TWO BITS: Florida-Miami series, women’s tennis

1 » Miami Hurricanes athletic director Blake James recently told The Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that he had a conversation with Florida Gators AD Jeremy Foley about renewing the football series between the two teams. James said Foley was “receptive” to the idea, a word used by Jackson, though the latter insisted that the Gators would only be amenable to playing the Canes in a neutral-site contest. “I would have to think about Orlando,” James told the paper. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.” Foley wants Florida-Miami at a neutral site for a number of reasons. The Gators already lose a home game every other year with Florida-Georgia being played in Jacksonville. UM also neither provides UF with a fair allotment of tickets nor quality locations for those seats in the 76,000-seat Sun Life Stadium. Considering the Gators have the largest base of alumni in South Florida, that is not a winning combination for the school. A neutral-site game would allow the schools to split ticketing and revenues evenly while potentially creating a new, exciting tradition.

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Florida baseball drops two of three at Miami

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

No. 20 Florida Gators baseball (5-3) fell short on the road against the No. 17 Miami Hurricanes (4-3) over the weekend, dropping the annual three-game series between the in-state rivals but ultimately avoiding a sweep on Sunday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field in Coral Gables, FL.

The Gators opened things up Friday night with their second loss of the season, dropping the season opener 6-4 despite scoring three runs in the first inning.

Junior left-handed pitcher Bobby Poyner (4.0 IP, 5 H, BB, 3 K) took the loss for Florida, struggling after retiring the side in order and leaving the first inning with a three-run lead. Poyner (1-1) threw 71 pitches in the 6-4 loss and gave up home runs to Miami right fielder Willie Abreu in the third and center fielder Dale Carey in the fifth.

“We just have to get a better start out of our starting pitcher,” remarked head coach Kevin O’Sullivan after the loss.

Inside the batter’s box, junior catcher Taylor Gushue (4/4, RBI, 2 R) extended his hitting streak to six games. The four-hit game by Gushue was a career-best.

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Gators flip Canes four-star RB Brandon Powell

The Florida Gators on Friday filled the hole created in their 2014 recruiting class by the decommitment of four-star running back Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL) by flipping their second prospect in as many days , four-star RB Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, FL).

A Miami Hurricanes commitment, Powell initially hoped to enroll early at UM. According to The Gainesville Sun‘s Zach Abolverdi, who first reported the flip, things changed Wednesday when Florida, Powell’s dream school which had not previously offered a scholarship, gave him an opportunity to join the program.

Powell (5-foot-9, 167 pounds) was originally committed to Tennessee but changed his mind and joined Miami’s class on Aug. 3, 2013. Ranked No. 189 overall by Rivals.com, he is considered the seventh-best all-purpose back prospect in the country.

The Gators are also planning to try and gain a pledge from four-star RB Jeff Jones (Minneapolis, MN), who is currently committed to Minnesota. Florida offered Jones (6-foot, 198 pounds), the 92nd-ranked player in the nation, late in the process but has already scheduled an official visit with the prospect for Jan. 24.

Thursday morning, UF gained a commitment from five-star cornerback Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C.), who immediately became the Gators’ highest-rated player at No. 24 overall. He hopes to enroll in classes next week.

Florida now has 21 total commitments this recruiting cycle including 12 ranked four stars or higher and 12 from within its home state.

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Gators out of top 25 polls for first time since 2011

The eighth regular season editions of the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and Associated Press Top 25, along with the first edition of the BCS standings for the 2013 season, were released on Sunday with the Florida Gators nowhere to be found for the first time since the conclusion of the 2011 campaign.

Florida (4-3, 3-2 SEC) was knocked out of the rankings after being defeated for the second time in as many weeks and falling 36-17 to the Missouri Tigers, which moved up to No. 7 in the USA Today poll and No. 5 in the AP top 25 before being listed No. 5 in the BCS on Sunday night.

The Gators’ other two losses this season also came to ranked opponents. The Miami Hurricanes are listed at No. 7 in the BCS, No. 6 by USA today and No. 7 by the AP, and the LSU Tigers checked in at No. 13 in all three rankings.

The Alabama Crimson Tide remain the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

UF’s 2013 opponents in italics.

