SIX BITS: Muschamp, Tebow, Parsons, Horford

1 » Yahoo! Sports took a closer look at the Florida Gators football program that has been remade this season under head coach Will Muschamp. As part of the feature, a couple of players described how fractured the team had become under Urban Meyer. “Toward the end of Coach Meyer’s time here, a lot of guys were out for themselves – not buying into the team concept,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter explained. “He was out for himself, so they thought the same thing. … Guys were showing up late for practice and workouts. Guys were supposed to be back on Sunday and didn’t get back until Monday. There was no discipline.” Muschamp also discussed his recruiting philosophy in the piece. “I’ll turn my back on a five-star guy if he isn’t a good guy,” he said. “I have zero reservations about that. Zero reservations. … I’m the recruiting coordinator here. You’re not a good guy, you go somewhere else. We’ll play you. We’ll beat you.”

2 » The New York Jets will face Arizona on Sunday, three weeks after quarterback Tim Tebow fractured his ribs in a game. Though Tebow has been dressed for each of the last two game and even played two weeks ago, he missed last week’s contest. Head coach Rex Ryan on Wednesday said Tebow will again be cleared to play on Sunday. Whether or not he actually steps on the field remains to be seen.

3 » Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons, off to a great start in his sophomore NBA season, missed Wednesday’s game against Oklahoma City and is undergoing an MRI on his right shoulder on Thursday. The MRI is believed to be precautionary, and he is expected to return on Saturday if he is cleared by team doctors as expected.

Be sure to check out three more BITS after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Muschamp, Tebow, Parsons, Horford

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Snell: A good ol’ backyard woodshed ass-kicking

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

In a game that most experts predicted was going to bring the Gators back down to earth, Florida came out and once again proved all the naysayers wrong, completely dominating Florida State in the same way they did LSU and South Carolina. This was, by far, the most complete win the Gators have had in the last two seasons and probably the most satisfying, too.

The Gator Nation should give quarterback Jeff Driskel a standing ovation. Ankle sprains, whether severe or not, don’t heal in just two weeks. The training staff obviously worked Driskel over and ensured that he was ready to go on Saturday. One could tell from some of his facial expressions that the ankle (and other parts of his body later in the game) was hurting him quite a bit. That’s true guts, people. That’s one quality of a good leader. He cared more about this team and helping them win than about a bum ankle or the massive shot he took to the side of his body.

Everyone needs to come to the understanding that, at this point, the genetic makeup of this offense, especially at the QB position, is not to put up gaudy, ridiculous video game numbers. Driskel is doing what head coach Will Muschamp and in turn offensive coordinator Brent Pease have asked him to do all year: play smart and make solid gains while taking care of the ball.

This is a big reason why Florida crushed FSU and improved to 11-1 on the year. Driskel, for the most part, managed games very well and ensured his team was always in a position to win. Though he struggled against Georgia and had a costly turnover on Saturday, he also did what was necessary down the stretch to give the Gators a shot in the former game and bring them back in the latter.

He has made crisp, sound decisions, and he has not put the offense in too many situations that were impossible to dig out of. All of this and he is a true sophomore who is still learning how to play college football in his first year with a new offensive coordinator. It is crazy that people were giving him such grief at times because this young man gave you all that he had this year.

Read the rest of this edition of Snell’s Slant…after the break!
Continue Reading » Snell: A good ol’ backyard woodshed ass-kicking

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11/19: Driskel will play, Florida no longer “soft”

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s shutout victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who sprained his ankle two weeks ago and did not see the field against Jacksonville State, “will play” on Saturday against Florida State. Muschamp said Monday that Driskel could return to practice but will be held out until Tuesday for precautionary reasons and so he can get additional treatment. From there, he will see how well Driskel can play and how comfortable he is on his ankle, which will determine how much field time he sees Saturday.

“He will play in the game. To what degree? The week will determine that on how his health continues to improve,” he said. “We’re going to see how the week goes. I don’t know. I know right now, based on [Sunday], that he will play in the game. How much he’ll play, whether he’s going to start, I don’t know that right now.”

