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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