Steve Spurrier comments on Florida Gators

In his weekly press conference, South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier was asked a number of questions about his former team, the Florida Gators. A starting quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner and national championship-winning coach for the Gators, Spurrier still has love for Florida that he has never hidden since rejoining the college ranks. Below is what Spurrier said on Tuesday.

» On how special it will be to go back and play at Florida again: “Florida is always going to be my school. I love Florida and my wife and my daughters and even Steve Jr. got a graduate degree from there. Did you know that? [...] So, we’re Gators, but we’re Gamecocks now. We’re Gamecocks now. And when my coaching days are over, I’ll be more of a Gator then. But I’m a Gamecock now, and this is our team. I certainly hope the Gators finish second in the [SEC] East this year. That would be a good finish for them and hopefully we finish first, certainly. But they’re having a very good year. I like Will Muschamp and obviously Jeremy Foley and the guys down there. We’re still good friends. It’s, I think, healthy competition.”

» On the Gators winning without throwing the ball much: “There’s all kind of ways to win the game and the best one is to play outstanding defense, special teams and run the ball. There’s been a lot of champions that ran the ball.”

» On his love for all of the teams he coached, when he was specifically asked to qualify his statement of being “more of a Gator” when he retires: “Well, that’s because I went to school there. [...] When I get through coaching, I’m going to be Duke, Florida and South Carolina. I’ll have feelings for all three schools and I still have feelings for Duke, a lot of feelings. I wouldn’t be coaching today if it wasn’t for Duke University. They hired me twice when I didn’t have a job and I certainly wasn’t in demand, I guess, for a job. So I owe basically my entire coaching career to Duke University and the people up there. So I always pull for those guys. But I hope when my coaching days are over to keep a condo here that I have at Carolina Walk over here. So I hope to do that in four or five years, something like that. Keep some connections up here. Certainly hope to.

» On if he has seen his statue outside of The Swamp: “Yeah, it’s been there a couple of years. [...] I drove by it once, I think. Once or twice. I’ve been down there about one day a year. [...] I thought the guy did a super job who did the statues.”

» On why Florida has been successful this season: “They’ve won all their close games. [...] Florida has had a knack of winning close games, which you got to do to be [6-0] going into their [seventh] game. They’ve won some good close ones and won in the fourth quarter. [...] They’ve played extremely well at the end. That’s how you go [6-0].”

» On his evaluation of the Gators: They’re a physical team, play solid, fundamentally sound all the way around. Their offensive coordinator is different, so they’re not getting in the shotgun and trying to throw it all over the place. The quarterback can run, obviously. He ran for 177 last week and set a school record. They’re definitely a running team, pretty much like we are, but we didn’t do it very well last game. They’re playing real smart, and that’s how you win a lot of games, playing real smart.”

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10/15: OL, Joyer praised; Driskel not concerned

Three Florida Gators players – sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, redshirt senior defensive lineman Omar Hunter and senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic – met with the media on Monday to discuss No. 2 Florida’s victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores and the upcoming game against the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks.

A PATCHWORK OFFENSIVE LINE?

Florida was without the entire left side of its offensive line on Saturday as redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (eye) did not make the trip to Nashville, TN, senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (concussion) got knocked out of the game and even redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (elbow) went down with an injury. Filling in for the trio, respectively, were redshirt sophomore Ian Silberman, freshman D.J. Humphries and redshirt senior Sam Robey. Those three still managed to open up holes and hold blocks to the tune of 326 rushing yards for the Gators.

“We had three guys go down. Whenever you have three starters go down, that’s huge, especially if they’re O-linemen. We had three guys that stepped up and that’s what we’ve been doing all year long. When a guy goes down, the next guy is going to have to go up. We have great depth and that really helped it out on Saturday,” Driskel said.

Though head coach Will Muschamp said Monday that all three should be healthy enough to play Saturday against South Carolina, there is a prevailing doubt that one or more will be unable to suit up by game time with Wilson being the most likely to fall into that category. Hunter, who has practiced against the reserves for months, believes Florida will not lose a step with reserves in the game.

“I don’t think there’s a drop-off. Those guys come out each and every day in practice and they go just as hard as our starters,” he said. “Robey is a very experienced guy, being a senior. Ian, he’s been around a long time too, and he works hard during practice. [Humphries is] young and aggressive. He doesn’t let too many things get to him. He never gets too high or too low or anything. It’s going to be a great match-up.”

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10/15: Muschamp on injuries, winning, Clowney

No. 2 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s big 31-17 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores and preview Saturday’s home game against the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb, hamstring) missed Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury after returning one week prior with a cast on his hand. Though a “modified” version of the cast will remain on Jenkins’s hand, he is now back to full speed and will be active against South Carolina.

Florida’s offensive line wound up playing without three starters on Saturday as redshirt senior guard James Wilson (eye) did not travel with the team and both senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (concussion) and redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (elbow) went down with injuries during the game.