Muschamp was careful not to name Driskel the starter but that does not mean the designation will not come later in the week. He has yet to see Driskel practice on his injured ankle and is hedging his bets right now. If Driskel practices in full this week, especially towards the end of the week, there should be no doubt that he will start and be active for the full compliment of plays on Saturday.

Also coming off the injury report are redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle), redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (knee) and sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer (thigh), all of whom will take Monday off as a precaution before returning to practice on Tuesday. Each is expected to be healthy enough to take on FSU in six days.

Muschamp said Saturday that sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder) are out for the season, though no specifics were provided on Saunders.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/19: Driskel will play, Florida no longer “soft”

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11/17: Florida vs. Jacksonville State post-game

No. 6 Florida Gators football (10-1) concluded its seven-game home schedule with a 23-0 victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks (6-5) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida finished 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 14-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» Florida is 11-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards, 14-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 10-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 11-3 when scoring first and 13-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators were once again subpar on third down, converting just 2-of-11 opportunities. UF is now 54-of-153 (35.3 percent) on third down this season.
» Florida is +13 in turnover margin through 11 games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (342) since 2000.
» The Gators have grabbed 16 interceptions so far in 2012 and has doubled its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in eight-of-10 games and has also forced eight fumbles.
» Florida’s senior class consists of 19 players who have spent either four (10 players), five (eight) or six (one) seasons wearing the Orange and Blue. The true senior class is 23-5 in The Swamp. It went 7-0 as freshmen in 2009 and as seniors in 2012.

PLAYER NOTES

» Senior running back Mike Gillislee registered his third-highest yards-per-carry average of the season (6.1) and rushed for 100+ yards for the fourth time in 2012. He is now 36 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard plateau and becoming the first Gators running back to do so since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. Gillislee also scored his ninth touchdown of the season and first rushing score since Oct. 6.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturigs made three field goals, bringing him just one away from tying Jeff Chandler’s school record of 67 in a career. Sturgis is also three made field goals away from tying Bobby Raymond’s single-season UF record of 23.
» Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic registered the first interception return for a touchdown of his career. Bostic’s registered the pick early in the third quarter, bringing it back seven yards for the score.
» Senior safety Josh Evans led Florida with seven tackles including two solo takedowns and 1.5 for a total loss of two yards. He also had a half sack.

OPENING STATEMENTS

On Florida’s senior class:

“I just want to thank the 19 seniors and the job they’ve done for the University of Florida. All of those guys have represented our university in a first-class manner. Last night was really a special night. The guys got up and talked about their experience and told some great stories … I really appreciate them going through a coaching change, going through a 7-6 campaign, certainly questioning a rookie coach and his staff and where we were headed with the program. Certainly could have walked the plank, so to speak, on us, and certainly never did. I’m very appreciative of this bunch and last year’s bunch as well for going through a very tough season, a very difficult season.”

On the lack of production in the second half:

“I felt like, in the second half, we had the game under control defensively. We could have done some more things offensively, and I just told Brent, I said, ‘Let’s go win the game. Let’s get out of here and win the game.’ That’s what we needed to do. That wasn’t on Brent; that was on me.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/17: Florida vs. Jacksonville State post-game

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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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Florida seniors discuss careers, final home game

Eighteen Florida Gators football players will step on to Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the last time Saturday as student-athletes at the University of Florida. Below is what each had to say about his career and final home game.

» Redshirt senior running back Omarius Hines: “It’s going to be a very emotional weekend. It’s going to be a great weekend at the same time. We can be undefeated in The Swamp – that’s always a good thing.”

» Redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.: “It is [hard to believe]. Time flies fast when you’re playing ball. The four or five years I spent here have went by and the time is here. I’ve enjoyed it and it’s been a great experience for me. The time comes when you have to close that door, move on, and another door opens for you. … A lot of us have poured our hearts into this program. To have it finally end and to finally look at it from the outside in, come December, we’ll be spectators of the game. It will be real emotional having that hit you like, ‘Wow. I’m not playing and now I’m sitting back and watching.’ It definitely hurts but it’s time to close that door and other opportunities will come.”

