Gameday: No. 10 Florida Gators vs. Toledo

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, partly cloudy / scattered t-stomrs (20%), winds SW at 6 mph
Time: 12:21 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Best deals on Florida Gators tickets starting at $28 on TiqIQ

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Cara Capuano) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 136/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

No. 10 FLORIDA GATORS TOLEDO ROCKETS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Matt Campbell
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -22 | O/U: 55.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Toledo have never played on the gridiron*, but UF is 14-1 in the last two seasons against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Rockets have never played a team from the SEC.
» The Gators are 79-27 all-time in season openers (64-6 in Gainesville) and have won 23-straight games to begin a season, the longest streak in the SEC and second-longest streak in the nation (Nebraska, 27).
» UF opens the 2013 campaign ranked in the polls for the 23rd-straight season but in the top 10 for the first time since 2010.
» Toledo finished 9-4 (6-2 MAC) in 2012 and are also coming a devastating bowl game loss, falling 41-15 to Utah in the 2012 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
» Entering the season, Florida has what is widely considered as the toughest schedule in the country with four games scheduled against preseason top-15 opponents plus a road game at Miami in Week 2.
» In 2012, the Gators finished a 7-0 at home for just the third time in school history, a mark that matched the 2006 and 2009 UF teams.
» Florida is 12-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards). The Gators are also 14-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 10-2 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 12-3 when scoring first (6-5 when an opponent scores first) and 14-1 when leading at the half (4-7 when tied or trailing at the break).
» UF’s .878 (129-18) home winning percentage is best in the nation since 1990.
» Florida still leads the nation in interceptions (96), interception return yards (1,688) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) since 2008.
» Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips and special teams coordinator Jeff Choate are new additions to the Gators’ coaching staff. Also helping the team this season are thee former Florida players – undergraduate assistant Mike Peterson and graduate assistants Chris Leak and Duke Lemmens.
» Safety Jordan Haden, the brother of Joe Haden who transferred to Toledo after enrolling at UF in the spring of 2010, injured his collarbone and will not play Saturday.
» One-time Gators wide receiver commit Rodney Adams, who was unable to qualify academically, accepted an offer from the Rockets and will play in The Swamp.
» Toledo bested Florida in every offensive category rank in 2012, coming in ahead of their hosts in rushing offense (35-39), passing offense (48-114), total offense (32-103) and scoring offense (44-76) last season. The Gators, however, were miles ahead in defensive ranks including rushing defense (4-78), passing defense (17-116), total defense (5-109) and scoring defense (5-67).

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 10 Florida Gators vs. Toledo

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8/12: Muschamp on Joyer’s injury, Jones missing games, standouts from Florida’s scrimmage

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media during his team’s second full week of fall practice ahead of the 2013 season.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

There appears to be no slowing down Florida’s rash of fall injuries. Though junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (appendectomy) returned to practice over the weekend and both redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia (back) and redshirt sophomore G Trip Thurman (shoulder) were cleared – as expected – on Monday, the Gators added another player their long injury list over the weekend.

Junior fullback Hunter Joyer pulled his hamstring Sunday and will miss a 7-10 days.

He joins sophomore running back Matt Jones (viral infection – out indefinitely), redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral – 7-10 days), senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (sprained patella – one week), senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot – one week) and freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson (meniscus surgery – 3-4 weeks) on the sidelines.

Jones began participating in cardiovascular activities last week but is not close to returning to practice. Muschamp said team doctors want to avoid a “relapse of the situation” and ensure that he makes a full recovery before returning to the field. He also indicated that Jones’s absence could stretch into the 2013 campaign.

“Beginning of the season, at some point, whether it’s the first week or the second week or as you head into the open week, he’s going to play for us this year,” he said. “It’s totally up to [the doctors] as far as the things they’re telling me right now. That’s why I said we’re a little bit in uncharted waters coming into having the type of infection he had and then you’re talking about the heat we’re in and that sort of thing. I think we just need to be really careful right now.”

Muschamp then reiterated what one of Jones’s doctors told him about his recovery. “When you’re dealing with the human body, you never know. You don’t know how he’s going to respond and how quickly. The great thing is he’s young, he’s in great shape and it knocked him down a little bit, but he’s a guy that’s going to respond very quickly.”

Halapio was reevaluated on Friday when Muschamp said he expected him to be cleared for action by Monday. Instead, he will miss at least another week of action.

