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Thursday Sports Update 8/21

By on August 21st, 2014

Gator football, college football, high school football and baseball headline our Thursday Sports Update…

** The Gator football team is ending its last week of camp before its first game week preparations begin on Sunday.   Florida hosts Idaho a week from Saturday.

** The college football season will officially start in just one week.   Next Thursday, the season officially kicks off.

** High school football is just around the corner too and a number of “fall classics” will take place in our area tonight and tomorrow.   Buchholz and Bradford headline the match ups tonight.

** Preseason high school rankings are out and several area teams are ranked, especially in the lower classifications.  Defending champ Trenton is number one in Class 1A with Dixie County, Lafayette and Union County 3-5 in the poll.  In Class 6A, Columbia is ranked seventh.

** In baseball, Detroit blanks Tampa Bay 6-0 behind the pitching of Rick Porcello who wins his 14th game; the teams play again today with former Ray David Price pitching for Detroit.

** In other baseball action, Pittsburgh beats Atlanta 3-2 and Miami loses to Texas 5-4.  The Braves play at Cincinnati tonight while Miami is off.

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Kurt Roper Pleased With The Offense; Hopes To Have Decision On Back-up QB Soon

By on August 20th, 2014

The Gator football team is in the final days of preseason camp and the great news is the coaching staff is getting close to making a decision on a back-up to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel. Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper talked following Tuesday’s practice to discuss Florida’s new and much improved up-tempo offense.

True freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris are still in the mix battling for the backup role and according to Roper both players are being intensely evaluated in order to determine who the best fit for the backup role.

“It’s fun to watch,” Roper said. “I think those two guys are talented individuals, I think they’re good people, so they understand how to compete and still be a good teammate. And that’s not easy to do, but I enjoy being around them.”

“Obviously it’s getting close to decision time, but it’s a fluid thing because you never know what can happen,” Roper added. “So we have to start focusing in on who is going to spend the time getting the two reps as much as possible.”

Roper added that this is one of the most critical decisions the coaches and staff will make because the Gators need to have their very best quarterback on the field in the event Driskel goes down. He emphasized how important it is to be prepared for the worst case scenario, especially considering the season-ending injury Driskel suffered last fall.

“Well, I think the first thought process is if Jeff goes down, you’ve got to be prepared to go win that game when it happens,” he added. “That’s really where the decision starts and why it never stops and can always be fluid.”

Roper, who formerly served as Duke’s offensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and quarterbacks coach and led the Blue Devils to a record-setting season in 2013, added that he would not be opposed to using two quarterbacks, if needed.

“I have in the past. I think the biggest thing is to have a guy, a second quarterback, that can go play the game if something happens to the first one. But in the past, at Duke we had a guy that was capable,” Roper said. “You know really where it all started Sean Winfrey became our starting quarterback at Duke. Sean was obviously a heck of a quarterback; he’s with the Falcons right now. But his skill wasn’t running the football. It wasn’t going to be zone read or quarterback powers or any of that, it wasn’t really his skill.”

“So we felt like those were good situations to bring in Brandon Connette at that time to get our numbers right in certain situations and run the football,” he added. “So we felt like it was a package that we needed in low red, short yardage, that type stuff. And so it’s just growing from there but it really got down to just taking advantage of strengths if that makes sense. So we’ll use two if they earn the right but really it gets into how does it help us win.”

Meanwhile, Roper elaborated on the progress the squad has made on the offensive side of the ball and how impressive the Gators have looked throughout fall training camp. He said a lot of that productivity stems from the team’s confidence – a result of the development of Roper’s new fast-paced shot-gun spread offense and how well the players have adjusted to all the changes.  According to Roper, one guy who seems to be much more confident and comfortable in the offensive scheme is his starting quarterback.

“He’s a confident guy,” Roper said. “He’s got a great look in his eye. He’s a bright eyed guy and I don’t think he’s ever lacked confidence. I think where you see the confidence growing is just him understanding what we’re doing offensively. So the more understanding you have, the faster you can make decisions, the faster you can play, and the faster you can be decisive. And I think that’s the most important attribute a guy can have – is being decisive as a quarterback.”

“The whole challenge is to never lose confidence in yourself,” he added.  ”The first thing that I want is a guy that is mentally tough – that you can’t shake him. It’s doesn’t matter if the crowd boos him running off the field, it doesn’t matter if you have a four interception game, it doesn’t matter if you go on social media and everyone tells you that you aren’t any good. There’s one guy that can take Jeff Driskel’s confidence from him – and that’s Jeff Driskel.”

