FOUR BITS: Hinds, Senior Bowl, Horford, Lee

1 » According to CoachingSearch.com, the Florida Gators will add Justin Hinds to their coaching staff as a defensive graduate assistant. Hinds, who worked under defensive coordinator Geoff Collins at Mississippi State, had high praise for his boss during an October interview with ESPN.com.

Justin Hinds says there’s a genius to Collins’ eccentricity. Behind those wild blue eyes — the kind that stare at you with so much intensity they seem to shake — is a coach who knows how to fire up his players, and more important, gets them to understand what can be a complex system by boiling down the most intricate details into easily digestible parts.

“It’s like ‘A Beautiful Mind,'” Hinds says, gesturing toward a wall-to-wall white board filled with coverages and blitzes diagrammed on every available inch of space. “He’s a unique thinker.”

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Hinds, Senior Bowl, Horford, Lee

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Lone survivor Mike Summers is enthusiastic about retention, new Florida Gators staff

A 34-year coaching veteran, it takes a lot to get Mike Summers excited these days. But that is exactly the emotion he said he felt when new Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain asked him to be the lone holdover from Will Muschamp’s coaching staff.

“I’m extremely excited to be retained and be a part of Coach Mac’s staff, to move into a new era of Florida football. Certainly the opportunities, the energy, the excitement that’s around the program right now is something I can really feel. I sense it from the players. I sense it myself, my energy, there’s pep in my step as I walk around. Everyone is excited about where we are and looking forward. Certainly that involves me, and I’m very excited to be a part of this,” he said last week.

Summers was far from the longest-tenured member of Florida’s staff – in fact, he was one of three new coaches to join the program ahead of the 2014 season – but he was perhaps Muschamp’s best hire last offseason.

He pieced together an offensive line that lost three starters to graduation ahead of the season, created versatility among the players he had (including a number of injured upperclassmen) and was even forced into tough mix-and-match situations during games, tasks he seemingly took on with ease. Perhaps his most impressive work was molding fifth-year lineman Max Garcia not only into the Gators’ starting center but one who did so well playing the position for the first time in his career that he earned an invitation to the 2015 Senior Bowl.

Continue Reading » Lone survivor Mike Summers is enthusiastic about retention, new Florida Gators staff

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Gameday: 2015 Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) – Florida Gators vs. East Carolina Pirates

Location: Legion Field – Birmingham, Alabama [Capacity: 70,459]
Weather: 63°F, scattered thunderstorms (45% chance of rain), winds SSE at 13 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Dave Neal, Andre Ware, Laura Rutledge)

Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 83 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EAST CAROLINA PIRATES
(Interim) Head Coach: D.J. Durkin Head Coach: Ruffin McNeill
Record: 6-5 Record: 8-4
Conference: Southeastern Conference: American

Odds: Florida -7 | O/U 56

STATS / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida, which is bowl eligible or the first time since 2012, is 20-20 all-time in bowl games. The Gators had won four-straight before falling to Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl, the last of their 22-straight bowl game appearances. UF is also making its 20th appearance in a January bowl game in the last 22 seasons (since 1993), most in the nation.
» Durkin is serving as a head coach for the first time. He is Florida’s fourth interim coach all time, following Galen Hall (1984), Gary Darnell (1989) and Charlie Strong (2004).
» The Gators have not played at Legion Field since 1993. Florida is 4-2 all-time in the city of Birmingham, last playing a bowl game in town in 1988.
» UF is also 1-0 all-time against ECU with a 24-17 victory in Gainesville in 1983.
» The Gators and Pirates will play twice in a three-game span with UF hosting ECU on Sept. 12, the second week of the 2015 regular season.
» Florida is 23-7 against unranked opponents since Will Muschamp took over in 2011.
» Five of UF’s 11 games this season have been decided by six points or fewer (2-3).
» The Gators will not be ranked at any point in a full season for the first time since 1979.
» Despite its struggles, Florida’s offense has been an efficient scorer in the red zone, converting 38-of-42 opportunities (.905). That’s good for third in the SEC and 12th nationally. The Gators, however, have only converted 24 red zone touchdowns on those 42 trips (.571).
» Nearly 43 percent of opponent drives against Florida have ended in a three-and-out (66 of 155).
» Since Muschamp took over in 2011, the Gators are 23-5 when holding an opponent to 21 or fewer points, 20-3 when rushing for 150+ yards, 26-6 when outrushing an opponent, 17-7 when scoring first and 23-4 when leading at the half. Conversely, Florida is 1-8 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards, 2-15 when being out-rushed by an opponent and 5-17 when tied or trailing at the half.

Continue Reading » Gameday: 2015 Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) – Florida Gators vs. East Carolina Pirates

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Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

For as bad as things went for the Florida Gators at times in 2014 (see the Not Top 14 for 2014), there were more than a fair share of bright spots. From breathtaking moments and game-winning plays to winning championships and setting records, the Gators had plenty to be proud of in 2014. Check out OnlyGators.com‘s Top 14 for 2014.

