September 08, 2015

UF finalizes contract, greenlights O'Dome renovations


GAINESVILLE -- Following a yearlong delay, Florida officially finalized its plans to renovate the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. 

The Gators agreed to a $64.5 million project price tag with Birmingham, Alabama-based conduction firm Bradfield & Gorrie, the University Athletic Association announced Tuesday.  

Two weeks ago, UF athletics director Jeremy Foley said the contract would be finalized "soon."

Construction on the O’Dome will begin in October, but the facility will remain fully-operational until spring of 2016. 

UF’s men’s and women’s basketball teams will play a state barnstorming tour next fall before the facility is ready for conference play in January 2017.   

According to the release, “the scope of the renovation includes a seating bowl update, the addition of premium seating areas, installation of a state-of-the-art center-hung scoreboard, upgrades to team spaces and an enhanced concourse to improve fan experience.”

The renovation is scheduled for completion in time for UF’s fall commencement in December 2016. 

UF initially planned to overhaul the O’Dome last year, but postponed the project in February after the school became disenchanted with another construction firm’s projected budget and timeline. 

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September 07, 2015

Depth Chart dispatch: Robinson dropped to 3rd-string

GAINESVILLE -- Florida released its Week 2 depth chart Monday in advance of Saturday’s showdown with East Carolina, and the biggest surprise was star wideout Demarcus Robinson’s demotion to third-team. 

While Jim McElwain is dismissive of depth charts, UF’s coach appears to be sending a message to the junior wideout. 

"At the end of the day, it's about doing what's right and really what you put on film," McElwain said.

"We have to understand that each and every one of us are responsible for our actions. Whatever those actions are, be proud of what you put on film, and give up yourself for the benefit of others. That's what it's all about."

Robinson recorded six receptions -- twice as many as any other receiver -- for 34 yards against NMSU. 

"He'll still play," McElwain said. 

Still, it's a strange decision considering junior receiver Ahmad Fulwood is listed as the starter now. The guess here is Fulwood's hold on the starting role is tenuous -- at best. Fulwood run-blocked well Saturday, but he dropped a touchdown on the lone pass sent his way. 

A couple other offensive depth chart notes: the quarterbacks still have an ‘OR’ between them, and former Booker T. Washington star wideout Antonio Callaway, a freshman, is officially listed as a first-teamer now after starting the opener. 

Defensively, safety Marcus Maye regains his starting job following his suspension, while defensive end Alex McCalsiter is slotted as a second-teamer at the RUSH spot. Jordan Sherit is now listed as a defensive tackle and Marcell Harris impressed enough in the opener to earn an ‘OR’ at free safety. 

*************** Florida’s Week 2 depth chart ***************

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No longer invisible: UF's tight ends shine in opener

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s offense clicked Saturday night against a hapless New Mexico State team, and while the quarterbacks stole the headlines, another position group appeared resurrected, too.

The Gators may actually have tight ends again. 

In the last couple seasons, UF’s tight ends have disappeared better than Houdini. The invisible group totaled just 30 catches for 279 yards and three scores since 2012, as unit relied on a pair of converted defensive linemen.

Not anymore.

The Gators’ tight ends -- senior Jake McGee, sophomore DeAndre Goolsby and redshirt freshman C’yontai Lewis -- were a focal point in their explosive 61-13 win over the Aggies.

The versatile trio combined for seven receptions, 100 yards and two scores.

“We believe in using tight ends,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.

“We believe in multiple formations and shifts. The more they can handle, the more effective we’re going to be offensively. … I felt that was a strong spot in camp, and they didn’t disappoint.”

They certainly did not.

After the group was largely ignored and later maligned (see: Tevin Westbrook’s potential game-winning drop against LSU) during the Will Muschamp era, McElwain, along with offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier, featured the unit repeatedly Saturday night.

Florida’s utilized multiple tight end sets on nearly 38 percent of its offensive snaps in the opener.

“It was awesome,” said McGee, who returned to action for the first time since breaking his leg in Florida’s opener last season.

“The whole unit played great. For me getting back out there, I loved it. C’yontai scored twice, made some big plays. It was awesome, everybody making big catches and really getting everybody in [the game].”

