Florida Gators end 2013 season with a whimper as No. 2 Florida State routs hosts 37-7

The 2013 season ended with a whimper for the Florida Gators (4-8), which lost for the third time in the last four years to the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles (12-0), dropping Saturday’s contest 37-7 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Seminoles continued on their path toward a national title while the Gators finished a season below .500 for the first time since 1979. UF, which ended the year on a seven-game losing streak, also failed to advance to a bowl game for the first time in 23 tries.

Heisman candidate and Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston looked every bit the part on Saturday, completing 19-of-31 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. All three of those touchdown passes went to Seminoles wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who tallied 212 yards on eight receptions.

Florida got out of the first quarter trailing just 3-0 thanks to a superb defensive effort.

Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy intercepted Winston on a pass down to UF’s 13-yard line, but the Gators were unable to convert the ensuing possession into points despite moving down to FSU’s 33 on a 50-yard rush by senior WR Trey Burton. Redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin missed a 49-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Burton, who head coach Will Muschamp said at halftime would have taken about 35 snaps at quarterback on Saturday, did not return to the game with a shoulder injury.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators end 2013 season with a whimper as No. 2 Florida State routs hosts 37-7

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FOUR BITS: early enrollees, Dowling, Outback

1 » Though National Signing Day is nearly a month away, half of the Florida Gators current 2011 commitments have already enrolled at the University of Florida for the spring semester. Five-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), four-star tight end A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), four-star running back Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL), four-star athlete/safety De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL), four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL), four-star linebacker Clay Burton (Venice, FL), three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) and kicker/punter Kyle Christy (Brownburg, IN) will all be taking classes at UF by Monday. The Gators have eight more commitments to sign in the first week of February and have more than half a dozen spaces to fill before then.

2 » Five-star 2010 commitment S Jonathan Dowling, who was kicked off the Florida football team in November due to a violation of team rules, recently decided to transfer to the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers and is petitioning the NCAA for a waiver so he does not have to miss another season. According to the Bradenton Herald, new Gators head coach Will Muschamp “made a last-ditch effort” to get Dowling back on the team but was rebuffed even though the player reportedly passed his first semester of classes.

3 » Some believed that Florida did not necessarily deserve the opportunity to play in the 2011 Outback Bowl due to their regular season performance but apparently the committee knew exactly what they were doing in scheduling them to face the equally underwhelming Penn State Nittany Lions The Outback Bowl drew a 7.6 overnight rating on ABC, up 105 percent from the 2010 contest between Northwestern and Auburn (3.7 on ESPN) and up 171 percent from the 2008 game which featured South Carolina and Iowa (2.8 on ESPN). UF-PSU drew the highest overnight rating for a non-BCS college football bowl game on broadcast television since 2008, according to SportsBusiness Daily, and even out-drew the 2011 Fiesta Bowl later that night (6.7).

4 » Four-star WR Kelvin Benjamin, a long-time Gators target who was scheduled to visit Florida next week after Muschamp initially convinced him to delay his decision, committed to the Florida State Seminoles over the weekend and will no longer take a trip to Gainesville, FL. Benjamin, who was choosing between the big three colleges in Florida, is considered an impressive WR prospect and adds yet another big name to head coach Jimbo Fisher‘s 2011 recruiting class.

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Muschamp already hitting recruiting trail hard

With the current Florida Gators coaching staff worrying about the 2011 Outback Bowl (and their jobs) and the Texas Longhorns out of bowl game contention, new Florida head coach Will Muschamp was able to focus on retaining the Gators’ 2011 recruiting class immediately after taking the position on Saturday. Making plenty of phone calls while traveling for in-home visits and to round out his staff, Muschamp has already made an impression on a number of prospects.

COMMIT – Five/four-star quarterback Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL): In Gainesville, FL, last weekend for an official visit, Driskel received a call from Muschamp and continues to be fully committed. He will enroll early in January.

COMMIT – Four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL): Having made it a point to say that he remains “100 percent committed to Florida,” Waisome received calls from and decided to accept visits to Florida State, LSU and South Carolina after head coach Urban Meyer stepped down. He has since only visited FSU and plans to go back to UF this upcoming weekend to meet Muschamp. Also an early enrollee, Waisome will likely stick with the Gators unless something goes horribly wrong in the meeting.

RECRUIT – Four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL): After visiting Tallahassee, FL, during the weekend of the Florida State-Florida game, Benjamin turned his attention toward FSU, canceled his planned UF visit and decided to announce his commitment on Thursday. However, he spoke with Muschamp Monday evening and has decided to delay his announcement at least one full month so he can take his originally scheduled visit to Gainesville on Jan. 14. Benjamin will also pay another visit to Florida State and take a trip to Miami (FL) as well.

