Florida opponent previews – Missouri and Georgia

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After squaring off against two bitter rivals, the Florida Gators will square off against one of the two newest additions to the Southeastern Conference, the Missouri Tigers.

The 2013 Florida squad drew comparisons to Missouri’s 2012 team, under-performing because of excessive injuries that ravaged its roster. The Gators hope to replicate what the Tigers did in 2013 as well as the program rebounded from that injury-plagued season to win the SEC East with a 7-1 conference record.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS MISSOURI TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Gary Pinkel (Year: 14)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 12-2 (7-1)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 3-3 Common Opponents: 5-1
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 13th (39.1 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 34th (23.1 ppg)

Continue Reading » Florida opponent previews – Missouri and Georgia

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FOUR BITS: soccer, Florida-Georgia, Donovan

1 » The 2014-15 athletic season officially kicks off for the Florida Gators on Friday at 7 p.m. when the No. 8 Florida soccer team hosts the Miami Hurricanes at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Gators soccer will be kicking off its 20th season, all of which have been led by head coach Becky Burleigh. Florida returns all 11 starters from 2013 with sophomore forward Savannah Jordan looking to build on her incredible freshman campaign. UF shared the 2013 Southeastern Conference Championship with Texas A&M and has been voted as the preseason favorite to repeat. Florida has won 13 SEC regular-season titles including seven of the last eight dating back to 2006.

2 » The school will be holding its first-ever Rally in the Swamp student pep rally on Sunday, Aug. 24 at 7 p.m., six days before the Gators kick off their 2014 season against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Aug. 30. The event will include “Florida cheerleaders and dazzlers, mascots, head coach Will Muschamp and members of the Gator[s] football team.” While there, “students will learn some of the great traditions” of the program, distribute student section t-shirts, win prizes and eat pizza. As OnlyGators.com first reported on Wednesday, there are approximately 2,000 student tickets still remaining out of the school’s allotment of 21,500. According to executive associate athletics director Mike Hill, Florida has sold out its student section every season during his 21-year tenure with the program.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: soccer, Florida-Georgia, Donovan

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TWO BITS: Florida-Georgia, Billy Donovan

1 » Though the Jacksonville Jaguars decided to let the Florida Gators and Georgia Bulldogs choose whether to offer EverBank Field‘s new cabana seating for the annual World’s Largest Cocktail Party, the schools have turned down the opportunity both for 2014 and the foreseeable future. The 17 cabanas, which according to the Associated Press can seat a maximum of 640 people, take up the space of 7,000 seats that Florida and Georgia would otherwise be able to sell for the game. The athletic directors for both schools prefer to have temporary seating added in that space rather than waste the real estate. “Our No. 1 priority is to have the same number of tickets available to our fans and we don’t have an interest in any scenario that reduces the number of tickets,” Gators AD Jeremy Foley told the AP’s Mark Long. Jacksonville removed 9,500 seats as part of its new renovation but should still come close to its capacity of 84,000 for the game.

2 » ESPN.com’s Jeff Goodman, after speaking with personnel throughout the NBA, listed Florida head coach Billy Donovan as the coach in the college ranks who best prepares his players to be professionals. “He runs a lot of pro stuff and integrates a lot of wrinkles,” a league executive told Goodman. “He has an innovative playbook. … He just gets it.” The rest of the 12-person list, in order: Ben Howland (unemployed), John Beilein (Michigan), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Fred Hoiberg (Iowa State), Mike Krzyzewski (Duke), Bill Self (Kansas), Buzz Williams (Virginia Tech), Rick Pitino (Louisville), John Calipari (Kentucky), Sean Miller (Arizona), Tony Bennett (Virginia).

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FOUR BITS: Foley, Roper, Tebow, ESPN

1 » In a question-and-answer session with the school’s website, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley noted Thursday that his team and the Georgia Bulldogs will both wear colored jerseys during the Florida-Georgia game. “It’s just something a little different,” Foley explained. “To be honest, a fan suggested it. He sent me a picture of what they used to do when Coach [Steve] Spurrier was playing. He had a blue jersey on and whoever was tackling him had a red jersey on. It’s a unique rivalry and just a little different something to do. There is no particular reason. Georgia agreed and we agreed. At the end of the day, you’ve still got to win the ballgame no matter what color jersey you have on. I think it’s just a little something that makes the game even more unique.” No specifics were given as to whether this is a one-off decision or has been instituted for the duration of the current contract between the opponents to play in Jacksonville, FL.

