Monday, December 16, 2013

2013 Gator Football: A Year In Review

The Florida Gators opened up the 2013 season at #10 in the polls and many were giving them a shot to make another National Championship run after coming so close last season. Three months later, the Gators found themselves at 4-8 and on the bad end of a seven game losing streak. 2013 will be regarded as one of the worst Gator football seasons to date. Head Coach Will Muschamp is on a seat that is hotter than ever, but athletic director Jeremy Foley is giving him one more season to fix things. So how exactly did we get here? Well for starters, the Gators were averaging more injured players a week than any other team in the nation. By the end of the year, the Gators were fielding a team that consisted of freshmen and walk ons. This injury bug is the only reason that Muschamp is still around and many Gator fans are hoping it is why the 2013 season went as bad as it did.

Now, it is time to take a look back at every Gator football game this season:

Toledo: The Gators welcomed in the 2013 season with a home opener against the Toledo Rockets. In a rather unconvincing manner, the Gators only won the game 24-6. I was not convinced by junior quarterback Jeff Driskel's play, and did not think he should be the one under center for the Gators. I learned from this game that the offense had some kinks to work out, but the defense was in top form. The Gators would drop to #12 in the polls after this game.

at Miami: The Gators went back down to Miami for the first time since the 2003 miracle comeback by the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes pulled the upset and defeated the Gators by a score of 21-16. Jeff Driskel and the offense played horrendously. The loss was upsetting but winning the SEC was still a very tangible goal at this point. The Gators would drop to #18 in the polls after this game, and everybody in the country began to believe that Miami was a better team than it actually was.

Tennessee: After a bye week, the Gators extended their winning streak against Tennessee to nine games with a 31-17 victory. Jeff Driskel suffered a broken tibia in the game and his backup, redshirt junior Tyler Murphy, took over for him and shined in the limelight. Driskel would be sidelined for the year and many Gator fans were excited to see how the team would fare with Murphy at the helm. Even though they won, the Gators dropped to #20 in the polls after this game.

at Kentucky: The Gators went on the road against Kentucky and defeated the Wildcats 24-7, extending the Florida winning streak against them to 27 games. Tyler Murphy played well and the defense shut down Kentucky all night. The Gators moved up to #18 in the polls following this game.

Arkansas: On my birthday, the Gators took care of business against Arkansas as they defeated the Razorbacks 30-10 to improve their winning streak to three games. It was the first night game at The Swamp in 10 games and the crowd was rocking in this very electric environment. The Gators moved up to #17 in the polls after this game. It was also their last win of the 2013 season.

at LSU: The Gators could not muster any type of offense against the LSU Tigers in Baton Rouge and they lost 17-6. The SEC was still in reach though, but the Gators had to get the offense going soon. The Gators dropped to #22 in the polls after this game.

at Missouri: The Gators were doomed from the get go as safety Cody Riggs was tossed after the first play because of a targeting penalty. Missouri was in control the entire game and won 36-17. The Gators dropped out of the polls after this loss and would remain there for the rest of the season.

Georgia: After their second bye week of the year, the Gators looked liked they were going to get whipped by the Bulldogs when they went down 23-3 at the half. However, they came storming back and cut the lead to within three before the Gator offensive woes kicked back in. After what looked like a defensive stop late in the fourth quarter that would give the ball back to the Gator offense for one last drive, a dumb defensive penalty gave Georgia a first down and sealed a 23-20 victory for the Bulldogs. Talk began to spring up about Muschamp's job status as the coach fell to 0-3 against Georgia. With this loss, the Gators kissed their SEC hopes goodbye.

Vanderbilt: In a Homecoming game that saw many empty seats in The Swamp, the Vanderbilt Commodores finally ended their losing streak against the Gators when they won 34-17. This was Vandy's first win in Gainesville since the end of World War II and I am still having a hard time letting that fact sink in. After this embarrassing loss, many calls began to arise for the firing of Muschamp and Jeremy Foley responded with his infamous "I support Muschamp 1000%" statement.

at South Carolina: Tyler Murphy did not play this game due to a shoulder injury, and now the Gators were down to redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg. The Gators ran a very unconventional offense that revolved around Mornhinweg not having to throw the ball. This game plan worked for three quarters against the #10 Gamecocks, especially since the Gators were leading for most of the game. When the #10 Gamecocks took a 19-14 lead late in the game however, the Gators had no choice but to throw the ball and Mornhinweg threw an interception to seal the Gators' fate and a sixth straight loss. After this game, a sign appeared on Bull Gator that said, "Fire Muschamp, Fire Pease."

Georgia Southern: This was supposed to be a tuneup game before the big matchup with Florida State the following week. This game was was supposed to make everyone feel a little better about themselves. The University of Florida had to pay the Eagles half a million dollars to come down and get smacked around for four quarters. But the Eagles did not get the memo and gashed a depleted Gator defense for 400 rushing yards. They beat the Gators 26-20 WITHOUT COMPLETING A SINGLE PASS! This was by far the worst loss in Gator history and I was happy that I was not in The Swamp to see it live. After this game, tons of Muschamp hate began to circulate on social media as the Gators were officially eliminated from bowl contention this year. The last time the Gators had not played in a bowl game was 1990. The Florida Gators had hit rock bottom.

Florida State: It was one of the most overmatched UF/FSU games in recent memory as the #2 Seminoles, led by future Heisman winner Jameis Winston, came into Gainesville as 27 point favorites. The Gators surprised everyone by sticking with the Seminoles for a quarter and a half, then the flood gates opened. Winston returned to Heisman form and torched the Gators as he led the Seminoles to an easy 37-7 victory. I was just happy to see the Gators score, and I was impressed and proud of how hard this undermanned team fought in a game it had no chance of winning.

And now the stat leaders:


Passing Yards: Tyler Murphy (1,216) (Junior)

Passing Touchdowns: Tyler Murphy (6) (Junior)

Rushing Yards: Mack Brown (543) (Junior)

Rushing Touchdowns: Mack Brown/Kelvin Taylor (4) (Junior/Freshman)

Receiving Yards: Solomon Patton (556) (Senior)

Receiving Touchdowns: Solomon Patton (6) (Senior)


Tackles: Michael Taylor (62) (Junior)

Tackles For Loss: Dante Fowler Jr. (10.5) (Sophomore)

Sacks: Ronald Powell (4) (Junior)

Interceptions: Vernon Hargreaves III (3) (Freshman)

Fumbles Forced: Dante Fowler Jr. (3) (Sophomore)

Fumbles Recovered: Michael Taylor (3) (Junior)

Special Teams

Field Goals Made: Francisco Velez (6) (Junior)

Longest Field Goal: Francisco Velez (44 yards) (Junior)

PAT's: Austin Hardin (15) (Freshman)

Kickoff Return Touchdowns:  Solomon Patton (1) (Senior)

Overall, it was a season that many Gator fans want to forget as soon as possible. Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease was let go following the end of the season. Watching his slow, run-oriented offense was just one of many low points this year. Going into next year, hopefully the Gators can stay healthier as players were hurting themselves left and right.

I have been in both camps in regards to Muschamp's status as head coach and I would have to say at this point that I am on the fence about him. He did lead the Gators to a Sugar Bowl last season and this year was ridiculous with the amount of injuries that his players suffered.

I think the future looks bright for the Gators in 2014, but we will have to wait and see. There was some questionable coaching decisions throughout the course of this year, and I will be interested to see if these first quarter two point conversions and quarterback punts will continue next year.

*Stats accredited to

Saturday, December 14, 2013

2013 Gator Volleyball: A Year In Review

I remember walking into the O'Connell Center (which I now simply call the O-Dome) on August 31, 2013, to watch my first Gator volleyball match. On that day, I watched as the Gator volleyball team completely dismantled the Duke Blue Devils in three sets. I was astounded at how good the team was and from that day on I completely fell in love with the team. I was at every home game and witnessed firsthand as the Gators went 15-1 in the O-Dome during the regular season. The two most electric regular season home games had to be the ones against Florida State and #7 Missouri, who was the only undefeated team in the country at the time. The Gators swept the Seminoles and were swept by the Tigers, who went on to win the SEC this year. Down the stretch, the Gators began to look like they were slowing up. After the Missouri loss, the Gators swept both Alabama and LSU at home. However, both of these teams played the Gators close in every set. The Gators concluded the regular season with a 3-2 victory over Kentucky after leading 2-0.