Florida’s trio flashed as playmakers, solid route-runners and sound blockers. Lewis had little trouble getting open, collecting touchdowns on his first two collegiate receptions.

The 6-foot-4, 228-pound redshirt freshman had an excellent camp, and could be a star in UF’s new tight end-friendly offense.

“He’s been one of those guys in practice,” McElwain said.

“When you execute it in practice, you’ll probably get [some chances] on Saturday. He does a great job paying attention to details. … He proved it today.”

Meanwhile, Goolsby, who didn’t record a catch last season as a freshman, displayed some wiggle and after-the-catch ability, while McGee served as a reliable run-blocker and safety valve (two first-down receptions).

With UF’s inexperienced offensive line, the Gators will rely on the tight ends in pass protection, too, but unlike season’s past, that isn’t their sole role anymore. 

“We expect to be productive,” McGee said.

“We expect to make plays. It’s something that by the end of the year, the questions, the way they’re phrased, will have a different tone to them. We’re excited to keep going.”

Saturday night was simple the beginning. 

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September 06, 2015

Gator Grades: Dazzling Debut

GAINESVILLE -- Alright. Alright. Alright. 

The Gator Nation needed a reason to smile again, and new coach Jim McElwain delivered in fireworks, as Florida routed New Mexico State 61-13 on Saturday night.

UF dished out $1 million worth of punishment, exercising some of its demons from the Will Muschamp era. 

Yes, the Aggies stink, and UF destroyed lowly EMU to start last season, but this was different. It felt different, at least. 

We'll see if it actually was different soon enough.


The 61 points were the most in a UF coach’s debut, so that’s like, pretty good. The Gators totaled 606 yards -- good for 7.7 per play. The quarterbacks looked sharp (Treon Harris and Will Grier combined for 382 yards passing and five total touchdowns), but just as important, a number of fresh faces (your Jordans, Antonio Callaway, C’yontai Lewis, DeAndre Goolsby) offered a tantalizing peak into UF’s future offense. The OL remains a work in progress, but I’ll (probably) write that every week.


It’s totally nitpicking a unit that forced seven 3-and-outs and had a ridiculous interception by All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, but UF’s defense didn’t totally dominate a hapless foe. Tackling was suspect at times (aside from Alex Anzalone, who was brilliant) and the safety play (without starters Keanu Neal, Marcus Maye or backup Duke Dawson) was outright poor on a number of occasions. Still, NMSU averaged just 3.3 yards per play and was 1-of-12 on third down.


Austin Hardin drilled both field goal attempts (34-yarder, 36-yarder) and boomed six touchbacks, so the coverage units mostly had the night off. An extra-point was blocked, though. Florida’s returns weren’t much, but Alvin Bailey made a heady play jumping on a punt after the ball hit him. 


The Gators whipped a sorry team, and we’ll know in a couple weeks if Saturday’s performance was a mirage. But it was a promising start. The frustrating moments of season’s past were gone. The bone-headed penalties were non-existent. UF didn’t turn the ball over with abandon. Both quarterbacks legitimately had bright moments. Again, it’s a start.

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September 05, 2015

GameDay Primer: Florida vs. New Mexico State

COFVimAW8AA9hvm(cc: @Chip_Howard)

GAINESVILLE -- The wait is over. 

Football is back, baby!

But is Florida?

Uh, well, we won’t for sometime. 

The Jim McElwain era officially debuts and the unranked Gators should cruise to a easy blowout victory in The Swamp tonight, at least. 

Here’s everything you need to know before UF's opener against the New Mexico State Aggies, including links, picks and some music. 

WHERE: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

WHEN: 7:30 p.m.

WATCH: SEC Network

LINE: UF -35.5 


1. Who seizes control of the starting quarterback job? 

2. Can Florida’s inexperienced lines dominate the trenches?

3. Will Vernon Hargreaves III actually play some offense? (I seriously doubt it.) 


(Season previews)

Florida Gators burning to improve

Game-by-Game predictions

Grading the Gators

(UF vs. NMSU)

UF seeks to appease offensive starved fanbase

Two starters downgraded to doubtful for opener

Treon Harris to start at quarterback 

Geoff Collins is zany, confident in building nation's best defense

Jim McElwain explains 'Perfect Thursday'

Blowout looming? Probably. Meet New Mexico State

Morrison: "Florida's going to be back on top soon."

