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Tuesday Sports Update 8/26

By on August 26th, 2014

History being made tonight at Santa Fe College, college football, NFL news, baseball and more in our Tuesday Sports Update…

** History will be made tonight at Santa Fe College where coach Nick Cheronis will play the school’s first ever volleyball match at 7pm.   The program was started from scratch by Cheronis, a former long time Gator assistant.

** The Gator football team continues to prepare for its season opener Saturday against Idaho and today we should know from Gator coach Will Muschamp who the backup quarterback will be as a depth chart is scheduled to be released for the game.

** Alabama is still looking for a starting quarterback among Blake Sims and Jacob Coker and LSU coach Les Miles says he will play two quarterbacks in its opener against Wisconsin.

** NFL teams are making cuts to pare their rosters down and two former Gators have been cut in offensive lineman Max Starks by Arizona and defensive lineman Damien Jacobs by Buffalo.

** In baseball, Baltimore tops Tampa Bay 9-1 while Miami downs the LA Angels 7-1.   Atlanta was idle and the Braves start a series at the New York Mets tonight.

** The U.S. Open tennis championships continue today in New York.

** Tiger Woods has fired his swing coach.   Sean Foley was Tiger’s tutor for four years.  Woods did not win a major championship under the guidance of Foley.

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Monday Sports Update 8/25

By on August 25th, 2014

College football, baseball, Gator soccer NFL roster cuts and more in our Monday Sports Update…

** The college football season starts Thursday and Florida begins its season Saturday by hosting Idaho.   Gator coach Will Muschamp is expected to release a depth chart Tuesday.

** NFL roster cuts are starting to happen after most teams have now played three preseason games.   So far, no former Gator players have been released.

** More bad news for St.Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford who has been hurt many times in his career.   He’s out for the season after tearing his ACL.

** The Gator soccer team is now 2-0 after beating South Florida 2-0 Sunday.   Senior Annie Speese scores twice for Florida which will now go on the road to play Oklahoma and Oklahoma State this weekend.

** In baseball, Tampa Bay edges Toronto 2-1 and now begins a series with AL East leader Baltimore tonight.   Miami loses 7-4 to Colorado and the Marlins start a series at the LA Angels tonight.   Atlanta loses 5-3 to Cincinnati but the Braves do have the day off today.

** The U.S. Open tennis championships get underway today in New York; the event will run 15 days.

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Gators Turn Focus To Season Opener; Muschamp Ready To Rebound

By on August 23rd, 2014

The Florida football team is just a week away from kicking off the college football season. Gator head coach Will Muschamp discussed wrapping up fall camp, position battles, some lingering questions in terms of the squad’s depth chart, and final updates before the Gators begin their first Game Week of 2014.

The Gators have still not made a decision on a back-up quarterback or released a depth chart yet. Muschamp plans to release one next week and whoever gets the job done and wins the back-up role to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel will most likely see playing time in next Saturday’s season opener against Idaho.

“We’ll release a depth chart next week,” Muschamp said. “We haven’t made any decisions as far as backup quarterback, place kicker, who’s starting in the secondary. None of those decisions have been made. We’re going to meet as a staff this afternoon and review today’s film.”

“We’ve had discussions of where we are and we’ll have another one again today and we’ll meet on Sunday and we’ll give the staff off Saturday and get back Sunday and have lengthy discussions again moving forward on what’s best for our football program,” he added.

The squad will have the weekend off to prepare for classes and the start of a new season. Muschamp emphasized that unlike last season, the injury bug doesn’t seem to be an issue for the Gators, at least for now. Offensive Lineman David Sharpe who sustained a minor ankle injury will return to practice Monday. Meanwhile, sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye is expected to be back Tuesday or Wednesday after suffering a hamstring strain.

“We only had two soft-tissue issues in all of camp,” Florida’s head coach added. “That’s outstanding. That’s the best I’ve been around, as opposed to last year, I think we only had three as far as hamstrings, groins, those sort of things and hernias. That tells you we’re training the right way. Those really are the only ones, we expect to get David and Marcus Maye back but that’s it.”

