Saturday, November 29, 2014

UF Football: UF Blows Chance to Upset #3 FSU

The Florida Gators came up just short in their upset bid of undefeated #3 Florida State as they lost a tough one 24-19 in Tallahassee. The Gators squandered so many opportunities to win this game as they missed two field goals and threw a pick six in the red zone. This loss appropriately ends the Muschamp Era at Florida and I am happy he will not be coaching the bowl game.

I figured that Florida would go with a heavy run game as this strategy nearly worked for Boston College the week before against FSU. Unfortunately, Florida could never get its run game going as running backs Kelvin Taylor (37) and Matt Jones (29) combined for just 66 yards. The leading rusher was quarterback Treon Harris with 41 yards on nine rushes.

With the run game not working, the Gators had to go to the air. Treon completed 13 of his 32 passes for just 141 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions. Out of those two interceptions, the one that really hurt was the pick six thrown from Harris on the FSU 14-yard line in the first quarter. This completely changed the momentum of the game and was just one of many mistakes that cost the Gators the game. I will elaborate more on this interception later in the article.

In the receiving core, senior tight end Clay Burton caught the only Gator touchdown pass of the day on his lone 15-yard reception. Sophomore Demarcus Robinson led all receivers with four receptions for 71 yards. Robinson also dropped a critical pass on fourth down late in the game to essential secure the loss for Florida. I did not want to blame Treon because I thought the ball hit Robinson's hands. After looking at the play again though, I saw that Robinson only got his right hand on the ball. It was unfortunately a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver.

Now on to that pick-six. The only reason it happened was because Tevin Westbrook, a senior tight end, could not catch an easy pass thrown to him. The ball deflected off his hands right to FSU's Terrence Brooks who then proceeded to take it to the house. This single play resulted in Westbrook being benched for Burton. Westbrook already held a special place in our hearts for his touchdown drop against LSU, now we can make room for yet another gaffe that only came in the biggest game of the year.

I am not going to solely blame Demarcus Robinson's or Tevin Westbrook's drops for the loss. It would be ignorant of me to blame an entire game's outcome on just two dropped passes. However, I will say that these mistakes can be grouped in with the various factors I mentioned earlier that did cost the Gators the game.

The last thing I'll say about the offense is that it was still terrible. Muschamp was lucky that Austin Hardin (sort of) showed up or it would not have even been close. I believe that the last offensive series for the Gators was Will Muschamp spiting the whole university for firing him. Now this is just my OPINION and may not even be true, but let me elaborate.

After getting bailed out by a pass interference penalty on fourth down, the Gators had the ball at midfield with 2:11 left in the game. Muschamp then proceeded to call a deep pass on both first and second down. This made no sense to me. The run game might not have been working at all up to that point, but there was no reason to at least not give it another shot instead of having to solely rely on the arm of a true freshman quarterback in crunch time.

Even if Muschamp would have preferred to keep it in the air, he did not need to go all or nothing with deep passes. It would have been more efficient to just chip away at FSU's defense with short passes and let the receivers make plays with their legs. Regardless, Muschamp's offensive play calling at the end of this game showed me a lot about him. To me, it looked like he was just throwing the ball downfield in search of a miraculous touchdown instead of trying to systematically move the ball. The only reason that I personally think a coach would do this would be to stick it to a university that fired him.

Again, this is my opinion and it is most likely that Will Muschamp was not trying to spite UF. Still, he will always be remembered as the WORST head football coach in Florida Gators' history and this Gator fan right here will not miss him. He is better off not even coming back to Gainesville and, like I said in the opening paragraph, I'm happy he is not coaching the bowl game! I say that simply because he is just not a good head coach. As a person he is a great man, but great character cannot serve as a substitute for actually winning football games.

As the offense continued to play poorly, the defense played exceptionally well. They picked off Jameis Winston four times today and held him to just 125 passing yards. The Gators responsible for the four interceptions tonight were junior Brian Poole with two, senior Jabari Gorman, and freshman Quincy Wilson. In addition to his interception, Jabari Gorman led the team with nine tackles (one tackle for loss).

Redshirt senior Michael Taylor, junior Jonathan Bullard, redshirt sophomore Marcus Maye, and junior Antonio Morrison all combined for 16 tackles. Taylor had seven (two tackles for loss), Bullard had six (two tackles for loss), Maye had five (one tackle for loss), and Morrison had five (one tackle for loss). Junior Dante Fowler recorded the Gators' only sack of the night and had four tackles (one tackle for loss) in his final regular season game as a Florida Gator.

The defense shut down FSU's run game even though the Seminoles rushed for 181 yards. Both of FSU's offensive touchdowns came through the air on mismatches with senior tight end Nick O'Leary. Apart from that, Vernon Hargreaves III's secondary was on point as they recorded the four interceptions, broke up four passes, and blew no coverages.

In special teams, redshirt sophomore Austin Hardin could have been a hero today. He made four kicks with the longest being a new career-long of 52 yards. After making his first four, however, Hardin failed to make his next two kicks with the Gators down by just two points.

Even though he left six points on the board, Hardin should not be completely blamed for the loss either as the offense should have cashed in touchdowns instead of settling for field goals. Still, it is gut-wrenching to think of what could have been had Hardin made all his kicks tonight.

