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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Tennessee Vols: 'It just looked like we took their soul'

Considering all the back-and-forth barbs between Florida and Tennessee all offseason, the Volunteers weren't shy about basking in Saturday's 38-28 comeback win over the Gators.

"It just looked like we took their soul, really," safety Todd Kelly Jr. said.

Well then.

I'm not sure I'd go that far, but the defeat was certainly big for UF. A confident - and a little cocky - Gators team had to be humbled.

"It's hard, especially losing to a rival like Tennessee," linebacker Alex Anzalone said. "It's been 11 years since we've lost to them, and to be the team that lost this game really hurts."

UF coach Jim McElwain said the real test will be how the Gators respond. A common talking point for players after the game was that no UF team has won a national title without losing a game. I'm not going that far unless some big improvements are made, but the overall point stands: One game, even a collapse like this one, does not define a season.

"I think what it does is really test who you are as a person, really test who you are as a man," McElwain said. "In loss, in failure, some of the greatest lessons you can ever learn about who you are and what you're all about are taught." …

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It's game day for Florida-Tennessee

Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby hugs his dad, Michael, on his way into Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

Florida Gators quarterback Austin Appleby hugs his dad, Michael, on his way into Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Good afternoon from Neyland Stadium, where the Florida Gators will try to extend their winning streak against Tennessee to 12 games.

College GameDay was in the house, and Vols fans were not happy when Lee Corso pretended to pick Tennessee before putting on a Gators head (and doing the Tomahawk chop?).

Crowd reaction after Corso switches from Smokey to #Gators

Injured UF quarterback Luke Del Rio is here, as expected. Austin Appleby is still expected to start, but I get the feeling that something is up. The Gators closed practice this week, and coach Jim McElwain has kinda sorta said UF might play multiple quarterbacks. We'll see.

Receiver Antonio Callaway (quad) made the trip and walked into the stadium without a limp. We'll see if he plays.

Enjoy the game.


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Video: Can a duck pull a truck? Also, let's talk Gators-Vols, FSU-USF

Can a duck truly pull a truck?

Can a duck truly pull a truck?

The biggest question in college football this week, of course, is this: Can a duck pull a truck? 

Joey Knight and I tried to find out...and we also talk Gators-Vols, Florida State-USF, look at our College Football Playoff final four and more in our weekly Spanning the State video. Check it out. 

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Jon Gruden, Phil Esposito, Jeremy Foley among Florida Sports Hall of Fame inductees

Jon Gruden led the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII.


Jon Gruden led the Bucs to a win in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Former Bucs coach Jon Gruden, Lightning founder Phil Esposito and Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley are among the five inductees to the Florida Sports Hall of Fame, the hall announced Thursday.

Former Rays outfielder Johnny Damon (an Orlando native) and sailing Olympian Allison Jolly are the other inductees to be honored during the Nov. 15 enshrinement dinner at Tampa's TPepins Hospitality Center.

Foley spent a quarter century as the Gators' AD, overseeing three national titles in football and two in men's basketball. He is retiring effective Oct. 1.

Gruden won Super Bowl XXXVII for the Bucs, and Esposito helped bring the NHL to the area. Jolly is in her 13th season as USF's sailing coach, and Damon, a two-time World Series winner, spent the 2011 season with the Rays.

For more information, go here. 

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Jimbo Fisher on USF's Willie Taggart: 'He's done a heck of a job'

Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher has had plenty of good things to say about USF this week as his No. 13 Seminoles prepare for Saturday's game at Raymond James Stadium.

"You could see they're a well-coached team that's buying into everything Coach (Willie) Taggart is doing," Fisher said. "He's done a heck of a job."

Fisher said it's obvious on film how disciplined the Bulls are with their few breakdowns and effort. He also said USF's offense continues to improve as Quinton Flowers and the rest of the Bulls grasp Taggart's Gulf Coast Offense.

"I think they understand the scheme more," Fisher said. "Guys have been in it, playing more, more consistency. They're being really consistent in how they're executing. They're creating plays down the field throwing the football.

"They do a great job running it - multiple formations, whether they are unbalanced, all the different things they do."

