Track Florida Gators en route to Starkville

The Florida Gators are on their way to Starkville, MS, to face the Mississippi State Bulldogs. An ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive EXCLUSIVE, the following is the flight information for the Gators, who are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 twin-jet. You can also track the flight live while it is in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Golden Triangle Regional Airport (KGTR)

DURATION: 1 hour 10 minutes

DEPARTURE: 7:11 p.m. EDT [scheduled 7:24 p.m. EDT]
ARRIVAL: 7:21 p.m. CDT [scheduled 7:33 p.m. CDT]

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Starkville gearing up for game vs. Gators

Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen has all but begged the residents of Mississippi to not only sell out Saturday night’s game against the Florida Gators but set an attendance record in doing so. Based on ticket sales, the school’s athletic director Greg Byrne believes Mullen will achieve that goal or surpassing the current record of 56,118.

But Mullen is not the only one in Starkville, MS, trying to turn up the intensity for Saturday. His players are just as pumped up and confident that a victory over the BCS No. 1-ranked Gators is possible.

“You can just feel it everywhere you go,” senior running back Anthony Dixon said. “The intensity in that stadium is going to be like nothing you’ve ever seen around here. It’s going to take us and the fans, the whole Mississippi State program, for us to pull this off. I don’t want to say much because I want to keep [the game plan] a secret. [Mullen] just told us that we have a chance, that we can beat them. I don’t want to say too much else and don’t want to give away our secret plan of knocking off the champs. But if we go out there and play hard and play our game, we can win this game.”

Having won four straight games against the Gators in Starkville is reason enough for the Bulldogs to be confident, but they have never faced a Florida team as talented as this one – even with the potential for three starting defensive players to miss the game. And they have yet to face head coach Urban Meyer at home, either.

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Gator Bites for Thursday, October 22nd

From time to time, OGGOA will come across tidbits and small news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we will be present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer said Thursday that senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes is “50-50″ (questionable) for Saturday vs. Mississippi State Bulldogs. Meyer also said junior defensive lineman Justin Trattou is officially out.

– Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is campaigning for a record attendance at Scott Field on Saturday. He also told reporters that he spoke with Florida senior quarterback Tim Tebow by text message Thursday afternoon.

– According to Rivals, quarterbacks coach Scot Loeffler “spent almost an entire day last week” scouting four-star dual-threat QB recruit Devin Gardner – a Michigan Wolverines commitment.

– Five-star offensive lineman recruit Seantrel Henderson, the No. 1 prospect in the nation, has delayed his visit to the University of Florida until December because of scheduling difficulties. Florida is one of six top programs vying for his services. (Rivals)

– Freshman wide receiver T.J. Lawrence is expected to miss a few weeks after having his meniscus scoped Thursday. “[Lawrence] is getting close,” Meyer said. “He had a couple good weeks.”

– The Gators coaching staff are big fans of four-star safety recruit Tony Jefferson, who wishes to visit Gainesville, FL, for the Florida State Seminoles game in November. However, Florida is reluctant and most likely will not have Jefferson visit because they want to satiate five-star S commit Matt Elam. (Rivals)

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TWO BITS: Don’t forget Hevesy; UF next for UGA

1 » OGGOA has been reporting all week on the match-up of Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and new Mississippi State Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen, Meyer’s former offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach. Florida Today points out that most are overlooking another familiar face, Bulldogs assist. coach/running game coordinator and former Gators tight ends/asst. offensive line coach John Hevesy. “I was real close to Hevesy,” Gators tight end Aaron Hernandez said. “We basically consider each other as family. It will be a little weird, but we won’t be thinking about it when we’re playing.”

2 » While Florida concentrates on Mississippi State this week, another set of Bulldogs are already setting their sights on the nation’s No. 1 team. On a Bye, the Georgia Bulldogs‘ next opponent is the Gators at the World Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL. Talking about the game, quarterback Joe Cox said his team has not planned any excessive celebrations like two years ago. “No,” Cox said smiling, “I don’t think we want to kick off from the 7.” On potentially beating Florida, Cox said Georgia needs to show “passion.” He continued, “We need to get a couple of big plays as a spark and then keep it going.” On stopping the Florida offense, defensive tackle Jeff Owens said the Bulldogs must hit Gators quarterback Tim Tebow low. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says Owens was more colorful but decided not print his quotes as head coach Mark Richt “was nervous about them providing bulletin board material.”

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4 of 6 Florida DTs could be out for Saturday

Over the last two weeks, OGGOA has reported on the slow and steady depletion of starters on the Florida Gators defensive line. The unplanned lack of depth is getting increasingly worrisome with senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes hampered by groin and Achilles tendonitis injures, further softening the middle of the defense.

Defensive tackles redshirt junior Lawrence Marsh (ankle), redshirt sophomore Jaye Howard (knee), junior Justin Trattou (biceps tendon) and redshirt junior Brandon Antwine (shoulder) lead the interior of the line – and all four are either questionable or doubtful for Saturday evening’s Mississippi State Bulldogs game. In their stead, redshirt freshman Omar Hunter and junior Terron Sanders filled in admirably against the Arkansas Razorbacks, both being named to head coach Urban Meyer’s Champions Club.

