December 10, 2015

Two Gators earn All-Freshman honors but Callaway edged out

GAINESVILLE -- The best rookie wide receiver in Florida Gators history didn’t make the SEC’s All-Freshman team Thursday.

Antonio Callaway, a Booker T. Washington product, did not earn postseason honors despite a sensational season.

The Miami native led Florida with 603 receiving yards on 30 catches and four touchdowns. He also scored two punt return touchdowns, ranking fifth nationally with 15.5 yards per return. Callaway’s 20.1 yards per reception was also the best in the conference.

However, while Callaway didn't receive any recognition, a pair of former five-star prospects were named to the All-Freshman team. UF’s offensive lineman Martez Ivey and defensive end CeCe Jefferson both earned honors. 

Ivey started seven games, playing both tackle spots and left guard. Jefferson quickly emerged as a rotational rusher, recording 28 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 8.5 tackles for a loss. 

Still, Callaway -- the Gators’ most explosive playmaker since Percy Harvin -- was notably missing from the list. 

He was edged out for the receiver spots by Alabama’s Calvin Ridley (75 receptions for 893 yards and five touchdowns) and Texas A&M’s Christian Kirk (70 catches for 925 yards and six scores). 

Kirk had an exceptional freshman season, as he became the first player in league history to earn three spots (receiver, all-purpose and return specialist) on the All-Freshman team. He led the nation with 24.4 yards per punt return, scoring a pair of touchdowns. 

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December 09, 2015

Coaches Choice: SEC names Jim McElwain 2015 COY

GAINESVILLE -- After leading Florida to a dramatic turnaround and the school’s first Eastern Division title since 2009, first-year coach Jim McElwain was named the SEC’s Coach of the Year on Wednesday. 

Although the No. 19 Gators lost their final two games of the regular-season, they stand at 10-3 after winning just 11 games total in the previous two seasons. 

McElwain became the fourth coach in school history to win the award, joining Ray Graves (1960) and Steve Spurrier (1990) as the only UF coaches to receive the honor in their first season in Gainesville. Former UF coach Will Muschamp also won the award in 2012. 

MORE AWARDS

Four Florida players were named to ESPN’s All-SEC team Wednesday: cornerbacks Vernon Hargreaves III and Jalen Tabor, as well as defensive tackle Jon Bullard and punter Johnny Townsend. All four players earned all-conference honors Tuesday, too. 

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Jim McElwain hopes Florida's staff stays together

GAINESVILLE -- While staffs across the country are busy recruiting before Monday’s month-long dead period begins, the coaching carousel is in full swing, too. 

Jim McElwain just hopes the Gators aren’t involved in any of it. 

Asked if he anticipated any changes, McElwain said, “Well I sure hope not.”

Florida’s first-year coach, recently named the SEC’s Coach of the Year, added, “We’ve got a great staff, and I know a lot of guys would be in high demand because they are great coaches. We’ve been able to put together an outstanding staff here. I hope all of them are back.”

According to USA Today’s database, UF’s assistants ranked 20th nationally -- 10th in the conference -- in salary pool last season. 

Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and linebackers coach/assistant head coach Randy Shannon were candidates for Central Florida’s opening before Oregon offensive coordinator Scott Frost got the gig. 

Recently, offensive line coach Mike Summers, the only UF assistant without a contract for next season, and defensive line coach Chris Rumph were rumored targets for Will Muschamp’s staff at South Carolina. However, Muschamp reportedly retained interim USC coach Shawn Elliott, who will serve as the OL coach. 

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December 08, 2015

Five Florida Gators named to the 2015 All-SEC Coaches Team

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s defense finished the regular-season ranked second overall in the Southeastern Conference, so the leagues coaches honored five Gators -- including four standout defensive players -- to the Coaches’ 2015 All-SEC teams Tuesday

All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III earned his third-consecutive first-team selection, and the junior was joined by senior defensive tackle Jon Bullard and sophomore cornerback Jalen Tabor. Senior linebacker Antonio Morrison and punter Johnny Townsend were named second-team selections. 

Florida’s trio of first-team defense honorees are the school’s most since 2009. 

Hargreaves and Tabor formed a dynamic duo in the secondary this season, as the both players intercepted four passes and headlined the nation's 11th ranked pass defense. Tabor led the SEC in passes defended with 18. 

