February 18, 2015

Pipeline continues: Two SoFla recruits commit to UF

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators’ new football staff continues to make inroads in South Florida, landing a pair of unknown 2016 defensive prospects Wednesday. 

Miami Norland linebacker Vosean Joseph -- a three-star recruit according to 247Sports -- verbally committed to Florida via Twitter.

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Later, Joseph’s former teammate and current Miami Central defensive end/outside linebacker Eric Mitchell, an unrated prospect, also pledged his oral commitment to the Gators.

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Both prospects played at Norland High last season and were personally recruited by Randy Shannon, a former Vikings alum.

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 2.19.35 PMAfter landing just a single linebacker commit during the 2015 cycle (Norland standout Rayshad Jackson), the Gators must stock up on the position in 2016 with five upperclassmen ready to graduate in the next two seasons. 

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February 02, 2015

Scarlett, Williamson commit to Florida

GAINESVILLE -- Florida finally reeled in some offensive firepower.

Four-star tailback Jordan Scarlett -- a star at St. Thomas Aquinas -- committed to UF over Miami and Florida State on Monday night.

The Army All-American instantly becomes the crown jewel of Florida’s class, as Scarlett is (currently) ranked as its highest prospect after scoring 79 touchdowns and leading the Raiders to a state title in 2014. 

The 5-foot-10, 205-pound back actually verbally pledged to Miami in July of last year, but he decommitted from the Hurricanes over the weekend following an official visit to FSU. 

With a number of other commitments (highlighted by three-star athlete Chris Williamson) in the last two days, UF’s class now has 16 members and is ranked 42nd nationally, per 247Sports. 

2015 VERBAL COMMITMENTS 

*** Daniel Imatorbhebhe – TE – North Gwinnett (Ga.) – 6-4, 227

*** Kalif Jackson – WR - Duncan U. Fletcher – 6-5, 200

**** Derrick Dillion – WR – Pine (La.) – 5-11, 173

*** Tyler Jordan – OL – Bishop Kenny – 6-4, 280

*** Brandon Sandifer – OL – Northside (Ga.) – 6-4, 335

*** Camrin Knight – TE – Lincoln – 6-4, 225

*** Andrew Ivie – DT – Pasco – 6-1, 265

*** Jabari Zuniga – DE – Sparyberry (Ga.) – 6-3, 255

*** Rayshad Jackson – LB – Norland – 6-2, 215

**** Jordan Scarlett – RB – St. Thomas Aquinas – 5-10, 222

*** Mike Horton – OT – Lakeside (Ga.) – 6-4, 310

*** Richerd Desir-Jones – DT – St. Thomas Aquinas – 6-4, 285

*** Kylan Johnson – S – Skyline (Texas) – 6-3, 202

*** Fredrick Johnson – OT – Royal Palm Beach – 6-6, 301

*** Luke Ancrum – DE – Sebring – 6-5, 230

*** Chris Williamson – CB – Gainesville (Ga.) – 6-1, 190 

January 27, 2015

Where Things Stand: Week+ before NSD

GAINESVILLE -- Jim McElwain said, “I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday. … We’ve got a lot of ground to make up. When we took the job, we knew that there would be some [challenges.] It’s going to take a while.”

The “it” is rebuilding Florida, and based on the school’s 2015 recruiting class the foundation for the future might not come from its current crop of pledges.  

With National Signing Day rapidly approaching, the Gators have just 10 verbal commitments. They will sign their smallest class in years, and Monday, 247Sports reported that UF has its fewest commitments in a decade with just a week before NSD.

The Gators’ class is ranked last in the SEC by every recruiting service.

It gets worse. 

Florida has just 58 scholarship players for next season, and a 2015 class low in quantity (and quality at the moment) isn’t going to help the team’s numbers issue.  

But all is not dire, yet.

Florida should get a NSD bump -- UF is among the “leaders” for a trio of consensus 5-star prospects and a number of other recruits -- even though the Gators won't sign a real ballyhooed group. 

Over the weekend, they hosted top-ranked defensive end Byron Cowart and No. 1 offensive tackle Martez Ivey, as well as a number of other key targets. 

They picked up a verbal pledge from three-star linebacker Rayshad Jackson (a Miami Norland High standout) and flipped three-star defensive end Jabari Zuniga, hoping to make a final surge over the next week. 

