Wednesday November 13, 2013Mornhinweg on deck if Murphy can't go; Pease stays focused amidst critics
Updated: 7:22am, November 13
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Updated: 7:22am, November 13
Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy is expected to be a "game-time" decision at South Carolina.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- As if Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease doesn't have enough on his mind -- a struggling offense, mounting criticism and four consecutive losses -- he also has concerns about the cranky right shoulder of starting quarterback Tyler Murphy.
The Gators play at No. 12-ranked South Carolina on Saturday and Murphy is questionable at best.
"I think it's probably a game-time decision," Pease said Tuesday. "Same situation we've been in before. He's got to get in some practice time at some point [to play]. It's day-to-day based on what the trainers have to say."
Murphy hurt the shoulder in a loss at LSU last month. He has started the three games since but has not thrown the ball as sharply as he did in his first three games, wins over Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas.
In Saturday's 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt, Murphy finished 30 of 46 for a career-high 305 yards as he played through the pain in his throwing shoulder.
Gators coach Will Muschamp said Murphy would not practice Monday and Tuesday and would be re-evaluated as the week progressed. Muschamp is scheduled to speak to the media Wednesday morning on the SEC media teleconference.
Meanwhile, if Murphy is unable to play, the Gators will go with redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg (photo). Pease said the backup would be walk-on Christian Provancha.
Neither player has taken a snap for the Gators.
Murphy is spending most of his time this week doing rehab on his injured shoulder. Muschamp said the diagnosis after the LSU game was a sprained AC joint.
"It's just frustrating being banged up a little bit and having to sit out and try to get healthy,'' Murphy said. "I'm going to live in the training room and get healthy and try to get back out there as soon as possible."
Murphy missed three days of practice the week of the Missouri game and started.
"It's not something that is a new situation for us, but you've got to plan and make sure the things we do with Skyler, Murph should also be able to perform,'' Pease said. "Fit things around both of them in a game plan that's really going to benefit our team."
Mornhinweg, who signed in the 2012 recruiting class, grew up in Philadelphia and played at St. Joseph's (Pa.) Prep. His father Marty Mornhinweg is a veteran NFL coach and currently offensive coordinator of the New York Jets.
Pease said Mornhinweg is prepared to start if Murphy can't play.
"He's ready to go," Pease said. "The thing that's tough on a kid in his situation is just experience. You hope you never really have to play with a redshirt freshman. Nothing against him because he's a smart kid, he works hard.
"But in a developmental situation, you hope that you get into your sophomore and junior year before you're in that situation, whether you're competing for the job or in a backup role ready to play."
PEASE ON CRITICISM
Florida's offense, depleted by injuries on the offensive line and the loss of starting quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones early in the season, is ranked 13th in the SEC and 112th in the country.
With a 4-5 record and on the verge of missing a bowl game for the first time in 23 years, Muschamp has faced his share of criticism recently.
Of course, so has Pease, in his second season running UF's offense. Pease came to UF from Boise State, where he spent six seasons.
While it's difficult to judge the offense's performance fairly with so many injuries to key players, that hasn't stopped fans from calling for Pease's job.
"It’s human nature to think about that," Pease said Tuesday. "But, you know, I’ve still got an obligation to this team and the head coach and the players and the administration that I work for."
Pease said his approach when things are not going well is the same one he stresses to his players.
"You’ve got to be mentally tough,'' said Pease, who was being pursued by Alabama and Florida after the 2011 season and chose the Gators. "You’ve got to shut it out sometimes. And I understand what people are saying and frustrated with. You’ve got to work through it.
"Do they understand all of the circumstances? Not all of the time. But you've got to work through it. In my situation, I don't think you can lose confidence in who you are and what you believe in and how you got to do your job.
"Last year it was a situation where we knew how to manufacture and get wins. I wouldn't say highly explosive, what you want to be, but it was productive."
The rash of injuries certainly hasn't helped.
"Yeah, it’s tough, but what are you going to do?" Pease said. "You’ve got to play the cards you’re dealt."
One of the most talked about plays after Saturday's 34-17 defeat was the Gators' first-and-goal play from Vanderbilt's 1-yard line in the second quarter.
Murphy took the snap, and then rolled left to the short side of the field on an option play. He pitched the ball out of bounds for a 5-yard loss.
The play drew boos at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Pease called an inside run play, but instead, Murphy checked out of the play into an option.
"We called the play, and Coach [Muschamp] asked me what we're running. I said, 'We're running it downhill at them.' They jumped in what we call a bear front, which is something that we should be able to handle. It's a gap-scheme play that we should still be running it downhill. It got called off.
"[Tyler] said, 'Oh, I've got to do something.' So he checked to an option play, which we did not have. Still, we kind of got a play that matches those fronts. I think he thought beyond it a little bit. Like I told him, 'in that situation, you're uncertain, we're on the 1, OK, call timeout. Have some composure.' He's got to learn from it."
Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease is holding his usual Tuesday press conference shortly.
Look for a blog on GatorZone.com later. For now, let’s take a quick look at some fresh links from around the Internet covering the Gators:
--Few answers for beat-up Florida offensive line writes Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com.
--CBSSports.com columnist Tony Barnhart writes that Gators coach Will Muschamp deserves to stay at Florida.
--Dan Mullen, Muschamp feel wrath of disappointed fans writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.
