Saturday, September 20, 2014

UF Football: Florida vs #3 Alabama

The #3 Alabama Crimson Tide set the tone from the get go as they scored on their first offensive play of the game. 42 points and 645 yards later, the Crimson Tide handily won against the Gators by a score of 42-21. Alabama's 645 yards of offense against the Gators is the most that Florida has ever allowed against an opponent!

The defense kept the Gators in the game by forcing four turnovers, but this still couldn't prevent the floodgates from opening. The turning point of the game came in the third quarter after a 16 play, seven minute drive (where Alabama converted five third downs including a 3rd and 23) put the Tide up 28-21. The defensive collapse on third down demoralized the Gators and the offense ended up going three and out the following series.

Since the defense prevented this game from potentially being a 50 point loss, I will start with them. The secondary gave up two explosive pass plays to Kenyan Drake and Amari Cooper and recorded one interception off a deflection. Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III did all he could against Cooper as the wide receiver caught 10 balls for 201 yards and three touchdowns. As for the one throwing the ball to Cooper, quarterback Blake Simms completed 23 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns

On the ground, the Tide certainly were rolling as running back Derrick Henry ran for 111 yards on 20 carries for one touchdown. Henry was the one who converted 3rd and 23 after catching a screen and running to the 4 yard line. Henry's partner in crime was T.J. Yeldon, who ran the ball 18 times for 58 yards and no touchdowns. At some points in the third and fourth quarters, Bama's running attack looked nearly unstoppable! The Tide ended the day with 196 rushing yards.

Despite Alabama's record breaking performance, I can still find some Gator defensive players worth highlighting. Linebacker Antonio Morrison was the one who snatched Florida's only interception of the day. Safety Keanu Neal had eight total tackles on the day as well as a forced fumble that he himself recovered and ran back for a touchdown. Leon Orr and Marcus Maye both had forced fumbles in today's game that were recovered by VH3 and Dante Fowler. Defensive lineman Alex McCalister was able to break through and record the only sack of the game on Blake Simms.

Even though they gave up the most offensive yards in the history of Gator football, I cannot blame the defense. They kept the Gators in the game and set the offense up with good field position after almost every turnover. When the defense is on the field for a much longer time than the offense, especially against one of the best teams of this decade, it's hard to ask for a stop every time.

The Gator offense was the complete opposite of Alabama's as they only totaled 200 yards. Quarterback Jeff Driskel completed just nine of his 28 passes for 93 yards and one touchdown while also throwing two interceptions. Florida's leading receiver was tight end Clay Burton who had three catches for 33 yards. The only Gator receiver to record a touchdown catch was Valdez Showers. It was his only catch of the day.

Florida's running game was nonexistent as Jeff Driskel, Matt Jones, and Kelvin Taylor all combined to rush for 107 yards. Driskel ran for 59 yards, the most of any Gator rusher, and had Florida's only rushing touchdown of the game. Matt Jones committed the only Gator fumble of the day when he failed to secure the ball on a run up the middle.

In special teams, Francisco Velez essentially had the day off as he had no field goal attempts this game and converted on all three of his extra point attempts. Punter Kyle Christy, on the other hand, killed it today as he had seven punts for 369 yards! He averaged 52.7 yards per punt!

Now 2-1 (0-1 in SEC play), the Gators will enter a bye week before traveling to Knoxville to play the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) on Saturday, October 4 (the day before my birthday). Hopefully they can get the secondary in order and get Jeff Driskel and the offense back on track before some changes might be called for. Keep in mind that Tennessee has not beaten the Gators in nine years and will fight like Kentucky did last week to prevent this losing streak from reaching 10.

I was on Twitter today and saw many calling for Will Muschamp to be fired after losing a game that many of us expected to lose. Despite the lack of offense and defense, Gator fans need to remember that this is against the #3 team in the country. Alabama nearly played for its fourth National Championship last year and has won three in the last five years.

The fact that the Gators kept the game close until midway in the third on the road against Alabama is a great thing! The scoreboard makes this game look like a blowout when it honestly was pretty tight for a good portion of the game. If Driskel continues to play poorly however, I wouldn't mind if Coach Muschamp started finding ways to get Treon Harris some playing time.

With today's game in the books, Alabama is now 4-0 (1-0 in SEC play) and reminded the entire country just how dominant they can be. They will also be entering a bye week and will prepare to do battle on the road against a very good #10 Ole Miss (3-0) team on Saturday, October 4. In this game, many in the country will find out just how legit the Ole Miss Rebels actually are. It should be a great game!

