Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview: Offense

Spring practice for the Florida Gators football program begins on Wednesday, March 13 and lasts for 15 practices concluding with the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game on Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. Below is the first of OGGOA‘s new two-part series that takes a look at the team on a position-by-position basis.

PART TWO: Defense & Special Teams

OFFENSIVE TACKLES
Returning starters (1/2): Redshirt junior Chaz Green
Fresh faces: Redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore

Out goes Xavier Nixon, in comes sophomore D.J. Humphries. After starting three games as a true freshman, Humphries – a former five-star prospect – appears to be all but a shoe-in for the left tackle job. However, both he and Green (who started 10 games at right tackle) have plenty of competition ahead of them. Moore started as a true freshman at Nebraska, sat out the 2012 season while attending a community college and is therefore eligible to play right away. He will be pushing Humphries and Green all spring is certainly talented enough to win either or both starting jobs. Chances are he will wind up either winning the right tackle role while Green continues to recover from ankle surgery or play well enough where he spells both players throughout games.

OFFENSIVE GUARDS
Returning starters (1/2): Redshirt senior Jon Halapio
Fresh faces: Redshirt junior Max Garcia

With James Wilson finally graduating, the starting left guard job is wide open and offensive line coach Tim Davis has a number of ways in which he can fill the position. Redshirt junior Ian Silberman is the only player on the roster who actually started at guard in 2012 but versatile redshirt senior Kyle Koehne (three starts at right tackle) is also quite experienced in SEC play. Garcia, who started 12 games at tackle for Maryland, has been moved inside and was even listed as the first-string left guard on the initial spring practice depth chart. Redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker (if reinstated to the team) is a possibility at left guard as well. Halapio (28-straight starts) has a stranglehold on the right guard job.

Continue Reading » Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview: Offense

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Florida wins battle for WR Demarcus Robinson

A back-and-forth-and-back-again recruiting war for four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA) has finally ended with the prized prospect deciding to join the Florida Gators‘ impressive 2013 recruiting class.

Robinson, a long-time Clemson Tigers commitment, rescinded his soft verbal pledge to the school on Dec. 12 when he first flipped to the Gators. Just five days later on Dec. 17, Robinson had a change of heart and rejoined the Tigers’ class.

However, upon arriving at the 2013 U.S. Army All-American Bowl for practice last week, Robinson said he was no longer committed to Clemson and was reopening his recruitment with Florida and Notre Dame also under consideration. Furthermore, he promised to make a decision with his mother over the weekend and enroll early at the school of his choice as a surprise on Monday or Tuesday.

Monday morning, after spending a week in San Antonio, TX practicing for the game and meeting with coaches from both schools, Robinson announced his decision via his Twitter account by writing, “#Gatornation here I come !” Minutes later he added, “I love my gators can’t wait to arrive on campus!” He also confirmed to multiple outlets that he has finally settled on the Gators.

Robinson is the third pass catcher listed at 6’2” or taller and the fifth overall wide receiver to make a pledge for Florida this cycle. The Rivals100 and ESPN 300 receiver is a big target with plenty of strength and more than enough speed to succeed in the grueling Southeastern Conference.

Arguably Florida’s most important commitment since head coach Will Muschamp took over the program, Robinson is a top talent at a major position of need for the Gators. UF’s leading returning receiver, redshirt sophomore Quinton Dunbar, reeled in 36 receptions for 383 yards and four touchdowns during the 2012 season.

Ranked as the No. 48 overall prospect nationally by Rivals, Robinson is the highest-rated receiver to commit to Florida since Andre Debose (No. 21) in 2009. He is listed as the 157th best player in the country by ESPN.

Robinson’s flip from Clemson was originally fueled, in part, by UF’s hiring of new wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, who along with Muschamp and running backs coach Brian White paid the prized recruit a visit in his home shortly before his original commitment and subsequent visit to the school.

The Gators’ newest recruiting class now consists of 26 total pledges including 25 that count as part of the 2013 cycle.

