FOUR BITS: Shrine, early enrollees, Floyd, Jenkins

1 » Practices for the 2013 East-West Shrine Game began on Tuesday with only two – rather than three – former Florida Gators showing up on rosters. Safety Josh Evans and kicker Caleb Sturgis were both listed on the rosters Tuesday while linebacker Lerentee McCray mysteriously had his name removed. Though not much can be taken from the first day of practices, Evans and Sturgis each got measured as part of the standard first-day procedure. Evans checked in at 6’1 1/8” and 205 lbs. with 10-inch hands, a 31 ¼-inch arm length and 77-inch wingspan. Sturgis was listed at 5’9 7/8” and 186 lbs. with 8 ¾-inch hands, a 29 ¾-inch arm length and 71 5/8-inch wingspan.

2 » Florida announced eight early enrollees on Tuesday, all of whom are four-star prospects according to Rivals, including LB Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, PA), JUCO defensive tackle Darious Cummings (Scooba, MS), four-star defensive end Joey Ivie (Dade City, FL), LB Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL), transfer offensive lineman Tyler Moore (Clearwater, FL), wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA), LB Matt Rolin (Ashburn, VA) and running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade). Among those early enrollees, Anzalone and Robinson were last-minute additions with the former player’s defection from Notre Dame coming as a surprise to UF. Furthermore, Cummings has chosen to be referred to on the Gators roster as “Bear Cummings,” using a nickname he has had since childhood.

3 » A pair of now-former Florida players have released statements thanking the school, coaches and fans for their support during their careers with the Gators. The first comes from junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, who took out an ad in Wednesday’s The Independent Florida Alligator (picture via sports editor Joe Morgan).

4 » On Monday, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins sent an extra-long message out via his Twitter account expressing a similar sentiment.

I am truly grateful to the University of Florida, Faculty and Administrators, Coach Muschamp and the entire Coaching Staff, my Brothers on the Gators Football Team and GATOR NATION for all the love and support you have shown me throughout the years. All of my future aspirations will reflect the proud tradition of GATOR PRIDE AND GREATNESS

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Eight Gators seniors in all-star bowl games

A total of eight Florida Gators seniors will be participating in all-star bowl games in the month of January. Below is a list of each game and the players that are set to compete.

2013 Under Armour Senior Bowl (Mobile, AL)
Saturday, Jan. 26 at 4 p.m. live on NFL Network
» Linebacker Jon Bostic
» Running back Mike Gillislee
» Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon

2013 East-West Shrine Game (St. Petersburg, FL)
Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. live on NFL Network
» Safety Josh Evans (#24)
» Linebacker Lerentee McCray (#34)
» Kicker Caleb Sturgis (#17)

2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game (Tucson, AZ)
Friday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. live on ESPN3.com
» Wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. (#10)
» Wide receiver Omarius Hines (#5)

OGGOA will present practice and game notes from each contest. Be sure to check the schedule at the top of the right side bar each week for date and time remainders.

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Gators must replace 13 starters from 2012 team

The last time the Florida Gators saw a handful of juniors move on to the NFL Draft was the 2009 season and fans have certainly not forgotten how the team looked in the two years subsequent to those departures.

And while Florida now has four junior starters having declared for the 2013 NFL Draft to go along with the nine senior starters departing the program, the Gators are in a better position to move forward next season even if there may be a few bumps in the road.

On offense, Florida will lose five starters including left tackle Xavier Nixon (senior), left guard James Wilson (redshirt senior), running back Mike Gillislee (senior), wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. (redshirt senior) and tight end Jordan Reed (draft).

Continue Reading » Gators must replace 13 starters from 2012 team

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12/29: Elam, Bostic, Jenkins, Brissett, Floyd

No. 3 Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and a handful of players met with the media after practice on Saturday to preview the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals and provide thoughts on the team heading into the game.

ELAM’S IMPORTANCE AND FUTURE

Not every team has player as passionate and tough as junior safety Matt Elam. A first-team All-American who may very well be playing his final game at Florida, he was asked on Saturday what play he will remember from the 2012 season. “Maybe the LSU game. That strip was a big play. That saved the game. That probably was the biggest play of the year,” he said.