*All stats accredited to and

UF Volleyball: Marquette Upsets #7 UF

It was supposed to be over in three sets. Marquette was not supposed to even have the slightest bit of a chance against the mighty #7 Gators in Gainesville! I guess that's why they play the game because the Marquette Golden Eagles stunned the Florida Gator volleyball team in five sets (26-24, 25-21, 15-13).

I'll be honest, I left the game super early to catch 22 Jump Street at Gator Nights with some friends in the Reitz Union. After finding out about this upset, I honestly couldn't believe it. Even as I write this I am still shocked that the Gators lost to an unranked Big East opponent in the O-Dome.

From the first set, I could tell this was not the Gators' night as they made careless mistakes and just seemed out of sync defensively. Mackenzie Dagostino (17) and Holly Pole (14) were the only two Gators to reach double digits in digs. In addition to her 43 assists and six service aces, Dagostino also assisted on five blocks. Sophomore Shainah Joseph also assisted on five blocks in her first career start in the O-Dome. Freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan led the way defensively for the Gators tonight with eight blocks assisted as well as two solo blocks!

On offense, Alex Holston led the team with 13 kills while Rhamat Alhassan and Carli Snyder tied with 11 kills each. Shainah Joseph was the next closest with eight kills. Holston had the most attack attempts with 41.

I really don't have much left to say about this game. After coming off of two Top 25 victories against #19 San Diego and #10 USC in California last week, I was expecting the #7 Gators to kick off their Campus USA Credit Union Invite with a dominant win. The Gators beat Marquette on their own turf last year and I still can't believe they let the Golden Eagles return the favor. All that's left now for Florida (5-3) is to regroup and prepare for the UCF Knights (7-3) on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the O-Dome.

As for Marquette (7-3), they will actually get the first crack at UCF as the two teams meet at 3 p.m. in the O-Dome on Saturday. Marquette will definitely be riding the momentum from its huge upset win over Florida as they look to surge past the Knights and win the tournament.

*All stats accredited to

Sunday, September 14, 2014

UF Football Defeats Kentucky in Triple Overtime!

Tonight was by far the most exciting Gator football game I have attended in just my second year at the University of Florida! This game had all the makings of an ESPN Classic! There were missed field goals, a miraculous fourth down conversion, and THREE overtimes which all culminated into a 36-30 Gator victory over the hated Kentucky Wildcats. This is the Gators' 28th straight victory over Kentucky and is the first since time since 2007 that they have defeated the Wildcats by single digits. This is also the first overtime game between both squads.

I will start with the offense like I do in every football article I have written. In the first half, the offense was horrendous. They were only able to put three points on the board as the Gators could simply not get the ball in the end zone. I felt like I was in 2013 again. In the second half, the offense began to pick up as they scored 17 points and a combined 19 points in overtime.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel did alright tonight as he completed 25 passes for 295 yards and three touchdowns. His most important touchdown pass game in the first overtime with the Gators trailing 27-20 with 4th down and 7 looming. With the play clock nearly at zero, Driskel took the snap and threw the ball up. I thought the game was over when Driskel threw it... but fortunately I was very wrong. Out of nowhere came wide receiver Demarcus Robinson to make the catch for a touchdown and keep the Gators' hopes alive! I will talk more about him later in the article.

Before I get to Robinson and his phenomenal night, I have to mention Matt Jones and the running game. Jones and Kelvin Taylor split carries tonight and it was Jones who led the way with 160 yards on 29 touches and the game winning touchdown run in triple overtime.

Jones reminded me of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch as he just ran through Kentucky players tonight. I am very tempted to start calling him "Beast Mode." Taylor posted 69 yards on 15 carries tonight. I don't know if a late hit that left Taylor shaken up early in the game affected how the Gators wanted to use him, but something was definitely different as he only had five carries in the second half and overtime combined. Nevertheless, he was still effective against Kentucky.

Now on to the receiving corps, which tonight was essentially Demarcus Robinson. The sophomore had the best game of his young career tonight as he caught 15 balls for 216 yards and two touchdowns! His game tying touchdown catch in the first overtime gave him his fifteenth reception which tied him with Gator legend Carlos Alvarez for most receptions in a game. Robinson is my MVP for this game and I, as well as many Gator fans, will never forget his touchdown catch to keep the streak against Kentucky alive.

