Blue tops Orange 13-10 at Gators spring game

Not all coming out parties are exciting and such was the case for the Florida Gators at the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Faced with a mountain of injuries and in the middle of a coaching transition, Blue defeated Orange 13-10 after each team scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The first half was a 3-3 stalemate with senior kicker Caleb Sturgis hitting a pair of field goals including a long of 43 yards for Blue.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley started for Blue but only played in the first half and finished 4/14 for 45 yards after throwing five-straight incomplete passes to begin the game. He was replaced by freshman QB Jeff Driskel (2/6 for 13 yards, 23 rushing yards) at halftime before walk-on sophomore QB Christian Provancha closed out the game with a 39-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Robert Clark.

Redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy drew the start for the Orange team and played most of the game, going 7/11 for 68 yards. He threw a TD to sophomore walk-on running back Ben Sams on a play that would have normally been ruled a sack and tossed an interception to sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs on a ball tipped by the receiver.

Other highlights from the game include a 55-yard punt by freshman punter Kyle Christy, dominant performances on the defensive line from sophomore defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, some explosive plays from redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey, a solid day from sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar and two nice first-half receptions from freshman tight end A.C. Leonard.

The University of Florida announced that 53,000 fans were in attendance for the game and halftime ceremony that saw three statues being unveiled for the school’s trio of Heisman Trophy-winning QBs: Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Tim Tebow (2007). Spurrier sent in a pre-recorded message because South Carolina’s spring game was also played Saturday, while Wuerffel and Tebow stood at midfield and expressed their appreciation to the fans, administration and donors.

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2011 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

Event: 2011 Orange & Blue Debut – Florida Gators spring football
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 12:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: Sun Sports

Online Video: —–>

Live Updates: @OnlyGators Reference: Roster | Schedule 2010: Blue 27, Orange 24

Radio appearance: Adam Silverstein will be previewing the Florida Gators’ spring game Saturday on Sirius-122/XM-143 College Sports Nation at approximately 11 a.m. Tune in.

EVENT INFORMATION

» Gator Walk: North side of stadium, exterior, 9:30 a.m. start
» Parking: The following parking locations are available first-come, first-serve for fans wishing to attend the game – O’Connell Center garage, O’Connell Center lot (disabled), Commuter Lot (Lemerand Dr.) with shuttle
» Heisman Statue Ceremony: UF will unveil three statues of the school’s Heisman Trophy winners – Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Tim Tebow (2007) – on the westside of the stadium at halftime of the game near the skybox entrance. Those inside the stadium will not be allowed to exit for the ceremony but will be able to watch the unveiling live inside The Swamp after watching a brief video introduction. Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow will all provide remarks to the crowd after the unveiling, though only Wuerffel and Tebow are expected to be in attendance.
» Former Gators in attendance: QB Tebow, QB Wuerffel, LB Mike Peterson, RB Fred Taylor, C Maurkice & Mike Pouncey, WR Riley Cooper, WR David Nelson, LB Brandon Spikes, DE Carlos Dunlap, DB Dorian Munroe, DE Jarvis Moss, DT Joe Cohen, RB Kesthan Moore, etc.
» Recruits in attendance (List courtesy of InsideTheGators.com): LB Jeremi Powell (commit), RB Matt Jones (commit), LB Tyriq McCord, OT Patrick Miller, OT Avery Young, DE Jelani Hamilton, ATH Angelo Jean-Louis, ATH Amos Leggett, ATH Nelson Agholor, LB Noor Davis, OL Evan Goodman, ATH Marcus Maye, DT Korren Kirven, TE Kurt Freitag, DE Jhaustin Thomas, LB Tashon Whitehurst, S Ladarion Young, LB Trey Johnson (2013), RB Kelvin Taylor (2013), LB Leon McQuay III (2013), etc.

Additional information including the game format, injury report, team notes and who to keep an eye on all are available…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2011 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

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4/5: Dunkley suspended, consistency an issue

With the Florida Gators 2011 spring practice now in full swing, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media after the day’s activities were completed on Tuesday. Maintaining a serious and balanced demeanor, Muschamp discussed a number of topics including the team’s level of consistency in practice, who is shining in the secondary and what the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut will look like on Saturday.

DUNKLEY SUSPENDED FOR ACADEMICS

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Chris Dunkley, who hobbled through most of 2010 with a hamstring injury and has been relatively silent so far this spring, has been suspended from the team for academic issues. Muschamp remained vague about the situation, saying that “academically he needs to handle some things,” but noted that he has not sat out the entire time and can earn his way back on the field if he gets his grades up.