Foley also notes that there is a “sense of urgency” in remodeling the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and that a decision on upcoming Southeastern Conference football scheduling (whether to go to nine league games) will come in June, which you can read along with some other less-interesting topics by clicking here.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Foley, Roper, Tebow, ESPN

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FOUR BITS: Spofforth, Harvin, Jenkins, Dickey

1 » Set to compete in the pool for Great Britain in the 2012 London Olympics, former Florida Gators swimmer Gemma Spofforth recently opened up to The Guardian about losing three family members within five years to cancer and how her despair got so deep that she had to pull herself out of it. Spofforth’s forthcoming autobiography Dealing With It: Five Years of Mourning details her journey including the lowest point of her life – one in which she contemplated suicide. “Is the concrete hard enough? I could jump right now. I could escape. I would not have to deal with it, wouldn’t have to think, wouldn’t have to worry,” she writes while remembering thoughts she had when standing on a hotel balcony in Australia. Still living in Florida, Spofforth “has been working as a volunteer on a suicide crisis line in Florida,” according to The Guardian, and has learned how to both deal with grief and “compartmentalize her emotions.” She is currently on course to earn a Master’s degree in mental health counseling, which she will complete after she competes in the women’s 100 meter backstroke at the Olympics in her home country of England. Spofforth is a former world record holder in the 50 meters and current world record holder in the 100 meters; she also won five NCAA titles.

2 » Confirming a statement former Florida wide receiver Percy Harvin made on June 25, in which he said that despite his ongoing issues with the Minnesota Vikings he would appear on time for training camp, a source close to the team told the same thing to ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday. Harvin, who was on the field for just 58.4 percent of his team’s offensive plays in 2011, wants to see increased playing time and additional red zone touches. He is also hoping for lucrative contract extension despite the fact that he is under team control for two more seasons and could be franchise tagged in 2014.

3 » Denying that he is currently at odds with the St. Louis Rams about a pre-draft agreement he made to hire a certain financial advisor before signing his rookie contract, cornerback Janoris Jenkins said Saturday that he is ready to begin his first professional season. “I’m excited about playing for Jeff Fisher,” he said in a statement as published by Scout.com. “I have a lot of respect for him and he’s a great guy. He’s a highly respected coach in this league.” A Yahoo! Sports report that surfaced Friday noted that Jenkins was not yet under contract due to not meeting terms of a pre-draft agreement (that is not allowed by the collective bargaining agreement but was supposedly made) between Fisher and Jenkins’s agent Malik Shareef. Fisher asked that Jenkins hire Lou Taylor of Tri Star Sports & Entertainment as his financial adviser despite Jenkins already having Rich DeLuca of Merrill Lynch working for him. Jenkins has not made that switch even though he apparently signed one piece of paperwork that would have begun facilitating the change. “Contract talks are going fine,” Shareef told Scout. “We fully expect to have Janoris’s deal done soon.”

4 » It was announced Friday that former Florida quarterback Doug Dickey and running back John L. Williams will be the next two Gators players inducted into the Florida/Georgia Hall of Fame. The duo will be joined by Bulldogs QB David Greene and wide receiver Charles Whittemore for the induction ceremony on Oct. 26, one day before the latest edition of the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

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FOUR BITS: Gator Day, Tebow, Georgia, Murray

1 » With Sunday’s Miami Dolphins vs. Denver Broncos game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL also serving as a Gator Day that will honor the 2008 national champion Florida Gators, Dolphins president Mike Dee said Wednesday that his team has sold 10,000 since Tim Tebow was named the Broncos’ starter last week. “The demand and interest in the game clearly has picked up since the announcement was made,” Dee said, according to the Palm Beach Post. In addition to a halftime ceremony honoring the team (which includes a performance by the Pride of the Sunshine University of Florida Fighting Gator Marching Band), there will be a pre-game event featuring Nat Moore, Louis Oliver and potentially other former Florida football players. Up to 20 Gators will be on hand including former head coach Urban Meyer.

