Brantley’s picks doom Gators as Florida State upends Florida 21-7 in The Swamp

Senior Night in The Swamp was anything but a celebration Saturday for the Florida Gators (6-6), which fell 21-7 to the Florida State Seminoles (8-4) after their in-state rival scored 21 points off of turnovers and won at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2003.

Florida State running back Devonta Freeman found the end zone twice on a pair of short touchdown runs following interceptions off of Florida redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, and safety Terrance Parks returned an interception off of freshman QB Jacoby Brissett 29 yards for a touchdown to ice the game in the fourth quarter.

Despite the Seminoles only gaining 95 yards of total offense on the evening and averaging 0.7 yards per carry, FSU was able to manhandle UF by making the most out of four turnovers and ensuring that the Gators had a tough time moving the ball on offense.

Brantley threw three interceptions in Florida’s first five possessions; the Gators went three-and-out and punted the ball the other two times.

Down two touchdowns, Florida chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from Florida State’s 15 midway through the second quarter, but sophomore running back Trey Burton lost 14 yards and UF turned the ball over to FSU on downs.

Attempting to overcome his poor play in the first half, Brantley remained composed with 1:49 left until halftime and delivered a 21-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. He was sandwiched on the play, and a helmet-to-helmet hit knocked him out for the remainder of the game.

Brissett took over for Brantley but failed to do anything with the Gators offense until Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard recovered a fumble caused by redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Taylor with 4:32 remaining in the game.

Following a pass interference call on 1st and 10 from Florida State’s 21-yard-line, Brissett hit Dunbar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The late score allowed the Gators to avoid their first shutout since 1988.

Joining Brantley on the trainer’s table were redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey, sophomore DT Dominique Easley, sophomore LB Darrin Kitchens and redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio, all of whom were injured in action and did not return to the field.

Kitchens was injured on the opening kickoff of the second half and was carted to the locker rooms after laying motionless on the field for a number of minutes. He gave a thumbs up to the crowd on his way to the back.

Brantley finished his final game in The Swamp 9/15 for 104 yards and three interceptions. Rainey carried the ball 15 times for 42 yards, and senior RB Jeff Demps touched it just four times for -8 yards.

Dunbar finished with three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown, and freshman tight end A.C. Leonoard led all Gators with 65 yards on the evening.

Florida’s stout defense held Florida State QB E.J. Manuel to six completions on 13 attempts for 65 yards and Freeman to 44 yards on 15 carries.

The Seminoles committed nine penalties for 85 yards and held the ball three minutes longer than the Gators did on Saturday.

Florida finished the regular season with a .500 record for the first time since 1979 (0-10-1). The Gators await a bowl invite but are expected to face Ohio State in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, FL.

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Seniors can end Gators careers on high note

Redshirt seniors quarterback John Brantley and running back Chris Rainey have won championships and seen the Florida Gators reach immense success during their five years with the team. Unfortunately for both men, the vast majority of that success came before they were elevated to full-time starting roles.

With Florida posting a losing record in Southeastern Conference (3-5) play for the first time since 1986 and treading just above the Mendoza line at 6-5 overall, the duo have a unique opportunity to leave a lasting impression on Gators fans this Saturday.

Florida will host the Florida State Seminoles in The Swamp, a game that also marks Senior Day for UF’s seven fifth-year seniors and 11 true seniors.

“It’s not going to really hit me until that day comes. I don’t think it’ll be a scary feeling. I’ll just be sad, get over it when that day comes and then get ready for bigger and better things in the future,” said Rainey while looking ahead to the event.

After ending their team’s six-game winning streak against the Seminoles with a 31-7 drubbing a year ago, the Gators have a chance to avenge that loss and partially make up for being 0-5 against ranked opponents including rivals Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.

“This win will probably override all the losses,” Rainey said. “We ain’t looking at nothing negative. We just got to keep going. There are a lot of games that we should have won but lost. It would be a good thing for us to leave the season with.”

Brantley agreed with his classmate, nothing that defeating Florida State could go a long way to making up for a lackluster season overall.