But it’s late in the process, and UF is reportedly losing ground on Cowart (who favors Auburn) and five-star DL CeCe Jefferson (who favors Ole Miss). It would be a major blow to swing and miss on such talented in-state prospects, but thus is the hand McElwain has been dealt. 

With staff turnover and the school’s recent win/loss struggles, it’s no mystery why McElwain is fighting an uphill battle. 

Transition classes are traditionally weaker anyways, and UF’s struggles have been magnified due to McElwain’s lack of developed relationships, few Southern ties and little name recognition. 

The Gators are trying to salvage their class over the next nine days, but 2016 has already become a more important priority.

McElwain knows he must sign and deliver a monster class next season. Otherwise, the transition (or transformation) won’t truly take shape. 

Florida can sign upwards of 30 prospects next season (depending on normal attrition and the NFL Draft). 

UF has just eight seniors, but it could lose a number of players to the league (namely Vernon Hargreaves III, Demarcus Robinson, Alex McCalister and Keanu Neal) for the second straight year. 

The emphasis on 2016 starts now. McElwain can’t afford to have two subpar classes in a row -- especially one without a quarterback, elite skill position players and quality offensive linemen -- so if Florida is struggling with top prospects in the next recruiting cycle then the Gator Nation will really start worrying.

UF already has three verbal commitments for 2016, including Jacksonville Raines wideout Rick Wells, who committed Monday night. 

2015 VERBAL COMMITMENTS 

TE Daniel Imatorbhebhe - North Gwinnett (Ga.) ***

WR Kalif Jackson - Duncan U. Fletcher ***

WR Derrick Dillion - Pine (La.) ****

OL Tyler Jordan - Bishop Kenny ***

OL Brandon Sandifer - Norhside (Ga.) ***

TE Camrin Knight - Lincoln ***

DT Andrew Ivie - Pasco ***

DE Jabari Zuniga - Sparyberry (Ga.) ***

Rayshad Jackson - Norland ***

(Imatorbhebhe and Jackson are early enrollees)

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July 31, 2014

About that summer optimism: Gators unranked in preseason coaches' poll

GAINESVILLE -- For the first time since 1991, Florida will open the season unranked in the USA TODAY preseason Amway coaches' poll. 

The poll, released Thursday, included seven Southeastern Conference teams -- four (No. 2 Alabama, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 LSU) on UF's schedule. 

In all, the Gators will square off against five teams in the top 15, most notably a year-end trip to No. 1 Florida State, the defending national champions. 

Florida received the second-most "others" votes (tallying 122), just barely missing being named a ranked team despite coming off its worst season since 1979. 

Also: Miami received 45 "others" votes, while Central Florida, fresh off a 12-1 year, tallied 102 votes. For the complete poll, including the coaches who participate, click the link

For those unaware: The coaches poll is merely for entertainment purposes only this season, as the poll will not be (at least officially) utilized by the new playoff selection committee. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 30, 2014

UConn, Kansas highlight UF's non-conference hoops schedule

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GAINESVILLE -- Florida released its 2014-15 men’s basketball non-conference schedule Wednesday, with a rematch against reigning national champion Connecticut highlighting the strong slate. 

The Gators close out their non-conference schedule hosting the Huskies on Jan. 3. UConn ended UF’s season with a 63-53 victory in the Final Four, snapping Florida’s school-record 30-game winning streak. 

"You learn a lot about yourselves as a team when you are challenged early in the season," coach Billy Donovan said in a statement. 

"Those experiences have really helped us in the NCAA Tournament the past several seasons."

The Gators, who will play at least three games against 2014 NCAA Tournament teams, open at home against a stout William & Mary squad (Nov. 14) before hosting in-state rival Miami later in the week (Nov. 17). Florida will also play at Florida State a day before New Years Eve (Dec. 30). 

As previously announced, UF is participating in the Battle 4 Atlantis, a Thanksgiving week trip to the Bahamas with potential matchups against powerhouses North Carolina, Georgetown, UCLA, Wisconsin and others. 

UF will also visit Kansas on Dec. 5 as part of a return trip in the SEC/BIG 12 Challenge. 

FLORIDA'S 2014-15 NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE 

Nov. 6 - Barry (exhibition)

Nov. 14 - William & Mary

Nov. 17 - Miami 

Nov. 21 - Louisiana-Monroe

Nov. 26-28 - Battle 4 Atlantis (UCLA, UAB, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Georgetown, Wisconsin, Butler), Paradise Island, Bahamas

Dec. 5 - at Kansas 

Dec. 8 - Yale

Dec. 12 - Texas Southern 

Dec. 14 - Jacksonville 

Dec. 20 - Wake Forest (Orange Bowl Classic), Sunrise, Fla. 

