2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Preview

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

TV: Sun Sports (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore, Brady Ackerman)
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: FOXSportsFlorida.com (nationally) | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Reference: Roster | Schedule

EVENT INFORMATION

Schedule:
9:00 a.m. – Gator Locker Room Yard Sale (outside Gate 9)
10:00 a.m. – Verizon Fan Fest in North End Zone Lawn
10:30 a.m. – Gator Walk
11:30 a.m. – Gates Open to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
11:30 a.m. – Warm-ups begin on the field
12:30 p.m. – Alumni Flag Football Game
1:00 p.m. – Orange & Blue Debut

Parking: Stephen C. O’Connell Center parking garage (first-come, first serve), Gale Lemerand Drive commuter lot (with shuttle)

Tickets: Free for alumni, students and the general public.

EVENT FORMAT

Instead of a full scrimmage, Saturday’s event will be an open practice that also includes limited scrimmage snaps. Florida will mix in approximately 40 scrimmage snaps with football drills. The format adjustment was made because the Gators currently only have six healthy offensive linemen and head coach Will Muschamp feels that it would be right to ask them to participate in 60-100 snaps over the course of a single afternoon. “It’s not fair to go into a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60-70 snaps in a row,” he explained. “That’s not healthy. That’s not good, it’s not good for our team.”

Muschamp also detailed what will occur during the practice/scrimmage (in order): (1) Field goal/point after touchdown drills, (2) punting and individual drills, (3) one-on-one work with the secondary and receivers going head-to-head while the quarterbacks throw the ball, (4) one-on-one work with block reaction for the offensive line, (5) linebackers and running backs picking up blitz protection and coverage responsibilities, (6) two series of scrimmage with the ball on the 35-yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (7) red zone one-on-one, (8) offensive and defensive line two-on-ones, (9) two series of scrimmage with the ball at the 35 yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (10) two full cover punts and a punt/punt block drill, (11), two series of scrimmage from midfield, (12) two full cover kickoffs and a kickoff/kickoff return drill, (13) two series of scrimmage from midfield, (14) red zone 7-on-7s with the ball at the 18-yard line, (15) additional drills including pass rushing, (16) backed up punt drill, (17) one-minute scrimmage drill.

“It’s about getting good-on-good work. It’s about getting your best players going against your best players. … You get better when you’re going good-on-good,” Muschamp said. “This is good work. It’s good special teams work. This is a normal scrimmage-type situation for us as far as our football team is concerned. It’s good-on-good and that’s all I’m concerned with.”

MORE: Injury report, offensive and defensive notes, list of commitments and recruits in attendance…all available after the break!
Continue Reading » 2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Preview

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4/2: Muschamp on spring game, injuries, updates

Now in the third week of 2013 spring football practice, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to discuss some of the latest developments surrounding the team and provide updates on specific players.

ORANGE & BLUE DEBUT SPRING GAME PRACTICE FORMAT

Instead of a full scrimmage like the Gators normally run for the Orange & Blue Debut, this year’s event will be more like an open practice that also includes limited scrimmage snaps. Florida will mix approximately 40 scrimmage snaps between individual and team position drills. The format change is being made because the Gators currently only have six healthy offensive linemen and Muschamp feels it would be unfair to ask them to participate in 60-100 snaps over the course of a single afternoon.

“It’s not fair to go into a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60-70 snaps in a row,” he explained. “That’s not healthy. That’s not good, it’s not good for our team.”

Muschamp also detailed what the team will be doing during the practice/scrimmage (in order): (1) Field goal/point after touchdown drills, (2) punting and individual drills, (3) one-on-one work with the secondary and receivers going head-to-head while the quarterbacks throw the ball, (4) one-on-one work with block reaction for the offensive line, (5) linebackers and running backs picking up blitz protection and coverage responsibilities, (6) two series of scrimmage with the ball on the 35-yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (7) red zone one-on-one, (8) offensive and defensive line two-on-ones, (9) two series of scrimmage with the ball at the 35 yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (10) two full cover punts and a punt/punt block drill, (11), two series of scrimmage from midfield, (12) two full cover kickoffs and a kickoff/kickoff return drill, (13) two series of scrimmage from midfield, (14) red zone 7-on-7s with the ball at the 18-yard line, (15) additional drills including pass rushing, (16) backed up punt drill, (17) one-minute scrimmage drill.

“It’s about getting good-on-good work. It’s about getting your best players going against your best players. … You get better when you’re going good-on-good,” Muschamp said. “This is good work. It’s good special teams work. This is a normal scrimmage-type situation for us as far as our football team is concerned. It’s good-on-good and that’s all I’m concerned with.”

