FOUR BITS: Elway apologizes to Tebow, Gators earn awards, volleyball falls, Macklin ready

1 » Nothing that Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway has done to this point – whether it be verbal comments or body language – has shown that he fully supports quarterback Tim Tebow. Despite the fact that Tebow is winning games and doing so in a variety of ways, Elway recently answered “no” when asked by a radio station if he was “any closer to having your quarterback on this team” than he was a month earlier. With Tebow continuing to win and Elway receiving more and more criticism, he told FOX Sports this week that he “could have done a better job answering that question.” “It was a little too blunt,” he went on to say. “I should have said, ‘We’re not talking about the future. We’re talking about right now. Tim Tebow is definitely our guy.’”

Tebow recently avoided a question asking whether or not he felt the entire organization was behind him; that non-answer is likely what led Elway to personally apologize to his star, which FOX Sports notes he did recently. In fact, Elway has also told Tebow that he plans to work with him alongside QB coach Adam Gase in the offseason – not to “fix’ his throwing motion but rather to improve his accuracy. “I don’t believe you change a throwing motion. I do believe you can really help your accuracy by your feet,” Elway said. “That’s where, to me, Tim has so much upside. He’s improving. It’s just a matter of getting it burned into his reactions and mind.”

2 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which the team is presented a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2011 award winners along with some award explanations, courtesy of the University of Florida.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Caleb Sturgis
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jesse Schmitt
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: William Green
Chris Patrick Courage Award: John Brantley
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Tim Clark Defensive: Michael McNeely Special Teams: Hygens Succes and Solomon Schoonover

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jeff Demps Defense: Dominique Easley
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Matt Patchan Defense: Dominique Easley
MVP Offense: Chris Rainey Defense: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam ST: Caleb Sturgis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): John Brantley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Chris Rainey
* As voted on by the entire team.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Lerentte McCray, John Brantley
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: John Brantley, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, William Green, Jaye Howard

3 » Florida volleyball’s inspiring run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament came to an end Saturday evening as the No. 3 Illinois Illini defeated the Gators 3-1 in four sets (25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-20) in Elite Eight action at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. UF has been ranked higher heading into the tournament in recent memory, but Florida reached the regional final this year for the first time since 2005. Seniors setter/right-side Kelly Murphy and outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel once again led the way for their squad. Murphy’s triple-double (13 kills, 21 assists, 17 digs) was the 30th of her career. Murphy posted 19 kills and 11 digs for a double-double. Each will end their careers in the top 10 of a number of categories in the Gators’ record book. Transfer Colleen Ward, who joined the Illini, posted 23 kills and 11 digs in the contest for a double-double of her own. Florida finished the season 27-6 and was on a 10-match winning streak before falling to Illinois.

4 » As one Gators rookie waits to sign his deal, center Vernon Macklin has already agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons, which selected him in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Macklin, who stayed in shape during the lockout by maintaining his college conditioning and working out with NBA players like Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Lakers F Metta World Peace, Atlanta center Al Horford and Chicago C Joakim Noah, recently told The Detroit News that he was star struck when he saw Detroit C Ben Wallace practicing. “It’s kind of a weird feeling,” he said. “Him going to Virginia Union, a lot of my family members idolized him and learned from him.”

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Week 12: Florida Gators vs. App. St. Mountaineers

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 76°F, clear skies
Time: 12:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: PPV [Information]
TV Replays: Sun Sports – Sun., Nov. 21 at 8:30 a.m.; Tues., Nov. 23 at 11:00 p.m.
Online Video: ESPN3.com (Outside of Florida only.)
Sirius/XM: 215/200
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS APP. STATE MOUNTAINEERS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Jerry Moore
Record: 6-4 Record: 9-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southern (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -23.5

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida and Appalachian State have never squared off before, but the Gators are 24-2 all-time against Southern Conference opponents.
» Since 2005, UF and ASU have combined for five national championships. The Gators have won two FBS titles (2006, 2008), while the Mountaineers have captured three-straight FCS championships (2005-07).
» Florida has faced three FCS schools since 2006, beating them a combined 194-22. However Appalachian State is easily the best of the bunch, having won six-straight conference titles (2005-10) under Moore’s leadership.
» UF is tied for the national lead with 17 interceptions on the season. Seven have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» Florida is back out of the BCS, Associated Press and USA Today top 25 after returning to the rankings two weeks ago. This season is the first time the Gators have been unranked in all three under Meyer. Florida had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State three weeks ago.
» The Gators’ offense has seen 15 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» Florida is the only school in the nation that has four players with at least three interceptions. Overall, eight Gators have at least one interception.
» UF under Meyer is 41-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 38-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 38-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 33-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» Florida redshirt senior guard Carl Johnson and sophomore right tackle Xavier Nixon are both from North Carolina, while Appalachian State boasts five players from the state of Florida. ASU defensive coordinator Dale Jones was a former UF assistant (1991).

