Tebow on Harris: We’ll see what he’s made of

Tim Tebow never had to start as a freshman with the Florida Gators, but he still knows a thing or two about seeing action as a first-year player and competing in pressure situations as a rookie, including in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Tebow, who finished his collegiate career with a 2-1 record as a starter against the Georgia Bulldogs, fully understands the pressure freshman quarterback Treon Harris will feel Saturday afternoon and had some advice for the young signal caller during a radio appearance Tuesday morning on 1010 XL (92.5 AM) out of Jacksonville, Florida.

“It’s his first start. He’s going to be nervous. He’s going to have butterflies. There’s going to be emotions going through him,” he said.

“Emotionally, you’re always going to be nervous. It’s a huge game. This is something that you grow up dreaming about. This is what you love. If I’m him, I’m loving it. I don’t want my first start to be against one of the schools that you get to open the season up against. You want it to be against a team like Georgia.

“If I’m him, I’m loving this opportunity and this situation to go out there and show that this is why I came to the University of Florida. I think we’ll see a lot of what he’s made of. From everything I’ve heard and seen, he’s been a winner in the past and we’ll see how he comes out and plays Saturday afternoon.”

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10/27: Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks Harris starting, Gators offensive issues

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from consecutive losses while preparing for the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Florida-Georgia will play in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. with the game once again airing live on CBS.

MOVING ON

Set to be the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators in the Florida-Georgia game since Chris Leak in 2003, Treon Harris took nearly all the first-team reps with the offense during the bye week and will get the majority of them this week as UF prepares to take on UGA in Jacksonville.

Muschamp, to this point, has been impressed with what he’s seen from the signal caller.

“Treon will be getting his first start, excited for him and what he’s going to be able to do,” he said. “[Harris is] a guy that has a knack for making plays, certainly has got a calm, cool, collected [way] about himself and how he carries himself. I think we’ll play well. Identify some things he feels comfortable with as well as we continue to move forward offensively. As much as anything, we’ve struggled with an identity because of the turnovers. That’s been a major issue.”

He also believes Harris will be able to carry a full workload, without a limited playbook, considering all of the extra action he’s seen through the bye week.

“I think in the open week our offensive staff did a pretty good job of identifying some things that Treon does extremely well, so we won’t pare things down as much as you might think with a freshman quarterback,” he said. “He’s an extremely bright young man. He’s able to handle a lot of things on his plate. I think the [extra] repetition … will help him moving forward.”

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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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