Gators might use four tailbacks in opener

Antonio Morrison slated to start eight months after serious knee injury

UF's defensive line could be a menace for opposing quarterbacks

UF releases Week 1 depth chart with few surprises


Each week I’ll pick five games. I call it the skinny six-pack because I don’t know. Drinking. Or something. Anyways, here’s this weekend’s selections including Florida’s showdown with NMSU.  

Alabama (-11) vs. Wisconsin

Notre Dame (-9) vs. Texas 

Tennessee (-21) vs. Bowling Green

Ohio State vs. Virginia Tech (+14)

And finally, UF (-35.5) vs. New Mexico State. It’s a lot of points, especially for an offense juggling quarterbacks, but the Aggies are terrible and UF’s tailbacks should run wild. Thinking 48-3. What say you?

And now, for your pregame entertainment…


I’m sorry.  

Enjoy the season, peeps.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

September 04, 2015

Neal, Ivey downgraded to doubtful for opener

GAINESVILLE -- Florida safety Keanu Neal (leg) and left tackle Martez Ivey (knee scope) have been downgraded to doubtful for Saturday’s season-opener against New Mexico State (7:30 p.m., SEC Network).

The two prospective starters haven’t practiced all week.

“They’re recovering at a very good pace, but I right now I’d say doubtful,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.

Neal, a junior, was injured in Florida’s scrimmage on Aug. 21, while Ivey, the five-star freshman offensive lineman, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery last Friday.

Florida will be without another two starters, too, (end Alex McCalister and safety Marcus Maye are both suspended), but McElwain is pleased with his team’s overall outlook entering the first game of the season.

“Coming out of camp I feel pretty good about the health of our guys,” he said. “Hats off to our [strength and conditioning staff] and really our players for what they did this offseason.”


Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier and defensive coordinator Geoff Collins will both coach from the sidelines this season, according to McElwain. … Former Florida All-American center, assistant coach and athletics director Bill Carr will serve as UF’s first honorary “Mr. Two Bits” on Saturday. … Florida has yet to sellout the opener, as plenty of club level tickets remain available. 

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September 03, 2015

UF coach Jim McElwain explains 'Perfect Thursday'

GAINESVILLE -- Jim McElwain is a stickler for details. 

Most successful coaches are. 

After years learning from John L. Smith and Nick Saban, Florida's first-year coach has developed a specific game-week practice plan, so when McElwain tossed around the phrase 'Perfect Thursday' several times during availability Wednesday, everyone wondered what exactly he was talking about. 

McElwain gladly answered the question.

“What it is we hit all situations at a very fast pace. Ball’s not on the ground, guys are hustling, they’ve memorized the first eight [scripted plays for Saturday’s opener]. 

They know the first calls in every situation. A lot of it goes on to the understanding in the player’s mind what to expect. We try to paint a picture for them so when they get into Saturday they’re a step ahead and not in the unknown. 

Coming out goal-line red area, two-point play, third down, all the different situations. We do the same thing in the kicking game at a very quick pace going through the game plan, step-by-step. It’s one of those things that we’ve done for a long time. When the guys kind of figure out what ‘Perfect Thursday’ is, it helps them play faster on Saturday."

Makes sense. 

The Gators host the New Mexico State Aggies on Saturday night (7:30, SEC Network) to kickoff the 2015 season.

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September 02, 2015

BREAKING: QB Treon Harris to start Saturday's opener

GAINESVILLE -- Florida has finally named a starting quarterback.

Sort of.

Sophomore Treon Harris, a former star at Booker T. Washington, will start in Saturday's season-opener against New Mexico State (7:30 p.m, SEC Network).

“It was really close,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.

And the battle isn't over.

Harris (somewhat) surprisingly edged out redshirt freshman Will Grier, who exited spring practice with a slight lead in the competition.