COMMIT – Four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, FL): Muschamp made it a point to immediately visit Shazier, who remains a verbal to UF but opened up his recruitment to LSU and Ohio State when Meyer resigned. OSU head coach Jim Tressel has already paid a visit to Shazier, and he will reciprocate on Thursday by heading to Columbus, OH. He plans to announce his decision on Friday but was impressed with Muschamp when he visited. “He talked about the type of staff he wants to put together, and the type of team he wants to put on the field at Florida,” Shazier told Scout. “He’s in the process of deciding who he is going to keep, and who he might bring in. It was the first time I’d ever met Coach Muschamp, and he has a lot of passion for the job. Coach Muschamp and Coach Meyer are the same in their approach, but they are different in coaching styles. Coach Muschamp is a defensive coach, and his specialty is the linebacker position, and I really like that. I liked Coach Meyer, but I believe I’m more in tune with Coach Muschamp. Tonight’s visit with Florida kind of clarified things for me, and it helped being able to speak to the head coach.”

Read who else Muschamp has already made an impression on…after the break!
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FOUR BITS: Dowling, Thomas, Benjamin, Brown

1 » Florida Gators freshman safety Jonathan Dowling is excited about his first season of college football, but no game is getting him more pumped up than one coming up on Oct 2. “I can’t wait until the Alabama game,” Dowling told the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. “I am just going to keep working hard, doing what I am told. Hopefully I can get on the field this year. That is my main goal. I will just keep going as hard as I can these next few weeks and that decision will be left up to the coaches.” Dowling also said that junior S Will Hill has taken him under his wing. “I follow everything he does, learn as much as I can,” he said. “He teaches me as much as he can so I just pay attention to everything he does and try to copy everything he does to the best of my ability. I want to make myself as good as he is, or try to get even better.”

2 » Rookie quarterback Tim Tebow may be getting all of the attention from Florida fans, but three other former Gators – defensive end Jarvis Moss, wide receiver Jabar Gaffney and defensive tackle Marcus Thomas are also trying to do big things with the Denver Broncos. “It’s down to the wire,” Thomas told The Gainesville Sun’s Pat Dooley. “I put it in the mindset that I’m back in college. This is the fourth year of college. It’s time to start producing. You can’t be a rookie forever. I see guys get cut and never sign on with anyone else. I don’t want people to be wondering what ever happened to [me].”

Reflecting on his college career, Thomas wishes he could have done things differently. “I look back at Florida and I really, really blew it. I’m definitely more mature now. I thought I had thrown my career away at the time,” he said. “[I] missed out on the national championship game. I was happy they won but I should have been out there. It hurt. It really hurt. On the flip side, when I was watching the game, I was wishing I was playing for Ohio State. There was some resentment. But when I look back, I was being prepared for the real world. In college, you’re still being babied. You come out here and there are no second or third chances. […] The [Gators] had some regulations and restrictions I pretty much violated. I was doing well on the field and I felt like they pretty much needed me. I thought I was bigger than the team. Urban [Meyer] proved I wasn’t.”

3 » Glades Central High School head coach Jessie Hester has told the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser that four-star WR recruit Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) currently has Florida in the lead for his services. At 6’5” and over 200 lbs., Benjamin is one of the best players in the country and will likely stay in the state no matter what school he chooses. “I think he’s leaning toward Florida right now, believe it or not. He’s up there a lot,” Hester, a former Florida State WR, said. “Miami’s just down the road and I know he hasn’t been there much — if any. The only time he went to Florida State was when we had the 7-on-7 [event]. So I think it’s Florida.”

4 » Just two days after being “outed” by Star Magazine as the woman with whom country music star Kenny Chesney is having an affair, former Gators softball player and ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown has been announced as Icehouse’s new national spokesperson and brand ambassador. “Icehouse doesn’t take itself too seriously,” Brown said in a company press release. “It’s like a loyal friend who’s always having fun and knows that time spent with buddies should never be less than great… and never watered down. And what’s better than watching football with an ice-cold Icehouse?” Watching it with almost any other beer on the market.

Photo Credit: Davide De Pas

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, July 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» Former Florida Gators forward/center David Lee of the Golden State Warriors was the subject of a piece by Harvey Araton of The New York Times on Monday. Lee, who has spent his whole career with the New York Knicks after they drafted him coming out of college, has a special bond with the team and has been the face of the franchise over the last few years. Read about how he went out of his way to represent the team (even after being traded to Golden State) at a funeral for longtime NBA and Madison Square Garden security official Scott Jaffer and how he will always be remembered in New York for being such an upstanding person.

