Gameday: No. 2 Florida Gators vs. No. 10 Georgia

Location: EverBank Field – Jacksonville, FL [Capacity: 84,000]
Weather Forecast: 75°F, few showers (30% precipitation), winds NNW at 20 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $98 on TiqIQ

TV: CBS/CBSHD (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 2 FLORIDA GATORS No. 10 GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Mark Richt
Record: 7-0 (6-0 SEC) Record: 6-1 (4-1 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -6.5, O/U 45

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what has been going on with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Muschamp has managed expectations, set team intensity level | Florida running Boise State’s offense, SEC-style | No special approach for UF-UGA game says Muschamp | Dan Quinn talks defense

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Georgia leads Florida 47-40-2 in the all-time series and boasts a 42-38-2 advantage in neutral sites. The two teams have played annually since 1944 with the Gators holding a 36-31-1 advantage in those 68 games. UF is also 18-4 in the last 22 meetings with UGA and has not dropped consecutive games to the Bulldogs since 1987-89.
» Muschamp, who played college football for Georgia, will be facing his alma mater for the ninth time in his coaching career; he is 3-5 in the prior eight contests. He is also 0-5 all-time in the UF-UGA series as a player and head coach, going 0-4 as a player and losing his sole game as a head coach in 2011.
» Richt is 3-8 against Florida since taking over as head coach.
» The Gators can clinch the SEC East for the first time since 2009 with a victory on Saturday. The Bulldogs cannot clinch the division but can put themselves in a prime position to win it with a victory.
» The Okefenokee Oar is up for grabs on Saturday and has been a trophy awarded to the game’s victor since 2009. It was fashioned from a 1,000-year-old cypress tree and represents the Okefenokee Swamp, which separates the states and was once part of a border dispute. The Oar is awarded to the student body president of the winning university and is not presented on the field.
» Florida is one of two teams nationally (Notre Dame) with three victories over ranked opponents this season. UF is the only team in the country with a pair of top-10 wins and earned them in consecutive home victories for the first time in school history.
» The Gators are 11-1 against unranked opponents and 3-5 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida earned all three victories over ranked opponents this season, defeating Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina.
» UF has started the season 7-0 for the first time since 2009 and sixth time in history.
» Florida was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have started the 2012 season 3-0 in that category with all three victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 9-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 11-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-3 when scoring first and 11-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 25-of-27 red zone trips (92.6 percent) but have only converted 17 of those possessions (63 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted 39-of-99 of its third-down attempts (39.3 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 29-of-106 on third down conversions (27.4 percent), which is good for fifth-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 34:07 in time of possession through seven games, a margin that ranks third nationally and just 25 seconds behind the country’s leader.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 121-28 in the second half and 61-13 in the fourth quarter. UF was the only team in the nation that had not allowed a fourth-quarter point until two weeks ago.
» Florida had a stretch of not allowing a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is fourth in scoring defense nationally (12.14 points per game).
» The Gators are +11 in turnover margin through seven games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (333) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed eight interceptions so far in 2012 (three games with two each) and has already tied its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in six-of-seven games and has also forced seven fumbles.
» The Gators are third nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.60), seventh in total defense (282.0 yards per game) and 10th in rushing defense (97.29 yards per game).
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» The Gators are first nationally in net punt average (44.24 yards per punt).
» Georgia has an even turnover margin this season (10 gained, 10 lost).
» The Bulldogs have scored on 23-of-27 red zone trips (85.2 percent) and have converted 21 of those possessions (77.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» Georgia leads the nation in plays of 20+ yards this season with 45.
» Richt is the fourth-winningest active head coach (minimum 100 games) having been victorious in 74.1 percent of his games with the Bulldogs. He is 8-of-21 (29.6 percent) against top 10 opponents.
» Georgia is ranked anywhere from 47th to 75th nationally in every major defensive category except pass defense, in which UGA is 28th in the country.
» The Bulldogs have allowed 40-of-110 third-down attempts to be converted this season (36.36 percent), which is 49th nationally, 44 spots behind the Gators.
» Georgia is 109th nationally in net punt average (33.82 yards per punt), 108 spots behind Florida in the same category.

Read the rest of the Florida-Georgia preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sidelines.
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 2 Florida Gators vs. No. 10 Georgia

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Gators lose Salt, miss out on Jenkins, Birch

Two days after the football team got arguably their second-best prospect of the 2012 cycle, the Florida Gators‘ two major sports programs suffered a trio of recruiting losses.

Early in the evening it was announced via the major recruiting services that four-star JUCO defensive tackle Visesio Salt (Walnut, CA), who decided on Dec. 18 that he would transfer and play for Florida next year, instead chose to remain closer to home and join the Utah football program. Salt wanted to commit to Utah out of high school but was unable to qualify due to his poor grades.

“It’s just the fact that it’s good to be at home with my family,” he told InsidetheGators.com. “They can come out and see every single game, every home game. It’s right down the street. It was going to be tough for them to come see me play at Florida. There was going to be a lot of money being spent. This is better for them. This is all about them.”

The Gators coaches, though dismayed to lose Salt from their recruiting class, understood the difficulty of his choice and stood behind his change of heart.

“They were really sad about my decision, but they supported me 100 percent,” Salt said. “They really wanted me to come up there. I loved everything about their program, but I had to make a decision about what was best for me. They respected me for putting family first.”

Florida was dealt another recruiting loss shortly thereafter when five-star power forward Khem Birch (Fitchburg, MA), who enrolled at Pittsburgh this year but decided to transfer and narrowed his list down to UF and UNLV, chose the latter program. Birch had a whirlwind recruitment that lasted just about a week and always appeared to be favor UNLV considering the basketball team’s penchant for recruiting Canadians like himself.

