Florida Gators Recruiting: Gerald Willis III Commits to Gators; DE Chooses Florida Over LSU

Like his brother Landon Collins before him, Gerald Willis III will leave the state of Louisiana to play college football elsewhere. Down to Florida and LSU, the star defensive end committed to the Gators on Thursday during the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game.

Gerald Willis III, Florida Gators

Willis was thought to be headed to LSU, but became the second of April Justin’s sons to not commit to the Tigers. While her disappointment was evident this time around as well, she had a calm approach to the entire situation. On the positive side of things for Justin, that’s now two sons with scholarships to pursue both academics and athletics at the collegiate level. Not too bad of a deal if you ask me.

Willis mentioned consistent recruiting and defensive fit as two of his main reasons for choosing Florida, but also had possibly the quote of the recruiting cycle:

“Plus they got swag man, it’s the Gators,” said Willis.

I see a t-shirt in the works.

The defensive end said the Gators’ recent 4-8 season was not a deterent during the process. Willis actually felt that meant he could come in a help immediately. He hopes to play both inside and outside on the defensive line, much like former Florida stars Dominique Easley and Sharrif Floyd.

Willis receives five stars from both 247 and Scout and four from ESPN and Rivals. The four services place him between No. 3 and No. 5 at his position and all have him among their top 50 recruits across the nation.

Florida Gators Search for Offense with Another Ranked Opponent on the Horizon

Raise your hand if you are pleased with what Will Muschamp has done with the Florida Gators’ defense. If your hand isn’t raised, it should be. The Gators have a head coach that has lost defensive talent to the NFL and injury, but has still produced once of the best units in the nation. It’s Muschamp’s specialty; he made a name for himself as a defensive coordinator before he became the successor to the man we so wish we could never name again. Unfortunately, for Muschamp’s legacy, he is also making a name for himself as a head coach that can’t fit all the pieces together on the other side of the ball.

Will Muschamp and Brent Pease, Florida Gators

First the good (or, at the very least, the acceptable). Against LSU, the Gators managed 17 first downs (not an awful number), converted three of their four fourth-down attempts, didn’t turn over the ball, and saw extended action from freshman phenom running back Kelvin Taylor, who finished with 52 yards on 10 carries.

Now to the bad, or ugly. The Gators converted only six of 17 third-down attempts, managed just 240 yards of total offense, didn’t have a play go for more than 20 yards, gained 4.6 yards per pass and 2.8 per rush, lost starting running back Matt Jones for the season, and scored only six points despite winning the time of possession battle by more than eight minutes.

What has become somewhat of a pattern with the Gators of late, brings up two questions: 1) Will Muschamp ever be able to truly lead a team on both sides of the ball?, and 2) Should Brent Pease be the offensive coordinator?

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No. 6, Tyler Murphy, LSU, and My Never-Ending Love of the Florida Gators

Yes, I am alive. And yes, my love of the Florida Gators hasn’t died. It has just been dormant on this one particular display vehicle. While active on other mediums, The Bull Gator site has been left out in the cold. My name is Joel and I haven’t posted anything on this site in 63 days.

Tyler Murphy, Florida Gators

In that time, the Gators have marched (if that’s one way of putting it) to a 4-1 start behind an elite defense, an impressive after-thought turned hero of a quarterback and a schedule that’s about to take a turn into the realm of increased difficulty. I’d like to say I’m pleased with the season so far, and I am, but I’m also cautious and worried about what’s right around the corner. The defense gives me hope, while the offense has my wondering if it can keep up with the scoring prowess of some of the teams on the horizon.

As the Gators continue the 2013 season, I’d like to say my contributions to the blog part of The Bull Gator network will increase, but I honestly can’t promise that. Oddly enough, my first season as a football season ticket holder coincides with the lowest post output since this site’s inception. But the love is there and is never-ending. To use a phrase that honestly makes me laugh just a little every time I hear it, I bleed orange and blue.

