Snell’s Slant: Mind the gaps, respect Death Valley

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

With the team facing so much adversity over the last few weeks, it was pleasing to see the Gators put together such a convincing win over an above average Southeastern Conference opponent (at least as far as physicality is concerned). This was the first week that I thought Florida would truly be tested on both sides of the ball, and for the most part the Gators passed with flying colors. That is not to say everything was perfect; there is plenty of room for opportunity and growth.

Florida finally seems to be finding some chemistry in the passing game, especially between Tyler Murphy and Solomon Patton, but I cannot help but concentrate on the issues in the running game. There is a severe lack of explosive plays on the ground save for Matt Jones’s 67-yard gain at Kentucky, an outlier.

As head coach Will Muschamp indicated after Saturday’s game, the offensive linemen are not getting any movement on their blocks. It is not necessary for these guys to absolutely maul and knock their counterparts flat on their backs every single play (a pancake block) for the running game to be successful.

What Muschamp is referring to is the offensive line struggling to move defenders out of what are supposed to be gaps for the running backs to hit.

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10/8: Pease on Taylor, Murphy, Leak, LSU

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the sixth game of the season against the LSU Tigers on Oct. 12.

WHERE’S KELVIN TAYLOR

For weeks now, Pease and head coach Will Muschamp have talked about getting freshman running back Kelvin Taylor more involved in the offense. Nevertheless, over the last two games, he has registered a grand total of zero carries.

Pease explained Tuesday that the team had planned to get Taylor some work but Florida’s defense ruined the potential opportunity.

“We had some situations we were going to try to get him in there in the last half of the fourth quarter, but they held onto the ball and drove it and stuff,” he said. “We’ll just continue to keep working at practice and things are going to show up.”

Taylor did technically see the field Saturday – when the Gators lined up in the victory formation at the end of the game – but never touched the ball.

He has a total of 46 yards on the season from six carries, five of which came in the season opener against Toledo when he averaged 8.6 yards per touch and broke off an impressive, crowd-pleasing 27-yard run.

Taylor is healthy and has a bright future ahead of him, according to the coaching staff, but neither Muschamp nor Pease has been able to provide a legitimate reason why he has not been worked into the offense during games.

“He practices hard. He’s a good kid. He’s got a good attitude. He is a good player. I just want to see him continually do the things and just have some patience,” Pease said.

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10/7: Muschamp recaps Arkansas, previews LSU

No. 17/17 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 30-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks and his team’s upcoming road contest against the No. 11/10 LSU Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 12. The contest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Game: Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton
“He’s playing at a high level, creating plays after the catch. … Really proud of Solomon and how he’s playing. He’s a great young man, works extremely hard, has really dedicated himself to developing himself as a receiver and certainly is getting great results.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia
“Max is a smart guy. … Max is pretty solid all over. He was a guy that did a lot of things well for us. He can play left tackle, he can play multiple positions. He’s been a really good fit for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Patton, senior WR Trey Burton, redshirt junior WR Quinton Dunbar, sophomore running back Matt Jones, redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy

Defensive Players of the Week: Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy
Purifoy was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Ball Hawks: Purifoy, junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., redshirt junior LB Michael Taylor

Hard Hat: Freshman LB Jarrad Davis

Special Teams Player of the Week: Senior safety Jaylen Watkins

COULD MUSCHAMP HANDLE THE DEFENSE ALLOWING 50 POINTS?

LSU’s suddenly impressive offense has registered some huge outputs in its first six games of 2013 (including three SEC contests).

The Tigers scored 35 and 59 points in respective victories over Auburn and Mississippi State and also posted 41 points in a loss to Georgia.

Asked Monday if he would be able to handle his defense coughing up that many points, Muschamp explained that it would have been a concern for him in the past but now all he cares about is leaving each game victorious.

“As long as we win, I don’t care what happens. I’ll be honest with you. I got real caught up with all of that stuff when I was a coordinator. But I’m a head coach. I want to win. If it takes 51-50, let’s go,” he said. Watch the film on Sunday and we’ll figure out what we need to do to get better.