Dec. 30 - at Florida State

Jan. 3 - Connecticut 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

July 25, 2014

Brown commits using live prop, Friday Night Lights set to start

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s annual recruiting extravaganza Friday Night Lights kicks off later today, but before the festivities even begin the Gators received some early good news. 

Cincinnati (OH) offensive lineman George Brown, Jr. verbally pledged his commitment to Florida -- and I’ve purposely buried the lede here -- announcing his decision by taking out a live baby gator during a ceremony at his high school. 

 

Brown, a four-star prospect according to Rivals, chose UF over finalists Kentucky and Alabama and is the Gators' ninth commit in their 2015 class. 

Screen Shot 2014-07-25 at 3.27.31 PMMeanwhile, Florida could receive a flurry of other commitments tonight, as (according to multiple reports) the Gators will host top prospects from the 2015 and 2016 classes including 2015 notables four-star wideout George Campbell (East Lake), four-star tailback Dexter Williams (West Orange; also a Miami commit), four-star tailback Ray-Ray McCloud III (Sickles) and four-star linebacker Jeffery Holland (Trinity Christian). Five-star defensive end Byron Cowart (Armwood) is among others rumored to attend. 

********** Again, I am not a recruiting expert/analyst/writer, but I will update the blog anytime news breaks of a new Gators commit. ********** 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

July 01, 2014

Gators-Hurricans renew rivalry

GAINESVILLE -- The Gators and Hurricanes will square off after all in 2014 -- just on the hardwood.

Florida and Miami will play on Nov. 17 in Gainesville to kickstart a home-and-home series with its in-state rival, UF announced Tuesday.

Although a return date in Coral Gables has yet to be scheduled, the two schools are likely to square off again in South Florida sometime in November 2015. 

The last time to two teams met, the Gators trumped the Hurricanes 74-60 at home in the second round of the 2009 NIT. 

Florida leads the all-time series 45-22, winning 15 of the last 17 showdowns. 

Meanwhile, Florida also announced official plans for renovating the O’Connell Center, with Davis Architects, CPPI Construction Management and TLC Engineering green lighting the $45-50 million project.  

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 30, 2014

Friday Fodder: Game times set, recruiting news, UF-UM update

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GAINESVILLE -- Florida fans will receive a brief reprieve from the heat this fall, as the Southeastern Conference announced the Gators’ season opener against Idaho (Aug. 30) will be a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPNU. 

Earlier in the week, CBS announced the annual Florida-Georgia game in Jacksonville (Nov. 1) will be televised on the network for the 12th straight year with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff. 

The Gators now have four game times set, as UF’s home tilts against Eastern Michigan (Sept. 6) and Kentucky (Sept. 13) are scheduled for 4 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., respectively, with both games airing on the SEC Network. 

FAMILY CONNECTION

Three-star defensive tackle Andrew Ivie, younger brother of Florida sophomore defensive end Joey, committed to the Gators Thursday, per multiple recruiting services. 

The 6-foot-3, 288-pound Pasco product chose Florida over Ole Miss, Mississippi State and UCF. 

Ivie is the eighth prospect verbally pledged to UF’s 2015 class. 

UF-UM UPDATE

The SEC Spring Meetings concluded Friday, and while league commission Mike Slive announced several major tidbits from the week’s worth of discussions, the Florida-Miami series was a minor noteworthy topic early in the week. 

According to Associated Press reporter Mark Long, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley said there’s “mutual interest” in renewing the Miami-Florida football series, but only as a “one-game deal at a neutral site.”

Foley’s quote on the matter hardly makes a potential showdown a reality (in the near or distant future), but it does clear up exactly how “receptive” Florida is in “renewing the series.”

The rub moving forward is how much cash can/will a neutral contest generate and what exactly constitutes a neutral site?

FILTHY RICH

The league announced record revenue in 2013, as $309.6 million will be distributed amongst the 14 schools -- an average of $20.9 million per university. With the league introducing its own TV network this summer, that number could double next season. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

May 19, 2014

Scheduling: SEC rotation set; UM-UF to renew rivalry???

