2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Review

With the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut now officially in the books, OGGOA is here to take a look at what happened Saturday afternoon on Florida Field inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the Florida Gators spring game practice and how head coach Will Muschamp felt about the team and his players after the conclusion of the day’s events.

OFFENSE: STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
* Separate story on passing game (quarterbacks, wide receivers) to be posted Sunday.

Running Backs
A starter emerges: Sophomore Matt Jones did not see a lot of action on Saturday by design. Why? Because Jones has played so well throughout the spring that he has all but officially been named Florida’s starter in the backfield. “Matt has really had an outstanding spring. We have a good comfort level where he is as a player,” Muschamp said. “He’s a physical runner. He understands our protections. He’s got great hands in the throwing game. There’s no question he’s an all-around back. He can do everything for us and he’s shown it to us for 14-straight practices.”

Four-deep with a freshman shining: Behind Jones there are three other players competing for carriers – redshirt junior Mack Brown, freshman Kelvin Taylor and sophomore walk-on Mark Herndon. On Saturday, Brown barely got any carries with the vast majority of snaps going to the latter two players. Unlike Jones, it did not look like the coaching staff was resting Brown. Taylor looked dynamic and Herndon made it quite clear why the coaches have praised him throughout the spring with multiple nice runs including a touchdown scamper from inside the 10-yard line. Though Taylor started slow, he showed nice patience running between the tackles, looked decent in pass protection and showed shiftiness breaking a tackle and moving the ball to the outside. Late in the scrimmage, he had a 15-yard run off-tackle and later scored a red zone touchdown from eight yards out when he stuck the ball over the goal line.

Asked about Taylor after the game, Muschamp gushed about how impressive he has been just 15 practices into his Gators career. “Kelvin’s got a really strong lower body. He runs through contact extremely well. He’s got natural instincts in the run game. You get the turns and reps and [need to learn] the protections and all the things that you got to be able to do for us at running back, but [I’m] extremely pleased with his progress,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very talented runner. Some positions are easier than others to contribute as a freshman. That’s a natural instinct position. You get the guy the ball and let his natural instincts take over and run for daylight. And he can do that. It’s the other things we got to brush up on.”

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2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Preview

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

TV: Sun Sports (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore, Brady Ackerman)
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: FOXSportsFlorida.com (nationally) | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Reference: Roster | Schedule

EVENT INFORMATION

Schedule:
9:00 a.m. – Gator Locker Room Yard Sale (outside Gate 9)
10:00 a.m. – Verizon Fan Fest in North End Zone Lawn
10:30 a.m. – Gator Walk
11:30 a.m. – Gates Open to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
11:30 a.m. – Warm-ups begin on the field
12:30 p.m. – Alumni Flag Football Game
1:00 p.m. – Orange & Blue Debut

Parking: Stephen C. O’Connell Center parking garage (first-come, first serve), Gale Lemerand Drive commuter lot (with shuttle)

Tickets: Free for alumni, students and the general public.

EVENT FORMAT

Instead of a full scrimmage, Saturday’s event will be an open practice that also includes limited scrimmage snaps. Florida will mix in approximately 40 scrimmage snaps with football drills. The format adjustment was made because the Gators currently only have six healthy offensive linemen and head coach Will Muschamp feels that it would be right to ask them to participate in 60-100 snaps over the course of a single afternoon. “It’s not fair to go into a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60-70 snaps in a row,” he explained. “That’s not healthy. That’s not good, it’s not good for our team.”

Muschamp also detailed what will occur during the practice/scrimmage (in order): (1) Field goal/point after touchdown drills, (2) punting and individual drills, (3) one-on-one work with the secondary and receivers going head-to-head while the quarterbacks throw the ball, (4) one-on-one work with block reaction for the offensive line, (5) linebackers and running backs picking up blitz protection and coverage responsibilities, (6) two series of scrimmage with the ball on the 35-yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (7) red zone one-on-one, (8) offensive and defensive line two-on-ones, (9) two series of scrimmage with the ball at the 35 yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (10) two full cover punts and a punt/punt block drill, (11), two series of scrimmage from midfield, (12) two full cover kickoffs and a kickoff/kickoff return drill, (13) two series of scrimmage from midfield, (14) red zone 7-on-7s with the ball at the 18-yard line, (15) additional drills including pass rushing, (16) backed up punt drill, (17) one-minute scrimmage drill.

“It’s about getting good-on-good work. It’s about getting your best players going against your best players. … You get better when you’re going good-on-good,” Muschamp said. “This is good work. It’s good special teams work. This is a normal scrimmage-type situation for us as far as our football team is concerned. It’s good-on-good and that’s all I’m concerned with.”

MORE: Injury report, offensive and defensive notes, list of commitments and recruits in attendance…all available after the break!
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Florida vs. FGCU: The Griffin family connection

There will be plenty written over the next four days comparing the Goliath Florida Gators with the David Florida Gulf Coast Eagles – the teams meet in the Sweet 16 of the 2013 NCAA Tournament on Friday – and while the schools do contrast in a number of abundantly apparent ways, they actually share a bond that has plenty to do with how each has been able to grow and develop over the years.