In his last regular season game, senior Kyle Christy punted three balls for 139 yards. His longest punt was 53 yards and he landed one inside the 20 yard-line. He averaged 46.3 yards per punt.

The Gators now fall to 6-5 after being unable to defeat FSU for the second straight year. The Seminoles were not the better team as evidenced by the poor play of their "great" quarterback. This was a typical Florida Gator game. The offense did virtually nothing all game and the defense, as usual, had to carry the burden to keep the Gators in the game. Special teams somewhat showed up, but choked when it actually needed to make a play.

With Muschamp officially gone from the Gator sideline now, we can all be thankful that the style of play I mentioned above will no longer be a part of Gator football. The Gators will now await to see what bowl game they will be playing in. Some bowl games I think would be suitable are the: AutoZone Liberty Bowl, the Belk Bowl, or the Texas Bowl.

Looking at the bright side, we will at least get to see the Gators play one more time. Hopefully the team will show up and bring UF its first bowl victory since 2011. After the bowl game, Florida should soon name its new head football coach. A bowl win and a decent head coach would be a great way to cap of what has been once again another mediocre football season for the Gators.

As Florida lies in mediocrity, FSU keeps on trucking toward the College Football Playoff. After surviving for the EIGTH time this season, #3 Florida State remains undefeated at 12-0 and their 28 game-win streak remains intact. The will face #16 Georgia Tech (10-2) for the ACC Championship in Charlotte, North Carolina, next week on December 6th. Kickoff time is yet to be determined.

*All stats accredited to

UF Soccer: Gators' Season Ends in Heartbreak

Out of the many articles I have written, this has to be one of the toughest ones. The Florida Gators women's soccer team was on the cusp of going to the Final Four for just the third time in program history, but it was not to be tonight. Going up against a Stanford Cardinal team that had just lost one game the whole year, the Gators fell by a score of 3-2 in penalty kicks.

Let me just say how much I abhor penalty kicks. Regardless if Florida had won or not, I believe that penalty kicks are not a suitable way to decide a soccer match. These girls are out here for 110 minutes and you want me to believe that they are okay with the game coming down to the ability of five of their teammates to score on a 12-yard kick?

Not to mention the pressure it puts on the goalie, who becomes vilified if she can't perform in the clutch. Senior goalkeeper Taylor Burke did allow three Stanford penalty kicks with the last one being the game winner. Still, I believe she is a phenomenal goalkeeper and I do not fault her one bit for this loss. It is a real shame that her collegiate career had to end in such an agonizing matter. She will be missed dearly.

As for the lineup for the PK's, it was as follows: senior Annie Bobbitt, senior Annie Speese, sophomore Pamela Begic, senior Havana Solaun, and junior Lauren Silver. As good as a kicking lineup as this was, I was shocked to not see sophomore Savannah Jordan in there as she was the team's leading scorer. Bobbitt and Speese would miss their two attempts, while the next three all found the back of the net.

The controversial decision to not insert Jordan was one made by head coach Becky Burleigh and I will try my best not to question it. It was puzzling though, and many Gator fans (including myself) will probably be wondering for awhile why the best player on the team was not in for penalty kicks with a Final Four spot on the line.

It would be easy to blame Coach Burleigh, Bobbitt and Speese, or even goalkeeper Taylor Burke. At the end of the day, however, Stanford was just a better team. They already proved it before when they beat the Gators 1-0 in overtime on this very field on September 12th.

Also, the Gators should have lost 2-1 and would not have even extended the game to penalty kicks had Stanford not scored an own goal. Not to mention that Speese was the one who assisted on Havana Solaun's game tying goal in the 79th minute.

For anyone wanting to blame Bobbitt, she is primarily a defender and Coach Burleigh surely had reasons for putting her in. At the end of the day, Coach Burleigh knows way more than all of us spectators do.

This loss is going to sting the girls, especially the seniors, for a decent amount of time. However, nobody can take away how much this team has accomplished this year. Posting an overall record of 17-5-1, going 10-0 at home, and finishing second in the SEC is a ton to be proud of. With a majority of the team coming back for 2015, look for the Gators to get back in the Elite Eight and maybe even further next season.

As one team weeps, another cheers. After outlasting the Gators, Stanford (21-1-2) will now head to the Final Four in Boca Raton, Florida, to take on the Florida State Seminoles (22-1-1). This is going to be a great game and I will be rooting hard for Stanford.

Even though the Cardinal beat Florida, nothing would make me happier than to see Stanford knock FSU out of the Final Four. I am still upset they beat Florida, but I rather see the Gators lose to Stanford than FSU any day of the week. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. on December 5th.

*All stats accredited to &

Friday, November 28, 2014

UF Basketball: #18 UF vs #5 UNC

The #18 Florida Gators ended their trip to the Bahamas at 1-2 as they lost to the #5 North Carolina Tarheels 75-64. The Gators trailed the entire game and could not stop a UNC offense whose entire starting lineup scored double digit figures. The Tarheels' leading scorer was sophomore forward Kennedy Meeks. He recorded a double-double as he scored 18 points and nabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.

