November 25, 2015

HOOPS: Florida routs Vermont behind second-half surge

GAINESVILLE -- A 18-6 run in the second half fueled Florida to a 86-62 rout over Vermont on Wednesday afternoon in the O’Connell Center. 

Four players scored in double figures, led by senior Dorian Finney-Smith’s 20 points, six rebounds and six assists -- a feat no Florida player has accomplished since Chandler Parsons in 2010. 

Big-man John Egbunu had 13 points, while forward Devin Robinson, who made his first-career start of 2015, added 16 points and eight rebounds. 

The Gators needed a strong second-half flurry to bury the Catamounts, as Florida struggled to create separation thanks to some ice-cold shooting in the first half (34 percent). 

Here’s three quick thoughts on the win.   

1. Kasey Hill was dreadful in Sunday’s loss to Purdue (1 of 8 from the field), but the junior point guard was electric Wednesday afternoon. Hill finished with 14 points -- 11 after halftime including a super-sweet behind-the-back, reverse layup. He also chipped in 4 assists, zero turnovers and a pair of steals. UF’s half-court offense has been stuck in the mud this season -- mostly due to poor guard play and iffy shooting. But the Gators' offensive got going Wednesday when Hill and Doe-Doe really attacked. They need Hill to discover some consistency because …

2.  Florida’s half-court offense remains a mess. Unless Egbunu or Finney-Smith makes a play inside, the Gators can’t score with any sort of efficiency or consistency. They hit two 3s in the first half. They drilled six after halftime. Too often, UF gets boggled down in a zone, throws too many poor entry passes and can’t create off the dribble.  Florida shares the ball well (13 assists), but sometimes the Gators actually play too unselfish and pass up open shots. They’re clearly uncomfortable when the pace slows, so they need to find more ways to run. Even off opponents' made baskets. They need to play fast. Fortunately, Florida’s press and half-court defense …

3. Is really good, especially against a team that hemorrhages turnovers. The Catamounts average 17 giveaways a game, and they equaled their season-average Wednesday (17). When Florida couldn’t hit shots early, Vermont stuck around, but as soon as UF upped its pressure (and offensive rebounding) the Catamounts couldn’t keep up with the Gators’ athletes. UF recorded 10 steals and out-rebounded Vermont 43-34. 

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Still smiling: Jake McGee is ready for Senior Day ... again

GAINESVILLE -- For Jake McGee, the third time’s a charm.

Florida’s tight end is one of 11 scholarship players who will participate in Senior Day festivities Saturday before UF tangles with Florida State.

But McGee has done this dance before.

“Fun fact. This will be three,” he said, grinning. 

“I actually did one at Virginia too, so I'm pretty experienced with the whole Senior Day thing.”

Last year, McGee came to Florida as a graduate transfer from Virginia, but he broke his leg in the first game of the season and his college career appeared over. In a last minute decision by the NCAA, though, McGee was granted a sixth-year of eligibility and the tight end has emerged as one of UF’s key leaders and most productive players.

“I didn’t expect to have two Senior Days here,” he said.

“I didn’t expect to get hurt and stuff like that. You just sorta, as the things come you gotta make the most of it, smile and have a good time with everything.”

McGee is Florida’s second-leading receiver (34 catches for 304 yards) and caught the game-winning touchdown in last weekend’s scare against Florida Atlantic. The senior has been clutch all season, with 56 percent of his receptions going for a first down or touchdown.

"It just works out that the plays that are called, when it's thrown to me, I've got to know where the sticks are, need to know where I need to get to and have a pretty good feel out there for what's going on,” McGee said.

“Keep the chains moving and stay on the field."

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November 24, 2015

Florida slips four spots in College Football Playoff rankings

GAINESVILLE -- So beating Florida Atlantic in overtime didn’t do Florida any favors in the College Football Playoff rankings. 


The Gators dropped four spots Tuesday, tumbling to No. 12 and behind two-loss Stanford and Michigan. 