In 1930, Ben Hill Griffin, Jr. enrolled in the University of Florida where he studied economics, marketing and agriculture. After three years at UF and before he was able to graduate, he left school during the Great Depression in 1933 to begin working on his own and supporting his family. Griffin, Jr. wound up becoming a successful businessman and politician and he and his family have chosen over the years to donate large sums of money back to Florida for both higher education purposes and to partially fund its then-burgeoning athletic program.

Griffin, Jr. donated more than $20 million to the school and Gators athletic program before his passing. He credited Florida for his marketing education and felt that it was only right to share his fortune with the school that he believed made his success possible. In 1982, he was inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame as an honorary letter winner for his financial support.

In 1989, UF renamed its football stadium Ben Hill Griffin Stadium because of his generous contributions. Four years later, due to donations that led to the restoration of a historic building on campus, Floyd Hall was named Griffin-Floyd Hall. Even to this day, the school hands out academic and athletic awards and scholarships in his name.

Following his passing, his son Ben Hill Griffin III (who first attended UF before transferring to a community college) decided to begin financially assisting another school, the upstart Florida Gulf Coast University.

Continue Reading » Florida vs. FGCU: The Griffin family connection

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Gators open two football practices to public

Florida Gators football fans anxious for the 2013 season will be able to get a sneak peak at the program this spring as the team has officially decided to open a pair of non-contact spring practices to the public for the second-straight year.

The University Athletic Association announced Friday that spring practices held at Sanders Football Practice Fields on Friday, March 15 (4:35-6:35 p.m.) and Saturday, March 16 (1:05-3:00 p.m.) will be open to all comers.

The Gators officially begin spring practice on March 13, one day after Florida holds its annual Pro Day for former players preparing for the 2013 NFL Draft on March 12 at 10:30 a.m. Pro Day is also open to the public and held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Fans can enter through Gates 2, 6, 15 and 18 and pick their own seats in the stands.

The 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game is scheduled for Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. A television partner has not yet been announced for the final spring practice.

Students, Gator Boosters, Alumni Association members and F Club members all receive free admission to the spring game. A limited supply of free tickets is also available at Florida Farm Bureau agents’ offices. Tickets are currently available for $5 in the Gator ticket office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or can be ordered online at GatorZone.com/tickets.

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FOUR BITS: football, Bonner, Donovan, NCAA

1 » Some important dates have recently been released for Florida Gators football. The school will host Pro Day – where NFL scouts get the opportunity to watch draft-eligible players (and some free agents) perform inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – on Tuesday, March 12. The event is open the public, which can sit in the stands and watch the proceedings on the field (in the past, concession stands have not been open). One day later on Wednesday, March 13, the Gators will hold their first spring practice of the new season. Florida claims to have additional announcements to make in regards to spring practice but has not done so as of press time. Finally, the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut has been set for Saturday, April 6 at a yet-to-be-announced time.

2 » It’s official. San Antonio Spurs (and former Gators) forward Matt Bonner will be participating in the Three-Point Shootout at NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 16. Bonner is the second former Florida player to ever shoot in the event (Mike Miller participated twice) and has a fantastic chance of winning the whole thing. He will go up against New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Indiana’s Paul George, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and New York’s Steve Novak. The Gators also have Warriors power forward David Lee and Bulls center Joakim Noah participating in the All-Star Game and Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Rockets forward Chandler Parsons going head-to-head in the Rising Stars Challenge featuring rookies and sophomores. Former Florida guard James White (Knicks), who transferred to Cincinnati after one season at UF, will be participating in the Slam Dunk Contest.

Read two more BITS on Billy Donovan…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: football, Bonner, Donovan, NCAA

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SIX BITS: Johnson, Zunino, O&B, All-Star, Draft

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Doug Johnson may be charged with felony battery after a sworn complaint was filed with the Gainesville Police Department in November alleging that he took part in a beating of a man after the Florida-LSU football game. According to The Gainesville Sun, “The case is now in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether to file charges.” The victim told the paper that he was attacked minutes after a confrontation allegedly with Johnson and two other men. He claims to have been punched and kicked in the face repeatedly, actions which caused injuries including “a broken nose and numerous facial fractures.”

2 » Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino is one of 18 minor league players within the organization that have been invited to participate in spring training with the Seattle Mariners. He will report to Peoria, AZ on Feb. 12 and will have an opportunity to earn a roster spot just eight months after being selected No. 3 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft.

3 » The school announced Tuesday that the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game will take place on Saturday, April 6 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. That day will certainly be a busy one on campus as track & field hosts the Pepsi Florida Relays, lacrosse will go head-to-head Johns Hopkins, softball takes on Mississippi State, and gymnastics hosts the 2012 NCAA Regionals.