For now, I’m back if for one post in the middle of a season with plenty to look forward to. Enjoy the thoughts of someone that has been observing from the sidelines (or, more accurately, from 21 rows up).

Speaking of hope and looking forward, I ever so briefly looked forward to what No. 6 would bring to the Gators this season. His contributions were limited and are now over as it stands for 2013, but that quickly brings me to another No. 6 and a player that is fast becoming one of the nation’s best.

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Florida Gators 80 – LSU Tigers 58: Gators Advance to SEC Tournament Semifinals with Victory

There are big wins. There are convincing wins. And then there are downright beat downs behind the woodshed. The top-seeded Florida Gators showed little mercy on Friday defeating the LSU Tigers 80-58 in the orange and blue’s opening 2013 SEC Tournament game. The Gators advanced to the conference tourney semifinalists with the victory.

Erik Murphy - Florida Gators

The win was the 25th win of the season for Florida. It is the third-straight season with 25 or more victories for the Gators and the eighth overall for head coach Billy Donovan. Donovan has been adding to his victory total for many years at Florida and we hope he continues to do so for many more to come.

Senior forward Erik Murphy was the Gators star in the win. Murphy had a career-high 27 points and completed his third double-double by adding 12 rebounds. The senior started hot and never cooled down. Murphy shot 11-for-15 from the field and made five of his seven three-point attempts. Over the course of his senior season–and it was no different on Friday–Murphy has been a matchup problem for opposing teams and few have found ways to slow him.

Junior guard Scottie Wilbekin added 16 points–one off matching a season-high–and junior center Patric Young and freshman guard Michael Frazier II joined him with double-digit scoring efforts. Perhaps the only down note of the game was the play of senior guard Kenny Boynton. Boynton continued his shooting slump, managing only a 1-for-7 day.

The Gators are up again at 1:00 PM on Saturday. Florida will face either the Alabama Crimson Tide or the Tennessee Volunteers. The Gators played both recently, losing 64-58 to the Vols in Knoxville, TN and beating the Tide 64-52 at home.

Florida Gators vs. LSU Tigers: Top-Seeded Gators Look for Victory in Opening SEC Tournament Game

The Florida Gators men’s basketball team will begin their quest for the 2013 SEC Tournament on Friday. At 1:00 PM, the top-seeded Gators will face the LSU Tigers in Nashville, TN. LSU defeated the Georgia Bulldogs 68-63 on Thursday to advance to the quarterfinals.

Kenny Boynton - Florida Gators

The Gators are looking for their fourth conference tourney championship. Florida won its first three titles in back-to-back-to-back seasons from 2005 to 2007. The Gators, as you surely remember, would go on to win national championships after the final two of those three. Just a few short weeks ago, Florida was considered a national title contender again, but a 3-3 record over the final six games of the regular season has left many questions unanswered.

That 3-3 record is behind the Gators now. It doesn’t matter anymore. The postseason starts on Friday and Florida is only permitted one more loss. Not that we want that loss to occur, far from it, but there is one on the table.

We would prefer the Gators to make this easy on all of us and go 9-0 over the next few weeks. That would be the clean and simple end to this season’s story that we’re all looking for. We’ll take 8-1, 7-1, or even 6-1, but only if that loss comes in the next three days. Let’s throw those scenarios out though and go back to the 9-0 dream. Again, clean and simple.

The Gators and Tigers last faced each other in Baton Rouge, LA on January 12. Florida cruised to a 74-52 victory. Senior guard Kenny Boynton led the Gators with 20 points and junior forward Will Yeguete had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. LSU struggled to find any sort of rhythm, only shooting 32.3% from the field.

The stakes are much higher this time around. For Florida, it’s about NCAA Tournament seeding. For LSU, it’s about survival. The Tigers will bring more against the Gators than they did two months ago. They have to. The Gators, on the other hand, look to prove they can live up to the lofty expectations that have faded in recent weeks. Florida is the team that should win not only on Friday, but on Saturday and Sunday as well. They question is if they will.