SENIOR DAY

The Gators’ 2010 senior class is one of the winningest classes in SEC history with a 41-10 record in their time in the Orange and Blue. However, that is not the only accomplishment the class has made in the last four years. The senior class also has:

Two National Championships – Three BCS bowl game wins (2010 Sugar Bowl) – Two SEC Championships (three appearances) – Three SEC Eastern Division titles – 29-5 record at The Swamp – 15-1 record vs. rivals (Tennessee, Georgia, FSU and Miami)

* Brandon Antwine – #47 – DT – Garland, Tex.
* Ahmad Black – #35 – SS – Lakeland, Fla.
* Lorenzo Edwards – #26 – LB – Orlando, Fla.
* John Fairbanks – #59 – LS – Celebration, Fla.
* Marcus Gilbert – #76 – LT – Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
* Chas Henry – #17 – P/K – Dallas, Ga.
* Brandon Hicks – #40 – LB – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Maurice Hurt – #74 – T/G – Milledgeville, Ga.
* Carl Johnson – #57 – G – Durham, N.C.
* A.J. Jones – #16 – LB – Tampa, Fla.
* Duke Lemmens – #44 – DE/LB – Westlake Village, Calif.
* Lawrence Marsh – #90 – DT – Augusta, Ga.
* Emmanuel Moody – #21 – RB – Coppell, Tex.
* Carl Moore – #9 – WR – Rancho Cordova, Calif.
* Mike Pouncey – #55 – C – Lakeland, Fla.
* Terron Sanders – #92 – DT – Bradenton, Fla.
* Justin Trattou – #94 – DE – Ramsey, N.J.
* Justin Williams – #7 – WR – Folkston, Ga.
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* Gary Beemer – #61 – DT – Valrico, Fla.
* Miguel Carodine – #41 – S – Gainesville, Fla.
* Eugene Minchin – #33 – LB – Gainesville, Fla.
* Shawn Schmieder – #70 – DT – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Solomon Schoonover – #29 – WR – Aventura, Fla.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 8-7 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing an interception last week. He has completed 172-of-282 passes (61.0 percent) for 1,746 yards and has a passer rating of 117.4.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton and redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed…both of whom will spell Brantley at quarterback in Florida’s new three-QB system. Burton set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has 10 scores on the season, has played five positions and is second on the team in rushing (56 carries for 279 yards). Reed got his first meaningful snaps behind center two weeks, going 11-of-19 for 120 yards with a touchdown and a pick. He also ran 16 times for 84 yards with another score.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.3 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (488 yards) after missing two full games and being limited in five others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Chris Rainey..who returned to action for the first time in over a month against Georgia and has 28 carries for 140 yards (along with 16 receptions for 150 yards) and three touchdowns this year.
» Redshirt freshman WR/kick returner Andre Debose…who set a school single-season record with his second kickoff return touchdown last week. With an 88-yard return against LSU and a 99-yard return against South Carolina, he is the only freshman nationally with two in 2010 and one of only two players nationally with two in 2010. He is one of the reasons why the Gators rank No. 5 nationally and No. 1 in the SEC in kickoff returns with a 26.1 average.
» Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr.…who is quickly becoming one of Florida’s most important pass catchers. He was the team’s leading receiver against Mississippi State and caught three passes for 46 yards against Georgia and another three passes for 49 yards and a touchdown against Vanderbilt the following week.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry had missed five-straight field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) before nailing back-to-back kicks in the fourth quarter and overtime three weeks ago.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted 13 balls this season. Starters senior safety Ahmad Black (three), junior CB Janrois Jenkins (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three), and junior S Will Hill (three) have accounted for all but one of the unit’s picks.
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles seven times this season: vs. South Carolina (career-high 16), LSU (13), Georgia (12), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10), USF (8) and Vanderbilt (4). He is tops on the team overall with 93 tackles, including nine for loss.

APPALACHIAN STATE
» QB DeAndre Presley…who has passed for 2,066 yards and 17 touchdowns with only four interceptions this season while simultaneously leading his team on the ground with 727 rushing yards.
» WR Brian Quick…who has a team-high 36 catches for 685 yards and seven TDs.
» Linebacker D.J. Smith, defensive tackle Jabari Fletcher and CB Mark LeGree…who lead the team with 108 tackles, seven sacks and five interceptions, respectively.

INJURIES

Active/Probable: Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), redshirt sophomore DT Jaye Howard (ankle), sophomore LB Jon Bostic (bruised sternum)
Inactives: Redshirt senior LB A.J. Jones, redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

Catch the Gators’ 11th game of the season live on television on pay-per-view, via the radio or through OGGOA‘s live updates on Twitter.
 

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