Florida Gators football odds and ends: injuries, departures and more

The Florida Gators (7-5) concluded their 2014 season on Saturday, earning a 28-20 win over the East Carolina Pirates in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, a victory which marked the end of the four-year Will Muschamp era in Gainesville, Florida.

While the Gators have since announced a coaching staff and are prepared to move on under new head coach Jim McElwain, there are still some odds and ends to wrap up from the end of the 2014 campaign.

Bowl game injuries

A number of Florida players were hurt during the Birmingham Bowl but most appeared to be relatively minor injuries. That was not the case for junior linebacker Antonio Morrison, the first player since Ahmad Black in 2010 to record more than 100 tackles in a single season.

Morrison, who was considering leaving for the 2015 NFL Draft with a year of eligibility remaining, was on the field screaming in pain with what appeared to be a serious knee injury. He was carted off the field, and UF interim coach D.J. Durkin could offer nothing more than a general statement about Morrison’s injury after the game.

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Reports: Florida Gators to hire Greg Nord and Terrell Williams, lose Travaris Robinson to Auburn

As the Florida Gators closed out the 2015 Birmingham Bowl with a 28-20 victory, a number of reports on the program’s new staff began to hit as head coach Jim McElwain continues to fill out the infrastructure of his team.

According to Fox Sports‘ Bruce Feldman and Sports Illustrated‘s Thayer Evans, the Gators are set to hire Western Kentucky’s Greg Nord as tight ends coach/special teams coordinator and Oakland Raiders’ defensive line coach Terrell Williams to the same position on Florida’s staff.

UF will also be losing defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson to his alma mater of Auburn, where he has decided to rejoin Will Muschamp as a cornerbacks coach.

These reported hires come as McElwain has only officially announced two of his assistant coaches – defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier – to this point.

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Florida Gators hold on to top East Carolina 28-20 in 2015 Birmingham Bowl

As it often has for the program over the last four seasons, it took a defensive play to send the Florida Gators to victory in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

Florida (7-5) triumphed 28-20 over the East Carolina Pirates (8-5) despite being outscored in the second half and outgained 536-339 on the afternoon.

Gators sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III intercepted Pirates signal caller Shane Carden in the end zone with 1:20 remaining, ending ECU’s bid at a comeback victory while sending UF to its first bowl win since the 2011 season.

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Gameday: 2015 Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) – Florida Gators vs. East Carolina Pirates

Location: Legion Field – Birmingham, Alabama [Capacity: 70,459]
Weather: 63°F, scattered thunderstorms (45% chance of rain), winds SSE at 13 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Laura Rutledge)

Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 83 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
(Interim) Head Coach: D.J. Durkin Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill
Record: 6-5 Record: 8-4
Conference: Southeastern Conference: American

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U 56

STATS / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida, which is bowl eligible or the first time since 2012, is 20-20 all-time in bowl games. The Gators had won four-straight before falling to Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, the last of their 22-straight bowl game appearances. UF is also making its 20th appearance in a January bowl game in the last 22 seasons (since 1993), most in the nation.
» Durkin is serving as a head coach for the first time. He is Florida’s fourth interim coach all time, following Galen Hall (1984), Gary Darnell (1989) and Charlie Strong (2004).
» The Gators have not played at Legion Field since 1993. Florida is 4-2 all-time in the city of Birmingham, last playing a bowl game in town in 1988.
» UF is also 1-0 all-time against ECU with a 24-17 victory in Gainesville in 1983.
» The Gators and Pirates will play twice in a three-game span with UF hosting ECU on Sept. 12, the second week of the 2015 regular season.
» Florida is 23-7 against unranked opponents since Will Muschamp took over in 2011.
» Five of UF’s 11 games this season have been decided by six points or fewer (2-3).
» The Gators will not be ranked at any point in a full season for the first time since 1979.
» Despite its struggles, Florida’s offense has been an efficient scorer in the red zone, converting 38-of-42 opportunities (.905). That’s good for third in the SEC and 12th nationally. The Gators, however, have only converted 24 red zone touchdowns on those 42 trips (.571).
» Nearly 43 percent of opponent drives against Florida have ended in a three-and-out (66 of 155).
» Since Muschamp took over in 2011, the Gators are 23-5 when holding an opponent to 21 or fewer points, 20-3 when rushing for 150+ yards, 26-6 when outrushing an opponent, 17-7 when scoring first and 23-4 when leading at the half. Conversely, Florida is 1-8 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards, 2-15 when being out-rushed by an opponent and 5-17 when tied or trailing at the half.

