Florida Gators announce Orange & Blue Debut spring game set for April 11

The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that the program’s spring football game, the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut, will emanate from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, April 11.

It will be the second-straight year that Florida will hold its spring game on the second Saturday in April after generally holding it on the first Saturday in previous years.

The spring game has taken strange twists in recent offseasons. In 2013, due to a roster ravaged by injuries and the Gators only having six healthy offensive lineman, Florida basically ran a glorified practice.

Last season, despite holding a strange “selection show” for marketing purposes, Florida ran first-team offense against first-team defense (and so on). Therefore, instead of there being two teams going against each other – one wearing orange, the other blue – both defenses wore orange and both offenses wore blue.

Of course, the 2014 game also ended in a 23-23 tie.

The Gators said Tuesday that they will have additional details to announce about the 2015 spring game in the future. The 2014 spring game did not air live on television and was only available live online for $3.99.

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Florida AD Jeremy Foley answers questions, expects to spend $1 million on cost of attendance

In a question-and-answer session held on the program’s official website, as well as another on its Twitter account, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley discussed a number of topics including how the recently-passed cost of attendance legislation will affect his program next season.

“The cost of attendance that passed is obviously an opportunity for us to do something that we’ve all talked about for our student-athletes for a number of years now. In essence, it increases the value of their scholarship. There’s going to be a financial impact for us, a little over a million dollars,” he explained via the school’s website.

“But it’s money well spent and certainly I think the new autonomy structure has allowed that to happen. It excites us that we had the flexibility to do something like that, and I’m sure there will be more changes in the future.”

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NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

At the conclusion of each year, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. For the second-straight year, which will go down as another difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 14 for 2014 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 14 for 2014 (COMING THURSDAY) to begin 2015 on a positive note!

14 » SEE YA NEVER

Over the final two months of 2014, the Gators football program saw three seniors decide – whether through purposeful actions or team rules violations – to end their careers early. Learning he would not be starting at Vanderbilt, redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr argued with then head coach Will Muschamp and was sent home on a bus before the game; he later tried to explain his side of the story. On the final day of the year, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose (mutual decision) and senior DT Darious Cummings (violation of team rules) were ruled out for the bowl game. Debose had an up-and-down hear overall, suffering a defenestration in the spring and barely playing on offense during the season; he was excellent as Florida’s all-purpose returner, however, and ends his career tied for the SEC record in kick return touchdowns (four).

13 » CHARACTER CONCERNS

Maurkice and Mike Pouncey kept their noses clean when they were with the Gators and continue to be fan favorite from their time at Florida. However, since becoming professional football players, some character questions have been raised – stemming in large part from the brothers wearing “Free Hernandez” hats last year – and those continued in 2014. Pouncey was one of the main players named in bullying allegations levied by former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, and both Pounceys were accused of serious assault during a night club incident in Miami. The brothers were not ultimately charged with assault from that evening’s incident but all of the allegations continued to paint UF in a bad light.

12 » UNEXPECTEDLY UNDRAFTED

It started in the 2014 NFL Draft when a pair of Gators junior cornerbacks that declared early – Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robersonwere not selected. Purifoy had a drug incident in the offseason that contributed to him not being drafted – and both players dealt with character concerns – but it was nevertheless a surprise. (Purifoy and Roberson, respectively, signed undrafted free agent deals with the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams. Both saw limited action this season with Purifoy getting cut by the Colts, dropped by the Seattle Seahawks after a waiver claim [failed a physical] and ultimately suspended four games by the NFL for an undisclosed reason.)

There was even more of an expectation that center Patric Young would be picked in the 2014 NBA Draft with many believing he could go as high as the lower portion of the first round. Instead, Young fell out of the first and did not even get picked in the second as many NBA teams chose to select international players that they could stash and not sign to contracts. Young ultimately signed with the New Orleans Pelicans but was later cut by the franchise and is now playing in Turkey. Point guard Scottie Wilbekin and forward Casey Prather also went undrafted, and though Wilbekin performed well in NBA Summer League action, he did not get an opportunity in the league either.

11 » BAD OMENS

Though there was some positive momentum for the football program as the 2014 season approached, with the roster looking healthy and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper expected to turn things around for Florida, a number of bad omens cast doom over the Gators’ campaign. It started with the Orange & Blue Debut spring game, which ended in a tie. Though there was no reason to continue the game per se, fans in attendance hoped to see a little bit of extra Florida football action and left disappointed.

The ominous offseason continued with wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Joker Phillips resigning from his position in June after Miami staffers reported him for a recruiting violation. Muschamp named former Gators quarterback and team graduate assistant Chris Leak as the replacement receivers coach, giving UF four different coaches at that position in as many seasons. The last omen was even more obvious than the first two with lightning storms cancelling Florida’s season opener against Idaho. Though options were considered to play the game at a later date in the season, it was ultimately decided to take the contest off both teams’ schedules with the Gators and Vandals only playing 11 contests in 2014.

