Florida baseball breaks 45-year-old record Thursday, gets shelled Saturday on Senior Day

By Andrew Olson – OnlyGators.com Contributor

With the final four games of the regular season approaching, the No. 8 Florida Gators baseball (34-18, 19-8 SEC) is struggling to win at home, dropping three of its last four games to the Mercer Bears (one) and Vanderbilt Commodores (two of three) despite setting a near half-century-old school record last week.

The Gators apparently left all their offensive firepower in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

After scoring 13 runs in last weekend’s series finale, UF managed to only register five runs over its next four games.

A troubling trend of midweek losses due to lack of offense continued this week for the Gators with Mercer beginning the week by defeating Florida 4-2 on Tuesday. UF has lost three-straight non-conference games at home.

However, Florida’s final league home series started on a high note.

Continue Reading » Florida baseball breaks 45-year-old record Thursday, gets shelled Saturday on Senior Day

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Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida edges Vanderbilt 57-54, clinches share of SEC regular-season title

Involved in yet another dogfight on Tuesday evening, the No. 1 Florida Gators (26-2, 15-0 SEC) once again prevailed by holding on for a 57-54 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (15-12, 7-8 SEC) on the road at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, TN.

Florida clinched at least a share of the 2014 SEC regular-season title, extended its school-record winning streak to 20 games and continued a number of other program-best marks including winning 15 SEC games in a single season. UF also improved to 13-2 this campaign in single-digit decisions (0-6 last year) and 10-2 in true road games.

OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with seven quick-hitters:

It was over when / perfect play: Redshirt sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith, with Florida up two and the shot clock winding down, drained a dagger three-pointer to put the Gators up five with 30.9 seconds to play. “When he starts to make some shots, it will open up some other things for his game,” said head coach Billy Donovan. “He had really good looks tonight. … We had to shoot the ball over the top. … Obviously that was a big shot up by two.”

Prominent player: Finney busted out of his slump with gusto, hitting 6-of-11 shots off the bench for a game-high 19 points. He also grabbed a game-high nine boards and filled in a lot of the holes left by senior F Casey Prather, who is still hobbled by ankle and knee injuries. Finney-Smith was 1-for-23 from downtown in his previous five games dating back to Feb. 1 but hit 3-of-6 triples on Tuesday evening. Prather went just 1-for-5 with two points but grabbed six boards, registered four steals and dished three assists.

Significant stretch: Trailing 11-9 early in the first half, Florida broke out with a 13-0 run – including back-to-back threes from sophomore guard Michael Frazier II – and took a 22-11 lead with 8:35 to go until halftime. A 6-0 response by Vanderbilt knocked the visitors back a peg, but UF closed the half with a last-second fadeaway jumper by senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin to lead by seven at the break. Frazier (nine points) went just 2-for-7 from three but grabbed six boards on the evening. Wilbekin (seven points) made only 3-of-10 baskets (1-for-6 from deep) but contributed five assists.

Check out the second half of The Fastbreak…after the break.
Continue Reading » Fastbreak: No. 1 Florida edges Vanderbilt 57-54, clinches share of SEC regular-season title

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No. 1 Florida at Vanderbilt preview: Gators to test top ranking in tough environment

Location: Memorial Gym – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 14,316]
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Jimmy Dykes, Shannon Spake)
SiriusXM: 119/199 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(1) FLORIDA GATORS VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Head Coach: Billy Donovan Head Coach: Kevin Stallings
Record: 25-2 (14-0 SEC) Record: 15-11 (7-7 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -8.5 | O/U: OFF

NO TOP-RANKING BURDEN

Donovan was adamant that the Gators being voted No. 1 will not go to their heads. He noted Monday that while he is pleased Florida is being recognized for winning and overcoming obstacles this season, UF has not really accomplished anything yet.

“I always think any time that it happens that it is an honor. I’m not dismissing that, dismissing the polls or dismissing any of that stuff. I think that what happens is that sometimes you can get focused on that. What happens is, now everything that you do is attached to a ranking,” Donovan explained.

“For our guys, that means nothing – in reality, in terms of us preparing, us getting ready to play and us doing what we need to do to play against Vanderbilt. It’s a very nice honor. It’s kind of like individual awards. They’re very nice. You’re playing in a team sport and trying to win competitively. Although they are nice, I don’t think our guys are playing for individual accolades, awards or for rankings. I think our guys are in the process of competing in a very tough SEC race right now, then the SEC Tournament will come and then postseason play will come.”

Continue Reading » No. 1 Florida at Vanderbilt preview: Gators to test top ranking in tough environment

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11/9: Florida vs. Vanderbilt post-game report; Muschamp takes responsibility for Gators’ failures

The Florida Gators (4-5, 3-4 SEC) hit rock bottom on Saturday by falling 34-17 to the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-4, 2-4 SEC) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on homecoming. After his team’s fourth-straight loss, Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.

