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Tuesday December 17, 2013Jimmy V Classic, Elam's big night, Beal's return, Bruno back in NY, more tidbits

Updated: 12:38pm, December 17

Former Gators and Bucs running back Earnest Graham on becoming a head coach.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – There’s a big game in the Big Apple tonight.

Actually, two of them at Madison Square Garden as part of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader.

The first game matches Cincinnati against Pittsburgh, followed by the No. 16 Gators facing No. 15 Memphis in the nightcap.

For real-time updates during the Florida-Memphis game, you can follow @GatorZoneMBK and @GatorZoneChris on Twitter. The game is also live on ESPN.

For more on the Gators men’s basketball team and other Gator-related sports news, here are some fresh links from around the web:

--CBSSports.com writer Jeff Borzello offers a viewer’s guide for NYC showdown between Gators and Tigers.

--For more of what makes the Jimmy V Classic a meaningful event, here is a column by Dick Vitale of ESPN.com.

--Gators assistant coach Rashon Burno returns to where his journey began writes Kevin Brockway of The Gainesville Sun.

 --Florida head coach Billy Donovan told reporters Monday that he doesn’t expect Damontre Harris to suit up for Gators writes Rob Dauster of NBCSports.com.

--Will Florida’s 1-3-1 zone cause Memphis problems? That is the question ESPN.com asks.

--Former Gators safety Matt Elam capped his news-making week with a big game Monday night writes Aaron Wilson of The Baltimore Sun.

--Another former Gator, hoopster Bradley Beal, made a memorable return to the Wizards on Monday night at MSG.

--Former Gators offensive lineman Ian Silberman is transferring to Louisville writes Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.

--In light of recent transfers, ESPN.com’s Ed Aschoff writes Gators can absorb the departures.

--Film breakdown from Colts.com of Trent Richardson’s TD against Tennessee with former Gators offensive lineman Xavier Nixon helping out on play.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Head coach Will Muschamp said the Gators would enter spring practice with an open competition at quarterback at his press conference following the Florida State game.

Tyler Murphy

That competition got less crowded on Sunday when redshirt junior Tyler Murphy left the program. Murphy graduated on Saturday and was expected to compete with Jeff Driskel in the spring.

Murphy started six games this season before missing the final three games with a shoulder injury. Murphy passed for 1,216 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions.

He took over as Florida's starting quarterback when Driskel suffered a season-ending broken leg against Tennessee. Murphy led the Gators to wins over Tennessee, Kentucky and Arkansas.

However, he suffered a sprained AC joint in his throwing shoulder in a 14-6 loss at LSU and his effectiveness dwindled. Redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg took over as the starter for the final three games.

Thursday December 12, 2013Gators coach Will Muschamp announces transfers from program (Staver also departing)

Updated: 10:32am, December 13

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators coach Will Muschamp announced Thursday that several players are transferring out of the program.

Sophomore tight end Kent Taylor, redshirt freshmen Rhaheim Ledbetter and Quinteze Williams, and true freshman Trevon Young have decided to seek fresh starts elsewhere.

Muschamp

Also, redshirt junior offensive lineman Ian Silberman, who is graduating on Saturday, has informed Muschamp he plans to play his final season at another school.

“These young men felt it was in their best interest to look for an opportunity to play somewhere else,’’ Muschamp said. “We wish all of them the best of luck.”

Silberman is the most experienced of the group. Used primarily as a reserve, Silberman started seven games the past two seasons due to injuries. Taylor, a 6-foot-5, 223-pound tight end out of Land O’ Lakes (Fla.) High, caught two passes as a freshman but did not play as a sophomore.

Among the trio of freshmen, Ledbetter is the only one to appear in a game for the Gators. Ledbetter played on special teams in two games this season, against Toledo and Florida State.

He signed with UF as a defensive back out of Crest Senior High in Shelby, N.C., the same school that produced former Gators linebacker Brandon Spikes and current UF defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, a teammate of Ledbetter’s in high school. He shifted to fullback prior to the season but did not record a carry.