“Somebody has got to take the first snap,” McElwain insisted. 

"I wouldn't read too much into it."

Too late. 

Harris took all the first-team reps during the open fastball periods Tuesday and Wednesday, causing some to wonder if he'd already be tabbed the starter. The sophomore was 4-2 in six starts in 2014, totaling 12 touchdowns while completing just 49 percent of his passes. The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder is a slippery athlete, but last season's accuracy concerns have persisted in camp.

However, Harris' experience, elusiveness and playmaking skills could provide a steadier presence behind Florida's inexperienced offensive line. 

McElwain also praised Harris’ ability to “affect the people around [him] in a positive way.”

Still, Harris hasn't seized control of the starting job. Grier shined early in training camp before losing his grip on the job. With Wednesday's announcement, Harris simple earned the right to play the first "three or four" series Saturday against the Aggies.  

“Treon’s going to start the football game. Will’s going to play in that game a lot, too," McElwain said.

"It’s a painting in progress. We’ve got to figure out what the backdrop is going to be.”

McElwain didn't reveal his plan to rotate the quarterbacks, but he did say both signal callers have a scripted set of plays for Saturday.

“If a guy is 11 for 11 you’re not going to take the shooter out,” he said.

"Both of them are deserving. Both of them had a really good spring and fall and we're excited about seeing those guys play. … They'll both have their set of first eight and move it kind of that way as we work forward."

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Morrison: "Florida's going to be back on top soon.”

GAINESVILLE -- Antonio Morrison was among former coach Will Muschamp’s staunchest defenders, but the senior linebacker has effusively praised new coach Jim McElwain in recent weeks. 

Early in training camp, Morrison said he was "jealous" of Florida's younger players who will get to play multiple seasons under McElwain. 

On Tuesday, the All-SEC performer, who recently stunned teammates with his rapid recovery from major knee surgery, insisted the program is better positioned for success with McElwain at the helm.

“The changes he’s brought to this program,” Morrison said, acknowledging the newly-constructed indoor practice facility. “This new facility right here, we never had that. Before if it would’ve rained, we’d wait four or five hours and just be getting out to the field at 9 p.m. Having this indoor is great. 

“Everything is going in the right direction. Florida’s going to be back on top soon.”

Senior defensive end Jon Bullard echoed similar sentiments, saying, “Coach [McElwain] wanted to try and change a few things from that year that he seen that he didn’t like. … Right now nobody really fear the Gators and that’s what we want again.”

Florida's program was broken when Muschamp took over for Urban Meyer in 2011. UF players practically mutinied in Muschamp’s early days, but this time around the team has embraced the change in leadership and a new vision.  

The Gators have praised McElwain’s coaching style and have especially lauded Mike Kent’s new strength and conditioning program.

“It’s light years better than what we did in the past,” Morrison said. 

“Guys actually like lifting. We see our bodies growing. We’re putting on weight and guys are getting stronger. We’re going into the weight room ready to go.”

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September 01, 2015

The people have spoken (sort of but not really)

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August 31, 2015

UF releases Week 1 depth chart with few surprises

GAINESVILLE -- Just five days away from Florida’s opener against New Mexico State, the unranked Gators released their first official depth chart of 2015. 

My prediction earlier in the day…

Some people didn’t get the joke, but alas. 

*************** FLORIDA GATORS WEEK 1 DEPTH CHART ***************

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Florida’s depth chart didn’t yield a ton of surprises other than the news senior linebacker Antonio Morrison is slated to start at MLB. Gators coach Jim McElwain later acknowledged Morrison’s miracle recovery (knee injury) and said the senior would play against the Aggies on Saturday (7:30 p.m., SEC Network). 

With five-star freshman tackle Martez Ivey sidelined, UF’s starting offensive line is what we’ve seen in camp the last few days: (L-R) Mason Halter, Trip Thurman, Cam Dilliard, Antonio Riles and David Sharpe.

Other takeaways include just three OR's (naturally the quarterbacks, backup tailbacks and cornerback spot opposite VH3); little-used safety Nick Washington earning the start with Marcus Maye suspended for the opener; freshman wideout Antonio Callaway earning the nod over junior Chris Thompson; a total of 16 redshirt or true freshmen listed on the two-deep. 

