SIX BITS: NBA, baseball, Tebow, women, Gillespie

1 » Former Florida Gators currently playing in the NBA collectively had an interesting last three days. Centers Al Horford of the Atlanta Hawks and Joakim Noah of the Chicago Bulls each started March off on fire after concluding February with a career game. Horford averaged 22 points, six rebounds, 3.5 assists and three steals in two weekend games, while Noah posted two more double-doubles and averages of 17.5 points, 10 boards, five assists and 2.5 blocks in his two games. Washington Wizards rookie guard Bradley Beal posted a career-high 29 points in a double-double performance (11 rebounds) on Friday but then went down hard on Sunday with a sprained left ankle that was so painful it reportedly caused him to blackout on the court. X-rays came back negative but Beal remains day-to-day for the Wizards. Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons capped off the weekend with an explosive performance Sunday, scoring a career-high 32 points on 12-of-13 shooting (6-of-7 from downtown) in just 30 minutes. He became the first player since Larry Bird to score 30+ points, shoot 92 percent or better and attempt at least five three-pointers. Parsons, a second-round pick and second-year player, continues to be an incredibly valuable player for the Rockets; he has scored 20+ points in four-straight games.

2 » Entering the weekend unranked and losers of five-straight games to Georgia Southern, Florida Gulf Coast (three) and North Florida, Florida baseball first dropped its sixth-straight contest before rallying to win the final two games of its weekend series against the Miami Hurricanes. The Gators (5-7) handed the Canes (10-2) their first two losses on the season, toppling their foes with a four-run eighth inning on Saturday and a four-run third inning on Sunday. Sophomore catcher Taylor Gushue (3/8, 4 RBI, R, 2 BB) led Florida offensively and helped both freshman right-handed reliever Jay Carmichael (1-1) and sophomore RHP Johnny Magliozzi (1-0) pick up their first victories of the season. UF plays five games in the next seven days including a home-and-home against Jacksonville and a three-game series at home against Indiana.

Read five more BITS of Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NBA, baseball, Tebow, women, Gillespie

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Florida men’s swimming wins first SEC title since 1993; Gators capture eight championships

The No. 2 Florida Gators men’s swimming and diving program entered the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championships on Wednesday looking to get over the hump and take home the title for the first time in 20 years. After leading the pack for the final three days of the event, the Gators finally accomplished that feat on Saturday, taking home the 34th SEC Championship in team history and first since 1993.

Florida (1408.0) beat the Auburn Tigers (1196.0) for the title, snapping a 16-year winning streak and reclaiming the pool after finishing second to Auburn for 11-straight years. The No. 11 Gators women (1190.5) were not as lucky, finishing third behind the Georgia Bulldogs (1420.0) and host Texas A&M Aggies (1296.0).

The men’s and women’s teams combined for eight individual SEC Championships (five and three, respectively). Florida also won four individual awards and earned 21 NCAA “A” time automatic qualifying marks.

2013 SEC Awards (4)
» SEC Men’s Swimming Coach of the Year – Gregg Troy
» SEC Commissioner’s Trophy (High Point Winner, women) – Elizabeth Beisel
» SEC Female Freshman Swimmer of the Year – Natalie Hinds
» SEC Female Freshman Diver of the Year – Cassie Weil

2013 SEC Individual Titles (8)
» Men’s 100-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (46.02s) [back-to-back]
» Men’s 200-yard butterfly – Marcin Cieslak (1:42.17)
» Men’s 200-yard breaststroke – Matt Elliott (1:54.13)
» Men’s 200-yard freestyle – Pawel Werner (1:33.82)
» Men’s 800-yard freestyle relay – Pawel Werner, Sebastien Rousseau, Eduardo Solaeche-Gomez, Marcin Cieslak (6:14.76)
» Women’s 100-yard butterfly – Natalie Hinds (51.70s)
» Women’s 200-yard backstroke – Elizabeth Beisel (1:50.40) [third-straight]
» Women’s 400-yard individual medley – Elizabeth Beisel (3:59.53) [third-straight]

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Florida routs Texas A&M 68-47 in College Station

A replica of its last few contests, No. 9/10 Florida Gators (13-2, 3-0 SEC) kept Thursday evening’s road contest against the Texas A&M Aggies (12-4, 2-1 SEC) close in the beginning before eventually pulling away and registering a dominant 68-47 victory at Reed Arena in College Station, TX.

