BACK IN ACTION GATORS BUILT ON FOUNDATION OF A TALENTED BACKCOURT
DOG RIDES SHOTGUN FOR UF SOCCER COACH FRESHMAN QBS PRESSED INTO ACTION BETSY SMITH RISES UP FOR FLORIDA VOLLEYBALL
VOLUME 6 ISSUE 3
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WHAT’S INSIDE CEO www.gatorcountry.com Raymond Hines III
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STAFF WRITERS Thomas Goldkamp Adam Pincus Andrew Spivey Derek Tyson Justin Wells
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CONTENTS On The Field
08 November Football Previews 24 The Tailgaters Gift Guide 30 Gator Trivia 32 Young Quarterbacks Building for the Future 44 Florida – FSU Rivalry Continues
Beyond the Pigskin
16 Block Party: Smith Surprising During Senior Season 12 Overcoming Obstacles 14 Q & A with Frank Carleton 18 On The Attack: Freshman Taylor McCord Stays Near Home 20 Gators Set for Special Season 36 More Than Just A Coach 38 Back in Action: Gators Built on Foundation of a Talented Backcourt
Daniel Tidbury Lisa Torres Jane Dominguez
PROMOTIONS Amanda Liles Karen Jones Hilah Driggers Kristen Cokas
ACCOUNTING Lynsey Parrish
CIRCULATION Eddy Falla
SPECIAL PROJECTS Lauren Kolansky Daniel Sulphin
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ADVERTISING & SALES Shane Howell Bryan Porter Angela More
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GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Fact: The University of Florida traces its beginnings to 1853 when the state-funded East Florida Seminary acquired the private Kingsbury Academy in Ocala.
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Fact: After the Civil War, the seminary was moved to Gainesville.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
PASSION TO PLAY
Block party By Elizabeth Rhodes Photos by Tim Casey
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Fact: UF was consolidated with the stateâ€™s land-grant Florida Agricultural College, then in Lake City, to become the University of Florida in 1906.
PASSION TO PLAY
Smith surprising during senior season Junior middle blocker Betsy Smith has upped her volleyball game and taken her head coach by surprise with her passion and improved play.
Wise was also excited to share Smith’s progress with her parents, as they were in Athens to cheer on both Smith and her younger sister, who for the Bulldogs.
“A player who has been such a pleasant surprise from the blocking standpoint has been Betsy Smith,” Florida head coach Mary Wise said. “She is a whole different player than she was a year ago. She is helping us in both the offensive end and the defensive side.”
“Her sister is a freshman at Georgia, so the family was there and I thought back to the times when they had come in the past,” Wise said. “Where if she got in, it was very limited play and there were times when she didn’t play at all. Although I didn’t have time to talk to the family, I did have a chance to talk to her high school coaches, The Georgia native majoring in business and and they were pretty excited.” political science never got much playing Smith is known for her volleyball IQ and it time before this season, however, her is very evident off the court, as well, how dedication has earned her a crucial role intelligent she really is. She was named to the on the team. Smith has quickly become SEC Academic Honor Roll in both her freshman one of the best blockers in the SEC. and redshirt freshman years. Along with her studies, Smith is very involved with community “We knew it was going to take time, and she never quit, mentally or emotionally,” service and her selflessness was recognized Wise said. “She came in every day to work during her sophomore year, as she was named to the SEC Community Service Team. hard and has now taken full advantage
of the opportunities given to her. I couldn’t be happier for a better person.” “Betsy doesn’t do it just on the court,” Wise said. “She’s a 4.0 student with like Wise emphasizes how hard Smith has worked 15 different majors who wants to go to get to the position she has now earned on to law school and is president of and how she worked her way up, earning our SAC committee. She is a special all the praise she is currently basking in. person and player.” “Hard work, there is no substitute for her hard work,” Wise said. “Betsy may not be the best jumper in the league or the fastest player or the tallest middle in the league, but there are very few who have a higher volleyball IQ. I would put her work ethic up against anybody.” Smith’s stellar performance against Georgia on Oct. 2 in her home state helped the Gators sweep the Bulldogs 3–0 (26–24, 25–15, 25–23). She hit an errorless .700, hammering seven kills, had four blocks and the wining match-point kill for the Gators. “I think the story of that match continues to be Betsy Smith in terms of here is a player who has been in the program for four years, has played behind some very talented middles but keeps working hard,” Wise said. “Her time has come, she is taking full advantage of it, and it was perfect that Betsy would have the swing at match point to win it.” Fact: The Gainesville campus opened for registration on Sept. 24, 1906.
In regards to how Smith juggles all of her commitments, Wise is impressed by how successfully she does so and how loving wshe is toward others. “We are lucky if players can remember a couple of things and she remembers all of the things that are on her plate besides the community service work that she does,” Wise said.
Smith really credits the work she put into her summer training and the accountability the team holds for one another for elevating her to the player she has become.
“I had a strong summer training, and I think also working together with the setters has been really good,” Smith said. “All the middles we all hold each other really accountable, so in practices it is really competitive between all of us, and we all have to bring our A-game all the time.” As for making time for all her priorities and keeping up with her busy schedule, a modest Smith talks about how she enjoys to be kept on her toes and maintain a fast-paced lifestyle.
“It’s just trying to find the balance between everything,” Smith said. “For me, I’m one of those if I’m not doing something, I’m worried about if I should be doing something. If I have free time, I’m like what could I being doing or what should I be doing. With me, I’m constantly going all the time and if not, it’s not fun for me.” Smith’s contributions to the University of Florida go far beyond her athletic ability on the volleyball court and extend to her commitment to school and desire to help those in need even when she is receiving no gratitude for it. “To be able to have those kinds of grades, have those programs and never take a rep off in volleyball, I don’t think there are many of those out there,” Wise said.
When Wise asked Smith about her community service obligations that she attends to outside of student life at the University of Florida, Smith simply responded: “I want to do it because I want to do it. Not for points or not for any other reason, accolades or recognition.” “She befriended a sick child in the community, has helped with the family and does that totally on her own,” Wise said. “Does not seek any limelight or accolades for it. It’s just who she is as a person.” GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
THE BIG FINISH Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith kept his composure against the Gators last season in Nashville. Photo by Tim Casey The offense returned starting quarterback Larry Smith, but Smith has gotten heavy competition for the job from Jordan Rodgers, the brother of Green Bay Packers Super Bowl winning quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has played more as the year has worn on and offered the Commodores more of a traditional passer, while Smith provides a nice dual-threat option.