His teammates agree. “Right after they showed that the ball did come out and they said it was our ball. That might be the play,” senior linebacker Jon Bostic noted.

Elam is Florida’s best playmaker on the defensive side of the ball but may very well be taking his talents to the next level. According to Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels, who spoke to the Palm Beach Post, Elam’s time in the orange and blue may be through on Wednesday. “I think he’s got his mind made up. He’s gone,” Daniels said.

Whether or not he does decide to leave, something that neither he nor the coaching staff plan to discuss until after the bowl game, he has made a huge fan out of his defensive coordinator.

“The biggest transformation to me that I’ve seen from my first year of coaching Matt to now is how physical he is. And I think that really has to stem from the time and effort that he spent in the weight room changing. He’s getting stronger,” Quinn said.

“We play him at the line of scrimmage a lot, whether it’s at safety or nickel. And I think he can blitz. He can cover. But to me the physical style he plays with is one of the things that really jumps out on your team. He can blitz. He can cover. But just the physical nature that a guy can bring to your club really is a huge advantage.”

Read the rest of what the Gators had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/29: Elam, Bostic, Jenkins, Brissett, Floyd

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TWO BITS: football awards, less Tebow on ESPN

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2012 award winners, according to the University of Florida, along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Michael McNeely, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that Sturgis won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jon Bostic, Jeremy Brown, Caleb Sturgis
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Omarius Hines, Lerentee McCray, Sam Robey
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Dominique Easley, Chaz Green, Jon Halapio, Ronald Powell, James Wilson
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon | Defensive: Alex McCalister, Jeremi Powell | ST: David Campbell, Rhaheim Ledbetter

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Xavier Nixon | Defense: Dominique Easley, Matt Elam
* Second-straight year that Easley won the award.
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd
Most Valuable Player Offense: Mike Gillislee | Defense: Matt Elam ST: Loucheiz Purifoy, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award for the offense (Chris Rainey). Second-straight year that Elam and Sturgis won the award for defense and special teams, respectively.
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Bostic, Matt Elam
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Mike Gillislee
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award (Chris Rainey).
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jon Bostic, Josh Evans, Sharrif Floyd, Frankie Hammond, Jr.
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam, Mike Gillislee, Jon Halapio, Omar Hunter

2 » New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has barely seen the field since being traded last offseason. Now the head of ESPN is promising fans that they will see much less of him on their television sets as well. In an conversation with John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, ESPN President John Skipper said he recently told his production staff to reduce the amount of coverage that the networks give to Tebow and his exploits. “I said, ‘Guys, we didn’t handle this very well. Going to training camp wasn’t a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long,’” Skipper explained. “Training camp was fine. The guy’s very popular. In our business, we want to drive ratings. You’ve just got to keep long-term, short-term in mind.”

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11/26: Jenkins out, players praised, bowl notes

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s important 37-26 victory over the then-No. 10 Florida State Seminoles and preview the next few weeks of inaction.

INJURY UPDATES

Exciting the game early, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins learned that he broke a small bone in his foot and will be out 4-6 weeks. Muschamp said he was having surgery on the foot Monday and will probably miss the bowl game.

Florida is relatively healthy otherwise. Redshirt sophomore LB Neiron Ball (ankle) will be back in time for the bowl game. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle) is sore but fine coming out of the Florida State victory. Redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (ankle) got dinged up and is in a boot but will be OK as well. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (kidney infection) should be able to return to physical activity this week.

As far as sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders, Muschamp said he remains out for the bowl game with what was mentioned a few weeks ago to be the hamstring injury.

