Track Florida Gators en route to Columbia

The No. 1 Florida Gators are on their way to Columbia, SC, to face the South Carolina Gamecocks. An ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive EXCLUSIVE, the following is the flight information for the Gators, who are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 twin-jet. You can also track the flight live while it is in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Columbia Metropolitan Airport (KCAE)

DURATION: 53 minutes

DEPARTURE: 4:31 p.m. EST [scheduled 4:24 p.m. EST]
ARRIVAL: 5:24 p.m. EST [scheduled 5:16 p.m. EST]

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SIX BITS: Donovan on Boynton. Spurrier > Meyer? Johnson to play? Henry honored. More commits.

1 » Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan is doing his best to keep the pressure off five-star freshman guard Kenny Boynton. “He’s one guy on the team and I hope that our other players want to step up and provide more for him,” Donovan said. “But we are not going into this putting a lot of emphasis on him to make us productive. He’s going to be a good player here, but I think that the expectation that he’s going to be this total impact player is unfair to him.” Boynton has already been impressive in Florida’s two exhibition games and will certainly play a large role when the Gators open the 2009-10 season on Sunday.

2 » OGGOA makes it a point to not direct you to many of Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi’s columns. Why? Well, our mothers always told us that if you do not have something nice to say, don’t say anything. That being said, when he decides to write a column proclaiming loudly that South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier is “still a greater Gator” than head coach Urban Meyer, we feel like it is something you should check out and decide for yourself.

3 » On Wednesday, Spurrier told the media that injured defensive end Cliff Matthews, who had previously been ruled out with a shoulder injury, could return to face Florida on Saturday. Matthews ran around at practice on Monday and has been cleared by doctors, yet coaches are still calling him a game-time decision. “Even if he does play, [defensive coordinator Ellis] Johnson said there will be small, specialized packages for him. In other words, don’t expect a fully healthy, ready-to-go Matthews,” The Post and Courier reported Friday.

Three more BITS on Henry and a bunch of new UF commitments after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Donovan on Boynton. Spurrier > Meyer? Johnson to play? Henry honored. More commits.

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SIX BITS: Softball signees; Strong as head coach; Poole, Jr.; Spurrier; big plays; special teams

1 » Following big signings by the Florida Gators baseball, volleyball and women’s basketball teams, softball head coach Tim Walton announced Thursday that two highly coveted high school players have signed national letters of intent to play for the Orange and Blue starting in 2010. Utility player Kasey Fagan (Dunnellon, FL) and shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (West Hills, CA) are both extremely talented women who will bring a lot to the program. For more on their accomplishments, check out this article on GatorZone.

2 » Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is garnering heavy interest from the Memphis Tigers for their head coaching vacancy, according to reports. OGGOA believes Strong should not take the job if offered, simply because we feel he deserves and can receive the head job at another big-time program rather than a second-tier school (football-wise). Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley shares similar thoughts while Miami Herald beat writer Joseph Goodman thinks Memphis would be a good fit. “I just have to work and continue to do this job right now,” Strong said when asked about the rumors. “My whole focus is making sure our defense goes out and plays well.”

3 » In recruiting news… Four-star small forward Stacey Poole, Jr., the son of former Gators standout Stacy Poole (who ranks as the team’s No. 4 all-time scorer), has signed a national letter of intent to play basketball for the Kentucky Wildcats and head coach John Calipari. Poole is one of the best forwards in the country and the first signee for Kentucky’s 2010 recruiting class.

Three more BITS about Spurrier, big plays and special teams after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: Softball signees; Strong as head coach; Poole, Jr.; Spurrier; big plays; special teams

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FOUR BITS: Meyer/Spurrier, Matthews practices, Kiper’s Big Board, Scripps Heisman poll

1 » One Southeastern Conference coaching relationship that is surprisingly both polite and friendly is that between Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer and South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier. Both spoke to the media on Wednesday and exchanged pleasant comments about their respective opponents. Meyer said he respects the appreciation Gators fans have for Spurrier and still sees his success all over The Swamp. “It’s always going to be there,” Meyer said. “Just walk out of the stadium and look on the wall at a bunch of great stuff Coach has done. I think it’s still there, and it should be.” Spurrier said he still roots for Florida when he is not going head-to-head with the Gators and thinks that the team is playing perfectly fine. “Sometimes they were so good last year, maybe [they] haven’t been quite as proficient I guess, scoring as many points,” he said. “They score when they have to and they’ve won all their close games.”