November football preview
By Thomas Goldkamp
Gators look to get back on track after October struggles
Nov. 5 – Vanderbilt
2010 Record: 2–10 (1–7) Returning Starters: 10 offense, 9 defense Key Returning Players: QB Larry Smith, RB Warren Norman, DE Tim Fugger, LB Chris Marve, CB Casey Hayward 2010 Recap: Vanderbilt began the season 2–3, but didn’t come close to a win after that, suffering seven straight losses by at least two touchdowns. The Commodores finished 112th nationally in scoring offense and 94th nationally in scoring defense, failing to do anything particularly well in 2010. 8
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Overview: After struggling so much in 2010, there was only one direction for the Commodores to go under new head coach James Franklin, and that was up. Vanderbilt returned all but three starters from 2010 and features one of the most experienced teams in the SEC. Turning that experience into production and wins has been a challenging task for Franklin, but he’s been great so far in his short stint with the Commodores if recruiting results and the first half of the season are any early indicator.
The Commodores had a pair of impressive running backs in Warren Norman and Zac Stacy heading into the season. However, Norman is expected to miss the remainder of the season with a leg injury. In Norman’s place, freshman Jerron Seymour has emerged as a viable backup running back to Stacy, who has been Vanderbilt’s most productive back. Stacy and Seymour have had the luxury of running behind an offensive line that returned four of five starters from a year ago. The biggest question for Vanderbilt on offense entering the season was at wide receiver, and the Commodores haven’t gotten much production from the position. Vanderbilt has thrown a lot of passes to its backs, and only freshman Chris Boyd has any sort of real impact in the red zone from the receiver position. Defensively, Vanderbilt is equally as experienced as on offense, returning all but two starters from a year ago. The defensive line has been one of the Commodores’ real strengths, with defensive end Tim Fugger and defensive tackle Rob Lohr emerging as consistent play-makers in the pass rush. The linebacker corps is led by All-SEC talent Chris Marve, one of the league’s best tacklers. However, Marve still needs more production around him for Vanderbilt to improve against the pass. The secondary has been average for Vanderbilt against the pass, but the Commodores have forced a lot of interceptions. Cornerback Casey Hayward is one of the best in the league, and he has been near the top of the league in takeaways the past few years. Fact: Classes began two days later for the 102 students enrolled.
THE BIG FINISH South Carolina receiver Alshon Jeffery gives the Gamecocks dangerous threat in the passing game. Photo by Tim Casey Key Matchup: Florida defensive line vs. Vanderbilt running game – The Gators manhandled the Commodores up front last year, and Vanderbilt couldn’t get anything going on offense as a result. However, Vanderbilt was banged up at running back. With a healthier stable of running backs, the Commodores may have a chance to stick with the Gators early in the game if they can get some solid production on the ground. What to Expect: Even with as much experience returning as Vanderbilt has, it’s hard to envision the Commodores making a game out of it in Gainesville unless Rodgers has fully taken over at quarterback and has a Jay Cutler-type impact. Florida simply has too many talented players on defense to surrender many points, and as experienced as Vanderbilt’s line and secondary are on defense, the Gators should be able to hang a few touchdowns on them. With the home crowd behind them, it’s tough to see Florida losing this game, even if the Gators have to play one of their freshman quarterbacks.
Nov. 12 – at South Carolina
2010 Record: 9–5 (5–3) Returning Starters: 7 offense, 6 defense Key Returning Players: RB Marcus Lattimore, WR Alshon Jeffery, DE Devin Taylor, DL Melvin Ingram, CB Stephon Gilmore 2010 Recap: The Gamecocks made it to their first-ever SEC Championship Game in 2010 after going 9-3 in the regular season. South Carolina lost the SEC title game and the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to finish 9–5. South Carolina rode true freshman running back Marcus Lattimore all season long in a balanced offense that ranked 38th nationally in scoring. The defense was solid as a whole, ranking in the Top 20 nationally in both sacks and tackles for a loss.
Senior quarterback Stephen Garcia was dismissed from the team in mid-October after another run-in with the law, so the burden at quarterback is squarely on sophomore Connor Shaw. He had the luxury of handing the football off to a bulked-up Lattimore for a game or two, but Lattimore went down with a knee injury in mid-October and is expected to miss the rest of the season. His loss is a huge blow to South Carolina’s SEC East chances. Wide receiver has been a bit of a question mark, and top pass-catcher Alshon Jeffery hasn’t gotten a whole lot of help from the rest of the unit. The Gamecocks had thrown to Lattimore a lot as a result, though Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington have both made decent contributions.
The defensive line has been fantastic again for South Carolina with defensive linemen Melvin Ingram, Devin Taylor and Travian Robertson all returning. The trio helped the Gamecocks rank seventh nationally in sacks in 2010, and Ingram has been a one-man wrecking crew for the Gamecocks so far. Two experienced players returned at linebacker for South Carolina in Rodney Paulk and Shaq Wilson, making the heart of the defense strong. Antonio Allen has played the spur position, a hybrid linebacker and defensive back spot, extremely well. The secondary struggled in 2010, ranking 97th nationally against the pass. However, that group returned almost entirely intact and has played much better this season.
Overview: After making its first-ever SEC Championship Game appearance, South Carolina returned as the favorite to win the SEC East for the second straight year.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is one of the nation’s best, and safeties DeVonte The offensive line returned fairly intact with Holloman and D.J. Swearinger have been a very strong duo. Akeem Auguste returned three starters returning, including the left to anchor the other cornerback spot. tackle, center and right guard.
The core of the offense returned for the Gamecocks, along with several talented starters on defense.
Defensively, the Gamecocks have replaced a few key pieces fairly well after losing Cliff Matthews, Ladi Ajiboye and Chris Culliver.
Fact: The first unofficial coach of the football team, when the school was in Lake City, FL, was Professor James Farr.
