10/30: Can Florida’s defense return to form?

Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday ahead of the eighth game of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs on Nov. 2.

OVERCOMING EMBARRASSMENT

Missouri embarrassed one of the nation’s top defenses two weeks ago, racking up 500 yards of total offense while playing with a quarterback who was making his first career start. The Tigers ran the ball down the Gators’ throats and shredded Florida’s secondary. Suffice to say, the players and coaches were sufficiently ashamed.

“There was obviously things we could’ve done much better in that game,” Durkin said. “We just need to handle [adversity], if that happens to us, bounce back quicker. We’re going to get hit on a play here and there, especially if you’re playing receivers like they got. Credit to them. A lot of 50-50 balls, they went up and made the play.

“We just gotta line back up and go play. I think at some point we didn’t react the way we need to on defense. That’s something that hasn’t happened with our group and obviously we hope it doesn’t happen again. … It was something our guys are not used to, and quite frankly, we don’t want them to be used to it.”

As disappointed as he was in UF’s performance two Saturdays ago, Durkin is confident that Florida will not put up a similar dreadful performance against Georgia this weekend.

“The way our guys practice, the way they prepare, the guys we’re coaching. I think we got guys with great character and guys that are really good football players. Their response this past two weeks with how they’re practicing and preparing tells me they’re ready to move on and they know what it takes and what they need to do,” he said.

Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor is one of those players, and he was just as adamant as his coach that things would be different this time around.

“That’s not characteristic of us. That’s not what we allow. That’s a one-time thing. I can guarantee you this: that won’t happen again,” he said. “Last week was inexcusable.”

Continue Reading » 10/30: Can Florida’s defense return to form?

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10/30: D.J. Humphries (MCL) out 2-4 weeks

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team heading into Saturday’s neutral-site contest against the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, FL.

ANOTHER BIG LOSS

While he was practicing to save his starting left tackle job on Monday, sophomore D.J. Humphries sprained his MCL and has been ruled out of action for the next 2-4 weeks, Muschamp announced. “He’s a quick-recovery guy. It’s the other knee that he had sprained from earlier in the season. So we’re hoping just two weeks on it and get him back out there,” he said.

Humphries will be replaced on the left side of the line by redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore, who was on his way to losing his starting right tackle job after another poor performance last week. Junior transfer Trenton Brown will start at right tackle in his place. Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia may also play some left tackle in Saturday’s game as he cross-trained at the position during the bye week.

INJURY UPDATES

The rest of the injury news was positive for a change.

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) is fine and redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle) practiced Tuesday for the first time in more than two weeks. He and senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) are both “good to go” for the game. Redshirt junior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) was also able to practice Tuesday, but his status remains up in the air at this time.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Freshmen DTs Joey Ivie and Jay-nard Bostwick have been playing well in practice and may see the field on Saturday. Both players are currently redshirt candidates as neither has stepped on the field this season.

» On whether freshman running back Kelvin Taylor reminds Muschamp of Fred Taylor: “I don’t think that’s fair with Kelvin, to compare him to his father. Kelvin’s his own player and he’s a really good football player. He’s got natural running instincts. He’s a one-cut runner, gets the ball north and south. He’s a guy that’s got some special ability. But the thing that’s really struck me as we’ve moved forward in the season is him doing a better job in protection and some of the other things you got to do at the running back position besides running the ball. He’s really worked extremely hard off the field on those things, and I’m really proud of him.”

» On if he feels bad for Georgia with their injury problems: “Not necessarily. I hurt for young men. These guys put a lot of time and effort into playing college football, and it’s hard, no matter where you are. By the time you put in offseason workouts, spring practice, summer workouts, people don’t realize the amount of time and effort they put in to playing college football. … You don’t want anyone to get hurt. That’s not good for anybody. That’s not good for college football.”

» On Bulldogs RB Todd Gurley: “He’s a back that, whether they block him or not, he gains positive yards. You don’t see many negative plays when he’s in the game. He runs. The thing that strikes me with the guy is he competes, he competes on every run. He goes after it every play. He’s a guy that’s certainly got the speed to take it the distance at any time. … He’s a big, physical back that’s got really good speed. He’s got the combination you want. He catches the ball out of the backfield well, he protects. He’s a complete back, no question.”

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10/28: Taylor to start for Florida vs. Georgia, injury statuses, offensive line updates and more

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss progress made during the off week and the upcoming World’s Largest Cocktail Party showdown against the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, Nov. 2. The contest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. from Jacksonville, FL, and air live on CBS.