--Florida may have been due for a season like this writes Pat Dooley of The Gainesville Sun.
--The latest SEC Power Rankings from Edward Aschoff of ESPN.com as Florida prepares to play South Carolina.
--In case you missed it, Antonio Morrison is the latest Gator to suffer a season-ending injury writes Jesse Simonton of The Miami Herald.
Updated: 1:26pm, November 11
Gators linebacker Antonio Morrison is done for the season due to a knee injury in Saturday's loss.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators have already lost their starting quarterback, their top defensive lineman and their most experienced running back to season-ending injuries.
Add their top tackler to the list.
Florida coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that sophomore starting middle linebacker Antonio Morrison, who leads the Gators with 56 tackles, will miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury.
Morrison suffered the injury early in Saturday’s game but was able to continue to play, recording a team-high 10 tackles in Florida’s 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt. Morrison is the 10th UF player to be lost for the season due to injury.
"He tore his meniscus. It’s a radial tear, the same thing Matt Jones did,'' Muschamp said. "So, very disappointed for him."
With Morrison out, Muschamp said Micheal Taylor will start at middle linebacker and true freshman Jarrad Davis will play on weak-side linebacker. Neiron Ball and Darrin Kitchens will continute to see significant time at the position and true freshman Alex Anzalone has progressed in recent weeks.
"Alex Anzalone keeps coming on [and] doing a good job for us,'' Muschamp said. "He’ll get some snaps.”
Morrison joins quarterback Jeff Driskel, defensive tackle Dominique Easley, running back Matt Jones, linebacker Matt Rolin, receiver Andre Debose, offensive linemen Chaz Green and Tyler Moore, defensive back Nick Washington and linebacker Jeremi Powell on the list of players to go down with season-ending injuries.
Meanwhile starting offensive lineman D.J. Humphries (knee) and reserve tight end Colin Thompson (foot) have missed significant time to injury and are out indefinitely.
Overall, Florida has lost seven starters to season-ending injuries and only five UF players have started every game in one of the most injury-plagued seasons in the program’s recent history.
The Gators, 4-5 and in need of two wins in their final three games to become bowl eligible, travel to face No. 12-ranked South Carolina on Saturday.
As if the loss of Morrison wasn’t enough, Muschamp said quarterback Tyler Murphy won't practice Monday or Tuesday. He is battling a sore shoulder. Murphy suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in a loss at LSU last month and has not been the same since.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg is Murphy's backup and will take snaps with first team at practice.
"It’s very difficult just because after these last few losses and not playing well on Saturday, I need all the practice I can get,'' said Murphy, who added that if the game was today he would likely be unable to play. "It’s just frustrating being banged up a little bit and having to sit out and try to get healthy. I’m just gonna live in the training room and get healthy and try to get back out there as soon as possible.”
Updated: 11:35am, November 6
Starting offensive lineman Tyler Moore (No. 73) is the latest UF player to suffer a season-ending injury.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The number of Gators to join the season-ending injury list has grown again.
Florida coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday that starting offensive lineman Tyler Moore is out for the rest of the season with an elbow injury.
Moore fractured his right elbow during a scooter accident Tuesday night. He underwent surgery Wednesday morning according to Muschamp.
"It's unfortunate. Somebody else needs to step up and play productive football,'' Muschamp said. "In all these situations, I feel for the player."
Moore rebounded from a disappointing performance at Missouri to have perhaps his best game of the season in Saturday's 23-20 loss to Georgia. Moore, the team's starting right tackle through seven games, moved to left tackle against the Bulldogs to replace injured starter D.J. Humphries.
Humphries is out two to four weeks with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
The loss of Moore means the Gators have lost three offensive tackles to injury this season. Moore, Humphries and Chaz Green (shoulder surgery) are the team's most experienced players on the exterior offensive line.
Green underwent surgery to repair a labrum injury in fall camp and is out for the season.
The loss of Moore is the latest in a wave of injuries that has decimated the Gators in 2013. They lost Green, freshman linebacker Matt Rolin (knee) and receiver/kickoff return specialist Andre Debose (knee) to season-ending injuries in fall camp.
Since the season started, quarterback Jeff Driskel (fibula), defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee), running back Matt Jones (knee), defensive back Nick Washington (shoulder) and linebacker Jeremi Powell (knee) have gone down with season-ending injuries.
With Moore moving to left tackle against Georgia, junior-college transfer Trenton Brown made his first career start at right tackle. With Moore out, Muschamp said the Gators will move starting left guard Max Garcia to left tackle and use veteran reserves Kyle Koehne and Ian Silberman at left guard.
Moore told reporters Tuesday before practice that he felt his adjustment to left tackle had gone well despite not playing the position since as a freshman at Nebraska two years ago.
"I haven’t played that in a long time. In a new position and only having a few days to get ready, I felt good about my performance,'' Moore said.
Updated: 5:34pm, October 30
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Gators starting left tackle D.J. Humphries is expected to miss two to four weeks with a left knee sprain.
Florida coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday during the SEC media teleconference that Humphries suffered a sprained MCL at Monday's practice.
"He's a quick-recovery guy,'' Muschamp said. "We're hoping just two weeks and get him back out there."
Humphries is the latest Florida player to go down with a knee injury. Eight Gators are out with season-ending injuries, including linebacker Matt Rolin, receiver Andre Debose, defensive tackle Dominique Easley and running back Matt Jones due to knee injuries.