Continue Reading » 8/12: Muschamp on Joyer’s injury, Jones missing games, standouts from Florida’s scrimmage

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8/1: Muschamp breaks down Gators entering 2013

Florida Gators’ 2013 Media Day: Story: Injured Matt Jones, Jon Halapio, others join Jeff Driskel on sidelines | Story: Appendectomy a bump in the road for confident Driskel | Story: It’s now or never for Florida WR Andre Debose | Story: RB Brown, QB Murphy ready to step up for Gators

The Florida Gators will take the field for the first time since April on Friday morning at 6 a.m. for the official start of fall practice ahead of the 2013 season.

Head coach Will Muschamp, heading into his third year at the helm of the program, held a press conference during Florida’s annual media day on Thursday to discuss the make-up of the Gators heading into the fall. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel spoke after Muschamp and addressed some similar topics.

OPENING STATEMENTS

» Overall: “I love this time of year, training camp. You see your football team develop through the offseason program, through spring practice, then on their own in the summer, preparing themselves for the season. You get to see the older guys and see the improvements they needed to make, whether it’s in the weight room or schematically, watching film, and preparing themselves for position battles and a lot of situations. You get to see the young guys you recruited and how they looked when they get on the field with the other guys and see how they mix it up. This is a huge time of the year as far as the development of your football team as you move forward and certainly an exciting time for us.”

» On the offense: “Do we need to be more balanced and efficient in throwing the football? That’s been well documented, but I think we’re better up front. We’ve been better at wideout, and I think we’re better at the quarterback position. But we need to do that August 31st, and we need to prepare that way to that point. We still have some questions at tight end, and what’s behind Jeff at the quarterback position, and continue to have playmakers at the running back position and outside. Those are some things we need to continue to work through.”

» On the defense: “Concerned about depth at the linebacker position more than anything. The experience, I think we’ve recruited well, but those guys need to gain some experience through training camp, and obviously we’re not as good at the safety position in spring. Very concerned heading into fall camp with those question marks up the middle of your defense. I do think we’re good enough up front to be fine. I think we’ve got a good combination of guys that can play, play well, and play the way we need to play to get to Atlanta.”

» On special teams: “Placekicker is an issue. Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips both have the ability to do the job, but they’ve never done it in the situations they’re going to be put into. So we may change that a little philosophically of what we think when we cross the 50.”

Continue Reading » 8/1: Muschamp breaks down Gators entering 2013

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Former QB Leak, DE Lemmens announced as Florida Gators’ newest graduate assistants

Former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak returned to his alma mater in May as a defensive quality control assistant (intern) with the football program. On Wednesday, Florida announced that Leak and former Gators defensive end Duke Lemmens were both accepted into graduate school and will be graduate assistants for the team this fall.

Though Leak was working with the defense over the summer – scouting and breaking down film for game-planning purposes while assisting the coaches but not teaching players – he and Lemmens will now be able to work hand-in-hand with the players, each coaching offense and defense, respectively.

Lemmens, whose acceptance into Florida’s graduate school and subsequent hiring was first reported via the OnlyGators.com Twitter account on Saturday, had been waiting for official word from the school for the past few months.

The Most Valuable Player of the 2007 BCS Championship and the Gators’ career leader in pass attempts (1,458), completions (895) and passing yardage (11,213), Leak spent five seasons playing in the CFL and AFL, winning two Grey Cup rings as a backup quarterback for the Montreal Alouettes. He worked as a member of the media for the last two years, serving as co-host on SiriusXM’s College Sports Nation and a college football analyst for CBS Sports.

Lemmens was a reserve until his senior season in 2010 when he was named a captain and started all 13 games for Florida, registering 43 tackles (18 solo, 6.5 for lost yardage), three sacks and a fumble recovery.

“I just took it upon myself to try and out-work everybody. It paid off. My teamamtes noticed, the coaches noticed, I got voted captain. I had a chip on my shoulder,” he told OnlyGators.com in May 2011.

Lemmens also expressed his fondness for D.J. Durkin, who is now Florida’s new defensive coordinator and effectively Lemmens’s boss on a day-to-day basis.

“Coach Durkin is as good of a technician as anyone I’ve ever seen. You can definitely tell that he was, back in the day, a [graduate assistant] for Coach [Greg] Mattison,” he said. “Coach Durkin became one of my real good friends while I was there. He was my coach, but he’s someone I still talk to. Playing for him is fun. It’s all about toughness, but you still have fun doing it. It’s not a chore. He has a bright future ahead of him.”

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Inside the 2013 Gator Women’s Football Clinic

Long-time OnlyGators.com reader Jennifer contacted us last week and offered to share her experience after attending the Florida Gators annual Women’s Football Clinic hosted this year on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Below is her account from the exciting evening (pictures included).