With four of six tackles potentially out for the game Saturday, Florida has scratched and clawed in order to find some depth in senior Troy Epps (who has played so rarely it took me five minutes to find a picture of him in action), redshirt defensive end Earl Okine and junior DE Duke Lemmens. Egads!

Defensive line coach Dan McCarney updated the status of his unit: “It’s day-to-day on Howard, don’t know on him. Marsh is day-to-day, I’d say he’s doubtful. I’m hoping he gets back next week. Earl Okine, we’re working in at tackle. Omar Hunter or Tank Epps can play in there at nose or tackle. Duke Lemmens can jump in there at tackle if we needed him to. I can only coach the guys who practice. We’ve got to get those guys ready. We’re thin right now, but we were still able to win an SEC game here (last Saturday) with four of my six guys that didn’t play.”

The best part of that quote, unfortunately, is that Epps’ nickname is “Tank.”

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Gators football Tuesday 10/20 injury update

Florida Gators seniors, middle linebacker Brandon Spikes (groin, Achilles tendonitis) and defensive end Jermaine Cunningham (groin), both sat out practice on Tuesday. On Monday, head coach Urban Meyer told reporters Spikes is probable for Saturday’s game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Meyer confirmed on Tuesday that both Spikes and Cunningham are probable, so one would assume they were just being given extra time to rest and rehab.

Also off to the side on Tuesday were redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard (knee), junior DE Justin Trattou (biceps tendon) and redshirt junior DT Lawrence Marsh (ankle). Meyer said he is hopeful that Howard will be able to play Saturday, while Marsh and Trattou both remain doubtful.

As far as players who have already been ruled out for the 2009 season, freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (hamstring) is expected to be able to participate in spring practice while sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (torn ACL) has been ruled out but should be able to return for summer practice.

Additional note: Offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, speaking to reporters about his running backs after Tuesday’s practice, noted that he was becoming more and more impressed with the play of redshirt junior Emmanuel Moody. It was noted that Moody saw limited action Saturday because the Arkansas Razorbacks were forcing runs to the edges while Florida prefers to run Moody up the middle. However, Addazio added as a caveat that he also had two other good tailbacks (alluding to sophomore Jeff Demps and redshirt sophomore Chris Rainey) on the team.

Special thanks to Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel and Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post for some of the information contained in this post.

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Gator Bites for Tuesday, October 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across tidbits and small news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we will be present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

– On behalf of Nissan, America receives one official vote in the Heisman Trophy selection process. Cast yours for Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow here.

– For their game against the Florida Gators on Nov. 14, the South Carolina Gamecocks will be supporting and honoring the United States military by wearing camouflage uniforms.

– Did you know the Gators football team has not won a game in Starkville, MS, since 1985? In four road games against the Mississippi State Bulldogs since that year, Florida is 0-4. The team’s last loss at Davis-Wade Stadium served as the nail in the coffin that was Ron Zook‘s Florida head coaching career.

– Florida basketball tips off on Sunday, Nov. 15 at home; but before that happens, the team will be hosting the inaugural Rowdy Fest on Wed., Oct. 21, in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center at 6:30 p.m. Rowdy Fest will be a tip-off party for the team that is held exclusively for UF students featuring members of the men’s basketball team and head coach Billy Donovan.

University of Florida senior Stacey Johnson was named SEC Female Athlete of the Week for her outstanding performance in cross country at the Pre-NCAA Invitational.

– Last Thursday, OGGOA noted that the Gators would be featured on a limited edition cereal box cover that would be available for both in stores and online. The Official Online Gator Sportshop has begun selling this product now – so go purchase it if you so please.

– Coming off one of its best seasons in the program’s history, the Florida softball team has announced its 2010 schedule.

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TWO BITS: Spikes honored; Tebow and Mullen

1 » Florida Gators senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes was announced as a quarterfinalist for the Lott Trophy honoring the nation’s Defensive IMPACT Player of the Year. The Lott Trophy is the first college football award to equally recognize athletic performance and the personal character attributes of the player. Attributes associated with this award include (I)ntegrity, (M)aturity, (P)erformance, (A)cademics, (C)ommunity and (T)enacity. Spikes has a legitimate shot to win this honor, his second nomination after being named a Butkus Award semifinalist last week.

2 » Mississippi State Bulldogs beat writer Kyle Veazey, of The Clarion Ledger, will speak with OGGOA later in the week. Today, he posted a story going in-depth on the relationship between Bulldogs head coach Dan Mullen and Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow. In fact, while at Florida, Mullen had an open door policy at his home with Tebow; the quarterback was over his house often playing games and eating dinner. On Sunday, Mullen called Tebow “the greatest player in the history of the game.” He continued, “I think Tim Tebow is someone who lives his life trying to improve the lives of people around him. That’s what makes him special.”

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