With Humphries unavailable for Saturday's game against Georgia, Muschamp said Tyler Moore with move from right tackle to left tackle, and that junior-college transfer Trenton Brown will start at right tackle.
It will be the 6-foot-8, 361-pound Brown's first career start. Meanwhile, the interior line appears set with left guard Max Garcia, center Jonotthan Harrison and right guard Jon Halapio. Garcia has worked some at tackle in practice and could move there if Moore or Brown struggle.
As for Humphries, the 6-foot-5, 285-pound sophomore started the first six games but was replaced by Garcia in the lineup at Missouri. He came off the bench when Garcia moved to right tackle to take over for Moore.
News on the injury front hasn't been all bad this week.
The prognosis for linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle) and defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) to play on Saturday is good. Both Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said Powell is back at practice.
"He'll be good to go for the game,'' Muschamp said. "I think he can give us some quality snaps."
Powell (photo, left), Jacobs and linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) all missed the 36-17 loss at Missouri Oct. 19 because of injuries.
Muschamp said Jacobs is expected to play Saturday and that Kitchens returned to practice Monday.
The Florida-Georgia game kicks off at EverBank Field in Jacksonville on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – If you follow me on Twitter (@GatorZoneScott), you saw a post earlier this afternoon that I am giving away three tickets to the Florida-Georgia game Saturday in Jacksonville.
Long story short, family can’t go and I figured what better way to get a few more Twitter followers than a ticket giveaway. OK, that’s not the only reason. Hopefully somebody out there really wants to go to the game and they don’t have tickets. At least they now have a chance at some freebies.
The Florida-Georgia rivalry has been my favorite college football game since I was a kid and offers one of the more unique atmospheres in sports.
Based on instant reaction on Twitter, a lot of folks want to win these tickets.
I will give them away at 4 p.m. on Wednesday on Twitter. So, if you don’t have a Twitter account and want a chance to win, make sure you create an account and follow me.
There are a couple of disclaimers that will unlikely affect you, but I have to abide by the rules as a UAA employee:
I will leave the tickets at Will Call at EverBank Field for the winner. I will need a name and that person will need a photo ID to pick them up Saturday prior to the game. That’s all.
Last but not least, to win, you must answer a trivia question correctly that I will post on Twitter at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The question will center on the Florida-Georgia game.
The first person to respond to me on Twitter with the correct answer wins. Everyone will be able to see the first response with the correct answer on my mentions timeline.
Good luck and thanks to everyone for playing along.
Updated: 12:49pm, October 28
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Florida-Georgia week has arrived and Gators coach Will Muschamp is scheduled to speak to the media here in less than an hour.
Check back with GatorZone.com later for more from Muschamp’s press conference and if you are on Twitter, follow me @GatorZoneScott for real-time updates during Muschamp’s presser.
For now, here are some of the latest links on the Internet leading up to the game:
--Florida’s improvement must begin with offensive line writes Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
--Gators focused on getting healthy during bye week writes David Jones of Florida Today.
--Florida native Aaron Murray, Georgia’s senior quarterback, has a chance to do something only two other Georgia quarterbacks have done in history writes David Ching of ESPN.com.
--Georgia No. 7, Florida No. 9 in latest SEC power rankings from ESPN.com.
--Georgia’s injury list includes bruised ego writes The Associated Press (via Gainesville Sun website).
--Florida coaching staff trying to find a solution writes Jesse Simonton of The Miami Herald.
--Missouri’s loss provides more motivation for Georgia writes Chip Towers of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
--Florida-Georgia week and Bulldogs coach Mark Richt updates injuries, talks SEC race writes Marc Weiszer of The Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald.
--A look at the latest polls from CBSSports.com.
--The Florida-Georgia game ranks high on USA Today’s Misery Index for obvious reasons – both fan bases are upset entering the game, one is going to be more upset late Saturday.
Updated: 12:47pm, October 23
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- By now you figure it’s only a matter of time before Gators coach Will Muschamp hobbles into one of his press conferences with a knee brace on and announces, “I’m coaching from the press box this week, torn ACL.”
During his weekly press conference Wednesday, Muschamp announced that redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell is the latest Gator to suffer a season-ending knee injury.
Powell was injured in the second half at Missouri as he tried to block a punt. He made a hard tackle earlier in the game on kickoff coverage and played in all seven games this season on special teams, registering four tackles.
Powell joins freshman linebacker Matt Rolin (knee), receiver Andre Debose (knee), offensive lineman Chaz Green (shoulder), quarterback Jeff Driskel (fibula), running back Matt Jones (knee), defensive back Nick Washington (shoulder) and defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee) on the season-ending injury list.
“It’s frustrating, but it is what it is,’’ Muschamp said. “That’s the hand that you’ve been dealt and you’re going to play it.”
Meanwhile, with a bye week before facing Georgia, Muschamp said he expects to have linebacker Ronald Powell (photo, above) back for the Bulldogs. Powell missed the Missouri game with an ankle injury.
The Gators are also hopeful defensive tackle Damian Jacobs (head) and linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) can return in time to face the Bulldogs. Both players missed the Missouri game.
Last but not least, Muschamp said quarterback Tyler Murphy is unlikely to throw much this week while his sore right shoulder heals. Murphy was hurt at LSU and played against Missouri.
Check back with GatorZone.com later for a story on what Muschamp said the Gators are working on to improve during their bye week.