The Gamecocks have forced a lot of interceptions and haven’t given up many yards through the air in 2011. GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
THE BIG FINISH Furman linebacker Kadarron Anderson. Icon SMI Photo by David Allio Key Matchup: Florida running game vs. South Carolina defensive line – The Gamecocks have one of the top defensive lines in the Southeastern Conference, and Florida has struggled to run the ball against good defensive fronts so far this season. If the Gators can get some production from its running backs, they will have a chance to hang with the Gamecocks in Columbia with Lattimore out. If the running backs can’t get much production, it could be a long day against South Carolina’s much improved secondary. What to Expect: Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina teams have almost always played Florida at their best, and this was the best team Spurrier has had in his tenure there. However, with Lattimore out and Shaw now the only experienced option at quarterback, the Gamecocks are somewhat limited. South Carolina will have to rely on Shaw and Jeffery in the passing game offensively, while hoping for a solid performance on defense. The Gators will have to score some points to beat the Gamecocks, because South Carolina’s is capable of scoring even with Lattimore out. Florida also has to be careful not to turn the ball over and give South Carolina’s defense a chance to score.
Nov. 19 – Furman
2010 Record: 5-6 (3-5) Returning Starters: 7 offense, 7 defense Key Returning Players: RB Jerodis Williams, TE Colin Anderson, C Daniel Spisak, LB Kadarron Anderson, CB Ryan Steed 2010 Recap: The Furman Paladins began their season on a promising note, winning four of their first six games. However, they finished the season 1–4 and ended with a 5–6 record. The Paladins were an average but very effective scoring offense in 2010, ranking 85th in the FCS in total offense, but ranking 25th in scoring offense. The Furman defense ranked 14th against the pass but just 108th against the run. Overview: Entering the 2011 season, Furman had to replace a few key pieces on offense, including their starting quarterback, starting running back and top wide receiver from a year ago. 10 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
However, running back Jerodis Williams and tight end Colin Anderson both returned and have been very good so far this season for the Paladins. Williams has taken a ton of carries for Furman already, and Anderson has been one of Furman’s top targets in the passing game, particularly in the end zone and the red zone. Furman’s new quarterback, Chris Forcier, has a handful of wide receivers back to throw to, but losing star receiver Adam Mims has hurt some. Still, Forcier has been very effective in the passing game this season. The offensive line returned three starters from a unit that ranked near the middle of the Football Championship Subdivision in rushing last season. Defensively, the Paladins are strong in the middle, where all three starting linebackers returned. The unit is led by Kadarron Anderson, the team’s leading tackler in 2010 with 121. He has been a force at the second level again for Furman. The defensive line had to replace one defensive end and one defensive tackle, though defensive ends Josh Lynn and Shawn Boone have formed a nice tandem at end. Lynn was on the All-Southern Conference second-team in 2010, while Boone was on the All-Freshman team.
with one starting safety and starting cornerback gone. However, the unit returned All-Southern Conference first-team cornerback Ryan Steed, who picked off a team-high four passes in 2010 and has helped lead the secondary again. Key Matchup: Florida defensive line vs. Furman offensive line – Florida should manhandle Furman up front, which will give the Paladins’ quarterback Chris Forcier little time to operate. Assuming Florida’s defensive line wins this matchup as expected, the Gators should cruise to an easy blowout victory before a highly anticipated rematch with Florida State the following week. What to Expect: Furman was an average team by FCS standards in 2010, and while it has improved in 2011, it’s still an FCS team Florida should handle easily. While the defense has been pretty good for the Paladins, they simply don’t have the overall talent to hang with Florida for much more than a half if the Gators don’t shoot themselves in the foot.
Barring a monumental collapse by Florida, this should be one of the surest wins of the 2011 season, coming in between a tough three-game stretch that includes SEC East A secondary that ranked near the top of the favorite South Carolina and in-state rival FCS in 2010 had to do a little bit of retooling Florida State. Fact: First unofficial football coach, James Farr, was the head of the English Department.
THE BIG FINISH
Nov. 26 – Florida State
2010 Record: 10-4 (6-2) Returning Starters: 8 offense, 8 defense Key Returning Players: QB E.J. Manuel, WR Rodney Smith, DE Brandon Jenkins, LB Nigel Bradham, CB Xavier Rhodes 2010 Recap: Florida State began the season 6–1 before dropping two straight in the middle of the season. The Seminoles finished the season with a 4–1 stretch to finish 10–4. The Seminoles used a strong pressure defense that ranked third nationally in sacks and 20th in scoring defense, along with a balanced attack that ranked 33rd nationally in scoring offense. Overview: The Seminoles had to replace one of the nation’s better quarterbacks with Christian Ponder now in the NFL, and the quarterback position has been a revolving door with E.J. Manuel banged up throughout the year. The running back duo of Chris Thompson and Jermaine Thomas returned to provide Florida State with a nice running back combo, but neither has done much in 2011. Thompson suffered a severe back injury against Wake Forest. The loss of receiver Taiwan Easterling to pro baseball hurt the Seminoles, but they have had a number of play-makers step up, including Rodney Smith and freshman Rashad Greene. Tight end Beau Reliford also returned as a reliable option in the passing game, and Florida State returned three experienced starters on the offensive line.
defensive end Brandon Jenkins, who racked up 13.5 sacks in 2010. Florida State’s defensive front has been one of the best in the nation yet again in 2011, and the Seminoles are aggressive in getting after opposing quarterbacks.
FSU linebacker Nigel Bradham. Photo by Tim Casey If the Gators can’t control the line of scrimmage better than they did a year ago, it’ll be tough to expect a much better result in Gainesville than in Tallahassee, even given Florida’s State’s struggles at the quarterback position.
All in all, Florida State has been average on offense, with their success largely dependent on the play at the quarterback position in any given week.
In the secondary, the Seminoles figured to be very strong with a talented duo of cornerbacks in Greg Reid and Xavier Rhodes back. However, the pair has struggled and the unit as a whole has been very disappointing.
What to Expect: Florida State has entered the last few seasons with high expectations and fallen somewhat short, and that’s been the case again this season despite an incredibly talented roster.
