4 BITS: Horschel, tough schedule, Florida Field

1 » Former Florida Gators golfer Billy Horschel was in contention to win the 2014 Deutsche Bank Championship…all until his second shot on the final hole of the event. Trailing by one stroke, Horschel was 198 yards away from the hole and set to reach the green in two on the par-5 18th, a hole he birdied thrice before, when he instead chunked a 6-iron into the marsh. Instead of finishing with an eagle or birdie, which respectively would have won him the tournament or forced a playoff, Horschel posted a bogey on 18. He finished in a three-way tie for second, losing the event (and the chance for the full winner’s purse of $1.44 million) to Georgia’s Chris Kirk. Horschel still brought home $597,333. Horschel’s second-place finish vaulted him from 82nd to 20th in the FedExCup, and he should receive a spot in the 2014 Tour Championship. He could also be a dark horse candidate for the United States’ Ryder Cup team.

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SIX BITS: Tebow, Spikes, Garcia, Easley

1 » Though playing in the NFL again remains his top priority, former Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow is doing whatever he can to be the best television analyst possible in his new role with the SEC Network. According to SI.com’s Richard Deitsch, Tebow is heavily involved in his new position and going so far as to pester SEC Nation host Joe Tessitore with questions both in and out of work. “I know when Tim states a goal he stays the course, so I understand why he firmly expresses fulfilling his NFL dreams,” Tessitore told Deitsch. “It’s who Tim is. I also know that he loves this SEC Nation job with us. I know he considers us his team. I know that he has told our producers that he wants constant feedback, he wants to be coached, and he wants to be great at TV. He calls and texts me non-stop to discuss every detail of everything we’re doing. Just last week I fielded one of his pressing concerns about a potential 90 second telestration piece he was going to voice over and explain for a broadcast — a broadcast that is still 10 days away. That’s commitment to preparation.” The first SEC Nation show will air on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. on SEC Network ahead of the channel’s first-ever live college football game – Texas A&M at South Carolina.

2 » CBSSports.com senior editor Tony Moss ranked all 128 FBS head coaches by how successful they were as football players. As it turns out, two coaches tied to Florida were placed in the top 20 of the rankings. Checking in at No. 20 is current Gators head football coach Will Muschamp, a walk-on strong safety at Georgia who became a team captain as a senior. No. 1 overall, of course, was former Florida Heisman Trophy-winning QB Steve Spurrier.

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Muschamp’s fifth trip through ESPN’s car wash

Updated at 5:00 p.m.

Joining a handful of other Southeastern Conference coaches in Bristol, Connecticut, on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp went through ESPN’s “car wash” by appearing on nearly a dozen of the network’s media platforms over the course of one day. It is the fifth time Muschamp is being put through the wringer by ESPN after previously participating in April 2011, July 2011, July 2012 and July 2013.

OnlyGators.com is following Muschamp’s media appearances throughout the day and updating this post live with the news, notes and quotes from all of his appearances. Due to most of Muschamp’s spots not airing live, this post will be updated into the night.

CAR WASH SCHEDULE*

Now that Muschamp’s day – which included one live television spot, a handful of taped segments, four taped radio interviews, two taped podcasts, a number of photo shoots and four print interviews – has come to a close, below is where you can find some of his segments before Tuesday comes to a close.

1:45 p.m. – SportsCenter (ESPN)
1:45 p.m. – SVP & Russillo (ESPN Radio)
6:30 p.m. – College Football Live (ESPNEWS)
7:45 p.m. – Sedano & Stink (ESPN Radio)
10:30 p.m. – Freddie Coleman (ESPN Radio)

Muschamp started the day with a customary ESPN Images photo shoot.

He then participated in a number of interviews, all of which will either be tape delayed on the radio or available on podcasts.

Muschamp’s day continued with some taped video segments set to air at yet-to-be-determined times. He taped two more radio interviews and filmed five different segments.

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12 Gator Bites for Wednesday, January 22

From time to time, OnlyGators.com 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.