“And if he will buy into that and believe that – now you have a mentally tough guy that can go and win a lot games.”

You can catch the Gators in action at the squad’s season opener against Idaho on Saturday, August 30th at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Roper On Backup QB Status

Roper on Driskel’s Confidence Continued

Roper on Driskel’s Confidence

Roper on Grier and Harris

Roper on Possibility of using 2 QB’s

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Wednesday Sports Update 8/20

By on August 20th, 2014

Gator football, baseball, some golf news and some NFL as well in our Wednesday Sports Update…

** The Gator football team continues to practice in preparation for its season opener August 30th against Idaho.    There are no injuries to report from practice Tuesday.

** The injury news is not as good for former Gator coach Urban Meyer and his Ohio State Buckeyes as they lose senior starting quarterback Braxton Miller to a season ending shoulder injury.   The quarterbacks behind Miller are young and lack game experience which could derail what was expected to be a very good year.

** The Gainesville Sun is reporting that former Gator guard Scottie Wilbekin will play basketball in Australia to begin his pro career.

** Former Gator Marcus Gilbert has signed a contract extension with the Pittsburgh Steelers.   The deal is for six years.

** Tiger Woods says he’s going to take a month or two off from golf to heal from injury.   He is scheduled to play golf again this year.

** In baseball, the Miami Marlins beat the Texas Rangers 4-3 while Atlanta wins its fifth straight by downing slumping Pittsburgh 11-3.   Tampa Bay loses 8-6 to Detroit.

** Former Gainesville High School baseball player Tyler Holt hit a pinch hit two run double to help Cleveland down Minnesota 7-5.

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Final Days Of Gators Preseason Camp Underway; Update From Muschamp

By on August 19th, 2014

The Florida Football team is wrapping up fall training camp and with the season opener against Idaho less than two weeks away, the Gators still have some very important decisions to be made. Gator head coach Will Muschamp discussed the team’s injuries, position battles, and more following Monday’s practice.

Florida will conclude preseason camp on Wednesday, and the coaches are still in the process of evaluating the players and finalizing the squad’s depth chart in preparation for the season. One of the most critical decisions is finding a back-up to junior starting quarterback Jeff Driskel. True Freshmen Treon Harris and Will Grier who have been sharing reps with the second team offense are both in competition and vying for the backup role.  Muschamp said that he is not ready to make the decision just yet. He’s waiting for one of the player’s to emerge and win the back up spot.

“Right now, really no separation at quarterback behind Jeff,” he said. “We’ll continue to work throughout the week. We don’t have a definite timetable on that right now. Just after watching the film on Saturday there was some good and bad. We’ll continue to work through that.”

“Very close,” Muschamp said of the backup QB competition. “ I think that there’s been a lot of positives, but I feel like sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back. As far as getting rid of the football, we’ve tried to narrow down the package with all of those guys, not do as much as we’re doing with Jeff.”

Muschamp added that he doesn’t want to enter the season with a rotation of quarterbacks filling the backup role. Ideally, he would like the freshman that doesn’t win the backup position (either Grier or Harris) to be redshirted.

Some other heated battles are between junior Brian Poole, freshmen J.C. Jackson, Jalen Tabor, and Quincy Wilson who are in the mix for the cornerback spot opposite Vernon Hargreaves III. Meanwhile, freshman Duke Dawson, senior Jabari Gorman, and redshirt freshman Marcell Harris are battling for the safety position alongside Keanu Neal.

Muschamp said there are still a lot of unanswered questions in terms of the team’s depth chart, but he hopes to get answers within the coming days. But in order to do this, he would like to see more consistency from his squad.

“Got some guys who have done some decent things, we just have to be more consistent,” he added. “Our coaches need to get off the field and let the players play. That’s what we’re going to do more of moving forward.”

Meanwhile, sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye sustained a minor hamstring injury during Friday’s scrimmage and will most likely not see any action until next Monday. True freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe has a high ankle sprain and is also expected to miss practices this week, while senior offensive lineman Trenton Brown sat out of Monday’s practice due to a foot contusion but should return sometime this week. Defensive tackle Thomas Holley underwent season-ending surgery on Monday to repair a labral tear – stemming from a sports hernia that he suffered in high school.  According to Muschamp, Holley will redshirt this season and the recovery is expected to take about four months.

”He had a sports hernia in high school. Had it repaired before he came here,” Muschamp said. ”That’s where we thought his discomfort was. On the initial physical, we found a labral tear on his hip and impingement on his hip.”

