Eleven Gator Bites for Monday, July 25th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» With the NFL lockout now in the books, the Florida Gators four selections in the 2011 NFL Draft will be reporting to work for the first time on Thursday. Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey (first round, No. 15), Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert (second round, No. 63), Tampa Bay Buccaneers strong safety Ahmad Black (fifth round, No. 151 and Washington Redskins guard Maurice Hurt (seventh round, No. 217 are all on teams who will be eligible to workout immediately.

» While that foursome is ready and raring to go, Florida also has a number of undrafted free agents hoping to be picked up by teams looking to supplement their roster. Among those available are defensive linemen Terron Sanders and Justin Trattou, running back Emmanuel Moody and wide receiver Carl Moore. OGGOA will update you if and when these players are picked up by teams.

» The WNBA held its 2011 All-Star game over the weekend and also announced its Top 15 Players of All Time at the event. Though she was nominated and up for selection to the list, former Gators forward DeLisha Milton-Jones was not picked by fans for the honor. The six-time champion (two Olympic gold medals, two WNBA titles, two Euroleague titles) is currently averaging 12.5 points and 5.1 rebounds in 26.6 minutes per game with the Los Angeles Sparks.

There are 11 more Gator Bites including updates on Calathes, UF-FSU, Beal, Alvarez, Wambach, LeCount, ultimate Frisbee and Bostic…after the break!
Continue Reading » Eleven Gator Bites for Monday, July 25th

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Milton-Jones: “What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing for a championship?”

By Nicole Boyett – OGGOA Student Correspondent

The WNBA may not be a professional sport followed by many Florida Gators fans, but it is time for them to start taking notice if they haven’t already as the only woman representing the Orange & Blue in the league, DeLisha Milton-Jones, has been nominated as one of the WNBA’s Top 15 Players of All Time.

During her time at Florida, Milton-Jones led the Gators to four NCAA Tournament appearances (including the 1997 Elite Eight) while earning Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and Associated Press All-American honors her senior year. She followed up her stellar collegiate career by playing in the ABL for two years before being was drafted with the No. 4 overall pick in the 1999 WNBA Draft by the Los Angeles Sparks. Now in her 13th WNBA season, Milton-Jones is one of the most accomplished players to step on the hardwood.

She has won two Olympic gold medals for Team USA (2000, 2008), back-to-back WNBA titles with Los Angeles (2001, 2002) and a pair of Euroleague Championships (2003, 2006) while also having been named a WNBA All-Star twice (2000, 2007).

At of the end of the 2010 season, she was 11th in the WNBA in total points, 10th in total rebounds, ninth in field goals made, 14th in free throws made, sixth in total steals, 13th in total blocks, 11th in minutes per game, and seventh in total minutes played. Despite her impressive career and overwhelming talent on the court, Milton-Jones continues to be overlooked as one of the greatest female basketball players to ever lace up her shoes. The hope is that her talent is recognized on July 23 when the WNBA announces the league’s all-time Top 15 players at the 15th annual All-Star Game in San Antonio, TX.

Milton-Jones sat down with OGGOA’s Nicole Boyett for an exclusive interview just a handful of games into her 13th WNBA season. Averaging 12.8 points and 5.0 rebounds per game, she continues to lead the Sparks and hopes to be recognized for the impact she has made on women’s basketball in the United States.

NICOLE BOYETT: What does it mean to you to be the only Gator in the WNBA and to have had such a long and successful career?
DELISHA MILTON-JONES: “I am proud that I’m the lone standing Gator in the league, but I’m also sad because I feel like there should definitely be more of us in the league. When [former Florida star] Murriel Page* decided to leave after her achilles injury, that was pretty much it for us, and I think that her and I both did a great job of representing the Gators all these years.”
*Page was selected No. 3 overall in the 1998 WNBA Draft by the Washington Mystics. She is now an assistant coach under Amanda Butler at UF.

NB: As a Gator, you won SEC Player of the Year, were an All-American and went to the NCAA Tournament every year. With all of your accomplishments at Florida, do you get the opportunity to come back and talk to the team or head coach Amanda Butler?
DMJ: “It is difficult to support the team the way I would like to because, in the off-season during their season, is when I leave for Europe. After the WNBA season, I usually have a week, maybe less, to prepare myself for the next eight months in Europe, so there’s really no downtime for me. For the past 11 years, I’ve been playing in Europe as well as the WNBA year-round, so it is very difficult to get back. I wasn’t even able to come back when I was inducted into the WNBA Hall of Fame because it was during an important time in the season in Europe and the team wouldn’t allow me to come back, so I had to miss it. My mother had to go in my place. I’m hoping that – when it’s all said and done and I decide to retire – that they allow me to come back and be able to participate in the ceremony in a different way.”

