FOUR BITS: Evans, Reed, Strong, Kitchens

1 » Florida Gators redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all underwent arthroscopic surgery on Monday, according to the school. All are expected to be healthy enough to return to the field by March for spring practice.

2 » Florida senior safety Josh Evans told OGGOA on Tuesday that he has received an invitation to the 2013 NFL Combine as well as a projection from the league of being selected anywhere between the third and fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Evans is currently in Boca Raton, FL training for both the combine and the 2013 East/West Shrine Game. He has signed with agent Malik Shareef of Dimensional Sports, Inc. Friend of OGGOA Darren Heitner also reported Tuesday that redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed has signed with agent Mike George of SFX Sports Group.

3 » One player who will not be on the field for the Gators this spring is senior offensive/defensive lineman Nick Alajajian. After fracturing his right knee back in August, Alajajian missed the entire 2012 season. He has spent most of the year tweeting about returning to football, but a Florida spokesperson told GatorCountry.com’s Mike Capshaw that Alajajian did not apply for a medical hardship and therefore he has no more eligibility and his career is over. He earned one start in 32 games over four years, the first three of which he spent on the offensive line before transitioning to defense prior to the 2012 season.

4 » Just moments after the conclusion of the 2013 Sugar Bowl, Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong was swarmed by family, friends, reporters and his players as he celebrated his team’s victory. Also stopping by to congratulate Strong after the game were some of his Gators including redshirt senior left guard James Wilson, redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, redshirt senior linebacker Lerentee McCray and senior LB Jon Bostic (likely among others). Check out the video below.

Extra BIT » Friend of OGGOA Whitney Holtzman snapped the below picture of junior LB Darrin Kitchens staying on the field to sing the alma mater with the band at the conclusion of the Sugar Bowl. We retweeted the picture moments after Holtzman posted it on Twitter and within a short period of time it went viral with her shot being picked up nationally. Kitchens himself quickly found out that his actions meant a lot to Florida fans and took to Twitter two days later to express his gratitude for the kind words that were sent to him via the social networking service. “I’m touched. I didn’t think my gesture would impact so many people. I’m honored to have made so many of you proud. God is to be praised ,” he wrote.

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Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 68°F, few showers (30% chance of rain), winds NNE at 1 mph
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $15 on TiqIQ

TV: Pay-Per-View (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore) | ESPN GamePlan (outside Florida)
SiriusXM: 104/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com (outside Florida)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS JACKSONVILLE STATE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jack Crowe
Record: 9-1 Record: 6-4
Conference: Southeastern (FBS) Conference: Ohio Valley (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: OFF

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Jacksonville State have never squared off on the gridiron.
» The Gators have the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule nationally.
» Florida can finish 7-0 at home in a season for just the third time in school history. The 2006 and 2009 UF teams also accomplished that feat.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season with wins of Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» UF was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have flipped that around and are 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 10-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 13-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 30-of-36 red zone trips (83.3 percent) but have only converted 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season, which is tied for 88th nationally in that category.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 33:11 in time of possession through 10 games, a margin that ranks sixth nationally and first in the SEC by 1:36 per game.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 155-55 in the second half (34-27 over the last three games) and 85-23 in the fourth quarter.
» Florida is third in scoring defense nationally (12.9 points per game).
» The Gators are +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (341) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed 15 interceptions so far in 2012 and has already surpassed its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in seven-of-10 games and has also forced eight fumbles.
» The Gators are first nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.4), fifth in total defense (284.9 yards per game) and 11th in rushing defense (99.9 yards per game).
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» The Gators are second nationally in net punt average (41.9 yards per punt).

Read about the injuries and absences and Senior Day…after the break!
Continue Reading » Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (69-50)

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.

67 – Jon Halapio (St. Petersburg, FL)
Redshirt junior guard
6’3” 321 lbs.

Quick Bio: A versatile offensive lineman in high school, Halapio settled into the right guard role in 2010 when he was named to the 2010 Sporting News All-Freshman Team. He has started 20 contests throughout his career after taking a medical redshirt as a freshman in 2009.

2011 Season: One of the most consistent players on the offensive line last season, Halapio started every game at right guard – the only member of the unit to completely lock down his position. According to UF, he “owns the most consecutive career starts” on the Gators offense with 14.

2012 Outlook: Nothing has changed as far as Halapio is concerned heading into his redshirt junior season. He has only strengthened his hold on the right guard job and has continued growing as a team leader both on and off the field.

66 – James Wilson (St. Augustine, FL)
Redshirt senior guard
6’4” 323 lbs.