TIME TO BE CONSISTENT

Muschamp wants to trust the guys he puts on the gridiron and has maintained that the best way for players to prove themselves is by showing consistency both on and off the field. “I really challenged the players after practice to [find] consistency in their performance. We’ve done some really nice things at all positions at times, but the consistency of it is not what it needs to be,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of improvements, but we have tremendous strides to make. […] The inconsistency is the frustrating thing, but there’s been bright spots at a lot of positions in what we’re trying to do.”

Asked to compare the base level of talent that Florida has with what he left at Texas, Muschamp noted that ability is not the issue. “We have talent. I’m excited about the players we have,” he said. “It’s what we have and we’re going to be fine. Depth is an issue, but that’s something that [can be fixed with time].”

He spent a lot of time talking about two position groups in particular, noting that once they become consistent and cohesive as individual units, the team’s overall performance will be more impressive. “The two tightest knit groups on the team need to be the offensive line and the secondary,” Muschamp said. “They’ve got to play together. They’ve got to have great communication. They’ve got to be on the same page in what they do and how they do it. We’ve got to be tied together well in those two areas. There’s been times we have been, and there’s been times we haven’t been.”

PLANS FOR ORANGE & BLUE DEBUT

The Gators will be in the hot Florida sun on Saturday for the team’s spring game, but due to lack of depth along both lines and injuries on both offense and defense, the format will be different than years past. Florida will split up into Blue and Orange teams with Blue groupings representing the first-team players and Orange groupings representing the second-team players. However, the offense will wear the color blue throughout the afternoon, while the defense will stick with white. All that really matters to Muschamp is that the team gets better when Saturday’s scrimmage comes to a close.

“What we want to do is go out and have a very functional scrimmage. We want to execute on both sides of the ball. We need to see guys play in front of people, I think that’s important to see how they respond in front of a good crowd,” he said. “It’s important for us to go out and play fast, play physical and play with toughness.”

He also cautioned that the game is “not gonna be real flashy” and joked that he may have to strap on the pads one more time to help out. “We’ve got who we got; I may line up at left tackle,” Muschamp quipped.

NOTES & QUOTES

» On how sophomore Gerald Christian is faring at tight end and linebacker: “He’s battling [at LB], but he’s playing on both sides. [His] head’s spinning a lot. He’s working awful hard. I’m very proud of his effort and what he’s trying to do. He’s done some nice things for us at tight end, and we continue to rep him in at linebacker. After spring is over, we need to sit down and make some decisions about where we go with this, but he’s done some good things on both sides of the ball.”

» On the standout play of sophomore safety Matt Elam: “We’ve done some really nice things at times. Matt Elam’s really made a lot of plays; I think he’s had a really solid spring. I want his leadership ability to step up; he’s a guy that can provide more of that and bring that more to our football team. He’s really made some nice plays on the ball in coverage and in run support.”

» Muschamp said that junior Josh Evans and sophomores Josh Shaw and Jaylen Watkins are all performing well at safety. Watkins is listed on the spring roster as a cornerback and played that position in 2010. He also noted that sophomore Cody Riggs has played nearly every defensive back position in the spring.

» Evaluating the CBs in particular, Muschamp said redshirt junior Jeremy Brown is consistent day-in and day-out and “has had a very solid spring” overall. However, redshirt senior Moses Jenkins has been just the opposite, “inconsistent in his performance” including at the point of attack and on the line of scrimmage.

» On the emergence of freshman CB De’Ante Saunders, who is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury: “He’s going to be a good football player for the Gators. This guy’s got a lot of ability. For a guy that hasn’t played a lot of corner in his life, he’s got some natural instincts on the back end. He’s got the critical factors of being a good defensive back: toughness, he can play the ball down the field, he can play with range, he can cover man, he’s got zone instincts. He’s got all the attributes you want at that position.”

» Muschamp repeated much of what has been said about the offensive line recently. Redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison is doing well after being moved to center, redshirt sophomore Jon Halapio is impressing at guard and junior Xavier Nixon has looked good at tackle. He announced that sophomore Ian Silberman has permanently moved from tackle to guard, and that redshirt freshman tackle Chaz Green has played on the left and right. “It’s a little bit of a luxury for him to be able to play both sides.”

» On if he’s coached players who don’t perform well in practice but do during games: “I don’t believe in that. You’re going to play like you practice. The guys that practice well play well. I think that carries over. I’m young, but I’m old fashioned in that regard.”