Really, the initial depth chart release is a perfunctory exercise, but it does (at least) confirm much of what I've seen and reported from practice. Still, plenty stands to change as the season progresses. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 30, 2015

Q&A: Florida Gators receiver Brandon Powell

GAINESVILLE -- Converted wideout Brandon Powell stands as Florida’s offensive X-factor this season. 

The former Deerfield Beach star tailback recorded just 217 total yards in 2014, but the sophomore could be the critical piece to revive the Gators’ moribund offense under first-year coach Jim McElwain. 

Recently, Powell spoke on his transition to receiver, the complexity of Florida's new offensive scheme, the financial help of a COA check and more. 


“From training camp we’ve been doing a lot of formations. Lining up in different up in different spots on the field. It’s been a lot, but I've been able to take that challenge to learn everything and it’s been going good this whole camp. … I’m all over the field, you’ll see come Sep. 5. I mean they’ll have me all over the field.” 


“I’m still trying to get a little used to it. You know it’s tough to come here in college and play a whole new position that you’ve never played before. You know I’m just still trying to get used to it. Still a couple of things that I have to learn. I’m just still trying to take some time and learn it until the season starts.”


“You know in the slot you have a lot of linebackers and safeties trying to guard you, and you know coaches they always say, 'If you got a safety on you, you gotta win.’ That’s kind of what I take advantage of when I see a safety or linebacker lined up on me and I try to win.”


“Playing football and all that, you still have to pay your rent and all that stuff, and some people, depending on their family situation, help out back at home, so it kinda helps a lot. You have extra money in your pocket and do the things you want, live like a normal student instead of like an athlete all the time. It kinda helps.”


“Talking to Vernon and everybody after practice, after the scrimmage, they tell some of the routes, ‘This route is hard to cover,’ and this year it’s a lot of different routes than the little corner route or over route we were running last year every play. Coach, he got a lot of good routes for us and plays that are gonna kill some defenses this year. We’re just waiting to put it all together.” 

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August 27, 2015

Five-star freshman OL Martez Ivey "to be scoped"

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s paper-thin offensive line can ill-afford any significant setbacks, but the patchwork unit suffered a big blow Thursday.

Five-star freshman Martez Ivey, who was competing for a starting job at left tackle, will undergo arthroscopic surgery Friday to “clean up a pre-existing” leg injury, coach Jim McElwain said.

Ivey is sidelined indefinitely and his return date is unknown.

“I don’t know how quickly or anything yet,” said McElwain, who refused to offer specifics of the injury.

“It doesn’t appear to be a season-ending thing or anything like that.”

Still, it’s a major loss for a unit counting on the nation’s top offensive line recruit.

Ivey, a 20-year-old freshman, had quickly impressed teammates and coaches with his work ethic and raw talent. The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Apopka standout had recently worked his way into the starting lineup.

Now, sophomore David Sharpe will flip to left tackle and Fordham transfer Mason Halter and freshman Fred Johnson, a West Palm Beach native, will compete for the opening at right tackle.

“It’s a big blow for us,” starting guard Antonio Riles said.

“There are guys who are going to step up. Sharpe plays left and right. Halter plays left and right. I’m pretty sure everybody is going to adjust to it and we’ll be just fine.”

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Foley: O'Dome renovation plans likely finalized soon

GAINESVILLE -- With Florida's $17 million indoor practice facility recently completed, the plans for the school's next major project remain on track. 

Gators athletics director Jeremy Foley said the contract for the Stephen C. O’Connell Center renovation -- delayed a year due to budgeting issues with the project’s initial construction firm -- should be finalized in the near future. 

“We’re getting close. The process now is to finalize the pricing,” Foley said Wednesday. 

“We’re close on that.” 

Florida -- both the school and University Athletic Association -- is negotiating with Brasfield & Gorrie, a Birmingham, Alabama-based company. UF has earmarked roughly $60 million for the O'Dome renovations -- which include overhauled concourses, renovated concession stands and club seating -- but is seeking a more managable budget. 

