« October 28, 2013 | Main | October 30, 2013 »

2 posts from October 29, 2013

October 29, 2013

Full(y) circle(d)

GAINESVILLE -- In last season’s turnover-laden loss to Georgia, Florida fumbled away its unblemished record and an opportunity to bury its bitter rival.

It was a demoralizing defeat for the Gators, but their season didn’t end on a dreary afternoon in Jacksonville.

Solomon Patton’s season did, however, and he hasn’t forgotten it.  

“I've definitely been waiting on this game,” UF’s senior wide receiver said. “I had circled it since last year. This is like the main game that I've been waiting on all year.”

Patton -- then a jet-specialist but now Florida’s go-to playmaker -- broke his arm on a failed fourth-down conversion midway through the first quarter of last year’s rivalry game in Jacksonville. The wideout took a quick handoff towards UF’s sideline before UGA safety Shawn Williams awkwardly slung the diminutive speedster just short of the first down yard-marker, breaking Patton’s arm in the process.

(Courtesy media.247sports.com)

The brutal blow ended Patton’s 2012 campaign, as he finished the year with just a single reception and 140 yards rushing on 14 carries.

“He was just starting to come on and that particular play, I mean, it was kind of such a weird hit that he didn’t get hit directly,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “He didn’t fall on his arm. And that was kind of a play we put in figuring he could get around the edge. I felt bad about it because he meant a lot to us of what we could do at that time.”

While the wideout didn’t grow a bionic arm in the offseason, Patton’s overall game has transformed in the year since the injury.  No longer Pease’s gimmicky toy, the 5-foot-9, 168-pound slippery speedster has emerged as Florida’s offensive MVP in 2013.

“Obviously he’s come through it full circle,” Pease said. “The season he’s having now, good for him, because we need him.”

Ever since Percy Harvin bolted for the NFL in 2008, the Gators have desperately searched for their next electric and explosive playmaker, and as it turns out, he may have been under their noses all along.  

After entering the year with just 79 career receiving yards, Patton tops Florida in yards (426), yards per reception (15.21) and touchdowns (4), while also averaging 6.22 yards per carry and ranking second in the SEC in kickoff return average (28.92 y/r).


Although Florida’s offense has stagnated to near-record lows this season, Patton has consistently stared in key moments and proven he’s no longer a one-trick pony.

In Florida’s romp over Arkansas, he powered the offense with two touchdowns, dashing for a pair of long scores (51-yards, 38-yards) on two short throws. In Florida’s 36-17 loss to Missouri, the elusive playmaker jumpstarted a potential comeback, returning the opening second half kickoff 100-yards untouched to make it a one-score game at the time.

Patton swears the ability has always been there, but he admitted he’s studied harder and drastically improved his route running under the tutelage of position coach Joker Phillips during in his senior season.

The results have shown up on the field.

“Sometimes when you know your opportunity is there to be a player your urgency picks up,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We told him he needed to be a guy that could help us, and that’s something he has done. You got to credit the young man and his work ethic. He’s having a special year.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Riggs talks targeting ejection

GAINESVILLE -- Cody Riggs’ momma is no fan of the NCAA’s new targeting rule. Riggs was ejected on the first play from scrimmage in UF’s 36-17 loss to Missouri after he launched himself at the head of Tigers wideout L’Damian Washington following a 41-yard completion.

Riggs’ mom and seven other family members traveled from his hometown of Ft. Lauderdale and nearby St. Louis to watch the junior safety play just a single snap on the afternoon.

“They were really upset. They don’t agree with the rule at all, but they’re not on the field. They were really upset just because they came all the way up from South Florida to Columbia and they spent money coming up there to come see the game,” Riggs said.

“My mom was upset that she only got to see me play for 10 seconds.”

Riggs admitted his helmet-to-helmet hit was the correct call, but Florida’s starting safety expressed frustrations with a rule he called, “not fair.”

"It's a good rule because of concussions. I know people that have played in the NFL with concussions. I understand the intention of the rule, but at the same time my family came all the way up to Missouri from South Florida to watch the game, and they saw me play for 10 seconds off of a penalty that I really wasn't trying to hurt anybody. It has its pros and cons. It's just one of those rules that you have to live with,” Riggs said.

Steve Shaw -- the SEC head of officials -- ardently supports the targeting rule for players’ safety, but he announced last week he [along with league commissioner Mike Slive] will petition the NCAA to review the exact rule [i.e. the 15-yard penalty for an overturned ejection] after the season.

However, by the letter of the law Riggs’ penalty and subsequent ejection was the correct call -- even if he “had no intention of hurting the guy.” The safety was forced to watch the rest of the game on a laptop in an empty locker room.

It was a lonely and hollow feeling for Riggs, and yet the ejection won’t change the way he will play in the future.

“I’m not going to slow up. I’m going to keep playing hard. I’m not going to be hesitant when it comes to hitting a receiver that’s going across the middle,” he said. I’m just going to have to lower my target next time. I’m not going to slow down.”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Team Stats

» View more stats



Powered by TypePad