When it came time for the tournament, the team took care of the Jacksonville Dolphins in three sets. All gears were set in motion for a rematch with FSU. The winner would go to the Sweet 16, the loser's season was done. The Gators had the home court advantage, but it was not enough as the Seminoles defeated them in five sets. It was a heartbreaking loss for me to stomach. I could not believe the season had ended so early. To make matters worse, I found out that undefeated Missouri had also lost in the second round of the tournament to the Purdue Boilermakers. Had the Gators beaten FSU, a Final Four spot would have all but been guaranteed to them because Missouri was the only other team in the bracket standing in their way. Based on how the Gators had been playing up to that point, especially going five sets against FSU, it is hard to say if they would have had enough gas left in the tank to get past the third round and beyond in the tournament.

With the 2013 season finally in the books, the Gators finished with a record of 28-4 (16-2 in SEC play). Below are the players who led the team in various statistical categories:

Kills: Chloe Mann (369) (Senior)

Digs: Taylor Unroe (415) (Junior)

Assists: Taylor Brauneis (1,156) (Senior)

Blocks: Simone Antwi (96) (Sophomore)

Service Aces: Taylor Unroe (72) (Junior)

Total Points: Chloe Mann (423) (Senior)

Gator volleyball was fierce, exciting, and a complete joy to watch and cover throughout the entire course of the season. The Gators lose two seniors in middle blocker Chloe Mann and setter Taylor Brauneis. Their presence on the court will indeed be missed, but the 2014 Gators should have no trouble finding success as new highly touted recruits enter the program. Apart from that, the early second round exit dealt to them by FSU will stick around in the minds of the returning players for awhile. It should give them more than enough hunger and motivation entering 2014.

*Stats accredited to

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Heartbreaker In The O-Dome

Just like that it is all gone. In tonight's second round action in the NCAA Volleyball Tournament, the #5 seeded Gators fell in five sets to the Florida State Seminoles. Their 2013 season is now over and the Seminoles will face the winner of the match between California and Wisconsin in the Sweet 16. For anyone wondering, my prediction for the Gators reaching the Elite Eight has obviously fallen through big time.

For the last time of the 2013 season, here are my standouts for the game. I would like to recognize junior defensive specialist Maddie Monzerez. She came off of the bench and played extremely well with 13 digs and three assists. She played her heart out, and was one of three Gators with double digit assists. The other two were junior libero Taylor Unroe and sophomore Ziva Recek who both registered 15 digs a piece. In their final game as Florida Gators, Chloe Mann and Taylor Brauneis played well as always. Mann racked up 14 kills while Brauneis recorded 45 assists and four digs. As a team, the Gators had 18 blocks, seven of which involved Mann. Apart from Mann, Simone Antwi (14), Ziva Recek (10), and Alex Holston (10) all registered double digit figures in kills as well.

It was tough seeing the Florida State Seminoles celebrate on the home court of the Gators after this shocking upset. It made me feel angry and dejected because I knew the potential that this Gator team had. However, I did say in the preview that this game would be decided by whoever made the least amount of mistakes. That team was definitely not the Gators. They allowed three straight aces in the fourth set and had six net violations total in the match. In sets one and four, the Gators could not find a way to regain the lead once FSU went up early. I knew FSU would come out firing after getting swept earlier this year. I have said this before and I will say it again. When it comes to rivalry games, records can be thrown out the door.  FSU won the battle on this night, and it just so happened to come on one of the biggest of stages. Besides this early tournament exit, it has still been a great season for the 2013 Gator Volleyball team. It will be a tough offseason for the Gators following a loss of this magnitude at home to their archival, but they will bounce back. The greatest lessons are learned from defeat and if anybody can use this loss to motivate the girls for next year, it is head coach Mary Wise.

*Stats accredited to

Friday, December 6, 2013

NCAA Tournament First Round: #5 UF vs Jacksonville

The #5 seeded Florida Gators began their postseason run at home against the Jacksonville Dolphins in first round play. The first set was close, but the Gators swiftly took control of the match and won in three sets (25-19, 25-15, 25-16).

Chloe Mann, one of two seniors embarking on her final tournament run as a Gator, came out on fire and registered 15 kills and one block. The next best offensively was sophomore Ziva Recek who had 11 kills, an ace, and assisted with three blocks of her own. Defensively, sophomore Simone Antwi assisted with three blocks and junior libero led the way with nine digs. Worth noting is that sophomore outside hitter Gabby Mallette did not play this match. I do not know if she is hurt or if Coach Mary Wise was not playing her for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, her replacement came in the form of the redshirt sophomore Noami Santos-Lamb. Santos-Lamb had not played much throughout the regular season, but she brought it today as she registered seven kills and a dig.

With one win down, the epic rematch with Florida State has been set. The Gators won the first meeting with a three set sweep against their arch rivals on September 17 in the O-Dome. This game will not be an easy one for the Gators because I can guarantee that the Florida State Seminoles did not forget the first match. Even though the scoreboard said 3-0, FSU played the Gators tight all the way in the first match. It is going to be yet another close match that will be determined by who makes the least amount of mistakes. I would expect a large crowd to come out to this game since it will be the last time the Gators will play in the O-Dome this season. Two rivals playing each other in a win or go home scenario, what more could anybody want?

I would like to end this article by taking a moment to recognize Nelson Mandela. The former South African President died today at age 95. He was a great man who suffered through a ton of hardship for his people and he played a massive role in breaking down the racial/discriminative barriers in South Africa. He will be forever missed and remembered. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela (1918-2013).

*Stats accredited to

Monday, December 2, 2013

2013 NCAA Volleyball Tournament Preview

Six. Six wins are what separate the Florida Gators volleyball team from the first ever National Championship in school history. On December 5, volleyball will return to the O-Dome as the #5 seeded Gators host the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament in Gainesville. They will be taking on the Jacksonville Dolphins, who are 30-3 on the year. In the postseason however, records can be tossed out the door. It's all about who wants it more.

Now, let's get to my prediction on how the 27-3 Gators will fare in the tournament. They should steamroll through Jacksonville which will set up an epic rematch between them and Florida State on Friday if the Seminoles take care of Georgia Southern like expected. Much of the student body will probably turn out for that game, and I think the Gators will edge the Seminoles once again with a sweep. From there, the Gators will probably face the winner of a #12 Wisconsin/North Carolina matchup. Whoever they get, I still believe the Gators will get past the third round and reach the Elite Eight. There it gets tricky. There is a high chance that the Gators will have to face an old SEC rival in the form of #4 Missouri. From what I have seen this year, this game will be a dogfight. Unfortunately, I think Mizzou will have its way with Florida for the third time this year. I don't want that to happen, but its hard to defend against a team with NINE six footers. Missouri is a good team, they were given a #4 seed for a reason. My prediction for the Final Four is as follows: #4 Missouri vs #1 Texas and #2 Penn State vs #6 USC. Missouri will upset the defending National Champions in Texas, and Penn State will take care of USC. In the National Championship, I have #4 Missouri against the heralded #2 Penn State Nittany Lions. Finally, between these two, the 2013 National Champion will be...


The Mizzou Tigers will win in four sets over Penn State. They will go a remarkable 40-0 and claim the first National Championship in school history. Penn State has always been ridiculously good when it comes to volleyball, but any team that can beat the UF Gators twice (or potentially thrice) times in a season deserves to win the title. Keep in mind that this is my prediction and that things can shape out very differently because not all games are won on paper. Regardless of what happens or how far the Gators get, they have had yet another superb season and will be a contender as usual when the 2014 season dawns next August.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

UF Basketball/Football: A Weekend Full of FSU

This weekend, the Gator basketball and football programs welcomed the Florida State Seminoles to Gainesville. The Gators split with the Seminoles as the basketball team emerged victorious on Friday while the football team fell on Saturday. I'll start off with the basketball team.