Meanwhile, Williams is a 6-foot-4, 280-pound offensive lineman out of Sandy Creek High in Tyrone, Ga. He signed with the Gators in 2012 and redshirted.

Finally, the 6-foot-4, 272-pound Young signed with UF out of Braden River High in Bradenton. Also a basketball player in high school, Young was a late addition to the 2013 signing class.

***Update, Wednesday 6 p.m.***

Freshman quarterback Max Staver, who did not play in his only season on campus, plans to transfer.

Staver and Muschamp spoke Wednesday afternoon and Staver later announced his intentions on his Twitter account.

"Thank you to everyone for the experience down there and the support,'' tweeted Staver, from Brentwood (Tenn.) Academy. "I will miss my teammates, friends and also the Gator fans. God bless."

Friday December 6, 2013Chloe Mann's career one worth a final salute

Updated: 9:27am, December 7

Chloe Mann

Senior Chloe Mann turns to walk off the court Friday for the final time with the Gators. (Photo: Tim Casey).

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When you scribble about sports for a living, you come across all kinds of athletes.

Some impress you for no other reason than their athletic gifts. Others catch your attention more for their human qualities. There are some you enjoy mostly because they are colorful characters and a good quote.

On the flip side, there are those that you would rather chew on a bag of nails than have to talk to.

I don’t mind saying Barry Bonds was one of those for me when I covered baseball – and I’m sure I’m not the only member of that club. Three different times our paths crossed in one-on-one settings and none were particularly enjoyable, even the one at a feel-good event at a Tampa church.

And then there are those that seem to have the perfect blend of athletic competence, personality and human dignity.

Chloe Mann certainly fits into that category for me.

I  know Mann only through covering the UF volleyball team the past four seasons. Every time I talked to her, I came away impressed.

As for what she can do on a volleyball court, well, her gifts in that arena left everyone impressed.

In her final match for the Gators on Friday night, Mann had a typical performance: 14 kills, a .448 hitting percentage and some key points in Florida’s five-set loss (15-25, 25-20, 25-22, 22-25, 9-15) to Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The loss was a heartbreaking one for the Gators. Instead of a trip to the Sweet 16 for the ninth consecutive season, the Gators are done.

A few minutes after the match ended, Mann and Florida head coach Mary Wise quietly walked up to the podium and addressed the small throng of media.

Wise did most of the talking as Mann sat next to her with her eyes locked downward.

It didn’t take Wise long to share her thoughts on her senior leader.

“I’m so sorry for Chloe that her career would have to end like this,’’ Wise said. “Chloe is going to walk away with an incredible record over her four years. This one will hurt for a while, but she has certainly left her mark on Gator volleyball and there will be lots of opportunities to celebrate that.”

I say why wait.

Mann is a rarity during Wise’s 23-year tenure as Florida’s head coach, a Gainesville kid who decided to stay home and star for the local university. She certainly could have gone other places to play volleyball. She could have gone to other places to be a star student.

ESPNW.com highlighted Mann earlier this season in this story.

In an age when the term “student-athlete” takes its fair share of abuse, Mann is example of what that term really means.

Earlier this year her former high school, Gainesville’s Eastside High, held a ceremony to retire her jersey. That is an honor you might expect later in life for a college athlete, but that shows how much respect Mann has earned in her young lifetime.

The 2012 SEC Player of the Year, Mann has already earned her undergraduate degree and is currently working on a master’s. Perhaps she will play volleyball professionally, maybe not.

Regardless, it’s not difficult to imagine Mann’s success continuing long after her playing days are finished.

In Mann’s final match, the Gators lost because the Seminoles played better, avenging their 2010 NCAA Tournament loss in five sets to the Gators.

“They played with so much effort and intensity, made the plays tonight to deserve to win,’’ Wise said. “They had a sense of urgency and they made the plays we weren’t able to.”

After a few minutes at the postgame media session, Mann took her only question. She turned her moist eyes upward.