Updated: 3:05pm, October 22
The automatic-ejection rule on targeting penalties has drawn the ire of coaches around the country.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Getting college football coaches to agree on anything is never an easy task, but the NCAA might have pulled off a minor miracle.
The majority of coaches appear to have had it with the NCAA’s new targeting rule. They are in favor of the rule’s intent – to make the game safer and penalize players for malicious hits on defenseless opponents -- but not the automatic ejection that comes each time a 15-yard targeting penalty is called.
The Gators endured their second ejection of the season on Saturday when safety Cody Riggs was called for a targeting penalty on the game’s first play. Defensive back Brian Poole was ejected in the second half of the Tennessee game for a targeting penalty.
Florida coach Will Muschamp voiced concerns about the automatic-ejection rule after Poole’s hit and did the same on Saturday when Riggs was thrown out for a hit on Missouri receiver L’Damian Washington.
“It’s a bang-bang play,’’ Muschamp said. “Again, I think the rule is good. I don’t think the rule of an ejection is right. He went down to catch the ball, so it was the correct call. I don’t disagree with the call. I disagree with kicking a kid out of the game in that situation. He wasn’t maliciously trying to hurt anybody. It was ridiculous.”
While the Gators have a bye week before facing Georgia, the targeting rule is also a hot topic in Athens this week.
Bulldogs defensive end Ray Drew was tossed out of Saturday’s loss at Vanderbilt for a hit on Commodores quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels.
Georgia coach Mark Richt, after reviewing tape of the play, spoke to SEC officials about the situation on Sunday according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I don't think that the rule was designed for that type of play, quite frankly," Richt said of the call on Drew during his Monday press conference. “It didn't look like Ray was trying to blast the guy in any way, shape or form. I think he was trying to pull up. He certainly didn't drive through the guy or try to hit him violently in any way, shape or form.
“I don't really know for sure why they didn't allow him to play. I'm glad it happened in the first half where now he won't miss any of the game against Florida. That's the best part about it."
The same goes for Riggs. Since his ejection came in the first half against Missouri, he can play at the start of the Georgia game.
Former Gators coach Urban Meyer discussed his concern about the rule on Monday, too.
During Ohio State’s win over Iowa on Saturday, Buckeyes cornerback Bradley Roby was disqualified because of a targeting penalty.
After the play was reviewed, Roby was ejected, the first Ohio State player to suffer the consequences of a hit officials deem targeting.
“I think that the NCAA and everybody is going to want to look at that rule," Meyer said Monday. "Ohio State is very concerned about player safety. We have gone to the nth degree with adjusting practice. Any rule for the safety of players, no question we support it.
"However, that was a game-changer. To take one of your better players out of the game, that impacted that game. ... We teach and work hard at it that you play the game with the shoulder pads and play below the head. I agree 100 percent. But to have a guy ejected who played like that, obviously I'm concerned."
While Riggs is eligible to play against Georgia, he hardly worked up a sweat at Missouri.
Replays showed Riggs’ helmet did make contact with Washington’s facemask, but the contact appeared to come during the natural progression of the play as Washington caught the ball and Riggs closed in for the tackle.
“I feel bad for him,’’ teammate Trey Burton said afterward. “He made the trip, put all this time in at practice, and then the first play of the game gets thrown out. I don’t know if it was questionable or not – I’m not a referee – but it’s tough for him and tough for the defense.”
Updated: 5:56pm, October 21
UF volleyball coach Mary Wise's team has six of its final 10 SEC matches at the O'Connell Center.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Florida volleyball team had been cruising along at such a steady pace you wondered when they were going to lose another set, much less drop a match.
Florida swept right through head coach Mary Wise’s 700th win at UF -- and beyond -- in recent weeks.
The Gators left town for their match at Arkansas on Friday with nine consecutive sweeps packed away. That streak ended when the Razorbacks won the first set 25-22. Still, the Gators extended their win streak to 13 in a row by storming back and taking the final three sets.
The Gators’ 3-1 win over the Razorbacks set up a key SEC showdown Sunday at Missouri. A day after the Florida football team lost 36-17 to the undefeated Tigers, the Gators’ volleyball team hoped to have a better stay in Columbia.
Wise’s team discovered what Will Muschamp’s did the day before: Missouri is adjusting to the SEC rather well.
The undefeated Tigers (23-0), one of only two unbeaten teams remaining in Division I – 17-0 Colorado State is the other – beat the Gators 3-1 for their first win over UF since joining the SEC in 2012.
The loss was Florida’s first since a 3-0 defeat to Penn State in early September at the Big Four Classic in Austin, Texas.
After the match, the Gators returned home, finally arriving on campus around 3 a.m. Monday. Wise was back on campus a few hours later for her weekly press conference.
If you expected the veteran coach to be in a sour mood over the Gators’ loss, you were probably disappointed.
She is more fired up about returning to the court this weekend for home matches against Auburn on Friday and Tennessee on Sunday.
The loss to the Tigers is one that Wise can live with.
The Gators, ranked No. 2 entering Sunday’s match, were in position to move to No. 1 in the AVCA national poll if they had won. That’s because No. 1 USC lost over the weekend, too.
Instead, the Gators (18-2) dropped three spots to No. 5 on Monday, a spot behind USC (17-2). Texas (13-2), Penn State (16-2) and Washington (15-1) own the top three spots.
