FOUR BITS: Meyer-Tebow, Shrine Game, Brewer

1 » What exactly does now-Ohio State Buckeyes head coach think of what has happened to quarterback Tim Tebow’s NFL career? “It’s a great question,” he told USA TODAY’s Robert Klemko on Thursday. “I think that his coaching transition is a big part of it, with the guy that drafted him in the first round [Josh McDaniels] getting fired immediately. Then he goes to New York and that doesn’t work out the way he envisioned.” Meyer, who claims that he speaks to Tebow each week, said he is “like anyone else” and “just waiting to see what happens” with Tebow, though he is surprised that his career has not taken an upward trajectory. “He has a unique skill set. But I have faith in Tim, and I think it will work out,” he added.

2 » The 2013 East-West Shrine Game, featuring former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis (No. 17, East) and safety Josh Evans (No. 24, East) , is set for Saturday at 4 p.m. on NFL Network. The game will air live from Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL and wraps up a week’s worth of practices that saw Evans and Sturgis working in front of a bevy of NFL scouts. Sturgis met with a number of teams throughout the week and showed off his strong leg, while Evans also got some onlookers and even impressed East team safeties coach Marlon McCree. According to Rotoworld.com, “McCree mentioned Evans’s name more than any other during the four days of practice.” Note: Linebacker Lerentee McCray was also invited to the game but chose not to attend at the last minute in order to rest and heal up before the 2013 NFL Combine.

3 » CBSSports.com’s Zach Harper recently blogged about “the art of the leak out” in the NBA and used strong>Denver Nuggets forward Corey Brewer as the paradigm for his post. “There are few players in the NBA as opportunistic on a change of possession as Brewer,” he wrote. “In a league full of specialists … the Nuggets’ six-year veteran might be the NBA’s first transition specialist.” He continued, “There are two reasons why Brewer is so good at scoring on leakouts in transition: technique and speed.” Harper then breaks down Brewer’s unique ability with numerous video examples of what he is able to do during games. He also notes that “28.1 percent of Brewer’s offensive possessions come in transition” and “30.3 percent of Brewer’s points come on the fast break,” calling him possibly “the fastest player in the league without the ball.”

4 » As recently noted by school beat writer Scott Carter on Twitter, former Florida forward Adam Allen and walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan are doing a great job leading their new team, the Rollins Tars, to a 12-2 start to their 2012-13 season. Allen, who plays through pain and following multiple knee surgeries that ended his Gators career, is third on the team with 9.8 points and fourth with 3.8 rebounds per game while averaging just 19.8 minutes per contest. McClanahan, on a scholarship at Rolins, is second on the Tars with both 14.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game while playing a team-high 33.6 minutes per contest. Both players are shooting better than 46 percent from downtown this season.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, October 25

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» OGGOA learned this week that the Florida Gators basketball team is set to scrimmage the Rollins Tars on Saturday in Gainesville, FL. Florida usually hosts another team for a scrimmage before the season begins and practiced against Central Florida in this spot one year ago. Former Gators forward Adam Allen and walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan both now play for Rollins as Allen is re-starting his basketball career following multiple knee surgeries and McClanahan transferred in order to play more.

» ESPN’s Andy Katz confirmed on Wednesday that Florida and Georgetown will both be wearing camouflage uniforms for the Navy/Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville, FL on Nov. 9. The uniforms have not yet been received by either school as Nike is putting the finishing touches on them before producing and shipping them out.

» Here’s a fun commercial for the 2012-13 basketball season: “Live Live in the Dome.”

» The University of Florida and University of Georgia student governments established a rivalry trophy in 2009 for the annual football series between the two schools. Though the Gators held the Okefenokee Oar the first two years it existed, the Bulldogs got to bring it back to Athens, GA last year. Anxious to get it back, UF built a display case for the trophy in the Reitz Union, which the student government hopes can be filled with the oar following the game. More from The Gainesville Sun.