Some great news for two standout Gator football walk on’s – kicker Frankie Velez and wide receiver Michael McNeely were awarded scholarships following Friday morning’s practice for their outstanding  performance both on and off the field.

“Both of those guys will contribute to our football team,” Muschamp said. “Mike has been a fantastic special team’s player and just a wonderful young man and has done everything we’ve asked him to do. He will be a huge contributor on special teams. Frankie is still in competition for field goal mixing duties and extra point duties and I think he has done a fantastic job in camp and has been here for five years and done everything we’ve asked him to do as far as those things.”

As of now, the only two sure starters in the secondary are sophomore All-American Vernon Hargreaves III and Keanu Neal. Since there’s a lot of versatile players in the Gators defensive backfield, Muschamp plans to rotate a lot of players in the secondary.

“I know Vernon Hargreaves is going to be at corner. I know Keanu Neal is going to be at safety, Muschamp said. “Past that, Jabari Gorman can play nickel, he can also play safety. Marcus can play nickel, can play safety, Brian Poole can play corner, he can play nickel. So those guys will all cross train throughout the year.”

“I think to truly get an indicator of where some of those guys are is in game time situations, and I think that they’re all athletically more than capable,” he added. “How they’re going to adapt with going through the anxiety of game day, playing in front of 90,000 people, computing the call, communicating the call within that, taking their eyes in the right spots. There’s nothing athletically those guys can’t do — they’re extremely talented but what would be the best combination right now, I couldn’t answer that.”

The Gators will kick off the 2014 season and unleash their new offense on Saturday, August 30th at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Muschamp on no back-up QB decision or depth chart yet

Muschamp on backup QB decision (cont’d)

Muschamp on Monday’s practice and next week

Muschamp on minor injuries

Muschamp on rotating players in the secondary

 

 

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Gators Prepare For Season Opener Against Idaho; Durkin Fired Up And Ready To Go

By on August 22nd, 2014

 

The Florida football team is concluding its final week of preseason camp after wrapping up its first practice of game prep for the season opener against Idaho next week. Gator defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin talked following Thursday’s practice to discuss position battles, the squad’s progress, as well as preparations for the 2014 college football season.

Overall, Durkin is pleased with the results from fall camp and believes the defense can be a productive unit.  He said the defense is replacing key starters from a year ago and despite some uncertainty in the secondary, he is confident in his young defensive backs heading into the August 30th opener.

“Today was our first day of getting into Idaho stuff,” Durkin said. ”It was kind of half and half. We were still doing stuff against our offense and some of the practice was against Idaho looks.”

“I really like where we’re at as a team,” Durkin added. “We have to keep going now throughout this weekend, have a great week of practice and then let it go loose – play hard, play fast and don’t worry.”

The Gators seem to have made major strides with their young and talented players who have really emerged throughout camp. Sophomore defensive tackle Joey Ivie, redshirt freshmen Jay-nard Bostwick and Caleb Brantley have received a lot of attention and praise from the coaching staff throughout preseason practices. Durkin said he’s proud of how well they’ve performed and elaborated on their readiness to get in the playing rotation.

“They’ve really stepped up and done a great job, he said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with how they’ve gone through camp. All those guys have come along. All those guys have really answered the challenge. We feel much better right now about being able to roll guys up like we like to upfront. We’re going to do that and we feel good about the ability to do that because of how they’ve gone through camp.”

According to Durkin, the only two sure starters for the Gators defensive backfield as of right now, are sophomore All-American Vernon Hargreaves III and safety Keanu Neal. However, within the next few days the coaching staff would like to settle on the other two starters in the secondary, opposite Hargreaves and Neal.

