6 BITS: Florida CB Hargreaves props up Wilson; Calathes to Greece; Gators add baseball talent

1 » When not talking about himself (let’s face it, those were the questions he was asked), Florida Gators junior All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III spent time at the 2015 SEC Media Days on Monday propping up his teammates. Hargreaves believes the Gators will be the best secondary in the nation next season – and for good reason – but thinks that an overlooked member of that unit may be the reason why it could go from great to dominant as the year progresses.

“He reminds me of a Brandon Browner-type corner or an Antonio Cromartie-type of corner – one of those big lanky cornerbacks,” Hargreaves told FoxSports.com’s Bruce Feldman of Florida sophomore Quincy Wilson. “That’s his game, how he plays. He plays big and physical. I want y’all to watch him on Saturdays this fall. It’s remarkable (how much better) he’s gotten this offseason. Him and also Jalen Tabor, they’ve really grown and matured. They’re ready to play. They understand.”

Continue Reading » 6 BITS: Florida CB Hargreaves props up Wilson; Calathes to Greece; Gators add baseball talent

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TWO BITS: Georgia Southern, Tip-Off, Chandler

1 » A previously published piece of film from the Florida Gators’ 2011 game against Tennessee has CBS’s broadcasters noting that head coach Will Muschamp, while an assistant at LSU, told Nick Saban that their team should not schedule the Georgia Southern Eagles due to the team’s difficult-to-defend triple option offense.

“Remember when Will told us about Nick Saban? … Will said that there was an opportunity to play Georgia Southern [while] at LSU. And WIll Muschamp said, ‘We don’t want to do it.’ And he spoke to Nick and Nick didn’t know what Georgia Southern did and said, ‘Yeah, no problem, that sounds good.’ And then Will said, ‘Nick, come here, I want to show you this triple option.’ Nick watched three plays, marched down to the AD’s office and said, ‘We’re not playing Georgia Southern.'”

The game against the Eagles was actually scheduled for the Gators while Urban Meyer was head coach of the program in May 2010. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was classmates with Georgia Southern AD Sam Baker at Ohio University (both earned master’s degrees in sports administration in 1976) and thought the game would be a good idea. Baker resigned in July 2012 after leading the program for 17 years.

Continue Reading » TWO BITS: Georgia Southern, Tip-Off, Chandler

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Changes ahead for Florida Gators offensive staff

With head coach Will Muschamp‘s job secure and the Florida Gators in desperate need of improvement heading into the 2014 season, it is no secret that changes to to the team’s offensive staff are on the horizon after Saturday’s game against Florida State.

Muschamp made a point to hammer the offense’s lack of production after Florida’s loss to Georgia Southern, a move that appeared to make the unit and its coaches a scapegoat for the Gators’ overall struggles.

Though Florida’s defense has struggled in recent weeks, it has been overly impressive during Muschamp’s three years with the Gators. It has finished in the top 10 each of the last two years and is likely headed for a top 25 finish this season.

The team’s offense, on the other hand, has consistently been one of the worst in the nation. UF is currently ranked 110th in scoring offense and 111th in total offense, averaging just 19.9 points and 327.9 yards per game.

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who took the reins for that side of the ball in 2012, has failed to improve on the numbers of his his predecessor Charlie Weis. And the Gators’ offensive line, which was supposed to be much improved in 2013 in its second year under position coach Tim Davis, has struggled to find any consistency even before massive injuries struck the unit.

When jobs are lost and changes are made in the offseason – an inevitability at this point – it appears likely that Pease and Davis will be the first two looking for new forms of employment. CBSSports.com‘s Bruce Feldman, citing a source, reported Sunday that outsting Pease and Davis is already a done deal.

The Orlando Sentinel first confirmed Sunday, also citing a source, that changes to the offensive staff were ahead. A source close to the team told OnlyGators.com on Monday that changes would indeed be made on the offensive side of the ball but perhaps elsewhere in the program as well after the season.

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Muschamp answers questions about Pease hire

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a 20-minute-long press conference on Wednesday to officially announce his hiring of Brent Pease as the team’s new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Throughout the course of the interview, Muschamp answered a number of questions fans undoubtedly have expressed about Pease, new strength and condition coach Jeff Dillman and the team heading into the 2012 season. Aside from his opening statement, OGGOA has rearranged and grouped Muschamp’s responses together in different categories for clarity.