Robinson joins four-stars Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, FL) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) and three-stars Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, GA) and Chris Thompson (Gainesville, FL) as wide receivers in the class.

Florida also has an offer out to three-star WR James Clark (New Smyrna Beach, FL) who visited the school over the weekend and picked up the offer directly from Muschamp. The Gators would happily take six receivers this cycle.

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1/2: Florida vs. Louisville post-Sugar Bowl report

No. 3 Florida Gators football (11-2) was upended in the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Wednesday as the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (11-2) pulled off a 33-23 upset victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. Florida head coach Will Muschamp provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 5-2 all-time in BCS bowl games and had its school-record four-straight bowl winning streak snapped. The Gators are 3-6 all-time in the Sugar Bowl and suffered their first loss in the game since 2000. UF is now 20-20 all-time in bowl games and lost its first since the 2008 Capital One Bowl.
» Wednesday was the first time Louisville defeated Florida in program history (1-2).
» The Gators are 4-7 vs. ranked teams under Muschamp including 4-2 during the 2012 season. Florida is also 4-7 when trailing at the half under Muschamp but 4-2 in such instances this year.
» The 33 points given up to the Cardinals were the most allowed by the Gators this season. UF also had its largest deficit of the year in the game.
» Florida posted a -2 turnover margin in the game and has lost both games this season in which it did not win the turnover battle.
» The Gators totaled 20 interceptions on the season after registering eight in 2011.
» Florida wore blue jerseys and orange pants together for the first time since 1999 vs. FSU. UF is now 0-3 all-time in that uniform combination.
» Wednesday marked the Gators’ second loss under Muschamp when the defense held the opponent to fewer than 100 yards rushing (10-2).
» Florida ranked sixth nationally in time of possession entering the game, but Louisville held the ball for 11:14 longer over the course of the Sugar Bowl.
» Penalties once again killed the Gators. UF committed nine for a total loss of 98 yards while UL only committed two for 25 lost yards.
» The Sugar Bowl’s announced attendance was 54,178, the game’s worst figure since 1939 and the smallest ever in a BCS bowl game.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis set a new school single-season record for field goals made with his 24th of the year on Wednesday. He broke a 28-year-old record formerly held by Bobby Raymond.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the second-straight bowl game in which he has returned a kickoff for a touchdown (99 yards in the 2012 Gator Bowl). The play also set the Sugar Bowl record for longest kickoff return.
» Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy played wide receiver and caught one pass for five yards in the first quarter. It was the first time a defensive starter registered an offensive reception since Keiwan Ratliff did so in the 2003 Outback Bowl.
» Redshirt sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar registered career-highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (77) during the Sugar Bowl.
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel did not have his best game, but he did engineer a pair of impressive scoring drives during the contest. Driskel completed 4-of-5 passes for 45 yards and ran for 24 yards as part of an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to end the first half. He also went 5-for-8 for 66 yards as part of a 13-play, 97-yard touchdown drive on Florida’s last possession of the game. Aside from those two drives, Driskel was 7-of-16 for 64 yards over the rest of the game.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We got outcoached and outplayed. That’s what I told the football team. It’s the bottom line. You go out and you get beat, you get beat. And that’s what happened. … Credit their organization. They did a good job. We got outcoached and outplayed.”

Continue Reading » 1/2: Florida vs. Louisville post-Sugar Bowl report

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No. 21 Louisville stuns No. 3 Florida in Sugar Bowl

Despite being overwhelming favorites and the team with the BCS pedigree, the No. 3 Florida Gators (11-2) were blasted on Wednesday evening by the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (11-2), which pulled off a 33-23 upset victory at the 2013 Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA.

Louisville scored on the first play from scrimmage of each half, overwhelmed Florida’s defense throughout the game and capitalized on each one of its opponent’s miscues to pull off the greatest victory in program history and biggest upset in BCS bowl game history. The Gators also snapped their streak of four-straight bowl wins and fell in a BCS game for the first time since 2000.

