The State of the Swamp – 6/11/13

A look at the past week in the land of the Florida Gators.

The State of the Swamp is a day late and it looks like that was a good thing. Sometimes the star align and missing a (self-imposed) deadline works out. There is big news sweeping the sports world and Gator Nation and it focuses on no one other than Tim Tebow.

Tim Tebow - New England Patriots

Tebow has signed a two-year deal with the New England Patriots. The former Florida star will get another shot at the NFL, and with one of the league’s top franchises. Only one week after we were led to believe Tebow’s NFL career may have come to an end, it’s been given a jumpstart by Bill Belichick and the Pats. Tebow has a great chance to make the roster, though at what position remains to be seen. There is something about his drive and determination that made three NFL seasons seem like too few. Tebow may never make it as a full-time quarterback in the league, but Belichick and New England will give him the opportunity to play the game at the highest level again. There will be those in favor of this and, as always with Tebow, there will be detractors, but there will be no end to Tebowmania. (At least not anytime soon.)

J.C. Jackson makes the right choice, commits to Florida. After deciding that Florida State wasn’t the right fit, Jackson–a cornerback out of Immokalee, FL (Immokalee)–flipped to the Gators. ($) Florida was always on the top of Jackson’s list, but his train was derailed temporarily. He has now made the decision he was expected to make all along. The Gators’ pursuit of Jackson and the fact that Florida plays in the SEC were deciding factors for the CB. (And why wouldn’t they be?) He maintains that this latest commitment is solid, but we’ll rest easy come National Signing Day. Not that I’m no confident in his commitment, but…well…recruiting…

Add another to the list; Taven Bryan is the latest Gator. Florida went much farther than Immokalee to nab their latest commitment. On Tuesday, Bryan–an offensive tackle from Casper, WY (Natrona County)–was added to the 2014 class. At 6’5″, 250 lbs., Bryan has the height to play on the line at the next level, but needs to add a good deal of bulk. At 250, SEC defensive lines will eat him up. At 350, he could be a valuable asset in the nation’s top conference. Bryan has plenty of offers from out west, but decided to make the trek to Gainesville. And I can’t really blame him.

Keep an eye on Adoree’ Jackson. He won’t make his decision known until National Signing day, but keep an eye on one of the nation’s top athletes. Jackson is another cornerback very interested in the Gators’ football program ($) and also Florida’s recent men’s track and field outdoor championship. He would like to compete in both at the college level and Florida’s success with both programs is a plus. There are plenty of others hoping to land the star, but the Gators are among the few that stand a real chance. Jackson wants to visit Florida for the Gators’ final regular season game against Florida State.

Scottie Wilbekin suspended, again. The Gators’ point guard has violated team rules again and has subsequently been suspended again. Wilbekin missed the first three games of the 2012-13 season due to a suspension, meaning this one could see him out for more time. Billy Donovan can’t be happy with the PG and fans aren’t either, although many think this might mean a clearer path to playing time for super recruit Kasey Hill.

With the 20th pick in the 2013 MLB Draft the Detroit Tigers select junior pitcher Jonathon Crawford. Not expected to return for his senior season, Crawford’s fate was sealed when the Tigers drafted him in the first round. In other news, the Boston Red Sox drafted Gators’ starting quarterback Jeff Driskel in the 29th round. While Crawford is leaving, I’m guessing Driskel will remain in Gainesville for a while longer.

The men’s track and field squad wins the NCAA Outdoor Championship. Mentioned ever so briefly above, I have to give a round of applause to the men’s track team for bringing home the trophy for the second year in a row. Good job gentlemen. Go Gators!

Baseball Recap: Florida Gators 4 – Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 0; Jonathon Crawford Throws No-Hitter

The Florida Gators started the NCAA Regionals with a bang on Friday night; a bang that came in the form of a no-hitter. Sophomore starting pitcher Jonathon Crawford went the distance and didn’t allow a single hit in doing so. Crawford only allowed one base runner (a walk) through nine innings to lead the Gators to the 4-0 win over the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats. With pitching like that, Florida may not need much offense after all.

Crawford wasn’t even alive the last time a Florida pitcher threw a no-hitter. The last one – which also came in an NCAA Regional – was tossed 21 years ago by John Burke in 1991. That’s good and rare company for Crawford and something we won’t forget any time soon.

The win means the Gators will face Georgia Tech – who beat the College of Charleston 8-4 earlier on Friday – at 7:00pm on Saturday.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Baseball Recap: Florida 6 – Auburn 1; Gators Win SEC Tournament Opener

The young guns came to life on Tuesday as the No. 2 Florida Gators defeated the Auburn Tigers 6-1 in the opening game for both teams in the 2012 SEC Tournament. Sophomore starting pitcher Jonathon Crawford struck out nine over five and two-thirds innings to get his fifth win of the season. At the plate, freshman left fielder Justin Shafer drove in three runs and freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon drove in another two. The 41-16 Gators scored first with two runs in the bottom of the second inning and never lost the lead.

Florida has Wednesday off and will be in action again on Thursday, May 24 at 9:00pm. The Gators play the winner of either the South Carolina Gamecocks or the Vanderbilt Commodores who face off on Wednesday. Vanderbilt beat Georgia 4-1 in its first game and South Carolina received a first-day bye.