Quick Bio: Ranked as the No. 2 overall prospect in his recruiting class by Rivals, Wilson was a five-star prospect who redshirted as a freshman and played in 24 of Florida’s 28 games from 2008-09, earning four starts. He was slated as the starting left guard in 2010 but missed the final 10 games of the season with a left knee injury.

2011 Season: Originally left off of the spring depth chart as his participation was very limited, Wilson wound up playing the final 12 games of the season, was a key member of the team’s field goal unit and even earned a start in the Gator Bowl.

2012 Outlook: Wilson participated in his first spring game in his six years at Florida, crediting strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman with his improved health. He is a candidate for the starting left guard job this season (competing in practice with redshirt junior Kyle Koehne) but at worst will be a reserve who will see plenty of action.

Check out six more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (69-50)

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8/20: Muschamp on roster, starters, injuries, etc.

With the Florida Gators under two weeks away from the beginning of the season and set to compete in their third and final scrimmage of training camp on Tuesday, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide updates on the team.

SOME, BUT NOT ALL ROSTER DECISIONS MADE ON SUNDAY

Muschamp said on Saturday that the entire coaching staff would sit down Sunday and iron out the roster in order to determine who should get the most reps heading into the third and final scrimmage. Though he said that the Gators will not be releasing a depth chart until Aug. 27, Muschamp explained what was accomplished Sunday as far as organizing the roster is concerned.

“We looked at the roster and went through everybody. We did not necessarily set depth charts; I know everybody will be asking for that. We will release that Monday of game week,” he said. “More than anything we narrowed down who is getting reps and then talked in terms of special teams. Who are the guys that we need to be stepping up on special teams for us? Especially some of the younger players, where are they figuring in as far as snaps are concerned.”

Florida has now mostly figured out out which “guys we can count on” and “guys that we need to continue to rep,” an important step before a the final scrimmage on Tuesday that will look in many ways like a game day.

“We’re going to have another situational scrimmage. We’ll treat it like game day,” Muschamp explained. “We’ll have a pre-game at 11:30 [a.m.], and we’re going to kick it off at 3:30 [p.m.]. We’re going to go in for halftime; we’re going to come out. We’ll have to be able to adjust coming out of the locker room and put them in some situations.

“We’ll have some move-the-field. I want to have another [situation of] coming out off the goal line. We weren’t very good in the first scrimmage on that. Some more third-down work, some more red zone work and then some just getting on the field and functioning as an offense, get the coaches in the booth. It will now be our third time [doing that]. That, as much as anything, is what [Sunday] was about.”

SO…WHO IS STARTING?

Though position-by-position starters were not discussed by Muschamp on Monday, he did provide a handful of notes on who has nailed down jobs prior to the third scrimmage.

QUARTERBACK
Sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will continue splitting reps down the middle during practice on Monday and the scrimmage on Tuesday. Muschamp said both will be non-contact (the plan was apparently always to return to that) for he duration of practice heading into the game on Sept 1.

Muschamp noted over the weekend that he expects to name a starter on Aug. 27 (along with the release of the entire team’s depth chart) but also said that Driskel’s bruised shoulder will be reevaluated next Monday. That can be looked at one of two ways: Either the health of his shoulder is a deciding factor as to whether or not he gets the start (in which case one would expect that evaluation to occur before the press conference) or it is a non-factor (in which case the time is of no matter).

Either way, Muschamp is pleased with the way both have improved.

“Both guys, I would say, are just commanding the huddle, knowledge of the system, understanding what Brent [Pease] wants,” he said. “What I have seen with both guys is a maturity level now of anticipating some of the situations that come up and what we’re going to go to. When you start getting that then you start maturing as a player and you’ll play better because you have better anticipation of what’s going to happen.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say on Monday…after the break!
Continue Reading » 8/20: Muschamp on roster, starters, injuries, etc.

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8/10: Muschamp announces injuries, updates QBs

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday following the Florida Gators‘ seventh fall practice. He spoke about a number of hot topics including some major injuries, the quarterback competition and how certain players are progressing.

KNEE INJURIES DOOM ALAJAJIAN, JOHNSON

Muschamp announced Friday that true senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian suffered a fractured right knee after getting “rolled up on in a drill” and will be out for the season. He is not sure what his future holds and whether or not he will take a redshirt year, which he has not used yet. “It’s disappointing for him in his senior season. Hurt for him right now; we all need to pull together and support him,” he said.

Moments later Muschamp dropped another bombshell by announcing that redshirt junior DL Kedric Johnson will also miss a significant amount of time after dislocating his left knee in practice. Johnson’s recovery timetable has not yet been set though the loss of both he and Alajajian means that some freshmen should get even more playing time as reserves this season.

