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Gator Report

Antonya English

Gators Matt Jones gains valuable life lesson from Illness, injury last season

Last season this time, Florida RB Matt Jones was still recovering from the effects of a severe viral infection he became infected with last August.

A few weeks later, Jones suffered a knee injury that ended what he believed was a very promising season.

On Saturday when Florida hosts Idado at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in the 2014 season-opener, the junior from Seffner will once again begin what he hopes is an outstanding season - for himself and the Gators.

But last season's adversity has taught him appreciation for the game and some valuable life lessons.

Listen in here:

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"SEC Storied" documentary focuses on Steve Spurrier tonight

Former Florida and current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier will be featured tonight in an ESPN Documentary SEC Storied.

The film focuses on Spurrier and his long history with the SEC, is co-directed by Kenny Chesney and Shaun Silva, and will air tonight at 8 p.m. on the SEC Network.

“The Believer” reveals the essence of the most competitive man in the most competitive football conference in the nation," ESPN said in a press release.

Check out this preview of tonight's SEC Storied.

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Gators Jeff Driskel looking forward to returning to the field after injury

It has been 10 months since Jeff Driskel limped off of Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with a broken leg that sidelined him the remainder of the Gators' 2013 season.

So it should come as no surprise that Driskel is one of tthe Florida players most anticipating Saturday's season-opener aganist Idaho.

Regardless of the opponent, Driskel's just happy to get back on the field.

Driskel said the Gators are confident and feel more prepared entering this season.

"I think we’re more talented this year," he said. "I think we know what we’re doing a little bit more this year. The more time you put in, the more time you spend together, the more confident you’re gonna be.”

More from Driskel during his weekly media appearance today:

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Freshman Treon Harris earns backup QB job for Gators

Freshman QB Treon Harris has been named the Gators' backup QB for Saturday's season-opener vs. Idaho, coach Will Muschamp said.

Harris is a Miami native who led Booker T. Washington High to the Class 4A State Championship in 2012 and 2013.

Muschamp said the competition between Harris and freshman Will Grier was extremely close, but Harris has won out - for now.

"The backup quarterback will be Treon Harris heading into this game," Muschamp said. "There's really no separation from the backup standpoint. We met through the weekend and talked moving forward and felt like Treon has some things he can provide for us offensively, but that's nothing that's made for the long term. No one's been redshirted. No decisions have been made with Will Grier, Skyler Mornhinweg or anyone else. All of those guys did some good things and we're gonna move forward from week-to-week on that situation there."

Gators senior LB Mike Taylor said surprising leadership for a young player may have given Harris the edge. …

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Tim Tebow determined to become better broadcaster

Tim Tebow's broadcasting career has been brief so far, but some who work with him say he's dedicated to becoming the best he can be at the job.

Tebow is an analyst on the new SEC Network, and while the former Heisman Trophy winner knows football, he's still learning the nuances of broadcasting.

Richard Deitsch of Sports Illustrated spoke with Tebow's colleague Joe Tessitore about the former Gators' dedication to learning.

More on the story.

 

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Former Gator Josh Shaw proclaimed a hero for rescuing nephew

Former Gators safety Josh Shaw will miss part of his senior season at USC after suffering injuries to his ankles in a rescue attempt for his young nephew.

Shaw, a California native, transferred from Florida in the spring of 2012. He was expected to be a starter for the Trojans this season. He is also a captain on the team.

He suffered two high ankle sprains when he leaped from a second floor balcony to save his nephew.

The full story is here courtesy of usctrojans.com.

 

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Idaho to kick off season vs. Gators still in search of starting QB

While Florida enters this week still trying to make a decision on a backup quarterback to starter Jeff Driskel, its season-opning opponent Idaho has QB issues of its own.

The Vandals have not settled on a starting QB and most likely will play two when Idaho takes on the Gators Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The battle for the position is between redshirt freshman Matt Linehan and sophomore Chad Chalich.

Here is more on the story from Idaho Statesman writer Dave Southorn.

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Gators to enter Idaho game week still undecided on backup QB

Florida will take the weekend off, then reconvene on Monday to begin game-week preparations for the Gators season-opener against Idaho.

And after three weeks of fall camp, Gators coach Will Muschamp said he has not decided on a backup QB to starter Jeff Driskel. It is one of several key positions still up in the air including secondary, kicker, OG and three in the secondary.

“We’ll release a depth chart next week," Muschamp said. "We haven’t made any decisions as far as backup quarterback, place-kicker, who’s starting in the secondary. None of those decisions have been made. We’re going to meet as a staff (Friday afternoon) and review today’s film. We’ll go from there.”