IT’S (“PROBABLY”) TAYLOR TIME

Though Muschamp was quite clear that freshman running back Kelvin Taylor would be getting more work than usual on Saturday against Georgia, he stopped just short of declaring him the unquestioned starter. “Well, we’re working through the week and that’s probably what we’ll end up doing, he said.

Muschamp did, however, offer up a fair amount of praise for Taylor. “He’s continued to improve throughout the season, week-to-week. He’s always been a very instinctive natural runner. It’s very obviously. But again, with assignments and different things, I think he’s done a nice job and he deserves the opportunity,” he said.

Those are sentiments shared by redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy.

“He’s shown that he can do a lot of good things with the ball in his hands. I think the coaches, as well as myself, have to do a good job of finding ways to get him the ball so he can create big plays for us,” Murphy explained. “Like I said, we’re going to need some explosive plays and he has the ability to do that. We’re just going to have to find ways to continue to give him the ball and eventually he’s going to break. He’s very talented, very elusive player. Looking forward to seeing him this week and what role he’ll have.”

ALL HEALED UP

Muschamp did not list Murphy on Florida’s injury report two weeks ago, but he was nevertheless a game-time decision when UF took on Missouri. Murphy played with what was revealed Monday to be a sprained AC joint and put together his worst performance of the season as he was inaccurate with the ball throughout the contest.

“It didn’t bother me at all. I think maybe just not practicing or not throwing a little bit kind of hurt me a little bit. Other than that, I felt fine. It wasn’t bothering me or anything,” he said. “I had that overthrow to Trey [Burton] which hurt us in the beginning. I kind of couldn’t help but laugh because he was so wide open. You gotta hit him.”

Murphy did not throw during the off week – redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg took all the snaps – but should be back in action on Monday and completely cleared to take first-team snaps by Tuesday.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle) missed Saturday’s game against Mizzou but “ran well” during the off week and even got in some change of direction work on Sunday. Muschamp said he expects Powell back in action on Tuesday or Wednesday at the latest “if he were to play in the game.” He admitted: “[It is] still kind of up in the air whether that will happen or not.”

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) is set to return to practice on Tuesday and is listed as probable, while senior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) and redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) are both doubtful.

Continue Reading » 10/28: Taylor to start for Florida vs. Georgia, injury statuses, offensive line updates and more

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16 Gator Bites for Wednesday, March 20

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. When stories like these fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» Though President Barack Obama‘s official 2013 NCAA Tournament bracket will be released on Wednesday at 9 a.m. on ESPN, the network released his Final Four late Tuesday night. President Obama chose the Florida Gators to win the South Region and also has Louisville, Indiana and Ohio State advancing to the Final Four.

» Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah had a hellacious experience during his team’s game on Monday evening. With 5.7 seconds left in overtime and Chicago trailing Denver by a single point, Noah got in perfect position underneath the basket and tipped in what otherwise would have been a missed shot. Though Noah scored the apparent game-winner and the referees did not call interference on the play, they checked the replay and eventually reversed their decision. The problem? Referees are only allowed to use replay to review on-court calls of interference, not to check on non-calls. Take a look at the video below to see what transpired on Monday.

Read 14 more interesting bites of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » 16 Gator Bites for Wednesday, March 20

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Florida men’s swimming wins first SEC title since 1993; Gators capture eight championships

The No. 2 Florida Gators men’s swimming and diving program entered the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships on Wednesday looking to get over the hump and take home the title for the first time in 20 years. After leading the pack for the final three days of the event, the Gators finally accomplished that feat on Saturday, taking home the 34th SEC Championship in team history and first since 1993.

Florida (1408.0) beat the Auburn Tigers (1196.0) for the title, snapping a 16-year winning streak and reclaiming the pool after finishing second to Auburn for 11-straight years. The No. 11 Gators women (1190.5) were not as lucky, finishing third behind the Georgia Bulldogs (1420.0) and host Texas A&M Aggies (1296.0).

The men’s and women’s teams combined for eight individual SEC Championships (five and three, respectively). Florida also won four individual awards and earned 21 NCAA “A” time automatic qualifying marks.

2013 SEC Awards (4)
» SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy
» SEC Commissioner’s Trophy (High Point Winner, women) – Elizabeth Beisel
» SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year – Natalie Hinds
» SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year – Cassie Weil

2013 SEC Individual Titles (8)
» Men’s 100-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (46.02s) [back-to-back]
» Men’s 200-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (1:42.17)
» Men’s 200-yard breaststroke – Matt Elliott (1:54.13)
» Men’s 200-yard freestyle – Pawel Werner (1:33.82)
» Men’s 800-yard freestyle relay – Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak (6:14.76)
» Women’s 100-yard butterfly – Natalie Hinds (51.70s)
» Women’s 200-yard backstroke – Elizabeth Beisel (1:50.40) [third-straight]
» Women’s 400-yard individual medley – Elizabeth Beisel (3:59.53) [third-straight]

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Gators dominate second half, cage Bulldogs 64-47

Trailing at the half for just the second time this season, the No. 7/8 Florida Gators (15-2, 5-0 SEC) outworked the Georgia Bulldogs (7-11, 1-4 SEC) over the final 20 minutes at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA, outscoring the hosts 40-20 in the second half and pulling away for an impressive 64-47 victory.