IT’S CALLED A “COMPETITION” FOR A REASON

Asked whether either of his sophomore quarterbacks – Jacoby Brissett or Jeff Driskel – has separated himself through seven practices, Muschamp quipped that the competition between the two talented signal callers is “pretty even” right now.

“We have purposely let them manage and gotten our offensive staff off the field because they need to manage our team,” he explained. “I think both guys have done a really nice job of that. I think both guys have had their moments when they’ve really shined and both had moments where we probably could have been better in some areas.”

Muschamp said that he would like to have Brissett and Driskel compete in at least three full scrimmages before the coaching staff begins to make a decision on the future of the position. “When the decision is right and the time is right, we’ll know,” he added.

SCRIMMAGE SET FOR SATURDAY

The next time the Gators line up in pads they will be going head-to-head in a game-like scenario at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. Muschamp is trying to mimic game day so much that he is even going to put some of his coaches upstairs to work out a system for in-game play calling.

“The first groups, we need to go let them play,” he said. “Those guys need to get out there. We’ve got a collection of guys that need to go out and play on their own and not have a coach let them know where to line up, what to do, where to shift, where to motion, where your eyes need to be. We need to get off the field and let them play.

“That’s what I’m looking for Saturday – a good, crisp, physical scrimmage, good operation offensively. Our coaches will be in the box that’ll be in the box on game day, and I think it’s important for us to be able to get in that function of getting the play down.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say on Friday…after the break!
Continue Reading » 8/10: Muschamp announces injuries, updates QBs

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Muschamp: Time to “quit talking, start playing”

With the Florida Gators finally set to begin 2012 fall practice on Friday, head coach Will Muschamp and dozens of the players met with the media to discuss the upcoming season. Below are some highlights from Muschamp’s press conference, which lasted over 40 minutes. Though all practices will be closed to both fans and media, Florida has decided to hold fan day on Saturday, August 18, which will include a special open practice at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (9-11 a.m.) followed by fan activities in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center (3-6 p.m.).

INJURY UPDATES

» Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson (neck): fully cleared to practice
» Senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (back): “slowed” for the first 10 days
» Freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot): “slowed” for the first 7-10 days, limited but practicing some after having foot surgery in the spring
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Alli (leg): cleared by middle of camp
» Freshman defensive back Marcus Maye (knee): cleared by middle of camp
» Junior buck linebacker Ronald Powell (torn ACL): “knee has…taken well to surgery”

”WE NEED TO QUIT TALKING AND WE NEED TO START PLAYING”

As he did when he took over the program last season, Muschamp is once again taking a no-nonsense attitude into this season. He said early in his press conference that he is just as dismayed at the Gators’ record over the last two seasons as fans are and that he wants the team focused on improving day in and day out.

“We just got done with a team meeting. I said, ‘At 15-11 at the University of Florida [over the last two years], we need to quit talking and we need to start playing, at the end of the day. Let’s get on the field and play,’” Muschamp said.

Part of getting ready to play is building toughness in training camp. Muschamp hoped Florida would be able to practice with great physicality a year ago but insists that will be the case no matter what in 2012.

“Obviously more contact drills and some different things that we can do,” he said on what can be done differently. “A little bit of our issues last year was because of numbers, at the end of the day. We had a hard time, at times, especially as you work into camp and you have some attrition because of injuries in your roster. It’s hard to simulate game day situations when you’re only working with one line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. That was the case last year. That’s not going to be the case this year.”

BRISSETT? DRISKEL? BRISSETT AND DRISKEL?

With quarterback being the most important position on the football field, it should be no surprise that the battle between sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel continues to be the hottest topic of conversation surrounding the team.

“Everybody wants to ask me about the quarterback position. I’ll be honest with you, I feel really good about that position because we got two really good players competing that are going to make each other better, our offense better and our team better,” Muschamp said.

He added that he cannot put a timeframe on when he will pick a starter but noted that decision-making, commanding the huddle and making big-time plays on the field will be the keys in determining who gets the job.

“We’ll know when the decision is right. I really feel that way. I’ve always felt that way about every position. You’ll know when it’s right,” he said.

Read much, much more from Muschamp at media day…after the break!
Continue Reading » Muschamp: Time to “quit talking, start playing”

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FOUR BITS: Alajajian, Spurrier, Tebow, Stewart

1 » Though junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell’s injury was more serious and detrimental to the Florida Gators considering he is an entrenched starter on defense, the unit also lost another player to surgery recently. Florida announced Wednesday that senior defensive tackle Nick Alajajian had successful surgery on his right wrist on Tuesday. Alajajian, who moved over to defense after spending three years with the Gators as an offensive lineman, is expected to be healthy enough to return for fall camp.

