To be the best, Gators gotta beat the best

Faced with one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season, the Florida Gators (2-0, 1-0 SEC) will not be short on obstacles to overcome in 2014.

But before Florida can get to its cross-division rivalry game, annual neutral-site contest with its border rival or season finale against the defending national champions, it has to hit the road and go head-to-head with arguably the best team in college football over the last five seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0, 0-0 SEC).

As the home team, the Tide are -14.5 favorites over the Gators as the teams prepare to square off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. UF, however, does not feel like an underdog entering the contest.

“We’re not really looking at ourselves as underdogs. I mean, we never have,” said sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III this week. “We’re looking at it as Florida against Bama. It’s a big game, we all know it, that’s not a secret. There’s no doubt that those guys are going to play hard and the results will be the results.”

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Florida coordinators Kurt Roper, D.J. Durkin evaluate units ahead of Alabama game

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media this week to provide some thoughts on the Gators and their first road opponent of 2014, the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide, ahead of Saturday afternoon’s road game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

HOT TOPICS: OFFENSE

» Roper on the challenges that Alabama’s defense provides: “These guys do a great job of contesting every pass. They like to press the receivers and pattern match a lot of things. They’re running with a lot of receivers. When we looked at the explosive plays, in a four-game breakdown, there were like 15 explosive passes, which are 16 yards or more for us. A lot of them, they’re just big-time plays by wide receivers with [defensive backs] right on them. They don’t give you a lot of layups. They’re hard to get separation from.

“They add the ability to rush the passer on top of that, shortening the time. Those are challenges. They’re physical up front and can get off blocks and make the run game difficult. They’re a well-coached defense, physical defense. It’s a challenge, an SEC football game in those standards, obviously playing one of the best minds in football between those guys on defense doing it and good football players. You see similarities to Florida State, but they all have their differences.”

» Roper on how much head coach Will Muschamp being familiar with Nick Saban helps him in preparation: “Obviously that’s helpful to have those conversations to maybe clarify some things as we start watching film, saying, ‘OK, why are they doing this? What’s going on here?’ So, you know obviously that is an advantage of things that are going on.”

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, September 17

There is a video embedded in this post that will autoplay once the page loads. Yes, I know autoplay videos are terrible. There was no other option in this instance.

If you care what Nick Saban thinks…

Through the comment section here on OnlyGators.com, my inbox and my Twitter mentions, it is quite obvious that the [vocal] majority of those that follow or root for the Florida Gators believe Saturday’s showing against Kentucky – a triple-overtime victory at home – was representative of the team failing to show improvement from 2013 rather than it heading in the right direction after being unable to win tough games a year ago.

Well, Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban agrees with the minority in this particular instance.

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Muschamp completes Ice Bucket Challenge, challenges Florida assistants, former Gators

Updated on Friday at 10:30 a.m.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and his son responded on Wednesday to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge issued to him 24 hours earlier by Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, completing the task and promising to make a charitable donation while standing next to the pool at his house.

Prior to getting doused with ice cold water, Muschamp not only called out the assistants on his staff to complete the challenge after practice on Thursday but also made sure to issue the directive to Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam and New England Patriots DT Dominique Easley.

On Thursday, Elam, Floyd and a couple assistant coaches answered the challenge. Easley has not, as of press time. The responses from Elam and the coaches are below, while Floyd’s must be viewed at this link.


Muschamp completed the challenge after deciding to cancel Wednesday evening’s scheduled practice. He invited the Gators football team over to his house where the players ate a hearty meal, played games and sang karaoke.

Check out all the festivities below.

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TWO BITS: Ice Bucket Challenge, Easley practices

1 » The Florida Gators football team and head coach Will Muschamp were officially singled out on Tuesday to participate in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Cleveland Browns cornerback Joe Haden challenged the team, while Nick Saban called out Muschamp before he and the Alabama Crimson Tide completed the task.

UPDATE: Muschamp completed the challenge on Wednesday.