NB: You’ve won two gold medals with Team USA, two WNBA Championships and two Euroleague titles. How do those compare to each other and how does winning a gold medal compare to winning a championship?
DMJ: “A championship is a championship, but they all feel good. I think the difference is that the gold medals probably have more value to me because it’s on the largest stage possible and I won. I consider myself to be so blessed, lucky, and privileged to have been a participant in several Olympics. That’s just a dream come true and it lets you know that you are in a category that many people would give their arm for just to be able to participate in. To be able to walk into the opening ceremonies and participate in the game is something that was so special that if I hadn’t gotten the gold medal, it wouldn’t matter because the memories will last a lifetime. Any time I think of that feeling, it just sends chills down my spine.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Milton-Jones…after the break!
Continue Reading » Milton-Jones: “What’s the point in playing if you’re not playing for a championship?”

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Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

Seven letterwinners, including Gator Greats Mike Peterson (football) and Bob Emrick (men’s basketball), will be inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame 2011 class on Friday. The F Club and Gator Boosters, Inc. will hand out these prestigious honors to the group of Florida Gators at the Hall of Fame Banquet on April 8, 2011, in the Holloway Touchdown Terrace at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

According to UF, “inductees are divided into three different categories: Gator Greats, Distinguished Letterwinners and Honorary Letterwinners.” The remainder of the induction class includes Gator Greats Dawn Buth (women’s tennis), Judd Davis (football), Michelle Freeman (women’s track & field), Mimosa McNerney (women’s swimming), Distinguished Letterwinner Keith Tribble (football), and Honorary Letterwinner Dr. Richard Shaara (team physician).

More about each inductee and their career accomplishments after the break.
Continue Reading » Peterson, Emrick highlight 2011 Hall of Fame class

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Former UF track coach Jimmy Carnes dead at 76

Former Florida Gators track and field head coach Jimmy Carnes passed away Saturday. He was 76 years old.

Carnes, who coached at the University of Florida from 1965-76, lost a four-year battle with prostate cancer. He is survived by his wife and four children.

“Jimmy Carnes is an icon in the sport of track and field. His contributions to the University of Florida, as well as his sport on a national and international level, have been immeasurable,’’ Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said in an official statement from the school. “Jimmy has been a great advocate of the sport of track and field and an outstanding citizen in the Gainesville community. Our thoughts go out to his wife, Nanette, and his family.”
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Tim Tebow rallies Broncos to win at Mile High with two touchdowns in fourth quarter

Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow scored two touchdowns in his second straight start on Sunday including a game-winning six-yard rushing score that propelled his team over the Houston Texans 24-23 at Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.

Tebow, who passed for 100 yards in the first half and threw an interception into the end zone on his team’s first offensive series, eclipsed that mark in the third quarter alone and finished the game 16-for-29 for 308 yards.

He tossed a 23-yard touchdown to running back Correll Buckhalter mid-way through the fourth quarter and added his rushing TD in the closing minutes.

Houston, which had a 13-point lead over Denver going into the fourth and has the NFL’s worst secondary statistically, allowed Tebow to orchestrate two 12-play touchdown drives to end the game – one for 74 yards and another for 76 yards.

Tebow also completed a career-long 50-yard pass coming out of the half to wide receiver fellow former Florida Gators star Jabar Gaffney.

In his two career NFL starts, Tebow has combined to throw the ball for 446 yards, rush for 108 yards and score four touchdowns including two through the air and two on the ground. His 308 passing yards are the most by a Denver rookie since Hall of Fame signal-caller John Elway (1983).

Sunday marked Tebow’s home debut as the Broncos’ starter. He will lead the team in its final game of the season next Sunday in Denver against San Diego.

Photo Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

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Shane Matthews: “A tough situation for Johnny”

When college football fans think about Florida Gators football in the 1990s, three names in particular come to mind: head coach Steve Spurrier and quarterbacks Shane Matthews and Danny Wuerffel. A three-time first-team All-SEC selection (1990-92) who finished fifth in the 1991 Heisman Trophy voting as a junior, Matthews set Florida’s career passing yards record, led the SEC in passing for three consecutive years and led the Gators to their first official SEC Championship.

Finishing his college career 9,287 yards and 74 touchdowns, Matthews moved on to the NFL where he played for 14 seasons as mostly a back-up with Chicago, Carolina, Washington, Cincinnati, Buffalo and finally Miami.

Enshrined in the University of Florida’s Athletic Hall of Fame as a Gator Great in 2002, he spoke to us on Tuesday as a precursor to his involvement in the 90’s Gators Celebration benefiting Desire Street Ministries during this all-important weekend in Gainesville, FL (more information below).