Defensively, Florida State was in very good shape with linebacker Nigel Bradham returning to lead the unit. He was the Seminoles’ leading tackler in 2010 with 98, to go along with five sacks.
Florida State had the talent to win the ACC Title and potentially compete for a national championship with a few breaks along the way, but injuries and a few ugly losses have derailed the Seminoles’ season.
With eight starters returning on both sides of the ball, the Seminoles returned an experienced team that won 10 games a year ago, including a dominant win over in-state rival Florida.
Bradham has been the focal point of the defense, but FSU had to replace two starters at linebacker in 2011.
Key Matchup: Florida offensive line vs. Florida State defensive line – One of the biggest question marks for the Gators has been the offensive line, while the defensive front for Florida State is arguably be the strongest unit on the team.
Neither team has been particularly good this year. The team that gets better play at the quarterback position will likely win this big rivalry game that had some extra juice pumped into it last year with an FSU win.
The defensive line returned three of four starters, including All-ACC first-team
Fact: The president of the school during the 1901-1902 school term, Dr. T.H. Taliaferro, offered to help Farr in coaching the team if time would allow.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
“Really interesting beginnings.” This is how University of Florida sophomore cross country runner Cory McGee describes the start of her running career. “Interesting” is an understatement considering her first meet was near the pyramids of Egypt. McGee was living in Greece when she started running competitively, because her father, an FBI agent, was working security for the 2004 Summer Olympics. She also credits her dad and her older sister for gaining her interest in running.
“My older sister had a big influence on me to kind of go out and run because I didn’t want to leave her side,” McGee said. “So whenever she would go out and run, I would ask to go.” Before McGee took up running full-time, she was an avid soccer player. In fact, she said if she wasn’t a runner, she probably would have continued to pursue soccer. “If I didn’t run, I probably would have found another sport,” she said. “I think I have that kind of personality where I need structure.”
Cory McGee competes in the Mountain Dew Invitational on Sept. 24 at the Mark Bostick Golf Course.
McGee grew up in Pass Christian, Miss. After living in Greece for a year and a half, she and her family returned to Mississippi – around the time McGee realized running was what she wanted to do.
by Darby Underwood Photos by Rob Foldy
Overcoming Obstacles Florida cross country runner took a unique path to Gainesville
12 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
“I would get frustrated in sports where I would work really hard and not really see the benefits,” McGee said. “With the work you put into it [running], you definitely get things out of it to the same degree.” Although the beginning of her running career was interesting, to say the least, training in Mississippi proved to be difficult. “Going back to Mississippi, there is not a worst place, I think, in the world to run,” McGee said. “And to try and be a distance or a middle distance runner, it’s practically impossible. The weather, the places to run, the food, everything about it – it’s just tough to be a runner there.”
Fact: Roy Corbett, captain of the 1907 Gator team, claimed he was the first registered student of UF Gainesville campus.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
In the beginning of her 8th grade year, McGee experienced the biggest obstacle of her life: Hurricane Katrina. The small beach town of Pass Christian was almost totally destroyed by the hurricane. McGee said nine out of every 10 homes were lost in her town, including her grandmother’s.
“My grandmother, a 70-year-old woman, lost everything,” McGee said. “All that was left was her tile floor. That was definitely a huge challenge. Obviously, anyone who went through Hurricane Katrina would say that’s probably the biggest challenge they ever faced and will ever face. That was kind of motivational in a way.” McGee and her family were fortunate; their house was not destroyed by the hurricane. Because of this, their home became a refuge. “My house was built in like the 1840s,” McGee said. “It was one of the lucky few. All my neighbors’ homes flooded and my house almost became like this sanctuary. It was really bizarre, but like six families were living in my house that lost their homes. All my best friends and all their parents and everyone were all living there.” After her older sister stepped on a nail and got blood poisoning, McGee’s parents moved them out of Pass Christian. McGee and her three sisters lived with relatives in Houston and Albuquerque before returning back to Mississippi. Goal in mind, McGee continued to work hard because she knew she still wanted to run. “Making it through those hardships that year really proved to me that this is what I wanted to do,” she said. As her high school career came to a close, McGee’s sights were set on running at the collegiate level. Her father played football at UF briefly before a knee injury made him quit.
“I think that, just kind of growing up, I was always a Florida football fan, but not so much a Florida fan,” McGee said. “I never really thought about coming to school here, I just knew I liked the Gators.”
Her love of Florida football did not influence her recruiting process. She made several official visits to schools all over the country, but Florida stuck out to her the most. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could find a good balance of academics and athletics,” McGee said. “And since running is something I want to do post-collegiate, I think that knowing I can graduate from here with such a great degree and such a name backing of me – the University of Florida – and still have hopes of running after college was something huge for me in making a college decision.” Although Gator football wasn’t a factor when she decided to attend UF, McGee enjoys game days in the Swamp. Her father played a huge part in her passion for football.
“I feel bad for him because he has four daughters,” McGee said. “But we’ve all been really interested in football because of him.” McGee does not just get her love of football from her father; she also keeps a book of his advice handy. “It’s kind of funny,” McGee said. “Every time he says something that sticks in my mind I have to go write it down.” That advice is what motivates McGee to get through the hardest days.
“I would often have days where I was just not feeling a work out,” she said. “I just didn’t want to do it. It’s so hot, and I’d always find an excuse. My dad would just tell me, the days that you don’t want to be here are the days that are tough and you finish the work out, those are the days you’re going to benefit from the most.”
to have some kind of influence on where I live. I think that by studying that I could be a state representative or the mayor of my town and work my way up. Just to help where I’m from, something along those lines.” For now, she’s focusing on this cross country season. Her personal goals for her sophomore year are to improve from last year.
“I’m actually wearing a uniform of a school that I have pride in and being with so many girls that are counting on me and what not,” McGee said. “I would say that I’m definitely going for AllAmerican this year. I think that I didn’t even have any expectations for myself really coming into cross country because I didn’t know what expect. If I got anything less than that, I think I would be really disappointed.” McGee is off to a good start. She placed third overall in UF’s home meet, the Mountain Dew Invitational, behind senior Genevieve LaCaze and junior Florence N’Getich. Having an FBI agent dad, running in the pyramids of Egypt and living through the aftermath of Katrina, Cory McGee has experienced incredible feats in her short 19 years. But if you ask her, she will just tell you it all helped her get where she is now and where she hopes to be. “This is definitely where I saw myself in terms of being here in order to get where I want to be in the future.”