Week 8 College Football BlogPoll: Where The Florida Gators Get One Spot Closer To No. 1

Week 8 of the college football season has come and gone, while my entry in the SB Nation College Football BlogPoll Top 25 has remained much the same. The players in the top 10 are the same names you saw one week ago, but there has been some movement. Even if that movement is minimal.

A few points:

• While some have moved our mighty Florida Gators to No. 1, I haven’t gone that far just yet. However, I do move the Gators to No. 2 with an eye on the top spot. Both Florida and the Alabama Crimson Tide have looked impressive, but the Tide’s balance at the moment gives them the edge for me. The Gators scored 44 against the South Carolina Gamecocks with minimal offensive production. Imagine what they could have done if firing on all cylinders. Until that happens though, Florida is just off of that top spot.

• The Oregon Ducks take the hit for Florida’s success and the continued rise of the Kansas State Wildcats. Oregon has done nothing to hurt itself, but Florida and Kansas State have been that much more impressive against better competition. The Ducks are a great team that could play for a national championship, but not if that game were played today.

• No. 5 and No. 6 continue to be held by the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Oklahoma Sooners. That won’t be the case much longer as the two face off this coming Saturday. One will drop (if only slightly), while the other may find itself ranked even higher. Most have the LSU Tigers as their top one-loss team, but if the two faced off today on a neutral field, I think the Sooners would take it…easily. That’s a Fantasyland game that isn’t on the schedule, but I’d still imagine most would take Oklahoma.

• The West Virginia Mountaineers are in serious danger of falling right out of the top 25. Two weeks ago I had them at No. 4. After the blowout loss to the Texas Tech Red Raiders, they fell to No. 17. After another convincing defeat–this time to Kansas State–they have fallen to No. 24. Not only can’t the defense stop anyone, the offense is starting to struggle to score points as well. We have to all believe that those two losses won’t be the only ones the Mountaineers experience this season.

• Finally, the No. 19 Ohio Bobcats rose three spots this week. At 7-0, the Bobcats deserve the ranking, but even if they manage to get through the regular season undefeated, this isn’t a top-10 team.

Florida Gators 2013 Football Schedule Released; Gators Keep LSU, Add Arkansas

The Florida Gators 2013 football schedule has been released and the debates have begun. Although, there weren’t really that many and all remains well in Gator Nation. Without delay, here’s what the Gators will face in 2013:

Will Muschamp - Florida Gators

August 31 – Toledo – Gainesville, FL
September 7 – Miami – Miami, FL
September 21 – Tennessee – Gainesville, FL
September 28 – Kentucky – Lexington, KY
October 5 – Arkansas – Gainesville, FL
October 12 – LSU – Baton Rouge, LA
October 19 – Missouri – Columbia, MO
November 2 – Georgia – Jacksonville, FL
November 9 – Vanderbilt – Gainesville, FL
November 16 – South Carolina – Columbia, SC
November 23 – Georgia Southern – Gainesville, FL
November 30 – Florida State – Gainesville, FL

Not many surprises and there really shouldn’t have been. This is the bridge season. 2012 was the first season of the 14-team SEC. 2013 is the bridge to the future. And 2014 should show us what to actually expect in the future. For now, things remain fairly typical. For example, Tennessee remains in the third-game-of-the-season spot, LSU is still on the schedule and in October, and Florida plays Georgia in Jacksonville right around the same time of year they always do.

There are some points of note though; the first being the bye week. In 2012, the Gators were off the week before facing LSU. At that point, Florida had played four games. That won’t be the case in 2013. The Gators first bye comes after just two games. BUT…there is a second bye in late October between the games against Missouri and Georgia. Thank the calendar for that. 2012 was one of those weird years during which September had five Saturdays. In 2013, that would be November.

For the second season–and for obvious reasons–the Gators get only two SEC West opponents on the schedule. There was wonder whether the annual contest with LSU would stop, but it hasn’t…yet. For 2013, the Tigers are still on the schedule. The Gators also get Arkansas, who will visit Gainesville just one week before the Gators travel to Baton Rouge. So Texas A&M was one and done. They’ll be back, but we won’t know when for a while now.

