TWO BITS: football awards, less Tebow on ESPN

1 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which members of the team are presented with a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2012 award winners, according to the University of Florida, along with some award explanations and additional details.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Jeff Driskel, Michael McNeely, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that Sturgis won the award.
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jon Bostic, Jeremy Brown, Caleb Sturgis
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison, Omarius Hines, Lerentee McCray, Sam Robey
Chris Patrick Courage Award: Dominique Easley, Chaz Green, Jon Halapio, Ronald Powell, James Wilson
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Max Garcia, Mark Herndon | Defensive: Alex McCalister, Jeremi Powell | ST: David Campbell, Rhaheim Ledbetter

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Xavier Nixon | Defense: Dominique Easley, Matt Elam
* Second-straight year that Easley won the award.
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Jon Halapio, Jonotthan Harrison | Defense: Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd
Most Valuable Player Offense: Mike Gillislee | Defense: Matt Elam ST: Loucheiz Purifoy, Caleb Sturgis
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award for the offense (Chris Rainey). Second-straight year that Elam and Sturgis won the award for defense and special teams, respectively.
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): Jon Bostic, Matt Elam
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Mike Gillislee
* Second-straight year that a running back won the award (Chris Rainey).
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Jon Bostic, Josh Evans, Sharrif Floyd, Frankie Hammond, Jr.
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam, Mike Gillislee, Jon Halapio, Omar Hunter

2 » New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow has barely seen the field since being traded last offseason. Now the head of ESPN is promising fans that they will see much less of him on their television sets as well. In an conversation with John Ourand of SportsBusiness Journal, ESPN President John Skipper said he recently told his production staff to reduce the amount of coverage that the networks give to Tebow and his exploits. “I said, ‘Guys, we didn’t handle this very well. Going to training camp wasn’t a problem. We just stayed on it relentlessly and too long,’” Skipper explained. “Training camp was fine. The guy’s very popular. In our business, we want to drive ratings. You’ve just got to keep long-term, short-term in mind.”

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (39-30)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

34 – Lerentee McCray (Ocala, FL)
Redshirt senior linebacker
6’3” 249 lbs.

Quick Bio: A highly-ranked four-star prospect, McCray has moved all around the Florida defensive front seven throughout his career. He played in 11 games over his first two seasons but received a medical redshirt in 2009 only to come back in 2010 and play in 10 contests. McCray capped his redshirt sophomore season by returning a punt block for a touchdown in the Outback Bowl.

Career Stats (30 games): 40 tackles (26 solo, 8.0 for loss), 1.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, three pass defenses, touchdown

2011 Season: McCray missed the final four games of the season due to injury but played in the first nine contests, making five starts as the team’s primary Sam linebacker while also spending time at the Buck position. He registered 7.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, three pass defenses and a team-high four quarterback hurries.

2012 Outlook: Back healthy from a shoulder injury that also kept him out of spring practice, McCray was slated to start at Sam linebacker again for the Gators but shifted over to starting Buck linebacker after junior Ronald Powell tore his ACL in the spring game. McCray is one of a handful of players being counted on to improve Florida’s pass rush this season.

33 – Mack Brown (Lithonia, GA)
Redshirt sophomore running back
5’11” 214 lbs.

Quick Bio/2011 Season: One of the top running backs in the country coming out of high school, Brown was a four-star recruit who played in two games as a true freshman in 2010, carrying the ball three times for 23 yards. He broke his fibula in the spring of 2011 but was healthy enough to receive a few carries last season despite having three players in front of him on the depth chart.

Career Stats (14 games): 15 carries for 65 yards (avg.: 4.3, long: 13)

2012 Outlook: Brown is fighting for the back-up job behind senior Mike Gillislee and has been going head-to-head all offseason with freshman Matt Jones to be the second running back called on to carry the ball. Whether he wins the job or is forced to be third in line, Brown should see significant action in 2012 for the first time in his career.

Check out three more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (39-30)

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8/15: Muschamp, Gators discuss fall practice

With the Florida Gators entrenched in their first week of fall practice, a handful of players spoke with the media on Wednesday about how things are going as the team prepares for the 2012 season. Joining them in a surprise session was head coach Will Muschamp, who discussed some of the team’s most recent injuries.


Though Muschamp said the shoulder bruise sustained by sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was not serious, he did mention that sophomore walk-on wide reciever Michael McNeely broke his foot during practice and is expected to miss six weeks of action.

He also noted that redshirt junior defensive lineman Kedric Johnson, who dislocated his left knee in practice last week and is expected to miss a significant amount of time, had successful surgery on Wednesday.


Sophomore tight end Clay Burton has not seen much field time in his Gators career (transitioning from defense to offense your freshman season is one reason for that) but is quite sure that the schemes being installed by offensive coordinator Brent Pease are going to do quite well for Florida this year.