Besides Robinson, four different Gators had two receptions to contribute to Driskel's 295 passing yards. The only other receiver to record a touchdown catch was senior tight end Tevin Westbrook. Westbrook's touchdown was actually the first time the Gators had penetrated the end zone all night.

On the defensive side of the ball, the defense was a tale of two halves. In the first half, they were dominant as they only gave up three points and forced four "three and outs." In the second half, the defense came unraveled as the secondary gave up a ton of deep passes and 17 points to Kentucky. In overtime, after giving up a touchdown run on the most bizarre play I had ever seen, the Gator defense tightened up and allowed just six points.

My defensive player of the game is sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (or VH3 as we all love to call him). VH3 led the secondary in pass breakups with four and recorded five tackles in the game. His most important play was not a tackle or a deflected pass, however. In triple overtime, VH3 was able to get his finger tips on Kentucky's field goal attempt and keep the game tied as the kick fell short.

The Gator secondary had three interceptions between junior safety Brian Poole and sophomore safety Keanu Neal. Poole had seven tackles and a clutch interception at the Gator 40-yard line with 28 seconds left in the game to prevent Kentucky's last ditch effort to get in position for a game winning field goal. Neal was all over the field as he had two interceptions and nearly ran one of them back for a touchdown! They both combined for four pass breakups on the night.

As for the rest of the Gator defense, the only players ahead of Poole in tackles were linebacker Antonio Morrison (10) and safety Marcus Maye (9). Defensive lineman Dante Fowler forced the lone fumble of the night with a sack, but the Gators were unable to recover it. The only other Gator sack came from defensive lineman Darious Cummings. The defense as a whole allowed 450 yards on the night (81 rushing and 369 passing) but as the stats in parentheses indicate the run defense was on point. The secondary (not including Hargreaves III, Poole, and Neal) obviously needs some work.

Special teams was solid for the most part tonight. Kicker Francisco Velez was 3/4 on field goal attempts with his longest kick being 35 yards. Austin Hardin was brought in with three seconds left in regulation to kick the potential game winning 52 yard field goal due to his stronger leg, but his kick went wide right. In overtime, Velez resumed kicking duties as he made the game tying extra point in the first overtime and gave the Gators a lead to defend with his 20-yard field goal in double overtime.

Kyle Christy punted the ball six times for a total of 292 yards. Kentucky tried returning two of them and only managed 19 yards out of both those attempts. Hardin recorded four touchbacks on his five kickoffs tonight.

This game was very entertaining, but I am a tad bit upset that it took the Gators three overtimes to beat Kentucky, who did not even win an SEC game last year. I would have preferred the opponent to be LSU or Alabama, but I'll take a good game when it's thrown my way. The refs were a bit suspect this game as there were a good amount of questionable calls against the Gators, but it wasn't enough to stop the Orange and Blue from ultimately getting the 'W'.

As for Kentucky running back Jo Jo Kemp who said earlier this week, "It's going to be fun walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces," he ran for just 24 yards on 8 carries, injured himself, and didn't play a snap in overtime. Usually backing up your talk is the number one rule of smack talk, but maybe Kemp's narrow minded brain can't understand the concept. Regardless, it looks like the Gators are now the ones with the last laugh.

With Kemp and Kentucky in the rear view mirror after a memorable win, the Gators' (2-0) attention now turns to Tuscaloosa and the mighty #3 Alabama Crimson Tide (3-0). I will not lie, I am a bit concerned. The offense was lackluster for most of this game and the secondary fell apart in the second half. The Alabama game will help me get a good idea of where the Gators are at on a competitive level in this young season. Either way, I will watch the game on TV and support them, regardless if the game is close or not. Game time is 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

On the other side of the spectrum, it will be a while before the Kentucky Wildcats (2-1) recover from this loss. They came just one play away from ending 27 years of heartbreak only to see the Gators rally back and hand them their 28th straight loss. They have a bye week coming up, so they will have even more time on their hands to reflect on truly how close they came to defeating the Florida Gators in the Swamp and ending "The Streak." Their next game will be a home game against the Vanderbilt Commodores (1-2) on September 27th.

*All stats accredited to

Sunday, September 7, 2014

UF Volleyball: #3 Texas vs #11 UF

After a very entertaining football game, my spirits dropped during the volleyball game as #3 Texas came into the O-Dome and beat the #11 Gators 25-16, 25-17, and 25-16 in four sets. I was very excited for this game and I knew that Texas was very good, so I am not too surprised that the Gators could not pull this one out. This might be a tough loss to overcome mentally as Texas dominated every set they won, but it can be used as a building block for the Gators.