Muschamp said Monday that Harrison “should be ready to go” and both Wilson and Nixon “should be fine” for Saturday. We’re really hopeful to get all those guys back,” he said. “They are all definitely going to be fine – or at least ‘probable’ at the worst.” Included in that group is junior defensive end Dominique Easley, who traveled to Vanderbilt but experienced some swelling around his knee and did not play.

The news is not as positive for three other players. Freshman WR Latroy Pittman hurt his ankle on Saturday and is questionable for this week’s game. Additionally, junior CB Cody Riggs (foot) and redshirt junior T Matt Patchan (pectoral) will both miss the game. Muschamp said that Riggs may try to run this week but that both players have an outside chance of returning in two weeks.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Game: sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel

Scrap Iron: redshirt junior guard Jon Halapio
* Halapio was also named SEC Co-Offensive Lineman of the Week.

Defensive Player of the Game: senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic
“He played extremely well. Very productive, active in the middle, made a lot of plays, playing blocks extremely well. Jon’s really progressed this year as far as his physicality of playing in the core of the formation and playing blocks and disengaging, getting off people. Real proud of him.”

Ball Hawks: Bostic, redshirt sophomore Sam LB Neiron Ball, redshirt senior defensive lineman Earl Okine, sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy

Special Teams Player of the Game: sophomore running back Chris Johnson
“He had three tackles inside the 20 on kickoff. They were doubling him and he ran through every one of him. He’s a guy who I’m real proud of his efforts.”

Big Play: junior wide receiver Solomon Patton

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ESPN College GameDay at Florida on Oct. 20

ESPN College GameDay will emanate from Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2009 as the No. 2 Florida Gators (6-0, 5-0 SEC) host the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS in a game that could go a long way to determining which team will win the SEC East and head to Atlanta, GA in December.

The Gators will be making their third appearance on the program this season. Florida was last featured three times in 2009 – on the road at LSU and in back-to-back weeks at home against Florida State and in a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta for the SEC Championship. UF has appeared as a visitor in GameDay programs hosted in College Station, TX and Knoxville, TN already this season.

The Gators have been featured on the program a total of 35 times, most out of any team in the country (Ohio State is second with 29 appearances). Florida has hosted 12 times, second-most in the nation (Ohio State – 13) The Gators are 7-4 overall as hosts in Gainesville and 16-7 when playing in a GameDay contest elsewhere.

College GameDay begins with a one-hour show at 9 a.m. on ESPNU before shifting over to ESPN for the primary two-hour broadcast beginning at 10 a.m. It features host Chris Fowler, analysts Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack, and contributor Samantha Steele.

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South Carolina downs Florida 7-3 in CWS opener

An explosive five-run fifth inning for the No. 8 South Carolina Gamecocks‘ offense erased an early lead by No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (47-19) and allowed South Carolina (46-17) to top Florida 7-3 on Saturday night in both teams’ first game of the 2012 College World Series at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE.

With the loss, UF fell to 27-6 when scoring first and move on to the loser’s portion of the double-elimination tournament where they will have to win four-straight games in order to advance to the Championship Series for the second-straight season, something that has happened only six times dating back to 1988.

Gamecocks left-handed pitcher Michael Roth (6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) earned the victory despite giving up the most earned runs of any of his CWS appearances. Gators LHP Brian Johnson (4.0 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) got out of jams in the first four innings but came apart at the seams in the fifth.

South Carolina threatened first by loading the bases in the opening frame thanks to an error, single and walk, but Johnson struck out the side to save Florida. The Gamecocks squandered another opportunity to score in the third but failed to score a runner from 90 feet away following a lead-off double and sacrifice fly.

It was the Gators that got on the board first with a rally in the third. Freshman left fielder Justin Shafer (2/4, R) and junior first baseman Vickash Ramjit singled to start the inning, but Florida found themselves with runners on the corners following a failed bunt and groundout. Junior right fielder Preston Tucker then stepped up and cleared the bases with a two-out, two-RBI double to deep left, giving UF an early 2-0 lead.

The Gators were in another tough situation in the fourth after Johnson allowed the first two batters on via a single and walk, but Florida’s deft defense registered three-straight outs to get out of the frame.

UF was not as lucky the next inning as Johnson started by loading the bases without recording an out. He then gave up a bases-clearing triple followed by double to deep right, allowing USC to take a 4-2 lead before being pulled. Senior LHP Greg Larson (1.0 IP, 2 H, K) replaced him and got the Gators out of the jam but not without giving up another run and allowing the Gamecocks to extend their lead to 5-2.

Florida cut into South Carolina’s three-run lead in the bottom of the fifth as a sacrifice fly by junior catcher Mike Zunino scored freshman third baseman Josh Tobias, who had moved over to third after getting on base with a lead-off single.

The Gators threatened again in the bottom of the seventh but came up empty after Ramjit (2/3) and Tobias (2/3, R) led off the frame with singles. The duo moved over to second and third on a sacrifice bunt but never made their way home. Florida ended the inning with Tucker (2/5, 2 RBI) flying out to shallow left and Johnson (0/4) hitting a hard line out to right after Zunino (0/2, RBI, 2 BB) was intentionally walked to load the bases.