“It would make everything a lot better,” he said. “That’s the one team that is always circled on your schedule each year. Definitely it would make up for it. Having a win over FSU, no matter what your record is or anything, that’s always huge.”

Taking a more conservative approach, Florida head coach Will Muschamp agreed that beating FSU would be a good note to end the season on but added that it does not make up for UF’s failures this year.

“I don’t’ know that it would override the losses,” he said. “Certainly ending [the season] on a positive note against Florida State would be certainly a shot in the arm for us emotionally heading into a bowl game, heading into the offseason and sending the seniors out the right way.”

To prepare for the showdown, Muschamp will have the Gators’ seniors – including Brantley and Rainey – address the team Friday night before the game. They will reminisce on their Florida careers and try and give the team an extra boost to take down an arch rival and end the regular season with a bang.

For their part, Brantley and Rainey have their heads on straight heading into the game and hope to look back on Saturday’s potential victory with pride.

Brantley, a Gators fan growing up, said he has absolutely “no regrets whatsoever” about how his college career has played out and is ready to take down a team he has disliked his whole life in the Seminoles.

The mindset possessed by Rainey is one Muschamp has been trying to get the team to buy into from day one, something that could serve them quite well on Saturday.

“I had a crazy career,” Rainey said on Monday. “All I have to do is just keep my head up, stay focused and keep looking ahead. Everybody is going to have highs and lows, all I have to do is keep being positive.”

An entire team wearing orange and blue will be able to share in that positive feeling if they can pull out a victory on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Photo Credits: Unknown/Unknown

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Florida escapes Furman with 54-32 victory

A victory may have been in doubt for a while, but the Florida Gators (6-5) fought back from a 15-point first quarter deficit to defeat the Furman Paladins (6-5) 54-32 on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida senior quarterback John Brantley completed 16-of-28 passes for career-highs of 329 yards and four touchdowns in the win. With the victory, the Gators became bowl eligible for the 21st consecutive season, the longest streak in the Southeastern Conference and second-longest in the nation.

Furman shocked Florida by scoring on their first possession, running the ball six-straight times for 67 yards and a rushing touchdown after UF redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis missed a 51-yard field goal attempt.

The Gators committed a safety the next time they got the ball when redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison snapped it over Brantley’s head close to the end zone. The Paladins took advantage of the short field on the ensuing kickoff by concluding a five-play, 55-yard drive with a 31-yard touchdown through the air.

Down double digits, Florida fought back immediately. Brantley completed a 41-yard pass deep down the right sideline to redshirt senior wide receiver Denote Thompson and another 14-yard strike down the middle of the field to redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed three plays later for a touchdown.

With their lead cut to eight, Furman looked to regain their two-score advantage. Stationed at UF’s 47-yard-line, QB Chris Forcier tossed the ball to TE Colin Anderson, who threw it 47 yards down the field to Sederrik Cunningham for a touchdown.

The Gators were reeling at the end of the first quarter but took it to the Paladins shortly after the second quarter began. Florida ended a seven-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard rushing score by freshman fullback Hunter Joyer, and Brantley hooked up with redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose for an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of UF’s next possession. A two-point conversion failed, leaving the Gators down 22-20.

Florida sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley blocked a punt on FU’s next drive, getting his team the ball back at their opponent’s 34-yard-line. Brantley responded with a 29-yard touchdown pass to redshirt freshman WR Quinton Dunbar, who tapped one foot down in the back of the end zone for the score.

UF had a chance to add a field goal at the end of the half, but Sturgis pushed a 40-yard attempt to the left and Florida kept its 27-22 lead at the break.

The teams traded field goals and punts to open the second half before swapping touchdowns to close the third quarter. The Gators had possession with 1:16 to play in the quarter, and Brantley again threw deep to Debose for a 64-yard touchdown. The Paladins responded immediately with a 77-yard rushing touchdown from running back Jerodis Williams on the first play of their ensuing possession.