BCS STANDINGS
This Week 1-5: Alabama, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State, Missouri
6-10: Stanford, Miami, Baylor, Clemson, Texas Tech
11-15: Auburn, UCLA, LSU, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma
16-20: Texas A&M, Fresno State, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma State, Louisville
21-25: South Carolina, Michigan, UCF, Nebraska, Oregon State

Check out the rest of the polls after the break!
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Florida QB Driskel injures knee, will play after bye

Florida Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel was seen Monday walking around campus on crutches. Just before noon, the school announced via Twitter that Driskel was injured during Saturday’s 21-16 loss to the Miami Hurricanes but will be healthy enough to play the team’s next game.

“Jeff Driskel suffered a slight sprain in his knee in the [second] quarter of the Miami game. He is taking some weight off of it this week and will be ready for the Tennessee game next week,” said a program spokesman in a series of tweets.

Based on the timetable established by UF, Driskel’s injury likely occurred at the 9:28 mark in the second quarter when, running a read-option play from the pistol formation, he was tackled and hit in his left knee. He hobbled when he stood up.

Driskel, who went 22-for-33 and passed for a career-high 291 yards on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, scored two touchdowns on the afternoon but also committed three turnovers including two costly red zone interceptions and a fumble inside the Gators’ five-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

“It started with me. I was careless with the ball,” he said after the game.

Driskel’s first interception came three plays into the second quarter. His second pick was thrown with 9:30 remaining in the contest.

“You just got to play smart football in some situations,” said head coach Will Muschamp during his post-game press conference. “You can’t throw the ball into traffic in the red zone. In those critical situations, you’re taking points off the board, you’re creating momentum for the other team. A lot of things go on when that happens. It’s not just the fact that you had a turnover. Those are situations we got to correct.”

Depending on the severity of the injury, Driskel could rest for up to two full weeks as the Gators are currently on their bye. Florida will next take the field on Sept. 21 when it hosts the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

It was announced Monday that the game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

The Florida-Tennessee game aired on CBS for 16-straight seasons from 1996-2011 and was played at 3:30 p.m. consecutively from 2007-11. Last season, CBS chose to air Alabama-Arkansas instead and UF-UT was picked up by ESPN for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

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Muschamp critical of Gators’ defensive start

Anyone that watched the sloppy offensive performance put forth by the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) on Saturday was aware that the team squandered multiple opportunities to put points on the board and assist a defense that struggled early in the first quarter but was stout for the vast majority of the game.

Head coach Will Muschamp would certainly agree, but he was not about to let the defense off the hook for the way it played early in Saturday’s 21-16 loss to the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0).

“Disappointed early. I thought we gave them way too much momentum and belief early in the game. I thought we should’ve played much better early in the game. Very disappointed with the first two series,” he said.

“Alignment, communication, assignment – you name it, we didn’t do it very well in the first two series. We got very discombobulated, in my opinion, defensively.”

Florida gave up 21 points on Saturday, only the third time in the last 16 games under Muschamp that the Gators defense allowed that at least that many points in a contest.

Of those 21 points, Miami scored 14 off a pair of Florida turnovers.

UM quarterback Stephen Morris led a nine-play, 50-yard touchdown drive after UF sophomore running back Matt Jones fumbled the ball on the game’s opening series.

Canes running back Duke Johnson ran for a two-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter after Gators junior QB Jeff Driskel was sacked by linebacker Tyriq McCord and fumbled the ball at UF’s four-yard line.

Muschamp was displeased with Miami’s initial touchdown drive but even more upset that Florida gave up a long touchdown on the Hurricanes’ third offensive possession, which came right the Gators had capitalized on a timely punt block.

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Florida QB Driskel’s career day marred by miscues

Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel was not the only member of the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) that turned the ball over on Saturday. But as the leader of the team and offense, his mistakes were the most glaring – and game-changing.

And that’s why the story of Florida’s 21-16 loss to the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0) at Sun Life Stadium, at least as it pertains to Driskel, is centered on his three untimely turnovers rather than the career-high 291 yards he threw for on the afternoon.

It’s also why he took responsibility after the game – not like he had much of a choice in the matter.

