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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Gators hoping Andre Debose can help ease loss of Solomon Patton

The loss of Florida WR Solomon Patton to a broken upper arm has left quite a void in the Gators' offense. Patton's speed and ability to gain yard on end-arounds was big boost for Florida. But the Gators don't plan to abandon the type of plays Patton excelled at, and instead are hoping that WR Andre Debose might rise to the occassion.

"Andre needs to step it up a little bit and help us in some situations there,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "We have to fill the void of what he gives you from a dynamic playmaker standpoint. He’s a guy that can get on the edge and do some good things.”

Florida OC Brent Pease said he hopes to keep running plays Patton was successful with.

"I don’t want to phase it out'' Pease said. "Debose can do it. You know that’s kind of, he’s been kind of the guy that’s taken some reps on it. So that definitely, when Solo got hurt, that definitely kind of threw a twist on some things for us.”

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Steve Spurrier not surprised by nationwide support for Marcus Lattimore

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said today that the outpouring of suppoort for injured Gamecock RB Marcus Lattimore doesn't surprise him because Lattimore is so humble and well-respected by teammates and opponents.

Lattimore, a native of South Carolina, dislocated his right knee and injured several ligaments when he was hit during this past Saturday's game against Tennessee. The gruesome scene shocked fans and players at the game, and was part of replay highlights throughout the rest of the day. He is expected to be able to play again, but his road to recovery will be long, Spurrier said.

By Saturday night, Twitter was filled with well-wishers from professional athletes to other college players. LSU's Sam Montgomery, also from South Carolina, has said he plans to wear Lattimore's No. 21 on his arm the remainder of the season. He's not alone.

"Justice Cunningham wore No. 21 in practice (Tuesday) afternoon.'' Spurrier said. "Marcus, again, we hope this is just something temporary for him. It's going to take some time to get back. But he will attack this, and doctors can do miracles nowadays putting knees back together. So we're hoping and praying that will occur here real soon." …

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Gators open play in SEC soccer tournament today

The No. 11 Florida soccer team (14-4, 11-2 SEC) will open play in the SEC Soccer Tournament today vs. Mississippi (13-8, 5-8) today at 6 p.m. at the Orange Beach SportsPlex in Orange Beach, AL.

Florida enters SEC Tournament play as the top seed after claiming its 12th league title. With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M to the SEC this season, the league tournament expanded a day. The Rebels won a 1-0 decision over LSU in Monday's play-in match to advance to the tournament's eight-team bracket.

Florida defeated Ole Miss 3-1 during the regular season.

Although Florida leads all league teams with nine SEC Tournament titles, only the 2007 and 2010 titles came at the Orange Beach SportsPlex. Eight of the last nine SEC Tournaments have been held in Orange Beach, Ala. …

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Gators aware of Missouri's ability to gain turnovers.

Fresh off a game in which it suffered six turnovers, Florida will now face another team that is skilled in that area.

Missouri is second in the nation in fumbles recovered - 14.

Florida OC Brent Pease said the Gators are fully aware that ball security will be a major concern this week.

"They’re going to be aware of it,'' Pease said of the Florida players. "They’re going to know because you look at a few plays on film, I mean (Sheldon) Richardson, he strips one, picks it up and runs it back against Kentucky all the way to the 20-yard line. It’s something our guys, they better know. They better have some ball security. These guys are going after it, as well as the secondary, they have some interceptions too. We’ve got to do a much better job with turnovers because that’s the thing that ultimately hurt us the other day.”

Pease said following Saturday's struggles with holding onto the ball, the Gators will have a heightened sense of awareness. …

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Will Muschamp and Gators eager to move forward after Georgia loss

Flolrida coach Will Muschamp said while the Gators were extremely disappointed with the 17-9 loss to Georgia this past weekend, he and the team are eager to get back onto the field and put the Georgia game behind.

In fact, Muschamp wishes they could play before Saturday, when the Gators host Missouri.

“That’s the tough thing about football is you’ve to wait seven days,'' Muschamp said. "Billy (Donovan) and them may lose on a Wednesday and they can go back out Saturday and play. Or Sully (UF baseball coach Kevin O'Sullivan), they play a double header in the morning and then again in the afternoon and can get a win and get it out of their system. But we can’t."