Continue Reading » NOT Top 14 for 2014: Moments Gators can forget

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Florida athletics receives largest-ever $12.5 million donation for student facility

The University of Florida’s University Athletic Association on Friday announced receipt of $12.5 million from an anonymous donor, which is being billed as the largest-ever donation to the program.

The $12.5 million will go towards a massive $25 million renovation to the Office of Student Life, which the Florida Gators believe will be a huge benefit to current athletes and a massive recruiting tool for future Gators.

The renovation will improve academic programs for all 480 Florida athletes across 21 varsity sports. Renovations will begin in March for what will be named the Otis Hawkins Center for Academic and Personal Excellence.

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Florida Gators progressing towards potential indoor practice facility for football

While the Florida Gators were in the midst of hiring a new head football coach, the University of Florida continued to progress in its plans to potentially build an indoor practice facility for the program with a completion date as early as July 2015.

In October, a notice of bid/request for a proposal requiring “design/build services” for “Project UAA-35, Indoor Practice Facility (Main Campus)” was submitted to the Florida Department of State, with the University Athletic Association noting that it was “considering the possibilities of providing an indoor practice field for the football program on its current practice site” as well as “a new storage building … to provide space for a satellite athletic training space, hydration station, toilet, and field maintenance equipment.”

A UAA spokesman told The Gainesville Sun in October that there were no plans on the horizon to build an indoor practice facility, and that may have been the case at the time, but the early stages of planning have continued.

The UAA hired RDG Planning & Design to mock up plans for a potential indoor practice facility, which the company did by creating three options that would require adjustments to the current site of Florida football’s practice fields.

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Will Muschamp exits Florida Gators job: ‘I hold my head up walking out of here’

Saturday’s loss to Florida State was a microcosm of the Florida Gators over the last four years under head coach Will Muschamp.

Florida committed undisciplined penalties, was unable to take advantage of opponent miscues and could not find the end zone even with a short field, which it had often. The Gators were also plagued by uneven coaching and questionable decision-making, especially deep in the red zone and on their last offensive series when the passing game was for some reason suddenly preferred over the running game.

Similarly, Muschamp’s post-game press conference incorporated all of his maxims. In fact, many of them were thrown into a single five-sentence reply after he was asked about Florida once again having a chance to win a game but failing to take advantage of its opportunities.

“We’ve had our opportunities. You look at two other games where we had the game in hand and had our opportunities to get it done. We didn’t get it done,” he said. “It falls on my shoulders. And that’s why they’re going to be looking for a coach.”

Continue Reading » Will Muschamp exits Florida Gators job: ‘I hold my head up walking out of here’

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Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

The Florida Gators (6-4) took care of business, routing the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s 52-3 victory on Saturday got the Gators bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 and also marked the second-largest win margin in any game under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to leave The Swamp with his head held high.

BOWL GAME COACH CHOSEN

Moments after Florida’s win was finalized, the school announced that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would serve as interim head coach for the Gators’ bowl game this year. Durkin, the second-longest tenured member of the staff (five years) behind running backs coach Brian White (six years), will take the reigns of the program once Muschamp’s dismissal is finalized next Saturday, Nov. 29.

FINAL LESSON: A TOUGH WEEK, ROAD AHEAD

There should be no doubt that the entire Florida football team took Muschamp’s dismissal hard. Gators players spoke of him fondly on Monday after his press conference and were obviously playing with an extra gear on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard even went so far as to write his coach’s last name on his eyeblack.

“I’ve just been through a lot and he’s been there for me,” Bullard said. “When I lost my grandmother, he was a big supporter; he let me go home as long as I needed. Just little things he did helping me through that whole situation, he’s just been a real good person to me. I respect him a lot, and actually, I love him. I just wanted to show some respect for him, everything he’s done for me, and show him that I appreciate it.”

Muschamp admitted Saturday that it took a while for Florida to get back in the swing of things this week. Monday’s practice was thwarted due to the weather; Tuesday the team looked “just OK” and did not show “great effort” on the field; and Wednesday was just “a little bit better.”

So Muschamp spent the Gators’ regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting speaking about much more than just the upcoming game but rather how Florida’s players need to deal with his dismissal and their futures going forward.

Continue Reading » Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Kentucky

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 69°F (feels like 71°F), showers (50%), winds ENE at 12 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network – alternate channel (Allen Bestwick, Chris Doering, Kayce Smith)

Streaming Video: SEC Network via WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 112/192 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EKU COLONELS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Dean Hood
Record: 5-4 Record: 9-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Ohio Valley

Odds: NONE

SENIOR DAY

Friday Final: Preparing for an emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

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