“It was really a high-level volleyball match,’’ Wise said of Sunday’s loss. “Those first three sets couldn’t get any closer. I just felt Missouri made a few more plays. From it, we will use the video and information – we always say you learn more from a loss than you do a win.
“You can see why they are undefeated and one of the best in the country. It was a great experience for our team.”
As the Gators move deeper into the heart of their SEC schedule – Florida is 7-1 in the conference and has a rematch with the Tigers (7-0 in SEC) at the O’Dome on Nov. 15 – they will be at home more than on the road.
Six of their final 10 SEC matches are at the O’Connell Center.
Wise said the biggest issue the Gators had at Missouri was their passing.
“If you don’t pass well, your team becomes very average offensively,’’ she said.
Freshman right-side hitter Alex Holston was the Gators’ bright spot Sunday. Holston had a team-high 17 kills and .583 hitting percentage. The 6-foot-1 Holston continues to get better as the season goes on.
“Alex has been great for us week after week,’’ Wise said. “I think after this past weekend, I can’t imagine she is staying under the radar as some people have had her. She was really good for us both nights.”
The Gators hope they have many good nights ahead. Including when the Tigers come to town in a few weeks.
Former Gators tight end Jordan Reed came through big for Washington on Sunday. (Photo: Redskins.com)
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators have a bye week before facing Georgia.
Following Florida's 36-17 loss at Missouri on Saturday, a bye week seems appropriate.
Here are some fresh links in the wake of Saturday's loss, plus more links covering current and former Gators in the news:
--Florida was routed at Missouri and Gators coach Will Muschamp was not pleased afterward writes Jason Lieser of Palm Beach Post.
--Muschamp vows to make Gators better writes Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
--Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk’s draft included early shots downfield against Gators writes ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff.
--Targeting penalties caused a stir in Week 8 writes Zac Ellis of SI.com’s Campus Union blog. Florida’s Cody Riggs was called for targeting on the first play at Missouri.
--The Gators dropped from the polls this week for the first time since 2011. The Gators are technically No. 32 in the AP Top 25 and No. 34 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll based on “others receiving votes.”
--A crazy weekend as SEC cannibalizes its own writes ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach.
--Bowl projections are starting to get more attention on the Internet. A look at where the Gators are currently projected from SBNation.com.
--Since Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was lost for the season yesterday, there have been reports that St. Louis has discussed signing Tim Tebow, and reports saying that won’t happen. The latest from NFL.com.
--Former Florida TE Jordan Reed played role of unlikely hero for the Redskins on Sunday writes Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
--Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II prepares for larger role in his second season writes Jonathan Czupryn of the Independent Florida Alligator.
--Gators freshman Savannah Jordan made sure Senior Day was a winning one for UF’s soccer team on Sunday writes Michelle Provenzano of the Independent Florida Alligator.
--Former Gators soccer standout Abby Wambach did what she does best last night for the U.S. Women’s National Team, scoring her 162nd career goal.
Video of Wambach's goal, which shows off her impressive skills:
Updated: 11:21am, October 17
Florida assistant Travaris Robinson has earned respect as one of nation's top recruiters.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators assistant coach Travaris Robinson will be in charge of the secondary on Saturday at Missouri with first place in the SEC East on the line.
The Florida secondary is arguably the nation’s most talented and deepest. Much of that credit goes to Robinson, who recruited players such as defensive backs Marcus Roberson, Vernon Hargreaves III and Jabari Gorman since joining Will Muschamp’s inaugural staff in 2011.
Robinson’s talent as a recruiter is not going unnoticed. In ESPN.com’s 2014 recruiter power rankings, Robinson is not only ranked the No. 1 recruiter in the SEC, but No. 1 in the country according to a panel of ESPN recruiting analysts.
Robinson’s impact on the Gators over the last three years has been substantial -- as a recruiter and talent evaluator, which goes hand-in-hand in Muschamp’s recruiting philosophy devoid of an emphasis on the star system created by recruiting sites.
As a former defensive back at Auburn and in the NFL, Robinson works closely with Muschamp in evaluating prospects, deciding which players to recruit and then once they get to UF, coaching and developing those players. Robinson is also UF’s primary recruiter in talent-rich South Florida, where he grew up.
“Being from Miami, I know a lot of people down there,’’ Robinson said recently. “I’m fortunate enough that when I go down there recruiting, some of the high school coaches, either they coached me or played against me, and they remember me from that.
“At the end of the day, we want people who want to be at Florida. There are a lot of guys down there that have the ability to do it, but they grew up [Miami] fans, so you don’t get a chance to recruit those guys. Then you’ve got guys who grew up Florida State fans, and then you have guys who grew up Gator fans. It’s just going out there and working for that.”
The 32-year-old Robinson, the youngest member of Muschamp’s coaching staff, entered coaching as a graduate assistant at Auburn when Muschamp was there as defensive coordinator. The two quickly hit it off and Muschamp brought Robinson to Florida.
“He's a really, really good football coach,” Muschamp said. “He does a great job with our secondary as far as teaching and coaching the way we want it to be done at Florida. He understands what we want done and how we want it done. It’s not about putting the next guy in. It’s about putting the next best player in.”
As a recruiter, Robinson’s energy and ability to relate to young players has made an impression.