Check out the videos and another Gators news item…after the break!
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Two for Tuesday: Florida football opponent previews – Kentucky and Alabama

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After a pair of seemingly “cupcake” games against Idaho and Eastern Michigan, Florida Gators football begins Southeastern Conference play in 2014 against an improving Kentucky Wildcats team before it faces arguably its biggest test of the year on the road at the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Florida kicks things off against Kentucky under the lights at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in a game that will air live on the SEC Network.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Mark Stoops (Year: 2)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 2-10 (0-8)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 1-4 Common Opponents: 0-5
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 107th (20.5 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 89th (31.2 ppg)

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NOT Top 13 for 2013: Moments for Gators to forget

At the conclusion of each year, on Dec. 31 to be exact, OnlyGators.com takes a look back at the top on-field moments and off-field stories from the previous 12 months. This year, which will go down as a difficult and controversial one for the Florida Gators, we sort through the Not Top 13 for 2013 – games, actions and stories that fans of the program will look to put in the rear view mirror as the clock strikes midnight. Don’t forget to check out the Top 13 for 2013 to end your year on a positive note!

13 » OFFSEASON GARBAGE
The time between the conclusion of spring practice in April and the start of summer practice in July can be long and seemingly endless for some, especially the media, which drummed up controversy where none should have exited in May. Florida offensive line coach Tim Davis, taking part in a Gator Gathering with boosters, jokingly referred to Alabama head coach Nick Saban as “the devil himself.” The slight was made public and Saban took great offense, despite the fact that Davis was kidding. Davis got called “a classless backstabbing coward” for his joke and received other undue ridicule.

Two months later, one of the top college football headlines was a report that Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer actually turned in Florida (and running backs coach Brian White) for a petty secondary recruiting violation that the NCAA deemed to be meaningless. Meyer denied his actions and got taken to task for reporting his former school, especially considering he has previously been accused of violating NCAA secondary recruiting rules in a similar fashion.

12 » LACROSSE AND VOLLEYBALL COME UP SHORT
With revenge on their minds and the program’s first national title within reach, Florida lacrosse failed to take down Syracuse on the latter’s home turf in the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Orange got the best of the Gators for the second-straight season, winning 13-9 on May 18 after picking up a controversial victory in the 2012 NCAA Final Four. UF had the opportunity to make SU pay while trying to win a championship but instead sent its fourth-year players – the first senior class in program history – home with a bitter taste in their mouths.

Florida volleyball saw its 2013 season come to a crashing halt when it fell 3-2 at home to Florida State in the second round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. One of the top seeds in the tournament and a potential national title team, the Gators allowed their in-state rival to knock them out of postseason play as UF failed to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2004. Like the lacrosse team, which sent its upperclassmen out in a disappointing fashion, the same happened to senior middle back Chloe Mann.

11 » SAME TEAM!
The moment that checked in No. 1 on ESPN’s own Not Top Plays of 2013 was simply a microcosm of Florida being unable to get out of its own way this year. Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar blocked each other on a rushing play that actually gained some positive yardage against Georgia Southern in the second-to-last game of the season. In the same game, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye was accused of gouging an opponent’s eyes.


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TWO BITS: Georgia Southern, Tip-Off, Chandler

1 » A previously published piece of film from the Florida Gators’ 2011 game against Tennessee has CBS’s broadcasters noting that head coach Will Muschamp, while an assistant at LSU, told Nick Saban that their team should not schedule the Georgia Southern Eagles due to the team’s difficult-to-defend triple option offense.

“Remember when Will told us about Nick Saban? … Will said that there was an opportunity to play Georgia Southern [while] at LSU. And WIll Muschamp said, ‘We don’t want to do it.’ And he spoke to Nick and Nick didn’t know what Georgia Southern did and said, ‘Yeah, no problem, that sounds good.’ And then Will said, ‘Nick, come here, I want to show you this triple option.’ Nick watched three plays, marched down to the AD’s office and said, ‘We’re not playing Georgia Southern.'”

The game against the Eagles was actually scheduled for the Gators while Urban Meyer was head coach of the program in May 2010. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was classmates with Georgia Southern AD Sam Baker at Ohio University (both earned master’s degrees in sports administration in 1976) and thought the game would be a good idea. Baker resigned in July 2012 after leading the program for 17 years.

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