On Friday night, the unranked Seminoles came into the O-Dome to face the #15 ranked Gators. The game was a nail biter the entire way as neither team could take control. Up seven points with less than three minutes to go, it looked like the Gators were going to remain unbeaten at home and extend their home win streak to 20 games. But FSU would not go down quietly and they managed to tie the game at 66 with 27 seconds left to go in regulation.

UF played for the last shot, but senior guard Scottie Wilbekin decided to go for the win with three seconds to go. The ball bounced off the rim and was corralled by Dorian Finney-Smith, who was fouled with one second to go. Finney-Smith just needed to make one of his two foul shots to give the Gators the lead. Of course, he wanted to make it interesting by missing the first shot. Now the biggest foul shot of the young season was upon Finney-Smith and the Gators. The sophomore reared back and fired up his shot. Swish. The Gators were up 67-66. All they needed to do was play defense.

After an FSU and UF timeout, it was time to decide a winner. FSU inbounded it to their star player in Ian Miller. Miller grabbed the ball at half court and threw up a prayer as the buzzer sounded. Everyone in the O-Dome held their breath as the ball soared towards the basket. As I watched the game from my home in South Florida, I felt time stop for a moment. The ball hit the basket and bounced out. Everyone in orange and blue breathed a sigh of relief. The #15 Gators had survived the upset and kept the O-Dome winning streak intact. It was a classic, but all Gator fans knew that game was much closer than it should have been.

My MVP for this game has to be sophomore guard Michael Frazier II. He made five threes and totaled 17 points on the day. He was by all means the hottest shooter the Gators had on the court and his performance down the stretch served as a crucial part in the Gators' win. He was the second highest scorer on the team behind Casey Prather who had 19 points.

I would also like to highlight some of the FSU players. Centers Boris Bojanovsky (14) and Michael Ojo (10) shot 100% from the field and combined for 24 points on the night. Their play, which well exceeded what is expected out of anyone at their position, was a big reason why the Seminoles were able to stay in the game until the very end.

The Seminoles will look to continue playing well as they head up to Minnesota to take on the Gophers on Tuesday, December 3. The Gators might be a little bit shaken after a much closer contest with their rival than anticipated. Regardless, head coach Billy Donovan should have their minds right as they go up against an undefeated UConn Huskies team on Monday, December 2.

And now the football team...

I'll start off with the obvious. They lost. Was it ugly? Kind of. Did we all see it coming? Yes. Will changes be made? I certainly hope so. #2 Florida State strolled into the Swamp and beat an injury-plagued Florida Gator team 37-7. However, do not let the final score fool you as the Gators stayed within three points of the Seminoles until about five minutes and some change in the second quarter. After "Famous Jameis" Winston completed a long pass to convert a 3rd down and 25, the flood gates open.

Using wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin as his main resource, Winston accumulated 327 passing yards and three touchdowns. Benjamin accounted for all of the touchdown receptions, and he had 212 receiving yards of his own. Even though Jameis finally found his groove and ran a clinic on the Gators like everyone expected, every single Gator fan should be proud of that Gator defense.

Completely outmanned and going up against the likely Heisman winner (pending the allegations), the defense played its heart out. They picked off Winston on FSU's first drive and kept them in check for the first 20 minutes of the game. Knowing the offense would most likely not pick them up, the defense did its job the entire way. 

Even with a dismal offense, the Gators somehow found a way to score in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter as Skyler Mornhinweg connected with fullback Hunter Joyer for a touchdown. Speaking of Mornhinweg, he should not at all take the flak for yet another lackluster performance by the Gator offense. He completed 20 of 25 passes for 115 yards and one touchdown.

Sure he took a couple of sacks and lost a fumble, but fans have to keep in mind that he is the third string quarterback. Nobody, including Mornhinweg himself, ever thought he would be playing in this game. The Gators might had been able to score a few more points via the wildcat offense, had senior Trey Burton not gotten injured after his 50-yard rush early in the game. 

I was ecstatic to see the Gators score a touchdown considering some people were saying they'd be lucky enough to score a field goal. That one chance for a field goal went wide right, which of course was not surprising to me or any other Gator fan in the Swamp. Regardless of the point spread and all the criticisms facing the Gators and Muschamp, the players fought on. They did not roll over on their Senior Day and let the Seminoles walk all over them. For that, I applaud the Gator football team.
They were dealt a terrible hand this year with all the injuries, but they still continued to persevere until the very end.

Within a few weeks I will be releasing my end of the season overview of the football team. In it I will briefly cover the games of this year, where the Gators failed, and my overall assessment of this season. Stay tuned!

*Stats accredited to

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Worst Loss in Gator Football History

Wow... just wow. I do not know where to begin here. How do you let an FCS team rush for over 400 yards against you. Going off of that, how do you let two different players individually rush for over 100 yards against you? Those questions too hard, Coach Muschamp? Then how about this one. How do you straight up lose to the Georgia Southern Eagles at home while not allowing a single pass completion!?

This is by far the worst loss in the history of the Gator football program. Georgia Southern did what Louisiana-Lafayette almost did last year. Except this time there was no blocked punt to save the Gators. No, this time the Gators saw a fourth down pass fall incomplete at the goal line to secure a 26-20 loss to Georgia Southern and the first losing season for UF football since 1979.

The Gators paid the Eagles half a million dollars just to come down here so they could -what many thought- get manhandled. The Eagles had been 0-20 against FBS schools before this game. Not only that, they had 19 scholarship players not playing due to injuries. Give Georgia Southern a lot of credit though. They came in as a 28 point underdog and shocked the world... well most of it. Personally, this loss did not stun me as much as the Vanderbilt one did.

Injuries are no longer an excuse for Will Muschamp on what has been an atrocious debacle of a season. It does not matter if the practice squad is out there. These players are at UF because they can play football. Anyone playing for UF likely has more talent than a player going to Georgia Southern.

I was on board to give Muschamp one more year even after the Vandy upset. Now however, I have drawn the line. He is not a fit for Gator football. Honestly, who calls timeout after an incomplete pass!? There is nothing smart about that whatsoever. Not even Lane Kiffin would do that, and we all know how successful he was at USC. UF Athletic Director Jeremy Foley needs to look at what USC did and act in the best interest of this university before many alumni and boosters get upset. I know he said he was "committed 1000%" to Muschamp but it appears the only thing Muschamp is committed to is losing.

The Gators got gashed by an offense that Georgia Tech runs. Even Miami, the most overrated team in the country, found a way to stop the triple option when they played Tech. But this is not about the overrated Hurricanes, it's about the dilapidated Gators.

I am still trying to let it sink in that the Gators will not be playing in a bowl game this year. It appears that the team has given up on Muschamp and they will not give #2 FSU any type of resistance next Saturday. It will be interesting to see what the line for the game is. The Gators' only hope is that Jameis Winston gets hosed for this rape accusation that has been filed against him and that somehow he will not play next Saturday.

In reality though, Winston will play. Not only will he play, he will dominate. Winston will most likely solidify his Heisman chances when the game vs UF is all said and done. How can UF possibly prepare for this overmatched showdown verses the second best team in the country? It's simple. They sit down and watch Miracle, Facing the GiantsGridIron Gang, and every other motivational/inspirational movie ever made. Maybe, just maybe, this will give the Gators enough mojo to lose by less than 21. Buckle up Gainesville, next Saturday is going to be rough.

UF Volleyball Senior Night

Seniors Chloe Mann and Taylor Brauneis closed out magnificent careers at the O-Dome last Friday as the #4 Gators defeated the LSU Tigers in three sets (25-16, 25-19, 25-20). The Gators finish with an impressive home record of 15-1 and will close out the regular season at #9 Kentucky on Wednesday, November 27, at 8 pm. The LSU Tigers will conclude their season at Ole Miss on Wednesday as well.

Now for the standouts. In their final home game, Chloe Mann and Taylor Brauneis went out on a good note. Mann had 10 kills and one block while Brauneis had 39 assists with two kills. The game ended on a kill by Mann, which I thought was very fitting. Sophomore Gabby Mallette was the main offensive force of the night as the senior tallied 15 kills. On defense, Taylor Unroe had 10 digs. Service-wise, sophomores Simone Antwi (3) and Ziva Recek (2) combined for five aces.