Florida's starting lineup was blown out of the water by UNC's as just two players reached double digits this game. They were Michael Frazier II (as usual) and an unusual face in Kasey Hill.

Michael Frazier II really stepped up his game in the Bahamas despite what the game results might say. Against UNC, he had 17 points on 5 of 13 shooting and a team-high nine rebounds. He was perfect on his three free throw attempts and was 4 of 10 from three-point land. Obviously his shooting percentage needs some work, but Frazier II has left Atlantis as a much better player than when he first arrived.

Another player who tremendously improved his game in the Bahamas was Frazier II's old high school teammate Kasey Hill. The sophomore point guard was stellar tonight as he scored a career-high 20 points on 5 of 12 shooting! Hill's sudden offensive outburst allows me to overlook the fact that he had just two assists tonight. He did a good job getting to the line as he went 10 of 12 on his free throw shots.

It seems evident to me that true freshman Chris Chiozza's career-high 13 point game against UAB last night motivated Kasey Hill. In the battle for starting point guard, I'd give the edge to Kasey as ChiChi scored zero points in 15 minutes of playing time. However, ChiChi did beat Kasey in steals 2-1.

The scoring drops off after Frazier II and Hill. The next couple of Gators who contributed tonight were Jon Horford and true freshman Devin Robinson.

Horford had seven points, seven rebounds, and led the Gators with two blocks tonight. Robinson also had seven points and hit one of his two three-point shots. He converted on all four of his free throw attempts and was also one of two Gators to foul out of the game.

The last pair of Gators worth mentioning are Dorian Finney-Smith and Eli Carter. Seen by many as the leaders of this team, they both were non-factors tonight. Finney-Smith fouled out with six minutes left in the game with just four points and five rebounds. Despite a dismal performance, Finney-Smith did lead the Gators on defense with three steals.

It appears that Finney-Smith's left wrist hairline fracture really is bothering him as evidenced by his play. If this is indeed the case, then Finney-Smith should miss as many games as he needs to until his wrist his fully healthy. If it won't be 100% for awhile, then Finney-Smith is just going to have to suck it up and go out there and play.

Dorian Finney-Smith can at least attribute his lackluster performance to injury. For Eli Carter, I see no valid excuse. After nearly winning the game against Georgetown on Wednesday, Carter has made no impact at all these last two games. He did not even play against UAB and against UNC he scored just one point in 13 minutes of action.

Whether head coach Billy Donovan is sending a message to Carter by limiting his playing time is beyond me. All I know is that Carter's play has deteriorated rapidly since the Georgetown game. Now in the same position as a couple of his teammates before the trip, Carter is just going to have to play his way through this slump and earn back his starting spot in the lineup.

Now back to .500 at 3-3, the #18 Gators have exactly a week off before their next game. They are going to need this break to recoup as their next opponent is on the road against the Kansas Jayhawks (4-1) on December 5th. This game can be seen on ESPN and tipoff is at 9 p.m.

Disappointed but content at a 2-1 record in Atlantis, #5 North Carolina (5-1) returns to Chapel Hill to prepare for the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2) on December 3rd. Tipoff for this game is at 7:30 p.m. For anyone wondering, the #2 Wisconsin Badgers (7-0) won the whole tournament with a 69-56 win over the Oklahoma Sooners (4-2) in the championship game.

*All stats accredited to &

UF Basketball: #18 UF vs UAB

In a much closer game than I anticipated, the #18 Florida Gators defeated the UAB Blazers 56-47 tonight. The game was mostly a back-and-forth dogfight until the Gators went on an 9-0 run with less than four minutes in the contest.

Two Florida players hit double digits tonight in scoring. They were Michael Frazier II and Chris Chiozza.

Michael Frazier II had a game-high 14 points on 4 of 10 shooting. From three-point land, he went three of seven. He also recorded a block and brought down eight rebounds to tie for the game-high. He played significantly better this game and is slowly but surely returning to the sharp shooting form he had just a year ago.

Similar to Frazier II, true freshman Chris Chiozza had the deep ball working tonight as he went three of six from downtown. In total, he had a career-high 13 points and looked good on the court as he set up the offense. He tallied three assists and on defense he was a beast with five steals! If ChiChi keeps this up, he will be a viable candidate to steal Kasey Hill's starting point guard position.

That being said, Kasey Hill actually had another decent game tonight. He scored eight points and dished out a game-high five assists. It will be interesting to watch the point guard battle between him and ChiChi as the season progresses and the games become more meaningful.

Also scoring eight points was the big graduate center Jon Horford. He put his size to good use today as he brought down eight rebounds to tie Frazier II for the game-high. He also recorded one block and hit all four of his free throw attempts in the game.

Once again closing out my player highlights is Chris Walker. In 11 minutes, the sophomore had seven points, a block, and six rebounds. Not too shabby for playing the second-lowest amount of minutes in the game.

Now that the Gators (3-2) have won at least one game in Atlantis, they should enter tomorrow's final game against the #5 North Carolina Tarheels (4-1) feeling loose and relaxed. They should still be focused, however, since North Carolina is definitely a high-caliber team. This is a very compelling matchup between two great college basketball programs. Tipoff for this game is at 8 p.m. It should be a good one!

