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.”

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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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Gators clinch share of SEC regular-season title

No. 6/8 Florida Gators basketball (23-5, 13-3 SEC) has its sights set on the outright league championship but took the first step toward that goal on Saturday by clinching at least a share of the Southeastern Conference regular season title with a little help from a team that handed them a devastating defeat, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Just a few hours after Florida ousted the Alabama Crimson Tide (19-10, 11-5 SEC) from the title race with a 64-52 come-from-behind victory at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, the Kentucky Wildcats (20-9, 11-5 SEC) fell 73-60 on the road at Arkansas (18-11, 9-7 SEC) and dropped two games back in the SEC standings.

UF led both UA and UK by a single game at the start of play on Saturday.

The Gators, which now have six SEC regular season titles in program history, captured at least a share of the championship in two of the last three seasons (2011).

Florida can win the title outright with one victory in its next two games. UF hosts Vanderbilt (12-15, 6-9 SEC) on Wednesday evening in the O’Dome before concluding the regular season at Kentucky on Saturday, March 9.

Discussing the possibility of winning the SEC regular season title after his team’s victory on Saturday, Gators head coach Billy Donovan said he would be proud of the accomplishment though he would see it as the result of something much larger overall.

“That to me is always a byproduct of doing the right things,” he said.

Florida also clinched a bye in the 2013 SEC Tournament on Saturday as it solidified its standing as a top-four seed in the event. UF will not play until Friday, March 15.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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Florida trounces Arkansas 71-54, Frazier injured

Fresh off its second league loss in five games, No. 4/5 Florida Gators basketball (22-4, 12-2 SEC) extended its lead in the Southeastern Conference standings to two games with a dominant 71-54 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (17-10, 8-6 SEC) on Saturday evening at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida, in its second meeting with Arkansas during regular season play for the first time in program history, earned a measure of revenge for the initial showdown in which the Razorbacks upset the Gators 80-69 on Feb. 5 in Fayetteville, AR.

Four Florida players scored in double figures, all of whom gave complete efforts throughout the contest. Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario led the way with a team-high 15 points, but junior center Patric Young made a bigger impact with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with seven rebounds.

Ensuring that Arkansas did not take the upper hand out of the gate like it did two weeks ago, Florida opened the contest on a 7-0 run but was soon tied with the Razorbacks at 8-8 after the visitors matched the Gators’ intensity with a 8-1 scoring stretch including seven-straight points from forward Marshawn Powell.

Minutes later, Powell found his way to the bench as Florida junior F Casey Prather entered the game and drew a pair of charges on the big man. The Gators completed a 9-0 run to take a 23-13 lead before being given a taste of their own medicine.

Young left the court with 5:53 to play in the first half after committing his second foul, and Arkansas took advantage with a 6-0 run to get within four of the hosts, a margin that would hold until halftime.

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Gameday: No. 4/5 Florida Gators vs. Arkansas

Location: Stephen C. O’Connell Center – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 11,548]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU/ESPNUHD (Tom Hart, Matt Doherty)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

No. 4/5 FLORIDA GATORS ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mike Anderson
Record: 21-4 (11-2 SEC) Record: 17-9 (8-5 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -18.5 | O/U 138

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Arkansas 15-11 with every victory coming under Donovan (15-6). The Gators are 8-2 at home in the series (8-0 under Donovan). The teams are meeting twice in the regular season for the first time ever.
» UF is looking to rebound from an 80-69 loss at UA on Feb. 5.
» Florida is undefeated at home this season (12-0) and looking to start 13-0 in the O’Dome for the sixth time under Donovan.
» Four Gators starters are averaging double figures in scoring. The Tigers have two players that score in double digits; each averages 15+ points per game.
» Florida is 46-4 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (20-3 in 2012-13).
» Arkansas has won three-straight games and five of its last six after starting 3-4 in league play over its first seven games.
» The Gators are 4-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» UF is outscoring SEC opponents by an average of +20.8 points per game.
» Florida freshman guard Michael Frazier II (.506) is chasing school history as he looks to become the most proficient single-season three-point shooter ever at UF (Kenyan Weaks – .508).
» The Gators are second nationally in scoring margin (+20.7), third in scoring defense (53.0), seventh in field goal percentage (.493) and three-point shooting (9.0 per game), ninth in field goal defense (.374), 13th in assist-turnover ratio (1.39), 18th in assists (16.0), 20th in three-point percentage (.390) and 23rd in rebound margin (+6.3).
» Florida is also seventh nationally in fouling, committing 14.0 per game.
» The Razorbacks are second nationally in turnover margin (+6.5), 14th in steals (9.3), 16th in assist-to-turnover ratio (+1.37) and 24th in assists (15.7).