On Pease: “Really excited to have Brent Pease join our staff as offensive coordinator. When you go out and talk to numerous people, many [of whom were] very qualified for this job, he really is the right fit for us. And really I go back to that word ‘fit.’ We have an outstanding offensive staff – Frank Verducci, Brian White, Aubrey Hill and Derek Lewis – and really it was about bringing a guy in that was going to be a good fit for the room, bring some new ideas, bring some new energy to what we’re trying to do but understand we’re not changing philosophically about where we’re headed with this thing. Understand what we need to do to continue to move forward, bring some new ideas as far as personnel groupings, formations and all that is great but understand we’re not changing who we are and what we are. Brent understands that.

“He’s got a great experience in a lot of different places. [Him] having coached in this league and called offenses in this league and in this stadium was important to me. He understands this stage and what you’ve got to do to be successful, and really offensively he’s been the backbone at what they’ve done at Boise for the last seven years. They’ve had tremendous success. Obviously coaching quarterbacks is his expertise and playing in the NFL as a quarterback [is a plus]. You also look at the success he had coaching wide receivers at Boise. He did an outstanding job with that group there.

“At the end of the day, [he can provide] the balance we want to remain on offense and [was] the right fit for we’re looking for. It’s really exciting. He watched our practice at the Gator Bowl practices, came back and he and his wife Paula, who’s wonderful, this past weekend came and spent the weekend in Gainesville and they wanted to be Gators. [They are] really excited.

“When you have an opportunity and you have an opening, you need to make sure you make yourself better. And I think we did with Brent, and I’m really excited about him being a part of our staff. He’s an outstanding recruiter. I ran across Brent about 12-14 years ago. I was at Valdosta State and he was at Northern Arizona. We were recruiting a young man out of Lowndes County – Vincent ‘Sweet Pea’ Burns. He got [him] to leave Lowndes County to go to Northern Arizona, so right then I knew he could recruit. He’s a guy that has been on my radar for a long time as a football coach. I faced him when we were at LSU and he was at Kentucky. Again, really liked what he did what he did with that team offensively, creating ways to get his playmakers the ball, creative in the play calling and the tempos and the different stuff. As he’s progressed, he and I have kept in pretty good contact through that time. A lot of respect for this guy as a football coach. When you meet him and get to know him, you’re going to see a very intelligent guy that is going to add a lot of the University of Florida. Really excited about this hire.”

On Dillman: “Also, after the bowl game, we named Jeff Dillman our head strength and conditioning coach. He will oversee all of our programs and was hired by the athletic department. Really excited about Jeff. Jeff and I were together at LSU – won a national championship together. He left and when to Appalachian State for three years where he won two national championships in ’06-’07. Jerry Moore, a guy who I have tremendous respect for at Appalachian State, I called and asked him about Jeff and he just had nothing but great things to say. Of course most recently he’s been working at IMG, preparing a lot of guys for the NFL Draft and then NFL players are coming back and training under him. He brings a lot of passion and energy and expertise in the weight room. We’re going to go to more of an Olympic-style lifting, what I was exposed to at LSU. Very excited about what he brings to the table.”

Continue Reading » Muschamp answers questions about Pease hire

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FOUR BITS: Bell, Spikes, Tebow / D1, Ross

1 » OGGOA learned Thursday from a source close to the head coach that the Jacksonville DolphinsKerwin Bell has not received any offer from the Florida Gators to either be the team’s quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator, despite reports to the contrary. Bell, who has maintained privately that he would not leave his post at Jacksonville solely for a position coach job, has however been contacted by at least one other institution on a preliminary basis. A former Florida quarterback, Bell has made quite the impression in the coaching profession after building the Trinity Catholic High School football program from the ground up and winning two Pioneer Football League titles in five years with the Dolphins. The Florida Times-Union reported Thursday evening, citing “multiple sources familiar with Florida’s interest” in Bell, that he is “no longer under consideration” for a job with the Gators.

2 » Out for seven games (and eight weeks) with a sprained MCL, New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes (notoriously media shy) met with reporters Thursday and spoke about how he is playing since returning to the field. “I never really got hurt like that [before], so it was kind of a burden,” he said. “But with my teammates pushing me every day, I just had to come out and do what I do and when my number’s called, I just want to come out and perform.”