Florida held just a five-point advantage into the fourth quarter but took their shots at Furman from that point forward. Sturgis nailed a 55-yard field goal to end the quarter’s first possession, and freshman safety De’Ante Saunders intercepted Forcier’s next pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to put the Gators ahead 47-32.

After another pair of punts, Florida got back on the board when redshirt sophomore Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins picked off Forcier and returned it 75 yards for the second pick-six of the game.

Though they were trailing 22-7 at the end of the first quarter, the Gators outscored the Paladins 47-10 through the final three quarters of the contest.

Debose had a career-high 151 yards and two touchdowns, and redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey led the rushing attack with 15 carries for 90 yards. Reed added four receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown, Dunbar had two catches for 54 yards and a score, and Thompson made two grabs for 45 yards.

Saunders registered Florida’s first interception return for a touchdown this season and caught his second pick in as many games. Jenkins nabbed his first interception of the season after dropping a number of balls early in the year.

Sturgis’s two field goals gave him 44 for his career, good for second all-time in school history behind Jeff Chandler (67).

The Gators posted more than 50 points in a game for the first time since registering 55 against Vanderbilt one year ago.

Despite the 22-point victory, Florida only outgained Furman 453-445. The Gators had 116 more yards in the air (329-213) but were outrushed 233-124 on the afternoon. UF committed six penalties for 60 yards in the contest, gave up two fourth-down conversions (on two attempts) and possessed the ball 13:24 less than FU (23:18-36:42).

Florida will conclude its regular season next Saturday by hosting rival Florida State in The Swamp. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will air live on ESPN2.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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Florida Gators vs. Furman Paladins Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 77°F, partly cloudy, winds E at 10 mph
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: Pay-Per-View
SiriusXM: 217/198
Online Video: ESPN3.com (Subject to blackout)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS FURMAN PALADINS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Bruce Fowler
Record: 5-5 (3-5) Record: 6-4 (5-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -31

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon at 1:00 p.m.

Story: Florida’s little mistakes result in big losses
Story: Gators’ CB Marcus Roberson out for season
Story: Foley says Muschamp has a chance to be “special”

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series against Furman 6-2 but has won six-straight games dating back to 1947. The teams have not played since 1990.
» All five of the Gators’ losses this season have come to ranked opponents.
» UF will be bowl eligible with a victory on Saturday.
» Florida is 5-0 when outrushing their opponent but 0-5 when being outrushed.
» The Gators are last in the nation in penalties, committing 83 in 10 games. Florida has lost/given up 614 yards due to those miscues. Those numbers average out to UF committing 8.3 penalties per game for 61.40 yards.
» In their five victories, the Gators are outscoring opponents 54-3 in the first quarter, while in their losses they have been outscored 31-20. Florida has also scored on their opening drive in four of 10 games.
» UF’s offense has struggled as of late, and the Gators have had major problems putting the ball in the end zone. Florida has scored points in 28 of 40 quarters this season and touchdowns in only 20 of those quarters.
» The Gators have half as many upperclassmen (13 seniors, 12 juniors) as they do underclassmen (27 sophomores, 23 freshmen) seeing action this season. The roster is equally split with 19 seniors, 14 juniors, 33 sophomores and 33 freshmen.
» Florida is only converting 45 percent (14-of-31) of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns but has scored at least a field goal when the offense has a possession inside the 20-yard-line 87 percent of the time.
» The Gators have a negative turnover margin in their wins and losses this season. UF is -1 in its five wins and -9 in its five losses.
» Florida is No. 12 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (305.4 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 20 nationally and fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (19.3 points per game).
» UF’s pass defense is allowing just 113.9 yards per game, good for fourth in the SEC and eighth nationally.
» The Gators’ defense is fifth in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 29.4 percent of those attempted to be successful. However, UF is 55th nationally in preventing fourth-down conversions, allowing a 47.6 percent success rate.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (313) since 2000. UF also has the most interceptions in the nation (74) since 2008.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida last faced Furman during the third week of the 1990 season, defeating the Paladians 27-3 in Gainesville, FL. Gators quarterback Shane Matthews passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, which was Florida’s third-straight in route to a 9-2 season with losses only to Tennessee and Florida State.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

