Gator Bites for Friday, August 20th

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share with our readers. In those instances, we present a special post: Gator Bites. Enjoy.

» The University of Florida’s 2010-11 athletic season officially begins Friday as No. 11 Florida Gators soccer takes on the Miami Hurricanes at 7 p.m. at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Admission is free, and the match will air live on Sun Sports.

» New England Patriots rookie tight end Aaron Hernandez scored his first career professional touchdown on Thursday, catching a four-yard pass from quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter of the team’s preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. Hernandez, who lead the team with four receptions and 46 yards, had to turn around to complete the reception in the back of the end zone. Also shining for the Patriots on Thursday was running back Fred Taylor (team-high 11 carries for 54 yards and a TD). Linebacker Brandon Spikes racked up three solo tackles, while defensive tackle Gerard Warren added one assisted.

Eight more Gator Bites on Tim Tebow, Major Wright, Cornelius Ingram, Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Chris Leak, Ryan Lochte and Urban Meyer…after the jump!
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SIX BITS: Addazio, White, Nelson, Moss, Beisel

1 » With most of the players and head coach Urban Meyer making time for the media Thursday, it was offensive coordinator Steve Addazio’s turn to represent the Florida Gators early Friday. He provided a little insight into what is in store this season. “Will you see QB runs? Unequivocally yes from a Wildcat offense,” Addazio said. “Will you see five wides on the field? You know you will. Will you see tight ends and fullback sets? Yes. You’re going to see a lot. We’re not going away from that. It’s just judiciously choosing what styles and plays you’re going to use within those sets.” Addazio also noted that wide receivers redshirt junior Chris Rainey and redshirt freshman Andre Debose can add a lot to the offense. “Rainey brings that whole other dimension in here, as does Debose,” Addazio said. “We have those hybrid guys and we have an interesting dynamic in there to cause some stress.”

2 » Tight ends coach Brian White also leaked some brain droppings about his position players. “What’s evident in the first two days is Jordan Reed and Gerald Christian really improved themselves this summer,” White said. “They did a great job of becoming a better football player. All the work they did with [strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti] and his staff has paid tremendous dividends. They’re very confident. They’re much improved. [...] Jordan has had tremendous recall from spring ball. It’s very evident he worked his ass off this summer. He’s a tremendously improved football player and he’s going to be really fun to watch this year. He’s going to do some special things.”

Four more BITS on Nelson, Moss, Wilbur and swimmer Beisel…after the jump!
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Lochte wins title with world’s fastest time in 2010

Competing at the 2010 ConocoPhillips USA Swimming National Championships on Tuesday, former Florida Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte captured the 400-meter individual medley title with the fastest time in the world so far this year.

Lochte, who has been suffering through a groin injury, finished the event in 4:09.98, defeating runner up Tyler Clary by more than five full seconds. He was behind until the breastroke leg, where his injured groin ended up not playing much of a factor.

Many other Florida swimmers are competing at the event, a few of whom finished with top-10 times on Tuesday. A detailed list can be found on GatorZone.com.

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FOUR BITS: Tebow, The Bachelor, Eckstein, Troy

1 » NFL analyst Matt Bowen of the National Football Post takes a look at the possibility of Denver Broncos rookie quarterback Tim Tebow running a version of the option offense on the professional level. “Running the option takes practice and it is best when someone who is used to carrying the ball runs it,” Bowen opines. “That is why we see it fail so often when a WR is used in the wildcat of today’s NFL. They don’t have a ton of experience pitching the ball or reading an end man on the line of scrimmage. The defense will be faster to react in the NFL for sure, but with Tebow, this is a real package that can be used—and used effectively.”

2 » While on the subject of Tebow…OGGOA came across this interesting tidbit from Glam Girls Guide to Sports, a website that caught up with Chris Harrison, the host of ABC’s The Bachelor reality dating program. According to Harrison, he made a pitch to Tebow to appear on the program and was not completely rebuffed. “I talked to Tim Tebow yesterday. I’m really not joking,” Harrison told the site. “His brother Robby was there. I asked him [to be on the show] in front of God and country. He hasn’t said yes yet, but he did say he would be a better version then [fellow former Florida Gators quarterback] Jesse Palmer. I told him, ‘Wait until you play in the NFL first my friend, because Jesse Palmer was quite the bench warmer.” As Angie Meyer, the article’s writer, explains, “If Tim Tebow agrees to become the next Bachelor, the ABC mail room better prepare itself. We’re sure the ladies will be signing up in droves.”

3 » Former Gators second baseman David Eckstein, now playing for the San Diego Padres, was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday with a right calf strain. Though the 35-year-old is only on a one-year, $0.85M contract, the team will surely miss his respectable numbers of .279/.326/.354.

