The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (89-80)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

89 – Stephen Alli (Toronto, ON)
Redshirt junior wide receiver
6’6” 217 lbs.

Quick Bio/Career Stats: The only Canadian on the team, Alli made the SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll in 2009 despite not seeing the field in his true freshman season. He played in all 13 games in 2010 but spent most of his time on special teams, hauling in a total of three receptions for 17 yards on offense.

2011 Season: Though Alli played in all but one game in 2011, he saw almost all of his action on special teams and did not record any statistics.

2012 Outlook: Singled out as a leader by head coach Will Muschamp during spring practice in 2011, Alli did not get the opportunity to follow through on offense during the season. He was listed as the second X-receiver on the depth chart for the second-straight year in March but missed a number of spring practices with a groin injury. Muschamp said on May 8 that Alli would miss approximately three months of action after having successful surgery on a stress fracture on his leg. He rejoined the team in the middle of August but has not stood out as of yet among the receivers that have been getting regular repetitions during training camp.

88 – Clay Burton (Venice, FL)
Sophomore tight end
6’4” 232 lbs.

Quick Bio/2011 Season: The younger brother of Florida junior running back Trey Burton, Clay was an early enrollee as a freshman defensive end but transitioned to tight end in the fall of 2011 due to depth issues. He dressed for six games but only saw action in one, playing sparingly against UAB.

2012 Outlook: Still in the process of making the transition to tight end, Burton was listed as a reserve on the spring depth chart and is going head-to-head with plenty of others for playing time. Though the coaching staff has complimented his progress, Burton has a ways to go until he develops into a true tight end that can contribute on a regular basis.

Check out five more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (89-80)

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Pease not concerned about choosing starting QB

Florida Gators sophomore signal caller Jeff Driskel may have missed a couple of days of practice due to a bruised non-throwing shoulder but those absences have not put him behind the eight ball as far as the team’s quarterback competition is concerned, offensive coordinator Brent Pease said in a media availability on Friday.

Though sophomore QB Jacoby Brissett obviously saw more action than Driskel on Monday and Tuesday, the battle remains on between the two for the short term.

“[Brissett] got more reps while Jeff was out. When you get more reps, it’s going to make you better naturally because you’re seeing more things. I don’t know if he gained anything or went ahead, but he got more reps,” Pease said.

“It’s been up and down [for both quarterbacks]. The thing that I’ve seen from both of them is this: They both have gotten better in all aspects of their game. That’s the main thing. If they can get better to where they both can manage and make plays then that’s really what we’re striving for.”

With Brissett and Driskel both playing so well and relatively evenly out on the practice fields, one might assume that Pease would have a difficult time in choosing a starter. He claims that will not be the case whatsoever.

“I don’t think it’s going to be that tough,” he said. “I say that because I think they’re both capable.”

Pease will not make that decision on his own, of course. Head coach Will Muschamp will certainly have his input though Pease said that he expects them to eventually come to a concensus on what is best for the team going forward.

“I’ll give him my feedback on how guys perform,” he said. “I think as a head coach he’s always watching and evaluating really from the defensive standpoint and as a head coach. [There is] communication between us and how things fit, what’s best for the team.

“I think he’s valued my opinion and I give it to him. I think it’s a 50-50 deal, probably a little bit more 51-49 his decision because he’s the head coach.”

Not having any influence on the upcoming decision, however, will be the players, who Pease said have said nothing to him about preferring one quarterback over the other.

“I don’t hear that,” he said. “I think the players are about team. I don’t think they’re trying to…this isn’t a buddy contest here. This is about winning.”


» On if Florida has game-changing wide receivers: “I think there’s game-changing talent. We have speed, guys that can stretch the field. I think there are some that are getting more confident and can do that. Naturally Andre [Debose] is one of those guys that has shown up.”

» On the progression of freshman WR Raphael Andrades: “One, typical freshman. They’re still learning, not consistent enough. But shows that he can make plays, good hands. [...] Doing some good things, still lost a little bit. It’s just a matter of getting enough repetitions for him to be real good. It’s hard because you’re also not getting all the repetitions.”

» On how freshman WR Latroy Pittman has been developing: “Latroy is still in freshman status but is improved and is getting a little bit more confident and understanding of the overall scheme and situation.”

» On junior WR Solomon Patton and how he can be used in the offense: “I’ll tell you this about Solomon: He’s probably had one of the best weeks for him and out of the receivers. He’s been very consistent. He’s been playing very fast, and he’s been doing a really good job. [...] Size doesn’t matter to me if you can run. He’s got speed and he’s a consistent catcher. You’ve got to look at certain routes where they fit into the coverage. Are they easy to find [by the quarterback] or aren’t they?”