» Returns from the first two days of practice ahead of the 2014 Senior Bowl have been positive for the three Florida Gators in attendance with cornerback and OnlyGators.com Path to the Draft blogger Jaylen Watkins drawing the most rave reviews on Tuesday. “Watkins balled out today,” said Scout.com’s Jamie Newberg. “Had [a] pick, caused fumble & at least five [pass breakups].” Concurred CBSSports.com’s Dane Brugler: “Watkins is one of the better players here that isn’t much talked about. I’m a big fan.” An AFC scout in attendance at the practices told OnlyGators.com that his team already has Watkins pegged as a potential second day draft selection.

» The first day of the inaugural all-star draft for the 2014 Pro Bowl was held on Tuesday with Miami Dolphins center Mike Pouncey going off the board as the first player chosen at his position. He will play for Team (Deion) Sanders. The second half of the draft will be held on Wednesday with Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden waiting to be picked.

» San Francisco 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald tore his biceps tendon in Week 6 but played through the injury all the way up until his team fell in the NFC Championship on Sunday. Now done for the season, McDonald is scheduled to have the tendon reattached with a surgery upcoming, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Check out NINE more Gators news bites…after the break!
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SIX BITS: Patton, Moss, NFL, Bonner, Noah

1 » Florida Gators wide receiver Solomon Patton on Wednesday confirmed to OnlyGators.com that he has been invited to the 2014 Senior Bowl. Patton plans to leave for the game, which is played in his hometown of Mobile, AL, on Saturday along with cornerback Jaylen Watkins and guard Jon Halapio, both of whom will be participating in the game. Patton got on the Senior Bowl’s radar after hauling in a MVP award in the inaugural 2014 Medal of Honor Bowl over the weekend. In other news Wednesday, Halapio was announced as a signee of Paradigm Sports Management. Patton and Watkins are both being represented by agent Tom Santanello of Elevate Football.

2 » One of five former Gators back in Gainesville, FL this spring taking classes in pursuit of their college degree, defensive end Jarvis Moss saw his semester start off on the wrong foot. Moss late Monday night was arrested and charged with a felony for tampering with evidence as well as a misdemeanor for possession of less than 20 grams of cannabis after he was stopped near 900 NW 7th Ave in Gainesville. He was initially pulled over for running a stop sign, but the arresting officer smelled “a strong odor of ‘fresh’ cannabis coming from the vehicle” and “observed the defendant chewing intently.” Upon asking Moss to open his mouth, he identified “large pieces of cannabis … that he was trying to swallow.” Additionally, according to the police report, Moss “denied eating cannabis” after being read his Miranda rights but “did admit to smoking cannabis earlier.”

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Gators reflect on ‘Cats, look ahead to Razorbacks

A number of players from the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (3-1, 2-0 SEC) met with the media throughout the week to discuss team issues and preview Saturday’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-1 SEC).

DEFENSE

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs

» On senior DT Dominique Easley‘s mindset: “He’s doing pretty good. He’s staying positive. I’m trying to keep him positive so everything’s going good. Just trying to put him back in that joking mood he’s always usually in. He’s a big prankster and a big joker so I try to keep him going that way.”

» On the opportunity Easley’s injury presented for him: “It’s a big opportunity because I’m going to have way more reps than I thought I was going to have this year. This is my last year also, so it’s a big opportunity for me to put myself on the market. Me and him talked about that last week. He told me not to miss out on it.”

» On Arkansas’ offense: “Physical, they’re real physical. I think they’re a little chippy, a little dirty, so we’re going to have to be ready for all that this week.”

» On how the Razorbacks are dirty: “I just see from film a lot of the stuff after the play. Especially with the center, number 64, he’ll get after you after the play. He’ll make you want to do some things to him. So we’re going to have to try to keep our temper and keep cool on that. Just hit them in the mouth first. Just keep hitting them until they quit. That’s how you do it.”

Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor

» On what he says when he trash talks: “You guys couldn’t handle that so I can’t really say that in here. If y’all mic me up, you might find out.”