Matthews gave us almost 30 minutes of his time; unfortunately, OGGOA experienced some technical difficulties during the interview. Even though 50 percent of the conversation was missed, we were able to recover a portion of it for publication, which you can read below along with some summary answers to our other questions.

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You spent 14 years in the NFL, first seeing extensive playing time during your sixth season in 1999 (167-of-275 for 1,645 yards and 10 touchdowns). What did it feel when you were actually given the opportunity to show your stuff?
SHANE MATTHEWS: “The reason I lasted as long as I did in the NFL was because of my mind. I could learn plays in a second, an entire playbook in a day and never have to look at it again. I was only 6’3” 190 lbs. at the most. Didn’t have the arm strength or the size to take a pounding, but when I did get my chance, I had some good games and some good moments, but I also had some bad ones. That just comes with the position. You’re going to play well at times, you’re going to play poorly at times. I enjoyed my 14 years in the NFL. In 14 years, I think I only played in 35 games, so I knew my role on teams – didn’t rock the boat – tried help the other quarterbacks and the coaching staff knew they could count on me.”

AS: With Saturday’s game featuring two of Florida’s greatest coaches, how do you compare and contrast Spurrier and current head coach Urban Meyer?
SM: “Urban and coach Spurrier are a lot alike – extremely strong competitors. However, they run their programs differently. Urban’s a great motivator, kind of runs a tight ship and keeps everybody in line, where coach Spurrier is kind of that laid back southern personality. His practices are more laid back and relaxed by comparison. The biggest thing is, coach Spurrier is an offensive-minded head coach where Urban is a defensive-minded head coach. Both of them have done a tremendous job for the University of Florida.”

Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Shane Matthews…after the break!
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Week 9: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Location: EverBank Field – Jacksonville, FL [Capacity: 84,000]
Weather Forecast: 77°F, partly cloudy
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 121/141
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Mark Richt
Record: 4-3 (2-3) Record: 4-4 (3-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Pick ‘em; O/U 49

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Georgia leads the all-time series 46-39-2 against Florida, holding a 40-36-1 advantage in Jacksonville. The Gators have won back-to-back games in the series, defeating the Bulldogs 49-10 in 2008 and 41-17 last season.
» Over the last 20 years, UF holds a 17-3 advantage over UGA. Under Meyer, Florida is 4-1 against Georgia since 2005.
» The Gators are now 22-30 in the red zone in 2010 with 20 touchdowns and two field goals. Earlier this season, Florida had a run of 15 straight scores inside the red zone including 14 touchdowns.
» Florida’s offense has seen 12 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» The Bulldogs are out-scoring opponents 63-31 in the first quarter while the Gators are being outscored 14-26 in the same period.
» Florida is one of two schools in the nation (Nebraska) that has three players with at least three interceptions.
» The Gators have faced the SEC’s (at-the-time) leading rusher three times this season; each time, the player no longer led the SEC after facing UF.
» Florida under Meyer is 40-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 37-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 37-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 31-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» Florida is tied for the national lead with 13 interceptions on the season. Five have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» Georgia has won three straight games (Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky) by a combined score of 128-45. The Bulldogs scored 41 or more points in all three contests. Comparatively, the Gators scored 31 and 48 points against UT and UK, respectively.
» The Bulldogs out-rank the Gators in three of four major statistical averages. Georgia is 55th in passing yards (228.4), 59th in rushing yards (153.8), 39th in points scored (31.5) and 30th in points against (19.1) compared to Florida being 82nd in passing yards (186.9), 75th in rushing yards (142.1), 62nd in points scored (27.6) and 26th in points against (18.7). Both defeated common opponents Tennessee and Kentucky, but UF has faced two top-10 defenses this year in Alabama (No. 2) and LSU (No. 10).
» Saturday’s game is the first time since 1979 that at least one of the two teams is not nationally ranked. In fact, both teams have been in the top 25 on 17 occasions when they have faced each other since that year.
» New Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity previously worked was executive senior associate athletic director of internal affairs under Florida’s Jeremy Foley; he was with the school from 1992-2010.
» Gators redshirt sophomores defensive tackle Omar Hunter and fullback T.J. Pridemore both attended Buford High School, as did a number of Bulldogs including Kolton Houston, Billy Johnson and Dallas Lee.
» Florida is unranked for the first time under Meyer’s. The Gators had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State two weeks ago.
» Four players were inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame on Friday including former Gators linebackers Scot Brantley and Wilber Marshall, and former Bulldogs quarterback Zeke Bratkowski and linebacker Knox Culpepper.
» Florida will wear Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the Georgia game. They are one of 10 teams selected to wear a specially designed uniform by the company this season.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 6-5 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing another pick last week. He has completed 125-of-208 passes (62.0 percent) for 1,266 yards and has a passer rating of 117.9.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (482 yards) after missing a full game and being limited in three others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson…who has seen a dip in his average yards per game this season down to 50.4. He remains the Gators’ leading receiver with 25 catches for 353 yards with a majority of his receptions earning UF first downs.
» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore…who continues to be clutch for the Gators each week. Twelve of Moore’s last 15 catches have been for first downs including two against Tennessee, four against Kentucky, two against Alabama, three against LSU and one against Mississippi State.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has nine scores on the season, has played five positions and may see more time behind center with the team wanting to run the ball better out of the option.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry has missed his last four field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) after nailing his first two against Alabama.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted eight balls this season but has been held without a pick over the last three games. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) and are leading the way for the unit. Brown returned one for a touchdown two games ago, and Black is tops on the team with 50 tackles on the year while also being the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233).
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles four times this season: vs. LSU (13), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10) and USF (8). He is tops on the team overall with 60 tackles, including three for loss.