After nearly pulling the upset, UAB (2-4) will also finish out its time in Atlantis with its last game against the #22 UCLA Bruins (4-2). Tipoff is set for 10:30 p.m.

*All stats accredited to

Thursday, November 27, 2014

UF Basketball: Georgetown Stuns #18 UF in First Round of Battle 4 Atlantis

The #18 Florida Gators suffered an absolute gut-wrenching overtime loss tonight as they lost to the Georgetown Hoyas 65-66 in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.

Offensively, the Gators were sloppy the entire game as they had 16 turnovers and blew an opportunity to win the game at the buzzer in regulation. Poor free throw shooting came back to bite them despite the team hitting 13 of their 19 free throw attempts. The Gators also could not penetrate Georgetown's defense as they scored just 10 points in the paint.

Since Florida had limited success getting to the basket, they had to rely on the deep ball. This did not bode well for the Gators. From three-point range, they shot 26.1% on just 6 of 23 shots. In overtime, Florida did not attempt a single three-pointer.

Defensively, the Gators once again did not look good as the Hoyas chewed them up for 26 points in the paint. Despite their domination in the paint, Georgetown's game winning shot came from afar as junior guard D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera drilled a jumper with three seconds left in the game. He was the Hoyas' leading scorer with 17 points. He was one of three Hoyas to score double figures in the game as forward Paul White and guard Jabril Trawick had 10 points a piece.

The Florida Gators had three double digit scorers of their own. They were Dorian Finney-Smith, Michael Frazier II, and Jon Horford.

In his first game back from injury, Dorian Finney-Smith led all Gator players in scoring with 16 points in 28 minutes off the bench. He made both of his three-point attempts and made six of his nine shot attempts from the field. He blocked one shot as well.

Michael Frazier II was the second highest scorer with 12 points today. To be honest though, he was dreadful as he made two of his eight three-point shots and went 4 of 11 shooting from the field. He did not attempt a single shot in overtime! On defense, however, Frazier II was alright as he notched a team high three steals.

Frazier II is in a funk right now and it may stem from the pressure that has been put on him to be a leader this year. He has been cold from downtown for the majority of games in this young season, but still has a good amount of time to get back on track.

The last double digit scorer for the Gators was the graduate student Jon Horford. He had a double-double today as he scored 10 points and led the team with 11 rebounds. He shot 80% from the field as he went four of five shooting and he was one of three Gators to record a block.

One of the players who really disappointed me tonight was Eli Carter. Also coming off an injury like Finney-Smith, Carter was mediocre and selfish today. He went 2 of 14 shooting for six points and missed the potential game winning shot as he drove the lane with three seconds left and got his shot blocked! This took me right back to the Miami game where he tried the same exact thing in the exact same situation and was called for a charge.

What upset me about Carter's play is that there were FOUR Hoya players in the paint and he did not at all think to dish it out to one of his teammates for the win! If Carter does not start playing unselfishly, then the Gators are going to have problems that will plague them all the way up until the tournament in March. Ironically, Carter was Florida's leading facilitator with three assists.

I do not want to leave Carter on a completely negative note so I will say this: He almost did win the game for the Gators in overtime as his half court shot as time expired nearly went in.

Now onto the man who is supposed to be doing all the assisting for the Gators: Kasey Hill. The sophomore point guard struggled once again this game until the very end. He went three of seven shooting for eight points and found a small groove in the second half going into overtime.

Hill displayed his clutch gene once again as he drew a foul on his game tying basket and then nailed the go-ahead free throw in overtime. Despite his late game scoring spurt and ability to hit free throws, Hill needs to work on his passing as he had just one assist in the game.

I know it's hard to fill the shoes of Scottie Wilbekin, but Kasey just needs to remember that he does not need to be Scottie. Kasey did have one block today, but he does not need to be the defensive specialist that Scottie was.

If Kasey can just do what is asked of the point guard position, which is to facilitate, then he will be fine. Once it all clicks in his mind, Kasey Hill will be a force to be reckoned with at point guard and this Gator offense will start running on all cylinders.

Finally, I'll highlight Chris Walker. He sure is a joy to watch as he dunks the ball ferociously whenever he gets the chance. His playing time was limited once again tonight as he was on the court for just 12 minutes. He made just one of his six shots from the field, but solid free throw shooting allowed him to total five points in the game.

Now 2-2, the Florida Gators will prepare for their second of three games on this trip. Their next opponent will be the UAB Blazers (2-3) in the loser's bracket of Battle 4 Atlantis. Even though they cannot win the tournament's championship, that does not mean the Gators have nothing to play for. They will most likely drop out of the Top 25 polls if they lose to the Blazers. Tipoff for this game is at 9:30 p.m on Thanksgiving night.

As for Georgetown, they remain undefeated at 5-0 and will now prepare to do battle with another undefeated in #2 Wisconsin (5-0). The winner of this game will go the Battle 4 Atlantis Championship Game and take on the winner of the Butler/Oklahoma game. Tipoff for this game is at 3:30 p.m.

*All stats accredited to

Sunday, November 23, 2014

UF Soccer: Gators Advance to Elite 8

The Florida Gators women's soccer team is on its way to the Elite Eight! After defeating the Texas Tech Raiders 3-2 today, the Gators will be playing in just the fifth Elite Eight in program history!

