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Florida Gators

Gators defense “uglied up” Auburn for Saturday win

Matt Zemek

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

You were warned.

You were told that the Florida Gators, 24-13 winners, were going to play ugly games, and that they NEEDED their games to be ugly.

They needed to drag their opponents into the muck and create all sorts of mistakes over a 60-minute canvas.

This is a team not built for high art. This is a team built to play – and win – in the mud.

The Gators were very much at home in The Swamp on Saturday. The Auburn Tigers did not get out alive, getting stuck in the slop of an SEC game which had better players than Saturday’s Iowa-Michigan debacle… but was similarly unwatchable.

It was beautiful, though, if you were Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. He had all three layers of his defense – front line, linebackers, and secondary – playing at their best on Saturday afternoon. There were sacks, and there were picks, too:

The Gators read their keys and identified where Auburn was going to run. The Tigers’ slow-developing plays and predictable angles were swallowed up. Then, when Auburn quarterback Bo Nix – a freshman – either tried to scramble or push the ball down the field, the Gators were waiting.

Chomp. Turnover. Chomp.

Tackle for loss. Chomp. A 23-yard sack which Nix essentially created for himself in a fit of panic.

Chomp.

The Tigers descended into The Swamp and were eaten up by the Gator defense, which created a masterpiece of mess and a Rembrandt of raggedness.

Was Bo Nix vastly overrated by some (not everyone, but some) who saw him carve up Mississippi State a week earlier? Sure… but whether he was overrated or not, Florida’s path to victory went straight through him. The Gators had to force him to make high-quality plays to beat them. And, with the exception of a busted coverage in the first half and a dumb fake punt by Florida which never should have been green-lit (whether as a specific play or in terms of the punter reading the opponent’s formation), UF did what it set out to do.

LSU can wait.

For now, Florida has bagged another good (not great, but good) opponent. Even if it should lose to LSU and Georgia, a 10-2 record is now that much more attainable. If the Gators can get there with Kyle Trask and his bad wheel after an injury suffered against Auburn, the 2019 season will be a good achievement.

We might see more of Emory Jones, but the larger point is that Florida isn’t operating at full strength. Winning ugly remains the path for this team, all the way to a New Year’s Six bowl.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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