3 » Having trained at D1 Sports Training prior to participating in his NFL workouts and being selected in the 2010 NFL Draft, Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow is set to invest in the organization’s first location inside the state of Florida. According to the Tampa Bay Times, talks between D1 and Tebow are ongoing and things “are nearly wrapped up to sign him at or near the end of the Broncos’ season.” Tebow, who purchased a stake in a D1 location in Savannah, GA last year, will be joined by Chipper Jones, Chris Jericho and Derrick Brooks in this new venture, the Times reports. The Florida location of D1 will be in Citrus Park in what was once a Circuit City; the company has spent approximately $1.7 million renovating the facility with membership costing $150-250 per month.

4 » Former Florida women’s basketball coach Carol Ross has been selected as the next head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks. Ross, who led the Gators from 1990-2002, will be reunited with former Florida great and 14-year veteran forward DeLisha Milton-Jones, who will play her 11th season with the Sparks divided over two stints with the team. Ross was an assistant with the Atlanta Dream for the last three seasons and helped the team reach consecutive WNBA Finals (2010-11). “Carol is a proven winner with an incredible track record at both the collegiate and pro levels. She has groomed many women for great WNBA careers,” Los Angeles general manager Penny Toler said in the press release announcing the hire. “We’re confident Carol is the ideal coach to lead the Sparks to our next championship.”

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FOUR BITS: Bell, tennis, Tebow, The Swamp

1 » With Jacksonville Dolphins head coach Kerwin Bell a hot name amongst fans to fill the offensive coordinator role with the Florida Gators, The Florida Times-Union reports that he is mulling an offer from the team but not to serve in that capacity. According to the paper, “multiple sources familiar with Florida’s interest” in Bell says the former Gators quarterback is being offered the quarterback coach role with the team. OGGOA was told weeks ago by a person close to Bell that he would only leave Jacksonville if Florida offered a role more substantial than position coach (such as passing game coordinator or co-offensive coordinator at a minimum) because the move would otherwise come with a great reduction in responsibilities and no increase in pay. If he was hired for one of the other positions, Bell would still have fewer responsibilities but could offset that with a return to Gainesville, FL and a higher salary.

2 » The ITA on Tuesday released its preseason national rankings and the defending national champion Gators can be found all over the organization’s lists. Florida as a team comes in at No. 1 to start the season while Stanford, the squad UF defeated for the title, will begin 2012 in the No. 2 spot. The Gators also have five singles competitors in the top 41 nationally: junior Allie Will (No. 3), senior Joanna Mather (No. 4), junior Lauren Embree (No. 25), sophomore Sofie OyenAlex Cercone (No. 41). Stanford’s Mallory Burdette, who Embree defeated in the final match of the national title event, is listed as the preseason No. 1 player in the country. Burdette, along with Nicole Gibbs, also holds recognition as the No. 1 doubles team. Two Florida pairings, however, are ranked in the top 15: Oyen/Will (No. 10) and Embree/Mather (No. 15). The men’s team is ranked No. 8 preseason with three singles competitors and three doubles pairs also listed.

3 » The Beaver County Times recently spoke with Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert, asking each about their time with Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow while in Gainesville. Both said plenty of kind things about Tebow, though Pouncey took a bit of an issue to only being asked about him and not the other Florida players he faces throughout the year. “How come nobody asked me about Brandon Spikes when we played the [New England] Patriots?” he quipped. “I’m tired of answering all these questions about Tim Tebow.” Fair enough. Pouncey and Gilbert both agreed that Tebow was a great teammate and somebody they liked on a personal level as well. They each also said he was a crazy competitor in the weight room. “They actually had to calm him down at times,” Pouncey told the paper. “He was trying to do things quarterbacks shouldn’t do. He’d go in there and try to bench press all this weight and do stuff quarterbacks shouldn’t’ do, and he’s the guy who was to throw the ball on Saturdays.” “Yeah, he’s an animal in the weight room,” Gilbert added. “He was a big guy with a lot of energy in all aspects of football, whether it was in the weight room, in the meeting room or on the football field. He was so passionate about the game. That’s what you want from your leader. He was the kind of guy you want on your team. Just being around him drove me to become a better player.” Pittsburgh and Denver go head-to-head in the first round of the NFL playoffs on Sunday.

