No. 3 Florida Gators set to face No. 21 Louisville Cardinals in 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl

Coming off an 11-1 regular season, a five-game improvement from a year ago, the No. 3 Florida Gators have been awarded a spot in the 2013 Sugar Bowl where the team will take on the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals (10-2) on Jan. 2 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA. The game will air live at 8:30 p.m. on ESPN.

Florida and Louisville will be participating in the 79th annual version of the game. It is the ninth time the Gators will play in the Sugar Bowl but the first for the Cardinals.

UF holds a 3-5 all-time record in the Sugar Bowl, last playing against and defeating Cincinnati 51-24 on Jan. 1, 2010. Florida is also 2-0 all-time against Louisville; the teams have not met since 1992.

The Gators were originally expected to face the Oklahoma Sooners in the game. However, a strong finish to the season by Northern Illinois Huskies moved them up to No. 15 in the final BCS standings and into a game. The Huskies earned a guaranteed berth because they finished in the top 16 of the BCS standings and ahead of at least one automatic qualifying conference champion, thus knocking the Sooners out of an at-large bid and moving the Cardinals into the Sugar Bowl.

The game has an additional level of intrigue as Louisville is currently led by former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, who took over as head coach in 2010. Also on Strong’s staff are former UF defensive backs coach Vance Bedford (defensive coordinator), running backs coach Kenny Carter (same position) and defensive graduate assistant Tommy Restivo (DB coach).

The Cardinals’ roster also includes Gators transfers wide receiver Robert Clark, tight end Gerald Christian and cornerback Adrian Bushell.

Florida will be appearing in its 22nd consecutive bowl game, a mark that ranks first in the Southeastern Conference and second nationally. The Gators are 20-19 all-time in bowls; UF has won four straight and six of its last seven.

Sugar Bowl Committee President Jack Laborde: “We’re very excited to be welcoming the University of Florida and the University of Louisville to New Orleans for the Allstate Sugar Bowl. Each year, we have the pleasure of welcoming thousands of fans to this great city and showing off all it has to offer – world-class cuisine, trend-setting music, outstanding gridiron competition and more. We look forward to introducing our unique flavor of hospitality to all of the players, coaches, administrators and fans from these two great schools.”

Sugar Bowl CEO Paul Hoolahan: “We’re very pleased to have the opportunity to host these two outstanding teams in this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Sugar Bowl Committee has worked hard over the years to present outstanding match-ups that produce thrilling games. In Will Muschamp and Charlie Strong, we have two of the country’s top young coaches and we know both will have their teams ready to play on January 2nd. We have little doubt that this game will produce another memorable chapter in the great history of the Sugar Bowl.”

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FOUR BITS: Young, Wright, K. Moore, Dorsey

1 » USA Basketball has released a profile piece on Florida Gators four-star power forward commitment Patric Young (Jacksonville, FL) completed as he joined the Men’s U-18 National Team for the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship for Men from June 26-40. Among the topics covered, Young says that Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel is working him and the rest of the team hard, the experience will do him well for his freshman year at Florida, he has plans to study sports medicine, his family is huge Gators fans and he wants to do what he can to help end the genocide in Darfur, Sudan. “My parents put [giving back] into my head, I grew up with my own morals that I learned from them,” Young said. “I just applied it to my life and that’s just me.”

2 » Chicago Bears general manager Jerry Angelo discussed how former Florida safety Major Wright has been progressing with his team thus far through mini camp; suffice to say, he is coming away impressed. “He’s billed as advertised. He’s a great kid who’s very competitive,” Angelo said. “He brings a lot of emotion and energy to the [secondary], which is great to see. He’s getting better with each practice. There’s going to be a learning curve at all positions for rookies, probably more so in the secondary because there’s much more going on at the safety position. But he’s doing a fine job. The coaches are very pleased with the way he’s progressing, particularly with his work habits. In terms of whether he’ll start this season, the players and coaches will determine that, but we’re very excited about seeing him in pads.”