2 » On a conference call with the media Wednesday, Tebow spoke about returning to Miami and the festivities surrounding the game. Though he said he appreciates the team being honored, he is not thinking about what is going on at halftime and is only concentrating on getting ready for the game right now. Tebow also said he’s excited that he gets to see Dolphins center Mike Pouncey and will be prepared to face Miami’s defense. “They have a very athletic defense. They have a lot of speed,” he said. “We’re just going to have to take care of the ball, be smart and ultimately execute.”

3 » The Southeastern Conference announced early Wednesday that two Georgia Bulldogs – defensive linemen Kwame Geathers and safety Shawn Williams – will be suspended for the first half of their next game for violations that occurred against Vanderbilt on Saturday. Williams – a starter – committed a flagrant personal foul, while Geathers was involved in a fight during the game. Georgia’s next contest is against Florida in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL on Oct. 29.

4 » The Gators are in the heads of at least one member of the Bulldogs, and that is quarterback Aaron Murray who admitted this week that he dwelled on his overtime interception to then-Florida free safety Will Hill. “I think the week after, I watched it five to eight times. Something like that,” he said, according to ESPN. “I watched it a couple of times a day for a while, and then throughout the offseason I watched it in the summer.” Murray attributes his poor performance in 2010’s contest due to excitement but believes that will be behind him this time around. “It’s a big game, so I was probably a little too juiced up,” he said. “Hopefully I got that out of my system last year and can go in there and just relax and play.”

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Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

For as much as the Florida Gators were in the news off the field in 2010, the Gator Nation was making plenty of headlines on it as well. From game-winning baskets to displays of pure emotion, Florida experienced some unique athletic moments in 2010. Below are OGGOA‘s Top 10 On the Field Moments of the Year.

OGGOA RELATED: Top 10 for 2010: Off the Field Stories of the Year

10 » FLORIDA WINS INAUGURAL LACROSSE GAME (2/20/10)
When Florida decided it wanted to start another women’s athletics program, the University Athletic Association did extensive research and found out that women’s lacrosse would be the perfect fit. In preparation for their first season, the Gators and head coach Amanda O’Leary secured the country’s No. 1 recruiting class (according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine). All the hard work and preparation to get the team ready paid off on Feb. 20 when lacrosse debuted in the brand new Donald R. Dizney Stadium to a boisterous crowd of 2,114 spectators. Florida defeated Jacksonville 16-6 behind four goals and four assists from freshman sensation Ashley Bruns. All-in-all the Gators faced 16 championship-caliber teams and played so well that they reached the 2010 ALC Tournament semifinals. In just their second year of existence, Florida women’s lacrosse is ranked as the No. 17 team in the country going into the 2011 season.

9 » NEAR VICTORIES/HEARTBREAKING LOSSES (5/25/10 * 3/18/10 * 10/9/10)

It is rare for teams to go undefeated and even less likely that an entire athletic program can go through a season without its share of close losses and nail biting finishes. Such was the case for the Gators in 2010. On May 25, No. 3 women’s tennis was barely defeated by the No. 8 Stanford Cardinal for the 2010 NCAA National Championship. Stanford won 4-3 after Florida rallied when they were just two individual games away from being defeated. The Gators forced third sets in two singles matches; sophomore Joanna Mather took down her opponent but senior No. 65 Marrit Boonstra was not as lucky. Losing her first set 6-4, Boonstra fought back to even her match with No. 33 Mallory Burdette by taking the second set 6-7 (4). Down 2-0 in the third, she pushed ahead with a valiant effort to take a 5-4 lead but ended up losing her final three games, the match itself and the championship.

Returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons, No. 10-seed Florida got in a bit easier than some might have expected. Matched up against the No. 7-seed Brigham Young Cougars in the event’s opening game, the Gators fought hard but could not stop Cougars star guard Jimmer Fredette. Allowing BYU to jump ahead 59-46 in the second half, UF came back behind freshman G Kenny Boynton and junior forward Chandler Parsons. Florida missed potential game-winners during regulation (Parsons) and the first overtime (Boynton) and eventually fell to Brigham Young 99-92 in a double-overtime heartbreaker with Fredette adding to his game-high 37 points.