Instead, the Gators will spend the week trying to correct some of its mistakes from last week, including ball security - the Gators had six turnovers. …

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Florida Gators soccer coach Becky Burleigh named SEC Coach of the Year

Florida soccer coach Becky Burleigh has been named SEC Coach of the Year after leading the Gators to an 11-2-0 conference record and the SEC regular season championship despite losing several key players to injury this season.

It is the fifth time in Burleigh's 18-year career with the Gators that she has won the honor.

Florida seniors Erika Tymrak and Holly King picked up SEC Player of the Year honors, joining wo other Gators on the 2012 All-SEC teams. 

Tymrak is the first Gator named the SEC Offensive Player of the Year since the league began in 2004 announcing a SEC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year.

King is the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and is the third Gator since 2009 to earn the honor. A Gator has now picked up a SEC Player of the Year honor 12 times in the program's history.

Tampa Gaither alum Jo Dragotta was also named a first team All-SEC selection. Dragotta started every match at holding midfield. She shares Florida's lead in goals (6) and tied for second in points (15).


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Florida Gator coaches, players rally around Jordan Reed

In a game that included six turnovers by the Gators, it might be tough to single out one play everyone remembers. Unless it happens to be the last one, which is the unfortunate situation for junior TE Jordan Reed.

Florida played its worst game of the season – overall – but it is that image of Reed being stripped of the ball by Georgia’s Jarvis Jones as he attempted to leap into the end zone with 2:05 remaining in the game that seems to have drawn the most ire of fans on social media. Had Reed scored, the Gators would still have needed a 2-point conversion to tie the game and hopefully send it into overtime.

It was clear by Monday morning that Florida’s players and coach Will Muschamp weren’t happy that Reed shouldered the burden of the heartbreaking loss.

Florida QB Jeff Driskel reminded everyone he was the guy who had four turnovers (two fumbles, two interceptions), and that Reed has been a big part of the offense this season. And for those who questioned Reed’s decision to jump into the air? …

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Florida's Matt Elam named semfinalist for Bednarik and Thorpe national awards

Florida safety Matt Elam has been named one of 15 semifinalists for the Chuck Bednarik Award and one of 16 semifinalists for the Jim Thorpe Award.

The Bednarik Award is given annually to the nation's top defensive player, while the Thorpe is presented to the nation's top defensive back.

Elam has 41 tackles, including 4.0 for loss, a sack, two interceptions, two pass breakups and a forced fumble this season. His 41 tackles are the third-best total for the Gators this season and his two interceptions ties for a team-high with Jaylen Watkins.


The winners of the Bednarik and Thorpe awards will be announced as part of the Home Depot College Football Awards Show which will be broadcast on ESPN on Dec. 6.



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Gators WR Solomon Patton out for season

Florida WR Solomon Patton will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a broken upper arm early Saturday in the Gators' 17-9 loss to Georgia.

Patton played in eight games this season, and was a key special teams player for the Gators. Patton had 140 yards rushing on 14 attempts, predominantly on end-arounds.  He was a team captain for the South Carolina game.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said he expects Patton to return for spring practice and he should be ready to play next season.

“He was having a fantastic year,’’ Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “He does a lot for us on offense, but special teams he’s a great gunner and guy that you can use in the reverse game. Great young man who’s really given a lot to our program in the two years I’ve been here. But he’ll be back in the spring and he’ll be fine. Andre needs to step it up a little bit and help us in some situations there. We have to fill the void of what he gives you from a dynamic playmaker standpoint. He’s a guy that can get on the edge and do some good things.”

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No. 3 Florida falls to No. 12 Georgia 17-9