“I would say once that pricing gets set and once we’re set, meaning the contract to the University and Athletic Association, here’s the pricing, we’re OK with the schedule, then we’ll let the world know,” Foley said. 

“I think we’re close to being able to let the world know. We’re just not there yet. I would hope in the next three weeks maybe, a month or so, we can tell people this is what pricing is going to be, this is the timetable. I can tell you it’s going to happen. That I can tell you.”

The plan remains to begin construction in March 2016, with the goal of completing the renovation in time for Florida’s conference schedule in early January 2017. 

“That’s the same time frame. I don’t expect any snafus,” Foley said. 

“I’m confident about that. Now that being said, until everything is signed, you don’t have a done deal. Like any contract until it’s signed you don’t have a done deal. I’m very confident where we’re headed. Very confident.”  

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August 25, 2015

UF places five on coaches' preseason All-SEC teams

GAINESVILLE -- All-American cornerback Veron Hargreaves III is among five Florida Gators named to the 2015 preseason All-SEC coaches' teams. 

The junior cornerback, a two-time all-conference honoree, is UF’s sole representative on the first team, released by the league Tuesday

Seniors Jonathan Bullard, a versatile defensive lineman, and linebacker Antonio Morrison, an All-SEC performer in 2014 after leading UF in tackles with 101, were named to the coaches’ second team defense. 

With Dante Fower Jr. off to the NFL, Bullard is expected to anchor Florida’s young but promising defensive line. Meanwhile, Morrison remains sidelined with knee injury sustained in the team’s bowl game and his status for the season is unknown. 

After the league’s media refused to vote a Florida offensive player to its preseason teams last month, the Gators placed a pair of offensive players on the coaches’ third-team: junior tailback Kelvin Taylor and junior wideout Demarcus Robinson. 

Last season, Robinson was Florida’s most productive receiver since 2009, recording 53 catches for 810 yards and eight touchdowns. 

Taylor averaged just 4.7 yards per carry in 2014, but is eyeing a breakout season as Florida’s No. 1 tailback.   

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August 19, 2015

Florida's 2015-16 basketball schedule finalized

GAINESVILLE -- The SEC released its 2016 men’s basketball schedules Wednesday, finalizing Florida’s 2015-16 slate on a SEC Network special.  

ESPN is betting big on new coach Michael White, as UF will play seven Super Tuesday games. The Gators also face at least eight 2014-15 NCAA Tournament teams. 

In all, UF will play a home-and-home series with Georgia, LSU, Mississippi, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. The Gators will also host Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn and Mississippi State, while traveling to Missouri, Tennessee, Texas A&M and South Carolina.  

For the first time since 2011, Florida will close out its regular-season slate against a team other than Kentucky (at Missouri).  The Gators do finish their home schedule with a mid-week date with the Wildcats for Senior Day.  

*************** Florida’s complete 2015-16 schedule ***************

Nov. 13 - at Navy (Veteran’s Classic) - 9:30 p.m., CBS Sports

Nov. 16 - vs. North Carolina A&T

Nov. 21 - vs. St. Joe’s (HoF Tip-Off Classic) - 2:30 p.m.

Nov. 22 - vs. Purdue or Old Dominion (HoF Tip-Off Classic)

Nov. 25 - vs. Vermont 

Nov. 27 - vs. Florida Gulf Coast 

Dec. 8 - at Miami - 7 p.m., ESPN

Dec. 12 - at Michigan State - 6 p.m., ESPN2

Dec. 19 - vs. Oklahoma State (Orange Bowl Classic)

Dec. 22 - Jacksonville

Dec. 29 - Florida State - 7 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 2 - Georgia - 8 p.m., ESPNU

Jan. 6 - ar Tennessee - 7 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 9 - LSU - TBA, CBS

Jan. 12 - at Texas A&M - 7 p.m., ESPN

Jan. 16 - at Ole Miss - 8 p.m., ESPN2

Jan. 19 - Mississippi State - 7 p.m., ESPNU

Jan. 23 - Auburn - 8 p.m., SEC Network

Jan. 26 - at Vanderbilt - 9 p.m., ESPN 

Jan. 30 - vs. West Virginia (SEC/BIG 12 Challenge) 