The #4 Gators have all but survived a grueling November as the NCAA Tournament looms closer and closer. From what I have seen, the Gators have been slowing up a bit down the stretch. However, when the bright lights come on the stakes are high, I believe the girls will rise to the occasion. I'll try to catch the Kentucky game on ESPNU and give a report. If I can't, then I'll be preparing my NCAA Volleyball Tournament preview. Until then, stay tuned.

*Stats accredited to

Monday, November 18, 2013

Football: UF vs #10 South Carolina

The Florida Gators lost their fifth straight game last Saturday. This week's perpetrator was the #10 South Carolina Gamecocks. Coming in as a two touchdown underdog, the Gators surprised many when they entered halftime up 14-8. With redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg taking the place of an injured Tyler Murphy, the Gators ran a very unconventional wildcat offense for most of the night. It worked in the first half as running back Kelvin Taylor ran for two touchdowns and 90 yards on 12 carries. By the end of the first half, Mornhinweg had only thrown two passes. Could the Gators possibly win this game without having to use their quarterback? Well that answer was a definite no. Once the Gators fell behind, their running game became obsolete and it was up to Mornhinweg to win the game. Considering he had barely thrown the ball all game, I was not at all surprised when he threw an interception late in the game that virtually sealed Florida's fate.

The Gator defense played very well. They only allowed one touchdown which happened to come on a fourth down. Apart from that, they made Carolina kick five field goals. Unfortunately, Carolina kicker Elliott Fry made four of those five field goals. The defense played its heart out, and should be very proud of itself after giving up 34 points to Vandy the previous week. Special teams was below average once again as kicker Austin Hardin missed a 32 yard field goal. This was UF's only field goal attempt on the night and it is still evident that the starting kicking spot is still up for grabs this late in the season. The other special teams issue I saw was a Florida fake punt on 4th and 13 on the UF 32 yard line. Trey Burton took the snap and threw it up for teammate Leon Orr to catch. Leon Orr is a 6'5, 302 lb. nose tackle. It did not surprise me that he dropped the ball. I do not blame him for dropping the ball. His job is to tackle, not catch. However, some may say that he is an athlete and regardless of his position he should still make that play because of his athleticism. I'll leave that issue up for debate.

After this loss, Gator fans were once again fuming and calling for head coach Will Muschamp to be fired. I am not going to lie and say I was not apart of this group. However, I always take a few days to reflect after football games and put things into perspective. Muschamp has basically been coaching with the backup squad out there this entire season. Never have I seen a team plagued by more injuries than the Gators this year. As rough as things seem now, I honestly believe that Muschamp deserves one more year. If he cannot get it done with a healthy Gator squad, then I will honestly believe that last year was a fluke. Apart from the injuries, if Muschamp is let go all of his recruits will be lost as well. He should at least be given a chance to do something with his recruits before any big decisions are made.

I will say this though. Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease needs to go. I know the Gators were limited in the passing game, but they cannot run the offense they ran against South Carolina if they want to beat FSU in two weeks. The Gators have been terrible offensively during the Muschamp era and some type of change needs to be made with staff personnel in my opinion. If the Gators can get some type of offense going next year to go along side this mighty defense, then Gator football will return to dominance in no time.

*Stats accredited to

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Men's Basketball: #11 UF vs Arkansas Little-Rock

This past Saturday, the #11 Florida Gators defeated the Arkansas Little-Rock Trojans by a score of 86-56. The game was not as lopsided as the final score indicates however. The Gators and Trojans were tied at 27 entering halftime. I do not know what Head Coach Billy Donovan said to his team, but they came out and put on a show in the second half. It is crucial that the Gators take care of these opponents while they have them because their conference schedule will not be as forgiving.

Once again it was senior Casey Prather who led the team in scoring with 27 points. Prather made 10 out of the 11 shots he took. The next highest came from redshirt sophomore Dorian Finney-Smith who had 17 points. Finney-Smith shot well from downtown as he went 3-4 on three point attempts and he also nabbed nine rebounds. This was his first game back since his suspension and it is safe to say that he has shaken off the rust. Defensively, freshman Kasey Hill had a game high five steals and senior Patric Young had two blocks. As a team, the Gators had 11 steals and six blocks.

The Gators managed to get past a slow start and rout a team who they were supposed to rout. It should be more of the same on Monday as the Gators take on the Southern Jaguars at 7 p.m. in the O-Dome. Arkansas Little-Rock will stay on the road and take on Middle Tennessee at 7 p.m. on Monday as well.

*Stats accredited to

UF Volleyball: #5 UF vs Alabama

The #5 Florida Gators closed out their three match home stand with a three game sweep over the Alabama Crimson Tide. However, this sweep was not an easy one as the Gators won the first two sets by scores of 25-21 and 25-23. Things were a bit easier for them in the third set as they won 25-17. The Tide came ready to play, but at the end of the day Florida's talent stymied any hope of an upset. I believe that this match was close only because the Gators were so fatigued after playing three games in a week with a total of two off days. With the season winding down, the team will need to rejuvenate and catch fire if they want to make noise in the postseason. Under the leadership of Head Coach Mary Wise and seniors Chloe Mann and Taylor Brauneis, the Gators should have no problem taking their game to the next level when the situation demands it.

Offensively in today's match it was all Gabby Mallette. The sophomore tallied eleven kills and represented 11.5 of the team's 53 points. Defensively, it was a block party as the Gators had 10 blocks on the day. One last interesting note I would like to make is that libero Taylor Unroe, whose primary job is digging and serving, actually got a kill in the match today. Keep in mind that Unroe is 5'7. Apart from her rare kill, Unroe did have two service aces on the day as well.

The Gators are now on the homestretch of the season and they just have to keep their focus as the National Tournament looms. Next up for the Gators are the Tennessee Volunteers in Knoxville. The game will take place on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The game can be see on ESPNU. I will definitely try to watch the game and write a post game report, but I will probably have it on mute. I am not a fan of what appears to be an anti-Florida bias that the ESPNU announcers present when they talk, whether they know it or not. As for the Alabama Crimson Tide... at least the football team is still #1 in all the polls, and that is mostly what fans in Tuscaloosa care about. All joking aside, the Crimson Tide (who sport a nifty 21-8 record) will do battle with the Ole Miss Rebels back home at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 22.

*Stats accredited to

UF Volleyball: #5 UF vs #7 Missouri

The O-Dome was rocking as the undefeated #7 Missouri Tigers came to Gainesville to take on the #5 Florida Gators. Unfortunately the Gators fell to the Tigers in three sets by scores of 25-22, 25-23, and 25-23. As a die hard fan of the team, this was a hard loss to swallow. To see the Gators lose a game at home was really hard to cope with. Then I put things into perspective. This was a great game for the Gators to have with the National Tournament just weeks away. I believe this loss will light a fire underneath the girls and they will come out ready to play in the postseason. I give a ton of credit to Mizzou. With a team consisting of nine six footers, they came out and showed that the SEC will need to make room for another elite team besides the Gators. Mizzou capitalized on the Gators' mistakes. Blowing a 5-0 lead in the third set after a timeout and a plethora of service errors in the first set are just a few of the many mental mistakes the team made that Friday night against Mizzou. Despite this heartbreaking loss, which eliminates Florida's chances of winning an SEC regular season title, the Gators are still on pace to get another 25 win season.

My notables for this game are Ziva Recek, Chloe Mann, Alex Holston, and Gabby Mallette. Recek has been playing great this season, and she continued her stellar play with 12 kills and one ace. She accounted for 13 of the 56 Gator points. Mann led the team in kills with 16 and assisted with three blocks. She had most of the Gator points with 17.5. Both Holston (9) and Mallette (8) combined for 17 kills and Mallette had two solo blocks. Like Mann, Holston assisted on three blocks as well.

The Gators have nothing to be ashamed of. They fought valiantly in every set and barely lost. Missouri is undefeated for a reason. This was the Gator's first home loss this year but they look to restart the winning streak as they take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at 2 p.m. on Sunday, November 17. Meanwhile, Missouri will look to stay undefeated as they head on up to South Carolina to face the Gamecocks in an early 12:30 p.m. match on Sunday as well.