4 » Gregg Troy, Florida’s head swimming coach, was the victim of fraud Wednesday morning after Floyd Russell Hill, 42, stole a drivers license and four credit cards from the coach’s locker at the Wayne and Jimmie Carse Swimming and Diving Complex on the University of Florida campus. Troy reported his cards missing at 10:15 a.m., but Hill had already spent $5,000 and was denied for another $1,281 charge because he did not have proper identification. The perpetrator was on probation and was arrested with Troy’s cards on his person.

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Florida Gators take second in 2010 Directors’ Cup

The University of Florida and its athletic program will finish second in the 2009-10 Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup when the standings are made official after baseball season, according to a release from the school. The second-place overall ranking – which ties a program-high (1997-98) – is fueled by 2010 NCAA National Championships in Men’s Indoor Track & Field and Women’s Swimming & Diving.

The annual national all-sports competition, as awarded by athletic directors across the country, recognizes schools with the best overall sports performances in an academic year. The honor has been owned by the University of Stanford in recent years.

With 1,237.25 total points, the Florida Gators placed a distant second, 271.25 points behind the winning Stanford Cardinal (1508.50). The title is Stanford’s 16th consecutive Director’s Cup, an absolutely dominating stretch.

Florida, however, “is the only program in the nation to finish among the nation’s top 10 in each of the last 27 national all-sports standings,” according to UF. The Gators’ 2009-10 finish is the first time the program has finished in the top three in back-to-back seasons (third, 2008-09). Additionally…

Florida’s 14 top-10 national team finishes in 2009-10, including nine in the top five, is a school record. The previous high of 12 top-10 finishes was equaled five times in the program’s history, including each of the last two seasons. This is the ninth consecutive year that 10 or more Gator athletic teams finished among the nation’s top 10.

Points are awarded based on which sports a school’s athletics program participates in and how said team finishes at the end of that sport’s season.

No other Southeastern Conference school finished in the top 10; however, Florida State University will be ranked No. 7 with 1,009.50 total points.

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TWO BITS: SEC Honor Roll, Babik pleads guilty

1 » Fifty-three student-athletes attending the University of Florida were named to the 2010 Southeastern Conference Winter Academic Honor Roll on Tuesday according to a release by commissioner Mike Slive. The women’s swimming and diving teams led the way with 18, the men’s team added 15, nine represented gymnastics (every eligible member), women’s basketball added six and men’s basketball followed with five. Florida’s total of 53 was second-best in the SEC, following only Alabama (56).

1 » Former UF network coordinator Steve Babik, a member of the athletic department for two decades who was arrested and charged in federal court with the receipt, distribution and possession of child pornography in January, pleaded guilty to the charges Tuesday in United States District Court. Babik, 50, faces five to 20 years in prison and will be sentenced on Aug. 2 after investigators found “a significant volume of [media featuring] children engaging in sexual acts” on his computer.

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SAAC holds first annual Florida Letterman Awards

The University of Florida’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) held the first annual Florida Letterman Awards on Monday at the Phillips Center in Gainesville, FL. Check out the winners of each award…after the break:
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SIX BITS: Knight, NCAAs, baseball, softball, tennis

1 » Five-star 2011 guard recruit Brandon Knight (Fort Lauderdale, FL) looked to be heading anywhere but the University of Florida, after a report surfaced last week that the Florida Gators have decided to stop pursuing him and move on. Whether you believe that to be the case or you think Knight has already made up his mind to play for the Kentucky Wildcats is no matter – Knight has told The Miami Herald that he has not made a decision yet. “I still have an offer [from Florida],” Knight said. “They’re not not recruiting me. They’re just trying to make sure they get a point guard before the signing period is over. […] I don’t feel anything wrong with [that decision]. It’s smart. As a head coach, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket and not end up with anything. They just don’t feel as strongly as they did before. Since they’re the hometown school, they thought I would have signed early or something of that nature. I’m not exactly sure.”

2 » Though Gators men’s swimming failed to match the women’s team with a 2010 National Championship, the team did finish in fifth at this year’s event and is the backbone of the 2010 Division I National Men’s Swimmer of the Year, junior Conor Dwyer. The Texas Longhorns ended up winning the event even as 11 Florida swimmers earned 38 All-America performances while simultaneously shattering two school records. Dwyer picked up seven honors of his own along with two national titles in the 500- and 200-yard freestyles. Read more about the event.

3 » No. 2/5 Florida baseball (18-5, 4-2 SEC) succeeded in ending its two-game road losing streak with a dominating 13-1 victory Sunday against the No. 17/19 Ole Miss Rebels (19-6, 4-2 SEC). After falling 3-2 in a tight first game and being trounced in the second game 15-3, the Gators rebounded with three RBI apiece from freshman catcher Austin Maddox (2-4, two runs) and sophomore outfielder Daniel Pigott (1-4) as well as 5.1 solid innings from freshman starter Brian Johnson (2-1). Johnson did not allow a single earned run in the outing.

Catch up on No. 6/13 softball, No. 4 women’s tennis and No. 6 men’s tennis!
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