“He helped me grow as a person before he taught me anything on the field,” Roberson told The Gainesville Sun last month. “He's more like a father figure than anything. He told me I had an opportunity to play and everything turned out that way. He's straightforward. He tells you exactly what it is instead of beating around the bush.”
Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is considered a strong recruiter, too. Durkin landed offensive lineman D.J. Humphries and defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard from his ties in North Carolina.
Still, Durkin can appreciate the unique ability of Robinson on the recruiting trail.
“He's an unbelievable recruiter, as you all can see. The guy works relentlessly at it,’’ Durkin said. “I've been around a lot of good coaches, luckily, in my career, and I don't know one better than him at what he does. There's no doubt he’s a star.”
Gators guard Cassie Peoples is ready to reboot her career after transferring from Texas.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sophomore year of high school, Cassie Peoples broke her right tibia.
Six games into her freshman year of college, it was her left tibia. She had a metal rod inserted to help the bone heal.
After the season, Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors announced her resignation.
Around that time, Peoples began to think about her future.
“I just felt it was in my best interest to move forward and play somewhere else,’’ she said.
Peoples, who had visited UF when she lived in Daytona Beach and played at Father Lopez High as a freshman, opted to leave Texas – she finished high school in San Antonio and helped Cypress-Fairbanks High win a state championship along with Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike.
While sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, Peoples hurt her shoulder. She underwent surgery in February to repair a torn labrum.
Did you get all that?
As Peoples recounted her recent past at UF’s basketball media days last week, a smile washed over her face at the thought of playing again.
Finally, Peoples is healthy and ready to show why she was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school.
“I’m really excited and anxious to play,’’ she said. “More than anything I’m just trying to be patient and wait for the time to come. It will be a special moment for me.”
It will be for Florida head coach Amanda Butler, too.
Butler remembers watching Peoples play in high school, a fireball of energy racing up and down the court, dropping shots and tricky passes.
“Sometimes you don’t get it right the first go around,’’ Butler said. “There are factors that life throws at you that make you reconsider your initial decision. We’re glad to have her. She is going to really help our team.”
A 5-foot-6 point guard, Peoples hasn’t played in a game since a six-minute stint against Tennessee on Dec. 4, 2011.
That drought is expected to end on Nov. 8 when the Gators host Bethune-Cookman in their season opener.
Since enrolling at UF in July 2012, Peoples has developed friendships with her new teammates, adjusted to her new school and everything else that comes with being a college student.
“I’m accustomed to everything but the actual game,’’ she said. “It’s not a fun process to go through because you have to sit out a season.”
Considering what she has been through the past two years, Peoples doesn’t expect that transition to be nearly as difficult as the ones she has already made.
Peoples was ranked one of the nation’s top prep point guards coming out of high school, her skills refined from years of practice with her father Marcus Peoples, who played at the University of Mary-Hardin Baylor and professionally in Australia.
That quick stop-and-pop she is known for, those nifty no-look passes that cause fans to gasp, Marcus helped her develop those ever since she was a little girl.
“He is the reason I am the player I am today. He taught me everything skill-set wise that I needed to know,’’ said Peoples, a redshirt sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining.”
With the Gators transitioning to a more up-tempo style this season, Peoples and fellow guards Jaterra Bonds and Carlie Needles will have the ball in their hands a bunch.
That’s the way Peoples likes it.
“I’m a point guard first,’’ she said. “I like to shoot, I like to score, I like to drive. In my game, whatever the best shot for our team is pretty much what I’m looking for.”
Peoples played with Bonds on the Florida Essence UAA team prior to her family’s move to Texas.
“I don’t like to lose and she doesn’t either,’’ Peoples said. “I think we can make a great combo.”
She also was a teammate on the Orlando Comets UAA team with former Gators forward Jennifer George.
Those passes Butler remembers seeing her make back then come naturally.
“It’s really something I don’t think you can teach,’’ she said. “God just gave me the ability to see things and make passes. I’ve been told that I’m a player that makes plays off instinct. I think that’s a great description of how I can find people and how I can find people.”
The clock is ticking. Peoples’ return to the court is almost here.
“I’m finally healthy and back in shape,’’ she said. “It’s a good feeling.”
Updated: 8:10am, October 15
Punter Kyle Christy's biggest play Saturday was a pass on a fake punt. Christy has struggled in kicking game.
The Gators face Missouri on Saturday with first place in the SEC East on the line.
The surprising Tigers are 6-0 and 2-0 in the SEC after upsetting Georgia on the road last weekend. Florida is 4-2, 3-1 following a 17-6 loss at LSU, dropping into a three-way tie with Georgia and South Carolina for second in the division.
Gators coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday. Here are some fresh links from around the Internet covering the Gators:
--Muschamp benches starting punter Kyle Christy in favor of true freshman Johnny Townsend writes Jesse Simonton of The Miami Herald.
--The Gators are enduring the most injury-plagued season of Muschamp's coaching career writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.
--Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor will see more action in wake of Matt Jones' injury writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.
--Knee injury ends season of Gators' top running back Matt Jones writes David Jones of Florida Today.
--Gators kicker Frankie Velez embraces starting kickers' job writes Antonya English of The Tampa Bay Times.
--Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley writes there are no guarantees moving forward for Gators.
--Nashville eyed as primary site of SEC men's basketball tournament writes the AP via Jacksonville.com.
--Week 7 -- Hot and Not in the SEC writes Alex Scarborough of ESPN.com.