Feb. 3 - Arkansas - 7 p.m., SEC Network

Feb. 6 - at Kentucky - 4 p.m., CBS

Feb. 9 - Ole Miss - 9 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 13 - Alabama - 5:30 p.m., SEC Network

Feb 16 - at Georgia - 9 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 20 - at South Carolina - 12 p.m., SEC Network

Feb. 23 - Vanderbilt - 7 p.m., ESPN

Feb. 27 - LSU - TBA, ESPN

March 1 - Kentucky - 7 p.m., ESPN

March 5 - at Missouri - 7:30 p.m., SEC Network 

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August 18, 2015

Florida enters critical juncture of training camp

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida Gators are in the dog days of training camp, but coach Jim McElwain was ecstatic about the team’s latest performance in Sunday’s two-a-day session.

“There was some real spark there,” he said.

“Yesterday’s two-a-day was as good a back-to-back practices I’ve ever seen. The energy. The attention to detail. The guys really came out prepared. We had a great night practice in full pads.”

The Gators are halfway through preseason practices, and entering Week 3 McElwain is emphasizing a sense of urgency at what he considers the most critical juncture of camp.

“The novelty of the new season, the fresh new uniforms you’ve got have now been washed a whole bunch,” he said.

“Sometimes the guys’ focus on detail starts to slip as their bodies are really sore and they get tired and the monotony of the every-day kind of takes in. We’re really looking to where our leadership moves us forward to where we make a big huge push week rather than just a settle for average week.”

McElwain has stressed details and daily improvement ever since arriving in Gainesville, and he said this could be Florida’s make or break week.

“At this point in camp is really when a lot of teams decide they're either really going to get better or they're going to try to just endure to get through the grind of what is two-a-days. …We’re kind of getting to that separation point moving forward.”

With the team battling fatigue, redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier said Florida’s sole focus is to “keep this thing rolling, keep getting better. This is that time where you have to push through that wall and not fall off, keep getting better. That's the main thing we're focusing on right now, everybody really."

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August 15, 2015

UF's 2015 class: Guesses at who will and won't play

GAINESVILLE -- With a depleted roster, a number true freshmen will play key roles for the Florida Gators this season. 

UF coach Jim McElwain hasn’t been shy embracing the team’s youth movement, but the new coach also insists he won’t simply burn a redshirt season for limited snaps. 

“My deal is if we’re going to play them, they’re going to play,” he said.

“Whether it’s significant on every single special teams and in certain series on defense and offense. I think you can probably look at the depth or just the numbers at the position, there will be a lot of young guys probably playing and kind of philosophically if they’re ready and can help the football team and play valuable reps they’re going to play. If they’re not and need some seasoning then we’ll go ahead and redshirt [them].”

Florida scrimmaged for the first time this preseason on Friday, and McElwain said he and the staff will begin honing the depth chart after its second scrimmage next week. 

 “After the second scrimmage you’re usually able to know which guys kind of work in,” he said.

“It really comes down to their value on special teams. Moving forward, that’s how you make a roster.” 

Based on watching practice and talking to coaches/players, here’s a breakdown of where the 2015 class stands with three weeks before the team's Sept. 5 opener. 


Martez Ivey, offensive tackle

Jordan Scarlett, tailback

CeCe Jefferson, defensive end

Antonio Callaway, receiver

Jordan Cronkite, tailback

Rayshad Jackson, linebacker

Tyler Jordan, center/guard

***** Ivey, Jefferson and Scarlett will all see significant snaps, while Callaway, Cronkite and Jordan have already worked their way into their prospective positional rotations. Jackson should be a special teams stud. 


Fred Johnson, offensive tackle

Nick Buchanan, offensive tackle

Chris Williamson, cornerback

***** Both offensive linemen are currently taking reps with the second-unit. Williamson won’t see much PT at cornerback but should be another special teams contributor. 


T.J. McCoy, center/guard

Jabari Zuniga, defensive end

Dylan Johnson, safety

Kalif Jackson, receiver 

***** The question here is opportunity. McCoy has impressed in camp, but Jordan, Johnson and Buchanan have all been better. Zuniga could play, too, but Florida probably doesn’t need him right now. Johnson and Jackson are wild cards candidates for special teams snaps.  