» On sophomore athlete Trey Burton’s importance with so many players being injured: “He’s a football player. He’s got natural instincts. He’s a guy that really gives a defense problems from the standpoint of, ‘What is he?’ Because he can play in the slot, he can play in the backfield, he can be in protection, he can free release. He does an awful lot of things, and Charlie [Weis] does a really nice job of putting him in those situations and really gives the defense some issues.”

» On if the Heisman Trophy winners on-site for the statue ceremony will speak to the team: “Anytime we have an opportunity to have some of the great Gators come through and speak, [we will]. Tim [Tebow] and Danny [Wuerffel] , we want them to be a part of that as well. Fred Taylor should be here on Friday, so we’re excited about Fred speaking to our football time. Anytime that you have guys that have been in this program and been a part of the great tradition and really built this place to what it is, that’s an exciting thing for our players to ask questions, to interact with them and find out what it was like to be a gator when they were here. I think that’s really important to our football team.”

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Tebow’s memoir “Through My Eyes” gets a cover

Publishing house HarperCollins announced in November that it will release Through My Eyes, “an inspirational memoir by one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time: the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national champion at the University of Florida and current Denver Broncos first round draft pick, Tim Tebow.”

On Wednesday, the publisher officially released the cover image of the book:

Companies like Amazon.com have begun taking pre-orders with a release date of May 24. HarperCollins will initially print 200,000 copies of the memoir, which Tebow will promote via appearances/signings in Denver, CO, New York, NY, and various cities in the state of Florida. An audio book will also be available, and Through My Eyes will be released for the Amazon Kindle as well. You can pre-order it by Clicking Here.

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Gators to unveil Heisman winner statues April 9

The University of Florida announced Thursday that the three statues the school created to commemorate Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Tim Tebow (2007) will be unveiled outside of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at halftime of the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on April 9.

Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow will all “have a level of participation in the event,” according to the university, a statement that indicates a possibility that all three may not physically be in Gainesville, FL. Fans in attendance to watch the Florida Gators‘ spring game will be able to view the unveiling live on the scoreboards inside The Swamp.

“We are very proud to recognize the accomplishments of our Heisman Trophy winners,” said senior associate athletics director Chip Howard in a statement. “The statues will give our fans an opportunity to see and capture a real-life visual image of each of the storied athletes. We are grateful for the private donations that made the project possible. We are also thankful for the work and cooperation of the Campus Facilities Planning and Construction Department that assisted us in following University policy and procedure that helped bring this project to fruition. The sculptor, Sandy Proctor, was meticulous in every phase of the process and did a tremendous job bringing the likeness and personality to each of the statues.”

Each statue is 15 percent larger than life-sized and will feature the players in different stances. Tebow will have the ball tucked and in a running motion while Spurrier and Wuerffel will be dropping back to pass, The Gainesville Sun reported last June. In all, the statues cost approximately $550,000 – all funded by private donations.

“It was a huge, huge honor to think that they would be interested in putting those up. And certainly to be next to those two guys even makes it even more special for me – my coach and a friend. Hopefully we’ll have room for many more in the next few years,” Wuerffel told OGGOA during an interview in August 2010.

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Tebow, Brissett, Drayton

1 » Head basketball coach Billy Donovan, who has won two NCAA National Championships (in three title game appearances), captured multiple Southeastern Conference Championships and led the Florida Gators to unprecedented heights since he took over the program in 1996, may be on the verge of earning his first SEC Coach of the Year award if the Gators continue their winning ways over the final handful of regular season games. FOX Sports Florida’s Bill Koss examines how Donovan has missed out on the honor previously, even though he’s on the verge of leading Florida to its 13th consecutive 20-win season. Donovan has been overlooked for the award on at least three occasions; this year his former assistant Anthony Grant, now head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide, may stand in his way. Though Alabama is 15-7 on the season, they are 7-1 in the SEC and have won 10 of their last 11 games.

2 » Publishing house HarperCollins announced in November that it will be releasing Through My Eyes, described as “an inspirational memoir by one of the greatest college football quarterbacks of all time: the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner, two-time national champion at the University of Florida and current Denver Broncos first round draft pick, Tim Tebow” in April 2011. Companies like Amazon.com have begun taking pre-orders as the book’s release date has been pushed back to May 24. HarperCollins will initially print 200,000 copies of the book, which Tebow will promote via appearances/signings in Denver, CO, New York, NY, and various cities in the state of Florida. An audio book will also be available, and Through My Eyes will be released for the Amazon Kindle as well. You can pre-order it by Clicking Here.