Though losing a national championship and NCAA Tournament game are both difficult, Gators fans will probably look back on No. 12/14 Florida’s shocking loss to the No. 9/12 LSU Tigers on Oct. 10 as the worst near-victory of the season. Wearing orange jerseys for the first time since 1989, the Gators came back from a 12-point deficit when freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, sophomore running back Mike Gillislee rumbled in for a touchdown and redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley completed a two-point conversion to sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. to cap a 10-play, 80-yard drive. All Florida wanted when its defense came out was a stop, but LSU put together a 62-yard game-winning drive that included numerous third down conversions and a converted fake field goal attempt on fourth down from UF’s 36-yard line with 35 seconds remaining. Back-to-back passes to WR Terrence Toliver (of 28 and 3 yards, respectively) and the Tigers left The Swamp with a 33-29 victory. Players have noted that the loss was a negative turning point in the season, one that may or may not have led to the team dropping their third-straight game one week later at home to Mississippi State.

Continue Reading » Top 10 for 2010: On the Field Moments of the Year

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Georgia’s greatest blunder came from sidelines

Against the Florida Gators in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, on Saturday, Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray threw three interceptions including one in overtime that was a big part of his team losing the game. Georgia also let Florida – with a struggling offense – tear them up for 450 total yards of offense including 231 and four touchdowns on the ground.

However, in an age where actions are brought to light after-the-fact and football players are run through the ringer because someone happened to capture a heat-of-the-moment action on video, we come to you this Tuesday and wonder why coaches are not being held to the same standard.

Exhibit A

The first thing many of you will notice about that video clip is Bulldogs head coach Mark Richt calling a timeout in an attempt to ice and rattle Gators senior punter/kicker Chas Henry. (Hint: It didn’t work, Henry made a 37-yard game-winning field goal just moments later.) But if you look just a bit closer, you will see Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham wringing his hands around his own throat and screaming out to Henry, “You’re gonna f’n choke! You’re gonna choke!”

Grantham was so loud and so violent in his motion that Henry appears to have noticed it while on the field preparing for one of the biggest moments of his life.

Exhibit B

Just one year ago, after a video of former Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes appeared on YouTube showing him clearly jamming his fingers in Bulldogs running back Washaun Ealey‘s facemask but not hurting him in any way during a rough tackle, head coach Urban Meyer addressed the situation and suspended him for a half. The media laughed and ridiculed Meyer for his light punishment leading Spikes to release a statement and then voluntarily sit the entire game on his own accord as not to distract his team.

Remember: In football, if a player makes a great play and celebrates by even motioning his hand under his neck in any manner, it’s a penalty.

Yet more than 48 hours have passed since Grantham, a leader for young men in an amateur sport, gave this clearly obscene gesture and not only has no apology been provided (even simply to his employer – the University of Georgia), the team’s coaches and school administration have failed to address the situation and refused comment.

Where are the columns of outrage from Paul Finebaum, Mike Bianchi, Dennis Dodd and Gregg Doyel? Why haven’t Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon whined about Graham’s actions on Pardon the Interruption?

Hypocritical? Yes. Surprising? No.

Grantham didn’t hurt anyone. He didn’t put his hands on an opposing player or hold up the middle finger or anything of the sort. Nevertheless, he should be held accountable for his actions – an adult in a position of authority should know better no matter how excitable and important the moment.

No one is calling for Grantham to be fired or even suspended. He made a mistake – mistakes happen. People lose their cool. It is understandable. But at least have the decency to stand up like a man and apologize when you’re wrong. If you ask that from a 21-year old college senior, it is the least you can expect from a 44-year-old coach.

UPDATE: A response from Richt…though not nearly what one would expect. “I’ll just say that emotions run high,” Richt said. “People do things they probably wish they didn’t do, so I think that [the choke sign] was what was being communicated. I don’t think he’s necessarily proud of it. We’re just going to learn from it and move on.”

UPDATE II: Tuesday evening, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution caught up with Grantham who appeared to halfheartedly express regret about making the gesture but refused to provide any sort of apology or admission of guilt. “As a competitor, sometimes you get caught up in the heat of the moment,” Grantham said. “I wish the situation hadn’t happened. It was a tough, hard-fought game. They won it, and I’m ready to move forward and finish out the year strong.” Grantham also told the paper he spoke to Richt and athletic director Greg McGarity about the incident. Asked whether or not he owes an apology to Henry, Grantham said: “I’ve kind of basically said what I’m going to say.” Great example to set for your students, Todd.

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