Similar to last game, the Gators struck first as senior Havana Solaun scored in the 14th minute of the game. Less than ten minutes later in the 21st minute, sophomore Savannah Jordan knocked one through to make it 2-0 Florida.

Texas Tech would rally back though, as freshman Sara Summers scored in the 37th minute and junior Janine Beckie scored in the 64th minute. With the score now tied at 2-2, a hero would need to emerge to keep the Gators' historic postseason run alive.

As the game clock wound down to under ten minutes, Florida found its hero in Annie Speese. In the 81st minute, the senior midfielder scored her third goal of the tournament to give Florida the lead and ultimately the win.

Senior goalkeeper Taylor Burke recorded three saves today and continues to play well as the stakes grow a little bit higher in each game.

Through three NCAA tournament games, the Florida Gators (19-4-1) have scored three goals in each contest and will now prepare for the winner of the Stanford/Washington game. I am hoping that Washington can find a way to pull the upset as Stanford beat Florida 1-0 in overtime earlier this year. This Elite Eight game will take place on November 28th or November 29th at a time to be determined.

Texas Tech concludes their season at 16-4-2 and will head back home to Lubbock to start offseason training for 2015.

*All stats accredited to

UF Football: Eastern Kentucky vs Florida

The Florida Gators sent out their seniors and coach Will Muschamp the right way today as they thrashed the Eastern Kentucky Colonels 52-3. With this win, the Florida Gators are now bowl eligible!

The Gator offense embraced more of an air raid approach in this game as they threw the ball for 326 yards. Treon Harris and Jeff Driskel were near mirror images of one another as they threw for 162 and 164 yards, respectively. Harris threw two touchdowns and Driskel threw three touchdowns. Harris did get banged up in the second quarter of the game, but it was nothing serious as he was back out on the field by the next drive.

On the ground, the Gators had just 104 yards. Redshirt freshman Adam Lane led the team with 60 rushing yards while Kelvin Taylor and Jeff Driskel rushed for one touchdown a piece. In his last game in the Swamp, senior tailback Matt Jones had nine carries for 27 yards.

For what I am pretty sure is the first time all season, the Gators had two receivers with over 100 yards receiving in a game. They were sophomore Demarcus Robinson with 137 yards on a team-high four catches, and senior Quinton Dunbar with 107 yards on three catches. Both of them caught two touchdowns a piece.

It is also worth mentioning that senior Michael McNeely, the heralded hero from the Georgia game, caught a touchdown pass as well. The final senior to record a reception was tight end Clay Burton. He had one catch for 19 yards.

Defensively, the Gators smothered Eastern Kentucky as they held the Colonels to just three points on 142 total yards. Redshirt senior Michael Taylor led the defense with nine tackles (0.5 tackles for loss). Fellow seniors Jabari Gorman, Darious Cummings, Michael McNeely, Mack Brown, and Matt Jones combined for nine tackles as well.

The Gators got after Eastern Kentucky's quarterbacks today as the defensive line notched three sacks. Two of these sacks can be attributed to sophomore Joey Ivie and the other can be credited to redshirt sophomore Alex McCalister.

In the secondary, Vernon Hargreaves III and company shut down the passing game as they combined for four pass breakups and 26 total tackles. VH3 had three tackles and two pass breakups.

Compared to last week against South Carolina, special teams was on point today. Redshirt sophomore kicker Austin Hardin nailed his lone field goal attempt of the game from 48 yards out while senior Frankie Velez converted both of his extra point tries.

In his last game in The Swamp, senior punter Kyle Christy was once again phenomenal. He punted four balls for a total of 196 yards. He averaged 49 yards per punt with his longest punt being 55 yards. Christy was not named a semifinalist for the 2014 Ray Guy Award, but that does not take away how great of a punter he has been for the Gators this year.

Unlike last year's pitiful performance against Georgia Southern, the Gators (6-4) crushed the cupcake team like they were supposed to this year. Now bowl eligible for what seems like the first time in eternity (even though it's been just a year), the Gators will look to pull the upset of the year as they head to Tallahassee to take on undefeated rival #3 Florida State (11-0).

The players made it evident that they won today's game for ex-head coach Will Muschamp, who coached his final game in The Swamp. Now with state pride on the line and Muschamp in his final game ever as the Gators head coach, I can promise you that this Gators team is going to give all they got next Saturday. To me, this game feels like a National Championship for the Gators.

Florida State continues to tread the line of losing after narrowly beating a Boston College team that ran all over them! This is great news for the Gators as they have been a run-first team all year. If Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor can duplicate the performances they had against Georgia, then FSU better watch out.

I have more faith in the Gators this time around than I did last year considering the less amount of injuries that have plagued the team. If the Gators can somehow a pull a miracle out of thin air and beat FSU in Tallahassee, then Will Muschamp will forever hold a somewhat positive place in my mind.

I will still never forget what has been a string of tumultuous seasons, but a win knocking FSU out of the playoffs will, for the most part, help me forgive Muschamp for driving the program into the ground.

