Goolsby, Lewis give Gators reasons for optimism

The failure of the Florida Gators to recruit and get production out of the tight end position over the last few seasons has been well-documented, but Saturday’s 2015 Orange & Blue Debut spring game absolutely provided reasons for optimism.

It was no accident that two of the Gators’ four leading receivers on Saturday were tight ends with sophomore DeAndre Goolsby (two receptions, 40 yards) and redshirt freshman C’yontai Lewis (four receptions, 54 yards, touchdown) each flashing while being used in a variety of formations.

In fact, while so much pessimism surrounds Florida’s offense – due to it having an unnamed starting quarterback and serious depth issues at both offensive line and running back – the tight end position looks to be stronger than it has been in years.

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Florida Gators 2015 Orange & Blue Debut Preview: start time, TV schedule, live stream, who to watch

OnlyGators.com will offer a complete recap of the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut later Saturday evening following its tape-delayed replay on the SEC Network. More information below.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: Cloudy, 82 degrees, winds west/south-west at 7-8 mph
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EDT)

Live online/mobile (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network +
Live TV (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network alternate (“whip-around” coverage)
TV (9:00 p.m. tape delay): SEC Network
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

EXPANDED VIEWING INFORMATION

Television:
Florida’s 2015 spring game will not air live in its entirety on television but rather on tape delay at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. Live “whip-around” coverage will be available on the SEC Network‘s alternate channel (where available) beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Online:
While the game is not being offered live on television, you can stream it live online (and via your mobile device) via SEC Network +. The game may be immediately available for replay via SEC Network + at the conclusion of the spring game.

EVENT FORMAT

» Florida will field an orange team and a blue team, which will square off over four 12-minute quarters and an un-timed overtime.

» Between each half, the Gators will hold a 12-minute halftime.

» There will also be a running clock for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, likely with some additional kicking and special teams work.

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Florida Gators 2015 spring practice: Alex McCalister, Jake McGee could key turnaround

Head coach Jim McElwain took the field with the Florida Gators for the 10th time on Wednesday as the 2015 spring practice session rolled along. After practice, he met with the media to discuss some goings on with the team.

Opening statement

“We bounced back and did have a heck of a practice today. I thought, especially in our situations, we worked two minute end of the game need field goal to push it into overtime. We worked overtime as well for the first time we were in true goal line in situations, so that was really good. And then we had a real spirited Gator drill today and so there was some good stuff leading into Friday. There will be a lot of really good film work.

“What I’m searching for [Thursday] is our guys really taking from the situational films. We’re going to start to stack some things and [Thursday’s] going to be huge for us in the meeting room as we’re moving forward. My message to them [Wednesday] was, let’s go ahead and win the meeting [Thursday]. That’s what we’ve got to kind of do one step at a time. Let’s just get a little bit better.”

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Florida Gators 2015 spring practice: McElwain on snapping, TE development, Powell, secondary

Head coach Jim McElwain took the field with the Florida Gators for the second time on Wednesday as the 2015 spring practice session rolled along. Afterwards, McElwain met with the media in a short session to discuss some of the early goings on with the team.

Opening statement

“Second practice – obviously some new things going in, thought it was a little sloppy actually today. We got a lot of details that we need to take care of, and yet, that’s expected when you get new install like this. Friday as we get going we may have to actually take possibly a little bit of a step back, and yet, the key right now is to kind of keep loading the wagon and keep loading the wagon and come back, reteach it again.

“They’ll be able to go through it this summer and we’ll get ready for the fall. Overall, still like the tempo still like the way the guys are competing against each other and helping each other get better. That’s kind of one of the things we’re striving for.”

Snap to it

With Florida’s offense going back to having multiple packages with the quarterback under center – and with the Gators rolling out two second-year quarterbacks as well as a thin, inexperienced offensive line – the team is far from comfortable with the ball exchange.

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Jim McElwain talks injuries, depth problems, other issues ahead of Florida Gators spring practice

New Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain met with the media on Tuesday for just the third time. The 30-minute back-and-forth saw McElwain touched on a number of topics regarding spring practice and the upcoming 2015 Orange & Blue Debut spring football game. McElwain was once again extremely close-to-the-vest on most topics, often times failing to answer even direct questions.

INJURY “UPDATES”

With a handful of important Gators – at least as far as 2015 is concerned – injured with spring practice on the horizon, McElwain was asked to provide some updates on their statuses at the start of practice. He relented, sort of, despite not providing any specifics regarding the injuries or timetables for return.

Senior linebacker Antonio Morrison announced he would return to Florida days after being injured in the 2015 Birmingham Bowl. Morrison’s injury, a torn ACL, has yet to be mentioned by the school at the request of his family. “Morrison will be out. Things are going well with him. He’s really attacking his rehab and been with us,” McElwain said. “I’ve got to tell you what now, here’s a team guy. He doesn’t miss a team meeting. He’s out there at every practice doing what he can do. That’s really good to see.”

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Readers’ Choice: Lacking production at tight end remains an issue for Florida Gators

For five days from March 5-9, OnlyGators.com handed a guest editor role over to you, the loyal reader. This is the fifth of five Readers’ Choice posts covering topics you want to know more about concerning the Florida Gators athletics program.

Portions of this post originally appeared on OnlyGators.com on June 4, 2014.

For a team that relied heavily on production from its tight ends over an seven-year stretch from 2006-12, the Gators’ offensive woes in 2013, which lasted into 2014, were only made more apparent by the fact that it did not have a single player who could effectively make plays, gain chunk yardage or score touchdowns out of that position.

In fact, 2013 marked the least productive season in school history for tight ends dating back to the first year the position appeared on Florida’s roster in 1966. Gators tight ends combined for four receptions (fewest ever, six in 1986 and 2010), 42 yards (fewest ever, 45 in 1986) and no touchdowns (sixth time).

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Florida Gators TE Jake McGee receives NCAA approval for sixth year of eligibility

Florida Gators tight end Jake McGee announced Tuesday on Twitter that he has received approval from the NCAA to play a sixth season of college football. The program confirmed Tuesday evening that he will remain with the team for the 2015 season.

McGee, a graduate transfer from Virginia who joined Florida for the 2014 season but only played a handful of snaps in its opener against Eastern Michigan before breaking his tibia and fibula, applied for additional eligibility but was patiently waiting for the NCAA’s response to his waiver.

“Lets try this college thing one more time! thanks @ncaa see you in the fall!” he excitedly wrote Tuesday on the social media service.

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Durkin: Cox out for bowl, McGee hopes to stay at Florida, Gators prepare for Birmingham

Florida Gators interim head coach and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Thursday to discuss the early portion pf practice ahead of the 2015 Birmingham Bowl, injuries, roster developments and the team’s preparation for the East Carolina Pirates. Florida and ECU will square off on Saturday, Jan. 3 at 12 p.m. at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

UP-AND-COMER SIDELINED FOR BOWL

Redshirt sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. began to show some flashes as the 2014 season came to a close, but he will be unable to take advantage of the 20 bowl practices to take his game to the next level ahead of spring practice.

Cox, who announced on social media that he underwent surgery, has officially been ruled out for the bowl game after having a procedure on his hip.

“Bryan Cox had surgery and he will be out for the bowl game,” Durkin said. “It was a hip injury, something that was deteriorating over time that he needed to have done.”

In his second year of on-field action, Cox finished with 29 tackles (six for lost yardage) and four sacks. He will likely step into a starting role with the Gators in 2015.

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