When McGee is not running, she enjoys painting. She thought about majoring in art, but the studio hours would have been too time consuming and would not work with her training schedule. Instead, McGee is a political science major. Going back to Pass Christian in the future is something she is really interested in. “It’s a very historical town, all pre-civil Cory McGee competes in the Mountain Dew war, like beautiful homes on the water,” Invitational on Sept. 24 at the Mark Bostick McGee said. “In a way, I’ve always wanted Golf Course.
Fact: A predecessor to UF and the Gator football team was a team fielded by East Florida Seminary in Gainesville.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 13
FINDING FOCUS AT UF
Q&A with Frank Carleton
By Chris Lee, PHOTOS BY TIM CASEY
14 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Fact: In 1908, the Gators beat Jacksonvilleâ€™s Riverside Athletic Club 4-0, at a time when both touchdowns and field goals counted as four points.
FINDING FOCUS AT UF
Florida junior Frank Carleton is set to compete for the Gators after transferring from Wake Forest, where he played in the No. 1 and 2 singles positions. Have you been enjoying your time at Florida?
When you were at Wake Forest, did you and your brother who plays at Duke ever compete against each other?
As far as playing matches against each other, we’ve only played one. We were playing Duke at the ACC championships. I lost in three sets, 6–4 in the third. I was winning and won my first set 6–0 and was up in the second, but lost. It was a bad match; I lost the whole match for the team.
It’s a dream school for an athlete. You get everything right at your fingertips and all the resources you could possibly need. The competition – everyone on the team is really You were also on the Junior Davis Cup good. Everybody wants to do well. It is a team, what was that like? very good atmosphere. It was awesome. Playing out of the country for any reason is really cool, but especially playing for your country. We went to How did you get Canada first for the qualifier, and then we started in tennis? went to Italy for the whole World Cup thing. My dad did; he teaches tennis. It was probably one of the most fun times My bother and sister both graduated I’ve had playing tennis. Besides playing at from Duke. I grew up playing. I started the Junior US Open, that was probably my playing around the time I was three favorite moment on a tennis court. or four years old.
Why the decision to play collegiate tennis instead of going pro?
I don’t know. My family has always had an emphasis on education. My dad was teaching tennis and was also a schoolteacher. My mom was a schoolteacher; so education was always emphasized. (It’s) always been a goal of mine to graduate from college. It crossed my mind a little bit, but I was never really there enough to really go pro straight out of high school. Few people rarely are. There was no doubt my mind about going to college.
What is your major? Sociology
Is your goal after college to go pro?
I’m definitely going to give it a shot. There is no reason not to. These two years I have left – I started in summer B – I’ve been training as hard as I can. So these next two years are preparation for that.
Florida junior Frank Carleton talks with Spencer Newman during the Gators’ practice on Oct. 19 at Linder Stadium at Ring Tennis Complex.
Fact: As president from 1909 to 1927, Albert A. Murphree did much to put UF on the road to excellence.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 15
FINDING FOCUS AT UF
Why did you decided to transfer from Wake Forest? Was there anything that caused that?
Yeah, there was. Wake Forest is a great school. I really enjoyed my time there, but you know, some things happened partly on me making choices that don’t coincide with Wake Forest. The move kind of became impossible to avoid.
Why the decision to choose UF? Were there other schools?
There were some other schools on the backburner. Florida definitely was the first. (Head coach) Andy (Jackson) was the first person I contacted. I called him right away when I knew that I was going to transfer. The thing about getting into Wake Forest was I didn’t get in until about January because I did two years of regular high school, then did online school. I didn’t graduate until October when I should have graduated in June.
What was it like playing in the No. 1 position at Wake Forest as a freshman?
Freshman year I did really well. I think after my first ten matches I got ranked like top twenty in the country. Then last year I got injured and got pneumonia. It didn’t go as well as I would have liked.
On that note, what are the things that you bring to the UF team this year that they didn’t have last year?
To give them things they didn’t have last year is going to be hard. They lost Alex Lacroix who was consistently ranked Top Ten in the country. I’m going to bring a lot of excitement, a lot of spirit, a lot of fun, hard work and hopefully some wins, more importantly.
What do you like to do off the court?
I like to read a lot of books, riding my bike, doing outdoor things like fishing going on the boat, playing video like Call of Duty – normal things.
What books do you typically read?
Fiction. I really like classics. In Tulsa, there was this really cool bookstore. It was kind of like a mystics bookstore; it had stuff on hypnosis. I got this interesting book called the Smoking Gods. Probably one of my favorite books is 1984.
What do you think you need fix in your game?
Improving my fitness. Starting in the summer, I was in really bad shape. It’s been getting progressively better, but it’s not that easy to get in really good shape, apparently. That is definitely number one. I would really like to get my serve better. I would really like to make it a serious Do you prefer doubles or singles? weapon and not have work as hard on my I’ve always been more of a singles player service game. Also, my transition game – before I came to college. But, these last two-and-a-half years or so I’ve been playing moving from deeper in the court, maybe a lot of doubles. I really like doubles and I’ve more of a defensive position to taking a short ball and come into net. gotten a lot better at doubles too just from playing here – just understanding doubles strategy and knowing what you have to Is it more difficult for you do to win. I would consider myself a because you are 5-foot-8, multifaceted tennis player. not one of the taller guys? Yeah, I don’t have a ten-foot wingspan, but hopefully with anticipation I can What is your singles game, are make up for that. Hitting a good there any pro players that you approach shot too, not limited, watch or try to emulate? just a little small. I don’t try to go and completely copy someone’s game. My game would probably be a baseliner – an aggressive baseliner. What your favorite thing about I come to net when I can, but that’s not the game of tennis? usually my main goal to try and get to net. I really like the rhythm. I like hitting the If there is anybody I’d like to play like, it ball. I like how it goes back and forth and would probably be Djokovic because he is you can put different spins. We were talking really solid on the ground and he comes about this the other day because we were to net when he has to. playing FIFA (video game) and there was a shoot out, and we asked what a shoot out would be for tennis. There probably can’t be Djokovic’s return game is amazing too. a shoot out in tennis because there is not That’s one of the better shots in my just one way to win a point. That’s one of game, too. My return and backhand. 16 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
my favorite things about tennis. You really have to get creative in order to win points. Some people just hit the ball really hard or play a certain game type. But, if you watch the good players, they adapt a lot. I like the rhythm and use your mind.