ANSWERING THE TOUGH QUESTIONS

» Opening statement on Florida committing four costly turnovers: “Not going to win many games turning it over four times and spotting them the ball on the 10, the 22, the 4 and the 10. We’re not good enough to overcome critical mistakes like that. … Emotionally it takes the wind out of your sails when you turn the ball over. You throw it to them and give it to them inside the 10-yard line three times, you’re just not going to win. We’re not good enough to overcome those things.”

» On why the Gators have struggled to come from behind in games: “Right now we’re not strong enough mentally to handle that. A year ago, maybe earlier in the year, we were. Right now we’re not. It’s a woe-is-me mentality right now, and we got to overcome that. Our leadership needs to step forward. … We’re going to move forward with the guys that are willing to accept challenges and opportunities that sometimes are difficult, sometimes are tough.”

» On his opinion of fans booing and his altercation with a fan last weekend: “That doesn’t bother me. You know what, I made a mistake last week, I made a real mistake with a very passionate, passionate Florida fan [who] was telling me his opinion of me. You know what? That’s fine. That’s fine. They pay their ticket, they can boo all they want. That’s good. Doesn’t help our program. That’s fine.”

» On whether he is worried about his job and/or plans to make changes to his staff heading into 2014: “You evaluate everything at the end of the season, and that’s what I certainly will do. I’ve done that in my first two years and will do it again this year. I’m not worried about that.”

AH-MAZING TOUCHDOWN

The lone bright spot for the Gators on Saturday was a terrific touchdown grab by freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood. Though Murphy’s pass was initially deflected by the defensive back, it ricocheted off his foot and into there air where Fulwood grabbed it with his feet in the end zone. Check it out below, courtesy of Yahoo! Sports.

“I was happy for Ahmad. He’s worked hard. He’s really developed himself, practiced well and [we’re giving] those opportunities to a guy that’s’ going to continue to be a really good player here,” Muschamp said.

Continue Reading » 11/9: Florida vs. Vanderbilt post-game report; Muschamp takes responsibility for Gators’ failures

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Four Murphy turnovers doom Gators, Florida loses to Vanderbilt for first time since 1988

A horrible season for the Florida Gators got even worse on Saturday as the Vanderbilt Commodores entered Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on homecoming and picked up a 34-17 victory, beating their SEC East rivals for the first time since 1988.

Vanderbilt came through with a win in Gainesville for the first time since 1945, one that ended Florida’s 22-game winning streak in the series. It was also the Commodores’ first league victory against the Gators dating back to when they joined the SEC in 1992.

Florida dropped its fourth-straight game by falling behind early and never finding a way to recover. The Gators are now below .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in the process of breaking their consecutive bowl game streak, which currently stands at 22.

After winning the toss and deferring possession, Florida allowed its opponent to pick up an opening drive score for the third-straight week. Vanderbilt gained 62 yards on 13 plays, converting two first downs in UF territory, and took an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators responded immediately with a 12-play, 48-yard drive, but redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin missed a 44-yard field goal wide right.

Florida committed another miscue just minutes later when redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, on 1st-and-10 from UF’s 25-yard line, threw an interception that was returned to the 10. On the very next play, VU running back Jerron Seymour rumbled into the end zone to put his team up 10-0 in the first quarter.

Continue Reading » Four Murphy turnovers doom Gators, Florida loses to Vanderbilt for first time since 1988

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt ‘Dores

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 74°F (feels like 74°F), partly cloudy, winds ENE at 10 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: Sun Sports (Bob Rathbun, Tim Couch, Elizabeth Moreau) [Channel Finder]
Other TV: SportSouth, Fox Sports South, FS Southwest, FS Midwest, FS North, FS Detroit, FS San Diego, Prime Ticket, Sports Time Ohio
SiriusXM: 108/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com [Blackout Map] | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: James Franklin
Record: 4-4 (3-3 SEC) Record: 4-2 (1-4 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -12 | O/U: 41.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you missed via the links below!