*Stats accredited to

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

UF Volleyball: #5 UF vs South Carolina

It was Veteran's Night at the O-Dome on this chilly November night as the #5 Gators hosted the South Carolina Gamecocks in this late season SEC matchup. After honoring those who served, the Gators got to work and swept the Gamecocks in three sets. The first two sets were blowouts (25-15, 25-9), but the last one was tight as the Gators only won by a score of 25-22. This match served as a fine tuneup before the match of the year against undefeated Missouri on Friday.

Sophomore hitter Ziva Recek played like a girl possessed. I came to this conclusion after I saw her hit one of the hardest balls in my life for a kill. That was one of the 15 kills she had on the night. Not to mention that she also had three aces and nine digs. She accounted for 18 of the 57 Gator points. The next highest belong to fellow sophomore Simone Antwi with 10 points. This is the best I have seen Recek play in a long time.

Behind Recek's monster performance, defensive specialists Holly Pole and Nikki O'Rourke had eight digs a piece. Gabby Mallette also came ready to go on defense as the sophomore assisted with three blocks. Simone Antwi also decided to attend this block party with Mallette as she had a solo block and assisted with two. Offensively, Antwi contributed with eight kills.

It would be near impossible to finish this article without mentioning junior libero Taylor Unroe and senior middle blocker Chloe Mann. Unroe had seven digs and two aces, one being the game winner. Chloe Mann, the heart and soul of the team, helped light a fire beneath her teammates as all of her eight kills came at critical times in the match. As a senior, Mann is doing a great job of not pressing or having the mentality that she has to do everything herself. She will take over the game if she needs to, but it is evident having watched her for many games that she trusts her teammates.

So now the stage is set. This Friday at 7 p.m., the SEC race will be decided. I've been waiting for this game for a while now. #7 Missouri remains the Gators' only loss in SEC play. If the Gators are able to pull off this victory on Friday, they will be tied at the top of the SEC standings. Assuming both teams win out, the Gators will win a share of the SEC regular season title. The SEC aside, no feeling is better than being that team who hands an undefeated its first loss. From what I saw tonight, the Gators are going to be ready to go against Missouri. It will be a match for the ages.

*Stats accredited to

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Men's Basketball: #10 UF vs UNF

With a very disappointing football season drawing to the close, Gator fans everywhere are excited as the UF basketball season kicks off. This weekend, I attended the Gators' game against the University of North Florida Ospreys. The Gators dominated from the get go and showed off their athleticism as they jumped to a big lead over the Ospreys in the first half. The big takeaway that I observed from the first half was the 17 consecutive free throws that the Gators made. They ended up sinking 27 on the day out of 32 attempts. The free throws made a big difference as the Gators would end up only beating the Ospreys by eight points.

The final score aside, I was very impressed with the play of the Gator basketball team. Sure they did not win by 20 like many were expecting, but it is just the first game of the season. They might need a few games to shake the rust off and reach that elite caliber of play that many expect them to be at when the likes of Kansas and Kentucky come to town. Here are some of the players who stood out to me. Senior forward Casey Prather was a scoring machine with a team high 28 points and eight rebounds as well. The other Kasey, true freshman Kasey Hill, played well in his debut as he scored 15 points and had four assists. Sophomore forward Michael Frazier II was the other player who impressed me as he had 19 points and nine rebounds. My moment of the game has to go to senior center Patric Young who came out of nowhere and swatted an Osprey shot into the stands. It was one of two Gator blocks on the day, the other one belonging to fellow senior Casey Prather.

The Gators' next opponent will be on the road against the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday, November 12, at 9 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN2. Meanwhile, the UNF Ospreys will hit the road to take on the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders on Wednesday, November 13, at 7 p.m.

*Stats accredited to

Monday, November 11, 2013

Football: UF vs Vandy

The Florida Gators hit absolute rock bottom this past Saturday as they lost their Homecoming game to the Vanderbilt Commodores by a score of 34-17. Vandy's win in the Swamp snapped a 22 game losing streak to the Gators and this was the first time since 1945 that they had beat the Gators in Gainesville.

Let that sink in. The last time the Gators lost to Vanderbilt at home, World War II was going on and gas was less than one dollar. But the ways things have been going this season, I am not surprised by this loss. Vandy had beaten Georgia on the road earlier this year, so I knew this game was going to be close.

Florida once again had another dismal offensive performance. When quarterback Tyler Murphy was not running for his life because of Vandy's constant pressure, he was completing short passes underneath for a maximum of eight yards. He threw for a career high 305 yards, but he had only one touchdown and three interceptions. I'll get to the three interceptions later. It is also worth noting that Murphy's only touchdown pass was defended perfectly by Vandy but the ball happened to ricochet off the defender and into the hands of freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fullwood.

In the running game, freshman Kelvin Taylor had 48 rushing yards on 14 carries and one touchdown. Quinton Dunbar and Trey Burton led the way in receiving with six catches a piece. Dunbar was the recipient of Murphy's longest pass of 35 yards.

The Gators special teams was below average once again as the Gators went 1-2 on field goals and had 24 total yards on punt returns.  Florida's defense did what it could considering Vanderbilt started with the ball in UF territory three times after what could have been three pick sixes from Tyler Murphy. The defense only allowed 183 yards, but it is virtually impossible to ask your team to get a stop when they are constantly backed up to their own end zone. The constant penalties were not helping the Gators either as they committed 11 penalties totaling 84 yards. This lack of discipline is a straight reflection of coaching.

To me, this is the straw that broke the camel's back. Losing to Vanderbilt at home on Homecoming was not what head coach Will Muschamp needed with an already agitated Florida fan base against him after losing to Georgia for the third straight year. He can say all he wants that it is injuries or a lack of leadership, but at the end of the day, anyone playing football for the Florida Gators likely has more talent than anybody playing for Vandy.

Talent has nothing to do with calling an option that loses five yards on first and goal from the one yard line. Talent has nothing to do with going deep once the entire game and then bailing on it because you got intercepted. Talent has nothing to do with how pitiful special teams has been this year. The last time the Gators had a losing season was 1979. They went 0-10-1 that year. I cannot even imagine what that year must have been like for Gator fans.

Now riding at 4-5 and on a four game losing streak, the Gators are in jeopardy of missing out on a bowl game. To go bowling in December, the Gators will need to pull off a miracle. They either have to beat #11 South Carolina on the road or beat #2 Florida State in the Swamp. After the way the Gators looked against Vandy, I cannot see them pulling off either of these wins or even keeping the games close for that manner.

If a loss to Vandy is not enough for athletic director Jeremy Foley to pull the trigger on Will Muschamp, would two blow out losses to Carolina and FSU change his mind? With injuries aside, would the Gators even be as competitive with Jeff Driskel at quarterback instead of Tyler Murphy? Was last year just a fluke year? These are a ton of questions that I do not have the answers to. All I know is this: by the time I graduate from the University of Florida, Will Muschamp will no longer be the head coach of the football team.

*Stats accredited to

Monday, November 4, 2013

2013 Gators Men’s Basketball Preview

Coming off of a season where they were just one win away from a fifth Final Four appearance, the 2013 Florida Gators Men’s Basketball team looks to make some noise this upcoming season. Much of the Gator squad returns this year as they only lost one senior, Erving Walker, to graduation. Four seniors will be tasked with leading the Gators this year, the most touted one being center Patric Young.

Ranked #8 in the nation in the preseason polls, the Gators are definitely one of the teams to beat in the SEC. Yet, it is the #1 Kentucky Wildcats who are expected to win the conference due to the ridiculous amount of talent that is coming in with their new recruiting class. Upon looking at the Gators’ schedule this year though, another successful year looks very foreseeable. The Gators play five teams ranked in the Preseason Top 25 and they are one of two SEC teams (the other being Kentucky as stated eariler) that are even ranked. The SEC is not known so much for basketball as it is football, so it will most likely be a Florida/Kentucky matchup for the SEC title this year.

On the national scale. This should be another year where the Gators make a deep run in the tournament. With a team heavily filled with veterans who know how to perform in big games, Gator fans can be very optimistic this year. And of course, the team is led by legendary head coach Bill Donovan. Five SEC titles, two National Championships, and two SEC Coach of the Year awards are all that need to be said about Coach Donovan. The Gators have all the pieces to the puzzle with the veteran players and the coaching, and it will be up to them if they want to assemble the puzzle.