We knew about the out-of-conference schedule, so there are no surprises there. No surprises overall really. 2013 will come and go and the schedule will look similar to those of the past (or at least the one 14-team SEC schedule we have to compare it to). Now we wait for the 2014 one to be released…a year from now.

The Full Week 7 College Football BlogPoll: Where The Florida Gators Go Up, But There First-Place Votes Go Down

Monday, my ballot. Today, the full Week 7 SB Nation College Football BlogPoll.

College Football Rankings 2011

Results for Week 7

# School Points/blog SD Delta
1 Alabama Crimson Tide (62) 24.64 0.84
2 Oregon Ducks (3) 23.32 2.15
3 Florida Gators (5) 22.51 1.40 Arrow_up 2
4 Kansas St. Wildcats (1) 21.99 1.36 Arrow_up 2
5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4) 21.30 1.81 Arrow_up 2
6 LSU Tigers 18.41 2.62 Arrow_up 3
7 South Carolina Gamecocks 17.05 2.44 Arrow_down -4
8 Oregon St. Beavers 16.89 3.84 Arrow_up 2
9 Oklahoma Sooners 16.18 3.44 Arrow_up 5
10 Ohio St. Buckeyes (1) 16.05 5.49 Arrow_down -2
11 Florida St. Seminoles 13.70 3.69
12 USC Trojans 13.09 4.69
13 Georgia Bulldogs 11.82 3.12
14 Mississippi St. Bulldogs 10.21 3.80 Arrow_up 5
15 Louisville Cardinals 9.88 3.84 Arrow_up 3
16 Clemson Tigers 9.49 4.56
17 West Virginia Mountaineers 9.29 3.46 Arrow_down -13
18 Texas Tech Red Raiders 8.32 4.52 Arrow_up 13
19 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 7.33 3.61 Arrow_up 1
20 Texas A&M Aggies 6.36 3.70 Arrow_up 4
21 Cincinnati Bearcats 6.24 3.87
22 Stanford Cardinal 4.83 4.42 Arrow_down -5
23 Ohio Bobcats 3.96 4.92
24 TCU Horned Frogs 2.11 2.61 Arrow_up 4
25 Michigan Wolverines 1.76 2.58 Arrow_up 4
Others Receiving Votes: Boise St. Broncos | Arizona St. Sun Devils | Iowa St. Cyclones | Louisiana Tech Bulldogs | Northwestern Wildcats | Nevada Wolf Pack | Texas Longhorns | Tulsa Golden Hurricane | Northern Illinois Huskies | Toledo Rockets | North Carolina Tar Heels | UCLA Bruins | Wisconsin Badgers | Virginia Tech Hokies | Western Kentucky Hilltoppers | Penn St. Nittany Lions | Nebraska Cornhuskers | Ball St. Cardinals | Utah State Aggies | Kent St. Golden Flashes
Updated: Oct 16, 2012 9:30 AM EDT

A few points:

• The Florida Gators lost four first-place votes, but moved up two spots. Basically, less believe the Gators are the nation’s top team, but more believe they should be near that No. 1 spot. It really came down to South Carolina and West Virginia losing. The two dropped and the Gators started their climb.

• Alabama is the overwhelming No. 1, as expected. Both Oregon and Florida received first-place votes, along with Kansas State, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. I’m assuming the Buckeyes ranking didn’t take their defense into account.

• LSU is the top one-loss team, but I disagree. The Tigers’ win over the Gamecocks’ was impressive and a check in the positives column. Their three outings before that showed that they may not be as good as many want to believe. I put them back in my top 10, but I’m not thinking this is an elite LSU team. I could see them losing again before all is said and done.

• Texas Tech one spot below West Virginia? Nope. That’s wrong. That wasn’t an upset, it was a destructive blowout. Plus, the Red Raiders one loss is to Oklahoma, who has one loss to Kansas State. Texas Tech deserves to be the higher team.