» On how sophomore Tevin Westbrook, who was converted to tight end, is doing in camp: “Phenomenal. That kid is a big plus for us. He has a great attitude, works hard. He has had probably one of the best camps of everybody.”

Photo Credit: UF Communications

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8/15: Muschamp, Gators discuss fall practice

With the Florida Gators entrenched in their first week of fall practice, a handful of players spoke with the media on Wednesday about how things are going as the team prepares for the 2012 season. Joining them in a surprise session was head coach Will Muschamp, who discussed some of the team’s most recent injuries.


Though Muschamp said the shoulder bruise sustained by sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was not serious, he did mention that sophomore walk-on wide reciever Michael McNeely broke his foot during practice and is expected to miss six weeks of action.

He also noted that redshirt junior defensive lineman Kedric Johnson, who dislocated his left knee in practice last week and is expected to miss a significant amount of time, had successful surgery on Wednesday.


Sophomore tight end Clay Burton has not seen much field time in his Gators career (transitioning from defense to offense your freshman season is one reason for that) but is quite sure that the schemes being installed by offensive coordinator Brent Pease are going to do quite well for Florida this year.

“I can’t wait until we play somebody else because I feel like in the spring, just talking to players like Jelani [Jenkins] and the other defensive players, they’re like, ‘You guys shifting, it’s crazy, it’s confusing,’” he said of the motions and shifts in Pease’s offense.

“So I can’t wait – I don’t know how other teams are going to game plan for us. I wouldn’t want to be a defensive player and have to line up on one side and then just because one person plays we have to shift everything. I think it’s actually probably one of the best offensives I’ve seen.”


» Sophomore Chris Johnson, who was recruited as a defensive back but was shifted over to running back when he joined the Gators, said he never expected to play offense in college but is fine with the move. “I thought about it but, at the same time, my mindset when I first came in was safety and defense. Like they say, change just happens so I got used to it,” he said.

» Burton on the transition to tight end for himself and sophomore Tevin Westbrook: “It’s just a lot of footwork. As a defensive player you want to put the offensive player off you so you can see the play, and on offense you want to get and stay into the defense, so we’ve both kind of had an issue of pressing the guy instead of driving him off the ball.”

» Senior safety Josh Evans on why he changed to No. 9: “Nothing behind it, man. I just wanted to change it up. I’ve been wearing No. 24 for a long time, and I just wanted to do something different my senior year. New player, new me, just playing up to my potential.”

» Redshirt senior defensive lineman Omar Hunter on the offensive line: “They’re doing really good. I’ve been seeing holes in the defense – Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown, those running backs man are torching our defense sometimes. The offensive line is really better; they’re really stronger this year and I definitely feel it.”

» Hunter on the “old man strength” of junior transfer Damien Jacobs: “I feel like he’s more flexible now, getting his hips to the line of scrimmage turned a little bit more and he’s doing better. He got that old man strength, not that weight room, but the old man strength. It’s weird man; it’s very weird. You might bench more than him but on the football field he’s just strong, crazy strength.”

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (99-90)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

Updated on Aug. 14 to include five freshmen.

99 – Omar Hunter (Buford, GA)
Redshirt senior defensive tackle
6’1” 314 lbs.

Quick Bio: A Parade and EA Sports All-American out of high school, Hunter is a five-star recruit who redshirted in 2008. He majors in social & behavioral sciences.

Career Stats (42 games): 71 tackles (35 solo, 7.5 for loss), sack, forced fumble, fumble recovery, pass defense, blocked field goal

2011 Season: After starting six games the season before, Hunter earned that distinction just once last year but played in all 13 contests and posted his best statistical season. His only start came in the Gator Bowl against Ohio State where he notched a season-high five tackles and the first forced fumble of his career. Hunter registered a career-high 31 tackles in 2011 and also recorded his first career sack and fumble recovery.

2012 Outlook: Though he was limited due to injury last spring, Hunter wound up putting together a solid season despite the fact that he had to compete with numerous other talented interior defensive linemen for playing time. With junior Dominique Easley recovering from injury and likely to see more time at defensive end this season, Hunter should be a starter on the inside in 4-3 sets alongside junior Sharrif Floyd. As one of five seniors on the defensive unit (and one of three five-year players on that side of the ball), he hopes to serve as a leader and veteran presence for a unit should be the Gators’ strongest in 2012.

98 – Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA)
Freshman defensive lineman
6’5” 276 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Williams both defensive line positions and could be a very versatile player for Florida in the near future.