The only bright spot for the Gators in this match was that they won the second set 28-26. It was a highly contested set that gave me hope that the Gators could compete with Texas. At the end of the day however, the Longhorns' talent and experience proved too much for the Gators to overcome. I have a ton of respect for Texas as they are one of the premier powers in college volleyball after winning a National Championship in 2012 and appearing in the Final Four last year.

Even in a losing effort, I can always find Gator performances worth mentioning. Freshman Carli Snyder led the team in kills with 18 tonight. She accounted for 18.5 of the team's 64 points. Right behind her was redshirt junior Noami-Santos Lamb with 14 kills, sophomore Alex Holston with nine kills, and fellow freshman Rhamat Alhassan with seven kills. These are impressive numbers considering Texas had 16 total team blocks in the game! It felt like they were blocking almost every Gator attack.

Defensively, senior libero Holly Pole led the team with 11 digs. Junior setter Mackenzie Dagostino also played excellent and gave superb effort out on the court. She was diving all over the place trying to create second chance opportunities for her teammates! She had 9 digs along with 46 assists. In blocks the Gators lagged behind Texas with just 5 total blocks. Junior middle blocker Simone Antwi led the team with two assisted blocks tonight while freshman middle blocker Rhamat Alhassan led the team with two solo blocks.

The Gators are now on a two game losing streak and are 3-2 on the season. They will try to right the ship in the USC Classic on September 11-12 as they take on the #15 San Diego Toreros (5-1) and the #6 USC Trojans (6-0). Both these opponents are good, so we will find out how this battle-tested Gator squad responds to adversity early in the season. The Gators will take on San Diego first on September 11 at 8 p.m.

As for Texas, they might move up to #2 in the rankings following #2 Stanford's defeat of #1 Penn State today. They are now 4-0 and will head home to host the 26 West Longhorn Classic featuring Arizona, UCF, and Florida A&M. The first game is scheduled for September 12 at 7 p.m. against Arizona.

*All stats accredited to

UF Football: Eastern Michigan vs Florida

Wow! I can honestly say that the Florida Gators are on the right path to putting 2013 behind them as they thrashed Eastern Michigan 65-0 in their home opener today. The seven game losing streak is over! Everything was clicking today! The offense lit up the scoreboard and the defense was smothering!

I actually had a ton of fun at this game! As of Game 1, I can say the offense is very fun to watch this year. New offensive coordinator Kurt Roper treated the first series like it was Madden by going for it TWICE on fourth down! I think that is awesome and I am hoping that he was the missing piece that the Gators needed to solve the offensive woes that have plagued them since the beginning of the Muschamp era.

Jeff Driskel, playing in his first game since his injury against Tennessee a year ago, looked good. The redshirt junior completed 31 of 45 passes for 248 yards and one touchdown. He also threw NO interceptions this game! Driskel still has some things he needs to work on (like completing some of those passes to wide open receivers and looking downfield for that one receiver who burned his man) but for his first game back, I give him an 'A' for his performance today. He would have gotten an 'A+" if he had thrown for about three touchdowns and 350 yards. Still, I am very content with his performance tonight and was very impressed with his decision making.

All us Gator fans were even blessed with an appearance from true freshman Treon Harris today! His first play as a Gator came in a wildcat package during the first drive and he even threw a couple of passes today! He completed both passes he threw today for TWO touchdowns and 148 yards! That is just absurd! I do not know many quarterbacks who have thrown a touchdown on their first pass, let alone their first two passes! Not only that, both his TD passes were 70 and 78 yard bombs, respectively. I'm starting to think that Harris likes the long ball a little bit.

For anyone wondering about the touted Will Grier (who I have said in previous articles would challenge Jeff Driskel for the starting job), he has been redshirted this year. I am fine with that following Harris's performance today.

In the rushing game, sophomore Kelvin Taylor (68), redshirt senior Matt Jones (65), and junior Mack Brown (60) ran for a combined 193 yards. Taylor had two touchdown rushes while Jones had one TD run as well as a TD catch. With this three-headed monster attack at running back, the Gators will be a force to reckon with on the ground this year.

Out of all the wide receivers, sophomore Demarcus Robinson stood out to me today as he nabbed six balls for 123 yards and one touchdown. His longest catch was the 70 yard bomb thrown to him by Treon Harris. Senior tight end Clay Burton led all receivers in receptions with seven and provided a nice security blanket for Driskel throughout the game. Junior running back Mark Herndon also had a touchdown reception in the game after catching a 78 yard pass from Treon Harris.

