”

Asked later in the day about Bielema’s comments, Durkin agreed with his opponent this Saturday.

“Vernon, obviously on the field talent-wise and ability-wise, that’s a pretty clear thing to see whether it was evaluation from high school up to here or now when we’ve seen him playing college ball. But I think the most amazing thing is off the field, how he handles himself and carries himself,” Durkin said. “He’s a veteran player, upperclassman, but he’s only a freshman. That’s the way he carries himself, he acts, the way he handles himself in meetings, the way he prepares for games and so I think you have something special there when you mix all that together.”

Though Durkin said he never felt as if teams were attacking Hargreaves because he is a freshman, he did say that the opportunity for that to happen has been there because Hargreaves has spent so much time on the field already.

“I know this: we’ve put him in a lot of situations where he’s out there without help and he’s responded. We play a lot of press man. He’s out there and…it’s not him alone – there’s other guys playing the same way – he’s out there alone quite a bit and he’s done a good job responding to it. We try to mix our coverages and help at times, but he’s out there quite a bit.”

Continue Reading » 10/2: Durkin on Hargreaves, Bullard, Arkansas

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10/1: Pease on Gators offense, Hogs pass rush

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the fifth game of the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Oct. 5.

PLAYER EVALUATIONS

» On if sophomore Matt Jones will be the primary running back going forward: “It seems like now we’re all trying to create the controversy of the running back deal, but I’ll say this: Matt did a very good job. I think when Mack [Brown] was in there, he ran the ball well. He obviously did not get the number of touches. I don’t know if it’s a ‘hot hand’ because I think they’re both capable. I think if Mack Brown had those carries, I think Mack Brown’s doing the same thing, and that’s not to take anything away from Matt. I think the kids up front did an outstanding job. And Matt was a guy that got the carries and sometimes we look back and say can we balance it out? Yeah, maybe we can do a little bit better job of that because I think some wear and tear is on you. But Matt obviously had led up to probably needing that game. I don’t know if it’s a ‘hot-hand’ situation because I think they’re both capable of doing it.”

» On if freshman Kelvin Taylor will be redshirted because he’s not being used: “No, he’s still in the mix. We want to get him in there. I think Coach [Brian] White has a good feel on how he controls those guys and how the game flow is going and where we’ve got to pick our spots. It’s hard with one ball, three players. They’re all capable. They’re all very good. A couple of them have experience. We spot guys in certain packages to use at certain times. We’ve got to continue. The good thing about it is they’ve all been very unselfish and they’ve all grown and continued to practice real well.”

» On freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson getting involved with a big conversion on third down: “He did a nice job on it because we had pressure. He had urgency, made a nice catch. … And he knew where the sticks were. To me, if you got receivers that can make a catch and understand where they got to get to [first] downs when you don’t always get to that distance [that’s a positive]. Because he’s one kid, he’s one kid that one of his strengths is really probably being able to run after the catch. He’s elusive, he’s quick, he’s strong. He’s not afraid to run guys over, make them miss.”

» On what redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy can fix after two games: “I don’t want him to fix anything, just keep playing. What I’ve said to him is, ‘Keep just being yourself. Don’t all of a sudden change on me that you’ve got to be this guy that’s carrying the team because right now everybody’s doing their job. Just go out, execute and have a scope of what you’re controlling. Be good at that.’ I think he’s doing that. He’s accurate with the ball, he’s tough when he runs it, he’s smart, he gets down. He’s making good decisions, you know, run [and] pass checks. He’s been high percentage throwing it; I know he had the pick the other day, but you know that’s something we can fix. … I think he’s just got to continue to get more comfortable understand that you’re gonna continue to face faster people, coverages are probably going to get a little bit tighter, teams are going to start to do things to fluster you or come after you with pressure. If there’s anything, it would just be ready to react to pressure.”

Continue Reading » 10/1: Pease on Gators offense, Hogs pass rush

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FOUR BITS: softball, tennis, baseball, basketball

1 » No. 4 Florida Gators softball (23-1) continued its stellar start to the 2013 season by upending the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (22-1) on Wednesday in Tuscaloosa, AL. Florida handed Alabama its first loss of the season in the non-conference showdown (the game was scheduled outside of league play) by scoring six runs in the final two innings to turn a 4-2 deficit into an 8-4 victory. Junior right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (11-1, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R [2 ER], 3 BB, 5 K) threw well but was victimized by a pair of untimely errors before leaving the contest. Sophomore RHP Lauren Haeger (1.0 IP, 2 BB, 4 K) replaced her in relief and ensured that the Gators maintained the advantage they gained early in the top of the seventh. A two-RBI double by freshman pinch hitter Taylore Fuller (1/2, 2 RBI) put Florida ahead in the seventh. Haeger (2/3, RBI, R, BB), senior right fielder Kelsey Horton (2/4, RBI, R) and junior third baseman Stephanie Tofft (2/4, RBI, R) each knocked in runs for the Gators.

2 » No. 5 Florida women’s tennis (8-2) bounced back from its tough loss on Sunday with a 4-0 sweep of the No. 16 Florida State Seminoles (8-3) on Wednesday in Tallahassee, FL. The Gators debuted some new doubles pairings in the contest after struggling to win the doubles point in recent matches. The switch worked out for Florida on Wednesday as it took the doubles point before running through singles action as No. 11 junior Sofie Oyen earned a 6-0, 6-1 victory, No. 1 Lauren Embree picked up a 6-1, 6-1 win, and No. 53 junior Alex Cercone took her match 6-4, 6-3. UF improved to 53-1 all-time against FSU, according to the school.

3 » Gators baseball (7-7) has fought hard over the last four games to get its record back to .500 after losing six-straight games from Feb. 20 to March 1. In a home-and-home series against the Jacksonville Dolphins (4-9) on Tuesday and Wednesday, Florida came from behind twice to pick up a pair of victories. On Tuesday, the Gators trailed 5-4 heading into the top of the seventh but scored four runs over the final three innings to pick up the 8-5 victory in Jacksonville, FL. Back at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Wednesday, Florida rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the ninth including a walk-off RBI single by sophomore PH Connor Mitchell (1/1, RBI) that brought home senior first baseman Vickash Ramjit (3/4, 2 R, BB), who was intentionally walked earlier in the wild frame. UF looks to extend its four-game winning streak this weekend when it hosts Indiana for a three-game series from Friday-Sunday.

4 » Nine-seed Gators women’s basketball (18-13) delivered in the first round of the 2013 SEC Tournament on Thursday, taking down the eight-seed Arkansas Razorbacks (18-12) to advance to the quarterfinals against one-seed Tennessee on Friday at noon. Florida pulled off the 64-59 victory by going on a game-ending 10-2 run to erase a three-point deficit late in the contest. Junior guard Jaterra Bonds scored a game-high 17 points (12 in the second half) by hitting 10-of-12 free throws; she made just 3-of-10 field goals. Freshman G Sydney Moss also struggled from the field (3-of-11) but was just as solid from the line, draining 7-of-8 attempts to finish with 13 points.

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