Reporter: “Saunders, you said a couple weeks ago wouldn’t…”
Muschamp: “Yeah, he won’t be in the bowl game.”
Reporter: “Is that injury or discipline?”
Muschamp: “Yep. he won’t be in the bowl game.”
Reporter: “Because of?”
Muschamp: “Injury.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/26: Jenkins out, players praised, bowl notes

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11/17: Florida vs. Jacksonville State post-game

No. 6 Florida Gators football (10-1) concluded its seven-game home schedule with a 23-0 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (6-5) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida finished 7-0 at home in a season for just the third time in school history. The 2006 and 2009 UF teams also accomplished that feat.
» The Gators are 14-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» Florida is 11-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards, 14-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 10-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 11-3 when scoring first and 13-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators were once again subpar on third down, converting just 2-of-11 opportunities. UF is now 54-of-153 (35.3 percent) on third down this season.
» Florida is +13 in turnover margin through 11 games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (342) since 2000.
» The Gators have grabbed 16 interceptions so far in 2012 and has doubled its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in eight-of-10 games and has also forced eight fumbles.
» Florida’s senior class consists of 19 players who have spent either four (10 players), five (eight) or six (one) seasons wearing the Orange and Blue. The true senior class is 23-5 in The Swamp. It went 7-0 as freshmen in 2009 and as seniors in 2012.

PLAYER NOTES

» Senior running back Mike Gillislee registered his third-highest yards-per-carry average of the season (6.1) and rushed for 100+ yards for the fourth time in 2012. He is now 36 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard plateau and becoming the first Gators running back to do so since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. Gillislee also scored his ninth touchdown of the season and first rushing score since Oct. 6.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturigs made three field goals, bringing him just one away from tying Jeff Chandler’s school record of 67 in a career. Sturgis is also three made field goals away from tying Bobby Raymond’s single-season UF record of 23.
» Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic registered the first interception return for a touchdown of his career. Bostic’s registered the pick early in the third quarter, bringing it back seven yards for the score.
» Senior safety Josh Evans led Florida with seven tackles including two solo takedowns and 1.5 for a total loss of two yards. He also had a half sack.

OPENING STATEMENTS

On Florida’s senior class:

“I just want to thank the 19 seniors and the job they’ve done for the University of Florida. All of those guys have represented our university in a first-class manner. Last night was really a special night. The guys got up and talked about their experience and told some great stories … I really appreciate them going through a coaching change, going through a 7-6 campaign, certainly questioning a rookie coach and his staff and where we were headed with the program. Certainly could have walked the plank, so to speak, on us, and certainly never did. I’m very appreciative of this bunch and last year’s bunch as well for going through a very tough season, a very difficult season.”

On the lack of production in the second half:

“I felt like, in the second half, we had the game under control defensively. We could have done some more things offensively, and I just told Brent, I said, ‘Let’s go win the game. Let’s get out of here and win the game.’ That’s what we needed to do. That wasn’t on Brent; that was on me.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/17: Florida vs. Jacksonville State post-game

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Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 68°F, few showers (30% chance of rain), winds NNE at 1 mph
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $15 on TiqIQ

TV: Pay-Per-View (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore) | ESPN GamePlan (outside Florida)
SiriusXM: 104/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com (outside Florida)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS JACKSONVILLE STATE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jack Crowe
Record: 9-1 Record: 6-4
Conference: Southeastern (FBS) Conference: Ohio Valley (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: OFF

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Jacksonville State have never squared off on the gridiron.
» The Gators have the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule nationally.
» Florida can finish 7-0 at home in a season for just the third time in school history. The 2006 and 2009 UF teams also accomplished that feat.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season with wins of Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» UF was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have flipped that around and are 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 10-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 13-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 30-of-36 red zone trips (83.3 percent) but have only converted 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season, which is tied for 88th nationally in that category.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 33:11 in time of possession through 10 games, a margin that ranks sixth nationally and first in the SEC by 1:36 per game.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 155-55 in the second half (34-27 over the last three games) and 85-23 in the fourth quarter.
» Florida is third in scoring defense nationally (12.9 points per game).
» The Gators are +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (341) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed 15 interceptions so far in 2012 and has already surpassed its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in seven-of-10 games and has also forced eight fumbles.
» The Gators are first nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.4), fifth in total defense (284.9 yards per game) and 11th in rushing defense (99.9 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 second nationally in net punt average (41.9 yards per punt).

Read about the injuries and absences and Senior Day…after the break!
Continue Reading » Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

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