“They played really well,” she said. “We were both fighting for our lives and they played really tough. Our team was fighting until the end. I’m proud of our effort. It wasn’t enough tonight.”

Her final quote in a Gators uniform was standard fare for a sports scribbler. It won’t make the list of famous sports quotes that was shown on the O’Connell Center’s video screen throughout Friday’s match.

The pain and disappointment were too raw for deep reflection. However, in time she will smile when reflecting on her time with the Gators.

She had a great run, one that simply ended sooner than expected.

Monday December 2, 2013Muschamp Makes Moves, Gators-Noles columns, more tidbits

Updated: 12:51pm, December 2

Jameis Winston

The Gators contained FSU QB Jameis Winston for a while Saturday until the Noles took off.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators ended the season Saturday with a 37-7 loss to Florida State.

With no bowl game, Florida’s coaching staff is busy recruiting and preparing for National Signing Day.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp announced Sunday that offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis would not return next season.

Here are some fresh links from around the Internet covering the Gators heading into the offseason:

--Pease and Davis let go by Gators writes Edgar Thompson of The Orlando Sentinel.

--Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley remains committed to Muschamp writes Jesse Simonton of The Miami Herald.

--Despite looming questions, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston played with ease in win over Gators writes Gary Shelton of The Tampa Bay Times.

--One of Gators’ previous claims to fame now a position of uncertainty writes Gary Smits of The Florida Times-Union (via St. Augustine Record website).

--SI.com’s Andy Staples writes of two programs going in opposite directions in wake of Saturday’s game.

--Gators-Noles matchup Saturday offered a predictable outcome amidst unpredictable circumstances writes Martin Fennelly of The Tampa Tribune.

--Gainesville Sun columnist Pat Dooley is glad season is over.

--The UF-FSU rivalry is a passionate one but the FSU fan and his machete is a bit too much in this story from The Independent Florida Alligator.

--Georgia Southern is celebrating its historic win over Florida with some gator for lunch writes Nick Bromberg of Yahoo.com.

--Tim Tebow pep talk can’t save Gators on Saturday against FSU writes Eric Adelson of Yahoo.com.

--CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler writes about gap between UF and FSU on display Saturday.

--Here is Fowler in his Coaching Changes Daily column, with item on Gators.

Wednesday November 27, 2013A Gators-Seminoles links blog

Skyler Mornhinweg

Redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg is likely to made his third career start on Saturday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – In less than 72 hours Ben Hill Griffin Stadium will be packed for the 58th meeting between Florida and Florida State.

The major storyline from the Florida perspective is whether the Gators can upset the No. 2-ranked Seminoles and spoil FSU’s national title hopes.

Saturday’s game will cap the Gators’ 2013 season, their first losing campaign since 1979. With no bowl game on the horizon for the first time since 1990, a victory over the Seminoles would do wonders for a fan base frustrated by six consecutive losses.

Meanwhile, in Tallahassee the buzz is centered on quarterback Jameis Winston and the program’s first potential national title in 14 years.

Winston is considered a top contender for the Heisman Trophy and has been one of college football’s top stories all season. However, Winston’s story took a twist two weeks ago when reports surfaced of his involvement in an alleged sexual battery case.

The details surrounding the investigation and whether Winston will face any criminal chargers remain fluid, though he is expected to play Saturday.

With the stage set, here are some of the latest headlines from around the Internet covering the Gators and Seminoles:

--Can the Gators’ struggling offense get untracked vs. FSU? That is the headline on a story by Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.

--Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease knows his future is murky writes Jesse Simonton of The Miami Herald.

--The guess here is that by now you have seen the play where Gators center Jon Harrison and receiver Quinton Dunbar locked horns on Saturday. If not, click on link above for story by Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com.

--What to watch in the SEC: Week 14 writes David Ching of ESPN.com.

--The Gators are down but Florida head coach Will Muschamp doesn’t expect that to last long writes Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post.

--Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins, as have several of his teammates, expects the Gators to compete with FSU on Saturday writes Antonya English of The Tampa Bay Times.

--One guy the Gators are familiar with and must contain Saturday is FSU defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan writes Corey Clark of The Tallahassee Democrat.

--FSU coach Jimbo Fisher, a longtime friend of Muschamp, feels for his former colleague writes Corey Clark in this USA Today story.

--Here is an interesting tidbit on Muschamp’s past thoughts on scheduling Georgia Southern, which was unearthed by Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com.

--FSU tight end Nick O’Leary used to be known more as golf legend Jack Nicklaus’ grandson. Not so much anymore writes David Hale of ESPN.com.

Michael Taylor

Gators linebacker Michael Taylor will miss Saturday's game with a knee injury.

The Gators host No. 2-ranked Florida State on Saturday in the regular-season finale for both teams.

In a fitting end to the season, Gators coach Will Muschamp announced that linebackers Michael Taylor (sprained MCL) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder) will miss the final game because of injuries suffered in the loss to Georgia Southern.

As for Taylor, the team’s second leading tackler to go down – fellow linebacker Antonio Morrison led the team in tackles when he underwent season-ending knee surgery after the Vanderbilt game – there is at least some good news.

“He’s got a Grade 2 MCL,’’ Muschamp said. “There’s no surgery needed.”

Anzalone, a true freshman who has played in nine games, is not as fortunate. Anzalone will need surgery after he dislocated his right shoulder Saturday.

Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) is listed as questionable – “Right now, medical staff has not cleared him,’’ Muschamp said – offensive lineman D.J. Humphries (knee) is doubtful, defensive end Jonathan Bullard (knee) is probable and cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) “will be ready to go.”

With the linebackers decimated by injury, Muschamp said walk-on David Campbell will see action. Campbell came in during the fourth quarter against Georgia Southern. Muschamp added that true freshman Daniel McMillian, who has played on special teams, has played sparingly at linebacker due to a thumb injury.

“It’s hard to play linebacker if you can’t take a guy on,’’ Muschamp said. “It’s nothing he’s missed any time with.”

Check back with GatorZone.com later for more on the Gators as they prepare to face Florida State.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg made his first career start for the Gators last week at South Carolina. He will make his first start at home today against Georgia Southern.

Mornhinweg

A redshirt freshman from Philadelphia, Mornhinweg completed 10 of 13 passes for 107 yards and one interception in Florida's 19-14 loss at South Carolina. He is starting in place of Tyler Murphy, who is out with a shoulder injury.

Meanwhile, Florida will be without starting defensive end Jonathan Bullard and freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson.

Bullard aggravated a previous injury during practice this week and will miss his first game of the season. Bullard has 28 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

Robinson, who has five catches for 23 yards on the season, is suspended for the rest of the regular season for a violation of team rules.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators-Georgia Southern game on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is available on pay-per-view around the state.

Comcast Cable

However, a technical issue at Comcast will prevent it from offering Florida's game against the Eagles to its customers in certain areas.

"We have been made aware that there are some cable providers in the state that are currently not offering the Florida-Georgia Southern pay-per-view football game,'' said Mike Hill, UF's executive associate athletics director for external affairs. "Sun Sports made the game available to all cable and satellite providers within the state of Florida.

"One of the larger providers, Comcast, has informed Sun Sports that it is not able to carry the broadcast due to technical issues that Comcast is experiencing, which is extremely unfortunate.”

For fans in Florida markets where Comcast is unable to broadcast the game, you can watch the game on AT&T U-Verse, as well as DirecTV or Dish Network, which are available at many restaurants and other establishments.

Outside of Florida, Saturday's game is available on ESPN GamePlan and the WatchESPN app but is blacked out on those outlets within the state.

Sun Sports made the game available to all cable distributors in the state. Comcast, a prominent cable provider in areas such as Jacksonville and South Florida, worked with Sun Sports this week to solve the technical issue without a resolution at this point.