Meanwhile, Bullard returned for his senior season and emerged as one of the most dominant interior linemen in the country. He ranked second in the conference in tackles for loss (17.5) and led UF in sacks (6.5). Morrison, a second-team All-SEC performer a year ago, returned from a devastating knee injury to lead the team in tackles for the second straight season (97 stops). 

THIS & THAT

Morrison also accepted an invitation to the Senior Bowl on Tuesday, joining teammate and tight end Jake McGee. … The Citrus Bowl announced that its New Year’s Day matchup between Michigan and Florida is already sold out. … UF safety Marcus Maye was not named to an All-SEC team Tuesday, but the redshirt junior did earn first-team All-American honors from USA Today. Maye has 73 tackles, two interceptions, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries on the season. … Five-star quarterback prospect Jacob Eason will reportedly decide between Georgia and Florida sometime in the next month. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

December 06, 2015

Gators finish No. 19 in CFB Playoff, No. 19 in AP Poll

GAINESVILLE -- The Alabama Crimson Tide rolled over the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game, likely sending UF to the Citrus Bowl in Orlando to take on Michigan. 

We’ll find out soon enough. 

But Florida finished the regular-season ranked No. 19 in the College Football Playoff rankings, No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 and No. 18 in the Coaches Poll. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

December 05, 2015

GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide

UnnamedATLANTA -- The Florida Gators are back in Hot ‘Lanta.

Who’da thunk?

UF is an 18-point underdog, hoping to spring the largest upset in 23-year history of the SEC Championship Game. 

No one … NO ONE … is picking Florida over Alabama, but what was that speech in the Little Giants about?

WHERE: Georgia Dome

WHEN: 4 p.m.

WATCH: CBS

LINE: UF +18 

THREE QUESTIONS

1. Can Florida force turnovers (SEC-best 24 takeaways) AND control third down (Alabama ranks XXXX nationally on third down)

2. Will UF’s offensive line survive against Alabama’s “creatures?”

3. How much read-option, designed quarterback run does UF implement for Treon Harris?

QUICK NOTES

* Florida’s stumbling offense has eclipsed 300 yards just once in the last month

* WR Demarcus Robinson will play today. The junior, UF’s leading receiver with 47 catches, was suspended for the blowout loss to Florida State but was reinstated by the team’s seniors late this week.

* DE Alex McCalister (foot) remains OUT, while slot wideout Brandon Powell (foot, walking boot) and starting left tackle David Sharpe (foot) are questionable.  

* UF is making its 11th appearance in the SEC Championship Game and is 4-3 all-time against Alabama

* The Tide throttled the Gators 42-21 in Tuscaloosa last season. 

LINKS - UF vs ALABAMA

UF’s rapid rise meets ultimate test

Struggling offense likely to unleash Harris

Gators bracing for Derrick Henry

Listless Florida Gators limp into SEC title game

Sharpe, Wilson questionable

Family Decision: Robinson is back

Seniors to decide WR Demarcus Robinson’s fate

The Gators add three commits, including heralded QB Felipe Franks

SKINNY SIX-PACK

So 4-1 again. Time to close out Championship Saturday with a bang. 38-21-1 ATS on the season. 

Clemson (-4) vs North Carolina

Stanford (-4) vs USC 

Iowa vs Michigan State (-3.5)

Kansas State (+8) vs West Virginia

And finally, Florida (+18) vs Alabama. Could this game turn into a blowout quickly? Sure. But even though Alabama will and should win, favorites are just 11-11-1 ATS in title game history (stat hat-tip: SB Nation’s Team Speed Kills). UF covers. Barely. 

Enjoy ATL, y’all. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

December 03, 2015

Sharpe, Wilson injured in practice, questionable for Saturday

GAINESVILLE -- Florida enters the SEC Championship Game banged up, as starting left tackle David Sharpe reinjured his foot in Wednesday’s practice. 

The 6-foot-6, 350-pound sophomore has battled the same injury for the last month, and first-year coach Jim McElwain said Sharpe’s status is uncertain for Saturday’s showdown with No. 2 Alabama (4 p.m., CBS). 

The Gators need Sharpe and starting center Cam Dillard, who missed the Florida State loss with a leg injury, close to full-strength, as the Crimson Tide lead the conference with 41 sacks. 

Meanwhile, slot receiver Brandon Powell (foot) was also hurt Wednesday but is probable for this weekend. Star defensive tackle Jon Bullard (knee) and Antonio Morrison (undisclosed) are ailing, too, but both seniors are expected to play.

Finally, sophomore cornerback Quincy Wilson (University School) went down with leg injury and is questionable. 