“But I can tell you right now, I used to grab the stat sheets when I was a coordinator. Not anymore. There’s one stat that matters and that’s winning. Do what you got to do to win games. It’s hard enough on Saturday afternoon to worry about all that other stuff. Just do what you got to do to win.”

Fowler concurred that winning is most important to Muschamp but was honestly concerned with the possibilities of what could potentially happen if the Gators gave up that many points in a single game.

“He’ll be happy that we won, but 50 points? Nah, he wouldn’t be happy with that,” he said. “Oh, no, not 50 points. Even if we win, I’ll have a nightmare. Scared. Jesus. No. … I don’t even know how he would physically handle that. I honestly don’t know what would happen. I wouldn’t want to know. That would be crazy.”

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Florida baseball ends skid, routs FAMU, FAU

By Andrew Olson – OGGOA Contributor

Despite riding a wave of momentum (and an 11-2 record over the previous 13 games) into their latest weekend series, Florida Gators baseball (27-23, 12-12 SEC) failed its toughest test yet as it was swept on the road while taking on the No. 3 LSU Tigers (43-6, 19-5 SEC). Yet while Florida struggled away from home, the Gators got back into the swing of things as it closed its non-conference schedule this week with a pair of dominant wins over in-state opponents.

LSU snapped Florida’s streak of three-straight SEC series wins, taking all three games over the weekend in Baton Rogue, LA.

In the series opener, the Gators battled but came out on the short end of a 3-2 decision. Tigers ace Aaron Nola silenced his opponent’s bats and tossed his fourth-consecutive complete game in a 5-0 victory that clinched the series for the home team on Friday. Florida tried seven different pitchers in the series finale but none of them could contain LSU in what would eventually become a 18-6 blowout and series sweep.

The ESPNU Thursday Night Game of the Week creates a dilemma for SEC managers. Do you start your ace in game one or let him go Friday night (game two) to keep him in his regular routine? Tigers coach Paul Mainieri saved his top starter, Nola, for Friday, but Gators coach Kevin O’Sullivan opted to go with his ace, junior right-hander Jonathon Crawford, in Thursday’s series opener. Crawford (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) did enough to keep Florida in the game but struggled with his command, only throwing 56 of his 98 pitches for strikes.

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Murphy’s career game helps Florida blow out LSU

It may have taken a few minutes for the one-seed to get going on Friday, but a lights-out performance by senior forward Erik Murphy helped the No. 11/13 Florida Gators make quick work of the nine-seed LSU Tigers in the quarterfinals of the 2013 SEC Tournament at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN.

Murphy’s dominant performance – including career-highs in points (27), rebounds (12) and made three-pointers (five) – fueled Florida (25-6) to an 80-58 victory over LSU (19-12). The Gators advanced to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament and will face either four-seed Alabama or five-seed Tennessee on Saturday at 1 p.m.

“Shots were falling today. I felt good,” he said. “Whether the ball goes in the basket or not is out of your control. Coach has actually been saying just give good reps this week. Every rep in a good rep, whether it’s in game or practice. I try to do that.”

After tweaking his right knee in practice during the week, Murphy started Friday’s game wearing a thin brace but showed few ill effects, dominating the first half for Florida. Murphy scored 10 points and registered seven rebounds in the first 10 minutes of the contest, but LSU countered by hitting four of its first six attempts from downtown and trailed UF by just a single point midway through the period.

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SEC Tournament Gameday: (1) Florida vs. (9) LSU

Location: Bridgestone Arena – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 18,160]
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPNU/ESPNUHD (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 126/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3 / WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