This is the Gators' only pay-per-view game of the season and one of three on the SEC schedule this week.

While CBS and ESPN own broadcast rights to SEC football games, when they do not pick up the broadcast option, schools have the option to use pay-per-view services once a season.

The Alabama-Chattanooga and South Carolina-Coastal Carolina games are also on pay-per-view Saturday.

Once the SEC Network launches in August 2014, there will be no more pay-per-view games in the league.

For more information, here is a list of areas in Florida where Comcast offers service: http://www.comcast.com/Corporate/shop/Products/local/florida.cspx
 
Here is current broadcast information for Saturday's game posted on GatorZone.com.

Monday November 18, 2013Muschamp Appreciates Public Show of Support from Foley and Machen

Updated: 9:28pm, November 18

Will Muschamp

Gators coach Will Muschamp remains confident program is headed in right direction despite struggles.

As the Gators' season turned south, third-year head coach Will Muschamp became the focal point for fans and media.

A year after being named SEC Coach of the Year, Muschamp has faced mounting criticism, especially in recent weeks.

The injury-riddled Gators have lost five consecutive games -- the program's longest losing streak since 1979 -- and unless they can win their final two regular-season games against Georgia Southern and Florida State, will miss a bowl game for the first time since 1990.

Those close to the program have not wavered in their support of Muschamp, starting at the top.

Last week Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and school president Bernie Machen stated their continued support of Muschamp publicly.

The show of support was not lost on Muschamp, who is 22-14 since taking over the program in 2011.

"It says a lot about Jeremy and Dr. Machen from a standpoint of seeing where we were three years ago and understanding,” Muschamp said Monday. “Making good decisions within our program and to see the day-to-day operation and understand the steps you made in year two and why we are where we are right now.

“And nobody's happy with that. Absolutely nobody. The expectation level here is to win championships, and we haven't done it."

The Gators finished 7-6 in Muschamp's first season as he worked to instill a more accountable culture. Several players left the program and Florida responded with a 11-1 regular season and Sugar Bowl berth in 2012.

Expectations were high entering Muschamp's third year despite the loss of seven starters on defense and leading rusher Mike Gillislee, the program's first 1,000-yard rusher in eight years.

Signs of trouble were apparent early when a rash of injuries hit during fall camp. The injuries have continued to pile up during the season, transforming the Gators into a shell of the team they were expected to be when the season opened.

Muschamp appreciates his boss' belief that the direction of the program is on the right path.

"I think it's seeing the big picture and understanding where we are with the program and feeling good, not necessarily where we are right now, but understanding why we are where we are and where it's headed,'' he said. "We've got a bunch of good young players in this program, a bunch of good kids in this program.

"We're recruiting extremely well. Things are heading in the right direction. It's just been a frustrating time for us this season."

Monday November 18, 2013Gators to start Mornhinweg at QB; Roberson will not play

Updated: 1:11pm, November 18

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg will make his first career appearance for the Gators tonight against South Carolina.

Not only will Mornhinweg play, he is starting in place of injured Tyler Murphy. Murphy was unable to practice this week due to a sore throwing shoulder that has hampered him since the LSU loss Oct. 12.

Skyler Mornhinweg

Mornhinweg signed with the Gators in 2012 out of St. Josesph's Prep in Philadelphia. The 6-foot-2, 214-pound son of New York Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg started the season third on the depth chart.

However, after starter Jeff Driskel suffered a season-ending broken leg against Tennessee, Murphy took over as the starter and Mornhinweg moved up to backup.

Murphy was on the field during pregame warm-ups but was unable to go. Florida coach Will Muschamp called Murphy's availability a "game-time decision."

Meanwhile, the Gators will be without junior starting cornerback Marcus Roberson.

Muschamp announced Roberson will miss tonight's game due to a violation of team rules.

Roberson has played in six games, recording 11 tackles and three prass break-ups.