4 » Joining the eight Florida seniors already announced for all-star bowl games is defensive tackle Omar Hunter, who was added to the 2013 Raycom College All-Star Classic this week. The game is set to be played on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. and will air live on CBS Sports Network. Wide receivers Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Omarius Hines both competed in the 2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game last weekend with neither player posting any significant statistics. Check out the six other players participating in games over the next two weekends.

5 » The 2013 NBA All-Star team will be announced on Thursday. As of the final official release of fan voting totals on Jan. 3, only Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (seventh – Eastern Conference frontcourt) and Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (15th – Western Conference frontcourt) were on the lists, meaning neither are likely to make their respective team based on the fan vote, which closed on Monday. Reserve spots, on the other hand, are chosen by league coaches, which means Noah, Parsons, Atlanta Hawks F Al Horford and Golden State Warriors F David Lee all have a chance to be selected. Noah and Lee are probably the most likely to be chosen, especially considering Lee is currently 10th in the NBA in points (19.9), fifth in rebounds (10.9) and first in 20-10 games with 16 so far this season.

6 » Gators junior DT Sharrif Floyd continues to be a near-unanimous first-round selection in mocks that have recently been created for the 2013 NFL Draft. Of the five first-edition mock drafts released by NFL.com this week, Floyd is listed in four at No. 14 by Josh Norris, No. 23 by Gil Brant, No. 24 by Daniel Jeremiah and No. 28 by Bucky Brooks. Junior safety Matt Elam is listed on three of those five mocks at No. 17 by Brooks, No. 30 by Norris and No. 31 by Charles Davies. Davies did not list Floyd in his first round; neither Brant nor Jeremiah had Elam in theirs.

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Seniors lead No. 6 Florida to 23-0 shutout of Jacksonville State, 7-0 record in The Swamp

Seniors combined to score all 23 points for the No. 6 Florida Gators (10-1) on Saturday as the team went on to finish the 2012 campaign undefeated in The Swamp by shutting out the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (6-5) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The victory marked just the third time in school history that Florida finished 7-0 at Florida Field. The Gators also achieved that record in 2006 and 2009, the latter of which was the freshman year for UF’s true senior class.

Florida got on the board first with 6:02 left in the first quarter as senior running back Mike Gillislee scored a touchdown from seven yards out. The trot into the end zone capped a 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive that took 6:51 off the clock and included 11 runs and just one completed pass.

The Gators jumped ahead 17-0 early in the third quarter. After Florida backed Jacksonville State up near its end zone, senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic intercepted quarterback Marques Ivory on third down and brought it back seven yards for the first pick-six of his career.

Joining in on the fun was redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis, who made three of his four attempted field goals (the other was blocked) and kicked both extra points in the contest, scoring 11 total points on the afternoon. Sturgis is now just one made field goal away from matching Jeff Chandler as the school’s all-time leader in field goals (67).

The Gators outgained the Gamecocks 356-242 on the day with JSU gaining 76 yards on its very first play from scrimmage.

Florida outrushed Jacksonville State 202-48 but once again failed to attain first downs to extend drives, going just 2-for-11 on third down conversions.

Gillislee finished with 122 yards on 20 carries, his fourth 100+ yard game of the season. He 36 yards away from crossing the 1,000 yard plateau for the 2012 campaign.

Sophomore QB Jacoby Brissett, starting for the injured Jeff Driskel was 14-of-22 for 154 yards but missed at least two long passes that would have resulted in easy touchdowns for the Gators.

Florida will conclude the regular season on Saturday when it faces Florida State in Tallahassee, FL. The game will air live at 3:30 p.m. on a yet-to-be-determined network.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press

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Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 68°F, few showers (30% chance of rain), winds NNE at 1 mph
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $15 on TiqIQ

TV: Pay-Per-View (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore) | ESPN GamePlan (outside Florida)
SiriusXM: 104/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com (outside Florida)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS JACKSONVILLE STATE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jack Crowe
Record: 9-1 Record: 6-4
Conference: Southeastern (FBS) Conference: Ohio Valley (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: OFF

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Jacksonville State have never squared off on the gridiron.
» The Gators have the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule nationally.
» Florida can finish 7-0 at home in a season for just the third time in school history. The 2006 and 2009 UF teams also accomplished that feat.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season with wins of Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» UF was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have flipped that around and are 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 10-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 13-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 30-of-36 red zone trips (83.3 percent) but have only converted 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season, which is tied for 88th nationally in that category.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 33:11 in time of possession through 10 games, a margin that ranks sixth nationally and first in the SEC by 1:36 per game.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 155-55 in the second half (34-27 over the last three games) and 85-23 in the fourth quarter.
» Florida is third in scoring defense nationally (12.9 points per game).
» The Gators are +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (341) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed 15 interceptions so far in 2012 and has already surpassed its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in seven-of-10 games and has also forced eight fumbles.
» The Gators are first nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.4), fifth in total defense (284.9 yards per game) and 11th in rushing defense (99.9 yards per game).
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» The Gators are second nationally in net punt average (41.9 yards per punt).

Read about the injuries and absences and Senior Day…after the break!
Continue Reading » Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

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