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 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. 

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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 24, 2015

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

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

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.

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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 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.  

THIS & THAT

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).  

BOOMIN’ KICKS

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. 

THIS & THAT

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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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). 

THIS & THAT

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. 

Shocking. 

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.” 

THIS & THAT

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

WATCH: ESPN

LINE: UF -21

THREE QUESTIONS

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?

LINKS - UF vs. VANDY

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 

SKINNY SIX-PACK

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.

QUOTABLES

"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 

THIS & THAT

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. 

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."

THIS & THAT

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


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