(1) FLORIDA GATORS (9) LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Johnny Jones
Record: 24-6 (14-4 SEC) Record: 19-11 (9-9 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -16 | O/U 128.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is looking to win its fourth SEC Tournament, first since completing a three-peat in the event from 2005-07. The Gators are 36-44 all-time in the SEC Tournament (21-13 under Donovan) in 47 total appearances.
» UF enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 1 overall seed for the fourth time in school history. The team has never failed to reach the finals when listed as the top seed.
» The Gators are 5-4 all-time in SEC Tournament games held played in Nashville, TN.
» LSU holds a 60-41 advantage over Florida in the all-time series, but the Gators have won four consecutive games over the Tigers and hold a 12-8 record under Donovan.
» Florida is 49-6 since the beginning of the 2011-12 season when holding opponents under 71 points in a game (23-5 in 2012-13).
» Four Gators starters average in double figures while the Tigers boast five players that score in double digits on average.
» UF is 4-1 against top-25 opponents this season after going 3-5 against ranked adversaries last season with all five losses coming to top-three teams.
» Florida is 0-5 this season in single-digit decisions.
» The Gators are first nationally in scoring margin (+18.8), third in scoring defense (53.2), fourth in field goal defense (.373), ninth in field goal percentage (.485), 12th in three-point defense (.291), 18th in assist-turnover ratio (1.36) and 24th in turnover margin (3.1). Florida is also seventh nationally in fouling, committing 14.2 per game.
» The Tigers are 14th nationally in steals per game (9.2). Anthony Hickey is first nationally in steals per game (3.07).

Read the rest of the Florida-LSU gameday preview…after the break!
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1/12: Florida at LSU post-game report

No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (12-2, 2-0 SEC) routed the LSU Tigers (9-4, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, LA. Florida head coach Billy Donovan met with the media and shared some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 41-60 all-time against LSU (12-8 under Donovan). The Gators hold a 13-33 all-time record against the Tigers in Baton Rouge (5-4 under Donovan).
» UF has won four-straight games in the series against LSU.
» The Gators have now held 9-of-14 opponents under 60 points.
» Florida outshot their hosts from the field (.444-.323), from three (.348-.250) and from the charity stripe (.588-.400) and made seven more baskets on two fewer shots.
» The Gators won the rebounding battle 49-34 but gave up four more turnovers (11-7) over the course of the game.

PLAYER NOTES

» Senior guard Kenny Boynton continued working his way up the school’s all-time record book, passing Erving Walker (1,777 points) and Udonis Haslem (1,781) to move into third on Florida’s career scoring list with 1,782 career points as he posted a team-high 20 on Saturday. He is 148 points away from tying Andrew Moten (1,930) for second and has 308 more points to score until he is even with Ronnie Williams (2,090) for first in scoring.
» Junior forward Will Yeguete registered the third double-double of his career (second of the season) with a team-high 13 rebounds and 10 points. He is working through knee tendinitis and made a difference for the Gators in the second half.
» Four Florida players registered seven boards on the evening including freshman G Michael Frazier II, who hit a career-high with that mark. Frazier also played a career-high 31 minutes in the contest but finished with just five points on 1-of-5 shooting.

Read what Donovan had to say on injuries and more…after the break!
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Big second half pushes Florida past LSU 74-52

An overwhelming start to the second half fueled yet another dominant performance for No. 9/11 Florida Gators basketball (12-2, 2-0 SEC), which poured it on right out of the break to earn a 74-52 victory over the LSU Tigers (9-4, 0-2 SEC) at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center in Baton Rouge, LA on Saturday.

Senior guard Kenny Boynton passed former teammate Erving Walker (1,777 points) and legend Udonis Haslem (1,781 points) for third on Florida’s all-time scoring list with 1,782 career points as he led the way for the Gators with a game-high 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting (4-of-8 from three) with seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.

He was one of four UF players to score in double figures as junior center Patric Young added 14 points and seven rebounds and junior forward Erik Murphy bounced back from a rough first half to score 12 with seven boards, three assists, a steal and a block. Junior F Will Yeguete notched a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds including six off the offensive glass.

Down early, Florida utilized a 9-2 run to take a five-point lead on LSU with 9:31 left in the opening half. Minutes later, the Tigers responded with a 7-0 scoring stretch to gain a two-point advantage, but the teams eventually evened out at 19 with 4:19 remaining.

The Gators ended the opening 20 minutes on a 10-1 run – capped by a buzzer-beating jumper by junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin – to take a nine-point lead into the break despite shooting just 36.4 percent from the field to start the game.

Read the rest of the Florida-LSU game story…after the break!
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