The game is set for 3:30 p.m. next Saturday on November 29th. I hope to catch at least the end of the game as I will be on a bus ride from Orlando to Gainesville during most of the game. Go Gators! Go and end a winning streak that should have been stopped weeks ago starting with Notre Dame!

Shifting to Eastern Kentucky now, they fall to 9-3 on the year and will await their fate regarding the FCS playoffs. They are currently in second place in the Ohio Valley Conference behind a 10-1 Jackson State University, so they will need to rely on an at-large bid to get into the playoffs. If they do get in, other FCS teams better be on watch as this team can do some damage. I wish my best to them the rest of the way!

*All stats accredited to

Saturday, November 22, 2014

UF Basketball: #8 UF Survives Against UL-Monroe

The #8 Florida Gators survived an overtime scare against the UL-Monroe Warhawks tonight in the O-Dome. Thanks to some clutch free throw shooting by Kasey Hill down the stretch, the Gators were able to pull out a 61-56 victory. Free throws were a major factor in this game as the Gators went to the line 32 times compared to just eight times for the Warhawks. Florida went 24 of 32 from the free throw line while UL-Monroe went 5-8.

The Gators had two players who reached double digits tonight. The first player I'll highlight was the leading scorer in Michael Frazier II. He had 21 points and was 11 of 13 on his free throw attempts! His 13 attempts were the most by any Gator in the game. He was also the second highest rebounder as he brought down eight boards for the Orange and Blue.

The second player in double digits was freshman Chris Chiozza, or "ChiChi" as my friends and I like to call him. Chiozza had 11 points and was 4 of 6 from the line. He also brought it on the defensive side of the ball as he recorded a game high four steals!

The Gators leading rebounder once again was Jacob Kurtz, who started his second consecutive game in place of Dorian Finney-Smith. He had 13 rebounds tonight, which is definitely a career-high! He was also able to rack up six points for the second straight game and was the team's leading distributor with three assists. From what I can tell, Kurtz seems to be improving every game!

Some other Gators worth noting are graduate Jon Horford, sophomore Kasey Hill, and sophomore Chris Walker. First I'll start with Horford.

I do not know what it was, but Horford was not a factor at all tonight on the boards as he had just four rebounds. However, if Kurtz is going to go out and get 10+ rebounds a game, then I think I can take some pressure off of Horford. He made up for his lack of rebounding with some offensive production as he scored nine points. He also made the Warhawks still deal with his sheer size as he blocked four shots!

Now on to Kasey Hill. He did much better offensively this game as he totaled eight points. As I noted earlier, he helped the Gators close out the win in overtime as he sunk a few pressure-packed free throws. Hill went 4 of 6 line and also dished out two assists.

In my last article, I said that Hill and Frazier II needed to find a way to motivate each other to start playing better. It appears something of that sort has occurred as Frazier II led the team in points and Hill put the game away from the line. However, Hill still went 2 of 12 on his shot attempts. He needs to clean that up if he wants to keep seeing playing time.

Finally, there is Chris Walker. I still haven't officially seen him play in person as I did not attend the game tonight. I was tired from a long week and I also wanted to catch the end of the Gator soccer game on WatchESPN. Moving past my personal issues now, let me elaborate on Walker's performance.

In his first appearance of the season, Walker saw 26 minutes of playing time and scored four points on 2 of 5 shots. He hauled in four rebounds and had one block. Not overwhelmingly impressive, but it was Walker's first game of the year so I'm not going to be too critical of him.

The name of college basketball is survival, and that's just what the #8 Gators did tonight. After losing to Miami on Monday, a loss tonight to UL-Monroe most certainly would have knocked Florida down between the 20 and 25 spots in the polls.

Now 2-1, the Gators will prepare to get some sun as they head to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament over Thanksgiving Break. The first opponent they will face will be the Georgetown Hoyas (2-0) on Wednesday, November 26th. Tipoff is 9:30 p.m. I can't wait!

UL-Monroe (2-1), will look to bounce back from their first loss of the season as they head home to take on the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers (2-1) on Wednesday, November 26th. Tipoff is 2:30 p.m.

*All stats accredited to

Friday, November 21, 2014

UF Soccer: Gators Advance to Sweet 16

The Florida Gators women's soccer team is heading to the Sweet 16 after their 3-1 victory over the California Golden Bears in the Gainesville regional tonight!

Seeded #2 in their respective region of the bracket, the Gators jumped on Cal quickly as senior midfielder Annie Speese scored just three minutes into the game. As Cal tried to recover from this early blow, the Gators would strike again. This time it was senior midfielder Havana Solaun who would score in the 13th minute to make it 2-0 Gators.

Cal would not go down without a fight, however. Junior forward Celeste Boureille scored in the 17th minute to make it 2-1 and from there it was just a long game of keep away. As the game clock slowly ticked to its conclusion, the Gators put the nail in the coffin as sophomore forward Savannah Jordan beat the keeper and scored in the 89th minute.

On defense, it was another senior-dominated performance as goalkeeper Taylor Burke had three saves on the night. Burke has now allowed just one goal in two tournament games.

