Florida Gators practice update: Receivers improving, new faces helping passing game

While the focus to this point has been on who will line up under center (or in the shotgun) for the Florida Gators, head coach Jim McElwain has been harping on another position’s need for improvement in order to get his passing attack to resemble something that would help the Gators win football games.

Up until this week, McElwain has been highly critical of Florida’s wide receivers, noting that they were struggling with running crisp routes, being consistent (not just between practices but between plays) and completing the action that is most critical at their position – hauling in the football.

McElwain changed his tune a bit on Tuesday.

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Florida Gators practice update: Four injuries, three suspensions … and two quarterbacks?

Will the Florida Gators starting quarterback be decided before the team’s season opener against New Mexico State on Sept. 5? Only head coach Jim McElwain knows for sure, but he certainly made it seem Friday like he would feel perfectly comfortable if the gig was still up for grabs in two weeks.

“We’ll be OK if we go into [the first game] and let them kind of play and kind of go from there and see who plays under the lights the best, you know, might be a two[-quarterback situation],” he said.

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Florida Gators practice update: Offense using newfound tight end depth to its advantage

Gainesville, Florida, may once again become a bastion of tight end development and production – perhaps as soon as this season – if Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain is to be believed.

McElwain, who was in a suspiciously positive mood for large portions of his media availability Monday, sang the praises of Florida’s tight end corps, led by redshirt senior Jake McGee.

The overly complimentary nature of McElwain’s comments was rare not just for the coach but for anyone speaking about the Gators’ tight end situation over the last few seasons.

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Florida Gators practice update: McElwain worried about disaster, happy with ‘darn good’ scrimmage

Florida Gators head coach Jim McElwain was unable to sleep Thursday night. He was worried that Friday’s scrimmage, his first with the team this fall, would be an unmitigated disaster. Luckily, his apprehension only amounted to nerves and not actuality.

“I’ll be quite honest with you: I didn’t sleep last night thinking this could be a disaster, and it actually turned out pretty darn good,” he quipped. “I guess that’s comforting, I don’t know.”

Specifically, McElwain was concerned about how Florida’s freshmen – the Gators will be counting on plenty this season, especially on offense – would hold up in the scrimmage. He was ultimately proud of the way they competed and thought Friday’s effort was positive overall.

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Florida Gators 2015 Orange & Blue Debut Preview: start time, TV schedule, live stream, who to watch

OnlyGators.com will offer a complete recap of the 2015 Orange & Blue Debut later Saturday evening following its tape-delayed replay on the SEC Network. More information below.

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: Cloudy, 82 degrees, winds west/south-west at 7-8 mph
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EDT)

Live online/mobile (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network +
Live TV (12:30 p.m.): SEC Network alternate (“whip-around” coverage)
TV (9:00 p.m. tape delay): SEC Network
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

EXPANDED VIEWING INFORMATION

Television:
Florida’s 2015 spring game will not air live in its entirety on television but rather on tape delay at 9 p.m. on SEC Network. Live “whip-around” coverage will be available on the SEC Network‘s alternate channel (where available) beginning at 12:30 p.m.

Online:
While the game is not being offered live on television, you can stream it live online (and via your mobile device) via SEC Network +. The game may be immediately available for replay via SEC Network + at the conclusion of the spring game.

EVENT FORMAT

» Florida will field an orange team and a blue team, which will square off over four 12-minute quarters and an un-timed overtime.

» Between each half, the Gators will hold a 12-minute halftime.

» There will also be a running clock for the final two minutes of the second and fourth quarters, likely with some additional kicking and special teams work.

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Are Florida’s receivers finally ready to break out?

It has been four years since the Florida Gators have seen one of their wide receivers get drafted by an NFL team, an especially jarring statistic when one considers that the program had 19 total selected in the 17 drafts the league held from 1994-2010.

Combining poor recruiting with lackluster development, inconsistent quarterback play and overall uninspiring offenses, Florida has been unable to get the necessary production out of the position to win football games and propel players to the next level.

As the 2014 season fast approaches, it appears to be unanimous around the team that the Gators possess more firepower at the position than they have since the 2009 campaign.