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GAINESVILLE -- The Southeastern Conference announced a 12-year rotation (2014-2025) of non-divisional opponents Monday, as the Gators now know their league schedule for the next dozen seasons. 

Earlier this month, league presidents voted to stick with the status quo -- maintaining its eight-game conference schedule under the 6 (division games) – 1 (one permanent cross-division opponent) – 1 (a rotating cross-division opponent) format. 

The 12-year rotation starts this fall, as Florida travels to Alabama in late September. 

The Gators won’t see the Crimson Tide again until 2021 and coach Will Muschamp can only hope to still be around to see one of his favorite non-traditional rivalries: Florida-Auburn (2019).

With Texas A&M on the docket in 2017, the Gators will travel to Texas to play Michigan to open the season and host the Aggies later in the year. 

Florida's future cross-division foes...

YEAR

OPPONENT

2014

at Alabama

2015

Ole Miss

2016

at Arkansas

2017

Texas A&M

2018

at Mississippi State

2019

Auburn

2020

at Ole Miss

2021

Alabama

2022

at Texas A&M

2023

Arkansas

2024

at Auburn

2025

Mississippi State

Meanwhile…

UM-UF RIVALRY BACK ON?

Possibly.

According to the Miami Herald’s own Barry Jackson, UM athletic director Blake James said Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was “receptive” when recently discussing renewing the in-state series.

Due to financial reasons (see: seven home games), Florida has stipulated the series must continue at neutral-sites only -- an idea James is currently juggling.

“I would have to think about Orlando,” James said. “That’s not real neutral but it’s an easy distance to our campus.”

Not two days after the Hurricanes’ upset victory over the Gators last fall -- a game many presumed would be the final game in the series for the foreseeable futures -- James made a brilliant PR move suggesting the two teams continue the rivalry. It was empty posturing, but now UM appears to be open to a neutral site contest.

So what say you: Do you want the two schools to renew a rich rivalry -- even solely at neutral sites Thoughts on Florida's future SEC schedule?

Pop off.   

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

September 12, 2013

Notebook: Gators on the mend

It's been a rather slow week in Gainesville. Florida's bye week coupled with a media lockout has meant a dearth of content on the blog. We'll be back to a normal schedule starting Monday.  

Meanwhile, ICYMI: A couple of notes on Quinton Dunbar and Loucheiz Purifoy

And here's yesterday's injury update...

GAINESVILLE -- The No. 18 Gators didn’t just lose to No. 15 Miami last weekend. They limped home.

The Gators are the in the middle of their earliest bye week since 2008, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Coach Will Muschamp, on the SEC teleconference Wednesday, updated the status of several injured players, including a number of starters.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel (sprained knee), right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle), left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee), cornerback Marcus Roberson (sprained knee), defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (hip contusion) and safety Marcus Maye (shoulder) were all hurt in the loss to the Hurricanes, but Muschamp expects everyone “to be fine” and play against Tennessee next weekend (Sept. 21).

Muschamp also said right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) has been officially cleared for contact, but freshman cornerback Nick Washington is done for the season after injuring his shoulder in practice Monday.

A MISTAKE

After rewatching the tape, Muschamp said senior wideout Trey Burton ran the wrong route on Driskel’s second red zone interception. Burton admitted as much Saturday after the loss.

“When your anticipating a route breaking a certain way and it doesn't that way, it's hard on the quarterback,” Muschamp said.  

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September 11, 2013

Torched: Anatomy of a play

Each week, I’ll breakdown (in a simplified manner, hopefully) a pivotal play in Florida’s game. I decided against lots of arrows and pointers so as not to distract from the overall picture, but if you’d prefer that in the future, let me know.

Today's play is Stephen Morris' 52-yard touchdown strike to the speedy Phillip Dorsett. The Canes went up 14-6 on the long completion, and despite doing next to nothing offensively the rest of the game, never looked back. 

#1

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.01.00 AM

The Gators actually played lots of 4-3 defense against the Hurricanes, but here UF is aligned in a 3-4 set, with Dante Fowler Jr. (top of the screen) as the fourth rusher. Note: Starters (DT) Dominique Easley and (DE) Jon Bullard are not in the game. Redshirt freshman Bryan Cox Jr. is the left end, while Damien Jacobs is the nose tackle. 