Unfortunately for the Gators, Birch is quite close with five-star PF Anthony Bennett (Henderson, NV), who Florida is hot after to round out its 2012 recruiting class. Bennett also has UNLV in his final five along with Kentucky, Washington and Oregon.

The Gators hoped to end the day with a commitment from a player the coaches had put a full-court press on this cycle, four-star defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA). Announcing his decision live on FOX Sports South, Jenkins chose Georgia over Florida, Alabama and Auburn, a surprise because UF felt good about their chances.

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Recapping Florida’s 2011 Friday Night Lights

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 22, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below is a recap of the 2011 event which includes much of what was learned Friday evening in Gainesville, FL.

» Florida did not receive any commitments at the event, though that is not necessarily a negative. The Gators’ 15-member recruiting class is believed to be slightly larger already with a few silent commits in the fold. Most importantly, Florida’s new coaching staff made a positive impression on those in attendance and may have set themselves up for some big names to give their respective pledges in the near future.

» Five-star wide receiver Stefon Diggs (Olney, MD) was the standout performer, hauling in catches, showcasing his athleticism and even performing a few Gator Chomps after scoring a touchdown. The No. 2 wide receiver in the 2012 class, No. 8 overall prospect and No. 1 player in his state, Diggs has 36 offers but has not narrowed his choices down yet. Former high school teammates with Gators redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins, Diggs stayed in Gainesville overnight and will get more personal time with coaches on Saturday. “It was a big stage out there tonight,” he told The Gainesville Sun. “I didn’t come down here for no reason. I had a feeling about Florida. I just knew it was going to be live, and that’s what I love.”

» Florida’s current commitments and players did what they could to help sway recruits to the Orange & Blue throughout the course of the evening. Most notable among them was sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell, who was in the ear of four-star defensive end Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA) all night long. The two reportedly got along great and developed a solid relationship at the event.

» Gators defensive coaches spent a ton of time with four-star defensive tackle Carlos Watkins (Forest City, NC), sticking by his side until he left the field and eventually headed home. Close friends with recent three-star safety commit Rhaheim Ledbetter (Boiling Springs, NC) and top Florida target four-star DE Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC), Watkins has spoken with the duo about all playing college together. He is also seriously considering South Carolina and Clemson.

» Though he did make it down to Gainesville, five-star Florida State DE commit Dante Fowler, Jr. (St. Petersburg, FL) remains solid to UF’s rival. He has expressed interest in Florida lately even though his father has no desire to see him wearing the Orange & Blue. The Gators are nevertheless pursuing Fowler in hopes of turning him, but he reiterated on Friday that his commitment to FSU is solid as of right now.

» Former Florida players in attendance included running back Fred Taylor, quarterback Chris Leak and wide receivers Jemalle Cornelius and Jacquez Green. Taylor, who visited with his son, 2013 RB prospect Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), served as a coach at the camp and was excited to finally bring his son to The Swamp. Cornelius and Green visited with players from the high schools they coach at and also had a good time. The younger Taylor showcased good hands and solid agility at the event, but it is unknown if the Gators have presented him with an offer yet.

» Five-star athlete Nelson Agholor (Tampa, FL) was planning to visit but ended up cancelling after he received a phone call from the hosts of the ESPN/Nike Gridiron Kings event in Orlando, FL, who asked him to fill in for a player who dropped out. Agholor, who has yet to narrow down his list which may or may not include Florida depending who you talk to, was just one of a few players who did not make it. Three-star cornerback Chris Bivins (Gainesville, FL) also took part in another event, and four-star cornerback Tracy Howard (Miramar, FL) stopped by for a few hours but left before FNL began. Four-star offensive tackle Avery Young (Palm Beach Gardens, FL) was planning on going but simply could not find a ride. He is believed to be a heavy UF lean.

» Having shortened his list to Florida, Southern California and South Carolina, four-star defensive end Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) still has a ways to go in his recruitment (he does not plan to make an official announcement until January). Nevertheless, his time in Gainesville was well spent as he was able to continue developing his relationship with the coaches, who hope to earn his commitment as soon as possible McCord is one of the Gators’ top targets going forward.

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Previewing Florida’s 2011 Friday Night Lights

Updated at 5:40 p.m.

Mixing pomp and circumstance with football drills and relationship building, the Florida Gators use their annual Friday Night Lights camp at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as both a recruiting tool and means of evaluating some of the best high school football players in the country. The Gators often pull in some recruits over the FNL weekend but also find diamonds in the rough as recruits get coached up while getting to know each other.

The Swamp will once again filled with some of the top young talent in the nation on July 22, so much so that covering every player that plans to step on the field is a near impossibility. Below are a list of the top 10 players that share mutual interest in attending Florida as well as list of the top five most talented prospects who will be camping in Gainesville, FL. Neither list is sorted in any particular order.

DE Jordan Jenkins (Hamilton, GA) –
The No. 5 player at his position in 2012, Jenkins recently attended Dawg Night but has not narrowed down his list into a top-five yet. He will visit Alabama after taking his trip to Florida and has already spent time with Auburn, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.

DE Tyriq McCord (Tampa, FL) –
Slotted two spots below Jenkins, McCord visited UF with his parents in late June and is now returning one month later. South Carolina and North Carolina are also working hard to eventually win him over and earn his services, but it is believed that his final two are Florida and USC with the Gators out in front.

TE Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL) –
The top-ranked tight end in the nation according to Rivals, Taylor has a myriad of offers on the table but appears to have narrowed his choices down to Florida and Penn State. His father seems to favor UF, but Taylor grew up as a PSU fan. Other schools in contention for his services include Florida State (where he nearly committed in the spring), Alabama, Auburn and LSU.

Check out the other nine players featured in this post…after the break!

Continue Reading » Previewing Florida’s 2011 Friday Night Lights

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