The Gators remained undefeated in Southeastern Conference play by clamping down defensively, rotating the ball in the second half and holding an opponent under 50 points in a game for the ninth time in the 2012-13 season.

Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin led all scorers with a career-high-tying 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting with three assists and two rebounds. He registered 13 of those points in the first half as his teammates struggled offensively.

Georgia controlled the tempo early in the contest by jumping ahead 11-2 over the first few minutes and handing Florida its largest deficit in a conference game this season.

A quick 8-0 run got the Gators within a point of the Bulldogs at 11-10, and Florida was eventually able to tie the contest at 21 and again at 24 before guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope drained a 25-foot three-pointer at the buzzer to give Georgia a 27-24 lead at the end of the first half.

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Wilbekin’s defense, attitude propelling Florida

No. 7/8 FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Mark Fox
Record: 14-2 (4-0 SEC) Record: 7-10 (1-3 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Stegeman Coliseum – Athens, GA [Capacity: 10,523]
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network (Dave Neal, Barry Booker) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 134/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -15.5 | O/U (OFF)

The Florida Gators basketball roster is filled with McDonald’s All-Americans, highly-rated recruits and big-name players, but it is junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – an underrated local product (and project) out of Gainesville, FL who joined the team after his junior season of high school – who is having a huge impact on the team.

On a team with a pair of big-time scorers in the backcourt, much of the dirty work is left to Wilbekin. Senior guard Kenny Boynton plays fantastic defense and redshirt senior Mike Rosario is improving in that area, but Wilbekin has been shutting down his man game-in and game-out all while leading Florida with 4.9 assists per game.

Over the last two contests, Wilbekin held Texas A&M’s Elston Turner to four points on 1-of-10 shooting just one game after Turner scored 40 points against Kentucky and dominated Missouri’s Phil Pressey, who committed a career-high 10 turnovers while going 1-for-7 from the field for two points.

In fact, Wilbekin is on his way to climbing the ranks of some of the best on-ball defenders in the history of the program as he draws comparisons to hard-working guys like Justin Hamilton and Corey Brewer.

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1/9: Florida vs. Georgia post-game report

No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (11-2, 1-0 SEC) throttled the Georgia Bulldogs (6-8, 0-1 SEC) on Wednesday night in Gainesville, FL. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 107-97 all-time against Georgia and boasts the most victories against this rival than any other team. The Gators hold a 24-8 record against the Bulldogs since Donovan took over the program and are 14-2 in that span while playing in the O’Dome.
» UF is 16-3 over the last 19 games against UGA with 11-straight wins at home.
» Florida is 12-5 in SEC openers under Donovan and 15-2 in SEC home openers.
» The Gators have now held seven of 12 opponents under 50 points.
» Florida registered a season-high 17 assists on 29 made baskets.
» The Gators scored 27 points off 19 Bulldogs turnovers.
» Florida scored more points in the second half (49) than Georgia did in the game (44).
» The Gators’ 33-point victory was the second-largest margin ever between the teams.
» Florida hit a season-high 12 three-pointers in the game.
» 3,200 UF students were in attendance, the highest total in the last seven years.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario continued his outstanding season with a team-high 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-6 from downtown). He also went 4-for-4 from the charity stripe but did not record another statistic in the game aside from one steal.
» Junior forward Casey Prather stepped into the starting lineup as an injury replacement and scored the first six points of the game for his team. Prather finished with 10 points along with team-highs of seven rebounds and three steals.
» Junior center Patric Young was a perfect 5-for-5 from the floor for 11 points. He also registered two assists, three rebounds and a team-high four blocks.
» Playing with a broken rib, junior F Erik Murphy hit 3-of-6 treys for 11 points.
» Junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin went 2-for-4 from downtown for eight points and also chipped in a team-high six assists.
» Senior G Kenny Boynton had an off shooting night but entered the top-10 in school history in made field goals with his first basket. He also moved up to fourth in career starts (118) and fifth in minutes played (3,911).

Read what Donovan had to say and see much more…after the break!
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