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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 football players had a number of firsts during NFL action over the weekend. Jacksonville Jaguars safety Josh Evans registered his first career start and picked up six solo tackles as well as a pass defensed. Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Deonte Thompson (foot) was active for the first time this season and made an impact, totaling 50 yards on four receptions and returning three kicks for 73 yards. Offensive tackle Xavier Nixon also spent his first week on an NFL roster after being signed as a free agent by the Indianapolis Colts on Tuesday (he was inactive for the game). Most notably, Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Jeff Demps played his first career NFL game. He took one carry for 14 yards, one reception for nine yards and three kick returns for 69 yards.
After dropping a match on Sept. 8, No. 3/6 Florida volleyball (13-1, 2-0 SEC) has rattled off eight-straight wins including seven shutouts and four consecutive road victories. The Gators have not dropped a single set since Sept. 14 and opened up their Southeastern Conference slate by sweeping through the state of Mississippi over the weekend with back-to-back 3-0 wins against Mississippi State on Friday and Ole Miss on Sunday. Senior middleback Chloe Mann and sophomore outside hitter Ziva Recek have combined for 296 kills in 14 matches with Recek averaging a team-high 3.74 kills per set. The league favorites in the preseason will play three of their next four matches in the comfort of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center stating with a game against Texas A&M on Friday at 7 p.m.
The vast majority of NBA franchises held their respective media days on Monday, and center Joakim Noah was sure to make his voice heard when he met with reporters on behalf of the Chicago Bulls. Noah said Monday that his plantar faciitis cleared up in the offseason and a plan is in place to ensure that it does not flare up again during the 2013-14 campaign. "It's day two of practice and it was a hell of a practice," he said. "My foot feels great." He is also confident in Chicago's chances this season, saying the current squad is "definitely the most talented group I've ever been in camp with." He added: "As a basketball player, I couldn't feel happier and more excited coming into a season."
On Monday, the wild card round of the 2013 MLB Playoffs began. Over the next month, three former Gators will be competing for the opportunity to declare themselves World Series champion. Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross (Boston Red Sox) and a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers - second baseman Mark Ellis and left-handed pitcher Paco Rodriguez - will all be vying for the opportunity to advance to the World Series starting with divisional series in the American League and National League, respectively. Boston will host Tampa Bay in a five-game series starting Oct. 4, while Los Angeles will take on Atlanta in a five-game series beginning a day earlier on Oct. 3. (Some may also consider Cleveland Indians outfielder Ryan Raburn a former Florida baseball player, but he transferred to play for South Florida Community College.)
Resident Sunday Night Football color commentator (and former Gators wide receiver) Cris Collinsworth went full foot-in-mouth during NBC's broadcast on Sunday evening. Praising New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for how he deals with problem players, he said the following: "You know, there's something about when they come in, they play for the Patriots, whatever their issues may have been before, they disappear and they play great football for him." Collinsworth understandably took a ton of flak for this comment, especially considering a member of his alma mater was released by the team this offseason after, you know, being accused of first-degree murder.
Seven-for-seven thus far in his career as an NFL kicker, Miami Dolphins specialist Caleb Sturgis kicked a field goal of at least 45 yards in each of his first three career games and already has two 50+ yard field goals in his career. Last week, he was asked by the Sun-Sentinel which teammate he hoped would have his back if he was ever in a bar fight and without hesitation he mentioned Jelani Jenkins. "Gators always have your back all the time," he said with a laugh. Asked why he did not choose center Mike Pouncey, Sturgis admitted he would love to have both of them in his back pocket if he ever got in trouble but shied away from getting into greater detail.