Florida put itself in an early hole on the very first play from scrimmage as sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel’s pass was tipped off the hands of redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose only to be intercepted by Louisville cornerback Terrell Floyd and returned for a touchdown just 15 seconds into the game. The defensive score was the Cardinals’ first of the season.

The Gators then went three-and-out on the ensuing possession and allowed UL QB Teddy Bridgewater to convert three third downs before running back Jeremy Wright carried the ball in for a one-yard touchdown. The 12-play, 83-yard drive ended with 6:47 left in the first quarter and gave UF its largest deficit of the season.

Continue Reading » No. 21 Louisville stuns No. 3 Florida in Sugar Bowl

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Robinson spurns Florida, flips back to Clemson

Less than one week after four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA) decommitted from the Clemson Tigers and pledged to join the Florida Gators’ 2013 recruiting class, the top-tier pass catcher had a change of heart and decided to rescind his promise to Florida and recommit to play for Clemson next season.

According to Rivals affiliate TigerIllustrated.com, which first reported his flip, the Gators have lost arguably their most important commitment since head coach Will Muschamp took over the program as Robinson was a top-tier talent at a major position of need. UF’s leading returning receiver, redshirt sophomore Quinton Dunbar, reeled in just 31 receptions for 306 yards and four touchdowns during the 2012 season.

Robinson was the third pass catcher listed at 6’2” or taller and the fifth overall wide receiver to make a pledge for Florida this cycle. He is a Rivals100 and ESPN 300 talent who is respectively listed as the No. 48 and No. 157 overall prospect in the nation.

A big target with plenty of strength and more than enough speed, Robinson would have been the highest-rated receiver to sign with the Gators since Andre Debose (No. 21) in 2009. His flip to Florida was believed to be fueled, in part, by UF’s hiring of Joker Phillips as receivers coach.

Robinson had been long considering a switch to the Gators and chose to do so following a meeting with Muschamp, Phillips and running backs coach Brian White last Wednesday. He met with members of the Tigers’ coaching staff late in the week and chose to make a change even after visiting Florida over the weekend.

The Gators do still have four remaining receivers committed for the 2013 cycle in four-stars Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, FL) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) and three-stars Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, GA) and Chris Thompson (Gainesville, FL).

Florida now has 25 total pledges including 24 that count as members of the 2013 recruiting class. The Gators will likely look to add a fifth receiver to their class.

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WR Demarcus Robinson flips to Florida Gators

The Florida Gators’ impressive recruiting haul added another huge piece Wednesday when four-star wide receiver Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA) decided to rescind his soft verbal pledge to Clemson and commit to join Florida’s 2013 class.

Robinson is the third pass catcher listed at 6’2” or taller and the fifth overall wide receiver to make a pledge for the Gators this cycle. The Rivals100 and ESPN 300 receiver is a big target with plenty of strength and more than enough speed to succeed in the Southeastern Conference.

Arguably Florida’s most important commitment since head coach Will Muschamp took over, Robinson is a top talent at a major position of need for the Gators. UF’s leading returning receiver, redshirt sophomore Quinton Dunbar, reeled in 31 receptions for 306 yards and four touchdowns during the 2012 season.

Ranked as the No. 48 overall prospect nationally by Rivals, Robinson is the highest-rated receiver to commit to Florida since Andre Debose (No. 21) in 2009. He is listed as the 157th best player in the country by ESPN.

Robinson’s flip from Clemson was most certainly fueled, in part, by UF’s hiring of new wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, who along with Muschamp and running backs coach Brian White paid the prized recruit a visit in his home on Wednesday. He will visit Florida this upcoming weekend and plans to enroll early.

The Gators have added four new commitments over the last four days but also lost one long-time commit on Monday. Florida now has 25 total pledges including 24 that count as members of its 2013 recruiting class.

Robinson joins four-stars Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, FL) and Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL) and three-stars Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, GA) and Chris Thompson (Gainesville, FL) as wide receivers in the class.

