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Superstitions Are No Game To Buddy Reed

By on October 2nd, 2014

Baseball players are infamous for their shameless superstitions, rituals, and quirks. Even those unfamiliar with the sport often recognize the strange tendencies of its players, and Florida Gator outfielder Buddy Reed is no exception to this rule.

Reed, a New York-bred sophomore, played in 60 games his freshman year alone. But he won’t solely credit raw talent or hard work for his accomplishments – instead, he references his numerous superstitions, beginning with his repetitive pre-game snacks.

“Before each game, I’ve got to eat candy, whether it’s skittles, lifesavers, chocolate, Rips…you name it, I’ve got to have it. And I’ll always have a cup of fruit punch and a cup of lemonade, no water for me. I’ve got to eat cantaloupe before every game too. I’ll usually eat my meal, and then I’ll get a bowl of cantaloupe and that’s it for me.”

But sugar isn’t the only thing that gets Reed’s head in the game. He also insists that getting one’s juices flowing is another secret ingredient in his recipe for a good game.

“I’ve got to dance before games. I always listen to the same couple Michael Jackson songs while I’m dancing, and that gets the juices going.”

Reed will also exclusively warm up his throws with the same player before game time – and no one else.

“Before the games I always throw with the same person, regardless of whether he’s sick or anything, I have to find him and we have to throw together. I just have to.”

Rigid as Reed’s pre-game routine may sound, he also appreciates the lighthearted side of the sport just as much, if not more.

“I have to laugh every time before I step out on the field for a good amount of time. That’s how I am – I’m goofy, excited. I like to be loose before I play, which the coaches stress a lot. That’s what gets me loose.”

He holds firm to the concept that his superstitions are beneficial, and that without them he wouldn’t be supporting his team. Reed recognizes that while they may seem tedious, his tasks serve to better himself in order to beat the rival.

“It’s always good to have solid superstitions. If you can create a routine with them, I believe you can come out on top, simply because you’re so focused on your own habits that you won’t be worried about anyone else. It’s just you and your routine and then it’s game time.”

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Gators Back In Action And Eager To Take On Vols This Weekend

By on October 2nd, 2014

The Florida football team is gearing up to take on SEC East Division rival Tennessee in Knoxville this weekend.  The Gators are coming off a bye week after a tough 42-21 loss to Alabama.  Gator defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and a few of the players discussed areas the team needs to improve on as well as preparations for the upcoming match up.

Despite Florida’s defense surrendering a program record 672 yards to the Crimson Tide, much of which came from blown coverages, Durkin says the secondary is looking to improve upon mistakes that have been prevalent all season.

“Obviously, we’ve just got to get back to getting our eyes in the right place, back to techniques and fundamentals, which is what we’ve done for this past week and a half through the bye,” Durkin said. “In the back end, the blown coverages and the big plays like that – you can’t survive as a defense when you do that.”

“Tackling, block the feet and eye control, those are the fundamentals for defense. With all the different schemes and positions, it all comes down to that – always. Those are things we’ve continuously done well. Up to this point and last week, there were times we didn’t do it very well; and that’s what we’ve been working on.”

Injury wise, freshman running back Brandon Powell will miss Saturday’s conference game due to a hamstring injury.  Florida will also be without defensive tackle Leon Orr due to a knee injury. Durkin elaborated on the adjustments that have been made, in Orr’s absence.

“Jonathan Bullard will play some more inside. He’s been playing both for us and will get some more reps inside. Joey Ive will get some reps now inside. He’s been rotating and playing well. That will give Bryan Cox some more reps outside at end. So we have a healthy rotation of guys up front, some of those guys now will play some more snaps than they’ve been playing. But they’ve all been playing, so it won’t be anyone new out there, just some guys getting more reps.”

Meanwhile, Michael Taylor remains questionable but is doubtful (swollen knee). If Taylor is unable to play, there will be a rotation between the linebackers.

“We’ve been inside pretty much going with a four-man rotation with Mike, Antonio, Neiron and Jarrad Davis and it will be a three-man rotation. And Alex Anzalone and Daniel McMillian, they’ll be ready to go to and possibly get some time.”

Some great news is junior offensive lineman D.J. Humphries will finally return to the field. Humphries has missed the last two games after suffering a high ankle sprain in Florida’s season opener. The squad emphasized on how happy they are to have him back.

“I love having D.J. on the field,” offensive lineman Max Garcia said. “Just having his energy really lifts us all up. You can tell when he was out; during practice we just didn’t have that fire that he brings every day. So, I’m really happy he’s back.”

After facing a lot of criticism and negativity, the overall message this week is crystal clear – the Gators are on a mission to redeem themselves.

“It could be anybody, but the fact that this game is Tennessee and an SEC East rival – that just makes us want to win that much more,” sophomore linebacker Jarrad Davis said.