For more on Mornhinweg's start, here is research provided by the UF sports communications office:

NOTABLE

--Mornhinweg will become the 11th freshman (true and redshirt) quarterback to start for the University of Florida, including the seventh to start on the road

--Mornhinweg will be just the second to take his first career snap as the Gators’ starting QB (Jacoby Brissett at LSU on Oct. 8, 2011)

 

True freshmen quarterbacks who have started for Florida in school history:

Wayne Peace (1980) – Oct. 18, 1980 at Ole Miss – Won, 15-3

Donald Douglas (1989) – Nov. 4, 1989 at Auburn – Lost, 10-7

Jesse Palmer (1997) – Oct. 18, 1997 at Auburn – Won, 24-10

Chris Leak (2003) – Sept. 27, 2003 at Kentucky – Won, 24-21

Jacoby Brissett (2011) – Oct. 8, 2011 at LSU – Lost, 41-11

 

Redshirt freshman quarterbacks who have started:

Kerwin Bell (1984) – Sept. 1, 1984 at Miami (FL) – Lost, 32-20

Kyle Morris (1988) – Sept. 3, 1988 vs. Montana State – Won, 69-0

Lex Smith (1989) – Oct. 21, 1989 vs. New Mexico – Won, 27-21

Danny Wuerffel (1993) – Sept. 18, 1993 vs. Tennessee – Won, 41-34

Rex Grossman (2000) – Oct. 7, 2000 vs. LSU – Won, 41-9

 

Chronological order for freshmen quarterbacks:

Wayne Peace (1980) – Oct. 18, 1980 at Ole Miss – Won, 15-3

Kerwin Bell (1984) – Sept. 1, 1984 at Miami (FL) – Lost, 32-20

Kyle Morris (1988) – Sept. 3, 1988 vs. Montana State – Won, 69-0

Lex Smith (1989) – Oct. 21, 1989 vs. New Mexico – Won, 27-21

Donald Douglas (1989) – Nov. 4, 1989 at Auburn – Lost, 10-7

Danny Wuerffel (1993) – Sept. 18, 1993 vs. Tennessee – Won, 41-34

Jesse Palmer (1997) – Oct. 18, 1997 at Auburn – Won, 24-10

Rex Grossman (2000) – Oct. 7, 2000 vs. LSU – Won, 41-9

Chris Leak (2003) – Sept. 27, 2003 at Kentucky – Won, 24-21

Jacoby Brissett (2011) – Oct. 8, 2011 at LSU – Lost, 41-11

Skyler Mornhinweg (2013) -- Nov. 16 at South Carolina -- ???

Wednesday November 13, 2013Mornhinweg on deck if Murphy can't go; Pease stays focused amidst critics

Updated: 7:22am, November 13

Tyler Murphy

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.

Skyler Mornhinweg

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.

Pease and Murphy

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."

FINAL WORD

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."

Tuesday November 12, 2013A few quick Gator links over lunch

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.

Antonio Morrison

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.”

Wednesday November 6, 2013Moore fractures elbow in latest season-ending injury for Gators

Updated: 11:35am, November 6

Tyler Moore

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.

Wednesday October 30, 2013Injury report: Humphries out with knee sprain; Powell back from ankle injury

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.

Ronald Powell

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.

Florida-Georgia

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:

  1. You cannot be a current UF student-athlete or family member of one.
  2. You cannot be a prospective UF student-athlete (actively being recruited) or a family member of one.
  3. I cannot know you. (Strange perhaps, but seems more fun to give tickets to complete stranger).
  4. You have to be able to attend and enjoy the game.

That’s it.

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.

Monday October 28, 2013Blog: Fresh links to kick off Florida-Georgia Week

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-Georgia 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.

Wednesday October 23, 2013Gators lose special-teamer Jeremi Powell to torn ACL, other Muschamp injury updates

Updated: 12:47pm, October 23

Ronald Powell

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.

Tuesday October 22, 2013Muschamp and Richt among coaches who would like to see targeting rule reviewed

Updated: 3:05pm, October 22

Will Muschamp

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.”

Cody Riggs

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