The trio of redshirt senior guard Mike Rosario, senior forward Erik Murphy and junior center Patric Young led the way for the Gators with impressive performances.

Rosario led all scorers by posting 19 points on 7-of-15 shooting (4-of-7 from three) to go along with three assists and two rebounds. Murphy chipped in 16 points and seven rebounds while going 6-for-10 from the floor and 2-for-5 from downtown. Young flexed his muscles with 18 points and seven boards while going 7-of-9 from inside the paint and 4-of-5 from the charity stripe.

Rosario got Florida off to a quick start, scoring 11 of his team’s first 13 points as UF took an early four-point lead on TAMU with five assists on its first five baskets. A 5-0 run by Texas A&M gave it back the lead at 14-13, but the momentum would not last long for the home team.

The Gators exploded over the final 8:57 of the first half, outscoring the Aggies 22-4 and ending the opening 20 minutes on a 14-0 run to take a huge 35-18 lead at the break.

Florida increased its lead to 21 with four-straight points to open the second half before Texas A&M finally got on the board again after a 9:13 scoring drought.

The Aggies’ were unable to get back in the game as the Gators continued expanding on their lead while playing sound defense to keep their hosts at bay.

UF outshot TAMU from the field (.500-.340), from downtown (.350-.300) and from the free throw line (.846-.714). The visitors registered 16 assists on 25 made baskets and forced 16 turnovers including nine steals while only coughing up the ball 10 times.

Texas A&M leading scorer, G Elston Turner, was kept in check by junior point guard Scottie Wilbekin. Turner, who scored 40 points against Kentucky last Saturday, went 1-for-10 from the floor and 0-for-4 from downtown to score just four points in the game.

Florida returns home on Saturday to host Missouri in a showdown of the top two teams in the SEC. The game will air live at 2 p.m. on ESPN and could also represent head coach Billy Donovan’s 400th win in the Orange and Blue.

Animated GIF created for by photekxl.

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TWO BITS: Texas A&M preview, Beal’s big night

1 » No. 9/10 Florida Gators basketball is currently in College Station, TX getting ready to take on the Texas A&M Aggies in each team’s third Southeastern Conference game of the season. The Texas A&M athletic department is planning to put on a show Thursday. In addition to having quarterback Johnny Manziel in attendance, the school plans to have his Heisman Trophy on display so fans can take a picture with it before the game. The Aggies’ football team will also be honored at halftime. Additionally, Texas A&M will hand out 9,000 white T-shirts to fans in what is being dubbed a “White Out” at Reed Arena. In a strange twist, Florida announced Thursday afternoon that it will be donning its home white uniforms for the game while the actual home team will be “going with a special dark uniform to commemorate the night.” In other words, the opposite of how one of these white outs is supposed to work.

Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Billy Kennedy
Record: 12-2 (2-0 SEC) Record: 12-3 (2-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Location: Reed Arena – College Station, TX [Capacity: 12,989]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2/ESPN2HD (Rece Davis, Bobby Knight)
SiriusXM: 134/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper app

Odds: Florida -10 | O/U 122.5

2 » Rookie guard Bradley Beal had a career night for the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, scoring a season-high 26 points on 9-of-14 shooting while hitting 6-of-7 attempts from downtown. Beal played a team-high 41 minutes in the game, set a career mark with six treys, matched a career-high with six assists and also added three rebounds, a block and a steal. He is having a stellar January for Washington after struggling through the first two months of the season. Over the last eight games, Beal is averaging 18.8 points, 3.4 dimes and 3.6 boards while shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 61.1 percent from beyond the arc.