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#5 UF Volleyball Beats TAMU in a Five Set Thriller

It is uncharacteristic of me to write about Gator Volleyball games that are on the road because I usually have no means to watch them. But this game against the Texas A&M Aggies was different. Earlier this season, October 4 to be precise, the Gators cruised to a three set victory over the Aggies here in Gainesville. On Sunday, however, a completely different Aggie team showed up. They took the first set from the Gators 26-24. When I tuned into the game via ESPNU, I could not believe the Gators were losing! In the second set, the Gators struggled as they barely escaped with a 25-23. In the third set, the Gators returned to their dominant form and crushed the Aggies by a score of 25-8. Junior libero Taylor Unroe racked up eight straight points while serving and three of those eight points were aces. Up 2-1 going into the fourth, I figured it was over. The Gators are ranked #5 for a reason. They put teams away to win games. But the Aggies would not go away. They put up a valiant fight and staved off a match point to win the fourth set 26-24.

It came down to a fifth set. The Gators had not played a fifth set all year and as an avid follower and reporter of the team I was indeed nervous. I had to mute the volume because the ESPNU announcers were very bias and seemed to be rooting for Texas A&M. I had dealt with enough annoying announcers after watching the Gator football team on CBS with those "geniuses." The fifth set was a back and forth affair as the Aggies matched the Gators for every point they scored. Suddenly, the Aggies went on a run and went up 11-8. For those not familiar with volleyball, the fifth set is only up to 15. The Gators dug deep and began to trim the lead down, but the Aggies soon found themselves with a match point up 14-13. I held my breath as the ball was served. The only thing going through my mind was the Aggies 0-8 all time record against the Gators. I was devastated when I saw the ball hit Chloe Mann and fall to the court because I had never actually seen the Gators lose before. But my spirits were lifted as the point was Florida's because Mann had blocked the ball! With a second life and the score 14-14, who else but Taylor Unroe was serving. The Gators promptly went up 15-14 and it all came down to one last serve from Unroe. She threw the ball high up and hit a rocket that skimmed over the net and fell to the floor. It was an ace. The game was over. Florida won 16-14. I put my arms up to celebrate the victory and lauded Taylor for coming up clutch when the Gators needed her. This win was a big one because the Gators could not afford to lose any SEC games since they lost to Missouri earlier in the season. Missouri has not lost a single game this year and had also beaten Kentucky in three sets on this day.

As customary, here are the players who stood out to me. It would be impossible to not mention Taylor Unroe as the junior libero had six aces, one being the game winner. Sophomore Ziva Recek scored a double double with 10 kills and 14 digs. Offensively, Senior Chloe Mann (22 kills) and freshman sensation Alex Holston (21 kills) rose to the occasion as the combined for 43 kills on the day. Sophomore Gabby Mallette had 10 kills of her own as well as two solo blocks. The stellar performances aside though, it took a complete team effort to pull this win off. The Gators now enter their bye week and will resume play Wednesday, November 13, against the South Carolina Gamecocks at 6 p.m. in the O'Connell Center. This is the start of a three game home stretch for the Gators. On the other side, the Texas A&M Aggies will look to regroup after their near upset of the #5 team in the nation. They will hit the road to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Friday, November 8, at 7 p.m.

*Stats accredited to

Football: UF vs Georgia

In a battle of two 4-3 teams, Georgia came out on top over Florida by a score of 23-20. The Gators attempted a valiant comeback in the second half, but it was just too late as Georgia had done enough damage in the first half to hold on for the victory. Florida led the defensive turnovers battle with one- a debatable dropped pass that was ruled a lateral pass and recovered by the Gators- but that still was not enough as Florida's defense was picked apart by Aaron Murray and Todd Gurley. Had Gurley not had to leave early because he was not feeling well, the game most likely would have been a blow out.

I give the Gators a ton of credit for not giving up and fighting to dwindle the lead to three in the second half. However, just like last year, they got caught up in all the chippiness of the rivalry and committed dumb penalties. The worst one I would have to say was when Neiron Ball stopped Todd Gurley on 4th down and 1 and then proceeded to take his helmet off. Why he did that is beyond me. Was it stupid? Yes. Did it cost the Gators prime field position? Yes. The Gators could have least drove down and tied the game with a field goal, but that dumb penalty gave the Gator offense terrible starting field position and led to another stalled drive at midfield. That was a big theme on the day. The most explosive play was an 83 yard pass from Tyler Murphy to Quinton Dunbar. What did that lead to? A missed field goal. The Gators were 1-3 on field goal attempts as the special teams situation remains a mess. It seemed poetic that when it appeared the Gators did make a stop to get one last chance at a comeback, it was negated by a hands to the face penalty. I never would have thought that a hands to the face penalty would be what clinched the game for Georgia. The Gators had seven penalties for 70 yards. That is a clear reflection of coaching right there.

This loss has officially eliminated Florida from contention for the SEC East division. In fact, the Gators are riding the fine line of bowl eligibility right now. At 4-4, the Gators need to beat Vanderbilt if they want to go bowling in December. The Georgia Southern game is all but guaranteed as a victory but South Carolina on the road is no cakewalk and Florida State at the end of the year will not be pretty. The season is about pride now for the injury plagued Gators. They have to play for each other and Head Coach Will Muschamp. If they have a poor showing against Vandy, then the seat beneath Muschamp will get just a bit hotter. I understand that Muschamp has a family to provide for and did have a stellar campaign last year. But at the end of the day, it is about winning. If the Gators do not make a significant change offensively then they will be stuck in this cyclical process of one step forward and two steps back.

*Stats accredited to

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fun Weekend of UF Volleyball

This weekend I attended both the Florida Gator volleyball matches against SEC foes Auburn and Tennessee.  The Gators won both matches 3-0. In the Friday match vs the Auburn Tigers, the #5 Gators started off slow and won the first set by a close score of 25-21. After that, the Gators put it on cruise control as they dominated the rest of the match. The offensive standout of this game was sophomore Simone Antwi who had 11 kills. Junior libero Taylor Unroe took charge defensively with 16 digs and sophomore Ziva Recek helped out with 14 digs of her own. Unroe also had two service aces to add to her stellar night. I was actually staying at the hotel where Auburn's team was saying and its safe to say they got over the loss pretty quickly.

On Sunday vs the Tennessee Volunteers, the Gators found themselves down by as much as six in the second set. But like all good teams do, they found a way to rally back and take the set from Tennessee by a score of 25-21. The Volunteers were clearly demoralized after dropping a set they thought they had won. Down 0-2 on the road, there was nothing they could do as the #5 team in the country beat them 25-15 in the final set to take the match. Ziva Recek was the offensive star of the match with 14 kills. Defensively, it was again Taylor Unroe who led the team with 15 digs. The win against Tennessee puts the Gators at 20-2 (9-1 in SEC play) for the season and they will look to take care of business on the road next Friday against the LSU Tigers. As for Tennessee, they will actually be meeting Auburn in Knoxville on Friday as both squads look to rebound from rough trips to Gainesville.

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Sunday, October 20, 2013

UF Football: #22 Florida vs #14 Missouri

On a weekend where four SEC teams were upset, I figured the Florida Gators would play well against the Missouri Tigers. Unfortunately, the Gators' offense had another lackluster performance and the Gators lost by a score of 36-17. The Gators' only offensive touchdown came behind the legs of freshman running back Kelvin Taylor. Tyler Murphy completed 15 passes for less than 100 yards on the day and he was sacked six times. Solomon Patton, who ran a kickoff back to start the second half, had just six receptions for 44 yards. Murphy's longest pass was 14 yards to both Patton and Tre Burton. It was a hideous game offensively as the Gators were held to 151 total yards and turned the ball over three times.

Defensively, the Gators gave up the most points all season (36). Sophomore Brian Poole had one interception and the Gator defense recovered one fumble. He and Jalen Watkins led the way with eight tackles. It is also worth nothing that junior Cody Riggs was ejected after the first play of the game for "targeting."

Upon further review, I and many other people saw no foul on the play. I am not a fan of the rule so much, especially on hits thats really do not look that bad. There were too many other factors to say that the ejection cost the Gators the game. It may have had a role, but it was definitely not the sole reason that the Gators could not get it going against Missouri.