“We’re starting to get a better idea of where we’re going to have some guys,” Durkin said. “The thing about the secondary is there are a lot of guys deserving of playing time and they’re going to get it. We’re going to roll guys in there and play quite a few. We feel really good about the talent and the depth we have back there. A lot of those guys are without playing experience, so we’re going to get them out there and see how they do and go from there.”

“That’s always a big thing for the players in who’s starting and all that, but at the end of the day there won’t be much disparity in the number of stats with those guys,” Durkin said in regards to the pressure of getting a starting role. “We’re planning on rolling them in.”

With a group of young inexperienced, yet, talented freshmen vying for time in the defensive backfield, Durkin said the secondary will feature a rotation of players. He would like to see who is more productive and consistently performs exceptionally well during the first few games. The players that emerge and make an impact on the squad will earn more playing time – still, he’s impressed with the amount of talent he’s seen these past few weeks on the practice field from his true freshmen.

“The difference this year is it’s not household names yet to everyone,” the Youngstown, Ohio native added. “It’s younger guys. We feel really good. They’re talented. We’re going to roll them just like we always do. Yeah, if a guy is having a good day or has the hot hand then we may go with him for a couple series. But that’s all stuff we talk about every series throughout the game. That’s our conversation of who we’re going to go through next.”

Durkin added that sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye, junior Brian Poole and senior Jabari Gorman have all have seen time at the nickel back position during fall training camp and will likely rotate for a while as well. Meanwhile, true freshman Duke Dawson is cross-training between safety and cornerback right now.

“Duke is learning both corner and safety for us,” he added. “Duke’s doing a great job, for a freshman to do that. Now he was here for the spring to do that, but Duke has a great demeanor about him, great practice tempo, he wants to learn. He’s learning and doing a great job. He’ll play.”

Durkin also emphasized on how Hargreaves has truly distanced himself from the crowd and shown tremendous leadership skills – both on and off the field.

“He’s having a great camp, Durkin said.” “He’s stepped up as a leader and I’ve seen him really grow as a leader. He still understands that he has to get better and has things to work on and we push him to do that every day. He does a great job – he practices hard, prepares well and we expect big things from him this year. I think it’s a natural thing for him, he added. “He’s got that ability and that personality. He’s moved into that role really easily.”

”Overall, I think our guys have really played hard and prepared well. I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The Gators will kickoff their 2014 season against Idaho on August 30th at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Durkin on focusing on Idaho

Durkin on team’s progress throughout fall camp

Durkin on nickelback position

Durkin on depth of defensive line

Durkin on Hargreaves showing great leadership

Durkin on Hargreaves (Cont’d)

Durkin on depth of defensive line

 

 

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Friday Sports Update 8/22

By on August 22nd, 2014

Gator soccer opens its season, Gator football continues practice, high schools have preseason classics, baseball and more in our Friday Sports Update…

** The Gator soccer team opens its regular season tonight by hosting Miami.  Florida is a preseason pick to win the SEC and is ranked in the top ten nationally.   It is also the 20th season for Gator soccer and coach Becky Burleigh has been the coach for all of them.

** The Gator football team winds down its preseason camp as Sunday begins a game week preparation for the Idaho Vandals next Saturday.

** Several Gators are named to the preseason Coaches All-SEC Team.   Dante Fowler and Vernon Hargreaves III were named to the first team while offensive lineman Chaz Green is a second team selection.

** High school football teams in the area have preseason classics tonight.   Hopefully, weather will be better than it was last night for the games which were affected by lightning.

** In the NFL, Jacksonville faces Detroit tonight in an exhibition game.   Tampa Bay is at Buffalo Saturday and Miami hosts Dallas.

** In baseball, David Price comes back to his old team, the Tampa Bay Rays, and pitches against them as a member of the Detroit Tigers; he was good, but the Rays won the game 1-0.   The Rays now play Toronto this weekend.

** The Atlanta Braves whipped Cincinnati 8-0 and will play the Reds this weekend.   Miami was idle and the Marlins begin a weekend series with Colorado.

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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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