Seven Gators named to 2014 Preseason All-SEC

Seven Florida Gators football players were voted onto 2014 Preseason All-SEC teams on Thursday as chosen by the league’s 14 coaches.

Sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. led the way for Florida with All-SEC First Team nods on defense.

Hargreaves ended the 2013 campaign as an All-SEC First Team member, while Fowler found a spot on the second team.

Redshirt senior right tackle Chaz Green earned a spot on the Preseason All-SEC Second Team, while juniors running back Matt Jones, left tackle D.J. Humphries and linebacker Antonio Morrison were named to the third team.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose also picked up a third-team nod as a return specialist.

Alabama and LSU led the way with 11 representatives each on the three teams. Seven schools had seven or more selections.

At the 2014 SEC Media Days in July, four Gators were voted onto the media’s Preseason All-SEC teams. Fowler and Hargreaves were placed on the first team, while Debose was a second-team return specialist and Green got a nod for the third team.

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8/18: Muschamp on depth chart, competition heating up as season approaches

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to kick off his team’s final few days of practice before preparation finally begins for the team’s first opponent on Saturday, Aug. 30.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators were dealt their first notable injury blow this season as Muschamp announced that freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who was already dealing with scar tissue on a sports hernia he had repaired in high school, also had an undetected torn labrum in his hip and was scheduled for surgery on Monday. Holley will take a redshirt.

Senior offensive guard Trenton Brown (foot contusion), redshirt sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye (hamstring) and freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe (ankle) were all injured in practice this week, though all are expected back soon. Brown will return to practice on Tuesday, while Maye and Sharpe are scheduled to get back onto the field next Monday after a week on the sideline.

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8/15: Muschamp updates injuries, evaluations and competitions after Florida’s 15th practice

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday following his team’s second-to-last open practice of the offseason. The Gators are now 15 practices deep and will spend Saturday only wearing helmets during a one-hour Fan Day showing.

INJURY UPDATES

Freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe, who worked his way into being the fourth option at his position, suffered a high-ankle sprain during practice Friday morning and is currently day-to-day.

“We need to get him back. He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s very athletic, 6-foot-6, 330 pounds. He moves his feet extremely well. [He's] a guy that’s going to help us this year.”

The news is better for some other players. Junior running back Matt Jones (knee swelling) and redshirt junior guard Trip Thurman (shoulder) will return to action on Saturday. Redshirt sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox, Jr. (shoulder) could already be back in practice but will instead return on Monday after spraining his AC joint.

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8/13: Fowler breakout, Leak coaching, Jones ready

A handful of Florida Gators met with the media on Tuesday to discuss both how fall practice is going and how the team is coming together ahead of the 2014 season. Others met with the media last week to discuss similar topics.

BREAKOUT TIME

Junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. had his share of moments during his sophomore campaign. He looked strong at times and explosive at others but had little help around him to stop the double teams and allow him to be truly dominant.

With 2014 now approaching, Fowler has the opportunity to step up and be the dominant name on Florida’s defense, even more so than sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. According to some of his teammates, he’s on his way to earning that type of recognition.

“He’s been relentless,” said sophomore safety Keanu Neal. “Effort, that’s what he’s bringing. He’s bringing a lot of effort and continuing to work on his technique to get better.”

Fowler has also taken over Dominique Easley’s role as a leader on the Gators’ defense. That baton was ceremoniously passed when Easley relinquished his Chucky doll and allowed Fowler to be the adoptive father. Fowler tried to fill in for his role model last year, but even with Chucky in tow, he had a ways to go. This year, it seems he is putting it together on the leadership front.

“He’s one of my best friends. Me and him were roommates last semester, so we’re pretty close. Every time I’m on the field with him it’s like playing next to one of my good friends. He pretty much brings me up, tells me to work hard. He’s definitely a good guy, definitely a good role model,” explained sophomore defensive tackle Joey Ivie.

Fowler is doing all of this without Chucky in the locker room, at least for now.

“I haven’t seen the doll yet. I don’t know if I will,” redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor said. “I wasn’t scared of it; it was just a matter of fact that you got a little doll that kills people in movies. Besides that, no, I haven’t seen it. We might see it soon, but I don’t know. We’ll have to see at the first Gator Walk.”

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8/12: Roper breaks down Gators offense, backup quarterbacks and running backs

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday after the team’s 11th fall practice to provide his thoughts on the offense to this point. Roper also evaluated a number of Gators who should be big factors for Florida in 2014.

