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.

*Stats and Rankings accredited to

#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.

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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.

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