# 2

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.01.16 AM

Off the snap, Dorsett (the blur) has a free release -- track speed engaged. Meanwhile, Jacobs -- 1-on-1 with the center -- has already beaten Shane Mcdermott to the inside. Florida's linebackers didn't bite on the play action fake, but Cox (No. 94) did. He's frozen. Look what happens just a split-second later... 

#3

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.01.30 AM

Cox's indecisiveness allowed Miami's right guard (No. 75) to recover from double-teaming UF's nose tackle Leon Orr and give Morris a clean drop-back. Jacobs -- despite whipping McDermott -- also hesitated, allowing Morris to step up and throw a bomb just before getting walloped. 

#4

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.06.10 AM

On the back-end, UF has perfect coverage everywhere except where Morris wants to throw the ball. Marcus Maye, the free safety, is already toast. Maye is desperately trying to get his hips turned fast enough to at least hold Dorsett, but ...

# 5

Screen shot 2013-09-11 at 11.06.24 AM

It's too late. Maye whiffs on the attempted pass inference and Dorsett cruises behind him. Morris take a shot, but the ball is already in the air. UM's quarterback didn't have a particularly strong game, but this was a man's throw and ultimately the touchdown that changed the game. 

Again, here's the pre-snap look...

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September 10, 2013

Rewind: UF-UM Further Review

This is a day late, but definitely not short.

Here’s a laundry list of thoughts, stats and highs & lows from Florida’s 21-16 defeat to Miami after rewatching the TV tape...

- The death of ‘Murderball.’ Where was the Gators’ physical rushing attack? Florida averaged just 2.8 y/c against last season’s No. 114 ranked rushing defense. The per carry average isn’t much better even if you discount the negative sack yardage. At times UF faced a stacked box (8), other times it didn’t. Florida’s offensive line simply failed to win the line of scrimmage on most running downs. Tailbacks Matt Jones and Mack Brown didn’t have a ton of holes to hit, but even when there was room they (both) failed to accumulate yards after contact.

- Speaking of Mr. Jones, UF’s sophomore back looked sluggish, tentative and indecisive. Jones rushed for nine yards -- behind Florida’s JUMOBO personnel -- on his first carry of 2013. He totaled just 38 yards on the ground on his next 17 carries. I counted just a single (1) YAC in the second half for Jones. Jones was also confused on multiple plays (see: running the wrong route, earlier turning the wrong way on Jeff Driskel’s first play action pass -- a 22-yard completion to Quinton Dunbar, ironically).

- Hunter Joyer had a rough afternoon. I don’t know if he’s still slowed by a strained hamstring -- the staff insists he’s not -- but the struggles of Florida’s fullback was a big reason why the running game never got going. Joyer whiffed on multiple blocks, while other times he just didn’t block anyone and went to the second level way too quickly.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.10.44 AM
(Joyer whiff)

- Florida’s offensive line was a mess at times, yet perfectly adept at others. Overall, it was an uneven performance. UF’s line got minimal push in the run game, but they pass protected fairly well until injuries shook up the whole unit. Left tackle D.J. Humphries exited the game late in the second quarter, moving Max Garcia over from left guard. The transition did not go well. Garcia had little rapport with new left guard Ian Silberman (who also struggled) and allowed at least two sacks -- McCord (sack fumble) and Chickillo (the game-ender). Right tackle Tyler Moore (Nebraska transfer) had a tough afternoon too -- mostly in the second half. Moore was called for two false starts and a pair of holding penalties.

- Resident pariah Quarterback Jeff Driskel has been dissected enough since the loss, so I won’t belabor all the junior’s issues. To me, it’s about confidence. Driskel has all the physical tools, he’s tough as nails and has a big, live arm. But he plays frazzled, afraid to make any mistakes. He has tunnel vision and is too mechanical. He needs to just cut it loose and play.  His best throw of the day was when he stood tall in pocket and delivered a 20-yard strike to Quinton Dunbar as he was tattooed by a UM blitzer. But his accuracy was hit-or-miss (see: missed TD pass to Dunbar one play before the red zone INT), as was his field awareness. Below is just one example of an open wideout, but Driskel never looks his way.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.41.09 AM
(Matt Jones will plenty of space. Ball was thrown to behind Demarcus Robinson on the crossing pattern)

- Against solid defenses (see: everyone aside from Tennessee and Kentucky) the WildGator plays are a waste of a down and do little for Driskel’s already waning confidence. Driskel tossed his first INT two plays after a failed Trey Burton run. I have no idea what Driskel saw/was thinking throwing into triple coverage. Upon further review, Trey Burton probably did run the wrong route on Driskel’s second INT, but it didn’t matter because the spot Driskel threw to certainly wasn’t where Burton was supposed to be. Driskel threw the ball too soon and high. 

