Florida Gators 67 – Tennessee Volunteers 58: Second Half Surge Leads to Victory, Again

Florida has this second half thing down. Tight first halves, followed by second halves during which the Gators march to victory after victory are becoming the norm. Florida did so again on Tuesday night, defeating Tennessee 67-58 in Knoxville.

Scottie Wilbekin, Florida Gators

The Volunteers took a 34-33 lead into the locker room thanks to 62.5 percent shooting. Then the Gators tightened the reigns and pressed on defense. Tennessee’s hot shooting night quickly went sour as the Vols managed to shoot just 29.2 percent in the second half.

“…I thought we pressed predominantly most of the second half. We didn’t turn them over a lot, but it was just disruptive in terms of flow,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan.

The victory was the Gators’ 16th in a row and helped Florida improve its record to 22-2 (11-0 SEC). The Vols fell to 15-9 (6-5 SEC). The Gators have just seven regular season game remaining before the SEC Tournament. Up next for No. 3 Florida is a visit to No. 14 Kentucky.

The Gators relied heavily on a seven-man rotation throughout with all five starters and two reserves—sophomore forward Dorian Finney-Smith and freshman guard Kasey Hill—all seeing at least 20 minutes on the court. Freshman forward Chris Walker was able to get in for the third-straight game, but only saw five minutes of action.

Florida was led by senior guard Scottie Wilbekin who had 21 points and six assists. Sophomore guard Michael Frazier II was the only other player to score in double digits with 11. The Gators managed to pull off the victory despite shooting just 36.2 percent from the floor.

Florida Gators 78 – Alabama Crimson Tide 69: Gators Need Second Half to Pull Away

When Florida jumped out to an early 12-2 lead over Alabama on Saturday, it looked like the Gators were on their way to a blowout. That lead evaporated almost as fast as it grew and Florida would head into the locker room at halftime tied with the Crimson Tide.

Scottie Wilbekin, Florida Gators

The second half saw Bama give Florida much of the same as the Gators’ defense didn’t play up to it’s usual standards.

“If you play defense the way we did tonight, you’re not going to win. Thank God we had some offense today that helped us,” said Florida head coach Billy Donovan.

That offense came in the form of 62 percent shooting from the field and a second-half surge that saw the No. 3 Gators improve to 21-2 (10-0 SEC) on the season. The loss dropped the Anthony Grant-led Tide to 9-14 (3-7 SEC).

For the first time in over two months, all five Florida starters scored in double digits. The Gators were led senior guard Scottie Wilbekin’s 16. Senior center Patric Young added 11 and a highlight-reel block.

The Gators set a season high with 22 assists, but according to one Florida player, you aren’t going to hear Donovan praise them for that.

“Coach D is not going to tell us about that. As a coach, he wants us to see what we did wrong and get better from that. I think this game can help us learn. It better. Other teams are going to watch this film and see how we broke down and they’re going to run the same stuff,” said senior forward Will Yeguete.

The Gators have Sunday and Monday off before traveling to Knoxville, TN on Tuesday to take on 15-8 (6-4 SEC) Tennessee.

Florida Gators Recruiting: 4-Star Running Back Derrell Scott Receives Scholarship Offer

Florida continues it’s hard push to add a running back to the 2014 recruiting class. On Thursday, the Gators offered a scholarship to four-star running back Derrell Scott. The North Carolina native will officially visit Florida on January 17, 2014.

Derrell Scott, Florida Gators

From Havelock, NC (Havelock), Scott is a four-star prospect across the major recruiting services. He has more than a handful of scholarship offers, but seems to have the most interest in Florida, NC State, South Carolina and Tennessee. He visited the other three previously, but the timing of his visit to Florida gives the Gators a chance to take the lead. Scott’s 247 profile contains 34 predictions–all in favor of the Gamecocks–but the last one was made on November 20, 2013. South Carolina is still the safe pick, but Florida will get its chance with him.

At 5’10”, 181 pounds, Scott is a smaller back who uses his agility and breakaway speed to his advantage. He is a shifty runner with good patience and great ability to find the open field. Scott has good field vision, allowing him to quickly find the best path to daylight. Once he breaks away from defenses, he is able to get to another level in terms of speed and finish off long runs without getting caught from behind. He would be a great compliment to a team with a proven power runner already on its roster.

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.

Monday Morning Driskel: Florida Gators Thoughts After The Win Over The Tennessee Volunteers

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. Let me know how you think this goes.