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Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators accomplished on the field in 2012 (check out Monday’s post), the Gator Nation was making plenty of news off of it as well. From crazy occurrences and strange decisions to receiving major awards and being involved in the biggest sports stories of the last 12 months, Florida was spread all over the sports landscape in 2012. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 12 Off the Field Stories of the Year.

For every major story and exciting moment that occurred in 2012, there were plenty of instances in which Gators fans could not do anything but shake their heads, furrow their brows or shrug their shoulders at something they just saw or heard. Below is a list-within-a-list of the 10 most absurd moments of the year (sorted chronologically). Don’t worry, the rest of these stories are much shorter, so keep reading.

(1) Right in the middle of spring practice on Feb. 17, with coaches raving about team chemistry and noting massive improvement from the previous year, junior safety Matt Elam tweeted out a picture that looks like junior defensive end Dominique Easley riding his scooter inside the Florida football facility and around the Gator Head the players touch before heading out to the field each week. (2) One week after playing his last game as a member of the Gators basketball team, then-senior point guard Erving Walker found himself in trouble with the law when he was charged on March 30 with two misdemeanors for allegedly stealing a taco from a street vendor and evading police in Gainesville, FL. (3) Need a lesson on how to turn off an employer? Veteran wide receiver Jabar Gaffney went off on an epic Twitter rant on April 12, sending out derogatory statements about his wife and cousin (fellow former Gators star cornerback Lito Sheppard) only to claim three hours later that his account was hacked. (4) What better way to honor your favorite player than to get your hair cut and designed to look like him? That’s what San Antonio Spurs fan Patrick Gonzalez did for forward Matt Bonner. Gonzalez’s hair cut nearly got him suspended from school on May 16, but it also got Bonner’s attention and resulted in a pair of tickets and a meeting at a playoff game. (5) After some rather mundane barbs went back-and-forth between Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin over the summer, Mayor Nancy Berry of College Station, TX decided to post a comedic video of her poking good-natured fun at the former Texas defensive coordinator on June 1.

(6) Hours after taking home the first NCAA Outdoor Championship in program history on June 10, Gators track & field suffered a serious scare in the air when its plane suffered a cracked windshield at 37,000 feet and underwent a rough landing in Tuscaloosa, AL. The windshield shattered after the plane landed but everyone was OK. (7) How do you answer a quarterback controversy and answer questions about which signal caller is going to start the first game of the season? Start both of them! That’s what Muschamp did on Sept. 1 when sophomores Jacoby Brissett (quarterback) and Jeff Driskel (wide receiver) both came out with the starting offense on its first play from scrimmage against Bowling Green. (8) With Muschamp leading the team, he is sure to find his way on this list at least once per year. In a 13-day span, Muschamp made headlines by being himself. After Florida defeated LSU at home on Dec. 7, he decided to celebrate by crowd surfing over his own players in the locker room. Two weeks later, at halftime against South Carolina, Muschamp vented his frustration about the officiating to Brady Ackerman of the Gator Radio Network. He saw an official walking by as the teams headed to their respective locker rooms and made sure to make it known how upset he was at some of the calls in the first half. “Well, we just gotta continue to capitalize on what we’re doing and OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” (9) With ESPN’s College GameDay in Gainesville for the South Carolina game, having former Gators swimmer Ryan Lochte on set as the guest picker was an easy and obvious decision for the network. Never did ESPN guess that he would find difficulty in reading off the list of picks provided for him. (10) Why is Chad Johnson in Gainesville … and why is he meeting with Florida? Those were questions fans asked on Nov. 2 when it was revealed that the NFL free agent wide receiver – fresh off being embarrassed on national television when he was cut by the Miami Dolphins after being arrested for allegedly hitting his wife – had shown up in town and was taking pictures with players on the team one day before UF took on Missouri.

