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October 8, 2013
10/8 Orange & Blue News
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.
Golfer Chris DiMarco was the first non-football player to serve as the honorary Mr. Two Bits, doing so on Saturday before the Florida-Arkansas game. Though DiMarco could not match the energy brought by Errict Rhett or star power that comes with Danny Wuerffel, he did a more than acceptable job and took an extra step to honor the real Mr. Two Bits by wearing a "Thank you George" shirt, referring to George Edmondson, under the standard pastel yellow button down shirt. This new tradition is one of the best things the University Athletic Association has done in quite some time. The key, however, will be keeping the quality of celebrity high. With hundreds of former big-name student-athletes to choose from, along with some top-notch celebrity fans, the Gators should never have a lapse in talent ready to do the job well.
After not starting in Week 4 and being held to just one solo tackle, New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes exploded on Sunday with 12 tackles (seven solo, two for loss) and a red zone interception. Though Spikes has been a productive defender for New England during his four seasons with the team - and remains the only one of the three Florida players drafted by the franchise in 2010 still on the roster - expectations are that the Patriots are unlikely to make him a substantial offer after the season and will allow him to test free agency. It will be interesting to see what kind of offers Spikes receives in the offseason and where he winds up when the dust settles.
Two Baltimore Ravens - safety Matt Elam and wide receiver Deonte Thompson - had the opportunity to play in front of friends and family on Sunday when their team traveled down to South Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins. Surprisingly, Elam was relatively quiet during the contest with two solo tackles while Thompson made plenty of noise both on offense and special teams. Though he only caught two passes for 11 yards, Thompson was targeted seven times by quarterback Joe Flacco and drew a pair of big pass interference calls on the Dolphins' secondary. He also returned four kicks for 128 total yards with two long returns including one for 47 yards that was the start of a scoring drive for the Ravens.
On Saturday and Monday, Chicago Bulls rookie forward Erik Murphy participated in his first two NBA preseason games, averaging more than 20 minutes of action in the contests. Against Indiana on Saturday, Murphy went 1-for-2 from downtown for three points with four rebounds and two assists. He was not as efficient offensively on Monday, going 2-for-7 from the field for five points with four boards and a dime. He picked up four fouls in each game, a disturbing trend that has continued from NBA Summer League considering the limited number of minutes he is playing as a reserve.
Right in the middle of football season, Gators basketball will begin practice ahead of the 2013-14 campaign this weekend though two key players are unlikely to be on the court with the team. Last week, head coach Billy Donovan said neither senior forward Will Yeguete (knee) nor junior guard Eli Carter (leg) will be medically cleared to start practice with the team, and Carter may not be healthy enough to play the first game of the season either. Yeguete had surgery after the season to repair knee cartilage, while Carter fractured his right fibula during a game against DePaul on Feb. 16. More information should be released by Donovan later this week. One player that will be with the team for the start of practice is senior point guard Scottie Wilbekin, who was indefinitely suspended from the team and spent all summer in Donovan's doghouse. Wilbekin will be allowed to practice up until the start of the season when he will be suspended for half-a-dozen games, as reported here on ITG months ago.
Seven-for-seven through four career NFL games, Miami kicker Caleb Sturgis worked his perfect streak up to 10-for-10 after nailing three more field goals on Sunday against Baltimore. Unfortunately, Sturgis's perfect season came to an end late in the contest when he badly missed a potential game-tying 57-yard field goal. A field goal from that length is certainly not a chip shot, and Sturgis' chances of making the kick were hurt by his team's offensive line, which allowed a sack on the final series of the game and made his attempt six yards longer than it needed to be. It was obvious he tried to put some extra power behind the attempt considering the distance; a chance from 51 yards out would likely have been an easy make for Sturgis.