• Stanford belongs, but two losses already hurts. Especially when one of those losses isn’t to USC.

The Full Week 6 College Football BlogPoll: Where The No. 5 Florida Gators Get 9 First-Place Votes

Yesterday, my ballot. Today, the full Week 6 SB Nation College Football BlogPoll.

College Football Rankings 2011

Results for Week 6

# School Points/blog SD Delta
1 Alabama Crimson Tide (64) 24.37 1.43
2 Oregon Ducks (4) 23.20 1.65
3 South Carolina Gamecocks (7) 22.61 1.50 Arrow_up 4
4 West Virginia Mountaineers (1) 21.34 1.98 Arrow_up 4
5 Florida Gators (9) 21.23 2.03 Arrow_up 6
6 Kansas St. Wildcats (1) 20.23 1.81
7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1) 19.47 2.21 Arrow_up 2
8 Ohio St. Buckeyes 16.74 4.67 Arrow_up 4
9 LSU Tigers 14.67 3.73 Arrow_down -5
10 Oregon St. Beavers 13.82 4.28 Arrow_up 3
11 Florida St. Seminoles 12.52 4.18 Arrow_down -8
12 USC Trojans 12.14 5.00 Arrow_up 2
13 Georgia Bulldogs 12.06 3.24 Arrow_down -8
14 Oklahoma Sooners 11.75 4.34 Arrow_up 3
15 Texas Longhorns 10.97 3.34 Arrow_down -5
16 Clemson Tigers 9.64 4.46
17 Stanford Cardinal 9.63 4.38 Arrow_up 1
18 Louisville Cardinals 8.95 3.67 Arrow_up 1
19 Mississippi St. Bulldogs 7.84 4.09 Arrow_up 2
20 Rutgers Scarlet Knights 5.85 3.64 Arrow_up 3
21 Cincinnati Bearcats 5.38 3.73 Arrow_up 5
22 Louisiana Tech Bulldogs 3.78 3.80 Arrow_up 7
23 Ohio Bobcats 3.60 4.31 Arrow_up 2
24 Texas A&M Aggies 3.51 3.35 Arrow_up 6
25 Iowa St. Cyclones 1.68 2.63 Arrow_up 13
Others Receiving Votes: Boise St. Broncos | Baylor Bears | TCU Horned Frogs | Michigan Wolverines | Arizona St. Sun Devils | Texas Tech Red Raiders | Michigan St. Spartans | Duke Blue Devils | Penn St. Nittany Lions | Tulsa Golden Hurricane | N.C. State Wolfpack | Northwestern Wildcats | Nevada Wolf Pack | North Carolina Tar Heels | Nebraska Cornhuskers | Oklahoma St. Cowboys | Northern Illinois Huskies | Western Kentucky Hilltoppers | Toledo Rockets | San Jose St. Spartans | Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners | UAB Blazers
Updated: Oct 9, 2012 9:46 AM EDT

A few points:

• Good for the nine of you that gave the Florida Gators first-place votes. No really. But you’re out of your minds. The Gators have performed admirably and better than expected thus far. They have put together some impressive wins and look every bit like a team that realistically belongs somewhere between No. 3 and No. 8. They aren’t the nation’s best team though.

• LSU deserved a bigger fall. They lost to what we are seeing is a good Florida team and an elite Gators’ defense, but that’s also the third-straight week the Tigers have not played like a top-10 team. With six games to look at and three less-than-impressive outings, No. 9 is a dream that just isn’t true at the moment.

• Florida State and Georgia took the biggest dives here and did in my ballot as well. The Bulldogs’ loss was worse by the looks of it, but also to a much better team. At the moment, I believe Georgia should be the (ever so slightly) higher team. Ask me again tomorrow though and I might change my mind.

• We’re all starting to wonder just how far Oregon State can go.

• If Clemson and FSU were to play again, what would the outcome be?