Continue Reading » Top 12 for 2012: Off the Field Stories of the Year

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FOUR BITS: Donovan, Spikes, volleyball, soccer

1 » The Florida Gators announced on Tuesday that head coach Billy Donovan’s son of the same name has decided to transfer to Florida and walk on to the team to play for and learn from his father. Billy Donovan , who spent his last two years playing for the Catholic Cardinals (Division III) in Washington, D.C., has already joined the team and will don the No. 42 though fans will not see him on the court this year as he will be forced to ride the bench during games due to NCAA transfer rules. As was noted a year ago when Catholic traveled to Gainesville, FL to play the Gators in an exhibition game, the younger Donovan originally chose to attend that university in order to further his passion for politics. A change of career path – he is now interested in a coaching or administrative role in a basketball organization – led him right back to where he grew up. “I never wanted it to be like I was telling him what to do career-wise,” Donovan told UF’s “I think he needs to figure that out on his own. My job, my wife’s job, is to be supportive and help put him in the best situation for him to pursue what he wants to pursue.” There is probably no better spot for the younger Donovan to learn how to coach or run a basketball team than under the wing of a future hall of fame coach.

2 » New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes received some bad news on Friday when he learned that the NFL decided to fine him $21,000 for an illegal blindside block he threw in a game on Sept. 30. Spikes, who leveled Buffalo tight end Scott Chandler during an interception return for his team, told the team’s website earlier in the week that he did not believe that he did anything wrong. “A lot of guys, they know the new rules. I don’t think I’ve done anything illegal,” he said. “I’ve tried to keep it legal, but I just want to kind of try to make a point – when I hit a guy, I want him [to say], ‘Oh, that was Spikes that hit me. I know that already.”

3 » No. 11 Florida volleyball (13-2, 7-0 SEC) has been on a roll as of late, wrapping up their ninth- and 10th-straight regular season wins over the weekend while hosting a pair of Southeastern Conference opponents in Gainesville. UF registered a 3-0 sweep (25-23, 25-18, 25-15) the Arkansas Razorbacks (13-4, 4-2 SEC) on Friday before coming from two sets down to win 3-2 (22-25, 20-25, 25-22, 25-22, 15-8) against the Kentucky Wildcats (10-7, 4-3 SEC) on Sunday. Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek of Slovenia was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday for her efforts over the weekend. She registered a total of 32 kills and 14 digs combined over the two matches. Impressive in her own right was junior middle back Chloe Mann, who notched a combined 22 kills and 30.0 points on the weekend.

4 » No. 12 Gators soccer (10-3-1, 7-1 SEC) is on a roll of their own, shaking off early season disappointment to rebound with a seven-match winning streak including two big road victories over the last weekend. Florida won 2-0 over the LSU Tigers (5-5-4, 1-4-2 SEC) on Friday before, like volleyball, coming back from a deficit to take down the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (12-2-1, 6-1-1 SEC) 2-1 on Sunday. Four different players scored goals for the Gators over the weekend with senior midfielder/forward Erika Tymrak and sophomore MF Havana Solaun finding the back of the net on Friday and senior defender Jo Dragotta and junior F Adriana Leon scoring on Sunday. Tymrak, who garnered SEC Offensive Player of the Week honors on Monday, also notched an assist on Leon’s game-winning goal.

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9/10: Muschamp talks Gators team improvement

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review his team’s 20-17 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies in the league opener for both squads on Saturday. He also discussed the game ahead this week as Florida will travel to Knoxville, TN to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at 6 p.m.


Muschamp said after Saturday’s game that he is not sure if the Gators would have prevailed in a similar situation a year ago. Asked Monday why that would be the case, he pointed to two things in particular that have improved as far as the team is concerned over the last few months.

“The number one thing is experience,” he said. “We had a bunch of guys playing for the first time last year. You look at our sophomore class from last year, I know I can’t tell you the exact number of snaps they played their freshman year, but it wasn’t many. So for the first time a lot of these guys were in those situations and playing for the first time.