Read EIGHT more Gator Bites…after the break!
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SIX BITS: Leak signed, Thomas and Wright back, Murphy in limbo, Hernandez working, Gators fed

1 » In a story first reported by the Florida Times-Union one day earlier, former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak has officially been signed by the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL to be the team’s starting signal caller this season. “I am blessed and excited to be a part of an organization that’s committed to excellence and winning championships,” Leak said in a prepared statement released after signing his contract. “This is a great opportunity to be home and closer to my family. I look forward to playing in Jacksonville with support of greatest fans in the AFL.” Now a member of the Sharks, Leak will be joining his fourth professional football league. He played one preseason game with the NFL’s Chicago Bears after being undrafted in 2007, signed with Team Florida of the AAFL (which was stopped before it started), and played for three teams over four years in the CFL. With Jacksonville, he may have finally found a long-term home. “I am very excited to add Chris to our Sharks family,” team head coach Les Moss said. “He was a player I originally targeted before our first season, but was under contract in Canada and could not join us. Chris has never played the indoor game, but his accuracy and skill sets are what attracted him to us and are the requirements to be a top quarterback in the Arena Football League.”

2 » Denver Broncos defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, who missed most of the preseason and his team’s first three regular season games with an injured pectoral muscle, has begun practicing with the Broncos for the first time in seven weeks. Nevertheless, he remains questionable to play on Sunday and may need another week in practice before he’s game-ready. Also returning to practice this week is Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, who was suffering from a head/neck injury that kept him out of last week’s game.

3 » Rehabbing a sports hernia that has kept him out of both practice and game action since early in the offseason, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphyhas been missing practice again this week even though the team planned to have him back one week ago. Indications coming out of Oakland are that Murphy was improving but is now stuck in limbo. While he’s been out, the Raiders have seen some of their younger receivers step up, turning what was once a guaranteed starting job for Murphy into a fight for field time whenever he does get healthy.

4 » Speaking of recovering from injuries, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is still working to that end after missing Sunday’s game due to injury. Hernandez sprained his MCL last week against San Diego and said this week that he is “feeling pretty good,” which is not necessarily an indication of when he will return. Various reports have him out 1-2 or 4-6 weeks, but Hernandez is optimistic he’ll be back on the field sooner than later. “I just take it day by day, and work with the trainers, and try to get back as soon as possible,” he said according to ESPNBoston.com. “We’ll just try to take it day by day and see how it feels.”

5 » A feature from The Wall Street Journal this week – discussing nutrition in college football as the “last frontier” for which teams can gain an advantage – featured (in part) the Florida program and a thought from one of the Gators’ nutritionists. “It’s the last remaining edge,” Chelsea Zenner said. “Every team at the top has a coach who deserves to be there and every team has great weight rooms and strength programs. The last edge is nutrition.” According to the article, Florida’s nutrition program (which began in 2003) spends $58,000 each year “just on pre- and post-practice snacks for the football team,” which include “five types of smoothies on demand.” There are “two full-time dietitians, a pair of interns and up to a dozen volunteers, with some staffers texting the players to remind them to eat lunch.”

6 » The Florida basketball team will be holding walk-on tryouts on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m., which Gainesville Sun reporter Kevin Brockway notes are being held to fill a spot vacated in the offseason. Apparently walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan left the team after spending three years on the Gators’ bench. OGGOA learned Thursday afternoon that McClanahan left the team with no ill will and simply “had enough” of being a walk-on for three years.

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Parsons leads Florida to 84-59 rout of URI

The Florida Gators have struggled coming off major wins this season, losing to Central Florida and Jacksonville after hard-fought victories against Florida State and then-No. 6 Kansas State. Snapping Xavier’s 30-game home winning streak Saturday, Florida (11-3) kept their momentum going Monday by thrashing the Rhode Island Rams (9-5) 84-59 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Senior forward Chandler Parsons, marred in a slump most of the season, led the way for the Gators with the ninth double-double of his career. He scored 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting (3-for-4 from downtown) and added 12 rebounds (seven offensive) to go along with five assists for his best performance of the season.

Up 13-12 over URI with 11:48 left in the first half, UF took off on a 22-2 run and only allowed the Rams one basket in more than seven minutes. Rhode Island counted with a 7-0 run to cut Florida’s lead to 14 at the half.

The Gators’ lead teetered back-and-forth in the second half, but the Rams never trailed by less than 15 points after the break.

With the game coming to a close, head coach Billy Donovan inserted walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan into the contest. He missed his first two free throws but hustled back down for a layup on the next possession to give Florida a game-high 26-point lead.

