Coaches want Gators’ playmakers to step it up

For weeks now, the Florida Gators coaching staff has claimed that redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is only part of the problem when it comes to the offense’s ineptitude. Last Saturday, the Gators proved head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper right as drops, protection and other miscues – plus Driskel’s mistakes – seriously limited how effective Florida’s offense was through the first three quarters of the Tennessee game.

On Wednesday, Muschamp made it quite clear that the onus will not solely be on Driskel to play better in Saturday night’s showdown with the LSU Tigers. The skill players in particular must drastically improve, too.

“Fifteen drops at the [wide receiver] position, which is, you know…” said an exasperated Muschamp. “I look at the situation with the receivers, we’re trying to get some things going in the throwing game and we drop a slant on the first drive. And it’s like the air comes out of it a little bit. We’ve got to overcome those situations. We’ve got to finish on some plays; we’ve got to be able to place the ball on 3rd and 6 to an out route to a tight end on the money. There’s a lot of things involved in it. I think from the standpoint of us making some plays, creating some confidence for our guys is critical.”

In an effort to show the Gators’ playmakers how their minor mistakes – jumping too early for a pass, running the wrong route, failing to block effectively or altogether – are affecting Driskel and the offense as a whole, Muschamp addressed the unit Monday and stressed that the players need to take ownership of their roles on the team.

By doing so, he also attempted to take some pressure off of Driskel by pointing out to his teammates how the signal caller is not the only one causing the offense to appear as if it is stuck in the mud during games.

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10/8: Will Muschamp addresses recent incidents, Florida’s preparations for LSU

Updated/completed at 1:35 p.m.

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) met with the media twice on Wednesday as his team continues its preparations for the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC). Florida is looking to defeat LSU for just the second time since 2010 as the Gators host the Tigers on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live nationally on the SEC Network.

Muschamp’s regularly-scheduled media appearance on Monday was postponed as freshman quarterback Treon Harris is currently under investigation for alleged sexual battery. He addressed that and a variety of other topics on Wednesday.

TREON HARRIS SITUATION

With his second-string quarterback, freshman Treon Harris, suspended indefinitely while under investigation for sexual battery, Muschamp declined to comment further on the situation. In fact, he indicated that he preferred to not even have a press conference this week but understood that he needed to in order to help the media do their jobs.

“The statement that the university released Monday, I think, was pretty self-explanatory. It is a very serious charge, and there has been no change in his status,” he said.

“You handle things in life and you move forward and that’s what we’re going to do [as a team]. I feel very comfortable with how we’ve approached this situation.”

Muschamp declined comment on any questions related to Harris.

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SIX BITS: Young, Noah, Miles, Tyus, Hernandez

1 » Former Florida Gators center Patric Young is playing his first NBA preseason with the New Orleans Pelicans and is already dropping some highlights. On Monday, New Orleans fell 93-87 to Atlanta, but not before Young could deliver this put-back dunk (skip to 1:35). Young finished the contest with four points and four boards in 11:20. Against Miami in his team’s preseason opener, Young made his only field goal, scoringtwo points to go along with eight rebounds, a block and two turnovers in 21 minutes.

2 » Also on Monday, Chicago Bulls C Joakim Noah got into a heated exchange with Washington’s Paul Pierce during their teams’ preseason game. Noah was relatively calm about the situation until Pierce stuck his pointer finger into Noah’s forehead. Coming back from knee surgery, Noah looked even less fluid than normal during the game and is expected to skip Tuesday’s contest as a precaution.

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Florida QB Treon Harris under investigation for sexual battery, suspended indefinitely

Updated at 2:35 p.m.

Florida Gators freshman quarterback Treon Harris is currently under investigation for a possible felony charge of sexual battery and has subsequently been suspended indefinitely from the program.

Though no details have been made available at this time, the University of Florida Police Department’s Crime Log lists a sexual battery incident as having been reported on campus at the Springs Residential Complex early Monday morning at 12:49 a.m. The Independent Florida Alligator‘s Jordan McPherson confirmed with the UFPD that the aforementioned incident is the one involving Harris.

Harris has neither been arrested nor charged with a crime at this time and “a source familiar with the situation” told Florida Today‘s David Jones that “evidence was ‘shaky at best'” with it being a “‘he said, she said’ situation.”

Florida sent out he following official statement at 1 p.m. on Monday:

University of Florida student athlete Treon Harris is accused of sexually assaulting a female student early Sunday morning in a residence hall on the UF campus.

The University of Florida Police Department is investigating the incident, and UFPD has brought in the Gainesville Police Department to assist with collection and analysis of forensic evidence.

The investigation is ongoing and we do not have an update regarding any charges at this time.

The University of Florida and the University Athletic Association are cooperating fully. …

UAA has suspended Treon Harris from all team activities.

“We have no tolerance for sexual assault on our campus,” UF President Bernie Machen said. “The university is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for every member of the UF community. We must strive to protect all of our students from sexual harassment and assault, and do everything in our power to promote a safe learning environment.”

Harris has retained Gainesville, Florida, attorney Huntley Johnson. “We are cooperating with the investigation,” Johnson told the Orlando Sentinel‘s Mike Bianchi. “He has not been arrested, and I don’t expect him to be.”

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Florida opponent previews – Tennessee and LSU

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Coming off a tough showdown on the road at Alabama, the Florida Gators will have a bye week before entering Knoxville, Tennessee, and the not-so-friendly confines of Neylend Stadium when it squares off against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Florida will be facing Tennessee for the 44th time in program history, looking to extend its series winning streak to 10-straight games dating back to 2005.