“This game is critical, and I’m ready to go out there and give it my all.”

Florida is in the midst of a nine game winning streak against the Volunteers and are hoping to keep that streak alive on Saturday.  Kickoff is set for noon from Neyland Stadium and you can catch all the pregame action on ESPN 850 WRUF  at 9 a.m.

For audio on the above quotes, click below: 

Basic fundamentals the defense is working on

Durkin on defense’s improvements

Jones on Vols matchup

Max Garcia on Humphries being back

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Thursday Sports Update (10/2)

By on October 2nd, 2014

One more team is eliminated from baseball postseason play, NFL and college games tonight, and more in our Thursday Sports Update…

** The San Francisco Giants move on in the Major League Baseball playoffs with a 7-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday night that sends the Pirates home for the season.   Madison Bumgarner throws a complete game shutout for the Giants who now face Washington in an NLDS match up.

** The ALDS begin today in the American League as Detroit faces Baltimore and the LA Angels take on Kansas City.

** In the NFL, Minnesota plays Green Bay tonight in an NFC Central Division game.

** In college football tonight, Arizona faces Oregon while FAU tangles with FIU and Houston plays UCF.

** The five so called “power conferences” in college football have notified the NCAA of their intent to offer more money and benefits to its athletes; this comes as part of what the NCAA approved previously allowing the power conferences more autonomy in making decisions regarding their programs.

** Former Gator and NFL wide receiver Reche Caldwell has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a particular street drug known as “Molly.”  He could see 20 years jail time.

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Ryan Celano: Freshman Star on the Rise

By on October 2nd, 2014

Ryan Celano made his Gator men’s golf collegiate debut at the Wolf Run Intercollegiate Tournament, and left quite an impression.

As an amateur he’s had several notable achievements, including an individual title while on the 2013 Florida Junior Golf Tour, winning the qualifying round and earning a berth into the 2013 U.S Amateur, receiving a team victory at the 2013 South Florida PGA Pro-Junior Championship, and earning medalist honors at the 2011 PGA Junior Series.

When asked about his success, Celano says, “I just want to take it one stroke at a time and keep hitting the fairways and greens.”

As a Gator he recently won the team qualifying rounds finishing with a four-stroke lead.  This was a breakthrough performance against an older and more experienced team.

“It was kind of a relief, because I wanted to win so badly and I probably put too much pressure on myself, so it was nice,” he said.

Celano started last weekend tied for 14th overall. He shot 75, 73, and 71 to finish tied for sixth place, the highest finish for the Gators. The player he tied with was a senior.

“I was very excited to go to Indiana,” Celano said, “I’ve been there a lot because I have family there. My Mom and cousin came to watch, so that was a good experience.”

For practice, the players spend time on the course by themselves as well as with the team and head coach JC Deacon. The players also go through tough workouts to improve their stamina.

“I probably wouldn’t have made it through the 36 hole round the other day without the workouts.” Celano said, “We were playing from 8am-8pm and we still didn’t finish.”

During interviews Deacon has praised Celano, commenting on his power, energy, and ability to learn and play well, while motivating the team. He also expresses the high expectations he has for Celano, but that doesn’t seem to cause the freshman any nerves.

“I kind of have the same expectations he does, so I just need to put in the work in order to hopefully achieve those goals.”

Celano adds, “It’s not extra pressure, but it does make me feel better that he thinks I’m going in a good direction.”

When it comes to pressure, Celano can put enough on himself; his goal while at UF is to be an All-American, hopefully four times. He understands that is difficult, but knows he can put in the work.

“There’s a long way to go for that, so I’m just going to try to get better everyday and work on my weaknesses to make them my strengths.”

Despite how well he’s doing on the golf course, Celano’s main focus is to make sure he doesn’t procrastinate so he can keep going to UF and playing for the Gators.

“I’m very fortunate to be here and I have a great opportunity, and I’m grateful for it, so I focus on that.”

With such a great start and four years to go, Ryan Celano will be an important name in Gator golf.

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Gator Brings Gold to Gainesville

By on October 2nd, 2014

All Gator athletes bleed Orange and Blue, but sometimes they also bleed Red, White, and Blue.

That’s the case for freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan. Before Alhassan took the court for the Florida volleyball team this fall, she spent her summer helping the U20 Women’s Junior National Team win Gold at the North, Central America, and Caribbean (NORCECA) Volleyball Confederation Championships. Alhassan went into the tryouts without expectations, but worked her hardest.

“I just went in there optimistic, just going to play and work hard and then at the end I found out that I was selected for the team,” Alhassan said.

She didn’t have much time to be excited about her selection though.  The team had a fast paced training schedule and not much time to get ready for the tournament in Guatemala.