- Defensively, the Gators played outstanding. Florida allowed just 212 yards to a potent offense -- 87 on two plays.  The Gators were definitely confused by Miami’s tempo in the first quarter. UM called lots of counters and boot-legs on its first couple of drives, but Florida eventually adjusted and played pretty flawlessly after the opening period. Dominique Easley was a monster Saturday and the offical stat sheet does no justice on his impact. The senior had a ridiculous series early in the second quarter: he blew up Duke Johnson (3-yard loss) and forced two straight holding calls. Also of note: This counters Will Muschamp’s postgame “We weren’t playing worth a dang…” and why he decided to go for it on fourth down the very next possession.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.29.14 AM
(Johnson's 3-yard loss)

- Antonio Morrison played mad (team-leading seven tackles) and had a strong game.

- UM had five consecutive three-and-outs before Stephen Morris’ 11-yard competition to Clive Walford in the third quarter -- a missed tackle by Marcus Maye.

- On Morris’ beautiful long TD pass to Dorsett: No Easley, Loucheiz Purifoy or Leon Orr (also solid most of the afternoon) in the game. Backup nose tackle Damien Jacobs hesitated on the play action fake, while end Bryon Cox Jr. was totally fooled.

QUICK HITTERS

- Marcus Maye had two missed tackles, had the bad blown coverage and was late on several blitzes.  

- Stephen Morris is no Teddy Bridgewater.

- Vernon Hargreaves III is good. Really good. The freshman outplayed senior Jaylen Watkins (who did nearly collect a pick-six on the goal line) and could be a starter sooner than later. 

- Denzel Perryman. BEAST.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.14.00 AM
(That's putting a hat on a ball)

- Driskel averaged 6.6 y/c on read option runs (40 yards and a touchdown on six carries). But only two of those carries came after halftime.

- Florida played Valdez Showers and Matt Jones together in the backfield a lot. Couple notable plays include the 46-yard bomb to Patton and Burton’s red zone fumble.

- Gators eat zebras. Penalties, penalties, penalties. Clay Burton’s late hit was two plays before Jones’ fumble. Easley’s roughing the passer negated a 3rd-and-long situation in the red zone -- aiding in UM’s first score. Speaking of…

- Safety Cody Riggs was slowed by Miami’s quick snap, and Herb Waters torched him outside, easily beating Riggs to the corner of the end zone for the game’s initial touchdown.

- Duke Johnson rushed for 12 yards on a play UF had 12 men on the field. No call. 

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.15.08 AM
(See Orr (#44) run)

- UM punter Pat O’Donnell recovered really well after his first kick was blocked (more on that in a second). The senior averaged 49 yards (on eight punts), consistently flipping the field position in Miami’s favor.

- Florida’s blocked punt -- of course by special teams extraordinaire Loucheiz Purifoy -- was fantastically designed. I’ve long wondered why others don’t do exactly what UF did: Send two bruisers (in this case Morrison and Michael Taylor) and smash the diamond protectors, allowing your best athlete (i.e. Purifoy) to wiggle inside and block the punt. It worked beautifully.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.19.40 AM

- UF’s defense is super talented, but I bet it wishes Tyriq McCord wore orange and blue.

- UF’s botched two-point conversion was poorly blocked (see: Trenton Brown) but it wasn’t an audible at the line as the announcers suggested. K Austin Hardin and LS Kyle Crofoot weren’t even on the field. It was simply a funk formation and a play that wasn’t executed properly.

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.22.34 AM
(No kicker. No holder)

- Freshman linebacker Jarrad Davis is around the ball a lot on special teams.

- Overall, UF’s receivers -- T. Burton, Q. Dunbar and Patton -- actually had a productive day. However, Florida’s lack of confidence (and rightfully so) in its tight ends is obvious with so many full house (or diamond) formations.

- Clay Burton is not a starting tight end in the SEC.

- Powell is back (and maybe improved), and Muschamp is already utilizing the junior’s versatility. Powell lined up at end, as a stand up edge rusher, a middle linebacker, a rusher over the nose and more. It was very similar to how UGA employed Jarvis Jones last season. Powell’s sack was an impressive display of athleticism, as he went spin-cycle and ate up Seantrel Henderson to the inside. Powell also disrupted a reverse. He finished the game with 3.0 TFL.