» On whether Arkansas’ center is ‘dirty’ like Jacbos said: “I haven’t seen ‘dirty.’ I’ve seen that he finishes plays. All that talk of ‘dirty,’ if somebody’s trying to come block you, if you don’t let them get into your body there’s no way they can block you. Using good hands, keeping them away from you. Anything he would try to do, if it was dirty, would be negated because he can’t even touch you.”

» On the Hogs also trash talking: “So, we’ll have a lot of fun. … That’s how I’ve always played. I’ve always played with a lot of emotion. I love the game of football so I’m going to be out there, I’m going to be passionate about what I’m playing. I’m going to let you know what I’m finna do and I’m gonna do it. So that’s just how I like to play.”

» On Arkansas’ physicality: “We’re a physical team as well, so, we go again physical opponents every day in practice. We bang in practice. Not on Thursdays and Fridays because it’s close to the game, but we bang all the way up until [that]. It’s not going to be nothing we’re not prepared for.”

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UF QB Murphy focused on preparation, leadership

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy may have looked cool, calm and collected when he took over for injured junior starter Jeff Driskel on Saturday, but he was nervous deep down inside.

Such is the case when you haven’t played a meaningful down at quarterback in four years and you are not expecting to see the field on a given afternoon. Murphy nevertheless expects that queasy feeling to return on Saturday when he starts the first game of his college career for the No. 19/20 Florida Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC) against the Kentucky Wildcats (1-2, 0-0 SEC).

“I’ll have butterflies, I’m sure,” he admitted on Monday. “I’ll be anxious to get out there and maybe complete my first pass – or once I get hit – I think I’ll be fine. I don’t think it’ll be bad as it was last week,” he said.

Murphy started thinking about the Kentucky game hours after he led Florida to a 31-17 victory over Tennessee but not because he was salivating at the chance to start but rather so he could fix his mistakes and improve as a player.

“After the game I was kind of anxious to watch the film, see how I did. I was just kind of just thinking about how I would have to adapt to being a starter and stuff like that, taking on a new role. Just ways I could just really excel and be a leader,” Murphy said. “I’m the next guy in line, so I’m just thinking of ways I could help lead this team.”

He spent the whole night thinking about it while returning congratulatory phone calls and text messages of from friends, family and teammates.

“I’m just kind of ready to move on and start focusing on Kentucky,” he said, “getting back to doing what I love to do, which is playing football.”

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease got first crack at the film that Murphy had to wait until Sunday to view. He spoke Tuesday about what he liked about Murphy’s performance on Saturday.

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9/1: Muschamp updates injuries, previews Miami

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss some leftovers from the team’s 24-6 victory over Toledo while looking ahead to Saturday’s game on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. The contest will kick off at 12 p.m. from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, and air live on ESPN.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Week: Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown
“Mack ran extremely hard in the game and certainly a guy that really played well.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia, redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore
“I thought all three of those guys played really well, really built some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler and Max have been two really good additions for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Brown, senior wide receiver Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers
“Really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp, competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so. He’s a guy that adds some dimension to us.”

Defensive Player(s) of the Week: Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr., senior DL Dominique Easley, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr, redshirt junior Sam LB Ronald Powell
“All of those guys played well to contain [the quarterback] in the pocket, be able to rush four effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run.”

Ball Hawks: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (for the interception) and Easley, Powell, Orr and redshirt junior Mike LB Michael Taylor (for the pressure)

Hard Hat: Redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball
“A guy that’s really helped [take] a huge step forward defensively for us was for him to be able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done. Shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker. He’s been a huge addition for us.”

Special Team Player of the Week: Sophomore RB Mark Herndon
“He continues to be productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us.”

Big Play (Special Teams): Junior CB Marcus Roberson
“A guy that flipped the field a couple times with a couple big punt returns.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt junior WR Ryan Parrish, redshirt freshman LB Jeremi Powell, freshman WR Chris Thompson

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