3 » Four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett indicated that the possibility of playing basketball as well as football was something he was considering when deciding which school he would commit to last week. Brissett chose the Gators which begs the question: How do the head coaches feel about his desire to play two sports? “As far as I’m concerned, in talking to Will [Muschamp], if he wants to be a part of our team, he’s more than welcome to do that,” Donovan said Thursday. “You talk about a guy missing workouts in September. October we start practice. November, December, January – he comes into (basketball) practice completely not knowing one thing. Now, as practice starts, he tries to go from football shape to basketball shape. Now, as we start to go toward the SEC Tournament, they start spring practice. I think what’s going to end up happening is he’s going to have to make a decision.” That being said, Donovan does think he is talented and capable enough to see the court. “There’s no doubt in my mind, watching him play, if he dedicated all his time to basketball he could definitely play here at Florida,” he said. “I think he’s a very, very good player.”

4 » Some Gators fans were confused when former running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Stan Drayton left Florida to take the wide receivers coach job with the Ohio State Buckeyes. However, listening to Drayton explain his decision, it makes perfect sense. “In 17 years of coaching, I’ve never had the opportunity to be around my family,” Drayton told BuckeyeSports.com. “My kids are born and raised in Florida, so they’ve never had an opportunity to be around their grandparents. […] I’m a Buckeye by heart. I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. I used to go to coach [Jim] Tressel’s camps as a high school football player at Youngstown State. I had always admired his career, always tried to model myself on some of the principles that he holds his program to. I followed his career and always had a dream of coming back to Ohio State, I just didn’t know when.”

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FOUR BITS: Crowder, Gonzales, Fox, Andrews

You can view the rest of the pictures from this photoshoot right here.

1 » Before returning to coach in college, new Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spent a season coordinating the defense under Nick Saban in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins. As a rookie third-round draft choice, former Gators linebacker Channing Crowder played for Muschamp and was thrilled to learn he was hired to lead his alma mater. “He’s an energetic dude. I’m excited for him,’’ Crowder told MiamiDolphins.com writer Andy Kent, who related his thoughts to the University of Florida senior writer Scott Carter. “He’s a proven defensive coordinator and he knows defense. When he was here I want to say we were the No. 3 or No. 4 defense in the league. He’s just a smart dude and he’s going to be a young head coach. He’s going to bring energy to the team. Urban [Meyer] was a great coach but he was more of that laid-back, dictator type. Will’s going to get in there and get dirty with the guys and I think he’s going to be great for Florida. […] Now he’s going to be in the spotlight at Florida, especially coming into the situation he’s coming into with a proven program. I think it was a great hire and I think he’ll bring a lot of excitement.’’

2 » Passed over for Steve Addazio for the open offensive coordinator position with the Gators, Billy Gonzales left his post as wide receivers coach under Meyer to join the LSU Tigers staff for the same position with the enhanced title of “passing game coordinator.” Though the Tigers are now searching for a new offensive coordinator, ESPN‘s Bruce Feldman reports that head coach Les Miles will be looking to fill the position with someone outside the program. It should be noted that, contrary to Feldman’s report, there are rumors that Gonzales is the frontrunner for the position. Those have not yet been confirmed.

3 » Denver Broncos president John Elway announced Thursday afternoon that he and the organization have decided to hire veteran John Fox as the team’s next head coach. Fox, who will be faced with a number of important decisions in his first year including deciding whether or not Tim Tebow is his starting quarterback, had glowing things to say about the Heisman Trophy winner before the 2010 NFL Draft. “[Tebow] had a very, very good workout,” Fox said last March at Florida’s Pro Day. “He doesn’t lack in the work ethic department, so whatever needs to be done, he’ll do. I definitely saw some adjustment and I thought he executed very well.” He said later that Tebow is “a guy that has a great work ethic … that if there’s something that needs to be fixed, he can fix it.” Asked about his talent compared to his intangibles, Fox referenced another quarterback who was overlooked by some. “Did you ever watch Bernie Kosar play?” Fox said at a league meeting last year. “Bernie might not appreciate it, but I call it as I see it. He won a lot of games. So it’s not all just how pretty they are [or] how big.”

4 » Former Florida dazzler and current ESPN reporter Erin Andrews has signed an endorsement deal with Reebok to promote the company’s ZigTech brand. Joining names like Peyton Manning, Chad Ochocinco, John Wall and Sidney Crosby, Andrews will pitch the company’s footwear and apparel while helping to expand the ZigTech brand’s reach to a female audience. “I’m very excited to be the first female to become part of Reebok’s ZigTech campaign,” she said in an official statement. “I have been athletic all my life, and I’m thrilled to be working out in the same footwear and apparel that helps these athletes perform at the top of their game.”

