MUST READ, IN-DEPTH LOOK AT THE 2013 SEASON, PLAYERS & TEAM
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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 head coach Will Muschamp appears to be nearing a decision on an offensive line coach hire with at least three candidates remaining for the position. Stacy Searels of Texas has been Muschamp's long-rumored choice (they coached together at LSU from 2003-04), but he has already interviewed Mike Summers, formerly of USC, for the position, according to CoachingSearch.com. Additionally, CBSSports.com's Jeremy Fowler reports that UCF assistant head coach and offensive line coach Brent Key will interview with Muschamp on Monday in Gainesville, FL.
A career season was had by Philadelphia Eagles wideout Riley Cooper, one which included 47 receptions for 835 yards and eight touchdowns for the fourth-year player, but while he made a number of highlight plays and but catches, he will likely be remembered for two big mistakes. The first, of course, was his use of the N-word at a concert in the offseason. The second was a huge drop in Saturday's playoff loss to New Orleans. Cooper had a chance to make a big reception and extend a drive but dropped it with plenty of open field in front of him. Even though Philadelphia would go on to score later and take the lead, the Saints wound up beating the Eagles by two on the afternoon. Cooper's gaffe stood out in the game as a key play that Philadelphia could have made in order to move on.
The Florida women's basketball team pulled off one of the biggest victories in school history - and easily head coach Amanda Butler's signature win - on Sunday by taking down No. 6 Kentucky 83-73 in Lexington, KY. The Gators used 23 points from senior guard Jaterra Bonds and a double-double of 19 points and 10 boards from freshman sensation Ronnie Williams to pull off the upset, Butler's first win over a top-10 opponent in 18 tries.
Onto the top 10. That's how Florida men's basketball should be thinking ahead of the release of the newest top 25 polls on Monday. The Gators are currently at 11-2 and on a five-game winning streak entering league play while others ahead of them in the polls lost key games over the weekend. UF has also defeated two top-15 programs in that span while its only two losses this season are by a combined seven points in road games against top 25-ranked opponents. Don't look now but Florida is a serious contender and the best all-around team in the Southeastern Conference. Whether the Gators can keep it up in league play is another story.
Round one of the playoffs is now gone with four former Florida players sent home for the remainder of the postseason. In addition to Cooper, Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap and safety Reggie Nelson are out of the playoffs, as is Kansas City Chiefs DE Jaye Howard. Eight Gators remain on five NFL Playoff rosters, seven of which (all but Indianapolis Colts running back Chris Rainey, who is out for the season with an ankle injury) should be active next week. Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Percy Harvin has only played in one game this season and appeared headed for injured reserve but has been practicing with the team as of late and should suit up on Saturday at 4:35 p.m. against New Orleans.
Spring sports are set to begin and while most will be focused on Florida's baseball team, Gators gymnastics will enter the season looking to defend its first-ever NCAA Championship. Florida returns much of its title-winning team, most importantly sophomore Bridget Sloan (who won the NCAA All-Around title), and opens action on the mat on Saturday, Jan. 11 against perennial contender UCLA. UF faces its first SEC opponent six days later when it travels to Auburn. The most notable home meet for fans, arguably the most popular of the season, will be held on Friday, Feb. 21 when the Gators hold "Link to Pink" against LSU in support of breast cancer research.