- No numbers. Florida’s failed 4th-and-short play was run 8 (Canes) on 6 (Gators). Kyle Koehne, at center, Trip Thurman and Humphries were all destroyed.  

Screen shot 2013-09-10 at 11.32.58 AM
(And actually, at the snap at ninth defender entered the box)

- Dorsett was actually open on Morris’ INT, but UM’s quarterback airmailed the throw -- despite little pressure.

- Dante Fowler Jr. Jekyll and Hyde. The sophomore was invisible during the first half, but was a disruptive force after halftime. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

September 09, 2013

ICYMI: Lots to play for

First things first, later today I'll have a full breakdown (rewind) of Florida's loss to Miami after reviewing the TV tape. 

The blog will be a tad lighter on content this week as the UAA invoked a media lockout as there is no scheduled availability during UF's bye week. But there will still be daily updates and a couple fun pieces. 

ICYMI: My piece on Florida moving forward. Check it out. Here's a teaser. 

GAINESVILLE – Then No. 12 Florida’s harrowing 21-16 defeat to then unranked in-state rival Miami on Saturday was a much-needed statement win for the Hurricanes, but it also didn’t ruin UF’s season.

The Gators’ championship aspirations weren’t sunk with a single turnover-riddled stinker.

“We still have a lot of games to play this year,” quarterback Jeff Driskel said. We’re not out of anything yet.”

No they’re not.

The loss to Miami – which jumped to No. 15 in the Associated Press poll -- despite all its glaring warts, means nothing in the Southeastern Conference standings.

The path to Atlanta is still in front of the Gators, who dropped six spots to No. 18 in the poll.

Saturday’s defeat was Florida’s first in the month of September since a 2008 loss to Ole Miss -- the day of Tim Tebow’s famous ‘Promise’ speech -- and while there weren’t any pronounced declarations deep in the bowls of Sun Life Stadium, several Florida players exuded faith that things (see: offensive ball security) will improve over time. ...

NEWS & NOTES

Florida announced quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered a slight knee sprain in the second quarter of Saturday's game. The junior is on crutches this week as a precaution, but "will be ready for the Tennessee game next week."

Which leads me to... The Southeastern Conference officially announced the Florida-UT (Sept. 21) kickoff time Monday morning. 

The Gators and the Vols will square off at 3:30 p.m. (CBS) in The Swamp with Uncle Verne rockin' the mic. 

VIEWING (DIS)PLEASURE

Some of you may have seen or heard about this, but look where Miami hilariously placed Florida's band in Saturday's game:

Photo-20

That's Coors Light cold. 

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September 08, 2013

Poll Position: Jumping backwards

The Gators -- following Saturday's 21-16 foot-shooting upset loss to Miami -- plummeted in the polls Sunday. 

Florida dropped six spots to No. 18 in the latest AP Top 25 poll, while UF tumbled to No. 20 -- from No. 9 -- in the USA Today Coaches poll.  

Meanwhile, Miami is ranked for the first time in the Al Golden era, coming in a No. 15 in the AP poll. The 'Canes slide rank No. 20 in the coaches poll.  

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Gators Grades: Oops

MIAMI GARDENS -- Before I re-watch the tape (probably tomorrow or Monday) of No. 12 Florida’s upset loss to Miami, here are some rapid reaction grades.

ICYMI: As a bonus, here’s my piece on UF’s House of Horrors -- most call it the red zone. Also, my notebook discussing the Gators’ defensive performance, Matt Jones’ return, Solomon Patton and more.

OFFENSE D+

The Gators dominated the stat sheet, but it didn’t matter. Florida self destructed in the red zone -- scoring just twice in seven chances inside Miami’s 28-yard line. The Gators’ ballyhooed ground-n-pound attack was invisible, as the Canes dominated the line of scrimmage. Florida averaged just 2.9 yards per carry 44 attempts. Jeff Driskel made plenty of plays Saturday -- for both teams.

DEFENSE A-

Will Muschamp was quite critical of his defense’s performance in Miami’s first two drives, but Florida allowed just 59 yards after the first quarter. UF’s defensive line --UM quarterback Stephen Morris called it the best he’s ever played -- single handily kept the Gators in the game despite the offense coughing up the ball with regularity. Duke Johnson was quiet (2.8 y/c) following UM’s first drive, while Morris never found a rhythm after his long touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett. Miami was just 1-of-11 on third down.    