Florida has needed late-game heroics in three straight weeks to slip past teams a combined 9-24 this season.  

Earlier this week, first-year coach Jim McElwain admitted UF (10-1) is a flawed team, with ESPN analyst Danny Kanell saying Tuesday that the committee is “taking notice” of Florida’s recent struggles. 

“Our guys have won a bunch of games,” McElwain said. 

“Whether you say they deserve it or not. I don’t think they deserved the East Carolina game, at all. I don’t think we deserved [FAU] at all. But whether we deserved it or not, we figured out a way to do it. There’s something to feel happy about that. 

“But satisfied? It’s embarrassing.”

Fair enough. 

Because style points matter, Florida has potentially played itself out of CFB Playoff contention. 

As currently positioned, the Gators would not only need to beat No. 13 Florida State (7:30 p.m., ESPN) and No. 2 Alabama (SEC Championship Game on Dec. 6) … but win big.  

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UF recruiting: A commit, a (possible) flip and two signees

GAINESVILLE -- It’s been a busy 24 hours for Florida on the recruiting trail. 

A quick wrap:

-- Three-star cornerback Antonio Nelson verbally committed to Florida on Monday night.

The Alabama product is a little-known prospect but touts good size (6-foot-2) and athletic ability (he’s a standout basketball player) for the position. He is also teammates and close friends with five-star linebacker Lyndell Wilson -- a top UF target. Wilson has flirted with the Gators for months, and although he is considered an Alabama lean, signing his buddy could be another chip in Florida’s favor.  

-- Next, four-star quarterback Feleipe Franks (Wakulla High) officially announced his decommitment from LSU.

With all the chaos surrounding the Tigers + Franks’ public tryst with the Gators, the U.S. Army All-American’s announcement didn’t come as a surprise. Franks, an early enrollee, has been teasing a flip to Florida in recent weeks, attending games against Vanderbilt and FAU, and a commitment to UF could come as early as this weekend. Stay tuned. 

-- Finally, a pair of 2016 recruits signed their written offer of admissions to UF. Coach Jim McElwain announced on Twitter the “official” addition of Cocoa cornerback Chancey Gardner and Citra-North Marion receiver Freddie Swain as “midyear enrollees.” Both prospect are consensus four-stars.

*************** UPDATE ***************

McElwain announced Wednesday that three-star wideout Joshua Hammond also signed his written offer of admissions. 

Florida’s 2016 class has 23 commitments and is currently ranked 10th by 247Sports. If the Gators land Franks, Wilson and a pair of other five-star prospects (DT Shavar Manuel, WR Nate Craig-Myers) they could finish with a Top 3 class. 

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November 21, 2015

GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. Florida Atlantic Owls


GAINESVILLE -- Noon-vember ends today. 

The No. 8 Florida Gators finish their third-straight noon kickoff with a meeting against Florida Atlantic. 

Barring a monumental upset, yesterday’s late evening Will Grier news will probably be the biggest thing that happens with Florida football this weekend. 

WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

WHEN: Noon

WATCH: SEC Network

LINE: UF -31


1. Can Florida’s running game get on track?

2. Will UF avoid anymore injuries before next weekend’s showdown with FSU?

3. Can the Gators’ suffocating defense pitch their first shutout on the year?


Florida wary of trap game potential

NCAA denies Will Grier’s appeal

Florida focused on FAU despite what lies ahead 

DeAndre Goolsby emerging as an explosive target

Jalen Tabor upstaging Vernon Hargraves III

Florida Gators defensive line hurting

UF playing with new attitude

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit says Jim McElwain is the COY

UF jumps to No. 8 in CFB Playoff rankings


Another 4-1 week. Still searching for a perfect Saturday and not sure this is the week. 33-16-1 ATS on the season. Let’s see what happens. 