Florida does, however, face a couple of obstacles on its way to having the position perform as well as head coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper both expect with Roper’s newly-installed offense.

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8/26: Muschamp announces new Mr. Two Bits tradition, gives thoughts on upcoming season

Game Week – Monday: Opening Week Depth Chart | LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | RT Chaz Green Out for Season, RB Matt Jones Update

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the team as it heads into its first game of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31 against Toledo. The game will kick off at 12:21 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on SEC Network affiliate stations.

CELEBRITY MR. TWO BITS

Muschamp announced Monday that Florida will be honoring George Edmonson, better known as Mr. Two Bits, by continuing the tradition at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with Gators celebrities (rather than the mascot Albert) – leading the crowd in the traditional cheer – “Two Bits! Four Bits! Six Bits! A Dollar! All for the Gators, stand up and holler!” – before home games.

The first celebrity that will try to step into Edmondson’s bow tie? Former Florida running back Errict Rhett (1990-93).

“Errict Rhett will be the first guy to do that, certainly a passionate guy with a lot of energy. You talk to him on the phone he’s almost going to come through the phone on you there. He’s excited about it,” Muschamp said.

Added Rhett in a school release: “[Mr. Two Bits] always gets the crowd so excited. We’ve been down in games and all of a sudden you see him over there and he has so much enthusiasm, he gets the crowd pumped. There is not one dull moment.

“Every time he does it he puts his heart into it. I want to do the same thing, put all my enthusiasm into it. … I want to look exactly like him. I’ve been watching it and I can’t wait. I want it to be memorable.”

MAKING DUE AT TIGHT END

Two of the top tight end prospects in the country in 2012, sophomore Kent Taylor and redshirt freshman Colin Thompson, committed to the Gators but neither is in the two-deep depth chart at the start of the 2013 season. Instead, while Thompson holds on to the third-string role and Taylor is nowhere to be found, a pair of juniors have stepped up in starter Clay Burton and back-up Tevin Westbrook

Muschamp likes what Burton and Westbrook bring to the table for Florida and is positive that both will be able to contribute for the Gators this season.

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8/23: Muschamp on injuries, Powell, freshmen

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday, just over one week before the team’s 2013 season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31.

STATE OF THE GATORS

“I do feel good about this team. I met with the seniors and the leaders [Thursday], talked about our camp and where we are. Some of my issues had to do with the sense of urgency with the team. We have a lot of young guys at some positions we’re counting on. I think everyone in the country would say the same thing. That’s part of it. I think we’re experienced in the places you need to be experienced. That’s the quarterback position, both lines of scrimmage have some snaps about themselves. They’re mature lines of scrimmage. We’re going to be a little green as far sat he running back position heading into your first ball game, receiver a little bit, and then some situations on defense depending at linebacker, how we’re able to rotate those guys in. But I feel comfortable – very comfortable – about the talent level at those positions. So that’s kind of where we are.”

INJURY UPDATE TRENDS POSITIVE

Though the Gators will be without two offensive starters for the season opener due to injury, Muschamp did present a relatively positive injury report otherwise.

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee), junior fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (shoulder) and sophomore wide receiver Raphael Andrades (turf toe) will all return to practice on Monday.

“All those guys we feel like will be back and ready for game week,” Muschamp said.

RONALD POWELL READY TO CUT IT LOOSE

By the time he steps on the field on Aug. 31, it will have been 607 days – nearly 20 full months – since redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell has played in a college football game. Muschamp on Friday said Powell is continuing to improve on a daily basis and looks more explosive than he has all offseason.

“You’ve seen him gain more confidence each time in contact. We’ve had two live scrimmages and different live periods throughout some other practices. A guy that’s gained a lot of confidence as he’s moved forward,” he said.

“That’s the thing you worry about – a guy really cutting it loose and playing. I’ve seen a guy that kind of early on – tentative is not the right word because he wasn’t tentative – but [he was] cautious. Now you’re seeing him cut it loose and play, and that’s what you’ve got to do. It’ll come back fast for him as far as the tempo and the speed of the game. I’m sure he’ll have some anxious moments. That’s part of it. It’s expected when you have an injury like he’s had.”

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