» Questionable: Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder), redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle), redshirt freshman defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder)
» Inactive: Redshirt senior guard/center Dan Wenger (ankle), redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), freshman CB Marcus Roberson (neck)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 59.1 percent of his passes (107-of-181) this season for 1,479 yards and six touchdowns but also threw three interceptions including one returned for a score. Brantley had missed 10 quarters of action after injuring his ankle against Alabama but returned with limited health and mobility against Georgia.
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 993 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 14.6 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list with mirror image 65-yard touchdowns against Alabama and LSU. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 272 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first 10 games. Additionally, his 22.7 yards per catch is the highest average in the SEC and second nationally.
» Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who had a season-high five receptions for 62 yards last week and has caught 12 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown over the last three games. Reed is starting to emerge as a reliable receiving option for Brantley and Florida.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary. He is second on the team in tackles (61) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU a month ago marked a career high, and his 7.5 tackles for loss this season are a team-high.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of the Gators’ strongest unit. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (27 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 12.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-3 on the team in tackles. Bostic (77) and Jenkins (50) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has six tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack and five pass breakups on the year.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing eight games one year ago with an injured back. He is 19-for-21 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 55) and is perfect with 21 extra points, leading the Gators with 78 points scored this season. Sturgis is third in the nation with 19 field goals made but missed a game three weeks ago (leg).

FURMAN
» QB Chris Forcier…who has passed for 2,099 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season and leads the FCS in passing efficiency with a 180.9 rating. He is completing 65.4 percent of his passes in 2011 and hopes to top former Gators QB Ingle Martin for most touchdown passes in a season in school history (22).
» RB Jerodis Williams…who has rushed for 922 yards with seven touchdowns this season. He is attempting to become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2003.
» TE Colin Anderson…who is the team’s leading pass catcher with 668 yards and seven scores on 38 receptions. He is a big target and great outlet for Forcier.
» LB Kadarron Anderson…who has registered 111 tackles (5.5 for loss) with two sacks and a forced fumble in 2011 but may miss the game after spraining his knee against Elon last week. Anderson has started 32-straight games for Furman.

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Demps leads Florida past Vanderbilt 26-21

Running for a career-high 158 yards on 23 carries with a pair of touchdowns on Saturday, senior running back Jeff Demps was the primary offensive weapon for the Florida Gators, which snapped a four-game losing streak by defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores 26-21 on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida (5-4, 3-4 SEC) led 17-0 at the half but was up just five until Demps took off on a 52-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt (4-5, 1-5 SEC) scored again but a failed onside kick gave UF the ball back and allowed them to run out the clock.

The Gators have won 21 consecutive games against the Commodores dating back to 1989 and have not lost at home to them since 1945.

Florida drove down the field on their first possession and threatened to score early. A pass from freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett to redshirt sophomore tight end Omarius Hines went for 37 yards near Vanderbilt’s goal line, but Hines fumbled it before crossing and turned it over.

UF still managed to score 17 points in the first half. Brissett ran a touchdown in from a yard out, Demps carried a ball five yards for a score, and redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis connected on a 55-yard attempt with six seconds left in the half after missing a 49-yard try in the first quarter.

Commodores’ signal caller Jordan Rodgers was impressive all game long, finishing 19/28 for 297 yards, a pair of touchdowns and a rushing score. His first came midway through the third quarter on a 26-yard pass to wide receiver Jordan Matthews, which cut the Gators’ lead to 10.

Sturgis hit a 40-yard field goal near the end of the third, but Vanderbilt responded with a 14-play, 60-yard drive that ended with an eight-yard rushing touchdown for Rodgers, leaving Florida ahead just 20-14 with 10:54 to play.