2 » South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier opened up to ESPN.com recently about a number of topics including his team’s game against Georgia being moved back four weeks (“I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”), Nick Saban (“If he wants to be the greatest coach or one of the greatest coaches in college football, to me, he has to go somewhere besides Alabama and win, because they’ve always won there at Alabama.”) and how his career might come to an end (“When I leave, they’re not going to pay me $4 million because I had another five years on the deal and got fired. I ain’t going to be one of those guys.). But he also spoke about Florida and a conversation he had with head coach Will Muschamp upon him taking over the Gators in 2011.

“I told Will that he had one of the hardest jobs in America because of what’s happened down there prior to him coming. I don’t know that they have that much greater a team than most others in the SEC now. They’re pretty good. But it’s a tough job because of what Urban [Meyer] has done and prior history. Those fans are expecting 10 to 12 wins every year. Our fans are going to expect nine to 11, which is fair, and that’s good. I hope our players expect it, too.”

3 » Unlike a number of current and former Denver Broncos expressing their support and faith in quarterback Tim Tebow following his trade to the New York Jets, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas (who had some of his best games with Tebow behind center) told 790 The Zone out of Atlanta, GA that he is not said to see him go elsewhere. “I ain’t going to say I was sad because the only thing they remember is that pass,” he said. “You gotta go back and look at the rest of the games. I wasn’t getting no balls and you had to make some of these plays where some players were open and he is not making the throws, but I don’t want to talk bad about Tim, but hey I am happy we got Peyton.” Thomas went on to praise Tebow for being a tireless worker and said there was no real tension in the locker room; he added that his former teammate has to learn how to read defenses better and recognize open receivers.

4 » Florida center and London, England native Azania Stewart was one of 20 players invited in April to a women’s basketball camp hosted by Great Britain that will help determine the 12 players that will represent the union in the 2012 London Olympics. Stewart has plenty of European basketball experience and that should give her chances of making the team a boost. Should she do so, Stewart would be the third Gators women’s basketball player in school history to represent her country in the Olympics following in the footsteps of Tammy Jackson (1992) and DeLisha Milton-Jones (2000, 2008).

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2012 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

Event: 2012 Orange & Blue Debut
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Reference: Roster | Schedule

TV: Sun Sports (in Florida, some other national cable outlets) SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: FOXSportsFlorida.com (nationally outside of the state of Florida)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators
OGGOA Live Coverage: Live Chat from 12:45-3:30 p.m.

EVENT INFORMATION

» Gator Walk: North side of stadium, exterior, 10:30 a.m. start
» Parking: The following parking locations are available first-come, first-serve for fans wishing to attend the game – O’Connell Center garage, O’Connell Center lot (disabled), Commuter Lot (Lemerand Dr.) with shuttle
» Gates/Seating: Open gates – 7, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 (west concourse closed for renovations); Open seats – general admission in open areas with gates opening at 11:30
» Former Gators in attendance: S Ahmad Black, DE Alex Brown, S Teako Brown, RB Ran Carthon, K Jeff Chandler, LB Andra Davis, WR Chris Doering, DE Carlos Dunlap, RB Ciatrick Fason, WR Jacquez Green, WR Percy Harvin, TE Aaron Hernandez, RB Terry Jackson, FB Billy Latsko, QB Terry LeCount, WR Travis McGriff, C Maurkice Pouncey, C Mike Pouncey, RB Chris Rainey, RB Errict Rhett, CB Lito Sheppard, LB Brandon Spikes, RB Fred Taylor, WR Travis Taylor, DT Gerard Warren (and more).
» 2013 Commits in attendance: WR Rodney Adams, DT Caleb Brantley, LB James Hearns, OL Roderick Johnson, RB Adam Lane, LB Dillan Lawson, LB Daniel McMillian, DB Keanu Neal, LB Quinton Powell, RB Kelvin Taylor, DB Nick Washington
» 2013 Recruits in attendance (partial list courtesy of InsideTheGators.com): WR Ahmad Fullwood, WR Reggie Davis, WR Taj Williams, WR Alvin Bailey, RB Ryan Green, DB Mackerno Alexander, DB Tre Bell, DB Leon McQuay III, DB Marcell Harris, OL Josh Cardiello, DB Adrian Baker, WR Richard Benjamin, DB Reggie Wilkerson, DE Jonathan Allen, ATH Marcus Clark, LB Keith Kelsey, Jr., QB John O’Korn, OL Joshua Outlaw, WR Carlos Burse, OL Cameron Dillard, DE Joey Bosa, DE Demarcus Walker, DB Damonte Jones, DB Jamonte Jones (and more).

Additional information including the game format, injury report, team notes and who to keep an eye on all are available…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2012 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

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