Baseball recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Baseball Recap: Kentucky 2 – Florida 1; Gators Give Wildcats Win On Kentucky Derby Day

How nice of the No. 5 Florida Gators baseball team. On the day of the Kentucky Derby, the Gators gave the No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats a victory. It’s moments like that that make us love sports; moments we can tell our children and grandchildren about. It’s heartwarming really.

So the Gators didn’t giftwrap the win for the Wildcats. In fact, Florida tried to make it as hard as possible for Kentucky in the 2-1 loss from the mound at least. Junior Brian Johnson and sophomore Jonathon Crawford pitched well enough to hold the Wildcats to just two runs on seven hits. The second of the Wildcats runs even came on an error. Unfortunately, Kentucky’s pitching got it done as well thanks to eight strong innings from sophomore Corey Littrell. A solo homerun from senior center fielder Daniel Pigott in the top of the ninth wasn’t enough.

The loss drops the Gators record to 35-13 (14-10 SEC), but two wins over a top-six team should give Florida some momentum heading into next week. The Gators will be home the entire week with a Tuesday night game against North Florida and a three-game series starting on Friday against Mississippi State.

Baseball previews and recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Baseball Recap: Florida 3 – Tennessee 1; Gators Take Game Over Vols

On Friday night, the No. 7 Florida Gators baseball team defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 3-2 in Knoxville, TN. The win marked the second in a row for the Gators and may have provided the team with a boost as they look to put that past stumble behind them. Florida improves to 27-7 (8-5 SEC) while Tennessee falls to 20-14 (6-7 SEC).

The Gators were led by shortstop Nolan Fontana who went 4-for-4 with two doubles, a run scored and an RBI. Second baseman Casey Turgeon and catcher Mike Zunino also scored runs and Zunino and designated hitter/first baseman Brian Johnson also had RBI.

The real treat was the pitching as three Florida pitchers combined to only allow one run despite nine hits from Tennessee. Starter Jonathon Crawford pitched five strong innings to get the win to improve to 4-1. Austin Maddox closed out the Vols for his tenth save.

The Gators face their SEC rival again on Saturday at 3:00pm. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Florida.

Baseball previews and recaps are sponsored by Ben Versnik and Advocare – a world-class nutrition company specializing in health and wellness, weight management, vibrant energy and sports performance.

Florida Gators 3 – Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 2; Gators Claim Another Sweep Victim

The No. 1 Florida Gators baseball team defeated the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 3-2 on Sunday to complete the weekend series sweep. Needing only four hits to secure the victory, the Gators won their 13th-straight game to improve to 15-1.

The Gators found little offense on Sunday as stars Preston Tucker and Mike Zunino combined to go 0-for-6. They weren’t alone as four other Gators also couldn’t manage hits despite multiple at-bats. But the ones that did would do enough to give Florida another win.

Despite that limited offense, it was homeruns that won it for the Gators. Florida got a two-run shot from Casey Turgeon and a solo homerun from Taylor Gushue in the win. The rest was up to pitching and defense.

Daniel Gibson got the win – his first of the season – in relief of starting pitching Jonathon Crawford. The save went to Austin Maddox – his fifth of 2012.

The Gators have the day off on Monday before jumping back into action on Tuesday against rival Florida State.

Florida Gators 8 – Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 3; Fast Start Secures Another Win

The No. 1 Florida Gators wasted little time on Saturday as they jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning against the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles. Those four runs would end up being enough as the Gators defeated the Eagles 8-3. The win was Florida’s 12th in a row and helped the Gators improve to 12-1.

The Gators were led by junior starting pitcher Brian Johnson who got the win to improve to 2-0 on the season. Johnson struck out six over 6.0 innings and despite giving up three runs, got the victory. Senior Greg Larson and sophomore Daniel Gibson combined to pitch three scoreless innings of relief.

The bottom of the first inning didn’t go exactly as the Eagles had hoped as the Gators took advantage of several pitching mistakes. Florida loaded the bases without needing a single hit before FCG was able to record the first out. From there the runs started coming.

The Gators and Eagles face off one final time on Sunday at 1:00 PM. Sophomore Jonathon Crawford will start for Florida and the game can be seen live on Sun Sports.

Baseball Recap: Florida Gators 8 – UCF Knights 0; Gators Record First Shutout

The No. 1 Florida Gators recorded their first shutout of the season on Wednesday night when they defeated the No. 19 UCF Knights 8-0. With the win, the Gators improve to 4-1 this season.

The night once again belonged to senior outfielder Preston Tucker. Tucker tied Brad Wilkerson’s school career record with his 214th RBI. It won’t be long before Tucker holds the title all by himself.

Junior catcher Mike Zunino had his fourth straight multi-hit game and in doing so raised his batting aversge to a team-leading .474. If Zunino is looking to repeat as the SEC Player of the Year, he’s off to a great start.

Four pitchers combined for the shutout and held the Knights to only six hits. Sophomore Jonathon Crawford got the win, his first.

The Gators have Thursday off before a weekend series against William & Mary in Gainesville.