ESPN 850 WRUF – Gainesville, Florida

Final College Football Playoff Rankings Released

By on December 8th, 2014

The College Football Playoff Committee released the final College Football Playoff Ranking of the season on Sunday.

The Alabama Crimson Tide held steady at number one, a position they’ve held for the past four weeks since knocking off then-number one Mississippi State 25-20 on November 15.

The Oregon Ducks remained steadfast in their number two position, a position they’ve held on to for the past five weeks, after avenging an early season loss to Arizona by way of a 51-13 rout of the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship Game.

The Florida State Seminoles moved up one spot to number three, finishing the season as the only team to appear in the top four every week since the release of the inaugural College Football Playoff Ranking (the first release took place on October 28).

The Ohio State Buckeyes, the lone newcomer, rounded out the top four following a 59-0 demolition of the then 13th-ranked Wisconsin Badgers in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Baylor Bears moved up from six to five, while last week’s number three, the TCU Horned Frogs, dropped three spots to number six in the polls, thus ending the Big XII’s bid to have representation in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

The inaugural college football playoff lends itself to a bevy of story lines.

Nick Saban and Urban Meyer, who are considered two of the top coaches in all of college football, will face off for the fourth time and the first time since 2010, when Urban Meyer was head coach at Florida.

Saban leads the all-time series 2-1.

Although Urban Meyer is an old face in a new place, he doesn’t expect things to be too different from when he was in the SEC.

“I know exactly what I’m going to see when I flip on the film: a bunch of great football. I know who they recruit. I know the way they coach,” Meyer said. “They don’t have much transition in the coaching staff. A little bit different dynamic now on offense I think with Lane Kiffin there. He’s opened it up a little bit…I know exactly what we’re going to see. Excellent special teams. We have to be on point.”

The coaching staff isn’t the only thing that has remained constant at Alabama since Meyer’s departure from the SEC. The sustained success of Alabama has remained constant as well.

Nick Saban is still running the flagship program of the best conference in the country and doesn’t want people to forget the importance of having success in the SEC and the conference championship game.

“Everybody sort of minimizes the importance of this game now and wants to talk about the playoff,” Saban said. “But I’ll tell you what. It’s a significant accomplishment. I’ve been in this league for a long time. It’s tough to win. It’s tough to win in this division. It’s tough to win in this game.”

The Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes will face off in the Sugar Allstate Sugar Bowl on January 1 at 8:30 p.m. in New Orleans.

The Alabama-Ohio State game is not the only game writing an intriguing storyline.

The Oregon Ducks are preparing to take on the reigning national champion and undefeated Florida State Seminoles in what could be a battle of the past two Heisman Trophy Winners.

Oregon starting quarterback Marcus Mariota is considered the front runner to win the coveted trophy for the most outstanding player, although it is not a done deal.

If Mariota were to win the trophy, it would be the fourth match up between Heisman Trophy winners.

Although Jameis Winston has led the Seminoles to another undefeated regular season and ACC title, the College Football Playoff Committee has been unimpressed with them, having had them ranked at number four at one point.

Much of the country is worried about the talent of this Florida State team, but head coach Jimbo Fisher continues to sing the praises of his squad.

“This team is an elite team. It’s 13-0. 13 wins. No losses. No matter what happens to it,” Fisher said. “And it’s resiliency to be unbroken is amazing to me because it can take everybody’s best shot, looks you in the eye and keeps playing. Doesn’t say anything. Just keeps doing its job. I’m blessed to be able to coach them.”

Marcus Mariota and the Oregon Ducks will take on Jameis Winston and the Florida State Seminoles in the Rose Bowl on January 1 at 5 p.m. in Pasadena.

The winners of the two semifinal games will face off in the 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship Game on January 12 at 8:30 p.m. in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

For more sound from participants in the College Football Playoff, click below.

Urban Meyer 1

Urban Meyer 2

Nick Saban 1

Nick Saban 2

Jimbo Fisher 1

Jimbo Fisher 2

Jameis Winston 1

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VIDEO: Jags Safety Josh Evans Discusses Gators New Head Football Coach Jim McElwain

By on December 8th, 2014

Following Sunday’s Jags game at EverBank Field, ESPN 850 caught up with Jacksonville safety and former Florida Gator Josh Evans to discuss Florida’s new head ball coach Jim McElwain and the future of the Florida Program. Here’s what Evans had to say:

 

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Jaguars Fall To The Texans, Former Gator Josh Evans Talks About New Head Football Coach

By on December 8th, 2014

Quarterback Blake Bortles and the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) blew their 13-10 lead at halftime, managing just four yards in the third quarter while falling to the Houston Texans (7-6), 27-13 Sunday in Jacksonville.

