The Gators managed to salvage their exciting three game series with #1 FSU by winning 9-8 at home on Sunday. The UF team was in position to win both games in Tallahassee losing 5-4 and 9-7 after leading 7-4. It was an interesting move by Pat McMahon going with Mike Pete in Game 1, seeing if he could steal the first game of the series. Pete, who has been inconsistent so far on the season, did not deliver the same sterling performance he had in Hoover at the SEC tournament a year ago. Justin Hoyman got the win Sunday to get to 3-0 and Adam Sanabria got UF's first save of the season. Brett Dowdy's solo shot in the sixth ended up being the difference. In sizing up #16 Florida versus FSU, the only difference seems to be experience .FSU is very good but UF gained some valuable lessons and defended their home turf in the three game set. At 13-3 with two mid-week games versus Pace the Gators are in good position as they enter SEC play this weekend versus LSU. One bit of bad news, it appears Jamie Goldfarb may be lost for a while, maybe the season, as he re-injured his shoulder trying to recover and return to the lineup.
The whole Georgia situation has had some effect on the Gator Hoops team. LSU will play Arkansas, a much more physical team who will test them on the glass. The teams split the season series and Arkansas has played better down the stretch. LSU is at 19 wins and has won 5 conference games in a row to get to 8-8. They do own one of the two wins over top ranked Arizona this season. The reason for the Tiger turnaround? Shooting. They hit 12 threes against Auburn a week ago and Torris Bright and Collis Temple III have really gotten in a groove. LSU is 7-3 in their last 10 games. They were also 16-2 at home and will be playing in the friendly confines of the Louisiana Superdome. UF won 70-53 in January behind Brett Nelson's 25 point performance. UF is 4-4 all-time in the Superdome including losing to Temple two years ago in the NCAA Tournament second round. Four of Florida's last five games have been decided by 5 points or less. UF is 2-2 in that stretch and 6-4 overall. Florida is 24-6 versus the West the last five seasons but in five of it's six previous appearances a West team has eliminated them in the SEC tournament. The Gator seniors get at second chance at win 100 on Friday. David Lee has been UF's most improved player this season. He finished the regular season in the top 20 in scoring at 11.2ppg and fifth in rebounding 7.4rpg. In conference games as well, UF finished third in scoring offense and scoring defense. Finally, if UF does play LSU, they have won six straight versus the Bengal Tigers. What's at stake? A loss and a possible drop to a #3 seed, a win and #2 is pretty much a lock and win the tournament and a #1 is still a possibility.
UF begins spring practice with many position battles taking place. One will be middle linebacker where it appears Travis Harris, Matt Farrior, as well as Reid Fleming are no longer in the mix. Channing Crowder and Tauren Charles will battle for the nod of number one. They could end up as co-starters. Todd McCollough and Dwright Jackson along with Brian Crum will battle with Farrior and Harris on the other side. Crum may play both sides. One other battle that will be interesting is the tight end position. We all know about the talent of Ben Troupe but can he produce with practice habits and a positive team attitude? David Kenner is very highly regarded and with UF using more one back sets don't rule out OJ Small to get a lot of time inside. The natural progression for the quarterbacks will be one of up days and down days. With youth and inexperience at the position, Zook will look for the most consistent guy who can move the team adjust and not make the big mistakes that kill drives. Every day during the first week will provide highlights and lowlights for all the candidates. Week two things should start to take shape and form, especially in the scrimmage. Remember the key is to not eliminate yourself from the competition in the spring by trying to do too much. That will scare a coach off a young quarterback. Play within the system and protect the football- it is a prized possession.
Snippets and Tidbits
As I mentioned over a month ago, Mo Mitchell would be on the field as the starting right guard when spring starts. The charges were recently dropped by the state attorney's office. UF's great recruiting class may have already paid dividends. As numbers got tight UF lost out on (or let go) top defensive back Quinton Culberson out of Mississippi. Culberson could get up to 30 years in prison for recently assaulting a police officer in a fight outside a high school basketball game.
UF will have three new coaches on offense - (wide receivers, inside receivers and running backs) as well as two on defense (defensive coordinator and linebackers) that will be looking to adjust to working together. However, they bring a lot of experience with four of the five having been coordinators of some kind at the division one level. The fifth is only the assistant head coach at the University of Florida. The Coordinators are Fedora (O.C.-Middle Tennessee St.) Locksley (R.C.-Maryland), Dixon (A.H.C.-Florida), Strong (D.C.-South Carolina) and Miller (D.C.-Michigan St./Miami).