GEORGIA
» WR A.J. Green…who leads the Bulldogs in receptions (22) even though he missed the first four games of the season. Since returning, he has amassed 365 yards and four touchdowns, catching six or more balls three times for 86 or more yards.
» QB Aaron Murray…who has completed 121-of-193 passes this season for 1,766 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions, earning him a 157.0 passer rating. Murray has passed for seven TDs and one INT in the last four games (Georgia is 3-1).
» RB Washaun Ealey…who is averaging five yards per carry on 105 touches. With seven touchdowns on the season, he has accounted for more than any other player on the team and also leads Georgia with 526 rushing yards.
» Linebacker Justin Houston…who leads the SEC with nine sacks after registering 5.5 over the last three games. He is also second in the conference in tackles for loss (14.5).

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Active – Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody (thigh), redshirt freshman right guard Jon Halapio (finger)
Probable – Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose, redshirt junior DT Jaye Howard

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators and Bulldogs will be featured during ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. Reporter Joe Schad will have an exclusive interview with Meyer and the show’s three hosts – Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit – will be picking the game in the show’s final segment.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 9: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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TWO BITS: volleyball wins, Crowder on helmets

1 » No. 1 Florida Gators volleyball (17-1, 10-0 SEC) improved to 9-1 against top 25 opponents this season with a 3-0 (25-20, 25-23, 25-20) shutout victory over the No. 21 Tennessee Volunteers (15-5, 7-4 SEC) on Wednesday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. Florida junior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel led the Gators with a team-high 12 kills. Junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy contributed a match-high 15 digs along with seven kills and 17 assists, while senior OH Callie Rivers added nine kills and seven digs. Florida is rated No. 1 in the NCAA’s Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) and has won 12-straight matches since falling to then-No. 1 Penn State on Sept. 10.

2 » Former Gators linebacker Channing Crowder of the Miami Dolphins, spoke out Wednesday when asked about the NFL’s decision to seriously crack down and possibly suspend players for helmet-to-helmet hits. “If I get a chance to knock somebody out, I’m going to knock them out and take what they give me,” Crowder said. “They give me a helmet, I’m going to use it. If I’m knocked out, I don’t know where I’m at, I can’t say my name, now I can’t play football. If I get hit in the head and black out for a second and now I get back up dizzy, OK, I’m ready to go.” Crowder believes the NFL is “making a big deal about nothing, adding, “They want to save the receivers and quarterbacks because they sell all the jerseys. They don’t give a damn at all about the defensive players because we don’t sell as many jerseys as them. If they want to change football to a graceful sport, change it all the way to a graceful sport. Don’t try to save the quarterbacks and receivers because they make the money, which that’s what they’re doing.”

Extra BIT » Over the summer we here on OGGOA covered former Florida defensive end Thaddeus Bullard‘s journey with World Wrestling Entertainment as he “competed” on the WWE NXT television program created to find the company’s next breakout star. Though he was eliminated early on, Bullard’s background as a football player and master’s degree recipient from the University of Florida was played up heavily by the producers/announcers; he even did a Gator Chomp at the top of the entrance ramp before entering the ring. As his in-ring character Titus O’Neil, Bullard returns to Gainesville on Friday, Oct. 29 as he competes with current and future WWE superstars in a Florida Championship Wrestling event at the Alachua County Fairgrounds. A member of UF’s Hall of Fame, O’Neil was also a Student Body Vice President in 2000.

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