Read the rest of the Florida-Arkansas preview with much more after the break!
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Arkansas shocks No. 2 Florida with 80-69 upset

A pair of 10-game winning streaks were on the line on Tuesday night in Fayetteville, AR, but it was the unranked Arkansas Razorbacks (14-9, 5-4 SEC) that kept theirs alive and strong with a shocking and dominating 80-69 upset of the No. 2/2 Florida Gators (18-3, 8-1 SEC) at Bud Walton Arena.

Arkansas won its 11th consecutive game at home dating back to Dec. 4, 2012 while ending Florida’s 10-game winning streak, its longest since the 2008-09 season. The Gators, which had beaten their first eight Southeastern Conference opponents by an average of 26.5 points, were shook early and outplayed for the duration of the contest.

The Razorbacks, which strung together runs of 12-2 and 10-0 early in the contest, found themselves up 23 points with 7:18 remaining in the first half by starting the game 14-of-18 from the field and 7-of-9 from downtown.

Arkansas eventually cooled off and allowed Florida to cut its lead down to 15 points with 1:44 left on the back of a quick 10-2 run.

Opening the second half up 17, the Hogs continued their dominance over the Gators by forcing three turnovers and scoring six-straight points to increase their advantage back to 23 points. Florida answered with an 11-2 – run including five-straight from redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario – to cut its deficit to 14 points with 15 minutes remaining.

Looking to put away their visitors, the Razorbacks responded by forcing six more turnovers and outscoring the Gators 16-3 to take a game-high 27-point lead that also marked UF’s largest deficit of the season.

Florida refused to be put away, however, and used an 11-2 scoring stretch to find itself down 13 points with 3:52 to play. The home team was able to maintain for the duration of the contest and pull out the impressive victory.

Tuesday marked the fifth time in school history that Arkansas beat a ranked Florida team at Bud Walton Arena. The Razorbacks also scored more points against UF (80) than any other team since Dec. 29, 2011 (Rutgers).

Rosario led all scorers with 15 points. Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin added 14 for the Gators but was just 5-of-15 from the field. Junior center Patric Young, who scored nine points, fouled out late in the game and junior forward Will Yeguete sat for most of the contest after his right knee tendinitis flared up early in the first half.

Guard B.J. Young came off the bench to lead Arkansas with 13 points.

UF committed 16 turnovers in the game and shot 41.1 percent from the field.

Florida will look to get the bad taste from Tuesday’s contest out of its mouth when it hosts Mississippi State on Saturday at 5 p.m. in a game that will air live on FOX Sports Network. The Gators defeated the Bulldogs 82-47 in Starkville, MS on Jan. 26.

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Florida-Arkansas, defense, Boynton, Gators notes

No. 2/2 FLORIDA GATORS ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mike Anderson
Record: 18-2 (8-0 SEC) Record: 13-8 (4-4 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Bud Walton Arena – Fayetteville, AR [Capacity: 19,200]
Time: 7:05 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -11.5 | O/U 140

QUICK TURNAROUND IN A TOUGH ENVIRONMENT

Donovan is known as being no fan of the three-day turnaround during SEC play but that is exactly what the Gators and Razorbacks both have leading into their game on Tuesday evening. “It’s always different when you have a quick turnaround like this,” he said. “You just have to deal with that. We’ve got two legitimate days to prepare, as does Arkansas. … So, we’re both dealing with the same thing with the Saturday-Tuesday.”

While the prep time may be the same for both squads, nothing else will be equal on Tuesday. UF is looking like one of the best teams in the country and heads into Fayetteville on a 10-game winning streak, it’s longest since the middle of the 2008-09 season. The hosts, while not necessarily having a great season, have been playing fantastic at home. The Razorbacks have won 10-straight in the friendly confines (4-0 in SEC play) with an average margin of victory of 17.6 points in those contests.