2012 Outlook: Though Muschamp said at the time of his commitment that “the sky’s the limit” for him and that he will get into the mix immediately, Williams has not been mentioned much thus far in fall camp. In all likelihood, with a number of experienced veterans and other talented freshman also competing for time, Williams will be relegated to a reserve role.

Check out seven more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (99-90)

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New Gators footballers pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers and now that Florida Gators football team is days away from returning to the practice field in preparation for the 2012 season, it was time for the team’s newest members to choose theirs. Below is the full list of additions and changes, according to the University of Florida‘s latest roster:

» No. 4 – Damien Jacobs (Scooba, MS), JUCO transfer defensive tackle
» No. 76 – Max Garcia (Norcross, GA), redshirt* junior transfer offensive lineman

» No. 6 – Dante Fowler, Jr. (St. Petersburg, FL), five-star Buck linebacker
» No. 12 – Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook, IL), four-star linebacker
» No. 13 – Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL), four-star wide receiver
» No. 16 – Austin Hardin (Atlanta, GA), three-star kicker
» No. 17 – Skyler Mornhinweg (Philadelphia, PA), three-star quarterback
» No. 18 – Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL), four-star tight end
» No. 20 – Marcus Maye (Melbourne, FL), four-star safety
» No. 24 – Brian Poole (Bradenton, FL), four-star defensive back
» No. 24 – Matt Jones (Seffner, FL), four-star running back
» No. 27 – Willie Bailey (Hallandale, FL), three-star defensive back
» No. 28 – Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL), four-star linebacker
» No. 29 – Rhaheim Ledbetter (Shelby, NC), three-star safety
» No. 70 – D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, NC), five-star offensive tackle
» No. 74 – Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, FL), four-star offensive lineman
» No. 84 – Colin Thompson (Warminster, PA), four-star tight end
» No. 86 – Raphael Andrades (Tallahassee, FL), three-star wide receiver
» No. 90 – Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC), five-star defensive end
» No. 94 – Bryan Cox, Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, FL), three-star defensive lineman
» No. 95 – Alex McCalister (Clemmons, NC), three-star linebacker
» No. 96 – Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, GA), three-star defensive lineman
» No. 98 – Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA), three-star defensive lineman

» No. 1 – Jon Bostic, senior linebacker (formerly No. 52)
» No. 1 – Quinton Dunbar, redshirt sophomore wide receiver (formerly No. 84)
» No. 6 – Jeff Driskel, sophomore quarterback (formerly No. 16)
» No. 9 – Josh Evans, senior safety (formerly No. 24)
» No. 10 – Valdez Showers, redshirt freshman defensive back (formerly No. 20)
» No. 12 – Jacoby Brissett, sophomore quarterback (formerly No. 17)
» No. 20 – Omarius Hines, redshirt senior tight end (formerly No. 82)
» No. 32 – Chris Johnson, sophomore running back (formerly No. 33)
» No. 88 – Clay Burton, sophomore tight end (formerly No. 86)

» Sophomore Tevin Westbrook remains listed as No. 97 on the latest roster despite moving from defensive end to tight end.

* Garcia is ineligible for the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules; he can practice with Florida and will be allowed to play beginning in 2013-14.

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Florida Gators TE A.C. Leonard will transfer

Florida Gators sophomore tight end A.C. Leonard has decided to transfer, head coach Will Muschamp announced during a press conference Wednesday morning.

“Obviously he made a mistake there in the winter. He has decided to transfer. He and I talked yesterday,” Muschamp said. “He had a set of criteria that he needed to work his way back on our football team. He and I both sat down and decided it would be better off for him to transfer. I don’t know where he’s wanting to go. I’m going to talk to him further about it. It was a mutual decision. Just sometimes it doesn’t work, and it wasn’t working in this situation, so he needs to move on.”

Leonard, a prized four-star commitment out of Jacksonville, FL in 2011 and one of the standout members Muschamp’s first recruiting class at Florida, only caught eight passes for 99 yards last season but showed flashes of immense talent and was expected to be a playmaker for the Gators in 2012.

But that is certainly not to say his time at Florida has always been positive.

After initially verbally committing to the Gators on Nov. 29, 2009, Leonard decommitted on Oct. 13, 2010 and claimed that Florida no longer remained in contention for his services. He recommitted five days later on Oct. 18 and promised to enroll early, renewing his pledge and claiming that outside influences were pulling him in different directions and giving him bad advice about his future.

The next day Leonard was suspended for the remainder of his senior season by the Florida High School Athletic Association after, according to reports, he was involved in numerous altercations including taking a swing at an opponent during a game.