Photo Credit: Reebok

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Review – Tim Tebow: Everything in Between

It is not often we get the chance to do entertainment reviews, though we always appreciate the opportunity. So when I found out that ESPN had chosen to send me a rough cut of Tim Tebow: Everything in Between (debuting on the network on Jan. 6 at 7 p.m.), I was psyched to view it before the general public and review it for you.

With a four-minute trailer for the then-unsold film released in September by Fiction and XV Enterprises, I knew going into my viewing that the movie began after the conclusion of the 2010 Sugar Bowl and lasted until Tebow had his name called with the No. 25 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft just over three months later.

What I did not anticipate, however, was how comprehensive, expertly produced and well-edited the film would be. Two things I look for in any production – documentaries especially – are their ability to capture my attention and then whether or not they can hold that attention for their duration. Chase Heavener gives the viewer a brief yet broad behind-the-scenes look at the process Tebow went through to make the transition from Florida Gators legend to legitimate NFL prospect.

The viewer has the opportunity to see Tebow do everything from participating in interviews with Sports Illustrated and ESPN to conducting one of his own with his future agent Jimmy Sexton in a board room at the University of Florida.

“All this looks really good and is really fancy and is really nice. And ya’ll speak really well. But a lot of people around the country either believe in me or don’t believe in me. Or they say I can do this and I can’t do this,” Tebow says while fidgeting with a packet of information after listening to Sexton’s best sales pitch. “If you want to draft me then draft me. If you want to recruit me or you think I can be a quarterback, then I will be. If not, then don’t talk to me because I want somebody that wants me. And I want an agent that wants me and believes that I am going to be a quarterback and believes that I am going to be good at what I do. And why do you think I will be?”

From there the documentary takes you to D1 Sports Training in Nashville, TN, where Tebow threw so many passes while working on adjusting his mechanics that the gloves he was wearing were literally torn apart. The viewer observes as he struggles mightily at the 2010 Under Armour Senior Bowl and is pummeled with criticism from analysts including ESPN’s Todd McShay, who is portrayed throughout the film as the antagonist for Tebow’s protagonist.

Both his physical and mental toughness are tested continuously throughout his journey. Tebow trucks on through an infection during the Senior Bowl even finding humor when a doctor feeding a tube down his nose asks if it has even been broken. “Who knows? Probably,” he quips. The level of exertion he puts in to each and every workout – he says – is not matched by any other college football player in the country.

Tebow shows the ability to block out detractors by ignoring McShay, who he hears doubting his ability to play at the next level on a blasting television in the background while he signs dozens of autographs and is surrounded by friends, family and business associates. He also defends his decision to participate in the controversial Focus on the Family Super Bowl commercial alongside his mother.

“Whoever you are, you can at least respect that I have an opinion on [abortion] and that I believe in something and that I’m going to stand up for what I believe,” he says. “That’s something that I’m taking pride in, that I’m standing up or what I believe in, and I’m showing conviction about something. For me, that’s big.”

With the hard work and dedication complete, Tebow’s largest looming decision – one that garnered much media attention – was where he would actually watch the draft that would decide his professional future. Contrary to popular belief that delaying his decision was a publicity stunt, Tebow’s indecision less than 48 hours before the draft is put at the forefront as Sexton pleads for him to make a choice.

Sexton himself proves to be a pivotal figure in Tebow’s tale, especially in the film’s final scenes. He tells the family exactly how he has projected the draft, is met with trepidation when things do not go as smooth as planned, and then is as excited as a school boy when his original prediction – “My bet is Denver from 22 to 30.” – comes to fruition.

Whether you are a fan of Tebow’s or someone who feels a strong sense of disdain for him, the Heisman Trophy winner and two-time National Champion ends up in the role of the underdog by the documentary’s end. Being exposed to Tebow’s character on a more personal basis puts the viewer in a position where one would have to be stone cold inside not to be genuinely happy for him when he receives a phone call from the 303 area code as the story nears its end.

As comprehensive as Heavener’s film is, its short run time of 50 minutes (due to television programming restrictions) does his work an injustice. With three months of film collected there is bound to be at least another 20 minutes of compelling material that unfortunately must have hit the cutting room floor. It is worth holding out hope that an extended edition will be available in some form at a later date.

Tim Tebow: Everything in Between is the first in a series of shows set to be a part of ESPN’s Year of the Quarterback programming initiative, a year-long examination into the lives and careers of quarterbacks from high school to the pros.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Cowart
 

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