Updated: 3:47pm, October 10
The Gators will look to contain LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger like last year in The Swamp.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has an impressive track record over the last decade of developing quarterbacks.
Cameron was San Diego's offensive coordinator for five years (2002-06) and helped Drew Brees develop into one of the league's best quarterbacks. As Baltimore's offensive coordinator from 2008 to early in the 2012 season, Cameron did the same for Joe Flacco.
Cameron's latest protégé is LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who has thrown for 1,738 yards and 15 touchdowns and is on pace to break school records in both categories.
While Cameron spent the last 11 seasons in the NFL prior to joining Les Miles' staff -- he was Miami's head coach in 2007 -- Gators head coach Will Muschamp is familiar with Cameron's offensive system.
In Muschamp's one season in the NFL as a defensive assistant with the Dolphins under Nick Saban, the Dolphins faced San Diego, where Cameron was Marty Schottenheimer's offensive coordinator.
The game took place on Dec. 11, 2005 at Qualcomm Stadium.
Brees threw for 279 yards but needed 52 attempts in Miami's 23-21 win. The Dolphins entered as a 13.5-point underdog according to ProFootballReference.com but sealed the victory on a late field goal set up by a Brees fumble.
The Miami defensive lineman who recovered the fumble with 2:37 left in the game: former Gators All-American Kevin Carter.
The victory was the third in a six-game win streak to close the season in Muschamp's only season in the NFL. Miami rallied to finish 9-7 but Muschamp returned to college football the next season as defensive coordinator at Auburn.
Muschamp said his head-to-head win against Cameron eight years ago would have little impact on Saturday at LSU as the Gators try to stay unbeaten in the SEC.
The Gators have studied film of Cameron's offenses like they would for any other opponent.
“Different players, different level and a long time ago,” Muschamp said.
However, Muschamp can tell a difference in Mettenberger under Cameron's tutelage.
"He's more effective taking the ball. He's more accurate with the ball. I think he's got a better understanding in the passing game obviously last year being his first year as the guy,'' Muschamp said. "They are very efficient in what they do throwing the football and taking shots down the field and stretching the field vertically. Creating some intermediate throws. Tailoring the offense to fit the quarterback, and I think that’s one he’s done a nice job of.”
Florida's SEC-leading defense is expected to be challenged by Mettenberger, who was 11 of 25 for 158 yards and an interception in Florida's 14-6 home win over the Tigers last season.
The reason Miles brought Cameron on board was in large part to work with Mettenberger, a highly touted prospect coming out of high school but inconsistent in college.
That has changed.
"Cam gets a lot of credit,” Miles said this week. "Zach was ready to make changes and was very receptive to Cam. Cam is a very special coach and has made a difference."
Updated: 10:18am, October 10
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy has a big fan. A fan who knows a thing or two about playing quarterback at UF.
Former Gators head coach Steve Spurrier, a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback for the Gators who later groomed another Heisman winner in Danny Wuerffel, spent part of his Wednesday morning watching film of the Florida-Arkansas game.
Spurrier's South Carolina team faces the Razorbacks on Saturday.
No. 3 for Florida caught Spurrier's attention. Murphy threw for a career-high 240 yards in his first career home start.
"Tyler’s a very good player," Spurrier said on Wednesday's SEC media teleconference. "He’s a dang good player. His throwing motion is beautiful. He throws a nice, catchable ball and he can move around in the pocket. I mean, you’d never think the young man hadn’t played but, what, two or three games now?
"He must have looked good in practice down there. But he finally got his chance, and sometimes that’s the way it works out, you get your chance and make the most of it. But he’s a very good player."
Murphy's mechanics have been compared to former UF quarterback Chris Leak, who came along after Spurrier's time as Florida's head coach from 1990-2001.
Spurrier said Murphy does deliver a nice pass.
"Watching Tyler, he throws the ball beautifully, and fundamentally he’s very sound," Spurrier said. "And all their receivers are catching everything, he throws very catchable balls. He’s a very good quarterback I think."
Gators offensive lineman Max Garcia, left, gets a hand from teammate Ian Silberman at Kentucky.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sometimes, for whatever reasons, the grass appears greener somewhere else.
Often, a player transfers and is never heard from again. Other times the change of scenery works out.
Gators offensive lineman Max Garcia falls into the latter category.
Garcia has started all five games at left guard for Florida after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. Garcia started his career at Maryland and played in 14 games as a sophomore in 2011, starting 12.
When former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen was replaced by Randy Edsall, the 6-foot-4, 311-pound Garcia opted to start over somewhere else. His final choices were USC, Georgia, Clemson, Ole Miss and Florida.
Based on Gators coach Will Muschamp's comments the past couple of weeks, Garcia is playing at a high level.
Muschamp singled out Garcia's play after the Gators' win at Kentucky and Saturday's victory over Arkansas.
"He's been a really good fit for us,'' Muschamp said. "Max is a smart guy and the one guy I would say, you know, our pass protection grades are pretty good for our offensive line, not so much in our run game. But Max is pretty solid all over. He was a guy that did a lot of things well for us. He can play left tackle. He can play multiple positions."
Garcia's ability to run and pass block has helped quarterback Tyler Murphy in his transition and helped the Gators offense sustain drives in three consecutive SEC wins.