“Togetherness – I think this is a pretty close team. You didn’t see any finger-pointing at halftime; you didn’t have any of that. You didn’t have the offense and defense divided in what we were trying to do. As a matter of fact, [offensive line coach] Tim Davis said in a staff meeting yesterday how good it was that the defense came off the field telling the offense, ‘Let’s go. Let’s keep it going.’ When you start to see things like that and guys pulling for each other and understanding it’s bigger than what’s on the back of their jersey – that it’s about playing for each other. I think this team has shown that they are willing and able to do that.”


Offensive Player of the Game: redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison
* Muschamp said he was pleased with the way he directed the offensive line and got the team in and out of protections.

Scrap Iron: senior tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt junior guard Jon Halapio

Defensive Player of the Game: senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic
* Muschamp said he made a bunch of good plays in space and in the run game and was also a big-time leader throughout the contest.

Hard Hat: freshman LB Antonio Morrison
* Muschamp said he liked his physicality and instinctiveness. “This guy. He’ll throw his stuff up in there.”

Special Teams Players of the Game: redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis and sophomore defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy
* Muschamp said Purifoy did an outstanding job playing coverage on punts and held a big-time returner to next to nothing throughout the game.
* Sturgis was also named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week

Big Play: redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown
* Muschamp said Brown’s big play came on the kickoff after the final touchdown when he blew up the wedge and made a tackle inside the 20. “What a momentum change for us – to continue to have the momentum as opposed to letting him get to the 35-40-yard line. It’s a field goal game. People don’t see those things. What a huge play he made there; really proud of his efforts.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: walk-ons redshirt freshman defensive lineman Evan Holmes, junior wide receiver Ryan Parrish, freshman WR Darius Masline


» Muschamp on the overall game: “It was a great effort by our team. Very pleased in a team win, and I mean that in all parts as far as offense, defense and special teams. Not always exactly what we wanted in any phase but certainly picked each other up when we needed to throughout the game. That’s a credit to our players.”

» Muschamp n dominating the fourth quarter: “Won the fourth quarter. That’s something we emphasized to our guys – making plays in those situations and opportunities when they present themselves. Thought we did a good job of that.”

» Muschamp on the defense’s resurgence in the second half: “The second half they had six possessions and five of them were three-and-outs. Our guys came out poised at halftime, understood what we needed to do to be successful. Didn’t get any turnovers. We need to start the game better. We need to play with more discipline on defense, that’s the bottom line. I said it after the game. Our effort and your enthusiasm and our want-to is off-the-charts, but we’ve got to play more disciplined as a group as far as doing your job. You can’t cross-face on blocks and back-door blocks. It’s out of effort of wanting to make a play; it’s not out of defiance of not wanting to do something. It’s just guys that are trying to do a little too much. We just need to do our job.”

» Muschamp on how well the special teams unit played: “Special teams – back to our standard. Great effort. Outstanding effort on special teams. We’ve got some guys that were straining their guts out there, playing a bunch of snaps in a hot, hot day there in Texas. Very pleased with them.”

» Muschamp on Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and the Volunteers: “He’s done a nice job there at Tennessee, especially if you look at their football team right now from a year ago. Obviously the injuries they had last year decimated their season. […] You got an experienced team back. They want to be physical and run the football. They want to take advantage of their strengths offensively which are at the quarterback and receiver position this time. He wanted to get more aggressive defensively, and I think they’ve done that. His background has always been in special teams and I think they’re really good on teams. I think you’re seeing a little bit more of his identify and personality in this football team as maybe opposed to the previous two years.”

» Muschamp on the luxury of having Sturgis on the roster: “He’s very accurate and very dependable, never gets shook. He just lines up and does his job. […] In my two years as head coach to have that opportunity to have a guy like him has just been a relief.”

» Bostic on the team’s winning streak against UT: “It’s a rival you never really want to lose to. Going into the season it’s always one of the games on your schedule that’s always circled. Pretty much a statement game. That’s usually our first SEC game but this year it’s our second, so we want to keep it going.”