Defensively, the Florida Gators bullied Eastern Michigan all day as they allowed just 125 offensive yards (80 rushing and 45 passing) and zero points! The Gators forced five turnovers, which consisted of four recovered fumbles and an interception. Neiron Ball, a redshirt senior, was all over the field today as he recorded six tackles (2.5 tackles for a loss), a forced fumble, and two sacks! The Gators' only other sack of the day came from redshirt sophomore Alex McCalister. Fellow redshirt seniors Michael Taylor and Leon Orr followed Ball's lead as Taylor had six total tackles (0.5 tackles for loss) and Orr had five total tackles.

True freshman Duke Dawson had his first collegiate interception today and it was a big one as he took it 36 yards for a touchdown. The entire Florida secondary shut down Eastern Michigan's passing attack as the Eagles only completed 9 of 21 passes.

In the special teams game, redshirt senior Francisco Velez converted all three of his field goal attempts and extra points today. His longest kick was 36 yards. Redshirt sophomore Austin Hardin had some issues keeping the ball in bounds on a couple of kickoffs, but still totaled three touchbacks in the game. Eastern Michigan only averaged 23 return yards on seven kickoff returns! Senior punter Kyle Christy punted the ball three times today for 145 yards. Eastern Michigan averaged just one return yard on these punts!

This was the start that Muschamp and the Gators needed and I am so stoked for next week's game against the Kentucky Wildcats (2-0) at 7:30 p.m. in The Swamp! This game will be on the SEC Network and is also the Gators' first SEC matchup of the year! The Gators have not lost to Kentucky since 1986 and I highly doubt that this game is even going to be close! I am beyond excited!

As for Eastern Michigan, they now fall to 1-1 and will gladly take off with however much money the University of Florida paid them to come down here and get demolished. Their next game will be on the road against the Old Dominion Monarchs (1-1).

*All stats accredited to

Saturday, September 6, 2014

#8 UF Soccer Upsets #2 FSU

Tonight was a glorious night for the #8 Florida Gator woman's soccer team as they upset the #2 ranked Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee by a score of 2-1. I was able to watch the second half on my phone and I was nothing less than thrilled as I watched the Gators cling on to their one goal lead to secure the upset. Regardless of what sport, it's always a great feeling when Florida beats FSU.

This win snaps the Gators' three game losing streak against FSU and also ends the Seminoles' 38 game home winning streak. The last time FSU lost in Tally was in 2011 against the Maryland Terrapins. When their streak began, I was a junior in high school!

I asked sophomore forward Savannah Jordan for her thoughts on the team's performance and she had this to say, "I think our team played great tonight. We showed a lot of fight and heart. I thought we played and worked for each other. This was another step to where we want to be and I'm extremely proud of my team! I'm excited to continue the rest of the season!"

Jordan's offensive talents would not be needed this game. Instead, it was fellow sophomore midfielders Pamela Begic and Betsy Middleton who put the Gators on the scoreboard first with a goal a piece in the first half. Both goals would be the first of both players' seasons. Begic's other offensive contribution came in the form of an assist on Middleton's goal. In regards to Begic's goal, senior Tessa Andujar provided the assist.

Defensively, goalkeeper Taylor Burke came ready to play tonight. She had five saves and allowed just one goal as she notched her fourth win of the season. Down the stretch in the 70th, 76th, 83rd, and 85th minutes, Burke made some clutch saves to help preserve the Gators' one goal lead. As a senior who had never beaten FSU before, Burke has got to be feeling great after her performance tonight.

This game serves as sweet revenge for the Gators after the 3-0 thumping the Seminoles handed them last year in Gainesville. The Gators' odds of winning this year looked no better as the Seminoles were coming off a National Championship appearance, were ranked #2 in the country, and virtually never lost at home. That is why they play the game.

I think it is absolutely fitting that the Gators ended FSU's home winning streak. It's great for these seniors and it's a great early season win for the team. Hopefully, Florida will ride the momentum from this win into their next game against another tough opponent in #4 Stanford on September 12. This will be another road game for the Gators and game time is approximately 10:30 p.m. I'll try to catch this game if I'm not too busy.

As for Florida State, they will have to recover from this crushing upset as their next game is at home on September 8 against the St. John's Red Storm. Game time is 7 p.m. and I expect St. John's to feel the wrath of a very angry/motivated Seminoles squad.

*All stats accredited to