FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

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Benches clear as Florida baseball tops No. 1 FSU

Florida Gators baseball has been up-and-down this season but pulled off its second-straight victory over the top team in the nation on Tuesday when it fought through a bench-clearing scuffle and took down the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles 4-1 at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL.

Florida, which also beat Florida State 3-1 in Gainesville, FL last Tuesday, clinched the regular-season series over its in-state rival. The Gators (16-9) and Seminoles (19-5) will play the last contest in their three-game series in Tallahassee, FL on April 8.

It did not take long for UF to get on the board as junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/2, R, 2 BB) walked to open the bottom of the first and scored four batters later when junior first baseman Braden Mattson singled to right field.

The Gators boosted their advantage with two more runs in the sixth. Mattson (2/4, RBI, R, SB) singled to open the frame, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a throwing error by pitcher Peter Miller, who corralled a sacrifice bunt from junior right-handed starter and designated hitter Justin Shafer but let it get away on a throw to first. Shafer scored unearned as freshman third baseman John Sternagel reached on a fielder’s choice with one out, and UF ended the inning leading 3-0.

Things got testy in Jacksonville two innings later when FSU left fielder D.J. Stewart hit a dribbler down the first-base line and collided with Florida sophomore lefty reliever Danny Young, who tried to field the ball in the base path but dropped it before Stewart arrived. UF junior 1B Zach Powers took offense to Stewart’s trucking of Young and met him chest-to-chest beyond the bag. Stewart responded by shoving Powers, and the benches cleared with both teams pushing and shoving.

Continue Reading » Benches clear as Florida baseball tops No. 1 FSU

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Florida-Florida State extend football series through 2018; East Carolina added for 2015

The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles on Thursday announced that a contract to extend the annual in-state rivalry football game between the two schools has been signed through 2018.

Florida State will host Florida in 2014 (the last year of the old contract), 2016 and 2018 with the Gators playing host to the Seminoles in 2015 and 2017, extending the series which has been played annually since 1958.

UF leads the all-time series against FSU 34-22-2 but has lost three of the last four meetings between the programs after winning six-straight from 2004-09.

Florida State has outscored Florida 115-58 since 2010 with the Gators’ only victory coming via a 37-25 road win in 2012.

Also on Thursday, Florida announced that it will host the East Carolina Pirates on Sept. 12, 2015, which is slated as the second week of the regular season.

It is the second time in school history that UF and ECU will square off on the gridiron as the Gators previously beat the Pirates 24-17 on Oct. 22, 1983. East Carolina has bookended the Florida game with contests against South Carolina in 2014 and 2016.

Florida is also tentatively scheduled to face New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic in non-conference action in 2015 though those games have not yet been confirmed.

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2014 RB Dalvin Cook flips from Florida to FSU

A year filled with devastating news for the Florida Gators ended in a similar fashion as the program lost its highest-rated 2014 commitment, four-star running back Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL), to the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles on the final day of 2013.

ESPNU casually broke the news of Cook’s flip with a graphic and simple mention on Tuesday evening during a taped show emanating from practices ahead of the 2014 Under Armour All-American Game.

Though he first made a pledge to continue his career at Florida back on April 6, when he decided to flip his commitment from Clemson, Cook began wavering as the Gators fell apart throughout the season.

Florida finished 4-8 while the team Cook ultimately committed to, Florida State, is 12-0 and playing for a national title next week.

He told Scout.com‘s Amy Campbell that he came to the final decision to play for FSU two months ago. Cook has spent much of that time claiming he was “100 percent” committed to UF. Dozens of pictures of Cook doing the Gator Chomp have found their way on social media over the last few days.

The Gators now only have three commitments participating in the Under Armour All-American Game, set to air live on ESPN at 4 p.m. on Thursday, a number that could decrease in the coming days or weeks.

A pair of four-star Florida pledges – wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL) and cornerback J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, FL) – are also wavering in their commitments. Lane has said he plans to attend school with Cook and has an official visit scheduled at FSU, while Jackson is heavily considering Miami.

2015 four-star WR Da’Vante Phillips (Miami, FL), Cook’s teammate at Miami Central High School, decommitted from UF on Dec. 24. He had made a verbal pledge on July 27.

Cook, the 30th ranked player in the Class of 2014, was considered a must-get prospect for the Gators this recruiting cycle. His innate playmaking ability was sorely needed by Florida, which would likely have found a way to get him on the field right away.

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FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp apparently provided Pat Dooley, columnist for The Gainesville Sun, with a few minutes of his time at some point over the last week and dropped a couple tidbits of information about the program and where it is headed. Below are some of the most notable nuggets from the 2,000-word column, much of which makes excuses provides reasoning and perspective for Florida’s tough 2013 campaign. You can check out in full by clicking here.

* Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who just last year saw his team get ravaged by injuries before finishing the 2012 season 5-7 (2-6 SEC), called Muschamp personally to provide support. “He said he couldn’t imagine what we were going through. I got a lot of calls like that. Everyone has injuries, but I had guys in this league who called and said, ‘I don’t know how I would have handled it.’”