”He just had some discomfort in running and changing direction,” he added.  “Our medical people did an outstanding job of finding it. I’m disappointed for Thomas, a guy who certainly athletically we’re very excited about.”

Overall, Muschamp is pleased with the squad’s progress throughout fall camp. He said a lot of that progress is due to the team’s strong bond and connection – both on and off the field.

“This group gets along really well,” Muschamp said. “That’s the one thing that you really notice about them quickly. They get along well, they practice well with each other, and they compete hard.  I’ve been extremely impressed with the locker room and how those things have progressed very well.”

“They’re the kind of team you feel really good about.”

The Gators will wrap up the final two days of training camp this week and then continue to prepare for their August 30th season opener against Idaho at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Muschamp on Sharpe and Maye injuries

Muschamp on backup QB position

Muschamp on team’s leadership

Muschamp on Thomas Holley injury

Muschamp on Thomas Holley injury 2

Muschamp on team’s chemistry

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Tuesday Sports Update 8/19

By on August 19th, 2014

Gator football loses a player for the season, practices continue, baseball results and more in our Tuesday Sports Update.

** Gator football coach Will Muschamp announces that freshman defensive lineman Thomas Holley will be lost for the season after undergoing hip surgery Monday.   Otherwise, the Gators are pretty healthy for this time in camp.

** Muschamp did say offensive lineman David Sharpe will miss the rest of the week with a high ankle sprain and that defensive back Marcus Maye would also probably not practice until next week with a hamstring injury.

** In the NFL, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel flips off the Washington Redskins sideline during a game on Monday.   Manziel is trying to win the starting job with the Browns and many feel the gesture can’t really help him in that regard.

** Jacksonville Jaguars rookie QB Blake Bortles is getting limited reps with the first team offense after two excellent preseason game performances.  However, Chad Henne is still the starter.

** In baseball, Atlanta wins its fourth in a row, downing Pittsburgh 7-3.   The Braves continue a series with the Pirates while Tampa Bay faces Detroit and Miami hosts Texas.

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Monday Sports Update 8/18

By on August 18th, 2014

A win for a Gator on the PGA Tour, a new week of football practice for the Gators, a verbal commitment for Gator men’s hoops and more in our Monday Sports Update…

** Former Gator golfer Camilo Villegas wins the Wyndham Tournament on the PGA Tour Sunday by one shot after shooting a final round 63.  It was the first win on the PGA Tour for Villegas since 2010.

** The Gator football team begins another week of preseason practice today.   The Associated Press Top 25 poll has been released and Florida is not ranked.

** The Gator men’s basketball team picks up its third verbal commitment in the 2015-16 class when 6’8″ back to the basket big man Noah Dickerson pledges to Florida.   He had been a Georgetown verbal but backed out of it and re-opened his recruitment.   LSU and Georgia Tech were also in the running for Dickerson’s services.

** In baseball, the Miami Marlins reach the .500 mark after beating Arizona 10-3 Sunday.   Tampa Bay falls two games below .500 after a 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves sweep the Oakland A’s with a 4-3 win.

** Jeff Gordon gets his third win of the year after winning NASCAR’s Michigan 400 Sunday.   He beat Kevin Harvick for the win.


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Gators Final Open Practice Of Preseason Camp; Practice Update From Muschamp

By on August 17th, 2014

The Florida football team is wrapping up Week Two of training camp and with the season opener just 14 days away, the Gators are in full force preparing to kick off the 2014 season. Gator head coach Will Muschamp discussed the team’s progress as well as some critical decisions that need to be made before the season opener against Idaho.

There is still a lot of competition and position battles going on right now and the most important decision is finding a back-up to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel. Freshmen Treon Harris and Will Grier who have been sharing reps with the second team offense are in the mix and vying for the spot. The coaching staff would ideally like either Grier or Harris to redshirt this season. Muschamp said no decision has been made, but it will be determined in the near future.

“I think all the backup guys have had some very good moments,” Muschamp added. “They’ve been put into some adverse situations when you talk about a true freshman walking in. We had four or five one-minute situations where those guys have got to make great decisions, as far as getting rid of the ball, knowing when to scramble, knowing when to get out of bounds and knowing when to get rid of the ball.

“We haven’t made any decisions on any of that yet,” he added.”We would like to go in and have a guy play and redshirt another guy and move forward. But we’ll see how that plays out.”