LSU (+4.5) at Ole Miss 

Oklahoma State (PK) vs Baylor 

Missouri (+9) vs Tennessee

Michigan State at Ohio State (-13) 

And finally, Florida (-31) vs Florida Atlantic. The Owls are a Grade-A cupcake. They’re 1-28 all-time against Power Five schools and have been outscored 100-23 in two meetings against UF. Another rout appears imminent. 

Enjoy the final weekend before Thanksgiving, y’all. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Florida QB Will Grier loses NCAA appeal



A photo posted by Chad Grier (@coachgrier7) on Nov 16, 2015 at 10:09am PST


GAINESVILLE -- The NCAA has spoken, and Florida’s 2015 remake of “Free Willy” doesn’t have a happy ending. 

Gators quarterback Will Grier lost his appeal for violating the NCAA’s performance-enhancing drug policy, and the redshirt freshman remains suspended until Oct. 15, 2016. 

The Orlando Sentinel first reported the news and UF later confirmed the report on its official football Twitter account. 

Grier sought to have his calendar-year suspension reduced to the remainder of the 2015 season, participating in a conference call with his lawyers from Morgan & Morgan and the NCAA on Monday. 

But the with appeal denied, Florida’s former starting quarterback is ineligible for the first six games next season. 

Grier was 5-0 as UF’s starter, throwing for 1,204 yards and 10 touchdowns in six games. 

Sophomore quarterback Treon Harris, 3-1 as as starter since taking over for Grier, and Oregon State transfer Luke Del Rio could compete for the starting job next fall. 

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November 18, 2015

Florida QB Will Grier begins appeal process with the NCAA

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s suspended quarterback Will Grier has started his appeal process with the NCAA, according to multiple reports.

Grier, a redshirt freshman, hopes to reduce his calendar-year suspension for violating the NCAA’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

In a statement first released to the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando attorney Clay Townsend of Morgan & Morgan said Grier presented his case Monday during a conference call with NCAA. 

“We have worked diligently on the investigation and appeal and we, along with all of the Gator Nation, look forward to Will’s return to eligibility as soon as possible,” Townsend told the Sentinel.

Grier was 5-0 as Florida’s starting quarterback, engineering the dramatic comeback against Tennessee and the shocking upset over then-No. 3 Ole Miss.

But on Oct. 12, the quarterback was suspended by the NCAA, and faces a one-year ban that would prohibit him from playing until the seventh game of the 2016 season.

According to reports, Grier is appealing to reduce the suspension so that he is eligible for the start of next season. 

Grier has not practiced with the Gators in over a month. 


Senior tight end Jake McGee was named a semifinalist for the 2015 John Mackey Award, honoring the nation’s top tight end. McGee has 31 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns. … Florida will host in-state rival Florida State under the lights next weekend, as the regular season finale is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on ESPN.

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Kirk Herbstreit says Jim McElwain is the Coach of the Year

GAINESVILLE -- ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit tweeted Tuesday that Florida’s first-year man Jim McElwain is his current pick for National Coach of the Year. 

McElwain has guided UF to a 9-1 start and a spot in the SEC Championship Game for the first time since 2009. With a win Saturday against Florida Atlantic, McElwain would become the only coach in school history to win at least 10 games in his inaugural season. 

McElwain will likely compete with Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz, Houston’s Tom Herman, New Mexico’s Bob Davie and Clemson’s Dabo Sweeney for the prestigious award. 

After last weekend’s 24-14 win at South Carolina, the Orlando Sentinel’s Mike Bianchi told McElwain that he had former Gators and Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier’s vote for COY, too. 

Florida’s first-year coach then humbly deflected praise and gave kudos to his players.  

“That's flattering because I think what it is, and here's what, it's very humbling No. 1 that someone would put you in that category because guys, there's a bunch of better coaches than me out there,” McElwain said.  

“What it does do is it speaks to the organization. It speaks to the players, the coaches, all the people that have kind of figured out that the difficult lies not in the new ideas but in escaping the old ones. We've got a whole organization that's moving in a new direction. 

"We aren't sitting still. We're continuing to build, create and not just sit there and say ‘We're Florida and you're not.' That's what I love about it. We've energized a whole organization to move forward, and it starts with those players."