UF sophomore right-hander Keenan Kish (3.0 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K) kept USC at bay but walked the lead-off batter in the ninth, who eventually came around to score after advancing via a ground out and a pair of wild pitches, the second of which came from junior LHP Steven Rodriguez (0.1 IP, H, R, K). One out away from ending the frame, the Gators committed two fielding errors and gave up an infield single in between, allowing the Gamecocks to add another insurance run and increase their lead to 7-3.

Florida will face Kent State (46-19) on Monday at 5 p.m. in an elimination game that will air live on ESPN2. The winner will take on either Arkansas or South Carolina (Monday at 9 p.m.) in another elimination game on Wednesday.

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Field announced for 2012 College World Series

The 2012 College World Series field has officially been set after the final three teams qualified for the final segment of the 2012 NCAA Tournament by winning their respective Super Regionals on Monday.

Though the event will begin at 5 p.m. on Friday at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, NE, the No. 1 Florida Gators will participate in the last “first round” game when they take on the No. 8 South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday at 9 p.m. live on ESPN.

The CWS is split up in two four-team brackets, each of which is double elimination and can consist of up to seven games. The victors of each bracket will square off in a best-of-three Championship Series beginning on June 24.

Florida (47-18) has been placed in the second bracket along with South Carolina (45-17), No. 20 Arkansas (44-20) and Kent State (46-18). The Gators are 4-3 against that field and 3-0 against the first bracket after registering a season sweep of No. 3 Florida State (48-15). No. 4 UCLA (47-14), No. 11 Arizona (43-17) and Stony Brook (52-13) make up the remainder of the first bracket.

UF is making their third-straight appearance at the CWS for the first time in school history. Florida fell in consecutive contests to UCLA and FSU in 2010 but made it to the Championship Series before being swept by USC last season. South Carolina has won back-to-back national titles and is also making their third appearance in a row.

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Florida basketball adds transfer Damontre Harris

Florida Gators basketball received a significant boost to its frontcourt in 2013-14 after learning Saturday that South Carolina Gamecocks power forward Damontre Harris has chosen to transfer to the University of Florida.

A four-star prospect and the No. 64 player in the country as ranked by Rivals.com in 2010, Harris decided to leave South Carolina after the administration fired head coach Darrin Horn and replaced him with Frank Martin. Florida and Kansas battled for his transfer, and the player also gave consideration to staying in Columbia, SC.

Instead Harris will be forced to sit out the 2012-13 season per NCAA transfer rules but will fill a major position of need for the Gators when his redshirt season is up. He will still be able to practice with the team next year, providing sophomores center Patric Young and forward Will Yeguete with a big, talented opponent to go up against each day.

At 6’9” and 226 lbs., Harris has been an important and effective player for the Gamecocks over his two years with the team. He averaged 6.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks in 25.9 minutes per game his sophomore season while shooting .550 from the field and .804 from the free throw line.

Florida has not had a shot blocker average more than two swats per game since Joakim Noah registered 2.4 per contest during his sophomore season (2005-06).

With Young potentially moving on to the NBA after his junior year and the Gators not having received any commitments taller than 6’6” as part of their 2012 or 2013 (so far) recruiting classes, Harris should eventually have a legitimate opportunity to start for Florida though he most certainly will not be handed that role.

Martin has a good relationship with Gators head coach Billy Donovan and did not place any restrictions on Harris as it pertained to contacting or transferring to a SEC East rival.

Despite Harris’s decision, Florida is still pursuing transfer forward Dorian Finney-Smith of Virginia Tech, a source close to the program confirmed to OGGOA on Saturday

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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Florida moves on with 7-2 win over USC

Faced with elimination in the 2012 Southeastern Conference Tournament, No. 2 Florida Gators baseball fought to play another day, defeating the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks 7-2 on Friday evening at Regions Park in Hoover, AL.

Junior left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson (7-4) was the king of the hill for Florida, going the distance for the first complete game of his career while allowing just two earned runs on five hits with five strikeouts and no free passes.

The Gators gave Johnson a nice cushion offensively from the get-go, scoring in each of the first three innings and extending their lead with a three-run top of the fifth.

Florida (42-17) rallied for one run each in the first and second and used a two-run homer by junior catcher Mike Zunino (1/3, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB, BB) in the third to jump ahead 4-0. UF’s lead extended to 7-0 in the fifth after USC walked in a run and freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon (2/4, 2 RBI, R) followed by smacking a two-RBI single.

South Carolina (40-17) was able to plate one run in the sixth and another with two outs in the ninth but was otherwise held scoreless by Johnson and the defense behind him.

With the victory, the Gators advance to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament. Florida will face Vanderbilt on Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. live on Comcast Sports South. UF fell to VU 2-1 on Thursday, ending a seven-game winning streak the Gators had on the Commodores dating back to last season.

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