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Florida Gators' Antonio Callaway questionable/probable to play against Tennessee

UPDATE, 5:55: After watching receiver Antonio Callaway practice Wednesday, UF coach Jim McElwain upgraded his standout sophomore to questionable/probable to play Saturday at Tennessee. My original story is below:

Florida Gators coach Jim McElwain said he expects standout receiver Antonio Callaway to try to play this week at rival Tennessee.

"He tried to go a little bit yesterday (in practice)," McElwain said during Wednesday's SEC coaches' teleconference. "He kind of ran around out there a little bit. I know he'll do everything he can to play...

"Time will tell. I'm expecting him to have at it. We'll know a lot more after today's practice."

Callaway was the star of last year's win over Tennessee when he had a 64-yard catch and run on fourth down to give the Gators a 28-27 win. He missed last week's game against North Texas with a quad injury.

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Florida Gators' Quincy Wilson guarantees a win over the Vols...and talks about a duck pulling a truck

GAINESVILLE - Florida Gators defensive back Quincy Wilson walked toward reporters after Tuesday's practice with a message, he said, from DBU.

"You ever seen a duck pull a truck?" Wilson asked. "A duck don't pull a truck."

Eventually, Wilson explained his metaphor. 

"Nobody has ever seen a duck pull a truck," Wilson said. "The Florida Gators are going to win. Simple as that."

Presumably, no ducks or trucks will be involved in Saturday's game between UF and rival Tennessee. But the Gators have beaten the Volunteers 11 years in a row, which has UF quite confident - perhaps even cocky - about its chances.

If it wasn't clear, Wilson later formally guaranteed a Gators win.

Teammate Ahmad Fulwood said he wasn't too interested in the streak, but he said the rivalry is intense. Why?

"Them thinking they can beat us," Fulwood said.

And why, you might wonder, is that so ridiculous?

"Because they haven't done it recently," Fulwood answered.

So yeah, Saturday's game should be interesting.

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Florida Gators announce details of basketball game at Amalie Arena

The Florida Gators' Nov. 21 game in Tampa will start at 7 p.m. and be shown on the SEC Network, the school announced today.

The Gators are hosting Belmont that night at Amalie Arena as renovations continue at the O'Connell Center. 

Go here for ticket information.

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Purdue's Darrell Hazell happy for former Boilers Austin Appleby, Danny Etling

Austin Appleby, playing for Purdue, prepares to throw a pass during a 2015 game against Iowa.

Getty Images

Austin Appleby, playing for Purdue, prepares to throw a pass during a 2015 game against Iowa.

The Florida Gators' Austin Appleby isn't the only former Purdue Boilermaker quarterback who will be starting in the SEC this week.

LSU's Danny Etling is expected to start this week at Auburn. Appleby replaced Etling as the Boilers' starter in the 2014 season.

"I'm happy for those two guys down with LSU and Florida," Purdue coach Darrell Hazell said during Tuesday's Big Ten teleconference. "I hope they do well down there. Purdue's always been the cradle of quarterbacks will continue to do that. That's a proud moment for the Boilermakers."

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Florida Gators' Luke Del Rio officially out, Antonio Callaway still questionable

It looks as if Austin Appleby will start against Tennessee for Florida on Saturday.

It looks as if Austin Appleby will start against Tennessee for Florida on Saturday.

GAINESVILLE -- Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio will be officially out this week, coach Jim McElwain said Monday.

"Obviously we'll be going in with a new quarterback," McElwain said as he previewed his team's top-20 matchup against rival Tennessee.

Del Rio left after taking a hit to his left knee in the third quarter of UF's 32-0 win over North Texas on Saturday.

"He's got a bum leg," McElwain said. "He should be back sometime - I don't know when it's going to be."

Austin Appleby, a graduate transfer from Purdue, took over for Del Rio and completed two of his four passes for 30 yards. Appleby, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound Ohio native, played in 19 games and made 11 starts for the Boilermakers. When Appleby transferred to UF, I wrote a few things you should know about him. 

The Gators haven't announced Appleby's backup, which will be one of two true freshmen - Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks. 