14 » RARE WOMEN’S BASKETBALL UPSET

Gators women’s basketball has struggled to find relevancy but there was no question Florida had its engines running on Jan. 5 when it pulled off one of the biggest victories in program history, an 83-73 upset win over No. 6 Kentucky. The win broke a six-game losing streak for UF against UK and was head coach Amanda Butler’s first win over a top-10 ranked opponent after going 0-17 previously in such games. Florida had lost 19-straight regular-season games against top 10-ranked opponents, earning its last victory to such a team in Feb. 2006.

13 » TEBOW TIME ALL THE TIME

Former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow had a life-changing 2014 after agreeing to sign a long-term broadcasting deal with ESPN. Tebow was featured on the network’s national title broadcast that season and was later assigned to the SEC Network where he served as one of three analysts for the channel’s Saturday pre-game show, SEC Nation. Tebow has drawn rave reviews throughout 2014 for his passionate opinions and consistent on-air knowledge. He also proved to be unbiased, lambasting the leadership on Florida’s offense when the team struggled during the middle of the season. One Tebow moment – a spot-on impersonation of former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier – was OnlyGators.com’s most-watched Vine with 1.3 million loops as of press time.

Tebow also closed 2014 with a brilliant on-air prediction, which you can check out below.

Continue Reading » Top 14 for 2014: Florida Gators best moments of the year

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SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

1 » The Florida Gators football team held its annual team banquet on Saturday. Awards were handed out for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may have proven to be during the season. Below are the 2014 award winners along with some explanations and details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Mike Mcneely
* Third-straight year that McNeely won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon
* Second-straight year that Herndon won the award.
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Clay Burton, Hunter Joyer, Max Garcia, Antonio Morrison
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Alex Anzalone, Gideon Ajagbe, Andre Debose, Chaz Green, Matt Jones, Antonio Morrison, Jeremi Powell
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: R.J. Raymond, Dakota Wilson |
Defensive: Ryan Parrish | Special Teams: Garrett Stephens, Roger Dixon
* Second-straight year that Parrish won the award.

Continue Reading » SIX BITS: awards, Speights, Tebow, Beal, Wuerffel

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Five Florida Gators named to 2014 All-SEC teams

Five Florida Gators football players were voted onto 2014 All-SEC teams this week, as chosen by the league’s coaches and Associated Press voters.

Sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was a consensus All-SEC First Team pick from the coaches and AP for his stellar play once again this season. He has taken home the honor in consecutive seasons and is Florida’s only unanimous first-team selection in each of the last two years.

Junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. also earned a first-team nod from the coaches but was picked only as an honorable mention by AP voters. Joining Fowler as an AP honorable mention was redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose, who received the honor as an all-purpose player for the Gators.

Florida redshirt senior center Max Garcia and junior linebacker Antonio Morrison were both voted onto the coaches’ All-SEC Second Team for their stellar play this season, though neither was honored by the AP voters.

Individual honors will be announced by the SEC on Wednesday with the All-Freshman team being revealed on Thursday. It is not expected that any Gators will be up for individual awards this season.

Florida was one of eight SEC schools to boast four or more All-SEC selections by the coaches with Alabama and Missouri each seeing seven of its players recognized.

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Two Gators offensive linemen leave program early

A pair of Florida Gators offensive lineman have announced over the last two weeks that they will be leaving the program earlier than most expected.

Last week, redshirt junior Tyler Moore said he will forgo his final season of eligibility and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.

Moore, who took a year off from college football after transferring from Nebraska prior to the 2012 season and spent that year at a community college, struggled with consistency during his time at Florida. He played in seven games and made five starts for Florida in 2013 before suffering a season-ending injury himself. He started six games for the Gators in 2014, playing in all 12 regular-season contests.

Also departing from Florida is junior Drew Sarvary, an incoming transfer in 2014 who was expected to provide experienced depth for the Gators. Savary announced on his Facebook page that he will retire from college football due to a severe concussion he suffered against LSU a few weeks ago.

“Due to the severity of it and the prolonging symptoms, the UF medical staff and I have came to a conclusion that it would no longer be safe to play. I wanted to thank everyone who has ever helped me get where I am today. One chapter of my life closes as another one opens. #gogators #ibleedorangeandblue”

With Moore and Sarvary both gone from the program with eligibility remaining, Florida’s offensive line will be lacking depth in 2015. The Gators will also be losing a three seniors – starting center Max Garcia (fifth-year), starting right tackle Chaz Green (fifth-year) and six-game starting right guard Trenton Brown (a transfer) – and may see junior starting left tackle D.J. Humphries join Moore and leave early for the draft.

That would leave Florida with nine scholarship linemen on its roster entering next season, in addition to any that commit as part of the Gators’ in-flux 2015 recruiting class.

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Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-4) as they prepare to play their second-to-last game under head coach Will Muschamp against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-2) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Will Muschamp earns praise, talks dismissal with class
Story: Dante Fowler Jr. declares for NFL Draft on Twitter
Story/Notebook: Gators lose two linebackers for season; two defensive backs return for Saturday’s game
Story: Florida coordinators talk Muschamp firing, EKU, future
The Silver Lining: Answering reader questions about the Gators’ future

SENIOR DAY IN THE SWAMP

Lost among the firing of a head coach and subsequent start of a search for a new one are two simple facts: the Gators are one victory away from bowl game eligibility, and Muschamp will not be the only one who spending his last Saturday on Florida Field.

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

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