4 » The University of Florida announced Thursday that demolition and renovations to the West Concourse portion of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium began one month ago on Dec. 5, 2011. According to UF, the renovations will provide new features “including enhanced restroom facilities, better overall lighting, improved crowd circulation, and winder concessions with more points of sale, including new food items not previously offered in the stadium.” There will also be “flat screen televisions, new graphics and new way finding signage, redesigned ceilings, and the use of high-end finishes along with brighter colors.” Florida expects the work to be completed before the 2012 season begins, and you can find out more about the project by clicking here.

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12/19: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Monday to answer some questions and look ahead to the Florida Gators‘ next opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida and Ohio State will go head-to-head in the 2011 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from Monday’s availability.


Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley (torn ACL): “That surgery went very well. He is rehabbing as we speak. He probably will miss spring but will certainly be cleared for the summer, so he’ll be ready to get back.”

– Sophomore Sharrif Floyd will move back inside and play his natural position of defensive tackle after spending the entire year at defensive end. “Sharrif will play inside. For lack of numbers, we played Sharrif at end,” Muschamp said. “He is a more natural inside player. When [Easley] was injured in the Florida State game, we moved Sharrif inside and he played extremely well.”

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee): “We’re evaluating him right now. There’s a possibility he will have surgery to repair his knee. We’ve exhausted every measure as far as not having surgery at this point and we’re in that process at this time.” Muschamp hopes to have him back next season depending on the severity of the injury.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (concussion): “He’s fine. We gave our guys off the week after the game while we were on the road [recruiting]. We lifted him and [he] ran a little bit.”


Muschamp maintained Monday (sorry for the alliteration) that Florida will not officially hire an offensive coordinator until after the bowl game but that does not mean he has been stationary in his search for Charlie Weis’s replacement. “A lot of people have a tremendous interest in the job,” he said. “I’m taking my time. I’m talking to an awful lot of people and will continue to do so to find the best fit for the University of Florida. We will make that decision after the bowl game.”

Interim offensive coordinator Brian White, the team’s running back’s coach who is filling in for the bowl game, is a candidate at the top of Muschamp’s list and will have bowl practice and the game itself to convince his head coach that he deserves the job. “I’ll sit down and talk to Brian but again, he’s a guy I’ve been with every day. I like how he’s managing our offensive football team at this time,” Muschamp said. “He’s doing an outstanding job. He has experience at the position with Wisconsin and had great success. Certainly he’s a candidate.”

Other candidates – like Jacksonville head coach and former UF QB Kerwin Bell – are being interviewed in the meantime. In the end, Muschamp is looking for someone who can add his special touches but keep the status quo. “You’re also looking for the right fit. We’re not going to come in and change what we’re doing. We don’t think that it’s smart to hire a guy and have 40 guys learning as opposed to one guy learning,” he explained. “Obviously will he tweak some things? Certainly. Will he change some things? Yeah, maybe. But we’re not going to just take a playbook, throw it out the window and bring another one in. We got a young football team, and I think continuity is the most important thing at this point with our football team.”


Already looking back on the Gators’ 6-6 regular season, Muschamp (as he has all year) puts the blame primarily on himself, saying he is responsible because it all falls on his shoulders. Nevertheless, he thinks there is plenty for Florida fans to look forward to with the bowl game and offseason upcoming.

“At the end of the day, are we headed in the right direction? Yes, I emphatically believe that. Is it where we want to be at this point? No. Are we going to get there? Yes,” he said. Muschamp added that the 2011 season did not go as expected because, simply put, Florida did not play for a SEC Championship. “That’s what I understand, and that’s what I expect,” he said.

Asked if there was one thing he could change about how the year went, Muschamp said it would be one of the very first decisions he made as head coach. “The most disappointing thing or poor decision I made was training camp not having been more physical because of numbers. You get nervous about injuries. You get nervous about situations with guys as far as having a more physical camp to prepare our team for the season. If I had one thing I wish I could have changed, that would be it,” he said.


» Florida began practicing on Friday and worked on fundamentals and technique over the weekend. Preparations for Ohio State began on Monday, and the team will practice Monday-Thursday this week before going to Jacksonville next week.

» On the sophomore class: “Without getting specific, there’s no question the majority of our playmakers are in that class. You look offensively, defensively and special teams of the guys who really contributed to our football team.”

» On there being so much attrition this year: “I would attribute it to a lot of different things. I think it is hard to really put your finger on one thing and say, ‘This is it.’ Anytime you have transition there is a natural attrition that occurs. Whether it is the coach that recruited you, the position coach, the coordinator, the head coach is different, the scheme is different. There are a lot of things.”