Many of us are confused up here in Gainesville. We thought Murphy would be the answer but the offensive line has given him no time to throw. Murphy did not use his legs at all this game like he had previously. The Gators have not been able to establish a sold running game all year and do not spread the field at all by going deep. Everybody on defense is getting hurt and the defense can only bail the offense out so many times.

This is the Gators' third loss of the year, all of which have been on the road. It will not get any easier as the Gators get ready to take on rival Georgia after their bye week. The Bulldogs would look to come out firing after losing a heartbreaker to Vanderbilt on the road. The SEC East is all but Missouri's at this point, but the way college football has been this year, that cannot be put in stone.

The Gators need to dig within themselves and find that fire to motivate them. The National Championship and the SEC Championship may be gone, but there is still a reason to keep fighting. If the Gators can get to 9-3, that would still be a respectable mark. If the record does not mean anything, then look to November 30. Nothing would be better for these seniors than to knock off an undefeated (I would assume) Florida State Seminoles football team in The Swamp.

If anything, the Gators should keep pressing on for this game. Nothing would make the students and Gainesville community more happy than a win that knocks FSU out of the National Championship hunt.

Like I stated earlier, the Gators will take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville at 3:30 p.m. after this bye week. Many experts did not think these two teams would both have three losses a piece coming into this meeting, but that's just the enigma that is known as college football.

On the other hand, a now 7-0 Missouri will look to seize absolute control of the SEC East with a home game against a 5-2 South Carolina squad who just lost to Tennessee by way of a game winning field goal. Georgia beat South Carolina in Week 2 of the season and Missouri beat Georgia, so I like Missouri's chances in this game.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

UF Football: #17 UF vs #10 LSU

In a battle of Top 25 teams, the #10 LSU Tigers came out victorious over the #17 Florida Gators by a score of 17-6. The Gator offense was lacking as they only managed a pair of field goals on the day. They rushed for a total of 111 yards and could just not get the ball moving against a stingy LSU defense. Tyler Murphy completed 15 of 27 passes for 129 yards but his longest pass was only 20 yards long. He was sacked four times on the day as the Gator offensive line did a subpar job at protecting their quarterback. To add more salt to the wound, sophomore running back Matt Jones sustained a knee injury during the game and will miss the remainder of the season. He had four rushes on the day for 17 yards.

The Gator defense did about everything right on Saturday by giving up giving up only 17 points to an LSU team that scored 41 on Georgia. They did not force any turnovers, but they did jump on a fumble committed by LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger.  This game proved that the Gators' defense cannot bail them out all the time, especially when they cannot even get into the end zone.  Fortunately, this loss is not as bad as it seems. LSU is in the SEC West division and the Gators are in the East. If the Gators win out, they can still go to the SEC Championship Game.  Of course that is easier said than done with opponents like Missouri, Georgia, and South Carolina coming up. In the National Championship picture, it looks like the clock has hit midnight for the Gators. I will note though that in the 2007 season an LSU team with two losses did make it to the National Championship Game and won it as well.

The Gators still have a lot of football left to play, they just need to find a way to get the running game going. It also would not hurt to open up the passing game more. Against Arkansas, senior receiver Solomon Patton had six catches for two touchdowns. Against LSU, he had just three catches for 32 yards. I have full confidence in Tyler Murphy and I think coach Will Muschamp needs to give his junior quarterback a little more freedom. To be successful and survive this tough stretch coming up, the Gators will need to find a way to get their big play makers involved more. How they plan to do that is beyond me to say. The Missouri game on the road next week will be no cakewalk as the Tigers found a way to upset #7 Georgia on the road. The Gators are in the unfamiliar role of underdog and it will be interesting to see how they react to that position. With Missouri's star quarterback James Franklin out for the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury, I give the Gators a good fighting chance in Columbia this Saturday.

*Stats accredited to

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Volleyball: #2 UF vs Georgia

The #2 Florida Gators downed the SEC rival Georgia Bulldogs in three sets in Sunday's afternoon matchup. The Gators cruised throughout the match and won each set in a convincing manner. Senior Chloe Mann (11), sophomore Simone Antwi (10), and freshman Alex Holston (11) combined for 32 of the 46 Gator kills on the afternoon.  Defensively, junior Taylor Unroe (14), senior Taylor Brauneis (10), and sophomore Ziva Recek (9) had 35 of the 48 Gator digs. The Gators once again showed why they are the favorite to win the SEC for the 21st time in program history and look to continue their winning ways on the road vs the Arkansas Razorbacks next Friday. Georgia will also hit the road to do battle with the Missouri Tigers next Friday as well.

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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Serving For a Cure

On Friday the #2 Florida Gators played host to the #15 Kentucky Wildcats during the team's annual match for Breast Cancer Awareness. Pink was everywhere as survivors were honored and the girls wore pink warmup shirts. When the match began, the Gators started out a little slow. But like I have come to expect by now, the Gators turned it on and swept Kentucky. The Gators won every set 25-20, which shows that Kentucky is indeed a good team and can easily be an opponent who gives the Gators their money's worth when they meet again in Lexington on the last day of the regular season. The Gators and Wildcats are the only two SEC teams ranked in the Top 25.

Senior Chloe Mann led the way this game as she had 3 solo blocks (1 more assisted) and 11 kills. Also with a 11 kills was sophomore Ziva Recek, who had 14 digs as well. These two were not even the leaders in kills as sophomore Gabby Mallette had 12 and freshman Alex Holston had 13. From what I have seen from Holston these last couple of games, here spike has been nearly impossible to defend. It's an encouraging sign for the Gators to know that they will have her on the squad for quite a while. Defensively, Recek, and juniors Taylor Unroe and Holly Pole played well as they combined for 36 digs (Recek had 14, Unroe had 12, and Pole had 10). After a solid win, the Gators will look to down rival Georgia in the O'Connell Center at 2:30 pm this upcoming Sunday. Kentucky will look to get back on track as the Wildcats head to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks this Sunday at 1:30 pm.

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

UF Delivers Solid Win vs Arkansas in Night Game

On my 19th birthday I enjoyed the first night game at the Swamp in ten games. The noise in the Swamp was deafening as the #18 Gators (4-1) defeated the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3) by a score of 30-10.  This was Florida's third straight SEC win and right now they are 3-0 in conference play. Things started off slow as the Gators went down early 7-0. However, the momentum was changed on a dime when junior Loucheiz Purifoy took an interception back for a touchdown to give the Gators a 10-7 lead. From there, UF never looked back as Tyler Murphy threw for 240 yards and 3 touchdowns. Solomon Patton was the main target on the night as the senior nabbed six balls for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. Patton's performance was key as the Gators could get nothing going with their run game. The Gators accounted for only 115 rushing yards and no touchdowns. This asset of their game needs to be fixed before the really important match ups vs the likes of LSU, South Carolina, Georgia, and FSU.

As usual and expected week and week out, the Gators defense came ready to play. They only forced two turnovers (one fumble and the interception return) but they were instrumental in swaying the momentum in UF's favor. Besides the run game, I would have to say that the only other thing the Gators need to work on is special teams. They had a field goal blocked and had a missed extra point. These are by no means critical issues that warrant a new kicker, they are just little things that need to be corrected because they can come back to bite the Gators in the big upcoming games. 

UF looked good for the most part in their win vs the Razorbacks. It was so impressionable that ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit put it on his list of convincing wins for the week. For Arkansas, It does not get any easier for them as they head home to face #14 South Carolina. UF's first big test will be this Saturday vs #10 LSU in Death Valley. This is the game where the entire nation will get to see what Tyler Murphy is truly made of. The Gators defense will come ready to play but the question is will the offense have what it takes to score enough points to beat LSU? I guess we will just have to just wait to see what unfolds this Saturday.

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Saturday, October 5, 2013

History in the O'Connell Center

Yesterday, the UF Gators returned to Gainesville to play their SEC home opener against the Texas A&M Aggies.  I did not know it at the time, but head coach Mary Wise was sitting on 699 career victories.  With a win here I would be able to see quite a huge accomplishment from a legendary coach.

