Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.

14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET

Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.

13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.

Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.

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Report: Florida RB Matt Jones to enter NFL Draft

Florida Gators junior running back Matt Jones will forgo his remaining eligibility and enter the 2015 NFL Draft, according to a report from Nick de la Torre of Gator Country.

“Always Bleed Orange And Blue!!,” Jones wrote Monday via his Twitter account.

Jones is the third Gators underclassman to declare for the draft, joining junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (a potential first-round pick) and redshirt junior offensive lineman Tyler Moore. Other players with a year of eligibility remaining may follow the trio, namely junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard and left tackle D.J. Humphries.

Jones, a two-year starter who suffered from a serious viral infection and devastating knee injury that cut his 2013 campaign short, was Florida’s leading rusher this season with 817 yards and six touchdowns on 166 carries. He also caught 11 passes for 65 yards and added a receiving score. In five games last season, Jones gained 339 yards on 79 carries, scoring just twice.

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Florida airs it out, tops EKU 52-3 on Senior Day; Gators become bowl-eligible

The Florida Gators (6-4) rolled to a 52-3 win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, subsequently becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.

Florida quarterbacks freshman Treon Harris and redshirt junior Jeff Driskel combined for six total touchdowns, as wide receivers sophomore Demarcus Robinson and redshirt senior Quinton Dunbar each eclipsed 100 yards and hauled in two scores.

Harris completed just 4-of-12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while Driskel was 9-for-11 for 164 yards with three passing touchdowns as well as a rushing score.

For Dunbar, who was playing his last game in The Swamp, the performance was the best of his Gators career. He registered a career-high 107 yards, caught his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2012, and scored twice for the first time in his career.

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Florida works past Vanderbilt 34-10 in Nashville

The Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) won consecutive games against Southeastern Conference opponents for the first time in more than a year, working their way to a 34-10 defeat of the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-7, 0-6 SEC) on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Though Florida’s rushing attack was nowhere near as proficient as it was when it compiled 418 yards on the ground against Georgia one week ago, the Gators did their damage on the ground, racking up 214 yards and four touchdowns on 50 total rushes. Three of those scores came on the legs of UF quarterbacks with freshman Treon Harris rumbling in for two touchdowns and redshirt junior Jeff Driskel adding a one-yard score of his own.

Harris finished 13-of-21 for 215 yards, adding 49 net rushing yards on 10 attempts. Driskel did not complete his only pass try, throwing the ball into the ground, but was effective in a rarely-used direct snap role.

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11/4: Roper on Florida’s passing game, Driskel’s new role, receivers’ blocking

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on his team’s recent upset victory and upcoming road game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, which is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

“WE’RE GONNA THROW IT MORE”

Head coach Will Muschamp told the media after Saturday’s win and again on Monday that there were additional passing plays scheduled to be run against Georgia, but Florida was so successful running the ball that the Gators did not want to take any chances and deviate from what was working.

Apparently, Muschamp told freshman quarterback Treon Harris the exact same thing immediately after the game. In the Vine below, via WCJB TV20‘s Zach Aldridge, Muschamp hugs Harris on the field and says, “We’re gonna throw it more.”

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Snell’s Slant: Gators silenced many on Saturday

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

No one expected the outcome we got Saturday…besides Florida’s players and coaches. I can tell you that a former Gators player myself, one who just two weeks ago said the program was on a path to nowhere under Will Muschamp, I was absolutely shocked to see Florida pull out a victory in one of the team’s most important games – for a variety of reasons – over the last few years.

After weeks of uninspired, mistake-filled football, these Gators looked like they were on a mission. Not a mission to make the College Football Playoff (that’s long gone) or even go win the SEC Championship (still a long shot) but rather a mission to save Muschamp’s coaching career (at least as far as Florida is concerned).

You do not need me to tell you that another loss to Georgia would’ve been a proverbial death sentence for Muschamp. Most already had his fate sealed heading into the contest and were already speculating on who would be replacing him at the helm of the Gators. Well, Muschamp’s boys did not just run down Georgia’s throats on Saturday, they shut up a lot of Florida fans (and this columnist), too.

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11/3: Two Florida starters out for Vanderbilt, Muschamp provides other updates on Gators

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (4-3, 3-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team looks to rebound from a signature win while preparing for the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-6, 0-5 SEC) on Saturday evening in Nashville, Tennessee.

HOUSEKEEPING

» The Southeastern Conference announced Monday that the Florida-South Carolina game on Saturday, Nov. 15 will be played at noon and air live nationally on the SEC Network. The game is already the Gators’ sixth of 10 scheduled contests to be broadcast by the network this season, and UF will likely have a seventh before the year is out as it hosts Eastern Kentucky the next weekend.

» Redshirt seniors center Max Garcia and wide receiver Michael McNeely were both honored with league awards on Monday. Garcia was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, and McNeely earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his fake field goal touchdown against Georgia.

INJURY UPDATES

Florida will be without two starters this week at Vanderbilt as sophomore safety Keanu Neal (high-ankle sprain) and senior right guard Trenton Brown (knee) have already been ruled out for the game.

Neal and Brown, who was diagnosed with a bone bruise, will both be reevaluated next Monday after a full week of rest. The former will be replaced by a combination of players led by redshirt sophomore Marcus Maye, while the latter will see redshirt junior Tyler Moore take his place.

Also potentially out Saturday is freshman defensive lineman Gerald Willis, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in practice and did not make the trip to Jacksonville, Florida. Willis is currently questionable to play but will be reevaluated by the trainers on Wednesday.

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Blue-collar Gators won Muschamp’s way: running

Though he will never purport to be an offensive-minded coach, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has been consistent – from the day he was hired – in describing the type of team he wanted to have on both sides of the ball: blue-collar.

Muschamp has always favored a powerful, dominant running game that would succeed behind a powerful, dominant offensive line. Ideally, Florida would run play action off of its successful runs and take shots down the field when needed.

On Saturday, those shots were not needed, nor were any play action passes, nor was any passing in general. The Gators dominated on the ground to the tune of 418 rushing yards on 60 carries. Junior Matt Jones (192 yards) and sophomore Kelvin Taylor (197 yards) became the first UF teammates to each eclipse 120 rushing yards in the same game; the duo also combined for four touchdowns, two each.

“This is the kind of game that we envisioned when we came of the great camp that we had. We needed this game to kind of get us going with that 100-yard mark. We definitely feel good knowing that this was our first 100-yard game together,” explained Jones.

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