3 » While some of the Gators’ more prominent stars over the years were unable to make a career for themselves in the NFL (see: quarterback Leak, Chris of the Montreal Alouettes), others have found slots on practice teams and in the back of rosters. Picked up by the Kansas City Chiefs on Dec. 9, 2009, as an insurance policy against a dwindling backfield, former Florida running back Kestahn Moore caught on and signed a deal with the team on Jan. 5. This offseason, Moore has been getting a lot of work in during practice – he has taken Wildcat formation snaps behind rookie wide receiver Dexter McCluster, run the ball as what many believe is the team’s third or fourth back and impressed coaches with what Chiefs writer Bob Gretz calls “a nice wiggle and burst.” As camp wrapped up on June 14, Gertz had this to say about Moore: “The first-year back out of Florida got a lot of opportunities with Jamaal Charles on the sidelines because of his shoulder surgery/recovery. There is no live action in these practices, so running backs can be hard to judge. But in every practice, Moore ripped off at least one impressive run with a burst of speed or moves. Moore has become a shadow of Thomas Jones and he’s trying to learn how to stay in the NFL from the 11-year veteran.”

4 » Safety Demar Dorsey, a five-star recruit who was previously committed to Florida before being forced to find a fit elsewhere, was released from his letter of intent with the Michigan Wolverines in early June for undisclosed reasons most likely relating to his past legal issues and was hoping to catch on with another program. As previously rumored and projected by OGGOA, he has officially landed with the Louisville Cardinals and two former Florida coaches – head coach Charlie Strong, and defensive coordinator and secondary coach Vance Bedford.

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FOUR BITS: Baseball tops UNF, Wilbekin signs

1 » Tuesday evening was all about freshman first baseman Austin Maddox. Going 4-4 with five RBI and a two-run home run, Maddox powered No. 4/5 Florida Gators baseball (38-12) to a 9-3 win over the North Florida Ospreys (29-23) at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Maddox’ 17th blast of the season set a new Florida freshman single-season record while also giving him the team lead in homers. Making his first start since having facial surgery, sophomore starter Tommy Toledo (3-1) collected the win in only two innings of work. Tuesday’s victory marked the Gators’ 12th in their last 13 games and fifth in a row. Tied atop the Southeastern Conference standings with South Carolina, Florida travels to Columbia, SC, on Thursday for a three-game series to determine the regular season champion. The Gators must win two of three games as they would otherwise lose the tiebreaker due to their greater number of canceled SEC games due to inclimate weather.

Four more BITS on Wilbekin, Tebow, Haden and Donovan…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Baseball tops UNF, Wilbekin signs

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FOUR BITS: Cooper, Seferian-Jenkins, Strong

1 » Asked in a question and answer session about a “sleeper pro prospect coming out of Florida,” ESPN NFL analyst Adam Schefter was quick to name former Florida Gators wide receiver Riley Cooper. “Anyone who is 6-foot-4, 225 pounds and fast usually has a chance to do some good things at the NFL level,” Schefter said. “Some scouts timed him in the high 4.4s. So he has a size/speed combo that makes him an attractive prospect. Throw in his ability to play special teams and it would seem like Cooper would benefit some team next season.”

2 » As the Butler Bulldogs prepare for a 2010 NCAA Final Four game against the Michigan State Spartans, their fans are pumped and already swarming local bookstores (both online and in person) to purchase the official tournament t-shirt. “We are going through just thousands of shirts at this point, of the Final Four style,” Follett regional manager Richard Goodpaster said. In fact, Butler fans are buying shirts at such a rapid pace that they are expected to blow past the record number of shirts purchased by Gators fans during the team’s run in 2006.

Two more BITS on a top recruit favoring UF and Charlie Strong…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Cooper, Seferian-Jenkins, Strong

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Florida impresses recruits at first Junior Day

Recruiting contributor Zach Abolverdi takes a look at Junior Day for OGGOA…

The Florida Gators’ first Junior Day of the 2011 recruiting cycle was a successful start to the season, despite the absence of head coach Urban Meyer. By all accounts, interim head coach and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio was firing on all cylinders, doing a good job selling the program to the prospects in attendance. He emphasized how coaches, players and recruits united when uncertainty surrounded the program just over a month ago and claimed it was a testament to the resiliency of Gator Nation.

Recruiting requires many crucial components and qualities, one of which is developing relationships early in the process. Addazio and the coaching staff got that chance this past Saturday, when they saw familiar faces mixed with some brand new ones. There were no drills, workouts or whistles, just an opportunity for prospects to take in the city, campus and everything the University of Florida has to offer.