Also to take note: I AM NOT CRAZY. I know it’s Tuesday. Sadly, the idea came to me Monday night, so I figured why let a week go to waste?

Let me start this off by saying this was a fantastic college football week. The Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers in stunning fourth quarter-shutout fashion, and Florida moved up to No. 14 in the polls, just behind Lane Kiffin and USC, who, to top it all off, lost to Stanford 14-21. And if there’s one thing Tennessee and Florida fans can agree on, I think it’s the happiness brought by seeing Lane Kiffin fail.

Beyond that, there’s not a great deal the Volunteers would be willing to agree with us about, after our 37-20 win in the hostile Rocky Top-land. For the Gators, it was a tale of two halves. The first half was slightly ugly, which featured Mr. Muschamp screaming at the top of his lungs at a referee, and the second half was, as TBG said, “glorious.”

What We Learned

Jeff Driskel is improving, quickly: I don’t think we could ask for much more than what Driskel has given us so far, and he looks like he can be so much better. He was extremely accurate, and his touchdown pass to Jordan Reed with defenders surrounding him was a thing of beauty. I feel bad for Jacoby Brissett, but Team Driskel all the way!

Driskel, calm and composed: The knock on Driskel coming into this year was his composure level. After showing he can effectively control the football game, accurately facilitate the football to his receivers, and thankfully handle the football without coughing it up, Driskel would appear to have better composure tenfold. Seriously, you couldn’t ask for much more from a sophomore quarterback who was starting in only his second game.

Against the run, Tennessee is tough inside, extremely flawed on the outside: If you noticed a trend in Florida’s results from different run plays, you weren’t alone. The Gators busted out long runs, including an 80-yard run by Trey Burton by avoiding the middle of the Tennessee defense, which was stuffing Florida at the line all night. The Vols have a few kinks to sort out on the corners of their defense.

Trey Burton can be a factor running the Wildcat: Burton was potently effective Saturday, running for 91 yards and two touchdowns on only three carries. We knew Burton had a chance to make an impact from the Wildcat, but it’s been a while since he has made much of a difference.

Frankie Hammond Jr. looks like Percy Harvin: Hammond Jr. is nowhere near the athletic level that Harvin is, or was, but Hammond sure has looked explosive and surprisingly smart in the open field.

The defense is great in the fourth quarter: Not so great in the first half, but I think preventing opposing teams from reaching the end-zone in the fourth is somewhat impressive, especially against a couple pretty good offensive teams. Jeff Dillman’s conditioning probably has a lot to do with this.

The safeties are all over the field: Josh Evans was everywhere at once during the first two games, despite getting knocked out of the second. Matt Elam also seemed to be picking up the slack during the last game by leading the team with 10 tackles.

Our defense, Marcus Roberson can’t catch: Very disappointed by Roberson’s hands. He’s always there for an interception, only to find it just beyond his grasp.

Things We Already Knew That Proved To Remain True

Will Muschamp is somewhat of a hothead: Haha, TBG seems to be unhappy about this.

Gilly’s good: Mike Gillislee is continuing to live up to his role as the probable best player on offense.

The Vols would be very sad when they lost: I wish I could have found a picture of the fans crying when they realized there was no chance of a burnt orange win, but if you watched the game on ESPN, you know what I’m talking about.

Surprise Of The Day

Derek Dooley may also be a hothead: Spiking the ball down is not an appropriate reaction after his quarterback Tyler Bray delivered a perfect pass to the disgruntled coach.

Play Of The Day

Trey Burton’s 80-yard touchdown run: This was just great. The Tennessee guy took an awful angle, though.

Florida Gators Rise To No. 14 In Both Polls; We Just Might Have Something Here

The Florida Gators have moved up to No. 14 in both major polls. The Gators can attribute the move to a second half against the Tennessee Volunteers that was a thing of beauty. Starting the season at No. 23, the Gators have showed enough improvement over the first three games to warrant a top-15 ranking by the voters. Is this rise a sign of things to come? Or simply a matter of an early schedule that doesn’t scare many?