* Out of all the injured Gators, only sophomore running back Matt Jones (torn meniscus) and freshmen linebackers Matt Rolin (torn ACL) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder surgery) are expected to miss spring practice. Dooley reports: “Muschamp told me he plans to bump the start of spring practice to later in the year to make sure [junior quarterback Jeff] Driskel is completely rehabilitated after his leg injury.”

* Muschamp said he tried to be more easy-going this season in order to combat much of the negativity the players had to face each week. He regrets that decision. “I tried to make it fun for them and they were used to me being an [expletive] for two years.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

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11/30: Florida vs. Florida State report; Purifoy declares, Foley speaks, Muschamp promises

The Florida Gators (4-8) lost their seventh-straight game on Saturday, falling 37-7 to the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley held an impromptu session with the media before the game, and head coach Will Muschamp spoke after the season-ending loss.

SENIOR DAY

DECLARATIONS BEGIN

Minutes after the conclusion of Saturday’s game, Florida junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy declared his intention to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He told ESPN‘s Joe Schad as much after the game, but the Gators are unlikely to announce his decision (as well as those of others) for a few days.

Purifoy had an up-and-down season for Florida but did register an interception return for a touchdown earlier in the year and actually picked off Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston on Saturday. He struggled at times in coverage and with his discipline but will nevertheless be a second-round pick at worst in April. OnlyGators.com will have more on Purifoy’s declaration, as well as that of others, when the time comes.

“That is something I’ll discuss in the coming days. I’ve had discussions with a couple guys but I really don’t want to comment at this time about that,” Muschamp said.

INJURY UPDATES

Senior wide receiver Trey Burton was knocked from the game early in the first quarter after taking a zone read 50 yards down the field for one of his best plays of the season. Burton immediately went to the locker room and was ruled out with a shoulder injury, ending his career at Florida. As it turns out, the Gators actually planned to use Burton extensively on Saturday.

“We were probably going to have about 30-35 snaps with Trey, some of the misdirection runs now go out of the game plan so you got to make adjustments and you got to change,” Muschamp explained. “I hurt for Trey because he’s a senior and it was his last game in The Swamp. It was very difficult for him. He’s a great young man. But that kind of sums up what’s happened this year. It’s been very frustrating.”

Continue Reading » 11/30: Florida vs. Florida State report; Purifoy declares, Foley speaks, Muschamp promises

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Florida Gators end 2013 season with a whimper as No. 2 Florida State routs hosts 37-7

The 2013 season ended with a whimper for the Florida Gators (4-8), which lost for the third time in the last four years to the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (12-0), dropping Saturday’s contest 37-7 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Seminoles continued on their path toward a national title while the Gators finished a season below .500 for the first time since 1979. UF, which ended the year on a seven-game losing streak, also failed to advance to a bowl game for the first time in 23 tries.

Heisman candidate and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston looked every bit the part on Saturday, completing 19-of-31 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. All three of those touchdown passes went to Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who tallied 212 yards on eight receptions.

Florida got out of the first quarter trailing just 3-0 thanks to a superb defensive effort.

Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy intercepted Winston on a pass down to UF’s 13-yard line, but the Gators were unable to convert the ensuing possession into points despite moving down to FSU’s 33 on a 50-yard rush by senior WR Trey Burton. Redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin missed a 49-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Burton, who head coach Will Muschamp said at halftime would have taken about 35 snaps at quarterback on Saturday, did not return to the game with a shoulder injury.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators end 2013 season with a whimper as No. 2 Florida State routs hosts 37-7

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Senior Day – Gameday: Florida Gators vs. No. 2 Florida State Seminoles

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 66°F (feels like 66°F), partly cloudy, winds NE at 14 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese, Tom Luginbill)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 2 FSU SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Record: 4-7 Record: 11-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +29 | O/U 52.5
and you can also bet on Super Bowl game in Feb 2014.

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you missed via the links below!

Story: Changes ahead for offensive staff | Notebook: Will Muschamp talks coaching changes, fixing the Gators and more injuries | Q&A: Brent Pease asked 17 questions about job status, future at Florida | Notebook: Muschamp provides updates on injuries, thoughts about Pease | Friday Final: Bittersweet finale for Florida seniors

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 35-21-2 and holds a 20-9-1 record in Gainesville.
» The Gators will finish below .500 on the season for the first time since 1979 and below .500 in SEC play for the second time since that year (2010).
» UF lost to three unranked opponents this season and is now 18-4 against such teams under Muschamp. Last week, it dropped its first game to a Division I-AA/FCS team in school history.
» The Gators lost their second-straight game under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and are now 15-2 in such circumstances. Florida also lost for the second consecutive time under Muschamp (third overall) when leading at the half and are now 18-3 in that situation. UF is 18-5 when holding opponents to 21 points or less, 13-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards and 14-5 when scoring first in a game.

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Senior Day – Gameday: Florida Gators vs. No. 2 Florida State Seminoles

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