» Senior safety Josh Evans: “I hope we play one of our best games, leave it all out on The Swamp. It’s going to be a very emotional day. We call came in as freshmen, grew up together and had a brotherhood, pretty much leaving a legacy of winners. I just want to leave as a winner. … It’s been very emotional, this whole senior process. Being around these players and knowing its my last year here, it’s been very emotional at times to know that I’m moving forward. I enjoyed my time here, my highs and lows here. I appreciate everything. It was amazing. Amazing staff, coaches and players that I’ve been around. I’ve had fun since I’ve been here.”

» Redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter: “It’s going to be fun, man. I remember getting here as a freshman and all the excitement I had my first game playing. I think it’s going to top that on Saturday. My last game in The Swamp – I’m definitely going to enjoy it, definitely going to be emotional. … I’m much more mature now. When I first came in, I wasn’t that mature. I thought everything was going to be handed to me. I saw I had to work for things and be more mature, throughout my years I’ve become better as a person and a football player.”

» Senior left tackle Xavier Nixon: “It’s just a new door opening, a new chapter in all of our lives. We put in a lot of time here, a lot of energy into this program, blood, sweat and tears. It means a lot to have one last hoorah and go through the tunnel. … [We want to be remembered] as a group that overcame a lot of obstacles and a lot of adversity and at the end of the day just stuck together and remained a family. … I plan to try to graduate first. I have aspirations for the NFL, of course, but that will come when it gets here. I’m focused on the season right now.”

» Nixon on redshirt senior left guard James Wilson: “James has evolved into a great person and a great player. He’s contributed a great amount to this team over the season.”

» Redshirt senior DT Earl Okine: “My career at Florida has been up and down. My first couple years I didn’t play as much until my third year, then injuries and stuff like that, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I love this university. I wouldn’t have redone anything. I love this program. It will always be a part of my life. … It means a lot [being from Gainesville]. It’s a lot of pressure. … I’m pretty sure I have a shot [to play in the NFL]. I’ve heard a couple things. If this is my last year playing football, that’s fine with me. I graduated over the summer, and I might come back and finish a double major, grad school, something like that. Right now I’m concentrating on playing football for the University of Florida.”

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11/14: Four Gators out, Muschamp on seniors

No. 6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team and Saturday’s game.

INJURY UPDATES

Four Gators have already been listed as out for Saturday’s game. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle), redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (hamstring), redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders (knee) will not participate in practice Wednesday and therefore will not play Saturday. Questionable for the game are sophomore defensive back Valdez Showers (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder). Senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) and redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee) are expected to play.

In regards to Driskel’s injury, Muschamp said he is not sure of his status for next week’s game against Florida State. “We’re just working through this week and it’s day-to-day whenever you’re dealing with an ankle. It’s a day-to-day process,” he said. “It’s a situation that continues to improve. How much it will improve into next week, I have no idea at this time. We feel like he’ll be available, but who knows.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On Wilson and his turnaround over the last two years: “When I first got here, James is a guy who needed to get his weight under control. We started fall camp a year ago, not this past August but one August ago, and he was on the exercise bike trying to get his weight down and get those things under control. … As the season rolled on, he was on scout team and never complained, was not negative at all. His circumstances made a positive impact and he ended ups starting for us at the end of the season, played really good football, was able to come back this year and graduate. He has played really well for us this fall. A guy that’s a team guy. It’s important playing for the University of Florida. Just an outstanding Young man.”

» On redshirt senior kicker Caleb Strugis: “Caleb, his on-the-field accomplishments speak for themselves. He has just had a phenomenal two years since I’ve been here and even before I got here. He does a great job and he’s very accurate. I think he’s the best placekicker in the country. Very dependable as far as his kicking when he steps on the field. He’s got an explosive leg, and he’s a guy who works extremely hard at it. He’s just, again, an outstanding young man and has graduated himself, too.”