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November 17, 2015

Florida jumps to No. 8 in College Football Playoff rankings

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators’ path to the College Football Playoffs is clear. 

Continue to win and they’re (probably) in. 

UF rose to No. 8 in the latest rankings, leapfrogging then-No. 6 Baylor, No. 9 LSU and No. 10 Utah -- all losers over the weekend. 

After sluggishly slipping past South Carolina, the Gators (9-1, 7-1 SEC) host Florida Atlantic this weekend (noon, SEC Network) before a primetime showdown with No. 14 Florida State and then a potential meeting with No. 2 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. 

Based on the current rankings and future matchups, if Florida beats FAU, FSU and Alabama it is positioned to sneak into the Final Four in Jim McElwain's first season in Gainesville. 

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November 16, 2015

HOOPS: Florida wins by half a hundred over North Carolina A&T

GAINESVILLE -- The Mike White Era is off to a smashing success.

Florida steamrolled North Carolina A&T 104-54, as six players scored in double figures led by senior forward DeVon Walker's career-high 15 points. 

The Gators (2-0) rained treys (shooting a blistering 16 of 29 from downtown) and threw down vicious dunks (six in total), as White's pace and space style completely overmatched an inferior foe in his home opener at the Stephen C. O'Connell Center. 

"It's exciting," Walker said. 

"The fans should like it. We like it. Hopefully it's something we can maintain."

Everyone was involved Monday, as senior forward Dorian Finney-Smith recorded a double-double (14 points, 10 rebounds), while big-man John Egbunu was a beast inside, chipping in 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting. 

The Gators shot 53.6 percent from the floor, had 20 assists and 20 offensive rebounds.

Devin Robinson played well (15 points, seven rebounds), while Chris Chiozza (11 points, five assists) and Brandone Francis-Ramierz (10 points, all in the first half) stuffed the stat sheet, too. Not to be forgotten, point guard Kasey Hill had a ho-hum seven-point, eight-assist evening -- including a highlight-reel no-look pass to setup an Egbunu slam.

"Throughout the 40 minutes, we played very unselfishly," White said.

"That's not always easy to do. But we didn't have any agendas creep in." 

The rout was on from the opening tip. The Gators sprinted to a 18-2 lead, hitting 7 of their first 10 shots.  

It only got worse from there. 

Florida's handsy defense forced 16 turnovers, but its half-court pressure was even more effective than its punishing press. 

UF led 52-27 at halftime, as Robinson drained a trey at the buzzer.

Florida then outscored NC A&T exactly 52-27 in the second half, leading by as many as 53 points. 

The Gators hung a 100+ for the first time in four years and won by 50 points since routing NC A&T 105-55 in 2010.  


The Gators won their 25th straight home opener. ... Freshman Keith Stone, a 6-foot-8 forward, will redshirt, UF announced Monday. ...The Gators officially inked a pair of talented teammates to 2015 National Letters of Intent, welcoming four-star guard Eric Hester and three-star forward Dontay Bassett from Oldsmar Christian. ... SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey was in attendance at Monday's game. ... UF will play Saint Joseph's (2-0) in the Hall of Fame Tipoff in Connecticut on Saturday. 

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November 14, 2015

Notebook: Bullard starts but McCalister goes down

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- It turned out, the hullabaloo over Jon Bullard’s injury was much ado about nothing. 

The Florida Gators’ star defensive tackle was deemed “highly questionable” earlier in the week, but the senior started his 22 straight game in UF’s 24-14 win over South Carolina.  

The senior, who was battling an arm injury and was even ruled "out" by ESPN pregame, recorded a team-high five tackles, including a TFL. 

UF’s defensive line did sustain a scare, though, as standout pass rusher Alex McCalister injured his right foot and did not return. The redshirt junior was later seen with a boot with crutches on the sideline, and coach Jim McElwain said after the game, “McCalister will probably be out.”