Do you struggle with mental aspect?
Sometimes my mind wanders a bit or loses concentration. Maybe, maybe I let my emotions get to me, but for the most part when I’m playing I win matches mentally. There gets to the point where you play enough and you’ve been in a situation enough to know how to act. You really have to keep a tight rein on your emotions and play the next point. It might have hurt me this past week in Tulsa. Overall, my mind definitely gives me an advantage on the tennis court.
Was it your dad that trained you all those years, or did you go to an academy?
Eventually, I ended up going to Evert for a year to train with the USTA. That was when my brother went to college. Up until then I had a built-in practice partner. The competition just with my brother, there really was no need to go anywhere. We did move down to Florida. I live in Naples now, originally born and raised in Philadelphia.
You’ve had quite the trek. Where was your favorite place to live?
I would take Florida in the wintertime and Philadelphia in the summer time.
Anything else as a tennis player?
I really want to win. I enjoy winning. I imagine most people feel the same way, but you’d be surprised sometimes. I like to have fun on the court.
Are you more a match player than a practice guy?
There is something that triggers in a match that just gets better.
Anything else about you that people need to know?
I’m really proud to be a Gator and to get the opportunity to be here. It’s sounds kind of cliché, but I’m 100 percent serious about that. The opportunity I’ve been given to come from Wake after everything that has happened, it is truly a blessing.
FACT: Enrollment grew from 106 in 1909 to 2,200 by 1927 under the leadership of the University of Florida’s second president, Albert A. Murphree.
Lang Jewelers So tell me about Lang Jewelers. We are a family owned business that has a truly knowledgeable staff with over 50 years of combined experience. We do extensive research on our jewelry and diamonds, so customers can buy with confidence. We are also actively involved in the community with organizations such as the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation, Haven Hospice and Children’s Home Society. We also support local schools and many other events and charities.
What type of jewelry do you carry?
Our brands inculde Pandora, ToyWatch, Rebecca, Gator Girl, S. Kashi & Sons, Fossil, Seiko, and Bulova – just to a name a few. We have the largest selection of Game Day Jewelry for Gator fans. We also have the Sebastian Ferrero Collection, which we created for The Foundation. 40% of the sales go to them to support their cause! We like to say we carry “Jewelry for All Occasions”.
What can I expect when I come in to Lang Jewelers?
You can expect personalized service, unique jewelry and superior quality. We get to know our customers and find just the right piece for any occasion. We have a full service jewelry repair shop and service all watches, including Rolex, Omega and Tag Heuer.
Where are you located?
We are located in The Tioga Town Center next to the new Golf & Tennis Ect., approximately 4 miles west of The Oaks Mall on Newberry Road. Come check out our Special Wish List Program – fun for women to create, convenient for your significant other to make purchases they’ll know you will love! For the entire month of December, anything purchased off the wish list will receive an EXTRA 10% discount*. (*discount excludes Pandora)
FACT: In 1912, education officials awarded the university with a contract for the construction of Floyd Hall.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
By Noelia Trujillo Photos by Rob Foldy
On the attack
Freshman Taylor McCord stays near home 18 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: Early Gator home games were played on Fleming Field.
FAMILY RIVALRY Florida freshman Taylor McCord controls the ball during the Gators’ exhibition match against Jacksonville on Sept. 30 The Florida Gators women’s lacrosse team geared up to face the Jacksonville Dolphins in their first exhibition game of the preseason. Freshman attacker Taylor McCord charged down the field en route to score her first preseason collegiate goal as her parents watched without smiling, clapping, or cheering. Mindy and Paul McCord wanted to celebrate for their daughter, but the Gators were their enemy. This fall, Taylor embarked on her newest journey as a freshman at the University of Florida, playing for the Gators’ third season as an NCAA lacrosse team. Coached by Amanda O’Leary, Sept. 30 marked the Gators’ first preseason game of the fall. Irony set off family rivalries that evening, as Taylor’s mother and father are the coach and assistant coach of the JU women’s lacrosse team, respectively.
“She is a competitor out there, and so are we,” Mindy said. “We love the challenge and we love the sportsmanship that Friday night showed between two up-and-coming Division I powers in Florida.”
championship this year. When asked how she felt about her choice to play for the Gators, her response was short and sweet.
Taylor felt that her family’s competitive nature gave her extra fuel, and in the end, she found the family rivalry to be fun – especially when she scored her first goal.
Taylor has experienced traditions as a college freshman off the field, exemplified by attending class on the wrong day and eating ramen noodles on a regular basis. In the next four years, she plans to embrace those adventures while keeping lacrosse close to her heart.
“It was probably bittersweet for my parents,” said Taylor. “They said they wanted to cheer for me, then they realized I was the opponent.” As the only freshman native to Florida on this year’s roster, Taylor hopes to represent the state and improve her stick and shooting skills to assist her team to a national
“I made the right choice to play for UF; there is no doubt about it.”
“My goals are to continue to play lacrosse for as long as possible. Whether it is playing for the USA team or coaching younger teams, I want to stay involved with the sport that changed my life.”
Lacrosse wasn’t always Taylor’s first priority. A natural athlete, she was a cheerleader and played basketball and softball before dabbling into lacrosse. Her mother Mindy began playing lacrosse her junior year at Westminster High School in Maryland after it instituted its first-ever girl’s lacrosse team. She began holding lacrosse clinics in Jacksonville when Taylor was in fifth grade, but it wasn’t until two years later that Taylor fell in love with the game. The talent that her mother spotted early on was finally put into action. With her approaching graduation from Bartram Trail High School in Jacksonville, Taylor faced one of the toughest questions for the future of her lax career – UF or JU? Family is important to the McCord’s, and though there was a lot back-and-forth in the decision-making process, she ultimately chose to be a Gator.