SPECIAL TEAMS B+

Punt blocker extraordinaire Loucheiz Purifoy gift-wrapped the Gators an easy touchdown in the first quarter. Austin Hardin was perfect on his only attempt (33-yarder) -- the same distance Florida passed up on the failed fourth-and-one in the first half. Marcus Roberson was just OK returning punts, but Solomon Patton did chip in a 41-yard kick return. The failed two-point conversion was poorly blocked, but the bigger question is why it was called in the first place.  

Thoughts? Comments?

Have at it.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

September 07, 2013

Saturday Selections: Florida-Miami thread

Live from Sun Life Stadium...

The Gators and Canes kickoff in about two hours. Noon time start be damned. The parking lot is rocking. The atmosphere is crazy. Drinks are steadily flowing, and UM students are slowly trickling in. It feels like a primetime game, but will it actually be one?

Here's a quick video of UM's "Cane Walk" entering the stadium:

 

ESPN analyst Todd McShay picked the Gators, as most others have too, but the Mothership's Senior Simpletons (Lou Holtz & Mark May) picked the Canes. 

PICKS

Last week was good start: 5-1 -- the lone miss a close UGA loss.

This week's six-pack:

* Michigan (-3.5) vs. Notre Dame

* Texas A&M (-38.5) vs. Sam Houston State 

* LSU (-34) vs. UAB 

* Oklahoma (-20.5) vs. West Virgina 

* Georgia (-3) vs. South Carolina 

And finally, Florida (-3) at Miami. I think the Gators will win... going away late. This game means more for Miami. Don't believe me, check out how many recruits are here.

Recruits

But Florida simply has too many talented players on defense. This game -- both the week's buildup and today's atmosphere -- feels awfully similar to the Florida-Tennessee game last season. UT had an explosive offense too, but the Vols weren't ready for primetime. 

Deja vu? 

Enjoy the game, everybody.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

September 06, 2013

ICYMI: Dunbar's Homecoming

A teaser to a piece on Florida wideout Quinton Dunbar, a native of Miami's roughest neighborhood, Overtown. 

GAINESVILLE -- Quinton Dunbar, a star receiver at Booker T. Washington, grew up gleefully rooting for Miami. He idolized the late Sean Taylor -- a UM legend.

He was once verbally committed to play for the Hurricanes.

But ultimately, Dunbar fled ‘Magic City.’

“[I had] to get out of Miami,” he said. “Start a new life somewhere else.”

For most -- including Florida’s redshirt junior receiver – Overtown is a tough Miami neighborhood area rich in history, but, now, little else.

Overtown is among the roughest neighborhoods in the nation. The town’s theoretical urban renewal in the 1960’s actually further decayed an-already unraveling community.

The situation has only worsened.

“The success rate is low,” Dunbar said, shaking his head. “Coming from a city like that where there’s a lot of drugs and a lot of guns, it’s very hard to get out of it. But if you put your mind to it, you can get out of that situation.”

Click the link for the full feature. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Riggs disappointed UF-UM series likely ending

GAINESVILLE -- Gators safety Cody Riggs -- a Fort Lauderdale native and former St. Thomas Aquinas standout -- has waited a long time to play Miami, but at least he’ll have the opportunity.

Florida’s redshirt junior was unaware Saturday’s showdown is the final scheduled meeting in the foreseeable future for the storied series.  

“That’s kind of sad,” Riggs said. “Two big-time programs in the state that don’t play each other. I would hope to play them every year. Hopefully times can go back to old times, but that’s kind of disappointing this might be the last time.”

Rigg
(Cody Riggs)

Despite growing up in South Florida, Riggs was never a Hurricanes fan, saying, “I was a Gator fan and a Seminole fan, but when I got to high school it was strictly Gators.” 

TEAM PLAYER

Freshman wideout Demarcus Robinson was trumpeted as a potential savior for Florida’s anemic passing attack, and despite not catching a pass in UF’s opener offensive coordinator Brent Pease was pleased with Robinson’s debut.

“I went up to him in the locker room and told him, ‘You know what: Just be patient. I’m going to do a better job of getting some things designed (for you).’ He goes, ‘Coach, I had fun and we won.’ That’s the kind of kid he is.”

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