However, McCalister's X-rays were "fine," per McElwain on his postgame radio show. 

Meanwhile, freshman tailback Jordan Crokrite also sustained a foot injury, dampening a career day (two touchdowns, 73 total yards).  


UF punter Johnny Townsend has had an excellent season, quietly keying the Gators’ dominance controlling field position. 

The Ray Guy Award semifinalist delivered again Saturday, averaging 46.5 yards per punt -- with a long of 57 yards. 

On the season, Townsend has 16 punts over 50 yards and 19 punts downed inside the 20-yard line. 


The Gators converted a season-high 11 third downs. … Florida won in Columbia for the first time since 2009. … McElwain became the first UF coach in school history to win seven conference games in his inaugural season. … UF went over 400 yards for just the third time all season. … Tailback Kelvin Taylor scored his 12 rushing touchdown, seventh-most in a single season at UF. 

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GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. South Carolina Gamecocks

UnnamedCOLUMBIA, S.C. -- The Florida Gators are the SEC East Champs. 

That much we know. 

How they'll play today is anyone’s guess, though. 

Last weekend, UF clinched the division for the first time in six years, squeaking out a win over lowly Vanderbilt. 

Can the Gators avoid another noon snoozer today? 

We’ll see soon enough. 

WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium

WHEN: Noon


LINE: UF -7.5


1. Does star DT Jon Bullard play?

2. Will Florida’s offensive line control the trenches versus a feeble front?

3. Can UF slow down USC’s explosive playmaker Pharoh Cooper?


Gators in “unchartered waters”

Demarcus Robinson is slowly shedding negative labels

Bryan Cox Jr. is engine that powers UF defense 

Jim McElwain pokes fun at AD Jeremy Foley

Gators drop to No. 11 in latest CFB Playoff rankings

Injuries piling up on UF’s defense

Steve Spurrier won’t attend UF-USC game

Florida must answer offensive questions before SEC title game

McElwain proving skeptics wrong in first season


Hot off a 4-1 week, 29-15-1 ATS on the season. I like lots of ‘dogs again today. 

Syracuse (+29) vs Clemson 

Indiana (+13.5) vs Michigan 

Miami (+13) at North Carolina

Mississippi State vs. Alabama (-7) 

And finally, Florida (-7.5) at South Carolina. Yes, the Gamecocks have lost several close games of late, but I just don’t see UF having a letdown for the second straight week. Also, USCe can’t stop anybody — even UF’s enigmatic offense. 

It’s a cool and crisp day for football. Enjoy it, y’all. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

November 13, 2015

Jim McElwain pokes fun at AD Jeremy Foley

GAINESVILLE -- Jim McElwain is riding high. 

The No. 11 Florida Gators’ first-year coach is the only SEC East coach ever to lead his team to the conference championship game in his first season at the helm. 

The Gators (8-1, 7-1) clinched the division with a 9-7 win over Vanderbilt and play at South Carolina this weekend (noon, ESPN). 

Earlier this week, McElwain was sporting a sharp, oxford shirt. Asked if athletic director Jeremy Foley gave it to him as a gift, McElwain seized an opportunity to take a friendly shot at Foley's frugalness. 

Just dial the video up to 13:45. 

Who thinks McElwain is getting a raise and probably more facility upgrades this offseason? (Everyones hands get raised). 


Three-star defensive end Jachai Polite (Daytona Beach-Mainland) verbally pledged to Florida on Thursday. The Gators’ 2016 class now has 22 commitments. … Despite drilling the game-winning field goal Saturday, Austin Hardin hasn’t cemented his spot as Florida’s first-team kicker. McElwain wouldn’t commit to Hardin, saying newly walk-on Neil McInnes remains the team’s “short kicker.”  

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November 10, 2015

Gators drop to No. 11 in latest CFB Playoff rankings

GAINESVILLE -- Florida clinched the SEC East over the weekend, but the Gators’ Great Escape against Vanderbilt didn’t impress the selection committee. 