“With USV (United States Volleyball) we only had two weeks to train,” Alhassan said, “so it was rapid fire, trying to get through everything.”

Though the training was intense, Alhassan says it helped her become a better all around player.

“I definitely took away some blocking habits, and serving, which I don’t really do much but it did help,” Alhassan said, “Just playing at that level, it’s a much faster pace than high school and club were.”

Alhassan posted 15 kills, four blocks, and two aces in the United States’ 3-0 win over Cuba in the finals.   She said winning Gold with her team is something she won’t forget.

“It was great playing with them.  It was a great experience,” Alhassan said. “And it definitely helps broaden your horizons.”

Alhassan has also won quite a few individual awards.  She was named Most Valuable Player, Best Blocker, and an All-Star Team member at the NORCECA Continental Championship.

At Florida, she’s been selected as both SEC Freshman of the Week and SEC Offensive Player of the Week.

“It all goes back to having great teammates and having them support me,” Alhassan said.  “It makes me excited and makes me want to keep working hard, but working hard for them, not for those awards.”

With a gold medal already under her belt in her young career, you may think what more could she want?

Well, that answer is simple: an SEC and national championship as a Gator.

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New Week, Same Mentality For Gator Football

By on October 1st, 2014

The Florida football team is looking past its mistakes against the Alabama Crimson Tide and turning the page to the new chapter that is Tennessee.

Fingers were pointed at the Gator offense after managing only 200 total yards after their loss in Tuscaloosa. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper says that this bye week has allowed him to work with quarterback Jeff Driskel for this week’s game.

“I think that Jeff is a talented football player. We went back and watched all our third downs. He’s had 37 third downs and drop back passes and we felt like eight of them we needed to be critical of him on the other 29 they were either good decisions or… we didn’t make the play.”

Tennessee is a slight favorite over Florida despite the fact that the Gators have won a series-best nine consecutive games against the Volunteers. Florida running back Matt Jones says that this bye week allowed the team to refocus and prepare for another road trip.

“Everybody’s mind got scattered around the place and we had to pull back together mentally. On and off the field we have gotten better as a team like I said. I mean it’s going to be tough because people throw stuff at us that we don’t want to hear so we are going to pull together and get this W.”

Defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III says the defense has worked on fixing its errors during the time off too.

“We’re all on the same page now and we understand the defense; we broke some things down, we talked about where we messed up so now it’s just getting it going during the week,” Hargreaves said.

Defensive lineman Dante Fowler has played Tennessee a few times and knows the importance of this rival game.

“I mean you know this is a SEC East week and we play Tennessee. This is the team that’s in front of us to get to the SEC Championship so we’re going to handle them and then we are going to go further on.”

The game against the Volunteers will be a high-noon showdown in Knoxville but coverage on ESPN 850 WRUF will begin at 9 am with the First and Ten Pregame Show.

To hear audio from coaches and players, click below.

Kurt Roper 1
Matt Jones

Vernon Hargreaves

Dante Fowler

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Wednesday Sports Update (10/1)

By on October 1st, 2014

We start a new month with a wild, American League Wild Card playoff game, a sports arrest and a new NFL coach in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** The Kansas City Royals advance in the Major League Baseball playoffs after winning a wild 9-8 AL Wild Card game last night at home against Oakland.   The Royals will now face the LA Angels in a divisional series.

** Tonight the NL Wild Card game has Pittsburgh facing the San Francisco Giants.

** The Oakland Raiders have promoted offensive line coach and former Miami Dolphins head coach Tony Sparano to be their new head coach after Dennis Allen was fired Monday.

** Swimmer Michael Phelps is arrested and charged with a DUI in his hometown of Baltimore; it is the second DUI arrest for Phelps.

** College football has some games tomorrow night of interest, including Oregon facing Arizona.   Also, FAU plays FIU and Houston takes on UCF.

** NBA training camps are opening up all around the league as the Orlando Magic and the Miami Heat try to rebuild their teams from a year ago.

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AL Wild Card Preview

By on September 30th, 2014

The Oakland Athletics (88-74) visit Kauffman Stadium Tuesday night for a one game playoff with the Kansas City Royals (89-73), who are making their first postseason appearance since 1985. The pitching matchup will feature a duo who has faced off many times before in their AL East days. Former Rays pitcher James Shields takes the hill for Kansas City; opposing him for Oakland will be Jon Lester, who went 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA for the Red Sox in last year’s World Series.

“We’re matching up two of the most premiere big-game pitchers,” said Royals manager Ned Yost. “We know that it’s probably going to be a low-scoring affair.”