UF plays at Vanderbilt next week before hosting No. 18 LSU on Oct. 8.

In other injury news, here's what McElwain had to say about standout receiver Antonio Callaway (quad): "We'll try to get Callaway back a little bit. We'll see what happens. He's hurting pretty good."



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Florida Gators' game at Vanderbilt gets noon kickoff

No. 19 Florida's Oct. 1 game at Vanderbilt will have a noon kickoff, the SEC announced Monday morning. It will be shown on the SEC Network.

The Gators are 3-0 for the 10th time in the last 12 seasons. They play at No. 14 Tennessee on Saturday in a rivalry game that will have big SEC East implications.

Two other TV/kickoff announcements for Oct. 1: North Carolina at Florida State will have a 3:30 kickoff on ABC, ESPN or ESPN2. Miami at Georgia Tech will be at noon that day on one of those three networks. 

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FSU down, Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes up in AP Top 25

Florida State dropped 11 spots to No. 13 in the latest AP poll.

Getty Images

Florida State dropped 11 spots to No. 13 in the latest AP poll.

Florida State's 43-point loss at Louisville caused the Seminoles to tumble in the AP Top 25.

FSU dropped 11 spots to No. 13 in the latest poll, which was released Sunday afternoon. The Cardinals jumped to No. 3.

Florida jumped four spots to No. 19; that's five spots behind Tennessee, whom the Gators will face Saturday in an SEC East showdown.

Miami leaped 10 spots to No. 15 after its win at Appalachian State.

Alabama stayed at No. 1, followed by Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan and Clemson. You can see the full rankings here.

Check out the ballot for my voting colleague, Joey Knight, here.


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ESPN's College GameDay coming to Florida-Tennessee game

Another weekend, another GameDay game for an in-state program.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

Another weekend, another GameDay game for an in-state program.

For the second weekend in a row, ESPN's College GameDay will be spotlighting one of Florida's power programs.

The traveling college football show will be in Knoxville next week when Tennessee hosts Florida in a top-25 matchup that will go a long way in deciding the SEC East. The Gators have beaten the rival Volunteers 11 times in a row.

GameDay was just in Louisville, where the Cardinals gave Florida State its worst loss in program history. 


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Sights, scenes and thoughts from College GameDay for FSU-Louisville

College GameDay is in the house for today's top-10 showdown.

Matt Baker | Tampa Bay Times

College GameDay is in the house for today's top-10 showdown.

UPDATE: Florida State defensive end Josh Sweat is dressed out and going through team warmups. The former five-star recruit looks as if he'll be playing, despite tweaking his knee during practice this week.

It's not raining anymore, but it rained sideways about an hour ago. The field might be slick, which should favor FSU and its better ground game. My original, full post is below. 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Happy game day from Papa John's Cardinal Stadium and, well, ESPN's College GameDay.

It's the first time the traveling college football show has visited Louisville, and there's quite a bit of enthusiasm, as you would imagine. I started seeing Cardinals signs a few minutes after my flight landed yesterday, and I haven't stopped.

A few odds and ends before today's showdown between No. 2 Florida State and No. 10 Louisville.

It sounds as if FSU defensive end Josh Sweat will play today, or at least try to. He reportedly tweaked his knee in practice Thursday. If the ‘Noles can slow down Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, Sweat will need to play well - assuming he plays at all. …

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Antonio Callaway 'highly questionable to doubtful' for Florida Gators this week

Antonio Callaway continues to work through a quad injury.


Antonio Callaway continues to work through a quad injury.

UPDATE, 6:11: Florida coach Jim McElwain said receiver Antonio Callaway is "highly questionable to doubtful" for Saturday's game against North Texas with a quad injury. McElwain also said starting right guard Tyler Jordan will be out with an eye injury.

The original post is below:

Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway continues to work through a quad injury, coach Jim McElwain said Wednesday.

Callaway went through most of Tuesday's practice, and his muscle loosened up as the workout progressed.

"He definitely wasn't himself..." McElwain said during the weekly SEC coaches' teleconference. "You could see he could run a little bit better as he worked through it."

UF practices Wednesday afternoon, and McElwain will likely update Callaway's status Wednesday evening.

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