This time around, let’s plant ourselves firmly in the glass-half-full camp. Over the first three games, the Florida Gators have shown the world enough to lead us to believe this train is headed in the right direction. Jeff Driskel’s passer efficiency rating is 30 points higher than John Brantley’s was last season. Mike Gillislee has lived up to his lofty goals. Jordan Reed is starting to look like he could be an NFL tight end. And the defense is playing the final 30 minutes of games like it’s the last time they’ll ever set foot on a field. Things aren’t perfect, otherwise we wouldn’t have to marvel at halftime adjustments, but they may just be better than we thought they would be two weeks ago.

Take Driskel for example. Heading into the season opener against Bowling Green, the Gators were a joke to many because they hadn’t chosen a starting quarterback. Driskel got the nod (sort of, there was that whole first play thing) in the first quarter and came out for the second half as the Gators’ quarterback. He was named the starter for game two and there are few out there now questioning that decision. We’ll play the numbers game quickly:

143.0 – 166.3 – 195.0

That’s the progression of Driskel’s efficiency rating over the first three games. Even that 143.0 against Bowling Green is higher than Brantley’s 2011 (140.8). Driskel currently settles in at 170.2 on the season. He’s completing 71.2% of his passes and has yet to throw an interception. Sure, he’s been sacked nine times, but one of those three games was against the team that lead the nation in sacks in 2011 – Texas A&M. Even in that aspect, he’s improving. Driskel appeared much more aware of the defense, the sidelines, of everything against Tennessee.

The Gators need more than a solid to good to great quarterback to lead them to more wins; they need an entire team. There are improvements to be made and penalties to disappear. There are coverages to improve and penalties to disappear. There are blocking schemes to get down to a science and penalties to disappear. There are crucial third downs to stop and penalties to disappear. And then there are the penalties that need to disappear.

It’s easy to get overly positive after a quick string of victories early in the season. Let’s not kid ourselves though, we aren’t thinking national championship or even SEC title at this point. We’re thinking of Kentucky and for a few days at least smiling about the future. There’s promise in this team and hope of renewed fire. The second half against Tennessee was one that allowed those of us fans to sit back and enjoy Florida football. The tile in front of my television thanked me as, for even just a few minutes, the pacing stopped. There’s plenty of season left, but, for now, there’s a little more excitement back in the air.

Football Recap: Florida Gators 37 – Tennessee Volunteers 20

The Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 37-20 on Saturday night after putting together a near perfect second half. I’ll get into the game as a whole, but first, a new feature I call What I Wrote at the Half. (Everything in italics was written at the half without any knowledge of the final 30 minutes. No, I can’t predict the future.)

The offense might not destroy the Florida Gators chances of success. The defense not reaching the highest levels of greatness that everyone expected might not either. What could, and probably will, ultimately kill any chance of the Gators competing throughout the entire 2012 college football season will be penalties. Against Bowling Green, it was infuriatingly comical. Against Texas A&M, it was like a different team was out there…in a good way. In the first half against Tennessee, stupid took on a whole new meaning. Luckily, the Vols had their own problems with penalties too.

This is a team with heaps of talent in the defensive backfield. So much talent that I used the word heaps for probably the first time ever (and hopefully the last). But there is pass interference and holding and pass interference and holding. There are occasions where those penalties are okay. If you’re just flat out beat and the receiver is going to make a big play, take the penalty. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than a big play or a touchdown. But when you’re in coverage and you have position and don’t need the hold, well, don’t hold.

And then there was the removal of a helmet on the field. Xavier Nixon, you’re better than that. Or at least, you know better than that. You got dug into by Will Muschamp when you came to the sideline and rightfully so. That wasn’t smart football by any means of the term. That’s just not something you do. You knew where you were on the field and you let your emotions get to you. It was a moment of stupidity. We’re sure you’ll learn from it, but it can’t happen. Not again, and not even once in the first place.

Since I mentioned Muschamp, I might as well express my feelings toward him as well. Yelling, screaming, crazy, red-faced Muschamp used to be funny. Then it became a disturbing sideshow act. Now it has reached the point that I’m about one more profanity-laced tirade away from being disgusted. Get in the face of a player that commits a dumb penalty. Get excited when something goes right. But cut out whatever it is you think you’re doing when you go after the referees. There are bad calls; every game has them. There are also calls that were right on even if they negatively impact the Gators. You screaming and yelling at a ref does nothing and it makes you look like a joke. 16 games into you’re head coaching career at Florida, I’m sick of it and I’m not the only one. You’re the head coach at the University of Florida. It’s a job desired by many. Quit the antics and coach your team.