The Volunteers are looking to find some momentum in the second year under head coach Butch Jones, the program’s third coach in five seasons. Under Jones, Tennessee upset then-No. 11 South Carolina 23-21 last season, one of its few highlights of the 2013 campaign. The Vols also lost four-straight games, however, with blowout losses to Alabama, Missouri and Auburn as well as a close defeat at the hands of Vanderbilt.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Butch Jones (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 5-7 (2-6)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 1-4 Common Opponents: 2-3
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 94th (23.8 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: T-78th (29.0 ppg)

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LSU tops Florida baseball 2-0 in SEC Tournament

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

For No. 1 seed Florida Gators baseball, playing five elimination games in as many days proved to be a bit too much as the No. 3 seed LSU Tigers pulled away with a 2-0 victory on Sunday in the finals of the 2014 Southeastern Conference Tournament at Hoover Metropolitan Stadium in Hoover, Alabama.

LSU (44-14-1) edged Florida (40-21) by using four pitchers in a shutout victory. A day after collecting 12 hits, the Gators managed only two in nine innings.

Both squads were scoreless through seven innings until Tigers designated hitter Sean McMullen he launched a two-run blast off of junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Harris (2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER).

Florida had six outs left to try to overcome the 2-0 deficit. The Gators managed to get the lead runner on base in the ninth when junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (0/3) walked, but he was erased on the base paths when sophomore shortstop Richie Martin (0/3) hit into a 6-4-3 double play. Sophomore center fielder Harrison Bader (0/3) was retired on a ground out to end the game.

Turgeon, Martin, Bader and junior catcher Taylor Gushue (0/3) – the first four hitters in UF’s lineup – combined for a dreadful 0-for-12 in Sunday’s tournament final. Bader entered the game 10-for-16 in Hoover.

Redshirt junior RHP Karsten Whitson (6.0 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, K) had his ups and downs all season for Florida but was stellar against LSU and likely pitched his way into UF’s rotation for the 2014 NCAA Tournament.

The Gators on Sunday evening learned that they would host one of 16 regional sites for the NCAA Tournament, which will have its 64-team field announced live on ESPNU at noon on Monday.

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FOUR BITS: fun video, LSU, WNBA, McGee

1 » Florida Gators gymnastics won its second-straight National Championship this month, so it should come as no surprise that some teams on campus hope to emulate its success. Enter a couple Florida football players and swimmers who tried to complete as gymnasts in this video shot for the Florida Letterman Awards, which were actually held in early April before gymnastics went back-to-back at the NCAA Championships.

2 » LSU athletic director Joe Alleva may not have gotten its way when it came to the Southeastern Conference’s most recent scheduling announcement – specifically regarding the retention of permanent cross-divisional opponents – but he is pleased that SEC commissioner Mike Slive has decided to help his school lobby for more night games at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “There has developed an understanding that CBS, ESPN and all its platforms will recognize the importance of LSU home night games in their scheduling process with assurances that every effort will be made to maximize the number of LSU home games at night,” he wrote in a letter fans of the team. UF has not only dealt with a significant absence of night games recently but also a groundswell of desire to see them increase as fans are tired – both figuratively and literally – of being forced to sit outside in the insane heat at noon in Gainesville, Florida. This type of preferential treatment for the Tigers may not sit well with Gators fans or perhaps even the administration, which could use as many night games as possible when convincing people to purchase season tickets.

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida cruises past LSU 79-61

After being involved in three-straight nail-biters – two away from home – the No. 1 Florida Gators (27-2, 16-0 SEC) were able to take a breath and cruise to a wire-to-wire 79-61 victory on Saturday afternoon, taking down the LSU Tigers (17-11, 8-8 SEC) at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL.

Florida clinched the outright 2014 SEC regular-season title with Kentucky’s loss on Thursday but celebrated in style Saturday as it extended its school-record winning streak to 21 games and continued a number of other program-best marks including winning 16 SEC games in a single season.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:

It was over when: With under 12 minutes left in the game, Florida senior forward Will Yeguete found senior F Casey Prather cutting to the hoop for an impressive one-handed jam. Less than one minute later, Prather had another impressive finish when he corralled a left-handed alley-oop pass from senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin on the fastbreak for a highlight layup. The Gators increased their lead to 24 points with the basket making it near-impossible for the Tigers to fight back over the duration of the contest. Wilbekin scored 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep, dished four assists and registered two steals. Yeguete had four points and five boards.

Prominent players: Neither player led UF in scoring on Saturday, but Prather and sophomore guard Michael Frazier II each took over the game in a half to help Florida to victory. Frazier went 4-for-6 from downtown in the first half to spot the Gators an early double-digit lead; he only scored once in the second half, finishing with 14 points and four boards, but was undoubtedly his team’s catalyst. Prather wrapped things up nicely for UF in the latter 20 minutes, finishing 6-for-7 for 14 points with a steal and a block.

Significant stretches: Florida achieved an 18-point lead with four minutes left until the break with a trio of long runs in the first-half. The Gators opened up the game 8-0, compiled an 8-2 stretch midway through the period and used an 11-0 run including three-straight bombs from downtown – two from Frazier – to jump way ahead of the Tigers in the early going. UF’s lead did not dip below 13 points for the remainder of the contest and eventually stretched to as high as 27 points with 6:14 left in the game.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
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