2 » Another tidbit Spurrier dropped on the media Wednesday was that injured defensive end Cliff Matthews, who had previously been ruled out with a shoulder injury, could return to face Florida on Saturday. Matthews was running around at practice on Monday; if he does play, it would allow South Carolina to revert back to the 4-3 formation that it has gotten away from since he initially got hurt.

3 » Junior defensive end Carlos Dunlap continues to skyrocket up ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s NFL Draft Big Board. Moving up from No. 7 last week to No. 4 on Wednesday, Dunlap’s “physical tools are off the charts” and he is potentially filled with “unlimited upside,” according to Kiper. [OGGOA has long held that Dunlap will easily be a top five selection and potentially the No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft.] Also on the list are junior cornerback Joe Haden, who held down the No. 11 spot for a second consecutive week, and senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, who dropped one spot to No. 25. Kiper believes Haden is a “polished cover corner with tackling ability to match,” while he says Spikes is a “complete MLB, solid in all areas.”

4 » Following a less than stellar performance against the Vanderbilt Commodores, Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow once again lost the top spot in the Scripps Howard Heisman Trophy poll. Though he accounted for two touchdowns in the game, Tebow fell to No. 3 on the list, earning three first-place votes. Ahead of Tebow were Alabama Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram (4) and Houston Cougars QB Case Keenum (3), while Texas Longhorns QB Colt McCoy (0) and Stanford Cardinal RB Toby Gerhart (0) rounded out the top five. Voting tabulations are made on a 5-4-3-2-1 basis, with each voter ranking a top five.

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SIX BITS: SC confident; Spurrier; Addazio speaks; Harvin/Murphy; coaching salaries; Walker Q&A

1 » In 2008, the Florida Gators defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 56-6 in The Swamp, handing head coach Steve Spurrier the worst loss of his career. A year later, Gamecocks players are inspired and more confident in their ability to compete and potentially defeat the Gators. “They haven’t done as much as they’ve done last year,” defensive tackle Nathan Pepper said. “But they’ve definitely done a lot this season.”

2 » Speaking of South Carolina, Spurrier said Tuesday that he will be taking over his team’s play calling beginning this week against Florida. Spurrier’s decision came based on the fact that the Gamecocks are struggling to score points and have not scored more than 16 in any of their last four Southeastern Conference games.

3 » Gators offensive coordinator Steve Addazio had an interesting day in front of the media on Tuesday. According to transcripts, Addazio went on…and on…and on…for eight minutes about his offense, game planning and the team being undefeated. You can read the “short” form here, listen to the audio here or read the entire transcript here.

More on Harvin and Murphy, SEC coaching salaries and Walker after the jump…
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: SC confident; Spurrier; Addazio speaks; Harvin/Murphy; coaching salaries; Walker Q&A

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Gators lead for Powell? More: Luc, Green, Fulton

A top five player in the country, five-star defensive end Ronald Powell (Moreno Valley, CA) got his SAT results back last week and is now academically qualified to play at schools such as the University of Florida. Scoring a 900 on the test to go along with his improved 2.9 GPA, Powell is still deciding between the Florida Gators and USC Trojans. ESPN’s Greg Biggins says the Gators “have been heavy leaders for some time now for Powell and that remains the case,” going on to say “it will be a pretty big surprise if the talented lineman ends up anywhere other than Gainesville next fall.” That is surprising news considering Powell had previously been 50-50 on his decision, at least publicly. Already visiting Florida a couple times on his own dime, Powell plans to return soon for an official visit before giving USC a shot at his services.