The Aggies came out hollering and yelling but that was about the only noise they could make all night. The Gators set the tone in the first set and completely dominated A&M in all aspects of volleyball. They took the set easily by a score of 25-9. This was hands down the most dominant set I have ever seen the Gators play. In the second set, the Aggies woke up and gave the Gators a run for the money. But the Gators remained poised and took the set 25-23. In the final set, it was all but cruise control for UF as they won 25-17 to get the sweep and start out 3-0 in conference play. Freshman Alex Holston and sophomore Simone Antwi led the way as they both had 10 and 12 kills respectively. Sophomore Gabby Mallette and senior Khloe Mann also played well as they had 7 and 9 kills respectively.  

There was a short celebration ceremony for Coach Wise after the game and I was very happy I could be there to witness history.  The Gators will head to Tuscaloosa on Sunday to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at 2:30 pm.  Meanwhile, Texas A&M will head to South Carolina as they take on the USC Gamecocks at 12:30 pm.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Football: #20 UF vs Kentucky

The #20 Florida Gators came into Lexington having not lost to the Kentucky Wildcats since 1986. That streak remained intact as the Gators soundly defeated the Wildcats by a score of 24-7. Tyler Murphy had an amazing first half as he completed 13 passes in a row, surpassing the previous record of 11 held by Tim Tebow.  Murphy finished 15-18 with 156 passing yards and one touchdown.  However, the Gators did not go deep too often as their longest pass was only 29 yards.  Murphy did throw one interception, but had the presence of mind to make the tackle and prevent the return for a touchdown. Matt Jones had a great game on the ground as he rushed for 176 and one touchdown. He could have had two touchdowns, but teammate Quinton Dunbar thought it would be better to tackle Jones before the Kentucky defenders did on a huge run. It was one of the most bizarre plays I have seen in this young college football season. One last note I find interesting is that the Gators did not punt the entire game. Apart from the one turnover, which was just a bad read, the Gator offense was really clicking this game.

Defensively, it was all the same once again. The Gators defense dominated. They had five sacks and freshman Vernon Hargreaves III had another interception.  Hargreaves' interception came in the end zone and was a real drive killer for Kentucky.  The Wildcats did score, but it was on an LSU-like fake field goal on fourth down. When it was straight up offense vs defense, Kentucky could get nothing going.

It was not the flashy blowout that many were hoping for but a win is a win.  The Gators will be looking to go 3-0 in the SEC as they go up against Arkansas next Saturday at 7 pm in the Swamp. This game is more important to me than usual because it falls on my birthday. A win would be a perfect present. Meanwhile, the Wildcats will head to Columbia to take on #13 South Carolina in another night cap game. Considering that South Carolina barely beat UCF, Kentucky should be hopeful going into this matchup.

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Third Saturday in September

"Murphy!  Murphy!  Murphy!"  These were the chants that resonated through the Swamp as redshirt junior Tyler Murphy led the #20 Gators to a 31-17 win over the Tennessee Volunteers.  This is the Gators' ninth consecutive win in the series. When starting quarterback Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg in the first quarter, it was up to Tyler Murphy to get the Gators out of a 7-0 hole.  He rose to the challenge before him as he completed eight passes for 134 and one touchdown while also rushing for 84 yards and one touchdown.

The Gator defense played well once again as they forced six turnovers (two fumbles and four interceptions). Conversely, the Gators turned the ball over three times and fumbled a total of six times. Mistakes like these can afford to be made against a team like Tennessee, but against teams like South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU, this cannot happen.

With Murphy at the helm, the Gators' offense was clicking as they were able to air the ball out downfield and convert in the red zone.  Murphy's athleticism adds another weapon to a Gator offense that has needed some flair.  With his ability to extend plays with his legs, Murphy can be a real threat down the stretch.  But I will keep things in perspective.  This is only the first game he has played in for a good amount of time and the game was at home.  Murphy's performance against Kentucky on the road next week will give me a good hint of the junior's poise and how he deals with a hostile crowd.

On a final note, my thoughts and prayers go out to Jeff Driskel and his family.  Though I am not his biggest fan, he is still a Florida Gator and I support him.  His injury is certainly an unfortunate one, but it can be something for the team to rally around as they progress without him this season.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Women's Soccer: #8 Florida vs Alabama

On Friday, September 20, 2013, I attended the Florida Gators' first SEC soccer match of the season against the Alabama Crimson Tide. There was a good showing by the crowd as the #8 team in the country knocked off the Crimson Tide by a score of 3-0.  Freshman Savannah Jordan led the way with two goals in the first half and nearly had a hat trick.  The other goal was scored by Liz Slatterly, another Gator freshman.  Goalkeeper Taylor Burke had three saves as she recorded her second consecutive shutout at home.  Getting off on the right foot in conference play, the Gators will travel to Oxford, Mississippi, to take on the Ole Miss Rebels next Friday.  Alabama will look to get back to its winning ways against SEC foe Vanderbilt next Friday at home in Tuscaloosa.

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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

#4 UF Downs Rival FSU

The O'Connell Center was rocking tonight as the Florida Gators swept the archival Florida State Seminoles in three sets in tonight's volleyball matchup.  This was by far one of the biggest home games for the Gators this year and the crowd rallied behind the Gators as they battled it out with FSU. Each set was a dogfight. Florida went down early in the first set, but the Gators were able to keep their poise and win the set 25-20.  In the second set, FSU had a set point, but UF managed to survive and win the set 26-24.  Up 2-0, UF dominated most of the third set, but FSU would not go down quietly. The Seminoles came within one point before Florida shut the door and took the final set as well as the match. Some standouts for the Gators were sophomore Ziva Recek and senior Khloe Mann. They both had 12 kills and accounted for 27 of the 56 Gator points.  The promotions for the game were free t-shirts and towels that said "Block Party" on them. This was certainly true as the Gators had nine blocks on the night. Following this big win, the Gators will hit the road to take on Marquette on Friday at 8 pm in the Marquette Invitational in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Florida State will look to rebound as they stay on the road and take on the Auburn Tigers on Sunday at 1 pm.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

Crazy Weekend of Sports at UF

My Saturday was a busy one as I attended an early cross country meet and two Florida Gator volleyball matches.  I was at cross country for a short while and heard that the men's team won the meet while the girl's team finished in third place.

From cross country, I attended the UF volleyball game at 12 pm vs the Iona Gaels.  The Gaels managed to hang with the #5 ranked Gators through most of the match and the Gators had to rally down 18-22 to win the decisive third set and sweep the Gaels.  There was no standout performance from any particular player in this game to me. 

I left for a bit and came back at 7 pm for the Gators' final game in the Active Ankle Challenge against the Western Michigan Broncos.  I had seen the Broncos play earlier against Georgetown and felt that UF would beat them easily.  However, I was very surprised to see this unranked team hanging with one of the best volleyball squads in the nation.  UF only won the first two sets 25-21, 25-22, respectively.  Western Michigan took the third set 30-28.  This was the first time in person I had seen the Florida Gators drop a set to anybody.  Fortunately for the Gators, Ziva Recek, the Slovakian sophomore, came to play that night.  She accounted for 23.5 points and had 21 kills.  The play of Recek helped propel the Gators to a 3-1 victory over the Broncos.  UF will take on instate rival Florida State this Tuesday.  FSU is ranked #17 in the country and should draw a big crowd for the game.  Regardless of who wins, it will be a great match between two premier schools in volleyball.  I can see this match going five sets. 

On a side note, after the volleyball game I headed on down to the theater to catch the most anticipated fight of the year: Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs Floyd Mayweather.  Mayweather dominated Canelo for 12 rounds and reminded everyone why he might be the greatest boxer ever and certainly the best of this generation.  It will be interesting to see where Floyd Mayweather goes from here because I honestly believe he is just too good.  As for Canelo, he is only 23 years old and this is a fight he will certainly learn from.  He has a ton of potential and can be a real marquee boxer in a sport that is searching for a savior.  This was Canelo's first loss of his career, but Floyd's victory surprised some people simply because it was not a unanimous decision.  One of the three judges ruled it a draw and its instances like that make people, myself included, wonder about the integrity of boxing.  

Overall, it was a great day of sports for me and needless to say I was exhausted by the time Sunday dawned on Gainesville.

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