Column: Can Will Muschamp fix all of the Florida Gators’ problems?
Notebook: Muschamp’s evaluations after Florida’s third-straight loss
Notebook: Brent Pease discusses problems with Gators offense
Story: OT Tyler Moore (broken elbow) out for the season

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida holds a 35-9-2 advantage over Vanderbilt in the all-time series between the two teams, holding a 19-1-1 mark in games played in Gainesville. The two teams have played annually since 1992; the Gators are undefeated (21-0) in those games and hold a 22-game winning streak overall, outscoring the Commodores by an average of 21.5 points per game in that span.
» VU’s five-point loss to UF in 2011 was the closest game between the two teams since 2002 (21-17 Florida).
» The Gators is playing its third-straight game against a team coming off a bye week.
» UF dropped its first game this season to an unranked opponent last week and is now 18-2 against unranked teams under Muschamp.
» Florida is 15-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (7-12 when rushing for fewer than 150 yards). The Gators are also 18-4 when holding opponents to 21 points or less, 13-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 14-4 when scoring first (8-8 when an opponent scores first) and 18-1 when leading at the half (4-11 when tied or trailing at the break).
» UF has registered 105 interceptions since 2008, second-most nationally. Florida is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (17) and interception return yards (1,860).
» The Gators have forced the most turnovers among SEC teams this century (363).
» Florida has at least one turnover in 19-straight games.
» Despite struggling for the last few weeks, the Gators still lead the SEC in pass efficiency defense (98.6) and are second in the league in total defense (290.8 yards), scoring defense (17.1), rushing defense (107.6 yards), passing defense (173.1 points), yards allowed per play (4.92), third down conversion defense (.313) and first downs allowed per game (16.1).
» Florida averaged 393.4 yards of offense in each of its first five games but have racked up just 236.6 yards on average in its last three games.

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt ‘Dores

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11/5: Pease on Wildcat; Brown, Moore step up

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the ninth game of the season against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Nov. 9.

SECOND THOUGHTS ON THE BURTON-CAT

Suffice to say, the Gators have not had much success at all running direct snap plays with senior wide receiver Trey Burton this season. Nevertheless, Florida has continued to run them with the latest incarnation coming on Saturday in form of an option on 1st-and-10 from the Georgia 41. UF was trailing UGA 23-20 at the time and ended up completely stalling on the drive. The Gators never touched the ball again.

Asked Tuesday about the decision, Pease admitted that he definitely second-guessed the call following the game, even if he was not completely clear in his reasoning for running it in the first place.

“Well, I look at the play and, I mean, we knew we had it in and a lot of the things we’ve done with Trey have kind of been more inside with him carrying it. This gave us an option. What we wanted to do with him hitting it and also getting the ball to [Solomon Patton]. And, as I look back on it, yeah, I second guess myself on that play,” he said.

“One thing we do is we go through and we say, ‘OK, what plays are good?’ And that’s something we haven’t hit. I think with him it takes some adjustment by a defense to play to him, and we hope that’s what they do defensively. If we just designed the run for him, you’re right, those probably haven’t been that great this year. I know they were more effective last year. But that’s why the play was designed more for him to have an option, it’s either him or getting the ball to Solo.”

NOT-AS-OFFENSIVE LINE

Though Florida still surrendered four sacks on Saturday, only two were blamed on the offensive line. As a whole, the unit played much better with a big – literally – part of that being the effort contributed by a first-time starter in junior right tackle Trenton Brown.

“I think he did a good job in the game. There’s still some things you look at on film and [he can improve on]. He had one holding call,” Pease said. “But I think the kid went out and competed and was good on his assignments. There’s a couple things we’ve got to clean up. I think he’s good now that he’s kind of had some of those been-in-a-game situations. I think he’ll get better.”

Brown admitted that he has plenty of room for improvement but was also perturbed that his 6-foot-8, 360-pound frame did not see the field for more snaps through the first seven games of the season.

Continue Reading » 11/5: Pease on Wildcat; Brown, Moore step up

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11/4: Muschamp evaluates coaches, players following Florida’s third-straight loss to Georgia

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 23-20 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and upcoming home game game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday, Nov. 9. The homecoming contest will kick off at 12:08 p.m. and air live on FSN.

OPENING STATEMENT

“Very proud of our players’ effort. You dig yourself a hole there in a game like that, continuing to fight and play with intensity and effort and creating some opportunities for yourself. Extremely proud of them battling through the game. …

“Disappointed, we need to finish. We had our opportunities late in the game and didn’t get it done. That falls on my shoulders. We got to get over the hump in those situations. We’ve had opportunities in several games going back to Miami and LSU and some opportunities to cut it and have a chance to win the game. And we just didn’t get it done. That’s on me. We’ll get our players to finish these situations and get over the hump and that’s’ what we’re going to do.”

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL) remains sidelined but may return in a week or two. The Gators had no new injuries, according to Muschamp, though he did discuss how redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy‘s shoulder ailment has bothered him over the last two games.

“The Missouri game it was a big effect. I don’t think there’s no question. He missed all week. He wouldn’t say it, but he was under a lot of pain going into the game. I certainly think it’s improved from there as far as the wear and tear in the game and taking some shots, obviously. But it has affected him. He won’t say it, but it does,” he explained.

Continue Reading » 11/4: Muschamp evaluates coaches, players following Florida’s third-straight loss to Georgia

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