This past weekend, I was able to experience the Gator Women’s Football Clinic for the second time in the last three years. The coaching staff dubbed it “Saturday Night Lights” this year probably because the event was held at night at the Champions Club inside The Swamp rather than during the day like it was when I attended two years ago.

After checking in, we were provided with dinner and then allowed to walk around and take pictures, both inside and outside. We also met with the coaching staff; everyone was there except offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

Some coaches had spots set up for autographs and others were just out and about mingling with the crowd. Even after their big Friday Night Lights event, the coaches were still excited for our night and very personable.

We got a chance to speak briefly with [wide receivers coach] Joker Phillips, and he seems like a great new addition for the program.

Offensive line coach Tim Davis became my favorite after we got the chance to interact with him. He was the most engaging when talking with us and was a very funny guy. He kept referencing his “mass kicks ass” tagline.

One thing a bunch of the coaches were having a good time joking around about was the insane line to meet with [coaching intern] Chris Leak. Until [head coach] Will Muschamp came out, Chris was the most popular among the women there. True to form, Chris was incredibly humble and expressed his excitement and appreciation for this opportunity to start his coaching career. He took time to speak with each person that came up to him, and it was awesome to have to chance to be able to meet this Florida football legend.

Read the rest of Jennifer’s story including some interesting details and cool pictures from the event…after the break!
Continue Reading » Inside the 2013 Gator Women’s Football Clinic

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Gator Bites for Monday, June 18

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» A rough senior season at the center position made many Florida Gators fans skeptical that Mike Pouncey could play the position as well as his twin brother. But after one year as the starting center for the Miami Dolphins, those questions no longer exist as Pouncey has proven that he can perform at a Pro Bowl level (though he did not make it to the game in 2011). Now he is focused on getting even better and told the Sun-Sentinel it all starts with eating better. “I can get away with [eating fast food], but I changed it up this year just trying to eat more leaner stuff,” he said. “I hired a chef, so it’s been working well for me.” Pouncey also feels the zone blocking scheme the Dolphins will be employing in 2012 and beyond will benefit him and the offense; he expects a breakout season for himself. “They say your second year is supposed to be your best year,” he said. “I’m hoping for big things. I’m coming out as hard as I can. I want to take on more of a leadership role this year.”

» Florida head basketball coach Billy Donovan has been working with the United States U18 National Team over the last few weeks and began action in the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship with his squad on Saturday. Donovan’s young squad is already 2-0 in international competition with a 105-42 victory over the Virgin Islands on Saturday and a 110-59 win over Mexico on Sunday. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Monday to conclude first-round action with the semifinals taking place Tuesday and the championship being held on Wednesday. Donovan’s squad needs to place in the top four teams at the end of the event in order to advance to the 2013 FIBA World Championship next summer. “I told them there are three things we want to accomplish. First and foremost, win a gold medal. Second, we’ve got a lot of guys on our team going into college and we want them to get maybe a bit more prepared than some other incoming freshmen for what they’re going to face in college. And third, we want to help them get better as players,” Donovan told the Sporting News before leaving for Brazil.

» Gators linebacker Neiron Ball, who missed the entire 2011 season after a blood vessel burst in his brain and he was diagnosed with a hereditary vascular condition, was officially cleared to participate in all football activities by team doctors on Friday. Ball had previously announced on March 1 that he had medical clearance from doctors to return to action, but head coach Will Muschamp cautioned in April and May that while he had returned to work out with the team that he was not a full participant and was still awaiting an additional clearance. Now that Ball is good to go, he will compete for immediate playing time at Buck linebacker, a position with a major depth issue now that junior Ronald Powell is out until at least mid-October with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.

» Florida track & field coach Mike Holloway was awarded his first Coach of the Year honor for the outdoor season by the USTFCCCA on Thursday. He had previously won the award in consecutive years for the indoor season (2010-11). Holloway’s men’s team swept the 2012 NCAA Indoor and Outdoor Championships this season.

Read six more Gator Bites…after the break!

Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Monday, June 18

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason 4/4

With the 2011 NFL preseason officially underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 4 action, some of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the final exhibition week of the 2011 campaign.