For the second straight game, the Gators (18-4-1) have scored three goals. They will look to continue this streak as they prepare for their Sweet 16 match with the Texas Tech Red Raiders (17-3-2) on Sunday, November 23rd. The Gators will have the home field advantage as this game will be in Donald R. Dizney Stadium. Game time is 2 p.m.

As for the California Golden Bears, they end there season at 14-6-2 and will head back to Berkeley to start offseason training for next season.

*All stats accredited to &

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

UF Basketball: Miami Upsets #7 Florida in the O-Dome

As the last shot bounced off the rim, I couldn't believe what I had just witnessed. After 33 straight games, the Florida Gators' home winning streak in the O-Dome has come to an end. It is almost fitting that the rival Miami Hurricanes, my former favorite team, was the team to do it.

The Gators were ranked 8th in the polls coming into this matchup and led all way up until 3:48 left in the game. From there, it was a back and forth affair that saw Miami's Angel Rodriguez seal the deal with a nasty fadeaway three-pointer over Kasey Hill with 16 seconds left in the game. Rodriguez would again seal UF's fate when he drew a charge on Eli Carter with two seconds left in the game.

After UF fouled Rodriguez, he proceeded to nail one of his two foul shots. Down two, the Gators still had life. Jacob Kurtz threw a prayer across the court that was deflected and picked up by junior Michael Frazier II. Frazier II threw up a prayer before the buzzer sounded, but could not convert. Miami had completed an upset that not a lot of people saw coming.

This was by far one of the best Gator basketball games I have ever attended! There is nothing better than a game that comes down to the last shot. It stinks when your team does not come out on top but that is just the nature of sports. Florida's narrow defeat does not take away from the fact that this was an instant classic in the Florida-Miami basketball rivalry.

It is very uncharacteristic of me to highlight opposing players, but I give a ton of credit to Miami's redshirt junior guard Angel Rodriguez. He rose to the occasion and made the big shots when the pressure was on. He finished the game with 24 points and was five of eight from three-point land! He also scored Miami's last 11 points of the game. Losing is tough, but I tip my hat to Rodriguez for his performance tonight.

Now on to the Gators. Eli Carter was the leading scorer for the Gators as he made eight of his nine shot attempts for 21 points. He had a chance to win the game in the final seconds, but his shot was negated as he committed a charging foul that fouled him out of the game.

The second highest scorer, and my Gator MVP for this game despite the loss, was Jon Horford. I have fallen in love with Horford's play ever since he arrived here and he did not disappoint tonight. He scored 17 points and showed us all how versatile he can be as as big man as he nailed three of his six three-point attempts. He also made all four of his free throw attempts, two of which came in crunch time.

Late in the game, Horford scored eight straight points for the Gators as they tried to rally against the Hurricanes. In the paint, he was a beast as his seven rebounds were the second highest on the team. Defensively, Horford was very solid as he recorded three blocks.

Just like the William & Mary game, Michael Frazier II rounds out the double digit scorers. He had 13 points and converted one of just two three-pointers. This is a very low number of three-point attempts for Frazier considering his primary role is to shoot from the perimeter. Still, Gator fans should not worry as this is only just the second game of the regular season. Frazier II will eventually rediscover his game as the season crosses over into 2015.

Now that I have covered the top scorers, it is time to look at the leading Gator rebounder for this game: Jacob Kurtz. Assuming a starting role this game in lieu of an injured Dorian Finney-Smith, Kurtz nabbed eight rebounds in 36 minutes of playing time. He was also able to slip in the paint unnoticed a couple of times on route to a modest six points in the game.

Kurtz did some facilitating as well as he totaled two assists. He is just a hard worker who hustles and gives his all game in and game out. I thoroughly enjoy watching Jacob Kurtz play and succeed at the D-1 level.

The final starter I have yet to mention is Kasey Hill. Shooting-wise, he was terrible tonight as he could not score anything after making his first shot. He would end up going one for eight for just two points. However, he somewhat made up for it by dishing out a team leading eight assists.

Hill, like Frazier II, is still struggling even though he did a much better job with passing the ball tonight. Considering the two were high school teammates, they should find a way to challenge each other to perform to the potential they know they are both capable of.

Up 14 points at one point with 8:29 left in the game, Florida let this one get away from them. This game can be best summarized as a defensive breakdown by the Gators that allowed a hot-handed Angel Rodriguez to beat them.

The Florida Gators still lead the all-time series 9-3, but getting upset at home by one of their arch rivals is sure to leave a bad taste in head coach Billy Donovan's mouth for the next few days. I can confidently say that he will be putting more emphasis on defense in the team's upcoming practices.

Looking to regroup, a now 1-1 Florida Gator squad will turn its attention to another home game against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks (2-0) on Friday, November 21st. They will surely fall out of the Top 10 after this Miami loss at home, but they need to turn it around against UL-Monroe or they will be in danger of sliding either further. Tipoff for this game is at 8 p.m.

For Miami, it is a completely different story. Coming off one of the biggest wins in program history, they will most likely enter the Top 25 after this week. The Hurricanes (2-0) and Angel Rodriguez will look to stay hot as they head back to Coral Gables to take on the Drexel Dragons (0-2) on Thursday, November 20th. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.