Additionally, Muschamp announced that the coaching staff will be wearing microphones so fans in attendance can get a better idea of what is going on throughout the event. Coaches will be explaining each session before it begins and Brady Ackerman will be on the field to ask the coaches questions.

Due to the new format, Florida and the sponsors of the Orange & Blue Debut have made it completely free to the public. Anyone who pre-purchased a ticket for the event will have it refunded in full (special passes are still needed for the premium areas).

Schedule of Events:
9:00 a.m. – Gator Locker Room Yard Sale (outside Gate 9)
10:00 a.m. – Verizon Fan Fest in North End Zone Lawn
10:30 a.m. – Gator Walk
11:30 a.m. – Gates Open to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
11:30 a.m. – Warm-ups begin on the field
12:30 p.m. – Alumni Flag Football Game
1:00 p.m. – Orange & Blue Debut

Continue Reading » 4/2: Muschamp on spring game, injuries, updates

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TWO BITS: Young to NBA? Brown off ESPN?

1 » When Florida Gators junior center Patric Young climbed the ladder and snipped his piece of Florida’s 2013 SEC Championship on Wednesday evening in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, fans in attendance serenaded him with chants of, “One more year!” Asked after the game if he does indeed plan on remaining in Gainesville, FL for his senior season, Young said he is unsure at this point. “[The fans] are thinking about it, but I’m not thinking about it too much,” said Young, according to The Gainesville Sun. “You know I love being here. There’s no better program in America. I love playing for coach [Billy] Donovan. I’m going to do what’s best for me and my family and whatever makes me happy, honestly.” Young is currently projected to be a mid-to-late second-round selection by numerous NBA Draft analysts. His stock has actually dropped over the last two years as scouts have not seen him progress as much as they would prefer. Sticking with the Gators and putting the finishing touches on his game – improving his mid-range jump shot, becoming a more consistent rebounder, providing a sustained level of energy – could help him in the long run.

2 » According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitch, who received confirmation Wednesday from the network, ESPN sideline reporter Jenn Brown has decided to leave the company. “Jenn Brown is no longer working for ESPN,” spokesman Mike Humes told SI. “We wish her well.” Brown first began working for ESPN in 2006 and signed full-time with the company in 2010. She had her workload increase with the departure of Erin Andrews but appears to have been one-upped by Samantha Ponder, who took some of the higher profile network assignments that Brown may have been expecting to receive. Brown, a former Florida softball player, is the second member of the Gators family to leave the network in the last seven months after Andrews (a former UF dazzler) departed for FOX Sports in August. Former Florida quarterback Jesse Palmer remains with the network as a college football analyst.

Extra BIT » FOX Sports Florida announced on Thursday that the Gators’ spring game, the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut previously set for April 6, will air live on Sun Sports at 1 p.m. Additionally, FSF will be airing the game live online at FOXSportsFlorida.com and replaying the contest on television the following Sunday and multiple times thereafter (check your local listings). Larry Vettel (play-by-play), Nat Moore (color commentary) and Brady Ackerman (sideline reporting) will be on the call.

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Gators open two football practices to public

Florida Gators football fans anxious for the 2013 season will be able to get a sneak peak at the program this spring as the team has officially decided to open a pair of non-contact spring practices to the public for the second-straight year.

The University Athletic Association announced Friday that spring practices held at Sanders Football Practice Fields on Friday, March 15 (4:35-6:35 p.m.) and Saturday, March 16 (1:05-3:00 p.m.) will be open to all comers.

The Gators officially begin spring practice on March 13, one day after Florida holds its annual Pro Day for former players preparing for the 2013 NFL Draft on March 12 at 10:30 a.m. Pro Day is also open to the public and held at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Fans can enter through Gates 2, 6, 15 and 18 and pick their own seats in the stands.

The 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game is scheduled for Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. A television partner has not yet been announced for the final spring practice.

Students, Gator Boosters, Alumni Association members and F Club members all receive free admission to the spring game. A limited supply of free tickets is also available at Florida Farm Bureau agents’ offices. Tickets are currently available for $5 in the Gator ticket office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium or can be ordered online at GatorZone.com/tickets.

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FOUR BITS: football, Bonner, Donovan, NCAA

1 » Some important dates have recently been released for Florida Gators football. The school will host Pro Day – where NFL scouts get the opportunity to watch draft-eligible players (and some free agents) perform inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – on Tuesday, March 12. The event is open the public, which can sit in the stands and watch the proceedings on the field (in the past, concession stands have not been open). One day later on Wednesday, March 13, the Gators will hold their first spring practice of the new season. Florida claims to have additional announcements to make in regards to spring practice but has not done so as of press time. Finally, the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut has been set for Saturday, April 6 at a yet-to-be-announced time.