“Since I started playing lacrosse, I wanted to play for a top ten nationally ranked Division I team,” Taylor said, “and UF was the best opportunity given to me to do so.” Emotions ran rampant at that fateful game. Taylor sported her number 21 orange-andblue jersey with excitement while Mindy and Paul focused on the ladies in green. Mindy had no choice but to consider her daughter as the opponent that evening.
FACT: In the early days, freshmen were not allowed to compete against varsity teams in the Southern Conference.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 19
GEARING UP FOR THE GRIND
Gators set for special season Women’s basketball eager to exceed expectations By Phillip Heilman Photos by Tim Casey
Last season was a perplexing one for the Florida women’s basketball team. It featured a 20-win season and a postseason berth in the form of a trip to the National Invitational Tournament. But the Gators stumbled in the Southeastern Conference, finishing the season two games under .500 in conference play and a disappointing eighth in the league. A year filled with inconsistency ended in heartbreaking fashion in the third round of the NIT. The Gators squandered a 17-point lead in the game, having their season ended in overtime against Charlotte. As coach Amanda Butler enters her fifth season as head coach of the team, she has high expectations for what she has touted as a special team. “We’ve got some people that are going to have special seasons,” Butler said.
For the team to have more success than last season, the key will be getting consistent production from her experienced players. Experience is something the team had been missing in previous seasons.
“Our lack of experience and lack of cohesion because we had so many new people showed up a lot of times, and we don’t have that anymore,” Butler said. “We have a senior-led team, a majority of returners.” As much as Butler speaks about the importance of cohesion and experience, her players echo the sentiment. The grind that is the SEC can only be fully understood by a player who has been there. The target on Florida’s back because of the name on the front of their jersey is something that can only be truly felt while actually being on the floor. It’s something this year’s players know.
“We have felt the losses and wins, and we know how to come out here and play now,” senior Azania “We have five seniors, all who Stewart said. “When you we really respect, in terms of have Florida Gators across the level of leadership and your shirt, everyone is not levels of intensity and just just trying to beat you as experience,” she said. “I a team, but they are trying think they are really, really showing through.” to pound the school.” In particular, Butler spoke about the importance of getting leadership and intensity on a daily basis from her seniors.
20 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: The Great Depression had many effects on UF, including scaling back plans involving the University Auditorium, built in 1927.
GEARING UP FOR THE GRIND
The lumps the seniors on this team have taken together have built strength within the team. So has the offseason conditioning program of first-year strength and conditioning coordinator Rich Jacobs. Jacobs, who was hired from Xavier, spent the offseason instilling toughness and determination in the team. One particular workout was for building more than just strength. “I think everyone’s hardest workout was when we snaked the stadium and on the last one carried a teammate on our back,” fifth-year senior Jordan Jones said. “You’re dying and you have a teammate in your ear saying ‘don’t drop me, let’s do it, you got it.’” A rigorous offseason program was a necessity for the style of play Florida looks to bring to each game this season. Defense has been the word most commonly used by the players when talking about preparation for the year. While offense looks good on highlights and in the box score, scrappy, in-your-face defense wins games. Practices opened
the year focusing heavily on this type of defense, something Butler knows will make the difference in close games.
“A lot of our presence as a team is rooted in how we are on [defense],” Butler said. “I think that’s an identity our team really likes having, and I think it’s something we really want to establish a foundation of.” Since taking over as head coach four years ago, Butler has made the O’Connell Center a difficult place to win for opponents. The Gators have won 89.2 percent of games on their home floor against non-conference opponents. Sophomore Jaterra Bonds believes that mark is because of the defensive mindset Butler challenges her players to bring to each game. “That’s always been Florida basketball ever since I got here last season, so nothing has changed,” Bonds said. “We’re still going to be all in your grill playing at that speed. We want to make you play Florida basketball.”
FACT: The 1928 Gators led the nation in scoring, totaling 336 points to their opponents’ 44 and beating Georgia for the first time.
Speed is a key for the Gators both on defense and offense. With a guard-heavy lineup, the team will look to play an up-tempo system of offense. With any up-tempo system, mistakes are sure to come. Butler said mistakes by players are expected to happen, just as long as they are aggressive mistakes.
“One of our rules in our program is that we don’t get too concerned with mistakes as long as they’re aggressive mistakes,” Butler said. “And when you play fast, when you’re trying to push the action, which is what we’re looking for, turnovers are sometimes the negative byproduct of that.” The guards who will be collectively responsible for making this up-tempo system work have bought into the program. “We have to make teams run, we are in shape this year,” sophomore Brittany Shine said. “Everybody is faster, stronger, so we have to make teams play our ball game this year.”
Senior center Azania Stewart knows how to keep a positive attitude during the rigors of the SEC schedule.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 21
GEARING UP FOR THE GRIND The Gators will look to redshirt-senior guard Jordan Jones for experience in the backcourt.
“I think it’s going to be hard for any of them to exceed my expectations this year, because I’ve got high expectations for all of them, and I think they know that,” Butler said. “A year older for this team does definitely make us a year better.” A better year with this team would hold special meaning to Butler. She recruited four of the five seniors on the roster. It’s a group of players certainly very close to her heart. They have and will continue to chase championships together. Think championship is too optimistic a word for this team? Shine would disagree. Her eyes, like the rest of the team, are on the final prize.
“We want to win the SEC, a national championship and shock the world this year,” she said. You can follow Gator Country reporter Phillip Heilman on Twitter at @phillip_heilman. ‘We’ is a concept that was stressed all offseason by coaches and players alike. To function cohesively on the court, players must also build chemistry off of it. This is particularly important for a team as diverse as the Gators will be this season.
With a home schedule featuring games against Michigan, Stetson, FSU and Hampton to start the season, the competition is strong right out of the gate. The tough non-conference schedule will prepare the Gators for a grueling SEC schedule.
Freshman Andrea Vilaró Aragonés is from Spain, Viktorija Dimaite, a freshman who will redshirt this season, is from Lithuania, and Stewart is from England.