“I can’t wait until we play somebody else because I feel like in the spring, just talking to players like Jelani [Jenkins] and the other defensive players, they’re like, ‘You guys shifting, it’s crazy, it’s confusing,’” he said of the motions and shifts in Pease’s offense.

“So I can’t wait – I don’t know how other teams are going to game plan for us. I wouldn’t want to be a defensive player and have to line up on one side and then just because one person plays we have to shift everything. I think it’s actually probably one of the best offensives I’ve seen.”


» Sophomore Chris Johnson, who was recruited as a defensive back but was shifted over to running back when he joined the Gators, said he never expected to play offense in college but is fine with the move. “I thought about it but, at the same time, my mindset when I first came in was safety and defense. Like they say, change just happens so I got used to it,” he said.

» Burton on the transition to tight end for himself and sophomore Tevin Westbrook: “It’s just a lot of footwork. As a defensive player you want to put the offensive player off you so you can see the play, and on offense you want to get and stay into the defense, so we’ve both kind of had an issue of pressing the guy instead of driving him off the ball.”

» Senior safety Josh Evans on why he changed to No. 9: “Nothing behind it, man. I just wanted to change it up. I’ve been wearing No. 24 for a long time, and I just wanted to do something different my senior year. New player, new me, just playing up to my potential.”

» Redshirt senior defensive lineman Omar Hunter on the offensive line: “They’re doing really good. I’ve been seeing holes in the defense – Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown, those running backs man are torching our defense sometimes. The offensive line is really better; they’re really stronger this year and I definitely feel it.”

» Hunter on the “old man strength” of junior transfer Damien Jacobs: “I feel like he’s more flexible now, getting his hips to the line of scrimmage turned a little bit more and he’s doing better. He got that old man strength, not that weight room, but the old man strength. It’s weird man; it’s very weird. You might bench more than him but on the football field he’s just strong, crazy strength.”

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Blue tops Orange 21-20 in 2012 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut – Postgame Report

More than 38,000 fans filed into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday to watch the Florida Gators conclude spring practice with a live scrimmage in the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut. After combining to score just seven points in the first three quarters, Blue outscored Orange 21-13 in the final quarter to pull off a 21-20 victory.

“Really pleased with where we are at this point,” head coach Will Muschamp said after the scrimmage. “I feel much better standing here today than I did a year ago as far as where we are as a football team, our physicality as a team, our togetherness as a team as this moves forward. We got the right kind of guys. We just got to get better. There’s things we need to improve on.”


Florida fans wanted to see a big-time competition from sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel and that is exactly what they got on Saturday. Brissett (9/16 for 233 yards and two touchdowns) and Driskel (12/14 for 147 yards) each had their good and bad moments on the field including long passes and over/under-thrown balls. Brissett hit freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman with a great pass down the left sideline for 43 yards. He also connected on a bomb with junior Trey Burton that resulted in a touchdown and found redshirt sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar in the back of the end zone early in the game. Driskel completed a nice 44-yard pass to redshirt junior WR Andre Debose near the right sideline and also hit Burton on a deep pass that he brought inside the five. His accuracy and athleticism were both impressive as he was able to extend plays and make correct decisions.

“We saw that both those guys throw the ball extremely well. They’re both really good athletes and guys that can create some off-tempo plays for us as a football team,” Muschamp said. “It was very evident [how close they are]. You see both guys take command of our football team. Both guys made vertical plays down the field, good decisions where they took the ball. There’s no question you saw what I’ve been seeing for 14 practices previous [to Saturday]. I’ve said this before: We can win with both guys.”

Up next for the duo is managing the offense in the offseason. Muschamp wants to see how they rally the players for 11-on-11 drills and PRPs (player-run practices) without any influence from the coaching staff. “Those guys need to take the next step as far as that’s concerned,” he said.

As far as the players go, though both are working hard to earn the starting job, neither is taking the actual competition with their friend too seriously. “I love it. Coming out every day, competing against the No. 1 quarterback in the country a couple of years ago. It don’t get no better,” Brissett said. “I guess I’m slower so that’s what I’m lacking. Jeff is a great quarterback. He can make every throw that I can make, so it’s going to be tough to see what the real difference is. [...] I don’t got nothing wrong against him. I mean, I look better, but that’s just something he’s got to deal with.”

Driskel joked that he doesn’t play basketball with Brissett because his teammate is better in that area and said that the two are making sure the rivalry does not ruin their friendship even if he was not necessarily comfortable with his commitment in the first place. “I wasn’t excited about it at first but I realized they’re going to bring somebody in the next year. There’s always going to be competition. So I embraced that, and I think it’s made me better through the spring,” he said.

Check out the rest of the Orange & Blue Debut postgame report…after the break!
Continue Reading » Blue tops Orange 21-20 in 2012 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut – Postgame Report

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