» Bostic on the young linebackers: “Those guys, they can play. Even though they haven’t played as much, they can play. They learned the defense just like we did. It goes by game experience now. As soon as they get in they pretty much get to play and make checks just like I am.”

» Bostic on freshman LB Antonio Morrison: “He’s a physical linebacker, especially for a freshman. He doesn’t play like a freshman. He’s smart, pretty much learns from our mistakes. That’s one thing – you see him after every practice he’s beating me in the film room. That’s a good thing to start out with as a freshman because a lot of freshmen really don’t understand how important watching film is.”

» Bostic on redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown: “It just shows how much of a fighter he is. He’s open of those type of guys, you see him in the training room 24/7. He’s not one of those guys who is ever down. He’s always laughing, smiling with a positive attitude. I respect him for that. He’s one of those guys who has been through pretty much everything and just keeps coming back.

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Injuries pile up for Florida Gators: Jenkins, Riggs out; Powell re-injured; Gillislee good to go

One would think the news would be more positive for the No. 17/18 Florida Gators coming off a big win on the road against the Texas A&M Aggies, but head coach Will Muschamp actually spent most of his weekly Monday afternoon press conference delivering plenty of bad news as it pertains to his team’s health.

“We’ve kind of got a saying around here: ‘Man down, man up,'” he said.

Muschamp announced Monday that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (broken thumb) and junior cornerback Cody Riggs (fractured foot) will both miss at least a month after being injured against Texas A&M.

Jenkins, who had surgery on Monday, will definitely be out at least for this week’s road game against the Tennessee Volunteers but may be able to return sooner than his timetable dictates if doctors approve a protective device for his hand.

Riggs, however, could be out as long as six weeks depending how his foot heals as doctors said he does not need surgery on the fracture.

Freshman LB Antonio Morrison will take over for Jenkins as the starter at Will, but the Gators will also see plenty of redshirt sophomore Michael Taylor in a reserve role at both inside positions. Junior Darrin Kitchens will also have a bigger role in the defense.

Defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and redshirt freshman Valdez Showers both filled in for Riggs on Saturday and will continue doing so in the near future. Junior Matt Elam will likely transition back to playing much more safety while junior Jaylen Watkins, who moved into the starting cornerback role last week, will take over at nickel.

The bad news continued as Muschamp added that junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April during the team’s spring game and hoped to return sometime in October, re-injured his knee while rehabbing and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

“He is being reevaluated next week. He has got some swelling on the knee. We took the MRI – probably a little too much swelling to tell really where he is right now,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to reevaluate him next week. Very disappointing for him. Really a setback as far as where he is and where we thought he would be at this point as excelled as his rehab has gone.

“Talking to him [Monday] morning and his parents throughout the weekend, more than likely Ronald will redshirt this year. It’s just disappointing for him, a guy that mentally has been a rock, just been amazing in how he’s handled the process. And again, he’s handled it very well. The diagnosis is not totally final yet; we want to look at it again next week. Certainly it has put a speed bump in the recovery process. Very disappointed for him and us.”

Not all was negative on the injury front.

Senior running back Mike Gillislee, who has four of his team’s five touchdowns this season and appeared to hurt his groin while scoring in the fourth quarter on Saturday, only “strained” the muscle and will be able to practice all week.

“He’s going to be fine. He’ll be fine for this weekend,” Muschamp said. “He’s going to practice [Monday]. We just had a staff meeting and they said he is going to practice, so I think he should be fine. We probably won’t rep him 40 times [in practice]. We’ll make sure he’s ready to go for Saturday [and] we feel like he’s fully available.”

Senior safety Josh Evans (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (cramps) are both good to go as well.

Florida will also get sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (hamstring, suspension) and freshman tight end Kent Taylor (concussion) back for the Tennessee game though redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (strained pectoral) will probably be out until the bye week (at least two more weeks).

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