UF slipped one spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, dropping to No. 11 during Tuesday’s release. 

One-loss Utah leapfrogged UF, as did Stanford and Oklahoma State, who became the evening's hot-topic after whipping TCU over the weekend but climbing just six spots. 

The Gators remain positioned to sneak into the Final Four. They must win out (with “quality” victories over FSU and SEC West Champ -- likely either Alabama or LSU). Even then, UF may need some help, as the committee clearly isn’t impressed with its recent résumé without suspended quarterback Will Grier. 

Still, after Saturday’s scare the Gators can't afford to look ahead and must focus on South Carolina (noon, SEC Network). 

“Hopefully this past week was a wakeup call,” senior tight end Jake McGee said. 

“We really need to bring it. We’ve got to be honed in on our assignments, our effort and really do what we can control and really not give that opportunity for our opponent to steal one.”

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November 08, 2015

Notebook: WR Robinson responds, RB Scarlett starts

GAINESVILLE -- Demarcus Robinson has never been a model of consistency, but the Florida Gators’ mercurial wideout delivered in the clutch Saturday. 

A week after going catchless against Georgia, Robinson’s Jekyll and Hyde routine flipped and he propelled Florida to an SEC East title with a big day. 

The junior was actually benched to start the game, but responded by recording a season-high nine receptions for 106 yards -- including two key catches in the final drive of UF’s 9-7 win over Vanderbilt. 

“It was a big game today for Demarcus,” quarterback Treon Harris said. 

“We had to find ways to get him the ball. Last week versus Georgia, they had guys over the top watching him for the deep ball. We had to have him come underneath, quick balls for him to make plays with his feet.”

Robinson is electric in space, but ball security remains a constant issue and it almost cost Florida dearly. 

First, Robinson nearly tossed an interception on a trick-play. Then, early in the fourth quarter, he fumbled fighting for extra yardage inside the red zone. 

“Demarcus loves to play football, he loves to play this game,” Harris said. 

“The only problem with Demarcus is ball security. He cannot hold the ball with his left hand. He just has to work on that every day. But like I said, Demarcus loves this game and he can  make plays for us.”

While freshman sensation Antonio Callaway has emerged as UF’s top playmaker, Robinson still leads the team in targets, receptions and yards. Saturday’s performance was Robinson’s fifth-career 100-yard game, but his first of the season. 

“He made some plays and he obviously felt horrible [about the fumble],” McElwain said. 

“You guys have seen this guy play for how long now and this guy’s ball security is something that we talk every single day about. There’s no excuse for the fumble. 

“He gives us a chance because he’s a good player. But he also has to understand that as you go through life there it’s about doing some things right to maybe help the people around you. It isn’t all about you. He’s a good player. He cares. Hopefully he’s learned.” 


Former St. Thomas Aquinas standout tailback Jordan Scarlett recorded his first-career start. The freshman rumbled for 20 yards on the game’s opening play, finishing with 23 yards on four carries. … Injured left tackle David Sharpe (foot) played a few snaps in the second half despite being listed as doubtful. … The Gators missed their fourth PAT of the season, their most since 2010. … Defensive end Jordan Sherit was ejected for targeting on fourth-quarter sack during Vandy’s final drive. Sherit will miss the first half against South Carolina. 

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November 07, 2015

GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. Vanderbilt Commodores

UnnamedGAINESVILLE -- Welcome home, folks. 

The Florida Gators are back in The Swamp this afternoon for the first time in a month, and the stakes are pretty simple today. A win and the Gators go to Atlanta for the first time since 2009. 

A loss and they still probably go to the SEC Championship Game but the celebration is delayed a week. 

The biggest mystery today is really whether Florida will sport new white helmets. 

We’ll soon find out. 

WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

WHEN: Noon


LINE: UF -21


1. Will UF continue its dominance in the turnover margin?

2. Can Treon Harris replicate last season’s breakout performance against Vandy?

3. Will UF’s new dental-student kicker actually drill some field goals today?


UF focus solely on Vanderbilt

UFvsVandy hype video: “This is our opportunity”

Gators prepare for first noon start

Antonio Callaway on pace for best freshman season in UF history

Jordan Cronkrite must sit out the first half

Gators QB Treon Harris becoming the master of improvisation 

UF offensive line ailing

Gators debut at No. 10 in CFB Playoff rankings

UF’s renewed unity paying dividends 

UF players buying Jim McElwain message 


Just a ho-hum 3-2 week. Now 25-14-1 ATS on the season. I like lots of ‘dogs today. 

Florida State (+13) at Clemson 

Penn State (+3) at Northwestern 

Auburn (+8) at Texas A&M

LSU at Alabama (-6) 

And finally, Florida (-21) vs. Vanderbilt. 

It’s high spread for a Gators offense that remains inconsistent. But the Commodores’ attack is among the worst in the nation. Considering the result here two years ago + the ATL stakes + UF’s propensity to win the turnover battle = take the Gators. 

Despite summer-esque heat, it’s a gorgeous day in Gainesville. 

Enjoy the game, y’all. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

November 06, 2015

Florida vs. Vandy hype video: "This is our opportunity"

GAINESVILLE -- Florida released its hype video for Saturday’s showdown with Vanderbilt and first-year coach Jim McElwain's message was simple: “This is our opportunity.”

"What you have bonded with. What you have invested. Is for this," he said.

"For this. That's what it is."

A win on Homecoming would clinch the SEC East and continue UF’s trek toward Atlanta.


"We're going to look to cage the rabbit as best we can."

-- Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason on keeping UF quarterback Treon Harris in the pocket 

“We’ll find out at the end of the year. You’ve got to close the deal. Do we have the parts? Yeah. I think we do, but we’ll see.” 

-- Florida DL coach Chris Rumph on if the Gators have a championship defense  

“To us, beating Florida was the Super Bowl. … That was like winning a national championship for us. But for me, having that experience, I feel like winning the SEC Championship will be way on another level. Wing the East at least. That’s something we’re striving for this weekend.”

-- Gators QB/WR Josh Grady on winning at UF as a member of Vanderbilt in 2013 


New walk-on kicker Neil MacInnes, a dental student, should see some action Saturday, according to McElwain. “We’ll see how the dentist does. I hope he drills it.” … With starting left tackle David Sharpe double with a foot injury, freshman tackle Fred Johnson (Royal Palm Beach High) could make his first-career start. … UF has won 23 of the last 24 meetings. 

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November 03, 2015

Florida ranked No. 10 in first CFB Playoff Poll

GAINESVILLE -- The committee has spoken. 

The Florida Gators checked in at No. 10 in the initial 2015 College Football Playoff rankings, released Tuesday night on ESPN. 

UF (7-1, 5-1 SEC) is slotted behind seven undefeated teams and one-loss teams Alabama and Notre Dame -- despite an arguably more impressive résumé.

The Gators thrashed No. 18 Ole Miss in early October, just two weeks after the Rebels beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. 

Florida’s lone loss this season is a touchdown defeat at Death Valley to No. 2 LSU. 

So what gives?

"Just the fact that Alabama has more quality victories in our eyes,” CFB Playoff chairman Jeff Long said on ESPN.

“I think they’re actually very close even though they may be separated by that length in our rankings. Those are two teams that we do think are very close.”

The two school’s wins over Georgia were also compared. 

Regardless, the rankings are subject to change. A maximum of four teams can remain undefeated heading into the playoff, so Florida could find itself on the outside looking in or creep into the Top 4 if it runs the table including a win in Atlanta over LSU. 

As it stands, UF would play in a New Year's Six Bowl. 

Either way, the Gators were uninterested in Tuesday's release. To man, their sole focus was on Saturday’s homecoming tilt with Vanderbilt (noon, ESPN). 

“I don’t watch things like that. I do homework and watch film,” senior linebacker Antonio Morrison said.