Find out who visited and what their impressions were of the Gators after the jump!
Continue Reading » Florida impresses recruits at first Junior Day

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SIX BITS: Vandy, Carter, Bedford, recruiting news

1 » REMINDER: Florida Gators basketball begins 2010 Southeastern Conference play Saturday at noon on ESPN2 against the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road in Nashville, TN. Just an hour later at 1 p.m., the U.S. Army All-American Bowl will air live on NBC. OGGOA will have live coverage of both games.

2 » Former Florida running backs coach Kenny Carter said that, though his move to the Louisville Cardinals appears to be a lateral one, it will help advance his career. “Florida has been great to me,” Carter told the Orlando Sentinel. “I learned so much from Urban [Meyer]. I’m grateful for the opportunity. It’s a dream job for 95 percent of coaches. But there are a lot of factors that go into a coaching move while most people think it has something to do with the team they are leaving. I want to be a head coach one day, and in order to be a head coach, there are things involved in that process. Helping a program from the ground up and working for Charlie [Strong] really intrigued me.” Carter will also help organize special teams with Louisville.

3 » In its first meet of the 2010 season, No. 4 Gators gymnastics fell to the No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners 195.275 to 196.250. Florida won the vault but lost on bars, beam and floor while competing on the road in Norman, OK.

4 » Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong officially announced Friday that former Gators cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford has been hired as his defensive coordinator.

5 » Conflicting reports emerged that three-star running back recruit Shontrelle Johnson (Deland, FL) received a scholarship offer from Florida earlier this week, but in the end none of them truly matter. Johnson, who claims he received an offer from the Gators to play defensive back, has reaffirmed his commitment to the Iowa State Cyclones. “They want me to play DB,” Johnson told Chris Hays of the Sentinel. “I’m a running back. I run the ball. That’s what I do.”

6 » Four-stars athlete/safety recruit Dietrich Riley (La Canada, CA) and Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback commitment Andrew Hendrix (Cincinnati, OH) will be visiting Gainesville, FL, this weekend according to Rivals.

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Florida Gators coaching staff as of January 5

Head Coach: Urban Meyer

Interim Head Coach, Offensive Coordinator, Offensive Line: Steve Addazio
Quarterbacks: Scot Loeffler
Wide Receivers: Billy Gonzales (LSU) Zach Azzanni
Running Backs: Kenny Carter (Louisville) Stan Drayton
Tight Ends: Brian White

Defensive Coordinator: Charlie Strong (Louisville) TBD
Assistant Defensive Coordinator, Safeties: Chuck Heater
Associate Head Coach, Defense/Defensive Line: Dan McCarney
Linebackers: Charlie Strong (Louisville) D.J. Durkin
Cornerbacks: Vance Bedford (Louisville) TBD

Special Teams: Urban Meyer D.J. Durkin
Recruiting Coordinator: Billy Gonzales (LSU) TBD
Director of Player and Community Relations: Terry Jackson

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TWO BITS: Defensive coach, running backs coach

With Florida Gators cornerbacks coach Vance Bedford and running backs coach Kenny Carter all but gone to the Louisville Cardinals, speculation is running rampant about who will replace them on the coaching staff. Jeremy Fowler of the Orlando Sentinel reports that UF is looking to hire a coach to either directly replace Bedford or take over those duties while also holding down a co-defensive coordinator role alongside current assistant Chuck Heater. Some names have been thrown around for both positions, and OGGOA has compiled them for our readers in short form.

1 » Defensive coach / cornerbacks coach
Willie Martinez: former Georgia Bulldogs defensive coordinator
Corwin Brown: Notre Dame Fighting Irish associate head coach, co-defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach
*replaced at ND by Grand Valley State head coach Chuck Martin
Taver Johnson: Ohio State Buckeyes cornerbacks coach

2 » Running backs coach
Stan Drayton: Syracuse Orange running backs coach, former Florida and Tennessee Volunteers running backs coach
*has previously insulted both head coach Urban Meyer and the program
- Terry Jackson: Florida Director of Player and Community Relations, former Gators RB
Brian White: Florida tight ends coach, former running backs coach with Wisconsin Badgers and UNLV Rebels

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