» Interviewed by the NFL Network about his throwing mechanics, San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers went through the motions with some of the studio analysts on Monday. Because of the subject matter, Rivers was asked about Denver Broncos rookie QB Tim Tebow’s motion, and the veteran offered advice and insight into what Tebow may and may not need to do going forward.

» Florida should be excited about 2011 five-star shooting guard commitment Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO) – he could be the best player the team has signed since guard Nick Calathes. Then again, with one of the top players in the country considering his future in a different sport, there is a slight cause for concern. With his father and two brothers all having played collegiate football, Beal tells USA Today that he is “still trying to decide” which sport to play. “My brothers, especially my younger brothers, want me to play football so we can be on the same team,” Beal said. “But my mom always tells me, ‘You don’t have the body for football, so you have to stick to basketball.’” Don’t get it twisted – his future is on the court – not the field. Having a former Gators star like Lee (who also graduated from Chaminade High School) in his ear certainly helps. “We don’t have that much in common because we play different positions,” Beal said. “He came back to visit the school, and I talk to him during lunch period. He gave me input on the game.”

» While Beal is deciding what sport to play, four-star cornerback Nick Waisome (Groveland, FL) is just trying to figure out what school to end. According to the Orlando Sentinel’s Chris Hays, Waisome now considers his final five to Florida, Florida State, LSU, Georgia and South Carolina; he plans to decide in August.

» Updating a previous item, four-star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (Belle Glade, FL) still considers the Gators to be the leader for his services, even after having Miami Hurricanes commitment four-star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (Miami, FL) in his ear during the Nike 7-on-7 Championship last Saturday. “Florida is still in the lead,” Benjamin told SoFLAfootball.com. “I like Florida and what they showed me, how they would use me. I like Miami too and Florida State, so all the Florida teams, they’re really up there. But I like Florida.”

Three more BITES on Meyer, Smith and Werner…after the break!
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Going camping: Top recruits visit Florida in June

Over the last two weeks, plenty has been going on with the Florida Gators as far as recruiting for the 2011 season is concerned. Since June 10, the Gators have received in four commitments, including four-star wide receiver Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL) [article], three-star fullback Hunter Joyer (Tampa, FL) [article], three-star offensive lineman Tommy Jordan (Ridgefield, CT) [article], four-star linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantaiton, FL) [article].

Additionally, the team got a commitment without an official offer from three-star LB Rahim Cassell (Lakewood, CA) [article], and 2012 WR Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL) [article] is all but ready to pick Florida before his junior year of high school even begins.

However, the Gators still have plenty of work to do in order to enhance the current eight-person 2011 class, and the team made a lot of headway as recruits participated in football camps and took visits to the University of Florida in recent weeks.

Update yourself on some of the top 2011 recruits and targets…after the break!
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Twenty recruits the Gators are eyeing for 2011

Recruiting contributor Zach Abolverdi in his first submission to OGGOA…

Now that football recruiting for the 2010 term is in the books and Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has assembled one of the best classes of all-time, OGGOA brings you a look ahead to the Gators’ (in our opinion) top 20 targets for 2011. These are prospects that the coaching staff has already targeted and is pursuing the hardest as of press time. Perhaps even more important, the 20 targets listed below have a mutually high level of interest in Florida. [Preliminary star ratings provided by Scout.com.]

1. DT Tim Jernigan (Lake City, FL) – 6’2” 275 lbs.
Nicknamed “Hercules” for his superior size and strength, Jernigan also runs a remarkable 4.6 in the forty yard dash. He received his very first scholarship offer from Florida as a ninth grader and has visited on several occasions including this past summer when he dominated at the Urban Meyer Football Camp. In an interview with The Gainesville Sun following National Signing Day, Jernigan revealed that if he had to sign his letter of intent now, the Gators would be the recipient of his highly sought after signature.

2. ATH James Wilder, Jr. (Tampa, FL) – 6’2” 223 lbs.
Rivals’ “Junior of the Year,” Wilder, Jr. is the 2011 version of Ronald Powell with the athletic ability to play running back, linebacker and defensive end at the next level. He favors the Miami Hurricanes at the moment because they are recruiting him at running back, the position his father played in the NFL and his position of choice. However, most recruiting analysts project Wilder as an outside linebacker, and Florida is his leader if he chooses to play on defense in college.

Check out 18 more 2011 recruits the Florida Gators are targeting after the jump!
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