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December 13, 2013
12/13 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.
Getting major playing time in place of Wes Welker, who sat out Thursday night due to post-concussion symptoms, former Gators wide receiver Andre Caldwell put together a career game. Not only did he nab two touchdowns in a single game for the first time in his career, he also registered the most catches he's had in a single contest since Sept. 25, 2011 when he was on Cincinnati. Caldwell signed as a free agent with Denver two seasons ago when quarterback Peyton Manning supplanted Tim Tebow but has played mostly on special teams. He actually ran back a kick for a touchdown last week, but it was called back due to penalty. Caldwell's contributions on Thursday were not limited to the offensive side of the ball. He also made an extremely athletic play on a punt, jumping from out of the end zone back in bounds in order to down the ball at the one-yard line. Though Caldwell did drop a pass near the end of the game, he will likely continue to see a large number of snaps while Walker is out, which could be for the remainder of the regular season if not longer.
A big deal has been made this week of Baltimore safety Matt Elam calling 28-year-old Detroit wideout Calvin Johnson "pretty old" and wondering "how physical he'll be" in their game on Sunday. Though Elam was accurately quoted, it was only a portion of what he actually said about Johnson, who he also called "big, fast, athletic, unstoppable, freak" just minutes earlier in the interview. Nevertheless, Johnson took exception to the quote that was being floated around, saying Elam is "nothing extraordinary" and that he'll never see the rookie "unless I run past him." Much ado about nothing, but it should be no surprise to Florida fans that Elam's mouth is already writing checks that it is unlikely he will be able to cash…at least when it comes to Megatron.
Though Duke forward Alex Murphy confirmed that he has decided to transfer from the school, no announcement has been made as to where he will wind up. Many, for good reason, assume Florida will be his new home, but calls placed by InsidetheGators.com to those close to Murphy have not been returned. Additionally, his brother and former Gators F Erik Murphy refused to shed any light on his decision on Wednesday. "I would love to see him go to Florida, but it's his decision," he told SNY.tv. "He's going to come to the conclusion that he wants to and hopefully it works out for him this time." One thing the elder Murphy did say, however, is that he is very high on this year's UF squad. "I think they have the talent to win the whole thing, I really believe that and I'm sure they do, too," he said. "They just have to come every day, continue to get better and stay healthy. If they play well, anything can happen."
One Miami player was conspicuous by his absence during practice on Thursday. Dolphins center Mike Pouncey was listed on Miami's injury report as missing practice despite not being injured; it was later learned that he had travelled to Massachusetts to testify before a grand jury in the state's murder case against Aaron Hernandez. Pouncey was served with a subpoena on Oct. 27 when his team played at New England and ironically enough - if you want to call it that - state authorities had him miss a practice four days before the Dolphins happen to square off against the Patriots. Convenient timing to say the least.
Retired NFL running back Earnest Graham got some good news on Thursday when he was named the new head coach of the North Fort Myers Red Knights. Though he graduated from nearby Mariner High School, Graham is excited about his new gig and the school's principal is happy to have him aboard. "He will produce outstanding athletes on the field and outstanding young men in the community," said Dale Houcin in a statement. Graham is just one of many former Gators to be heavily involved in coaching high school teams across the state.
So another week will come and go without Florida announcing a new offensive coordinator while one of the names heavily discussed regarding the opening appears to have been made into a point of contention. CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler reports that Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell has not yet been contacted about the UF opening though "there have been some feelers put out" to discuss the job with him. On the other hand, Rivals affiliate ASUDevils.com cited a source who said Norvell has not had any contact whatsoever with the Gators and it would be unlikely he would even consider making the move. Here are some facts to consider: Though Norvell may be comfortable at ASU and just a year or two away from a head coaching job - and though joining a Florida team with a head coach on the hot seat is not ideal - money often talks. If he's currently making $500,000 as reported, the Gators would at least have a shot to win his services with a big-dollar offer, if they chose to make one. On the other hand, if Norvell would only come for big money and hopes to simply use UF as a springboard, perhaps there are better, more stable options out there for the long-term benefit of the program.
Another fact? A source close to the program has once again reiterated to ITG that a couple of the top candidates being discussed for the opening have neither been widely reported nor even mentioned by news outlets. Though coordinators like Clay Helton, Blake Anderson and others are certainly in consideration, the Gators are being creative and open-minded in their search. Anyone who claims they know who UF is hiring, as of press time, is most likely misinformed.