After consecutive punts, the Gators got the ball back at their own six looking for a way to close out the game. An offsides by the Commodores on fourth down kept Florida’s drive alive, as did a pass interference call three plays later. Demps carried the ball seven times on the eight-play, 94-yard drive and ended it with a 52-yard rushing touchdown.

UF’s two-point conversion attempt failed, and VU capitalized immediately by driving 80 yards in just five plays, the last of which was a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers to WR Chris Boyd.

Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed recovered the ensuing onside kick, and the Gators held onto the lead by running the clock out from there.

The most penalized team in the country heading into the game, Florida committed just three on Saturday. Vanderbilt, on the other hand, was flagged 12 times for 106 yards and kept a few UF drives alive with their miscues.

Junior RB Mike Gillislee saw some time in the run game for the Gators, carrying the ball nine times for 39 yards. Sophomore RB Trey Burton got going in the first half, earning 41 receiving yards on three receptions.

Florida got some good quarterbacking from redshirt senior John Brantley, who was 16/24 for 173 yards. Brantley played his best in the first half but injured his shoulder in the fourth quarter and was removed for the game.

The Gators held Commodores star RB Zac Stacy to 49 yards on 13 carries but gave up nine receptions for 170 yards and a touchdown to Matthews.

Florida possessed the ball three more minutes than Vanderbilt and gained just 33 more yards than their opponent. Hines’s fumble was the only turnover of the game.

Saturday’s win was the Gators’ first victory since Sept. 24. Florida had not played at home since losing to Alabama on Oct. 1 and will hop on the road again next Saturday to take on South Carolina. The game time and channel has yet to be announced.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt Gameday Preview

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 66°F, sunny, winds NNE at 13 mph
Time: 12:21 p.m. (ET)

TV: SEC Network
SiriusXM: 220/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: James Franklin
Record: 4-4 (2-4) Record: 4-4 (1-4)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -13.5; O/U 44.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon at 12:21 p.m.

Story: Gators DE Sharrif Floyd striving to improve

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Vanderbilt 33-9-2 and holds an 18-1-1 advantage in games played in Gainesville, FL. UF is outscoring VU nearly two-to-one (1,182-606) in those contests.
» The Gators have won 20-straight against the Commodores dating back to 1988.
» Florida has not lost to Vanderbilt in Gainesville since their first meeting in 1945. However, the two teams played a two-overtime contest that ended 49-42 in 2005.
» This will be just the third time since 1967 that UF is not ranked going into the game.
» Florida is last in the nation in penalties, committing 75 through the first eight games. The Gators have lost/given up 567 yards due to those miscues. Those numbers average out to Florida committing 9.38 penalties per game for 70.88 yards.
» UF has not played in The Swamp since Oct. 1.
» The Gators are undefeated this season against unranked teams and are also 4-0 when out-rushing their opponent in a game; however, Florida is winless against ranked teams and 0-4 when being out-rushed by their opponent.
» Vanderbilt has held all seven FBS teams they’ve faced under their season rushing average to the tune of nearly 80 fewer yards per game.
» In their four victories, the Gators are outscoring opponents 54-3 in the first quarter, while in their losses they have been outscored 31-17. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of eight games.
» The Commodores have scored 202 points this year, just two fewer than during their entire 2010 campaign and six more than they posted in all of 2009.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (19 seniors, 14 juniors) as they do underclassmen (33 sophomores, 33 freshmen) on the roster the season.
» The Gators had a 100-yard rusher in four-straight games to start the season, the team’s second-longest streak ever, before failing to accomplish that feat in each of the last four games (all losses).
» Fourteen different Florida players made their first career start this season including five freshmen and three redshirt freshmen; 15 total have seen action this year.
» The Gators offense has struggled as of late, and Florida has had major problems putting the ball in the end zone. UF has scored points in 22 of 32 quarter this season and touchdowns in only 17 of those quarters.
» Florida is No. 14 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (297.3 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 22 nationally and fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (19.5 points per game).
» UF’s pass defense is allowing just 168.5 yards per game, good for third in the SEC and seventh nationally.
» The Gators’ defense is seventh in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 29.1 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (312) since 2000. UF also has the most interceptions in the nation (73) since 2008.
» Vanderbilt’s secondary is second in the SEC and tied for fourth nationally with 15 interceptions; however, VU has picked off just one ball in the last four games.
» The Gators lead the Commodores in three of the four major statistical categories. Florida tops Vanderbilt in national averages of passing yards 186.4-152.6 (95th-108th), points scored 26.0-25.3 (73rd-80th) and points against 19.5-22.8 (22nd-38th), while VU leads UF in rushing yards 167.6-151.4 (50th-66th). The teams each fell to a pair of comment opponents – Alabama and Georgia. The Gators lost those games 38-10 and 24-20, while the Commodores dropped their matches 34-0 and 33-28.