Monday’s game turned out to be a dunk-fest for the Gators with Parsons, redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin, senior F Alex Tyus and freshman G/F Casey Prather all throwing it down on their opponents.

Junior point guard Erving Walker was Florida’s second-leading scorer with 14 points on 50 percent shooting from both the field and downtown. Tyus and sophomore G Kenny Boynton each finished with 10 points though Boynton continued to struggle shooting the ball going 3-for-12 from the field and 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.

Macklin finished with six points in limited minutes, and freshmen Prather and C Patric Young both scored eight points without missing a single shot between them.

Rhode Island was led by F Delroy James, who posted 23 points and six rebounds.

With their out-of-conference slate now complete, the Gators are set to begin Southeastern Conference competition on Saturday at home against Ole Miss. The game will air live at 8 p.m. on Comcast Sports South.

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2010-11 Florida Gators basketball season preview

Finally returning to the NCAA Tournament after back-to-back appearances in the NIT, the No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball team is back in the preseason top 10 and looking to return to the glory it experienced just a few short years ago. With forward Dan Werner now graduated and five new freshmen in the fold looking to make an impact, head coach Billy Donovan hopes to get back to his winning ways.

STARTING FIVE:

PG Erving Walker – junior, 5’8”, 171 lbs.
2009 STATS: 12.6 PPG – 4.9 APG – 3.3 RPG – .339 FG% – .347 3P% – 32.9 MPG
A spark plug who often appears to prefer shooting and penetrating to passing, Walker was named to the Southeastern Conference All-Freshman team two years ago and the preseason All-SEC second team this year. He had trouble performing at a high level last season partially due to the lack of depth behind him on the bench. Donovan has noted that Walker’s shot selection, stroke and defense have all improved over the summer. He plans to keep him fresh by utilizing a number of other players at point guard during games and hopes that Walker will improve his ball handling, court vision and willingness to dish the ball – three things he needed to work on at this point last year.

G Kenny Boynton – sophomore, 6’2”, 183 lbs.
2009 STATS: 14.0 PPG – 2.7 APG – 2.6 RPG – .376 FG% – .294 3P% – 32.9 MPG
A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Boynton was the pride of the Gators’ 2009 recruiting class. Quick both with and without the ball, Boynton is highly competitive and athletic with the ability to play either backcourt position. He led Florida in points and was second in minutes played (Walker) in his first season, catching on fire in his final two games scoring a combined 50 points on 16-of-33 shooting while also going 9-of-18 from downtown. He can get his shot off at will, whether it be a pull up jumper, deep three-pointer, floater down the lane or penetrating layup. Boynton is also a tough defender who is strong with quick feet laterally but, like Walker, was gassed late in games last season due to lack of depth. Also similar to Walker, Donovan is impressed with Boynton’s improved shot selection and decision making this offseason. He was honored with a preseason All-SEC second team nomination this year.

This post contains 1,818 words previewing the season. You have already made it this far, so you might as well continue reading the rest…after the break!
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Florida basketball 2010 preseason wrap-up

Joining ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive for the 2010-11 basketball season is new correspondent Malik Grady. An OGGOA reader since the very beginning and Florida Gators basketball observer for two decades, Malik will be contributing his unique views and educated takes on head coach Billy Donovan’s squad throughout the season. Please do us a favor and welcome him into the fold after reading his first offering, a review of Florida’s two preaseason games this year.

By Malik Grady – OGGOA Correspondent

BALL HANDLERS

Observers only had five minutes to evaluate freshman Scottie Wilbekin before he was injured, during which time he managed a pair of assists and two steals. He has good size for the point and looked quick with the ball, though he seemed to get a little “high school cute” with it. Last year, after the preseason, then-freshman Nimrod Tishman rarely played again, but Wilbekin seems to be much more in Donovan’s plans considering the three-guard lineup the Gators have practiced with at times.

Junior Erving Walker, last year’s starter at the point, showed a bit of the good news/bad news he did at times last season. He led the team in assists (13 in the two games) but also had six turnovers while simultaneously forcing shots at times. Donovan said he’s seen improvement overall in Walker’s decision making, and he is improving defensively in the press where his stature is actually a benefit.