His decision was first reported by Gator Country’s Andrew Spivey.

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11/26: Jenkins out, players praised, bowl notes

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s important 37-26 victory over the then-No. 10 Florida State Seminoles and preview the next few weeks of inaction.

INJURY UPDATES

Exciting the game early, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins learned that he broke a small bone in his foot and will be out 4-6 weeks. Muschamp said he was having surgery on the foot Monday and will probably miss the bowl game.

Florida is relatively healthy otherwise. Redshirt sophomore LB Neiron Ball (ankle) will be back in time for the bowl game. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle) is sore but fine coming out of the Florida State victory. Redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (ankle) got dinged up and is in a boot but will be OK as well. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (kidney infection) should be able to return to physical activity this week.

As far as sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders, Muschamp said he remains out for the bowl game with what was mentioned a few weeks ago to be the hamstring injury.

Reporter: “Saunders, you said a couple weeks ago wouldn’t…”
Muschamp: “Yeah, he won’t be in the bowl game.”
Reporter: “Is that injury or discipline?”
Muschamp: “Yep. he won’t be in the bowl game.”
Reporter: “Because of?”
Muschamp: “Injury.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/26: Jenkins out, players praised, bowl notes

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No. 4 Florida Gators chomp No. 10 Florida State as Mike Gillislee rumbles for two touchdowns

A 24-point fourth quarter for the No. 4 Florida Gators (11-1) turned around what looked to be an epic collapse and clinched a 37-26 win over the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (10-2) at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL.

Florida senior running back Mike Gillislee led the way for the Gators offense, rumbling for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. That unit got plenty of support from the defense and special teams, which combined to recover five turnovers on the afternoon. Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis was also clutch for UF, making all three of his field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards.

Florida opened up the game throwing, completing two of its first three passes and tossing the ball eight times on a 14-play, 54-yard drive that lasted 5:47 and ended with a 39-yard field goal Sturgis. Florida State took the kickoff at the 35-yard line after Sturgis booted it out of bounds and got down to UF’s 27 in just two plays. However, a third-down interception thrown by FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel and caught by junior safety Matt Elam ended the possession without any points going on the board.

The Gators looked to be stalled at their own 34-yard line on their next drive, but a 31-yard scramble by sophomore QB Jeff Driskel extended the possession, which wound up going 62 total yards. Faced with 3rd-and-1 at the Seminoles’ 26, Driskel threw incomplete on a play action and junior running back Trey Burton missed brother and sophomore tight end Clay Burton on a muddle huddle play attempted on fourth down.

A few possessions later, Florida put together another long drive but stalled short of the end zone. The Gators converted two third-down tries but settled for a 45-yard field goal to take a 6-0 lead after gaining 54 yards in 10 plays.

Florida got another big play from its special teams on the ensuing kickoff as junior linebacker Darrin Kitchens forced a fumble that was recovered by sophomore defensive back Jabari Gorman at Florida State’s 21-yard line. Three plays later, Gillislee rumbled nine yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, giving UF a 13-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first half.

The Seminoles were able to hold on to the ball on the next kickoff, but Manuel threw his second interception of the game on the opening play from scrimmage, tossing a bullet right into the hands of redshirt junior Will LB Jelani Jenkins. The Gators would waste the possession by getting called for two penalties and suffering a big loss on third down.

Florida State finally made some offensive gains on its last possession of the first half as Manuel completed three passes and scrambled for 23 yards to put his team in field goal range. The Seminoles reduced its deficit to 13-3 at the half as K Dustin Hopkins knocked in a 50-yard field goal.

UF won the time of possession battle 21:58-8:02 in the first half and nearly doubled up FSU on offense but had a bigger advantage before the home team’s final possession as it sported a 192-53 advantage through the first 27:50 of the opening half.

Read the rest of the Florida-Florida State game story…after the break!
Continue Reading » No. 4 Florida Gators chomp No. 10 Florida State as Mike Gillislee rumbles for two touchdowns

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