EARLY RETURNS

The theme coming out of spring practice was that the Gators installed more of the offense and were much further along in the learning process than Roper expected. While that might have been true then, Roper was cautious Tuesday to say that Florida’s players fully understand what is going on with his scheme.

“I think they’ve got a really good understanding of what we’re asking them to do, our base offense, I should say, the guys that were around for those 15 days – our two offensive lines, our two quarterbacks,” he explained. “Really, the young guys, it’s a battle right now to have a great understanding because it is so new to them and our defense is so multiple and causes so many problems. But the guys that have been in the battles before can obviously apply experiences to what we’re teaching them offensively, I think they’ve really got a good understanding of what we’re doing.”

He later added: “These guys aren’t there yet because they’ve just been in it 25-26 practices in. The biggest thing to guard against is putting too much on their plate.”

While Roper may still be spoon-feeding the Gators his offense, he is pleased with how the team has responded to his system and coaching.

“I think [their attitude's] been really good. I think these guys are excited about playing football,” he explained. “It wouldn’t matter who you rolled in here. When this time of season comes running around, everybody is excited. But I hope they’re enjoying the offense. I hope they’re enjoying competing every day on the practice field, and I think they’re excited about going and competing on Saturdays.”

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8/8: Muschamp on Hargreaves injury, Driskel and backup quarterbacks, player evaluations

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to discuss the first four days of practice and provide some first impressions on what he has seen from the team this fall.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp related that he was not concerned about the knee injury suffered by sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III during practice Thursday night, noting that it occurred during a knee-to-knee incident prior to the scuffle that ensued between the defensive backs and wide receivers. It was, however, aggravated during the ensuing fight. Hargreaves was quickly diagnosed with a bone bruise, Muschamp said, and will miss practice Friday while receiving treatment. He remains day-to-day.

“I was told immediately it was a bone bruise. The knee was stable and there [were] absolutely zero issues,” he said. “Obviously, in any situation when you deal with a joint, whether it’s an ankle, a shoulder, a knee, an elbow, you’re going to always get an MRI. But our trainer told me last night it was a bone bruise and he’ll be day-to-day.”

He also addressed the fight with the team after practice and noted that he has no problem kicking players out of practice if something similar occurs in the future because that is exactly what would happen in a game.

“You had a young player, a freshman, who got a little excited. In those situations, you’ve got a bunch of guys trying to separate the situation. That’s not something we tolerate,” Muschamp explained. “We have a lot of competition at a lot of positions, so there’s a side of it that’s a good thing. You want your guys to be aggressive. You want your guys to play with toughness, but you also want your guys to play smart and disciplined. There’s a side of it that you understand is part of the game. I’ve been in 20 or so training camps and I don’t think there’s been one that’s had at least a little skirmish. [The media] calls it a melee. I call it a skirmish. Kind of the way it goes.”

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8/3: Muschamp breaks down Gators entering 2014

The Florida Gators will take the field for the first time since April on Monday morning at 6 a.m. for the official start of fall practice ahead of the 2014 season.

Head coach Will Muschamp, heading into his fourth year at the helm of the program, held a press conference during Florida’s annual media day on Sunday to discuss the make-up of the Gators heading into the fall.

INJURY UPDATES, PRACTICE CHANGES

A pleasant change of pace for fans from a year ago is the Florida football team entering camp healthy with no major injury or illness concerns. The Gators do, however, have a couple of players who will be limited, two of which have been listed as so purely for precautionary reasons.

Freshman defensive back J.C. Jackson, a four-star prospect who underwent shoulder surgery in April, will start training camp as a non-contact participant despite being ahead of schedule for his recovery. Jackson will likely be cleared for contact after 7-10 days.

Both coming off ACL tears that sidelined them for the entire 2014 campaign, sixth-year redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose and redshirt freshman linebacker Matt Rolin have been completely cleared for contact but will nevertheless be limited to start camp. “Always in those situations, you want to make sure those guys are fully ready to go,” Muschamp noted.

Florida, which will open up with a split squad during the first two days of practice on Monday and Tuesday before practicing as a full team at night from Wednesday to Friday this week, has also adjusted its schedule to try and help prevent injuries.

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Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Kentucky and Alabama

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After a pair of seemingly “cupcake” games against Idaho and Eastern Michigan, Florida Gators football begins Southeastern Conference play in 2014 against an improving Kentucky Wildcats team before it faces arguably its biggest test of the year on the road at the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Florida kicks things off against Kentucky under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on the SEC Network.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Mark Stoops (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 2-10 (0-8)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 1-4 Common Opponents: 0-5
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 107th (20.5 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 89th (31.2 ppg)

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