“He’s been hampered by something in his leg,” McElwain said. “He did not look good at all today.”

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December 02, 2015

Family decision: Robinson practices, status for Saturday unclear

GAINESVILLE -- Demarcus Robinson is back. 

Sort of. 

Florida’s junior receiver, who as suspended for the fourth time in his career last weekend, returned to practice Wednesday, as the Gators’ seniors voted to allow Robinson to rejoin the team. 

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound wideout missed the loss to Florida State due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, and first-year coach Jim McElwain remained coy as to whether the enigmatic wideout would actually play in Saturday’s SEC Championship Game against Alabama (4 p.m., CBS). 

“He practiced today,” McElwain said.

“We’ll see what happens.”

Florida’s coach left Robinson’s fate in the hands of his seniors, saying, “He talked to the team. It was a choice for him not to be with his family in the last ballgame. Sometimes the greatest lessons in life are when things are taken away from you and you’re no longer enabled.”

Robinson leads UF with 47 receptions, but he’s been benched twice this season despite McElwain recently praising the junior’s maturation. 

“As I’ve said before, he has come a long way. But he still has a long way to go to understand it’s not OK to make choices that hurt your team.”

THIS & THAT

UF dropped to No. 18 in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, falling six spots after last Saturday’s 27-2 loss to FSU. Barring an upset in Atlanta, the Gators are no longer pegged for the Sugar Bowl, as No. 13 Ole Miss (9-3) leapfrogged UF in the rankings. … Sixth-year tight end Jake McGee accepted an invitation to play in the Senior Bowl. McGee has recorded 38 catches for 338 yards and four touchdowns in 2015. … McElwain said suspended quarterback Will Grier is in Gainesville taking classes, dismissing rumors the redshirt freshman was kicked off the team recently. 

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December 01, 2015

McElwain: Seniors to decide WR Demarcus Robinson's fate

GAINESVILLE -- Demarcus Robinson’s fate rests in the hands of Florida’s seniors. 

The junior wideout was suspended for Saturday’s blowout loss to Florida State, and first-year coach Jim McElwain said the team's seniors will decide whether to reinstate Robinson for the SEC Championship Game this weekend. 

“They’ll determine the direction we go,” McElwain said.

“He made a choice. Our family needs to make this decision and those guys are the leaders of our family.”

Robinson has a team-high 47 receptions for 505 yards and two touchdowns this season, but he’s been suspended four times in the last three years. 

Now Saturday could’ve been the final straw.

“Are any of you surprised?” McElwain said after the loss to FSU. 

“What’s disappointing is for somebody to do that to their teammates. And yet, I’m not made at him at all. He just made a choice.” 

THIS & THAT

Junior defensive end Alex McCalister, UF’s team-leader in sacks, will miss a third straight game with a foot injury. McElwain was vague about the rest of UF’s injury situation, though, saying he expected defensive tackle Jon Bullard (knee), linebacker Antonio Morrison (undisclosed) and others to play. “We’ve got some guys injured,” McElwain said.  “But you know what, they’re finding a way to go out there and play. … At this time of the year, everybody’s beat up. We’ll still practice the same. We’ll still do what we do.”

... UF’s blowout loss to FSU not only dashed its College Football Playoff hopes but also likely knocked the Gators out of a New Year’s Six Bowl. Barring a monumental upset in Atlanta, most projections have Florida pegged for the Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl in Orlando against Michigan. 

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November 30, 2015

Gators add three commits including heralded QB Felipe Franks

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s offense was shutout in its humbling 27-2 loss to Florida State, so the Gators went out and secured some future help. 

UF continued its recent momentum on the recruiting trail over the weekend, adding three verbal commits headlined by four-star quarterback Felipe Franks. 

Franks (Wakulla High) decommited from LSU last week and has long been rumored to flip to Florida. The 6-foot-5, 220-pound prospect is the No. 5 quarterback recruit in the country. With Florida’s issues and uncertainty at the position next season, securing Franks, an early enrollee, was a must for Jim McElwain & Co. 

Meanwhile, the Gators also added a playmaker and someone to protect their future quarterback.  

Junior college athelte Dre Massey, a four-star prospect from Holmes C.C. in Mississippi, committed to Florida following his official visit over the weekend. 

Later, the Gators added mammoth three-star offensive guard Jawaan Taylor (Cocoa), who flipped from Miami on Sunday night. Taylor, a 6-5, 330-pounder, is teammates with UF commit Chauncey Gardner. 