LAST TIME OUT

Riding momentum from a 34-31 overtime win against Georgia in 2010, Florida upended Vanderbilt 55-14 in Nashville, TN last year. Mike Gillislee ran for a touchdown midway through the first quarter, but the Gators blew open the game after that, scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter and leading 41-0 at halftime. Deonte Thompson, Chris Rainey and Frankie Hammond, Jr. each had long scoring receptions, Terron Sanders returned a fumble for a touchdown, and Solomon Patton returned a blocked kick for another score. Florida accounted for 277 yards of offense through the air and 203 on the ground while holding Vanderbilt to 63 and 46 yards, respectively.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators will be featured in a separate segment on the main portion of the broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. ESPN will take a look at why Florida is struggling and what is wrong with the team this year. The game will also be featured in the pick segment; expect one or two of the guys at the table to choose Vanderbilt. Former head coach Urban Meyer will also be on-site in Tuscaloosa, AL working during the program.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Probable/Questionable: Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (ankle), redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder), redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis (leg), junior RB Mike Gillislee (ankle), sophomore CB Cody Riggs (wrist)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 57.4 percent of his passes (78-of-136) this season for 1,187 yards and six touchdowns but also threw three interceptions including one returned for a score. Brantley had missed 10 quarters of action after injuring his ankle against Alabama but returned with limited health and mobility last week against Georgia.
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 831 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 4.9 yards per carry and 15.3 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list with mirror image 65-yard touchdowns against Alabama and LSU. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 247 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first eight games. Additionally, his 24.7 yards per catch is the highest average in the SEC and second nationally.
» Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who had four receptions for a career-high 69 yards last week against Georgia. He also caught just the second receiving touchdown of his career Saturday – his first this season.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is tied for second on the team in tackles (48) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU three weeks ago marked a career high, and his 3.5 tackles for loss this season is fourth-best on the team.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (25 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 9.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks through the first eight games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-3 on the team in tackles. Bostic (60) and Jenkins (46) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has six tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack and five pass breakups on the year.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing eight games one year ago with an injured back. He is 15-for-16 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 51) and is perfect with 19 extra points, leading the Gators with 64 points scored this season. Sturgis holds the national lead with 15 field goals made but missed last week’s game with a leg injury.

VANDERBILT
» QB Jordan Rodgers (#11)…who has started the last four games for the Commodores after beginning the season as a backup. Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, has rushed for 241 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. He’s 25/54 passing against Vanderbilt’s last two opponents as well, tossing a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions.
» RB Zac Stacy (#2)…who leads the Commodores in rushing with 97 carries for 707 yards (7.3 average) with six rushing touchdowns this season. Stacy is eighth nationally in yards per carry and the No. 4 rusher in the SEC.
» Defensive linemen Tim Fugger (#42) and Rob Lohr (#84)…who are leading Vanderbilt defensively by combining for 21.5 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks.
» DB Casey Hayward (#19)…who is tied for fourth nationally with five interceptions and is the SEC’s active leader with 13 picks. Hayward is one of 15 semifinalists for the Thrope Award given annually to the nation’s top defensive back.

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Gators DT Dominique Easley won’t be charged

Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley will not be charged with any wrongdoing by the state of Florida after it was alleged he committed misdemeanor battery, the State Attorney’s Office said in a statement released Thursday.