2 » It’s official. San Antonio Spurs (and former Gators) forward Matt Bonner will be participating in the Three-Point Shootout at NBA All-Star Weekend on Feb. 16. Bonner is the second former Florida player to ever shoot in the event (Mike Miller participated twice) and has a fantastic chance of winning the whole thing. He will go up against New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson, Golden State’s Stephen Curry, Indiana’s Paul George, Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and New York’s Steve Novak. The Gators also have Warriors power forward David Lee and Bulls center Joakim Noah participating in the All-Star Game and Wizards guard Bradley Beal and Rockets forward Chandler Parsons going head-to-head in the Rising Stars Challenge featuring rookies and sophomores. Former Florida guard James White (Knicks), who transferred to Cincinnati after one season at UF, will be participating in the Slam Dunk Contest.

Read two more BITS on Billy Donovan…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: football, Bonner, Donovan, NCAA

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FOUR BITS: Uniforms, Elam, Young, Hargreaves

1 » Likely spurred by a picture posted by a 2013 commitment that spread around the internet and OGGOA‘s sourced report on Tuesday, the Florida Gators confirmed Wednesday that the team will indeed be wearing slightly different uniforms for the 2013 season. As described by the school’s website, Florida will be wearing a new style of Nike jerseys that are made of a more breathable fabric, only being used by select schools and “could also be used in the NFL one day.” The Gators will debut them in the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut on April 6. Florida also confirmed, as OGGOA reported Tuesday, that “the fonts for the numbers have changed to reflect the font used in UF’s official athletics brand identity” and that the sides of the jerseys are now mesh to increase “breathability to help reduce heat.” The main part of the jersey number (white) is thicker with the colored lining around it slightly smaller.

2 » Gators safety Matt Elam and kicker Caleb Sturgis will both be competing in the 2013 Quicken Loans All-Star Football Challenge. The event, which is being held for the 15th year in a row, features five separate skills competitions and a total of 20 participants (four in each individual event). Elam will compete in the Skechers GoRun Hands Competition against Texas S Kenny Vaccario, Tennessee wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson and USC WR Robert Woods. Sturgis will look to outlast FSU’s Dustin Hopkins, Nebraska’s Brent Maher and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Brett Baer in the Speed Kick. The All-Star Football Challenge was held on Tuesday but will not be aired until Saturday, Feb. 2 at 10 p.m. on ESPN2. Encore showings will air on Feb. 3 at 4 p.m. (ESPN2), Feb. 17 at noon (ESPN2) and April 14 at 4 p.m. (ESPN).

3 » So much for Florida defensive line coach Bryant Young possibly joining defensive coordinator Dan Quinn with the Seattle Seahawks. Shortly after the defensive line coach position became available in Seattle, Quinn and head coach Pete Carroll filled it with New Orleans assistant DL coach Travis Jones on Tuesday. As it turns out, Jones was on the same Miami coaching staff with Quinn and Gators head coach Will Muschamp. Also like Muschamp, he is a Georgia graduate.

4 » With National Signing Day just over a week away, Gators five-star defensive back commit Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL) sat down with the Tampa Bay Times and detailed his entire recruitment, noting how certain teams pitched him and why it was difficult to ultimately make his decision with so many options in front of him. Hargreaves talks about everything from the intimidation of Alabama’s Nick Saban to why he was turned off to the idea of attending Ohio State.

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SIX BITS: Johnson, Zunino, O&B, All-Star, Draft

1 » Former Florida Gators quarterback Doug Johnson may be charged with felony battery after a sworn complaint was filed with the Gainesville Police Department in November alleging that he took part in a beating of a man after the Florida-LSU football game. According to The Gainesville Sun, “The case is now in the hands of the State Attorney’s Office, which will determine whether to file charges.” The victim told the paper that he was attacked minutes after a confrontation allegedly with Johnson and two other men. He claims to have been punched and kicked in the face repeatedly, actions which caused injuries including “a broken nose and numerous facial fractures.”

2 » Former Gators catcher Mike Zunino is one of 18 minor league players within the organization that have been invited to participate in spring training with the Seattle Mariners. He will report to Peoria, AZ on Feb. 12 and will have an opportunity to earn a roster spot just eight months after being selected No. 3 overall in the 2012 MLB Draft.

3 » The school announced Tuesday that the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game will take place on Saturday, April 6 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. That day will certainly be a busy one on campus as track & field hosts the Pepsi Florida Relays, lacrosse will go head-to-head Johns Hopkins, softball takes on Mississippi State, and gymnastics hosts the 2012 NCAA Regionals.