*Stats accredited to &

Monday, November 17, 2014

Top 5 Kickers in Gator Football History

As the November 15th game against South Carolina showed, special teams plays a huge role in football. I conclude my offensive portion of my Top 5 series with my five best kickers in Gator football history. Without further adieu, here they are!

#5 Kyle Christy (2011-2014)

I start my list with current Gator Kyle Christy. In his senior year now, Christy is the only punter on this list. Honestly, I could not find a fifth kicker so I figured that Christy would suffice. Through three years and nine games this year (the South Carolina stats have not translated to sports-reference yet), Christy has 166 career punts for 7,236 total yards. He has an average of 43.6 yards per punt.

Some of Christy's accolades include:
  • First-team All-American in 2012
  • First-team All-SEC in 2012
  • My personal recognition as the most consistent player on the 2014 Gator football team
Kyle Christy is a frontrunner for the Ray Guy Award despite having his punt blocked late in the game on Saturday. He has been clutch all year in flipping field position and should be a solid punter for some lucky team in the NFL. We will miss you dearly, Kyle.

#4 Jeff Chandler (1997-2001)

Now we get into the place kickers. Jeff Chandler played for the Gators at the end of the Steve Spurrier Era and was a part of two Orange Bowl victories in his sophomore and senior campaigns. He finished his career with 67 field goals made in 80 attempts and an 83.8 field goal percentage. He made 167 extra points in 180 attempts for a 92.8 extra point percentage. He is responsible for 367 points, the most on this list.

In addition to winning two Orange Bowls, Chandler's other recognitions include:
  • First-team All-SEC in 1999 and 2001
  • Second-team All-American in 1999
  • SEC Champion in 2000
Chandler was drafted 102nd overall in the fourth round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the San Francisco 49ers. His NFL career was a short one as he bounced around between six different teams. He decided to hang up the spikes in 2006.

#3 Caleb Sturgis (2008-2012)

A member of the 2008 National Championship team as a true freshman, Sturgis handled kickoff duties in the National Championship Game and developed into quite the kicker by his senior year.

By the time he graduated, Sturgis had nailed 70 field goals in 88 attempts for a 79.5 field goal percentage. He converted 130 of his 136 extra point attempts for a 95.6 extra point percentage. He has accounted for 338 total points.

He is a very decorated kicker and some of his awards include:
  • SEC Champion in 2008
  • Sugar Bowl Champion in 2009
  • First-team All-SEC in 2011 and 2012
  • First-team All-American in 2012
  • SEC Special Teams Player of the Year in 2012
Sturgis entered the 2013 NFL Draft after his senior year and was selected 166th overall in the 5th round by the Miami Dolphins. Sturgis is still with the Dolphins and is also a solid kicker for my fantasy team this year. Up to this point in his NFL career, he has hit 45 of his 57 attempts for a 78.8 field goal percentage. His longest kick is 54 yards.

#2 Jonathan Phillips (2005-2009)

Jonathan Phillips experienced all but one year of the Urban Meyer Era and has two National Championships and a Sugar Bowl title to his name. He played a big role in the 2008 National Championship as he converted all three of his extra points and nailed his lone field goal attempt from 27 yards out.

Phillips really only kicked during the 2008 season, so his stats are the fewest on this list. He nailed 12 field goals in 14 attempts for a 85.7 field goal percentage. He made 97 extra points in 101 attempts for a 96 extra point percentage. He scored a total of 128 points.

Philips was very academically oriented as his accolades below include:
  • SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll in 2005, 2006, and 2009
  • Academic All-SEC in 2006 and 2007
  • SEC Champion in 2006 and 2008
  • Semifinalist for Lou Groza Award in 2008
Phillips did not pursue an NFL career after graduating from UF, but his contribution to the 2008 title run will never be forgotten by Gator fans.

#1 Judd Davis (1992-1994)

At No. 1 is Judd Davis. A walk-on player originally, Davis is the only Gator kicker to win a Lou Groza Award (the award given to the best kicker in the country). He won the award as a junior in 1993. On top of winning the Lou Groza Award, Davis was a part of Gator teams that won the Gator Bowl in 1992 and the Sugar Bowl in 1993.

In his three years as a Gator, Judd made 32 field goals in 39 attempts for an 82.1 field goal percentage. He has the fewest missed extra points on this list with just two. He made 129 extra points in 131 attempts for a 98.5 extra point percentage. He totaled 225 points.

The Lou Groza aside, Davis has some other accolades to his name. They include:
  • First-team All-American in 1993
  • First-team All-SEC in 1994
  • SEC Champion in 1993 & 1994
  • UF Hall of Fame inductee in 2011
Similar to Phillips, Davis did not pursue an NFL career after graduation. However, he will always be remembered as the only Lou Groza Award winner in Florida's history, and that is no small feat by any means.

Honorable Mention:
Chas Henry (2007-2010)

I hope you enjoyed this Top 5 List! I'll now be switching gears as I rank the best defensive players to ever play at the University of Florida. I will start with the Top 5 Defensive Linemen in next week's article. Until then, stay tuned for my articles covering the Gator basketball games against Miami tonight and Louisiana-Monroe on November 21st!

*All stats accredited to, College Football @, Pro,, &

*All pictures accredited to,,,, &