According to Muschamp the coaches and staff are going to evaluate the players and finalize the squad’s depth chart soon in preparation for the season.

“Well, we need to watch the film today, we’ll watch it with the players tonight,” he said. “I told them we’ll sort through the depth chart of guys we can count on moving forward and guys that need to get more reps and guys whose reps will dwindle. I mean, that’s just part of it. Your tape is your resume. The guys that are producing and playing well and doing it the way we want to do it, those are the guys that’ll play.”

Some great news is Gator standout running back Matt Jones and offensive lineman Trip Thurman will return to practice on Saturday after missing a few days this week due to injuries. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. also played in Friday’s scrimmage at full force after sitting out of most of Thursday’s practice wearing an orange non-contact jersey due to a very minor shoulder injury. Fowler confirmed there’s no reason to be alarmed.

“It was nothing big,” he said. “Hitting D.J. Humphries Trent Brown, Chaz Green all those guys, for 14 days straight, y’all would be hurting, too.”

Meanwhile, freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe sustained a high ankle sprain during Friday’s scrimmage and is day-to day, but expected to return to practice soon.

“It happened this morning,” Muschamp said following Florida’s 15th practice. “But he’s fine. We’ll see him Saturday morning. Those high ankles can be two days, they can be a week. We need to get him back. He’s a really good football player, he’s very athletic, 6-6, 330 pounds, moves his feet extremely well. A guy that’s going to help us this year.”

Overall, Muschamp seems pleased with the team’s progress in developing and implementing the new up-tempo shot gun spread offense under offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. According to Muschamp, the offense looked extremely impressive and produced quite a few explosive plays during Friday’s scrimmage in the swamp.

“We’re more talented on offense than we were a year ago at this time. That’s the number one thing,” Muschamp added. “Regardless of what we’re doing schematically, which I really like what we’re doing, we’re better. We’re better at receiver, we’re better at running back, Jeff is a year better, we’re better on the offensive line, we’re better at tight end. We’re better at every position.”

“That’s what gets you excited as much as anything,” he added. We’ve got great competition. Those guys know they have to come out every day and compete. There’s nobody that’s got a job, you’ve got to go compete.”

Florida’s last open practice of fall camp will be held this Saturday morning at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at 11 a.m. where the squad will practice in helmets only – prior to Florida’s annual Fan Day which will be at the Stephen C. O’ Connell Center from 3-6 p.m.

Muschamp on redshirting Grier or Harris

Muschamp on sorting through depth chart

Muschamp on back-up QB position

Muschamp on Gators 15th practice

Muschamp on Florida’s new and improved offense

Fowler on his minor shoulder injury


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Gators Continue To Make Progress During Fall Camp; Practice Update From Durkin

By on August 15th, 2014

The Florida football team is in full swing preparing for the 2014 season. Gator defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media following another productive practice on Thursday to discuss the team’s status and overall improvement.

Gator standout defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. wore an orange non- contact jersey during practice on Thursday after sustaining a minor arm injury during Wednesday’s practice, but according to Durkin there is no reason to be alarmed because it was just precautionary.

“He’s fine,” Durkin said. He’s ready to go. He did some of practice, and some we held him out. That was just precautionary.”

Durkin also praised the St. Petersburg native on his phenomenal performance throughout fall training camp and how Fowler has really distanced himself from other players.

“I’ve been proud of Dante about the way he’s practiced,” he added. “He’s been very consistent with his effort and how hard he’s going, and it’s showing. He’s getting better and improving.”

Meanwhile, tailback Kelvin Taylor returned to practice after missing three days with a very minor hamstring injury. He worked with the first team offense. Wide receiver Andre Debose is also back in action. Matt Jones is still not practicing because of some swelling in his left knee sustained during Saturday’s scrimmage but is expected to return sometime this week.

All-American sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III may still be in an orange non-contact jersey, but according to Durkin VH3 is back at full speed after sustaining a bone bruise.

“He just missed a handful of days which unfortunately a lot of guys do during training camp, Durkin said. “But Vernon will be fine, he’s a competitor and he prepares really well. He’s hopping in as much as he can and he’s back at full speed right now -  so he has plenty of time to get himself ready.”

Hargreaves may be the unquestioned leader of the secondary, but more importantly – he’s distinguished himself as a renowned leader of the Florida football program.

He’s done a great job,” Durkin said. “He has the ear of the team. Guys obviously respect him. These young guys back there, when someone is leading them the right way, that’s a great thing.”