Garcia missed a portion of fall camp with a back injury but has improved and been a stabilizing force for an offensive line that has seen starters D.J. Humphries, Jon Harrison, Jon Halapio and Tyler Moore either miss games or stretches of games due to injury.
"The game has been slowing down for me,'' Garcia said Tuesday. "The first two games were just kind of getting back into football. It had been so long. I'm just trying to keep it going."
Prior to starting the season opener against Toledo, Garcia had not played since November 2011.
He spent last season adding about 20 pounds of bulk to face SEC defensive linemen like he will square off against at LSU on Saturday.
While his former team lost 63-0 at Florida State on Saturday, the Gators won 30-10 over Arkansas to get off to a 3-0 start in the SEC.
Garcia wants that streak to continue in what he expects to be a unique atmosphere at Tiger Stadium.
"It's going to be loud, it's going to be rowdy,'' he said of his first trip to Death Valley. "I'm excited for that. I just love playing in big games and I have a great opportunity to shine."
Updated: 11:42pm, October 3
Former Gators tennis player Ryan Sweeting and his famous fiancée.
No word on how Leonard, her boyfriend on "Big Bang Theory," feels about the news, but Penny -- or Kaley Cuoco in real life -- is engaged to former Gators tennis player Ryan Sweeting.
You can get the Hollywood details here from UsMagazine.com.
The couple has been dating only three months but that was apparently enough for love to blossom. If you are into celebrity news, you may have seen photos this week of Sweeting visiting Cuoco on the set her movie "The Wedding Ringer."
Seems an appropriate name for her next movie.
As for Sweeting, he played for the Gators in 2006. He wasn't around too long before embarking on a professional career.
Here is Sweeting's official bio from UF.
Sweeting was around long enough to hang out with The Gainesville Sun.
Sweeting continues to scratch out a career on the ATP World Tour, currently ranked 532nd in the world.
Needless to say, his ranking is much higher in Hollywood these days.
Congrats to Sweeting and Cuoco. More details to come after the wedding.
Updated: 2:31pm, October 3
Gators running back Matt Jones was all smiles after a career-high 176 yards at Kentucky.
A few afternoon links for your perusal leading up to Saturday’s Gators-Razorbacks game at The Swamp:
--Success of Florida’s offense lies in running writes ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff.
--The Gators are aware of Arkansas freshman RB Alex Collins writes Phillip Heilman of the Independent Florida Alligator.
--Arkansas coach Bret Bielema presents a new challenge for Gators writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.
--Florida leads nation in time of possession, a byproduct of run-heavy scheme writes The Associated Press (via WashingtonPost.com).
--What to watch in the SEC: Week 6 writes Sam Khan Jr. of ESPN.com.
--Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema not surprised by ‘feisty … angry’ quarterback Brandon Allen writes ArkansasNews.com.
--Gators expect to get more players back for Arkansas game writes Jesse Simonton of The Miami Herald.
--UF’s defense is money writes Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.
--Gators starting cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy is off to a slow start writes Orlando Sentinel beat writer Edgar Thompson.
--Arkansas hopes for history on Saturday writes David Jones of Florida Today.
--Gators look to Wisconsin for preparation for Razorbacks writes Antonya English of the Tampa Bay Times.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- ESPN The Magazine's "Franchise Issue" arrived in the mail this week.
It's one of the magazine's most popular issues. If you're a fan of the Memphis Grizzlies -- I figure at least a few of you converted over the summer when former UF standout Mike Miller left the Miami Heat to rejoin the Grizzlies -- then you will be pleased at ESPN's rankings.
The Grizzlies are ranked the No. 1 franchise in all of professional sports based on numerous criteria from concession prices to competitiveness. Meanwhile, the Shaqramento Kings ... umm, Sacramento Kings are dead last at No. 122. Shaq obviously has some work to do as one of the Kings' new owners.
The magazine also reviewed the last 15 years in college athletics and ranked schools based on their football and men's basketball programs during that time span.
Here is a ranking I know Florida fans will give two thumbs up: the Gators are No. 1.
ESPN The Magazine editors, with the help of consultant Jeff Phillips, principal at the Parthenon Group and alumnus of the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, identified three principal categories of success – on-field success, off-field success and traditions of success -- to determine the top college programs.
Each of the three major categories of success was analyzed closer using nine different factors: title track, head coach, strength of schedule, academics, recruiting, player success, stadium edge, football/basketball revenue and NCAA violations.
Once the ingredients were mixed together and pulled from the oven, the Gators stood atop the college sports world over the past 15 years.
Here is what the magazine wrote to explain Florida’s ranking:
Since 1998, Florida is the only program to win championships in both sports – and the Gators did it twice in each (football in ’06 and ’08; hoops: ’06 and ’07). They’ve hauled in the most ESPN 150 football recruits (77) and rank behind only Ohio State and USC for player success. On the hardwood, UF ranks outside the top 25 in just one category (revenue, No. 27), and if Urban Meyer were still around to form a one-two coaching punch with Billy Donovan (No. 6), our rankings wouldn’t have been as close. (Will Muschamp ranks 51st.)
As for the rest of the top 10, here goes: 2. Ohio State; 3. Texas; 4. Oklahoma; 5. Michigan; 6. Michigan State; 7. Alabama; 8. UCLA; 9. Wisconsin; 10. Notre Dame.
If you are an ESPN Insider subscriber, you can access ESPN The Magazine online here for the complete rankings.