Finally, Florida’s class did take a hit with the decommitment of Pasco cornerback Jayvaughn Myers. The three-star athlete is considered a bit of a project, but he is also the half-brother of five-star receiver Nate Craig-Myers -- a key UF target. 

Craig-Myers (Tampa Catholic) is rumored to be a Florida lean, but his half-brother’s decommitment could potentially throw a wrench in his recruitment. We’ll see. 

The Gators’ 2016 class now has 25 commits and is ranked No. 10 nationally by 247Sports. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

November 28, 2015

GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

GAINESVILLE -- Florida hasn't beaten archrival Florida State in The Swamp since Tim Tebow was a senior, so the Gators are wear white helmets, blue jerseys and white pants for the first time since ... FSU 2009. 

First-year coach Jim McElwain calls tonight’s Sunshine Showdown “personal.”

The longtime rivals are nearly mirror images of each this year, two flawed offenses buoyed by electric playmakers (FSU’s Dalvin Cook, UF’s Antonio Callaway) and a pair of stout defenses. 

Tonight could be a real rock fight, with Cook (and possibly kicker Robert Aguayo) proving to be the ultimate trump card(s). Or maybe McElwain's magic in The Swamp will continue. 

We’ll see. 

WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

WATCH: ESPN

LINE: UF +2.5 

THREE QUESTIONS

1. Can Treon Harris protect the football?

2. Will UF’s Jon Bullard really miss this game?

3. Can the Gators go undefeated at home for the first time since 2012?

LINKS - UF vs FSU

Plenty at stake as UF welcomes FSU 

Containing FSU’s dangerous Dalvin Cook atop Gators’ priority list

Injuries an issue for Florida Gators

McCalister and Bullard listed as doubtful 

McElwain sticking with Hardin

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

UF slips to four spots in the CFB Playoff rankings

Florida recruiting: A commit, a (possible) flip 

McElwain comments on Will Grier’s failed appeal

Gators fishing for solution to poor play

SKINNY SIX-PACK

So much for 5-0. After back-to-back 4-1 weeks, I submitted a real stinker last weekend (1-4). Gotta do better, so no turkey hangover here. 34-20-1 ATS on the season. 

Mississippi (-1) at Mississippi State 

Oklahoma State (+7) vs Oklahoma 

Texas A&M at LSU (-4.5)

Notre Dame (+4) at Stanford

And finally, Florida (+2.5) vs FSU. The Seminoles could still win, but a considering the two teams are so evenly matched why not grab the points at night in The Swamp. 

Enjoy the regular-season finale, y’all. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

November 26, 2015

Bullard, McCalister remain doubtful for Florida State

GAINESVILLE -- Senior star Jon Bullard is one of three Florida defensive linemen who remain doubtful for Saturday’s showdown with Florida State. 

Gators coach Jim McElwain released an early evening injury report Wednesday, listing Bullard (knee), defensive end Alex McCalister (foot) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (ankle) as doubtful. Two more rotational linemen are questionable (Jordan Sherit, hamstring; Joey Ivie, leg). 

The Gators also listed starting guard Martez Ivey (shoulder) and center Cam Dillard (leg) as questionable. Slot receiver Brandon Powell (foot) and starting left tackle David Sharpe (foot) were upgraded to probable, though.  

“We’ll have 11 players take the field on Saturday versus Florida State,” McElwain said. 

The complete injury report: 

PROBABLE

Caleb Brantley

Antonio Morrison

David Sharpe

Brandon Powell

QUESTIONABLE

Cam Dillard

Joey Ivie

Martez Ivey

Jordan Sherit

DOUBTFUL

Jon Bullard

Alex McCalister

Taven Bryan

THIS & THAT

FootballScoop.com reported that Central Florida “plans to interview” UF co-defensive coordinators Geoff Collins, a former Knights assistant, and Randy Shannon, Miami’s head coach from 2007-10, for its head coaching vacancy. Collins was recently named a 2015 Broyles Award finalist, honoring the nation’s top assistant. … Florida president Kent Fuchs will serve as the honorary Mr. Two Bits on Saturday.

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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."

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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. 

Hmm. 

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.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

November 21, 2015

GameDay Primer: Florida Gators vs. Florida Atlantic Owls

Unnamed

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

THREE QUESTIONS

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?

LINKS - UF vs FAU

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

SKINNY SIX-PACK

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

 

#FreeWilly

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. 

THIS & THAT

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.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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."

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


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