While there is a notable pitching duel, both offenses have struggled as well. The Royals are the first team to ever make the postseason in which they finished last in the league in home runs and walks. No Kansas City player hit over 20 home runs or registered over 75 RBIs. Since July 31st (when they traded Yoenis Cespedes to Boston) the A’s have been shut out seven times — they batted a paltry .233 as a team post-All Star break (27th in the league). Oakland also recorded the lowest winning percentage in the second half of the season (.433) for a playoff team since 1933.

“They started well in the first four or five months to get in a really good position for September,” said A’s designated hitter Adam Dunn. “It’s not how you get in, it’s if you get in…and we did.”

The Royals took five of seven games from the Athletics this season. First pitch is set for 8:07, and you can tune into coverage from Kansas City on ESPN 850 WRUF beginning at 7:30. The National League Wild Card game takes place on Wednesday night as the Pittsburgh Pirates host the San Francisco Giants.

For full audio from Ned Yost and Adam Dunn, click here:

Ned Yost

Adam Dunn

 

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Tuesday Sports Update (9/30)

By on September 30th, 2014

Major League Baseball playoffs start today, a blow out on Monday Night Football and some suspensions for an SEC football team in our Tuesday Sports Update…

** Major League Baseball’s playoffs start tonight as Kansas City hosts Oakland in a Wild Card match up.   The Royals make their first postseason appearance since 1985.

** The Minnesota Twins fire long time manager Ron Gardenhire and the Houston Astros name A.J. Hinch as their new manager.   Former Gators Cole Figueroa (Tampa Bay) and Nick Maronde (Cleveland) were recalled to the big league roster by their respective teams.

** On Monday Night Football, the Kansas City Chiefs blow out the New England Patriots 41-14.

** The woeful Oakland Raiders have fired coach Dennis Allen after the team gets off to an 0-4 start to the season.

** The Buffalo Bills have benched starting quarterback and former FSU star E.J. Manuel in favor of veteran Kyle Orton.

** The Kentucky Wildcats have suspended four players from this Saturday’s game against South Carolina for violating team rules.

** LSU will start freshman Brandon Harris at quarterback when the Tigers travel this Saturday to face Auburn.

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Muschamp Hopes to See Improvement Following Bye Week

By on September 30th, 2014

 

The Florida football team (2-1, 1-1 SEC) travels to Knoxville, Tennessee this weekend to take on the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC). The Gators are coming off a much needed bye week following a 42-21 loss to Alabama. Tennessee, on the other hand, is coming off a tough three point road loss to number 12 Georgia, 35-32. Tennessee leads the nation in third down defense, only allowing a 21% conversion rate, an area where Florida head coach Will Muschamp would like to see his own team improve on.

“Defensively, third down they’ve gotta be leading the country. They’ve only had three conversions in the last two weeks; two against Oklahoma and one last week. They’ve done a nice job of getting off the field on third down, which has been an issue for us, offensively and defensively.”

Tennessee’s quarterback, Justin Worley, has thrown for over 200 yards in each of the Vols’ four games this season. A big part of that success comes from having tall receivers to throw to and Muschamp knows Worley and the wide outs will present a challenge.

“I think Justin Worley is playing very well. He’s completing over 60% of his passes, averaging about 250 yards a game. They’ve really improved themselves at the receiver position. Marquez North and Jason Croom are both 6’4″ plus guys that are very difficult match ups in coverage down the field. They take eight to 10 shots in the game down the field. You’ve gotta defend these guys down the field.”

Injury wise, Florida will be without defensive lineman Leon Orr, while linebacker Mike Taylor and running back Brandon Powell are “questionable to doubtful.” However, they will have offensive lineman D.J. Humphries back.

Gator quarterback Jeff Driskel has faced his fair share of criticism after the Alabama game, but Driskel tries not to listen to all the negativity.

“I’ve never been one to where that stuff gets to me, whether it’s people saying you’re the best or people saying you’re the worst. You just have to be even-keel and keep moving forward. There’s a lot out there so you can’t really shield yourself from all of it. I’m grown, I can handle it.”

The last time Driskel played against Tennessee was last year in The Swamp where he suffered a season ending broken leg. However in 2012, Driskel did play against Tennessee in Knoxville. He finished 14/20 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Many Vols fans packed Neyland Stadium for that game, but some left early after the Gators scored the final 24 points in the second half to win 37-20.

“We pride ourselves on emptying the stadium,” Driskel said. “We just want to go in and play hard and hopefully we get the same result as last time we went in there.”

The Gators will put their nine game win streak against the Volunteers on the line this Saturday in Knoxville.

Kickoff is set for noon, but catch pre-game coverage on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 9 AM.

 

For audio of the above quotes, click below:

Muschamp on Tennessee’s third down defense

Muschamp on Worley and UT wide recievers

Driskel on ignoring negativity

Driskel on emptying out Neyland Stadium

 

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