Friday Final: “Trash talk,” coaching stops, Tebow

In this week’s Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com tackles some exaggerated “trash talk” leading up to the game, familiar faces for both sides and quarterback Tim Tebow returning to Gainesville, Florida, for the second time in two months.

The Florida Gators (1-0) open their Southeastern Conference slate by hosting the Kentucky Wildcats (2-0) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will air live on SEC Network.

“TRASH TALK”

During a post-practice interview on Tuesday, Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp (a Deland, Florida, native) was asked about playing at Florida in front of friends and family. In the middle of a rather innocuous reply, he dropped a line that – when singled out and defined as “trash talk” – has since drawn some attention.

“A couple of my [high school] teammates actually went to Florida, so I’m familiar with a lot of those guys. It’s going to be fun walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces,” said Kemp with a light laugh when he was asked if he knew some players on the Gators.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Michigan

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 84°F (feels like 92°F), scattered t-storms (chance of rain: 40 percent)
Time: 4:00 p.m. EDT

TV: SEC Network (Tom Hart, Matt Stinchcomb, Heather Mitts)

Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 93/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS E. MICHIGAN EAGLES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Chris Creighton
Record: 0-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American

Odds: Florida -40.5 | O/U 55.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Notebook: Muschamp reinstates suspended players reinstated, more Florida starters named ahead of new opener | Notebook: Kurt Roper, Jeff Driskel believe in Demarcus Robinson | Notebook: Muschamp goes off on those criticizing his discipline |
Notebook: LB Michael Taylor, DE Dante Fowler ready to lead…and hit hard |
Interview: Heather Mitts returns to Gainesville

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Idaho Vandals

BREAKING: Three Florida Gators have been suspended for the season-opener. More information below under Injuries/Absences.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 86°F (feels like 93°F), mostly cloudy (chance of rain: 10 percent)
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Kelly Stouffer, Niki Noto)

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

SiriusXM: 108/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS IDAHO VANDALS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Paul Petrino
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt

Odds: Florida -37 | O/U 50.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Breakdown: First fall depth chart | Notebook: Muschamp evaluates team, previews first game | Story: Treon Harris named backup quarterback | Notebook: Kurt Roper addresses hot topics, D.J. Durkin evaluates unit | Special: 54 Florida football facts, stats and tidbits | Friday Final: Running backs primed to break out

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Florida football preview: 54 facts, stats and tidbits

In an attempt to preview the 108th season of Florida Gators football, OnlyGators.com decided to find 108 interesting facts, important statistics and relevant historical tidbits about the team. The process proved to be more daunting than initially expected.

Below you will find 54 different notes to prime you for the 2014 campaign, which kicks off against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Aug. 30 live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, at 7 p.m.

1. Florida finished 2013 with a 4-8 record, putting together its first losing season since it went winless (0-10-1) in 1979. UF rebounded to finish 8-4 in 1980, setting an NCAA record for best turnaround in major college football history at the time. The Gators were also the first team ever to play in a bowl game after failing to win a game the season prior.

2. Will Muschamp (43) is the second-youngest coach in the SEC behind Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (42).

3. Muschamp’s 22-16 record through three seasons (2011-13) is the worst for a Florida head coach in that span since Charley Pell went 15-19-1 from 1979-81.

4. Kurt Roper is Muschamp’s third offensive coordinator in four seasons and UF’s fifth in the last seven years, while Mike Summers is Muschamp’s third offensive line coach in four seasons.

5…starters played in all 12 games for Florida in 2013.

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8/26: Optimism and confidence surround Florida as Muschamp kicks off game week vs. Idaho

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to open up game week ahead of the first game of the season against the Idaho Vandals at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor also shared some comments to kick off game week.

This post was updated Wednesday will comments Muschamp made during his weekly appearance on the Southeastern Conference media teleconference.

OPTIMISM AND CONFIDENCE

A new season is on the horizon for the Gators, and Muschamp knows that his team is ready for the opportunity to prove to doubters that 2013 was a fluke and not how Florida football is supposed to be played. He has seen the renewed drive and dedication from his team on the field, in meeting rooms and during events outside of the facility. Now he just hopes that UF will be able to put it all together on Saturday.

“Any time you go through a tough time in your life, you reflect and you get humble and you work hard and you pull together and you understand that people around you are close to you. Certainly in the building, number one, but within that locker room, number two, I’ve seen a very close-knit unit,” he said.

“In that locker room, there are a lot of guys that know how to practice, know how to practice the right way. They know how to compete and get after each other but also how to take care of each other. It’s been a lot of fun in training camp. I’ve really enjoyed being around the guys. You can see the camaraderie and togetherness in this football team, and I really look forward to seeing them competing in front of our fans.”

Taylor said the excitement around the program is palpable, and the Gators have an opportunity to ride the wave of momentum into the season by pulling off a victory over the Vandals.

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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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Snell’s Slant: Roper, Summers have impressed

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

Last week’s column was spent mostly on a couple of current Florida Gators players that I had interactions with this offseason. While it was intriguing to see how these guys responded during spring practice and summer workouts, I was much more interested in how head coach Will Muschamp planned to respond following one of the worst seasons in program history.

At this point, I’m most encouraged by Muschamp’s decision to hire Kurt Roper as Florida’s new offensive coordinator. David Cutcliffe gets a lot of the credit, but Roper is a big reason why Duke, once the doormat of the ACC, jumped up and won the Coastal Division title and nearly took down Texas A&M in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. He did that with nowhere near the talent he has inherited at UF.

The first time I got to see Roper’s offense up close in practice, I noticed the fast tempo right away. Players were not standing around waiting or looking to the sideline for instruction. Coach Roper was all over them screaming, “Make something happen! Make something happen!” It is good to see an offensive coordinator get that involved with his players. He is not just expecting execution but demanding it while showing that he has a beating heart.

It is in this way that Roper is very much like Muschamp. Having an equal intensity on both sides of the ball is refreshing coming off Charlie Weis and Brent Pease, two offensive coordinators that may have been passionate but certainly did not show it. This has been missing on offense the last few years.

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OG Brandon Sandifer commits to Florida

Continuing to add mass to their already-sizable offensive line, the Florida Gators on Wednesday received a verbal commitment from 6-foot-4, 335-pound offensive guard Brandon Sandifer (Warner Robins, GA).

Unanimously rated as a three-star prospect, Sandifer committed to Florida over Alabama and South Carolina, announcing his decision on his Twitter account at 7:30 p.m.

“I am proud to say that next year I will be playing at the University of Florida. #GatorNation,” he wrote.

Sandifer visited Gainesville, Florida, for the Gators’ Friday Night Lights camp on July 25 but did not participate in the workout. Instead, he chatted with the coaches, players and other prospects before heading up to see what the Gamecocks had to offer in Columbia, South Carolina, that Saturday.

Originally prepared to make a decision after those visits, Sandifer instead pushed back his commitment date. In the end, UF was the choice with offensive line coach Mike Summers playing a major role in pulling in the big prospect.

Sandifer is now the 11th member of Florida’s 2015 recruiting class and either the third or fourth offensive lineman commit depending where three-star Mike Horton (Atlanta, GA) lines up once practice begins.

Only four of the Gators’ 11 verbal commitments are from the state of Florida; all are three-star prospects. UF’s other seven pledges hail from Georgia (three), Ohio (two), California (one) and Louisiana (one).

Four Gators commitments are rated as four-star prospects with the other seven listed as three-star athletes. Florida does not have a prospect rated above three stars from within its home state.

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