I now go back to the game and the second half. The Gators are down 14-10. There’s been good and bad, but that’s common of Florida teams of late. I’m surprisingly calm overall, but that’s because I may just be used to this. I’ll throw out another JUST WIN and head back to the television.

That was the first half. The second half was oh so wonderfully glorious, I don’t know what to cover first. Let’s start with the arrogant fan route…

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Football Preview: Florida Gators @ Tennessee Volunteers – September 14, 2012 – 6:00PM ET

The Florida Gators travel to Knoxville, TN to face the Tennessee Volunteers in a rivalry game with few equals for either on the schedule. It’s hate week for both; the first week of the college football season in which the beautiful and the ugly come out from both fanbases. Sure, the Gators and Vols have both played two games early in the 2012 college football season, but take a look at the opponents – Bowling Green, Texas A&M, North Carolina State, Georgia State. Those names mean nothing now.* The season starts in week three for both of these teams. Weeks one and two were glorious times in which our favorite sport returned; now, it’s time to hate.

*These asterisked things usually come at the end of whatever long- or short-winded rant I’ve gone on, but for these special moments, I’m throwing them in wherever. Those games don’t actually mean nothing. They’re important for one of many reasons. You see young pupils, for the 2012 college football season, the Southeastern Conference (also known as the SEC) expanded to 14 teams. The Florida Gators were lucky enough to have both of the new conference members put on their schedule. In week two, the mighty Gators traveled to a foreign land known as College Station, TX. Stories of the vaunted 12th man were legendary, but the Gators would not show fear. No children, the great orange and blue machine road into Texas A&M and came out victorious. SEC record: 1-0.

So those games are actually relevant and important and everything else, but some more so than others. They don’t compare to today though. Today is a new world, but one we’re very familiar with. Florida fans hate everything about Tennessee. Vols’ fans despise the Gators and rightfully so. Rivalries magnify everything. Not much is expected of these two programs this season. They’re both growing and improving, but they aren’t expected to be anywhere near the national championship picture at the end of the year (or even the middle). That doesn’t diminish the rivalry feel and it definitely doesn’t extinguish the hatred. It’s ever present. Playing for a crystal ball does not a rivalry make.

For me, Tennessee is the most hated rival. I’ve mentioned that before and every time I do, people find it hard to understand. For most Gators’ fans, Tennessee falls into the third spot behind Florida State and Georgia. I won’t argue with that. Those top three are the top three and you can put them in any order you wish. But I have my reasons and the Vols are number one. It could be because I don’t know a single person that went there. I didn’t grow up with delusional friends that were Tennessee fans. Then again, I didn’t grow up with friends that cheered for Georgia either, but the Gators beat the Bulldogs fairly consistently during my college football formative years. And this is where my worry sets in about the latest generation.

Let’s say you’re in high school right now. You may not remember the last time the Vols beat the Gators. This was me growing with with the Georgia rivalry. The Dawgs won so few during that huge span that the rivalry didn’t reach its highest levels for me until years later. It’s there, but the battle with Tennessee was a bigger one. I can see that happening in reverse for those growing up now. As horrible as it sounds, a Vols’ victory may be needed to reignite the rivalry for the youngins. Now before you go postal on me, I don’t want Tennessee to ever win. Ever, ever, ever, ever, ever. I’m fine with seven in a row becoming eight or nine or ten or twenty. I simply want those in their teens to know and understand the history and hate accordingly. Today could have a great outcome or an awful one, but it has the potential to bring that rivalry to the forefront for those of the next generation.

And if that doesn’t make you hate the Vols, than this surely will…

Whiteboy Swag Tattoo

That’s Tennessee starting quarterback Tyler Bray. Huh? What’s that? That’s not a picture of Bray’s tattoo? Oh sorry, this is…

Tyler Bray Tattoo

Nice ink bro.

Now that your hatred for Tennessee has reached epic levels, let’s talk about the game…

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Florida/Tennessee Week Collides With The Life Of A Part-Time Blogger

I love Tennessee week. When the Florida Gators release their football schedule every year, I mentally circle the Tennessee game. The college football season begins two weeks prior, but this is it’s true start. The Gators have gone through a few games already, but week three typically brings the Volunteers while opening the SEC schedule. This season was a little different due to the conference expansion, but even so this is the week where the rivalries begin. Georgia, LSU and Florida State will follow, but it begins with Tennessee.