“I’m trying to graduate in December, so trying to graduate and trying to watch film on Vandy.”

Senior wideout Valdez Showers concurred, saying he wouldn’t watch the rankings release either.

“I’m worried about Vanderbilt to be honest with you,” Showers said. 

“They always come out and play us hard every year, so that’s what we’re worried about.” 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

October 31, 2015

Kelvin Taylor runs wild in Jacksonville again

JACKSONVILLE -- Earlier this week, Kelvin Taylor shouldered the responsibility for Florida’s anemic running game. He vowed it would turn around. 

It did. 

Florida's junior tailback ran wild against Georgia for the second-straight season, ripping off 121 yards and two touchdowns in No. 11 Gators' 27-3 rout. 

Florida’s inexperienced offensive line created enough holes for Taylor, who entered the night ranked last in the SEC among starters in yards per carry. 

“Those guys did a great job for me,” he said. 

“I feel like I’m a really good running back and it was about time for me to start making plays. I just talked to my offensive line pretty much this whole week and told them, ‘Look, man, you’ve got to have a great game. Just give me that little crease and I’ll do the rest.”

Last year, Taylor rushed for a career-high 197 yards in EverBank Field -- the same stadium his dad, Fred, starred in for 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. 

He did it again Saturday, and he wasn’t surprised. 

“It’s my house,” he said. 

“This is the Taylor’s house.”

The junior gashed the Bulldogs for several long runs, including a 16-yard, ankle-breaking touchdown in the second half. He now has 10 touchdowns on the season -- and four in Jacksonville the last two years. 

"Based on what's happened, we ought to make this our home stadium for him," UF coach Jim McElwain said. "He's done a heck of a job here."


UF freshman tailback Jordan Cronkrite (Westminster Christian) was ejected for targeting in the third quarter and will miss the first half against Vandy. … Both teams wore traditional home uniforms for the second straight season. … Freshman tailback Jordan Scarlett (St. Thomas Aquinas) had a career-high 96 yards on nine carries. … Wideout Demarcus Robinson failed to record a reception for the first time since going catch-less against UGA last season. … Tight C’yontai Lewis returned after missing five games with a hand injury and caught a 25-yard reception. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

JACKSONVILLE -- Trick or treat, boys and girls. 

Today we’ll find out if Florida is truly destined for a trip up 1-75, or if the Gators run out of magic and cede divisional control to the archrival Georgia Bulldogs. There's plenty of storylines to follow: Can Treon Harris pass Florida to victory? Which defensive line can dominate? Oh and turnovers. Those usually pretty important, too, right? 

It should be a good one.

We’ll see. 


WHERE: EverBank Field

WHEN: 3:30 p.m.


LINE: UF -3 


1. Will UGA’s quarterback switch cause UF any early issues?

2. Can Florida establish a ground game?

3. Who will win the special teams battle?


Stakes are high for Florida-Georgia

UF needs ground game again

Will Grier still not practicing, continues to build appeal

Antonio Callaway injured in Wednesday’s practice 

Florida’s 2016 schedule released

Gators add four-star DE, recruiting momentum continues 

UF’s search for a kicker still not finalized 

Nick Saban coaching tree reaches UF-UGA rivalry

Florida Gators heal during bye week 

UF climbs in polls again


No picks last week so the batteries are full charged now. 22-12-1 ATS on the season. Feelin' a 5-0 week. Let's go. 

Tennessee (-6.5) at Kentucky 

Notre Dame (-9.5) at Temple

Washington State (+13) at Texas A&M

Miami at Duke (-10) 

And finally, Florida (-3) vs. Georgia. Favorites are oftentimes exposed in this rivalry game, and weird stuff always seems to happen -- Halloween, or something. The two teams are pretty evenly matched, too, but Florida creates more negative plays on defense and actually has less uncertainty at quarterback —which is crazy considering its situation just two weeks ago. 

It’s a beautiful day, so enjoy the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, y’all. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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