Following a solid spring with the Gators including an impressive performance at the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut, Leonard tore his meniscus during spring practice and missed the first eight games of the season. He spoke about transferring and being home sick both during the summer and immediately after getting injured but remained with the program as he went through rehabilitation. His three-catch, 65-yard performance against Florida State on Nov. 26 was one of Florida’s few highlights that game.

That positive memory did not last in the coaches’ or fans’ minds long as Leonard was arrested on charges of first-degree misdemeanor domestic battery just two months later on Feb. 15. He was indefinitely suspended from team activities by Muschamp but returned to spring practice following a six-week absence on March 26.

Leonard pled no contest and received probation on April 4 but was not cleared by Muschamp to participate in the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut. He was also set to be suspended for an unspecified number of games to begin his sophomore campaign regardless of the strides he made in the offseason.

During his annual Gator Gathering tour, Muschamp explained that Leonard had been doing everything asked of him since his arrest in order to earn his way back on the team. He reiterated this stance at the 2012 SEC Spring Meetings on May 30.

“He’s got some things he continues to do. He’s done everything I’ve asked him to do up to this point,” Muschamp said. “He’s got to continue to make good choices and decisions with regard to our football team. If he continues to do that, we’ll handle it.”

Instead Leonard becomes the 13th player to transfer off the Gators football team since Muschamp was hired to take over the program in Dec. 2010.

Florida will rely on redshirt senior Jordan Reed, freshmen Kent Taylor and Colin Thompson and a contingent of other players including sophomores Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook at the position.

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SIX BITS: Westbrook, Alli, Brantley, lax, Dunlap

1 » At a Gator Gathering in Orlando, FL on Tuesday, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced that sophomore Tevin Westbrook (6’5” 268 lbs.) will switch from defensive end to tight end over the summer. Westbrook, who appeared in three games as a true freshman but did not see much action in those contests, was one of the last players to commit to Florida in 2011 and did so knowing that he would not play much right away as the team had plans to develop his talents. There were rumors that Westbrook was considering transferring following the spring but he has apparently decided to take on this new challenge. He committed to UF over offers from Connecticut, North Carolina, Purdue and South Florida.

2 » Muschamp also touched on a number of other topics during the event. He noted that redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Alli will miss approximately three months of action after having successful surgery on a stress fracture in his leg, depleting the team’s pass catchers even further, and added that linebacker Graham Stewart, who the school announced last week decided to transfer, will move on to UConn.

3 » Four-star defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, a pledge to the Gators since Jan. 28, wrote Monday on Facebook that he is now a soft commitment to Florida. UF’s third-highest rated recruit according to Rivals at No. 82 overall and best overall recruit according to ESPNU (No. 18), Brantley wanted to reassure Gators fans that while his commitment status has changed he is not planning to play for any other team but Florida. “I feel like I rushed myself into a commitment, that is all,” he told of his decision to open his recruitment slightly. “Not ever, I am not decommitting,” he added. “Florida is at number one, like way in front of the pack, but then you have Bama at two and three is USC and Florida State.” Other schools have continued to recruit Brantley, but he was quick to note that the Gators have been in constant contact with him as well. In addition to visiting other campuses, Brantley also plans to speak with Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to get a better feeling of what Florida’s depth chart will look like upon his arrival.

4 » Gators lacrosse received a special distinction on Tuesday, just one day after learning they will be the No. 1 overall seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. As the newest top 25 polls were released, Florida learned that they are the new unanimous No. 1 team in the country. UF took down previously top-ranked Northwestern for the second time this season on Saturday to win the 2012 ALC Tournament and is now both the fastest program in school history to receive a No. 1 ranking and the fastest program in collegiate women’s lacrosse history to earn that distinction. NCAA Tournament action for the Gators begins on May 12 at 1 p.m. against Albany.

5 » Cincinnati Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap is ready for his breakout. After leading Cincinnati in sacks as a rookie with 9.5 (all of which he registered in the final eight games of the season), Dunlap slowed down a bit in his sophomore campaign and only registered 4.5. Slowed by a foot injury in the preseason and a hamstring injury that nagged him over the final few games, he struggled to be completely healthy and consistently effective; Dunlap hopes to improve on both in 2012. “When you get there you expect to get the sack. It’s better to be there than not be there,” Dunlap told the Cincinnati Enquirer of being around the quarterback but not bringing him down. “When I was starting to get them then the unfortunate situation [injury] happened. Now I want to have a complete season. The hamstring is one of those things that really doesn’t go away until you give it good rest. This year I didn’t want it holding me back.”

