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September 27, 2013
In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week Orange & Blue News will keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Gators safety Matt Elam got the best of Noles quarterback E.J. Manuel when the two met in 2012. Now both NFL rookies, Elam's Ravens and Manuel's Bills will go head-to-head on Sunday with Elam hoping to continue his dominance in the rivalry. "He did pick me off," Manuel told the media this week. "I know Matt's going to be ready, and I plan on being ready as well." Elam suggested to the Baltimore team website that Manuel has improved since the two competed last year. "He took his game to another level, he's not the same E.J. from college," he said. "He's making better decisions than he did in college." After not starting in Week 1, Elam has earned the start in each of the last two weeks. He has compiled 10 tackles (seven solo) and a pass defense in those starts and looks poised to have a productive rookie season.
A pair of former Florida running backs were in the news this week as Jeff Demps was officially added to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 53-man roster and Chris Rainey had a workout with the Kansas City Chiefs. Though Kansas City did not choose to bring Rainey on board, he has hopes that he will land with a team at some point this season after being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the offseason following an arrest in Gainesville, FL (all charges were dropped). Demps, on the other hand, has been under contract to Tampa Bay since being traded from the New England Patriots in April. However, he spent his entire summer and the early part of the fall running track and did not report to Tampa Bay until the season began. Once he did, Demps was listed as a roster exemption in training camp with the Bucs having until Sept. 23 to activate him or release him.
The team chose to bring him aboard with head coach Greg Schiano believing he can contribute immediately. "[Demps is] probably the fastest player in the NFL right now," he said this week. Demps, on the other hand, is trying to temper expectations. "I don't know if I'll have a key role in games this early because I'm just now getting back into football shape," he noted. Perhaps he would have been contributing all season if he had just returned a few weeks earlier.
The PGA Tour has been kind to former Gators golfer Billy Horschel this year. Currently slotted at 16th in the FedEx Cup standings, Horschel just finished T-18 at the BMW Championship (Sept. 12-16) and T-7 at the TOUR Championship (Sept. 19-22), combining to earn $368,320 in a two-week span. Horschel also had a highlight eagle on the 16th during his second round of the latter event that made some highlight shows that evening. After winning just $486,177 in 2012 with one top-10 finish, Horschel has already raked in $3.5 million in 2013 with a victory, runner-up finish and eight top-10s.
Orlando, FL television station WKMG apologized to its viewers last Sunday during a broadcast of the Jacksonville Jaguars-Oakland Raiders game; fans wanted to watch the Denver Broncos take on the New York Giants instead. The statement made national headlines considering the state of the Jaguars and the fact that the station felt it had to say something to combat fan displeasure. The station manager has one solution that will make everyone happy, telling the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi: "If [Tim] Tebow were playing for the Jaguars, we wouldn't just televise all their road games, we'd probably clear all of their home games, too. ? When Tebow played in Denver, he turned the Broncos into a national team." Perhaps more importantly is Tebow's recent decision not to fall to his knees for a pay day and accept multi-million dollar offers from both the AFL's L.A. KISS, which offered him a three-year deal, and a Russian American football team that offered him a two-game contract. Where Tebow's career goes from here but there is still obviously an incredibly large group of people that want to see him playing football somewhere soon.
Resigning from his post as Florida's wide receivers coach looks better and better for the Gators each day as Aubrey Hill has now been named by the NCAA for providing false or misleading information during the organization's investigation into the Miami football program. The NCAA this week said Hill - along with two other assistants - violated "principles of ethical conduct," a charge that could impose a major penalty for him once the organization comes to its final disciplinary conclusions. Hill, also a former Florida wide receiver (1991-94) could be barred from coaching in college for years. He is currently employed as the head coach at Miami Carol City High, a position he accepted in May. Hill, 41, is an alumnus of the school.
Sentiment regarding the derogatory word screamed by Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper will never change, but he has taken some major steps to win back his team in the weeks following the release of the tape. Criticism about Cooper now revolves around his play on the field. Through three games, Cooper has totaled 68 yards and a touchdown with a long reception of 16 yards and no more than two catches or 29 yards in a single game. His head coach, Chip Kelly, came to his defense this week during a media availability. "Riley's done an unbelievable job, especially blocking on the perimeter, great red zone target for us," he said, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Kelly went on to say that Cooper is getting open but simply not being targeted enough by quarterback Michael Vick. He hopes to see more production from his No. 2 wideout as the season progresses.