Offensively, running back Arian Foster led the Texans with 24 carries for 127 yards and a game changing touchdown early in the fourth quarter.  Houston lined up for a field goal before calling a time out and electing to go for it.  Foster looked like he would be stopped for a loss, but escaped a tackle, switched directions and high-stepped into the end zone.

The Jags took an early lead with a four yard touchdown reception from Allen Hurns, followed by two Josh Scobee field goals in the second quarter, to give the Jags a three point edge heading into half. Scobee became the first player in franchise history to score 1,000 points. However, Jacksonville managed just 73 yards of offense in the second half and Bortles threw three more picks, giving him an NFL leading 16 interceptions this season.

Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt created huge problems for the Jags, finishing with three sacks and five quarterback hits. Watt says he was just doing his job.

“The biggest thing I try to do and I think most football players try to do is, you never know what play can change a game. You never know what play you can get a sack or fumble on, you just never know. You need to go out there and treat every single play like it’s that play,” says Watt.

Texan’s quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 13 of 19 passes for 135 yards, and went on to give the Texans back-to-back wins for the first time in nearly three months after defeating the Jaguars 27-13 on Sunday.

Turning to another subject, Jacksonville safety and former Florida Gator Josh Evans shared his thoughts on the hiring of new Gator football coach Jim McElwain.

“From what I’m seeing on social media everyone is pretty pumped about him. Personally, I don’t know too much about him but the more that the fans and people there are excited about him the more excited I get to see what he can do.”

Evans says having an offensive minded coach will make the Gators better on both sides of the ball.

“I don’t think there will be a drop off at all. I think they will be great on both sides of the ball. They will have a great offense with the new coach coming in and they have a great defense. When you’re great on both sides, it sounds like it will be a great year for the Gators,” says Evans.

Evans says the transition for the players to a new coach will work itself out with time.

“It comes with being a player’s coach. Once everyone gets a feel for how the new guy is and believes in what he is saying, it will take off from there. Once you learn your coach and he understand your strengths and weaknesses, the sky is the limit,” says Evans.

To hear audio from JJ Watt and Josh Evans click below:

Josh Evans 1

Josh Evans 2

Josh Evans 3

Josh Evans 4

Watt 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Monday Sports Update (12/8)

By on December 8th, 2014

The top four teams are set for the College Football playoff, NFL, college hoops and GAtor news and more in our Monday Sports Update…

** Alabama will play Ohio State and Florida State will play Oregon in the first ever College Football Playoff after being chosen to play by the Committee in charge of making the selections.

** The Gator football team will play in the Birmingham Bowl on January 3 against East Carolina, a team the Gators will face in the regular season next year as well.

** All the bowl pairings were announced Sunday.   In the SEC, South Carolina plays Miami in the Independence Bowl; Texas A&M plays West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl; Arkansas plays Texas in the Texas Bowl; LSU faces Notre Dame in the Music City Bowl; Georgia takes on Louisville in the Belk Bowl; Ole Miss and TCU face off in the Peach Bowl; Mississippi State and Georgia Tech play in the Orange Bowl; Auburn plays Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl; Missouri faces Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl; Tennessee plays Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl.

** In the NFL, all Florida teams lose; Tampa Bay falls at Detroit 34-17; Miami loses at home to Baltimore 28-13 and Jacksonville loses at home to Houston 27-13.   Monday Night Football tonight has Atlanta at Green Bay.

** The Gator men’s basketball team tries to get back to the .500 mark tonight when it hosts Yale.   The Gators are 3-4 on the season and injured guard Eli Carter may not play again tonight.

** The Florida women’s basketball team is routed at Florida State 77-51.   The Gators are now 5-3 on the year.

 

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Gator Women’s Hoops to play Florida State Today

By on December 8th, 2014

The UF women’s basketball team (5-2) will face off against Florida State (7-1) in Tallahassee today in its fourth road contest of the season. The Gators are currently 1-2 on the road so far and will be looking to get back on track after scoring a season-low 58 points in its loss to Savannah State on Thursday night.

Although Florida holds a 41-29 lead in the 70 game series between the two teams, the Seminoles have won eight of the last 11 matchups and come into this game riding a three game winning streak behind their leading scorer, guard Maegan Conwright.

The key to this game for Florida will be their play on the defensive side of the ball. The Seminoles score an average of 82 points per game and are shooting 42 percent from beyond the arc on the season. They currently rank first in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and sixth in the country in that category.

In order for the Gators to win this game, they will have to hold Florida State below their scoring average and keep them from shooting such a high percentage from the 3-point line. The Gators will also need to avoid committing over 20 turnovers like they did in their last outing against Savannah State.

Tipoff is set for 2 pm, but you can catch live coverage of the game on ESPN 850 WRUF starting at 1:45 pm.