Going hard after five-star linebacker Jeff Luc (Port St. Lucie, FL) and for good reason…he’s the best at his position in the entire country. Luc visited the Gators unofficially this past weekend and came away impressed. However, the key to signing Luc may rest on whether or not defensive coordinator Charlie Strong takes a head coaching job after this season. “As long as Charlie Strong is there, Florida is a strong player,” Jeff’s brother Alex Luc told Rivals. “They have a strong relationship. He calls him his uncle. I could believe anybody that meets him will have a strong relationship with him because of who he is. He’s a well-mannered person who carries himself the right way, he’s really down-to-earth, he takes care of business but he’s a nice guy.” Luc remains undecided, and an official visit to Florida in December will give the Gators a good shot at landing this prized recruit. First, however, he will travel to visit the Georgia Bulldogs next weekend; Luc has already visited the Tennessee Volunteers and USC and plans to check out the LSU Tigers as well.

More recruiting news on Chaz Green and John Fulton after the jump…
Continue Reading » Gators lead for Powell? More: Luc, Green, Fulton

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Soccer, tennis fall; Volleyball sweeps Georgia

Friday was a tale of two outcomes for University of Florida sports teams, with soccer, men’s and women’s tennis and volleyball all in action across the country. The most important game of the day was No. 8 Florida Gators soccer (15-5-2, 8-1-2 SEC) taking on No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks (17-3-1, 7-3-1 SEC) in the semifinal round of the Southeastern Conference Championship Tournament in Orange Beach, AL.

After winning the regular season and defeating the Tennessee Volunteers in the first round, the Gators fell 1-0 to the Gamecocks. Ironically enough, Florida defeated South Carolina 3-0 one week ago in Gainesville, FL, to clinch the SEC regular season title. The Gamecocks scored their lone deciding goal off of a penalty kick at 10:36 in the first half, the first to be successfully scored against the Gators all season.

Also in action were players from the school’s tennis teams. Freshman Allie Will dropped a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 decision to Pichittra Thongbach of the Boise State Broncos in the round of 16 at the ITA National Indoor Tennis Championships. Considered the second leg of the collegiate Grand Slam, Will was the lone Florida female to earn a spot in the event and now holds a 20-3 singles record and 13-3 doubles mark on the season. The men’s doubles team of junior Alexandre Lacroix and redshirt senior Antoine Benneteau, who were previously undefeated, lost an ITA quarterfinal match 8-6 to Tennessee’s Boris Koncic and Rhyne Williams. Lacroix, who was also competing in singles consolation action, won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 over Patricio Alvarado of the Southern Miss Golden Eagles.

Last but certainly not least on the evening was No. 9/11 Gators volleyball (19-3, 13-2 SEC), who earned their seventh consecutive sweep of a league opponent by taking down the Georgia Bulldogs (14-11, 5-9 SEC) 25-16, 25-20, 25-14. Four Florida players hit better than .500 and sophomore hitters Kristy Jaeckel and Kelly Murphy combined for 23 kills on the night in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. Volleyball will be back in action on Sunday against the Auburn Tigers in Gainesville at 1:30 p.m. The match will air live on Sun Sports.

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Gator Bites for Friday, November 6th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across tidbits and small news items we want to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

- Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer has yet to hear from the Southeastern Conference regarding comments he made on Wednesday.

- No. 8 Gators soccer takes on No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks Friday at 8:30 p.m. in the second round of the SEC Championship Tournament.

- The Gainesville Sun is reporting that junior cornerback Moses Jenkins, who OGGOA has covered extensively (here, here and here), has attempted to return to the field a couple of times this season. Meyer suggests he will play again this year, though OGGOA does not believe that is anytime soon (if at all).

- Running backs Chris Rainey (shoulder) and Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and wide receiver Deonte Thompson (ribs) will play against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday night in The Swamp.

- Offensive lineman Xavier Nixon, who was rumored to be given major playing time last week, will be in the rotation at left tackle against Vanderbilt.

- I have read four articles in The Birmingham News over the past two days absolutely slamming Meyer. I’ve heard of blatant homerism, but what goes on in the state of Alabama is ridiculous.

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