Durkin also mentioned that the Gator coaching staff is eager to get freshman defensive back Duke Dawson back from the minor shoulder injury that he sustained in order to find out where he’ll be the best fit in the secondary. Durkin said he’s impressed with how versatile Dawson is and elaborated on how the former Dixie County standout is a great asset to the squad.

“One of the good things about him is he’s very versatile,” Durkin said following Thursday’s practice. “He can do a lot of things. He can cover inside, he can cover outside. He can almost kick in and play safety, too. That’s a valuable guy for us to have. We’ll see how it kind of shakes out once he gets back.”

“That’s still sorting itself out,” he added. “We still have a scrimmage coming up. Duke is definitely in the mix. We’re counting on him to play and contribute this year.”

Another topic Durkin covered was the coaching staff’s decision to move sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye from safety to nickel.

That was something we just tried out here going into camp and he’s looked really good doing it,” he said. “Obviously, he has great coverage ability. That nickel spot is a unique thing. That guy’s got to be able to blitz, cover, man cover, zone cover, do all of those things. Marcus kind of has a feel for it.”

Durkin added that the competition for starting positions is well underway and many decisions may not be made until the final rep of the final practice. The squad is encouraged to continuously bring that inner drive and energy everyday day to every practice.

“We’ve had great competition,” Durkin said. “Competition makes everyone better. They’re battling really good. They’ve all had days where you could say this guy is better than the other. The good news is they’re all competing and playing well. They’re going to help us.”

The Gators will hold another open practice Saturday at 9 a.m. at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, but first Gator head coach Will Muschamp is expected to meet with media at 11:30 a.m. today and we will continue to bring you updates on ESPN 850 WRUF radio.

Durkin on Dante Fowler jr

Durkin on Dante Fowler being a consistent player

Durkin on Marcus Maye

Durkin on competition with positions

Durkin on Vernon Hargreaves III





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Friday Sports Update

By on August 15th, 2014

The last open Gator football practice, some former Gators in the news, NFL, big league baseball with a new commissioner and more in our Friday Sports Update…

** The last open Gator football practice will be held this Saturday morning at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium from 9-11 am.   Florida’s first game is now a little more than two weeks away.

** Tennessee has named its starting quarterback and it is Justin Worley, a player who got some time against the Gators last year in Gainesville.

** A couple of former Gators are in the news today.  The Tampa Bay Rays have sent infielder Cole Figueroa back to the minor leagues after an extended stay with the big club.   And former Gator golfer Camilo Villegas has the first round lead at the PGA’s Wyndham Championship after shooting an opening round 63.

** In the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars lose to the Chicago Bears 20-19 in their second exhibition game.   This weekend Miami will play at Tampa Bay.

** The SEC Network has officially kicked off after it went on the air at 6pm yesterday.   Former Gator Tim Tebow was in town to report on Florida.

** Major League Baseball has a new commissioner after Rob Manfred was elected to succeed the retiring Bud Selig; he will start after Selig’s term ends at the end of this year.

** In baseball results, Tampa Bay beats Texas 6-3 to take three of four in the series; the Rays will now face the New York Yankees this weekend.   Miami downs Arizona 5-4 and Atlanta loses 6-4 to the LA Dodgers; the Braves will face Oakland this weekend.

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Thursday Sports Update…

By on August 14th, 2014

A verbal commitment for Gator football, more open practice, baseball, and bad news for Tiger Woods in our Thursday Sports Update…

** The Gator football program gets a 2015 verbal commitment from 6’4″ 325 pound offensive lineman Brandon Sandifer from Georgia.   The last three verbal commitments for Florida are all from Georgia.

** Open practice today for the Gator football team starting at 8:50 am at the Dizney Lacrosse Complex.

** The Gator soccer team will play two exhibition matches this weekend; tonight against FIU and Saturday against Baylor at Pressly Stadium.

** The Jacksonville Jaguars play their second exhibition game of the season tonight against the Chicago Bears.

** Bad news for Tiger Woods; his back injury forces him to withdraw his name from consideration for the U.S. Ryder Cup team.

** In baseball, Tampa Bay beats Texas 10-1 while Atlanta edges the LA Dodgers 3-2 and Miami loses 5-2 to St.Louis.   Today, Tampa Bay is at Texas, the Braves host the Dodgers and the Marlins start a series with Arizona.

** The NBA schedule for the 2014-15 season has been released and it features some interesting matchups.   LeBron James and Cleveland will visit his old team Miami on Christmas and defending champ San Antonio opens its season with in state rival Dallas.

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