“The biggest thing you look at is the field goal percentage, the offensive numbers are different. I think that’s not abnormal. Most teams shoot the ball at home better than they do on the road but those numbers are drastically different,” Donovan said Monday. “Winning on the road is really hard. It’s really hard to do. There’s probably a comfort level and a confidence level for those guys, playing in Fayetteville. It’s a unique and really a great environment, which I’m sure they enjoy very much. I think most teams feel a little bit different when they play at home.”

Florida is also in the middle of a a scheduling oddity with Arkansas and will be playing in Bud Walton Arena for three-straight seasons despite only seeing the Razorbacks in Gainesville, FL once (Feb. 23, 2013).

“With the expansion, the scheduling has gotten a little different. Last year, we played them because we had 16 [games] in the league. This year, we’re in a home-and-home with them and we’ll play them twice. Next year, we have to go back to Arkansas. We’re going to play in Fayetteville three times in relation to them coming here once [in three years],” Donovan explained. “Because of the off-set schedule, that’s a little bit unique and a little bit different. I think Bud Walton is a great place to play. They have great fans, good enthusiasm and a good environment. I’m sure there will be a great crowd in there. Our guys have gone into that building, they know what to expect. They know how it is in there and [Arkansas] plays very, very well at home as the stats and records show. They are exceptionally a very good home team.”

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Spikes, volleyball, soccer

1 » The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that head coach Billy Donovan’s son of the same name has decided to transfer to Florida and walk on to the team to play for and learn from his father. Billy Donovan , who spent his last two years playing for the Catholic Cardinals (Division III) in Washington, D.C., has already joined the team and will don the No. 42 though fans will not see him on the court this year as he will be forced to ride the bench during games due to NCAA transfer rules. As was noted a year ago when Catholic traveled to Gainesville, FL to play the Gators in an exhibition game, the younger Donovan originally chose to attend that university in order to further his passion for politics. A change of career path – he is now interested in a coaching or administrative role in a basketball organization – led him right back to where he grew up. “I never wanted it to be like I was telling him what to do career-wise,” Donovan told UF’s GatorZone.com. “I think he needs to figure that out on his own. My job, my wife’s job, is to be supportive and help put him in the best situation for him to pursue what he wants to pursue.” There is probably no better spot for the younger Donovan to learn how to coach or run a basketball team than under the wing of a future hall of fame coach.

2 » New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes received some bad news on Friday when he learned that the NFL decided to fine him $21,000 for an illegal blindside block he threw in a game on Sept. 30. Spikes, who leveled Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler during an interception return for his team, told the team’s website earlier in the week that he did not believe that he did anything wrong. “A lot of guys, they know the new rules. I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep it legal, but I just want to kind of try to make a point – when I hit a guy, I want him [to say], ‘Oh, that was Spikes that hit me. I know that already.”

3 » No. 11 Florida volleyball (13-2, 7-0 SEC) has been on a roll as of late, wrapping up their ninth- and 10th-straight regular season wins over the weekend while hosting a pair of Southeastern Conference opponents in Gainesville. UF registered a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-18, 25-15) the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 4-2 SEC) on Friday before coming from two sets down to win 3-2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-8) against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-7, 4-3 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek of Slovenia was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for her efforts over the weekend. She registered a total of 32 kills and 14 digs combined over the two matches. Impressive in her own right was junior middle back Chloe Mann, who notched a combined 22 kills and 30.0 points on the weekend.

4 » No. 12 Gators soccer (10-3-1, 7-1 SEC) is on a roll of their own, shaking off early season disappointment to rebound with a seven-match winning streak including two big road victories over the last weekend. Florida won 2-0 over the LSU Tigers (5-5-4, 1-4-2 SEC) on Friday before, like volleyball, coming back from a deficit to take down the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (12-2-1, 6-1-1 SEC) 2-1 on Sunday. Four different players scored goals for the Gators over the weekend with senior midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak and sophomore MF Havana Solaun finding the back of the net on Friday and senior defender Jo Dragotta and junior F Adriana Leon scoring on Sunday. Tymrak, who garnered SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, also notched an assist on Leon’s game-winning goal.

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