The realization quickly set in as the dejected Florida Gators gathered in the locker room Saturday night: now is when they’ll find out exactly what they’re made of.
No. 2 and undefeated Florida stumbled, struggled, and made uncharacteristic mistakes in volumes before suffering a 17-9 loss to No. 12 Georgia in front of 84,644 at EverBank Field Saturday.
It was Georgia’s (7-1, 5-1 SEC) second consecutive win over the Gators (7-1, 6-1) its first two-game streak since winning three straight from 1987-89. It was the first time since a 26-3-3 loss in 1988 that the Gators have lost to the Bulldogs without scoring a touchdown. And Georgia freshman Todd Gurley is the first player to rush for 100 yards (118) against the Gators this season. 
Instead of earning its first SEC East title since 2009, the Gators’ fate now rests in Georgia’s hands. The Gators need a win over Missouri this week and a Georgia loss to either Ole Miss or Auburn to win the East. Also gone is the No. 2 ranking in the BCS standings and any hope of a national championship.
What’s left is four games and many questions about where this team goes from here.
“I told the team in the locker room: you’ve won well together, now we’ll find out how you handle adversity as a football team,’’ Florida coach Will Muschamp said.”We’ve done that very well in my time. We’ve got a bunch of down guys in the locker room, and I totally understand that. But we’ve got to regroup here. . . . We have good leadership on our football team and I think we’ll be fine. We just need to push through this. There’s no question there’s a lot of football to play. Very disappointed with the outcome of the game, but not disappointed with the effort. We’ve got to move forward.”

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Gators trail Georgia 7-6 at halftime

In a game where turnovers have been a huge factor for both sides, Georgia leads Florida 7-6 in the annual interstate rivalry game at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.

The Gators are fortunate to be down just by one point after three turnovers in the first half. Florida sophomore QB Jeff Driskel fumbled twice on the Gators' first possession, losing the second, which led to a touchdown for the Bulldogs and a 7-0 lead.

Driskel blew a golden opportunity for the Gators to take the lead into halftime after throwing an interception in the end zone as time expired in the second half, eliminating any chance of a field goal attempt to take the lead.

"The turnovers ae killing us,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said at halftime. "Obviously that was not ending the half the way we wanted to."

Fortunately for the Gators, Georgia has had its own turnover problems. Plant alum and Georgia QB Aaron Murray has thrown three interceptions it the first half to allow the Gators to remain close.

"We're fine,'' Muschamp said. "It's a 7-6 ballgame, we've got a lot of football to play.''

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Florida coach Will Muschamp on Georgia game: "We've got our work cut out for us"

Today's Florida-Georgia game comes complete with the competitiveness and bitterness that comes with a heated interstate rivalry, and Gators coach Will Muschamp said the Gators face a tremendous challenge at EverBank Field today.

"We got our work cut out for us again,'' Muschamp said. "We look forward to going to Jacksonville. We felt like it was a game we let slip away a little bit last year; had some turnovers. You have to give them some credit for the plays they made. We didn't. I know our guys will be excited about it preparing for this week going to Jacksonville for this game."

Listen to Muschamp break down the Bulldogs:

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Georgia coach Mark Richt says victory over Gators will take solid effort from Bulldogs

To earn a vicotory over No. 3 Florid today, Georgia coach Mark Richt said Georgia will have to play one of its better games.

The No. 12 Bulldogs outscored Florida 21-3 in the final 32 minutes last season to defeat the Gators, and will be looking for their second consecutive victory.

So what will it take to defeat the Gators?

"First of all, you've got to be just very fundamentally sound,'' Richt said. "We've got to block well and tackle well. We've got to be disciplined in our gaps and assignments, and we've got to do a good job of protecting the football. We can't allow them to continue the trend of winning the turnover ratio. If they win that battle, it's going to be tough to win the game. It's been historically true in this match-up especially, so we've got to do a god job of that and do what we do best. We need to execute well. It's certainly going to be a game that's going to take one of our better efforts to have a chance to win it."


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City of Jacksonville offers tips for Florida-Georgia fans

If you're traveling to the Florida-Georgia game, check out this website from the City of Jacksonville.

It has infornation on all types of activities as well as up-to-date weather information, which is providing updates on how Hurricane Sandy may affect the city's weather.

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Gators punter Kyle Christy a candidate for Ray Guy Award

Sophomore punter Kyle Christy is among 69 players who have been named candidates for the Ray Guy Award, which honors the nation's top collegiate punter.

Christy has 36 punts for 1,726 yards with a nation-leading 47.9 average.  He had a career performance against South Carolina, where he set the UF single-game record with a 54.3 punt average in the game, the second-best single-season average this year, on seven punts for 380 yards. He holds a season-long punt of 62 yards against the Gamecocks and three 60-plus yard punts in his career.

The Ray Guy Award list will be narrowed to ten semi-finalists, which will be announced on Nov. 9. The top three finalists will be announced on Nov. 19. 

The presentation of the Ray Guy Award will be featured on The Home Depot College Football Awards Dec. 6, at 7:30, on ESPN.




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