“We couldn’t hold onto the ball. I think we had five turnovers. It started with me,” he said. “I was careless with the ball, a couple of interceptions, putting the ball on the ground there at the end and a couple of fumbles. They were all costly.”

The turnover parade did not start with Driskel. Sophomore running back Matt Jones, playing his first game of the season after being sidelined with a serious viral infection, fumbled the ball on his third carry of the season during the game’s opening possession.

Down 14-6, Driskel led the Gators into the red zone by completing a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver Solomon Patton. He negated his productive bomb with his first pick of the game, a pass to Patton – who was covered by five orange jerseys – from the Canes’ 11-yard line on 3rd-and-Goal.

“When I saw the ball in the air and I saw the guy cutting it, I knew it wasn’t pretty,” he explained. “It was a dumb play. I should have just taken what the defense gave me. Instead, I tried to make the bigger play. That’s what I’ve got to move on from.”

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9/7: Florida at Miami post-game report

Five turnovers and a sloppy performance doomed the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) on Saturday against the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. After falling 21-16 to Miami, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Miami improved to 29-26 all-time against Florida with no future games scheduled.
» The Gators failed to start the season 2-0 after doing so in eight-straight years.
» Florida fell to 1-6 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 3-6 when allowing 21+ points and 4-8 when tied or trailing at halftime.
» Saturday’s win was the Canes’ first over a ranked opponent since Oct. 22, 2011.
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 13-straight games.
» Miami made its 74th appearance on ESPN, second-most among college programs.
» Florida had two players register 98+ receiving yards in the same game for the first time since Jan. 1, 2010. It was the first time since Nov. 3, 2007 that two wide receivers eclipsed 98+ yards.
» A Gators quarterback passed for over 219 yards for the first time since Nov. 19, 2011. That was also the last time a Florida receiver registered a 100+ yard game.
» The Canes posted 212 total yards, just seven more than Toledo a week ago. The last time Miami had fewer yards in a victory was Oct. 26, 1996.
» UF bested UM statistically in total offense (413-212), passing yards (291-162), rushing yards (122-50), first downs (22-10), third-down efficiency (.400-.090) and time of possession (38:20-21:40).
» It was the second time as many seasons that the Gators committed at least five turnovers in a single game.
» Florida’s defense gave up 21 or more points for just the third time in the last 16 games under Muschamp dating back to the bowl game following the 2011 season.
» It was just the fourth time under Muschamp (28 games) – and second time since the start of the 2012 season (15 games) – that the Gators coughed up two first-quarter touchdowns. Florida is 1-3 in those four games.

» Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell, returning after spending 20 months without playing a college football game, registered a sack for the second-straight game.
» Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III nabbed an interception for the second-straight game. He also switched his uniform from No. 16 to No. 1, becoming the first true freshman to wear No. 1 since Keiwan Ratliff in 2001.
» Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy blocked his third kick in two seasons.
» Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel threw for a career-high 291 yards.
» Wideouts senior Solomon Patton and redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar both registered career-highs in receptions and receiving yards. Patton finished with six catches for 118 yards and also picked up the first touchdown of his career. A South Florida native, Dunbar hauled in seven balls for 98 yards.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We gave them way too much momentum early in the game, defensively the first drive. We just got out of sorts with our substitutions and communications. It settled down as the game went on. Gave them a big play. You give a team belief and certainly that’s what we did defensively early. You can’t turn it over five times and go 1-for-6 in the red zone scoring touchdowns. Moving the ball, had over 400 yards, thought we mixed the run and pass well, probably did some good things at times. But the bottom line is you cannot continue to shoot yourself in the foot and give somebody else an opportunity, especially on the road, and we certainly did that. We gave them way too much momentum early in the game defensively, and you’re not going to win any games turning it over five times, especially in the red zone – just killer turnovers.

“I felt like the fourth down, going for that early, I feel like we needed to. We weren’t stopping them defensively at that time very well. I felt that we needed to spit the ball in the end zone. Disappointed with the turnovers and the red zone situation and the momentum early in the game. I thought our kids fought hard and gave themselves an opportunity there at the end with an on-side kick and see what happens. I credit our kids for that. We need to go back in the off week, go back with ball security, coming together and playing a little better in this situation.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say after the game…
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