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

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Snell’s Slant: Roper, Summers have impressed

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

Last week’s column was spent mostly on a couple of current Florida Gators players that I had interactions with this offseason. While it was intriguing to see how these guys responded during spring practice and summer workouts, I was much more interested in how head coach Will Muschamp planned to respond following one of the worst seasons in program history.

At this point, I’m most encouraged by Muschamp’s decision to hire Kurt Roper as Florida’s new offensive coordinator. David Cutcliffe gets a lot of the credit, but Roper is a big reason why Duke, once the doormat of the ACC, jumped up and won the Coastal Division title and nearly took down Texas A&M in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. He did that with nowhere near the talent he has inherited at UF.

The first time I got to see Roper’s offense up close in practice, I noticed the fast tempo right away. Players were not standing around waiting or looking to the sideline for instruction. Coach Roper was all over them screaming, “Make something happen! Make something happen!” It is good to see an offensive coordinator get that involved with his players. He is not just expecting execution but demanding it while showing that he has a beating heart.

It is in this way that Roper is very much like Muschamp. Having an equal intensity on both sides of the ball is refreshing coming off Charlie Weis and Brent Pease, two offensive coordinators that may have been passionate but certainly did not show it. This has been missing on offense the last few years.

Continue Reading » Snell’s Slant: Roper, Summers have impressed

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Florida Gators release 2014 open practice times

Last month, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced that eight of the team’s fall practice dates will be open to the public so fans living in or planning to travel to Gainesville, Florida, will be able to watch the Gators prepare with their own eyes.

On Saturday, the times for these eight practices were released.

Florida players will report on Sunday, Aug. 3 with practice set to begin on Monday, Aug. 4. Football practices have been scheduled as follows with all times subject to change due to weather and other mitigating factors.

The first seven practices will be held at the Donald R. Dizney Stadium. The eighth and final practice, set for Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16, precedes Fan Day for the football and volleyball teams, which kicks off at 3 p.m. across the street at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

Thursday, Aug. 7 – 7:40-9:40 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 8 – 7:40-9:40 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 9 – 10:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. – Gator Booster Season Ticket Holders Only
Monday, Aug. 11 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 12 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 13 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Thursday, Aug. 14 – 8:50-11:00 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 16 – 9:00-11:00 a.m.

Fans will be allowed to take their own pictures and video but only during certain parts of practice. Additionally, the Gators will make a few players available after each practice to sign fan autographs.

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Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Kentucky and Alabama

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After a pair of seemingly “cupcake” games against Idaho and Eastern Michigan, Florida Gators football begins Southeastern Conference play in 2014 against an improving Kentucky Wildcats team before it faces arguably its biggest test of the year on the road at the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Florida kicks things off against Kentucky under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on the SEC Network.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Mark Stoops (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 2-10 (0-8)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 1-4 Common Opponents: 0-5
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 107th (20.5 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 89th (31.2 ppg)

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Live alligator in tow, four-star OT George Brown commits to Florida Gators

Updated on Saturday at 5:45 p.m.

If you’re already going to make a statement and commit to the Florida Gators out of the state of Ohio, doing so with a live alligator by your side is absolutely a good idea.

That is exactly what four-star offensive tackle George Brown, Jr. (Cincinnati, OH) did on Friday when he became the ninth member of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class by committing to the program during a ceremony at his high school.

“I definitely got a big reaction,” Brown told OnlyGators.com on Saturday. “A lot of people got in touch with me after the ceremony staying stuff like, ‘You made my mom cry.’ One guy on Twitter tweeted me a picture of his son and said, ‘Since you committed, this is how my son feels,’ and it was a picture of his son doing a Gator Chomp.

“Now people that are thinking about committing to the Gators pretty soon are going to try to one-up me and get a bigger gator.”

Brown (6-foot-6, 264 pounds) is listed as the 13th-best player at his position by Rivals, which also ranks him as the No. 118 overall player in the nation.

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Previewing Florida’s 2014 Friday Night Lights


Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often host top-tier prospects over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough while coaching up the recruits.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 25, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of 10 players (in no particular order) to keep an eye on either because of their talent or high level of interest in attending Florida.

OT Martez Ivey (Apopka, FL) –
One of the top offensive tackles in the nation, Ivey is down to Florida and Auburn. His trip to Friday Night Lights should help him feel more comfortable with the Gators, but he will not make a decision until he sees how UF plays in 2014 and determines whether the coaching staff recruiting him will be around next year. A big Florida fan, the Gators are ultimately the team to beat for his services but can just as easily beat themselves and send him across the conference to play for the Tigers.

ATH Ray-Ray McCloud (Tampa, FL) –
McCloud has set his commitment announcement for Monday at 6:30 p.m., and his decision to spend the weekend before that choice is made in Gainesville speaks volumes. Florida is the favorite to pick up one of the most talented athletes in the country but is in competition primarily with UCLA and Clemson. He plays running back, wide receiver and cornerback and will likely do so for the Gators, but as is the case with Ivey, will be keeping an eye on how the team performs in 2014 even if he does choose UF.

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Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Idaho and Eastern Michigan

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators football opens in 2014 reclamation project season with a pair of non-conference home games as has been tradition for the program in the recent past.

Florida kicks things off against the Idaho Vandals under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. in a contest that will air live on ESPNU.

There is perhaps no better opponent for the Gators to face coming off the program’s worst season since 1979. The Vandals went 1-11 in head coach Paul Petrino’s inaugural campaign with their sole win coming on homecoming, 26-24 over Temple.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS IDAHO VANDALS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Paul Petrino (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 1-11 (N/A)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt (2014)
Common Opponent (FSU): 0-1 Common Opponent (FSU): 0-1
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 115th (18.2 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 123rd-last (46.8 ppg)

Continue Reading » Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Idaho and Eastern Michigan

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Florida Gators open eight 2014 fall practices

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced that eight of the team’s fall practice dates will be open to the public ahead of the 2014 season.

With anticipation of the offense developing under newly-hired coordinator Kurt Roper and an overall bounce back to form after a disastrous 4-8 season in 2013, Gators fans living in or planning to travel to Gainesville, Florida, will be able to see much of the preparation with their own eyes.

Muschamp mentioned at the 2014 Southeastern Conference Media Days that the team will report to Gainesville on Sunday, Aug. 3 with practice set to begin on Monday, Aug. 4.

Football practices on the following six dates will be held at Donald R. Dizney Stadium and completely open to the public: Thursday, Aug. 7; Friday, Aug. 8; Sunday, Aug. 11; Tuesday, Aug. 12, Wednesday, Aug. 13; Thursday, Aug. 14.

Florida will also hold a practice open only to season ticket holders on Saturday, Aug. 9 at the lacrosse stadium.

The Gators’ last open practice will be held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 16. It precedes Fan Day for the football and volleyball teams, which will kick off at 3 p.m. across the street at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center.

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