» On why Brantley impresses him: “Regardless if you pay attention to it or not, you hear negativity a lot. Quarterback is a tough position to play. It is the hardest position o play on the field. When it’s going well, you normally are put on a pedestal that you actually are playing probably better than you really are. At times when things aren’t going very well, you’re probably painted to be a little bit worse than you really are. From that standpoint, a guy that went through a frustrating year the previous year, came into our situation [and] really embraced it, did a good job with our offense, unfortunately had some injuries and some setbacks. The one thing I’m going to tell you about John is that he’s a positive guy. He loves being a Florida Gator. And that’s important to me. He’s a guy that does everything he can do in a first-class manner. He’s got a great family that supports him and is a guy I’m really proud of to be a part of this football group.”

» On how he will approach recruiting with so many empty spots: “You still want to evaluate and take the right guys. It’s a little different now because we have a whole year to evaluate. My philosophy at that point was not taking a guy you weren’t sure about. That’s the most important thing – right now we’ve had a full year to evaluate. We know what we’ve evaluated. We’ve ranked everybody at every position. We understand the numbers at certain positions that we want to take, but we’re not going to take a guy to take a guy. We’d rather – if there’s five at this position and you want to take three, you know you’re going to get two so you take four more at this position if you really feel good about those four. More than anything, at the end of the day, it’s kind of like the NFL Draft. You take the best player available at those situations.”

» On redshirt junior tight end Omarius Hines not seeing the field much: “He had some injuries early in the year. As we moved forward, you look at Jordan Reed and A.C. Leonard were very productive at the position. […] We expected more of an impact on special teams as well, not just on offense. The injury put him behind a little bit as far as moving forward.”

» On his plan for redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy: “To compete at the quarterback position.”

On sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell: “He played better as the year rolled on. He’s having a nice bowl practice as we progress to this point. He’s had his best practice since we’ve been here the other day as far as just his pad level, his hand placement and affecting the quarterback in the rush. He always plays with good effort and toughness.”

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FOUR BITS: Bell, Sturgis, Harvin, Fedora

1 » Minutes after the Kansas Jayhawks announced that they had hired Florida Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis as their next head coach, fans and media members began pointing to Jacksonville Dolphins head coach Kerwin Bell as a frontrunner to replace Weis at Florida. Bell spoke with The Gainesville Sun Thursday evening about the possibility. “Naturally, the University of Florida is my alma mater,” he told the paper. “It’s something I’ve always said I’d like to do. I love being a head coach. It would have to be the right place [for me to leave Jacksonville], and Florida is the right place. Will Muschamp has a personality that seems like a guy who would be great to work with. I definitely would be interested in listening. It would be great to come back.”

2 » Gators redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was a finalist but did not win the Lou Groza Award on Thursday. However, he was named a 2011 Walter Camp All-American and was placed on the second team, following in the footsteps of former Florida punter Chas Henry who was selected for the first team one year ago.

3 » Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Percy Harvin had one of the best games of his NFL career last Sunday, posting a career-high 156 yards with two touchdowns against the Denver Broncos. Harvin almost didn’t play in the game, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, after suffering “migraine-like symptoms” just one day earlier. “The symptoms were similar to Harvin’s past struggles with migraines, according to the unnamed person, including bloodshot eyes and vomiting,” the paper reported. Harvin had been without migraines all year after believing doctors found a way of preventing them in the offseason. If he did indeed suffer a migraine, Harvin may go through even more tests this offseason to try and find another solution.

4 » Former Florida offensive coordinator Larry Fedora (2002-04) was introduced as the new head football coach of the North Carolina Tar Heels on Friday. After leaving the Gators alongside then-head coach Ron Zook, Fedora worked as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State from 2005-07 before taking the top job at Southern Mississippi in 2008. During his introductory press conference with UNC, Fedora singled out Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and thanked him for all of his help getting to this point in his career. Foley told UF senior writer Scott Carter shortly after how much he appreciated Fedora’s ability and work ethic. “I’ve always felt very highly about Larry Fedora and have followed his career closely. He did an outstanding job for us as an assistant at Florida and has had success at every stop since,” Foley said. “He is a good football coach, but even a better person and family man and I fully expect his success to continue.”

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