6 » Cleveland Indians outfielder Johnny Damon, an 18-year MLB veteran and long-time Gators fan who actually committed to Florida before deciding to play professionally, recently provided financial support to the UF College of Medicine in order to aid research opportunities. The $16,000 contribution from Damon’s foundation will be used to help study “a genetic condition called glycogen storage disease type III, which prevents children and adults from properly processing sugar stored in the body,” according to UF. Researchers are currently doing work on the Faroe Islands (where one in 3,000 people have the disease compared to one in 100,000 in the United States) to learn about the disease and determine if they can find a solution that could not only help people with the disease but also “potentially change the course of care for [people with] high blood pressure and other common conditions.”

“Johnny Damon has no connection to this disease, so his willingness to help means a lot to me,” said David Weinstein, M.D., a professor of pediatrics in the UF College of Medicine and director of the UF Glycogen Storage Disease Program. “We hear often about problems in sports, but we don’t frequently hear about athletes who go out of their way to help people. We could not do this without his support.”

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11/16: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators coming off a tough road loss and looking to become bowl eligible with a victory over the Furman Paladins this Saturday, head coach Will Muschamp spoke during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at heading into the contest.


All season long Muschamp has been saying that “consistency in performance” during practice is a determining factor as to who starts and gets to see the field. Providing that consistency both in practice and during games this year is junior linebacker Jon Bostic, who Muschamp noted continues to impress him with how well he’s played.

“We do a production chart by week for each game. Throughout the entire season, he’s a guy that has had a winning performance for the season as far as a production per play ratio,” he said. “[Bostic is] a guy that’s been productive, gets in and out of the right fronts, gets us lined up, does a great job communicating the calls. He’s played extremely well. He’s played very consistent week in and week out with his performance. There has not been a lot of up-and-down with him. He’s a guy that’s played a lot before so he’s had a lot of snaps, he’s got experience. He’s really blossomed in his role in what we’re trying to do defensively.”

Muschamp added that Florida’s defensive scheme has helped Bostic’s tackle numbers soar, especially considering how much better the Gators have been playing on the line in recent weeks.

“More than anything, we put a lot of emphasis on playing blocks up front and not letting people to the second level. As the year has gone on, we’ve done a nicer job of keeping him free,” he said. “We’ve kept him free in a lot of situations to be able to run and make plays. Our defense is really designed for both of those guys [Bostic and Jelani Jenkins] to make a bunch of tackles. Jon certainly benefitted from that. When he has his opportunities, he makes plays.

“He plays well in space, he plays with good toughness, he’s done a nice job disengaging on blocks. I’ve been very pleased with his consistent performance, and that’s been something we’ve struggled with as an entire football team. Consistency in our performance is week-in and week-out, and he has been a guy that has shown the consistent performance we got to have to be successful in this league.”


Redshirt senior guard/center Dan Wenger (ankle) was ruled out for the game, while redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder), redshirt freshman tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt freshman defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder) were all listed as questionable. Muschamp said McCray is not responding well to treatment on his shoulder, Green is having a hard time coming back off the ankle, and Orr got banged up in practice this week. With the Florida State game looming, none of the four are expected to play Saturday against Furman.

Muschamp also updated the redshirt situation, saying that offensive linemen Tommy Jordan and Trip Thurman as well as wide receiver Ja’Juan Story and safety Valdez Showers will all receive them this year. Tight end Clay Burton and defensive end Tevin Westbrook, both of whom played early in the year but were injured, are potential medical redshirt candidates after the season.


» On the inconsistency of Florida’s offense: “More than anything just being so inconsistent, that’s what’s hurt us the most. At times we’ve run the ball well – you look at the second half of the South Carolina game – we ran the ball pretty well against a very good defense. We get in the red zone and you look at the three games that we had opportunities there – Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina – we’re 1-for-7 as far as touchdowns in the red zone. That’s been a killer for us. Those games are certainly different outcomes if we cash in on those opportunities. The inconsistency in which we’re playing with has been the most frustrating. It’s not one position; it’s across the board, different things we’re not doing well enough to win those games. That’s been the most frustrating part of our season thus far.”

» On if the 5-5 record has anything to do with him being a first-year head coach: “I don’t know that there’s been anything reflected in our record based on me being a rookie head coach. I honestly don’t. [...] I don’t think our record is indicative of me being a first time head coach. I don’t think that has anything to do with it.”

» On why the wide receivers are so inconsistent: “When teams play man-to-man, you got to get open. You got to be able to be a threat vertically down the field. We have some deeper developing routes where you try to come off of a comeback or some curls inside. You got to create some separation in those situations and continue to challenge people vertically down the field which we try to do. [...] More consistent play at that position in catching the ball, finishing the plays; we’ve had some drops that have certainly hurt us in some situations. We’ve done some nice things, but we’re just not playing very consistent outside.”

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