As I’ve previously mentioned, this season is a different one for me and I couldn’t be happier. With that happiness comes a life that is busy, busy, and busy again. I’m not complaining, and never would, but it means there are sacrifices to be made when it comes to one of my many loves – The Bull Gator.

In the past, this week may have included a list of things I hate about the Vols. It definitely would have included a clip of Lawrence Wright. I couldn’t go without telling you how many times Peyton Manning beat Florida (uh, he didn’t). And there would have been an overwhelming number of poorly constructed jokes lobbed in Tennessee’s direction.

This year, things are different. You’re getting the first post of the week on day three. Or, more accurately, on night three. My priorities have changed. Add that to the fact that, as you surely know at this point, this isn’t my job. It’s my hobby, and not my only one. I have a “day job” I actually enjoy and it keeps me busy. Then I come home to the most badass two-month old I’ve ever known. Put that all together with the fact that my brain has started to turn itself off before 10:00 on a typical night, and you get a part-time blogger that loves this week more than most others, but doesn’t have the time to say it.

Know, though, that I’m no less of a fan. I’ve spent the week with a raised level of hatred directed at that other orange. I can hardly contain my excitement for what will come on Saturday. Anticipation each season reaches a high around this time. It’s there for me. I feel it like all of you do. I’m ready for Saturday and I can only hope the Gators are too. They’re in for a challenge and there’s plenty more to say to that, but other things call for my attention at the moment.

Updates are erratic and come either rarely or in bunches, but know I’m with you yelling Go Gators! It’s Tennessee week and I proudly hate alongside of all of you.

Okay, okay. Here’s the clip. Right around the two-minute mark is where things get beautifully nasty.

Predicting The 2012 SEC Football Season Game By Game (If Each Team Played 1,200 Games)

I guess it’s not that weird, but it is different. We here at The Bull Gator started this last season and figured we might as well continue. (We’re still not sure where our inspiration came from, but we’ve seen similar things done elsewhere, so thanks to anyone that may be doing something like this.) This is our way of predicting the 2012 SEC football season. It’s more than just win vs. loss. Instead, it’s how many times a particular team might beat another. Averages, if you will.

Instead of picking Team A over Team B, we tried to determine how many times we thought Team A would beat Team B if they played each other 100 times. While Team A may be heavily favored over Team B, there’s always that chance of an upset and we try to take that into account. Need an example? Here you go:

If the Florida Gators and Bowling Green Falcons played 100 times, you think the Gators would win 75 of those games. You feel the same way for each of the remaining 11 games on Florida’s schedule. That’s 12 matchups and 75 wins per game. 12 multiplied by 75 is 900; 900 divided by 100 (because in reality, the Gators don’t play each team 100 times; they play each team once) is 9. Therefore, based on your win number for each game, you believe Florida will end up with 9 victories in 2012 for a record of 9-3. Yes, you have technically predicted the Gators to win every game, but a 75% chance of winning each time out is far from perfect.

We set two rules for this exercise. One rule is obvious: A single game must have consistent results. If you believe Florida would beat Texas A&M 75 times, then you also believe Texas A&M would beat Florida 25 times. The other was set to force each of us to pick an overall winner: No matchup can be 50-50. You have to go one way or another even if your chosen mark is 51-49. Ultimately, we’re attempting to predict outcomes and there are no longer ties in college football.

Now that the lengthy (although much shorter than last year’s) explanation is over, here are the results. Discuss, agree with, argue against below.

A few notes:

• The highlighted numbers under the SEC East standings are there to show the only place in the entire standings where we disagreed with each other. Although Vanderbilt ends up fourth overall, individually Willy had them fifth behind Missouri.

• The highlighted schools under the SEC West standings are for the two national title contenders. We both ended up with Alabama ahead of LSU in the SEC West standings; however, if you look at just our picks, that’s not necessarily true. I give the edge to Bama in every game they play, while Willy has LSU beating Bama 55-45. The reason the Tide still come out on top for him is because of greater average confidence in their 11 wins than the Tigers’ 12.

• Finally, the highlighted numbers in the individual team schedules show the games we disagreed on from a win-loss standpoint. Last year, we didn’t disagree on a single game! That’s right, not one. This year there were six, four of which involved Tennessee. I’m not proud to say that in all four of those, I have the Vols coming out on top, but that doesn’t change the fact that we both think their probably a 6-6 team.

There you have it, our long-winded way of predicting the SEC in 2012.