VETERANS
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Two tackles (one solo)
OL JASON WATKINS, Buffalo Bills: Played as a reserve
Watkins was waived during final cuts.
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Kick return for 18 yards
OT PHIL TRAUTWEIN, Cleveland Browns: Played as a reserve
Trautwein was waived during final cuts.
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Denver Broncos: Solo tackle for loss
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 7/11 for 116 yards and a touchdown (QB Rating: 129.4), rush for eight yards
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Solo tackle
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Two receptions for 22 yards
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Three tackles
G COOPER CARLISLE, Oakland Raiders: Started at right guard
WR CHAD JACKSON, Oakland Raiders Reception for nine yards (targets: 3)
Jackson was waived during final cuts.
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Sack
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Oakland Raiders: Three tackles (two solo)
Sheppard was waived during final cuts.
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Two receptions for 14 yards (targets: 4)
TE CORNELIUS INGRAM, Philadelphia Eagles Two receptions for 27 yards
Ingram was waived during final cuts.
RB KESTAHN MOORE, Tennessee Titans: Six carries for eight yards
Moore was waived during final cuts.

DRAFTED ROOKIES

C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Did not play
OT MARCUS GILBERT, Pittsburgh Steelers: Started at right tackle
SS AHMAD BLACK, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did not play
Black was waived during final cuts but signed to the practice squad.
OG MAURICE HURT, Washington Redskins: Played as a reserve
Hurt was waived during final cuts but signed to the practice squad.

UNDRAFTED ROOKIES
LB DUKE LEMMENS, Arizona Cardinals: Did not play
Lemmens was cut during the week before Arizona played.
LB BRANDON HICKS, Buffalo Bills: Three tackles (two solo)
Hicks was waived during final cuts.
DE JUSTIN TRATTOU, New York Giants: Tackle
Trattou was waived during final cuts but signed to the practice squad.
P CHAS HENRY, Philadelphia Eagles: Three punts for 136 yards (avg.: 45.3, long: 58)
Henry will start as Philadelphia’s punter this season.

INJURED – DID NOT PLAY
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Did not play
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Did not play
FS MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Did not play
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Knee
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Did not play
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Did not play
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Did not play
LB BRANDON SILER, Kansas City Chiefs: Torn achilles (season)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Did not play
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Undisclosed
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Undisclosed (ankle)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Hamstring
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Did not play
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Did not play
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did not play
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Washington Redskins: Did not play
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: Did not play
Grossman was named the starter for week one.

DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Did not play
Brown was cut during the week before New Orleans played.

PRESEASON: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

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4 NFL BITS: Brown, Lemmens, Spikes, Black

1 » In a surprising move on Tuesday, the New Orleans Saints released former Florida Gators defensive end Alex Brown. A nine-year NFL veteran who spent the first eight years of his career with the Chicago Bears, Brown was signed by New Orleans as a free agent in 2010 and notched 39 tackles (32 solo) with a forced fumble and two sacks as a 16-game starter. He held the same position through the first three preseason games and worked with the first-team defense in every practice this offseason. “It saddens me to say that I have been released from the Saints because [they’re] a first class organization and I will miss it,” he wrote on Twitter. “Good luck to the guys and Who Dat Nation keep roaring… My family and I had a blast here.. Thanks.” Brown joins DE Bobby McCray and offensive tackle Max Starks as big-name free agents currently available with Florida ties.

2 » Also receiving bad news was former Gators linebacker Duke Lemmens, an undrafted free agent who found out Tuesday that his contract with the Arizona Cardinals had been terminated. Lemmens played in the team’s first three preseason games and made a number of tackles but was one of many players the team released in this round of cuts.

3 » New England Patriots LB Brandon Spikes had not practiced or played with the team since Aug. 4 but finally returned to the field on Tuesday according to reports from numerous media outlets. Spikes has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury but is expected to see some time in the team’s preseason finale at home on Thursday. He played in 12 games with eight starts during his rookie season and was fifth on New England with 71 tackles (41 solo) and an interception. He was suspended for four games in 2010 for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy.

4 » Another player out for an extended period of time was former Florida safety Ahmad Black, a fifth-round selection of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2011 NFL Draft. Black suffered a high ankle sprain in the team’s preseason opener and has missed numerous practices and both subsequent preseason games since. There are rumors that Black could be cut soon because the team is only planning to keep four safeties and he has not had much of a time to make an impression, but head coach Raheem Morris has said previously that he believed Black was one of the steals of the draft. “I know he’s going to try to go this week,” Morris said, according to the St. Petersburg Times. “But it’d be hard right now for him to go out there and do some things, especially with the way Larry Asante’s playing, and Corey Lynch. Those guys played their butts off this preseason, not to mention our starters. It’ll be tough. You’d like to see him out there.” Black could always be a candidate for the practice squad in a worst-case scenario.

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