Three players - sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg and true freshmen Will Grier and Treon Harris - are battling for the backup QB role. Muchamp called the competition extremely close. …

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Will Muschamp awards Clearwater's Michael McNeely a scholarship

Michael McNeely, a Palm Harbor University alum, is one of two walkon Gators players who were awarded a scholarship Friday by coach Will Muschamp.

McNeely, a redshirt senior, is a WR who has made an impact on special teams.

"Mike has been a fantastic special teams player, and just a wonderful young man, and has done everything we've asked him to do," Muschamp said.

Kicker Frankie Velez was also awarded a scholarship. When starting kicker Austin Hardin struggled last season, Velez was called into action. He played in five games.

Muschamp, a former walkon at Georgia who eventually earned a scholarship, holds walkons who work hard in high esteem. …

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Relationships with players key to Kurt Roper's coaching style

When Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper first got into the coaching profession, he was just following in his father's footsteps. He just wanted to coach

But along the way, he has learned that a crictical part of coaching for him is the relationships he develops with his players. Throughout fall camp, Roper has been earning rave reviews from Gators players about his willingness to spend the extra time trying to get to know players away from the field.

"I think that’s part of the process," Roper said. "You hear a lot of coaches say they got in this for the relationships with players. I can’t say that. I got  into this because I wanted to be like my dad. But I’ve learned what a great part of this is. That’s been the part that I enjoy the most once I got in it and understand. It takes a while. You develop relationships through shared experiences. Now that I’ve been here eight months there are a lot of shared experiences with these guys. All that’s growing.” …

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Gators Will Muschamp takes the ALS ice bucket challenge from Nick Saban

Tuesday afternoon, Alabama coach Nick Saban took the ice bucket challenge to help raise money and awarness for ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease).

He then challenged Gators coach Will Muschamp to do the same.

Wednesday evening, Muschamp accepted that challenge.

Check it out here:

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Gators Antonio Morrison vowing to put last season in the past

After a tumultuous and disappointing 2013 season, Florida LB Antonio Morrison is ready to put the past behind and focus on the prseent.

Morrison's weight is down from 240 pounds to about 220 pounds, and he said he's much more comfortable in the Gators' offense.

"I’ve been having a pretty good camp," Morrison said. "I got great knowledge of the defense. Lost a lot of weight so I’m moving a lot better this camp and feel good where I’m at."

Gators DL Darius Cummings said Morrison has a chip on his shoulder to prove he's better than he played last year, and that attitude is positively affecting the other defensive players.

Hear more from Morrison about the upcoming season:

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Gators OL Tyler Moore hopes move inside is beneficial

After missing multiple games last season due to injuries - including a season-ending broken elbow suffered in a scooter accident - Florida OL Tyler Moore is back healthy in the Gators' fall camp.

Moore said Tuesday he no longer rides a scooter since the accident for obvious reasons, but said it's not easy getting around.

“It’s hard not to ride them because the parking here is not the greatest," Moore said. "You’ve got to be able to get to campus, especially when you have to get up every day and be here at 6 a.m."

Because of team injuries last season, Moore spent the majority of his time switching positions on the O-line.

Listen to him talk about making the transition from tackle to guard and why having a confident Jeff Driskel is important.

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Still no backup QB as Gators prepare to end fall camp

With three days remaining before fall football camp concludes, Florida coach Will Muschamp said the Gators are still in search of a backup QB, but in many ways he's pleased with the way camp is progressing.

Listen as he breaks down Monday's scrimmage and updates injuries, including the season-ending injury to freshman Thomas Holley, who will undergo hip surgery.

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Lack of depth on offensive line a major concern for Gators Will Muschamp

After 15 consecutive days of practice, Florida will participate in its final open practice of the season on Saturday morning, beginning at 9 a.m.

With 14 days remaining before the season-opener against Idaho, Florida coach Will Muschamp said his biggest concerns are lack of depth on the lines of scrimmage.

"Depth on both lines of scrimmage, especially on the offensive line," Muschamp said. "Again, I feel really comfortable probably with seven guys right now. We need to have eight or nine. That's a critical issue."

The Gators still have not named a backup QB to juniior starter Jeff Driskel, something OC Kurt Roper said he would like to make a decision sometime next week.

"Backup quarterback is a concern there," Muschamp said. "I feel very good about receiver and running back. I feel Joey Ivie and some of the younger defensive lineman have made some moves. Jay-nard (Bostwick) has been better. I mean, those guys have made some strides. I feel very comfortable at linebacker. Again, I like our athleticism on the back end. Our communication from the safety position has not been very good and that needs to improve.”

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