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UF Volleyball Advances to NCAA Regional Semifinals; Illinois Next in Sweet 16

By on December 7th, 2014

The eighth seed Florida volleyball team used a total team effort, including a team-leading 19 kills from sophomore right side Alex Holston and six or more digs from six different players, to weather the Miami Hurricanes 3-1 Saturday at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center and earn a trip to the NCAA Regional Semifinals for the 21st time in program history.

After the Canes took the first set, 25-13, Florida rebounded to win the next three in a row 25-22, 25-20, 25-21.

Three Gators reached double-figure kills in UF’s win over the Hurricanes (22-9), including Holston (19), junior outside hitter Gabby Mallette (12) and freshman middle Rhamat Alhassan (10).

Junior setter Mackenzie Dagostino set up the UF offense with 51 assists and contributed nine digs defensively.

In addition to Dagostino, senior Taylor Unroe also had nine digs to strengthen UF’s defense.

Pole served up all four of UF’s service aces against the Canes to tie a career high.

Florida head coach Mary Wise knows that despite the victory, her squad must continue to improve.

“We’re fortunate enough that we are advancing and we’re one of 16 teams,” Wise said. “Now you’re talking about playing whichever opponent we will play next weekend is going to be coming off two wins, and now they’re on a roll. So it doesn’t get any easier at this point because every team left is highly talented to get this far.”

The Orange and Blue (27-3) are riding a 22-match win streak into the Regional Semifinals, its longest streak since 2010. Florida made the Sweet 16 in 2012 and last advanced to a Regional Final in 2011 when the Gators took on Illinois in Gainesville.  The Gators will now travel to Ames, Iowa, for a tilt with ninth seed Illinois (26-7) on Friday.

For post match comments from coach Wise, Mackenzie Dagostino, Gabby Mallette, and Holly Pole, click below:

Wise recaps the match against Miami

Wise on the performance of Carli Snyder

Wise on the improvements her squad needs to make moving forward

Wise on how she and the team will react and move forward

Dagostino on how the team bounced back from the first set

Mallette on lining up against Savanah Leaf (20 kills)

Pole on finding a rhythm in the match

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Sunshine State NFL Preview: Week 14

By on December 7th, 2014

All three Florida NFL teams will be in some intriguing matchups this weekend.

Probably the most interesting game of the three match ups is the BaltimoreRavens-Miami Dolphins game in Miami. Both teams are sitting at 7-5 and are both vying for a playoff spot. The major battle in this game will be the up-tempo Miami offense against the physical Baltimore defense.

Miami quarterback Ryan Tannehill says the game is obviously important if the Dolphins want to make the playoffs.

“It’s a December game, conference game, both fighting to make the playoffs with the same record.   It’s two good football teams matching up.  It’s going to be fun,” Tannehill said.

Miami wide receiver Mike Wallace added that the Dolphins can’t let the Baltimore defense dictate the tempo of the game.

“We have to make them match what we do.  We have to control the tempo of the game, no matter if it’s a physical game or a finesse game…we have to make them follow us not us follow them,” Wallace said.

The Jacksonville Jaguars will be in a division battle against the Houston Texans at EverBank Field. The Texans (6-6) will have to string together some wins in order to squeak into the playoffs. The Jaguars could only play spoiler for the rest of the year as they are officially out of contention. Following a Week 13 win against the Giants, the Jaguars could win back-to-back games for the first time this year.

Finally to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who will travel to Detroit to face off against the Lions. Detroit owns a solid 5-1 record at home and they look to keep pace with the Green Bay Packers for the division title. The Buccaneers have struggled all year, but both of their wins are on the road.

Bucs quarterback Josh McCown was asked if the team has given up on the year.

“Nobody is giving up. Everybody is going to work and work hard, and it reflects our coaches and our leadership. For us, that’s who we are as a program,” McCown said.

To listen to full audio clip from the quotes above, click below:

Tannehill talks importance of game

Wallace wants the offense to dictate the tempo

McCown says team has not given up

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Florida Volleyball Cruises Past Alabama State; Faces Miami in Second Round

By on December 6th, 2014

Florida sophomore right side Alex Holston put down 14 kills, posted three blocks and served up an ace to lead the Gators to a sweep of Alabama State (25-13, 25-12, 25-12) in NCAA First Round action at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center Friday night.

Florida (26-3, 18-0 SEC), won its 21st straight match Friday.   The Gators held Alabama State to a -.013 hitting efficiency, while hitting at a .439 clip.

In addition to Holston, freshmen Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder each posted eight kills in their NCAA Tournament debuts.