» On redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter and senior LB Jon Bostic: “Understanding the expectation, understanding philosophically what I believe and what this program stands for, Omar and Jon are two [that have] jumped out at me as guys who have been exactly what we want in this program as far as the type of player they are, the type of young man, student-athlete. Certainly it has helped in the transition here. Both guys are guys I count on as far as their input with our football team and how our locker room is doing. I think they’ve just done an outstanding job.”

» On freshman Buck LB Dante Fowler: “He’s been great. … Dante’s a guy that is very talented. God has blessed him with a lot of ability, but he came in here a very humble young man. He came in here and he’s worked, he’s put the time in, he’s done an outstanding job for us academically and an outstanding job for us socially. He’s been a guy that has been a very, very productive player. He learns well and he works at it. He’s always up in the office. He’s always in Dan’s office trying to learn, trying to watch more film. A guy that listens – that’s a talent. A lot of young players have a hard time listening to someone else tell them – whether it’s a coach or older player. That’s the one thing that Dante really has a strong talent for, listening to other people, taking the input and understanding and learning from each experience.”

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Freshmen Bullard, Fowler come up big for Gators

If Florida Gators freshman defensive end Jonathan Bullard looked like he had extra fire in his belly on Saturday against the Missouri Tigers, there is a good reason for that as he was playing in part for his grandmother, whose recent brush with a serious illness had him back home in Shelby, NC this week.

Bullard, who arrived back in Gainesville, FL on Friday evening and vowed to play for Florida on Saturday, turned in his best game of the season, registering 1.5 sacks for a loss of 13 total yards, hurrying Mizzou quarterback James Franklin thrice and coming up big with another 1.5 tackles, mostly on run plays.

“The d[efensive] line sat down with Bullard and we talked to him. We let him know that we’re there for him. We all rallied around him. We gave our thanks to him for coming back and playing, knowing his situation back at home,” redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter explained after the game.

“Whatever he needed, he knew we was there. We just gave him our respect for coming back and playing the game for us,” junior DT Sharrif Floyd added. “That was basically it. There was nothing else to do that. That’s hard, it’s hard to lose a family member, especially one you’re so close to.”

Bullard was just one of two freshmen defensive linemen who play their hearts out for the Gators on Saturday. Also getting in on the fun was Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., who notched two tackles for an 11-yard loss as well as a big seven-yard sack of Franklin.

Like Floyd and junior defensive end Dominique Easley before them, Bullard and Fowler have flashed some serious talent late in their first season. It has not gone unnoticed.

“Jonathan is a young man that is going to be a heck of a football player here. He’s just getting started, folks. He made a couple really nice plays. Dante made some really nice plays in the run game also got a nice sack, I believe. Very proud of those two young guys coming along,” head coach Will Muschamp said in his post-game press conference.

“It’s very difficult for a freshman to walk into a situation, a place like Florida, and really contribute and play quality, quality snaps. Both of those guys, because of the older guys, the older guys have done a great job with them. They’ve made them accountable to learn what to do and how to do it. They’ve understood the mental intensity you got to play with the way we play.”

Hunter is one of those older guys. The fifth-year defensive tackle is equally impressed with what he has seen from the duo and ranks them up there with some of the best young players he has seen during his time at Florida.

“Bullard came a little bit late, so he didn’t get that full offseason training that Fowler did. Right now they’re both getting it. They’re both learning the system. They’re both in shape right now, and they look pretty good,” he said.

“That shows you how good they’re going to be one day. When they really, really get it, it’s going to be something special. They’re probably the two best freshmen I’ve seen come through here in a long time.”

Getting pressure on quarterbacks has been an issue for the Gators all season long, but if Bullard and Fowler are truly blossoming with three games left to play, it may very well be just the right time for Florida to be able to take advantage of these emerging talents.

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