4 » Joining the eight Florida seniors already announced for all-star bowl games is defensive tackle Omar Hunter, who was added to the 2013 Raycom College All-Star Classic this week. The game is set to be played on Saturday, Jan. 19 at 4 p.m. and will air live on CBS Sports Network. Wide receivers Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Omarius Hines both competed in the 2013 Casino Del Sol College All-Star Game last weekend with neither player posting any significant statistics. Check out the six other players participating in games over the next two weekends.

5 » The 2013 NBA All-Star team will be announced on Thursday. As of the final official release of fan voting totals on Jan. 3, only Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (seventh – Eastern Conference frontcourt) and Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (15th – Western Conference frontcourt) were on the lists, meaning neither are likely to make their respective team based on the fan vote, which closed on Monday. Reserve spots, on the other hand, are chosen by league coaches, which means Noah, Parsons, Atlanta Hawks F Al Horford and Golden State Warriors F David Lee all have a chance to be selected. Noah and Lee are probably the most likely to be chosen, especially considering Lee is currently 10th in the NBA in points (19.9), fifth in rebounds (10.9) and first in 20-10 games with 16 so far this season.

6 » Gators junior DT Sharrif Floyd continues to be a near-unanimous first-round selection in mocks that have recently been created for the 2013 NFL Draft. Of the five first-edition mock drafts released by NFL.com this week, Floyd is listed in four at No. 14 by Josh Norris, No. 23 by Gil Brant, No. 24 by Daniel Jeremiah and No. 28 by Bucky Brooks. Junior safety Matt Elam is listed on three of those five mocks at No. 17 by Brooks, No. 30 by Norris and No. 31 by Charles Davies. Davies did not list Floyd in his first round; neither Brant nor Jeremiah had Elam in theirs.

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Florida Gators TE A.C. Leonard will transfer

Florida Gators sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard has decided to transfer, head coach Will Muschamp announced during a press conference Wednesday morning.

“Obviously he made a mistake there in the winter. He has decided to transfer. He and I talked yesterday,” Muschamp said. “He had a set of criteria that he needed to work his way back on our football team. He and I both sat down and decided it would be better off for him to transfer. I don’t know where he’s wanting to go. I’m going to talk to him further about it. It was a mutual decision. Just sometimes it doesn’t work, and it wasn’t working in this situation, so he needs to move on.”

Leonard, a prized four-star commitment out of Jacksonville, FL in 2011 and one of the standout members Muschamp’s first recruiting class at Florida, only caught eight passes for 99 yards last season but showed flashes of immense talent and was expected to be a playmaker for the Gators in 2012.

But that is certainly not to say his time at Florida has always been positive.

After initially verbally committing to the Gators on Nov. 29, 2009, Leonard decommitted on Oct. 13, 2010 and claimed that Florida no longer remained in contention for his services. He recommitted five days later on Oct. 18 and promised to enroll early, renewing his pledge and claiming that outside influences were pulling him in different directions and giving him bad advice about his future.

The next day Leonard was suspended for the remainder of his senior season by the Florida High School Athletic Association after, according to reports, he was involved in numerous altercations including taking a swing at an opponent during a game.

Following a solid spring with the Gators including an impressive performance at the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut, Leonard tore his meniscus during spring practice and missed the first eight games of the season. He spoke about transferring and being home sick both during the summer and immediately after getting injured but remained with the program as he went through rehabilitation. His three-catch, 65-yard performance against Florida State on Nov. 26 was one of Florida’s few highlights that game.

That positive memory did not last in the coaches’ or fans’ minds long as Leonard was arrested on charges of first-degree misdemeanor domestic battery just two months later on Feb. 15. He was indefinitely suspended from team activities by Muschamp but returned to spring practice following a six-week absence on March 26.

Leonard pled no contest and received probation on April 4 but was not cleared by Muschamp to participate in the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut. He was also set to be suspended for an unspecified number of games to begin his sophomore campaign regardless of the strides he made in the offseason.

During his annual Gator Gathering tour, Muschamp explained that Leonard had been doing everything asked of him since his arrest in order to earn his way back on the team. He reiterated this stance at the 2012 SEC Spring Meetings on May 30.

“He’s got some things he continues to do. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do up to this point,” Muschamp said. “He’s got to continue to make good choices and decisions with regard to our football team. If he continues to do that, we’ll handle it.”

Instead Leonard becomes the 13th player to transfer off the Gators football team since Muschamp was hired to take over the program in Dec. 2010.

Florida will rely on redshirt senior Jordan Reed, freshmen Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson and a contingent of other players including sophomores Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook at the position.

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