Mackenzie Dagostino set up the Florida offense with 35 assists, while contributing a team-high four service aces, including three as the Gators rattled off 10 straight points under her serve to start the match.

Senior Maddy Monserez led the Gator defense with 11 scoops and four Gators hit .500 or above, including Alhassan (.583), Snyder (.571), Holston (.522) and junior middle Simone Antwi (.833).

Florida head coach Mary Wise credited her squad’s focus as a key to victory.

“The focus of our group was exceptional in a match where we felt that our size, our physicalness above the net could be an advantage,” she said.  “And at the point where we got a big lead in any one of the three sets, it would have been easy for our team to lose focus, and that was something we did early on. But the growth of this team, couldn’t be happier with how this team stayed on task and there were areas where we got better.”

The victory sets up a Florida-Miami Showdown Saturday at 7 p.m. The Hurricanes defeated the UCF Knights in five sets (25-22, 18-25, 25-10, 23-25, 15-10), setting up the the first meeting ever between the two schools.  The Hurricanes were led by senior outside hitter Savanah Leaf, who posted an NCAA Tournament, O’Connell Center record, 31 kills.

The winner of Saturday evening’s matchup will advance to the Ames, Iowa, Regional site December 12-13.

You can catch the call of the Florida-Miami face off on ESPN 850 WRUF.

For post game comments from coach Wise, Mackenzie Dagostino, Alex Holston, and Carli Snyder, click below:

Wise recaps the match against Alabama State

Wise previews her squad’s match against Miami

Dagostino recaps the team’s performance

Dagostino on the team’s strong service game

Holston on playing in her second NCAA Tournament match

Snyder on playing in her first NCAA Tournament match

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McElwain Officially Introduced as Florida Head Coach

By on December 6th, 2014

Early Saturday morning, Gator Nation got its first look at new head football coach Jim McElwain. McElwain was at the podium for over half an hour fielding a variety of questions, ranging from his offensive philosophy to what he learned from Evel Knievel (a fellow Montana native).

But the new Florida coach said he hasn’t reached a decision on what to do with Florida’s old assistant coaches, and we didn’t learn much about what Florida’s offense will look like, with McElwain saying he’s just going to build a system around the personnel Florida has.

“I’m that dog they dropped off down at the Humane Society that has a bit of every breed in it. And whatever the situation is you try to bring out that breed that helps success. And so when we get here it’s about the evaluation of the talent that’s here, and really accentuating what they do well; adapt to that, and then recruit to some areas that maybe we need to get to as we form who we are and an identity. Obviously we believe in balance, but some games based on what the defense is taking away you need to have the versatility to do the other thing. That’s where it evolves.” McElwain said.

Dogs were the dominant theme of the press conference: McElwain said he would call his offense the Humane Society, and the new Gator coach joked that he believed Florida could win with his dog Clara-A-Belle at quarterback (no comment on the type of offense Clara-A-Belle would thrive in).

McElwain also noted it would take dogged determination on the recruiting trail to get the Gators back to where they want to be, and that will play a role in determine coaching changes as well.

“We’ll hit the road next week, and get to as many places as possible from a recruiting standpoint. Cause it’s one of those things now recruit daily or die now, and we’ve got to make sure we secure a great class. There are some great commitments right now, and some guys that are waiting to see what’s going to happen and what’s going on, and that’s first and foremost is go out and do that. As we kind of look through it, we’ll get a chance to visit everybody in the organization and it isn’t just the coaches. It’s lost sometimes, it isn’t just the coaches, it’s everything that touches the desk of the head football coach. And so that will be evaluated moving forward as we build the infrastructure that is success,” McElwain said.

Now Florida gets ready for a bowl game where McElwain will not be coaching (he suggested a tailgate with outgoing UF President Bernie Machen), and so McElwain will focus solely on recruiting, and getting the Gators back to the top of college football. When asked about the intensity of Florida’s program compared to Colorado State, McElwain smiled.

“Here’s the beauty. Pressure is awesome. That’s why we do this. The one thing I love is pressure. I never look at it as feeling the pressure, but I always look at it as applying the pressure. I’m excited about that part of it. I mean if there’s no pressure why wake up in the morning. That’s really what drives me anyway.”

Check out the audio version of the quotes below:

Mac On Balance

Mac on Recruiting

Mac on Pressure

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Gator Volleyball Sweeps Alabama State; Faces Miami Next

By on December 6th, 2014

The Gator volleyball team moves on in the NCAA Tournament after sweeping
Alabama State (25-13, 25-12, 25-12) at home on Friday night.

Florida will now face Miami on Saturday in second round action; the Hurricanes beat UCF to advance.

Gator sophomore Alex Holston had 14 kills to lead the UF offensive attack.

Florida is now 26-3 overall, having won 21 straight matches.

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