Monday Morning Driskel: Florida Gators Thoughts After Win Over The LSU Tigers

Another win, another new Florida Gators feature at The Bull Gator. The name is inspired by our quarterback Jeff Driskel and Sports Illustrated’s Peter King’s Monday Morning Quarterback, which discusses a plethora of topics concerning the week’s NFL games. We hope to do something similar, but on a minor, more pertinent-to-us level. Don’t worry, it won’t be nearly as long.

And another happy week in Gatorland.

Apologies for the fact that its Tuesday. Pink eye is the culprit.

If I were to tell you that six weeks into the season, Florida would be sitting undefeated at 5-0, AND Florida State would already have one loss despite beating Clemson, I doubt you would believe me.

But that’s just where we are. It’s almost funny. The Florida Gators, whose fans thought the Gators were facing a sure-loss against LSU and could be sporting a losing-record right now, is undefeated. The Florida State Seminoles, whose fans seriously thought of the year as “Championship or bust,” has suffered another tremendous setback in its loss to North Carolina State.

Oh, and as a pleasant bonus on the side, Georgia was blown out by a South Carolina team that looks increasingly-ferocious every week. Of course we have to play the Gamecocks, but we’ll enjoy the Georgia loss for the moment.

Back to our game. Many may have thought the game was ugly–and it would have been three years ago in the Urban Meyer-era–but Florida’s win Saturday over the then No. 4 LSU Tigers was a thing of beauty. It was a testament to the new era, one of down-hill running and stifling defense that Will Muschamp is bringing about as the new style of Gators Football.

What Happened

The defense gave us the chance to win the game: Enough credit cannot be given to the defense this week, as they truly and completely man-handled an LSU offense that is usually not one to laugh at. The defense made the Tigers’ offense look so bad that it looked like what the opening game’s Bowling Green’s offense should have looked like. The Tigers only had 200 yards of total offense, and the Gators made one of the most-feared running backs, Spencer Ware, look pedestrian, as they held him to only 21 yards. Florida wouldn’t have had a chance to win this game without the defense performing the way it did.

Mike Gillislee is a work-horse running back: Gillislee, who carried a career-high 34 times and added 146 yards, showed us something that perhaps we didn’t know before: Gillislee can carry the Florida offense by himself. And that’s just what he did. He scored the only two touchdowns of the game for either team.

Florida proved that it is a much better team than we thought: I doubt most of us thought Florida would be this successful to this point in the season. It’s actually a very refreshing surprise. It’s almost like Auburn and the magic of Cam Newton.

The game was taken from LSU: After trailing 6-0 at halftime, the Gators continued their trend of comebacks that are looking more and more impressive every week.

The receivers didn’t do much: But they didn’t need to. Jordan Reed led the Gators with 30 yards, which pretty much sums up that the Gators didn’t do much passing on Saturday. Luckily, they didn’t need to. The running attack led the charge.

The offensive line continued to show that it’s much better than last year: The O-line gave up a lot of sacks in the first half, but they recovered nicely. The line had their way with an injury-depleted Tigers’ line in the second half, and were responsible for Florida’s success on the ground. Also new was the new formation, “God’s play”.

Jeff Driskel’s participation: Driskel didn’t do much to win the game, but he did have a first down-earning play to allow the Gators to run out a good portion of the clock. Driskel was responsible for a few of his sacks in the first half and showed some qualities of a first-year starter, but he didn’t lose the game for the Gators. And that is something that I think we can live with, knowing that Driskel is continuing to improve.

Offensive Most Valuable Player

Running back Mike Gillislee: Gillislee couldn’t have been much better. He dominated the game and none of his carries resulted in a loss.

Defensive Most Valuable Player

Safety Matt Elam: Elam showed proved his case as the best safety in the NCAA. He led the Gators with seven tackles and looked like the strongest player on the field, despite the fact that he is an undersized safety.

Special Teams Most Valuable Player:

Punter Kyle Christy: Christy’s booming punts were the main reason the Gators won the field-position battle.

Play Of The Day

Matt Elam tackles anything in sight: Louichez Purifoy was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.