Fellow junior Kyle McClanahan saw a total of 17 minutes in the preseason but showed some limitations after managing four turnovers in six minutes in his first game and no assists in either. Donovan has expressed confidence in him at times though, so it’s possible he could work himself into emergency duty.

Read the rest of Malik’s preseason wrap-up and prepare for OGGOA‘s 2010-11 season preview (published Thursday)…after the break!
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2010-11 Florida Media Day: Billy Donovan speaks

Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan and a number of players represented the team at the 2010-11 Florida Media Day on Wednesday in Gainesville, FL. Read on for news and notes about the upcoming season, first from Donovan.

DEPTH MEANS LESS IS MORE

It was obvious listening to Donovan speak Wednesday that he is excited about his team going into the season. With just a handful of weeks to go before Florida plays its first meaningful game, it is the Gators’ depth that he thinks will be integral to the team’s success. And because the team is so deep, Donovan hopes it will also be molded into an unselfish group, similar to the teams that produced back-to-back National Championships for him in 2006 and 2007.

“Right now today we have depth. And when I say we have depth, we have bodies, we have numbers,” Donovan said. “Can [sophomore forward] Erik Murphy really carve out a role for himself? Can [senior F] Alex [Tyus]? Can our veteran guys? For us to be a better team, some of our veteran guys are gonna have to take less. And that’s what really made that 2006-2007 team special. Because you know what? [Joakim] Noah could’ve scored more points. [Al] Horford could’ve scored more points. [Corey] Brewer could’ve scored. They all could’ve scored more, but they understood that less was better for the team.

“We’re going to have to have some older guys understand that less is better for the team. It’s OK for them to have less provided that we can somehow find a way to utilize that depth. Who is going to emerge out of that younger group? Looking at it on paper, we have depth. But you don’t have depth if you don’t have guys that can get into a role.

“We had depth a couple years ago in our front court but none of those guys could emerge to take control of the role that was out there for them, and then we didn’t have depth. I’m hopeful these guys, just with their mentality and their attitude so far, will take that on and give us the depth that we think we have.”

TWO SENIORS STEPPING UP AS LEADERS

Florida brings back three seniors this year with Tyus, F Chandler Parsons and redshirt F/C Vernon Macklin all coming together to form as a solid frontcourt. However, Donovan expressed that it was Parsons and Macklin in particular who have really stepped up as leaders for this young team through the offseason.

“Verbally right now [Parsons] and Vern are doing a great job, but I think the verbal part only goes so far. When they get on the court their actions have got to back it up,” Donovan said. “Chandler and Vern in particular, those two guys, want kind of that responsibility. It’s good for both of those guys. Vernon probably in the beginning first half of the season was kinda feeling his way through and then he started to show signs of the reputation he had in high school. And then Chandler, coming off of his sophomore year, really felt like he had something to prove and kind of got through that a little bit.

“Both of those guys, to me, they’re in a little bit of a danger zone in the fact that they now gotta take that next step and not get complacent and get comfortable. They’re trying to do all the right things and I would say the best thing they’ve done is with some new faces in our program, they’ve really tried to incorporate the group and make it a team and they’re reaching out and doing some of that stuff. And up to this point in the time with Chandler and Vern I’ve been very, very happy with what they’re trying to do leadership-wise.”

Read the rest of this 3,000-word recap of Donovan’s presser…after the break!
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Gamecocks rally in second half to top Gators 77-71

Devan Downey may be the South Carolina Gamecocks‘ star player, but fellow senior guard Brandis Raley-Ross stole the show Wednesday night in Columbia, SC. Raley-Ross’ 17 second half points and four three-pointers led the Gamecocks (14-9, 5-4 SEC) to a comeback 77-71 home victory over the Florida Gators (17-7, 6-4 SEC).

Though Florida only missed seven shots in the first half and was shooting 68.2 percent to 37.8 percent for South Carolina, an astounding 12 turnovers (including five in the first 4:17 of the game) left them with only a four-point lead at halftime.

This trend would continue after the break, with the Gators surrendering three turnovers in the first 4:30 of the second half and a five more before the final buzzer sounded. The Gamecocks were stingy, only giving up six all night compared to UF’s season-high 20.

Read the rest of OGGOA’s Florida at South Carolina game story after the jump!
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