Brandon Sandifer, offensive guard

Andrew Ivie, defensive tackle

Camrin Knight, tight end

Richerd Desir-Jones, defensive tackle

Keivonnis Davis, defensive end

Luke Ancrum, defensive end

***** There's potential with this group, but also lots of development needed.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 13, 2015

UF's pair of five-star recruits already making impact

GAINESVILLE -- Two of Florida’s blue-chip signees are already living up to their five-star billings early in training camp. 

Gators offensive tackle Martez Ivey and defensive end CeCe Jefferson have quickly impressed teammates and coaches with their work ethic, maturity and raw talent. 

“Martez Ivey is a freak,” junior tailback Kelvin Taylor said. 

“He’s going to be great. He wasn’t a five-star for nothing, trust me. He’s physical. He’s smart. He knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s a load. He’s going to be really good.”

Ivey, the nation’s No. 2 overall prospect according to 247Sports, is 6-5, 300-pounds and is competing for snaps at both tackle positions. 

Meanwhile, Jefferson, a fellow five-star freshman, has also awed teammates with his athleticism and relentless motor. 

“He’s showing grit,” junior safety Keanu Neal said. “He’s showing work. He’s showing that he can make plays.”

Jefferson sat out most of his senior season at Baker County High with a shoulder injury, but the 6-1, 280-pound pass rusher is healthy now and already wreaking havoc in camp. 

“He’s one of the young guys doing a heck of a job,” UF coach Jim McElwain said.  

“He shows up. … I’m sure glad that he’s here. He’s a guy that can make an impact. He’s a guy that’s eager to learn, jumped right in at everything we’re doing. That just speaks volumes of the type of kid he is, too.”

******************** BONUS QUOTES ********************

Here’s several snippets on Jefferson and Ivey that didn’t make the short piece. 

“You could tell, just his demeanor. Just the way he carries himself around the locker room. He’s quiet. He gets his work done. He goes about the next play. The guy’s very mature, man. He’s going to be a really good one. Just remember I told you that. He’s going to be a really good one, trust me.”

- Kelvin Taylor, on not being surprised by Ivey’s rapid progression early in camp…

“CeCe’s stepping up as kind of like a young Jon Bullard. … Martez is definitely going to be something special here at Florida I believe, just based on how big he is. He’s huge, and he’s definitely wanting to learn as well. A lot of guys think they’re just going to roll into the position, but Martez is a guy who wants to learn the position, wants to be the guy at left tackle. He’s going to be pretty good.”

- Trip Thurman, on both five-star freshmen…

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

August 09, 2015

The Birmingham Bowl MVP transferring from Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida running back Adam Lane propelled the Gators to their final win last season, but the Birmingham Bowl MVP won’t suit up for UF again. 

Lane asked for and received a release from his scholarship just four days into training camp, the school announced Sunday. 

"Adam Lane has some family issues that he is dealing with and wants to be closer to home,'' coach Jim McElwain said in a statement. 

"As you've heard me say many times family comes first in this program and we will grant him his release and we will do everything we can do to help him."

Lane, a 5-7, 226-pound battering ram, rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown in Florida’s 28-20 win over East Carolina. 

Last season, the redshirt sophomore struggled to crack the tailback rotation under former coach Will Muschamp. Then this spring, Lane missed a majority of camp due to a quad injury, drawing the ire of McElwain. 

Still, Lane, who was likely third on Florida's depth chart, was optimistic he would be a factor in the fall. 

"I just want to go out there everyday and compete and get a spot,” Lane said at UF’s media days Wednesday. 

“That's the main goal. When you have everybody competing that's when you get great things. … I just want to take every opportunity like it's my last. I just want to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities."

With Lane’s departure, Florida will count on a pair of freshman tailbacks from South Florida. Former Army All-Americans Jordan Scarlett (St. Thomas Aquinas) and Jordan Cronkite (Westminster) should see ample carries relieving starter Kelvin Taylor this season. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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