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Florida Gators WR/KR Andre Debose, DT Darious Cummings to miss Birmingham Bowl

The Florida Gators will be without two starters in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl on Saturday as interim head coach D.J. Durkin announced Wednesday that wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose and defensive tackle Darious Cummings will not be with the team, ending their Gators careers.

According to Durkin, Debose is healthy and eligible for the game but decided to mutually part ways with Florida prior to the contest. Cummings is suspended for the bowl for a violation of team rules.

“We had two guys not make the trip with us – Darious Cummings and Andre Debose. Those will be two guys that won’t be participating in the game. Darious Cummings was a violation of team rules and Andre, it was just kind of a decision he made and a mutual agreement that he would be moving on with his career,” explained Durkin.

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Source: Randy Shannon to join Florida Gators staff as linebackers coach

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain continues to fill out his first staff with impressive hires and has come to an agreement with Arkansas associate head coach and linebackers coach Randy Shannon to join his staff as an assistant.

As first reported by 247Sports.com, Shannon will take over as Florida’s linebackers coach, a position vacated when McElwain decided to not to retain Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin. It is not known whether Shannon will have other responsibilities, though the positions of associate head coach and recruiting coordinator are both believed to be open on UF’s staff. A source confirmed Shannon’s hiring to OnlyGators.com early Wednesday afternoon.

A Miami, Florida, native and veteran coach who spent the first 20 years of his career in Miami (17 with the Hurricanes, three with the Dolphins), Shannon served as a defensive coordinator (2001-06) and head coach (2007-10) of the Canes before being let go. He took over as linebackers coach at TCU in 2012 and moved over to Arkansas in 2013, adding the role of associate head coach.

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The Silver Lining: Florida Gators coaching staff changes continue under McElwain

New opportunities await after five solid years

The departure of defensive coordinator and interim head coach D.J. Durkin from the Florida Gators is a certainty now that new head coach Jim McElwain has hired Geoff Collins to coordinate his defense.

But while Durkin’s departure will be viewed as a simple changing of the guard, it should be noted that he’s had a major impact on the program during his time with the Gators.

In his fifth year with the team, Durkin was the second-longest tenured member of Florida’s coaching staff, second only to running backs coach Brian White (six seasons). He originally joined the Gators as a special teams coordinator under Urban Meyer; his unit was so effective, and he received such high praise from Meyer and Florida’s administration, that Will Muschamp thought it wise to retain Durkin (along with White) when he took over in 2011.

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Gators QB Harris charged with misdemeanor

Florida Gators freshman quarterback Treon Harris received a second-degree misdemeanor charge on Tuesday for driving without a license.

The University Police Department stopped Harris in a motor vehicle on Saturday, Dec. 13 and cited him for neither possessing a license nor having one issued to him by the state.

According to The Gainesville Sun‘s Robbie Andreu, who is citing the UPD’s report, Harris was speeding on campus (10 mph over the limit) at 11:29 p.m., when an officer pulled his car over after smelling (unburnt) marijuana.

In the vehicle along with Harris were two fellow freshmen football players in defensive backs Jalen Tabor and J.C. Jackson.

Per the Orlando Sentinel‘s Edgar Thompson:

Officers smelled marijuana and found two small bags of the drug in a storage pocket of the vehicle, [UFPD public information officer Maj. Brad] Barber said. No charges were filed because none of the players was in possession of marijuana and the car did not belong to them.

“They did not determine nor did anyone admit to the possession of the marijuana itself,” Barber said.

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