Easley was accused by former Alabama cornerback Reggie Myles of tackling him outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the early morning of Oct. 2 following Florida’s loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide. Myles took Easley’s cell phone from the scene and gave a sworn complaint to an officer.

Complaints against both men were submitted by the University Police Department to State Attorney Bill Cervone last week with Myles being cited for alleged criminal mischief, larceny and disorderly intoxication.

Cervone released the following statement in regards to his decision on the matter:

Having reviewed the reports provided by the University Police Department regarding Dominique Easley and Reginald Myles as they relate to events that occurred on October 2, 2011, and the allegations against each of them, I have reached the following conclusions regarding those events.

First, virtually everyone involved has provided contradictory information in some regard and some of those persons were apparently impaired from drinking to the point where their memory is not reliable in any event. The only exception to this is Easley, and that may be only because he exercised his constitutional right to remain silent and has said nothing. He cannot be compelled to do otherwise. Additionally, it is apparent that at least some of those involved have motives beyond what happened that raise questions of credibility.

Second, almost everyone involved has behaved badly in some way, including Easley, Myles and several of the witnesses, none of whom can be characterized as neutral or impartial. In some ways, that bad behavior might be provably criminal against Easley, Myles, or others, but just because it might be doesn’t mean that it should be when the cost and likely result of doing so would not warrant that.

There is a preference in the law that those who come before the courts seeking the redress of grievances should do so with clean hands. In my view, that includes in the criminal as well as the civil courts even though it is the State and not an individual that is the aggrieved party in a criminal case. There are no clean hands in this situation.

There is also no harm done, despite protestations to the contrary, that outweighs these factors. Any harm to either party is in essence canceled out by the harm to the other party. To use an appropriate analogy, I am therefore calling off setting penalties and declining to file any criminal charges against either Easley, Myles, or anyone else.

Easley has not yet nor is expected to miss any game action.

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FOUR BITS: Young, Jaeckel, cheer, Jenkins

1 » Florida Gators sophomore forward/center Patric Young, one of the most important pieces to the team’s 2011-12 season, was named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list on Monday. The Wooden Award is presented each year to the nation’s most outstanding college basketball player and is awarded after the postseason has concluded. Every player in the nation is eligible to win except freshmen, medical redshirts and transfers. Young is one of seven players representing the Southeastern Conference on the watch list and the only one from Florida.

2 » Gators senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel picked up a pair of prestigious weekly honors after standout performances over the weekend. Jaeckel was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday and was honored with the AVCA National Player of the Week award just one day later. Over the course of two road games against Auburn and Georgia, Jaeckel totaled 29 kills, 12 blocks, four digs and two service aces. Florida swept both opponents 3-0 and is now 11-3 with a 4-1 record in SEC competition so far this season.

3 » UF cheerleader Tarin Moses wrote a Sideline Report blog for AmericanCheerleaders.com, which takes readers through a day in the life of a member of the Gators’ spirit squad before, during and after a big contest at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Though the majority of Florida fans already know of the traditions Moses writes about, the entry is an interesting look at the game from her perspective.

4 » Former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, playing his final collegiate season with the North Alabama Lions after transferring due to multiple rules violations, was named the Gulf Coast Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday because he had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and a blocked field goal during his team’s game on Saturday. It was Jenkins’s third touchdown of the season (punt return, fumble return), and he is also third on North Alabama with 33 tackles through five games. The Lions have started the 2011 season 5-0.

Extra BIT » Offensive tackle Max Starks has not played a game in the NFL this season after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers when the lockout ended this summer. Due to a massive amount of injuries and an intense need for a player who knows the system, Pittsburgh flew Starks in to work out for the team on Tuesday, NFL.com‘s Jason LaCanfora reports. Starks was originally cut by the Steelers due to weight issues and concerns stemming from offseason neck surgery. When asked last week if Starks was an option to return, head coach Mike Tomlin flat-out said no.

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