The early games against strong opponents, combined with another year of maturation for the team, will require focus from the Gators early.
A lack of national continuity requires even more team chemistry. It requires the formation of a family. The family atmosphere the Gators have was a major deciding factor for freshman Carlie Needles during recruiting.
A strong start to the year would be a great springboard for a more consistent season overall. More consistency means more wins. The Gators know all too well wins are the only guarantor of a spot in the NCAA tournament.
“Going far away from home, I wanted to go somewhere that was going to be family oriented,” Needles said. “Knowing that Azania and the other two freshmen are internationals, I knew that for me going away from home wasn’t going to be as big a deal.” The formula for wins this season will be defense, speed and the extra chemistry the team has seen develop throughout the offseason and into the start of the season. 22 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Florida freshmen Andrea Vilaró Aragonés, Carlie Needles and Viktorija Dimaite will all look to contribute early in their careers.
“We felt like our résumé was really strong last year, but we really didn’t win,” Florida head coach Amanda Butler is optimistic Butler said. “This year, we’re going to see entering her fifth season as the Gators’ head coach. some efforts and some play where you’ve got some young ladies who are very determined to show how good they are, not just how close to being good they are.” Scheduling a season with as many tough opponents as Florida has speaks volumes to the confidence Butler has in her team. The confidence is echoed in her public statements about the team. FACT: Early broadcasters of Gator games sat between the fans and the gridiron.
BLEEDING ORANGE AND BLUE Janine Hillier leaps into the arms of Mikki Offit during the Gatorsâ€™ exhibition match against Jacksonville on Sept. 30. Photo by Rob Foldy
Former Florida swimmer Ryan Lochte was on the sideline before the Alabama game. Photo by Tim Casey FACT: Until 1947, UF enrolled men only and was one of only three state universities.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 23
for the holidays By Daniel Sutphin
The Tailgaters Gift Guide Florida Gators Silver Team Logo Pro Toaster
To get a good tailgating spot, you have to get up really early. What better way to wake up then with Gators branded toast? The toaster features the Gators logo on the side and actually brands the “Gators” on the toast! This retro style toaster is cool to the touch and the removable crumb tray allows for quick clean up, so you can get back to tailgating instead of spending all day cleaning. www.pangeabrands.com $39.99
When you’re cooking for a party, it can be difficult to determine between each protein’s desired temperature and seasoning. Grill Charms alleviates this confusion. Simply, place the dime-sized charms in the food before grilling. This can help prevent health or allergy issues, which is important because any good party can take a turn for the worst if someone ends up in the hospital. www.grillcharms.com $19.95
24 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: In 1947, the student body numbered 8,177 men and 601 women.
for the holidays
Florida Gators Deluxe Jersey Grill Cover
The upkeep of your grill is just as important as the food you cook on it. Especially in Florida, the weather is an ever-present assailant on even the best grills. To protect your grill this tailgating season, fight back with the strength of the Gators! This licensed uniform grill is made out of durable polyvinyl that is mildew resistant and weather proof.
Stainless Steel V-Shaped Gas Grill Smoker Box
With Thanksgiving approaching, it’s time to start thinking about turkey. Thant gets old. Instead of buying an entire smoker for one day, just get a smoker box. Developed specifically
for the gas grill, the V-shaped bottoms allow these smoker boxes to sit between the flame deflector bars. This positions the wood smoke right beneath the food grate providing the most intense smoke flavor! www.homewetbar.com $12.95
Chillin iPod Ready Radio Cooler, Pin Stripe
Blacktop 360 Grill-Fryer
Unless your partying RVstyle this tailgate season, you’re pretty limited as far as cooking appliances are concerned. Now, while the grill is, and always will be the ultimate cooking machine, it would be great to have some versatility. The Blacktop 360 Grill-Fryer is just the change you need to spark your tailgate menu. This baby grills, deep fries and griddles, all on the same 24 square-inch surface. The Blacktop folds up fast and fits easily into the durable storage bag, so you can hit the road before the other partygoers clog the streets.
You can never have enough coolers at a good tailgate party. It also helps to have some sick jams in the background. The Chillin’ iPod Ready Radio Cooler has both! It’s compatible with any smart phone, iPod, or mp3 player and is coupled with an am/fm stereo. The cooler holds 12 cans and has a separate pocket for the electronics! www.homewetbar.com $49.95
Whether tailgating, or just dressing up the front lawn, Inflatable Images’ Albert is top notch for showing off your Swamp love. Albert stands six feet tall with knees bent, ready to rip the faces off the neighbors. Thanks to its patented internal air-Lite inflation fan, there is no blowing required. It is lightweight and durable. All you have to do is plug it in, set it up and go! www.inflatableimages.com $124.32
FACT: Today UF is the fourth largest university in the nation.
Where cans may be practical, beer just tastes better in a bottle (of course when draught is not an option). But when you’re working your way around a kickin’ tailgate party, the bottle caps tend to collect and there’s not always a
garbage can nearby. Cap-TrapEco-Friendly Bottle Openers automatically capture, collect, store and dispose of bottle caps while still providing convenience and mobility. www.cap-trap.com
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 25
MAKING THE BIG PLAYS
Havana Solaun heads the ball during the Gatorsâ€™ win against Kentucky on Oct. 2. Photo by Tim Casey
26 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: On October 31, 1931, the Georgia Bulldogs played the Gators at Florid Field for the first time.
MAKING THE BIG PLAYS
Jordan Reed makes a leaping catch during the Gators’ loss to Alabama. Photo by Andy Gregory
Sharrif Floyd gets upended during the Gators’ win at Kentucky. Photo by Tim Casey
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FACT: Cheerleaders in the 1930s were all white males.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 27
NEW AND OLD FACES
Florida cheerleaders perform during the Gators’ win at Kentucky. Photo by Tim Casey
28 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Alyssa Bache blows a bubble during the Gators’ exhibition game against Tallahassee Community College on Oct. 2. Photo by Rob Foldy
FACT: UF Students Health Care center opened in 1931.
NEW AND OLD FACES Dominique Easley and Jelani Jenkins tackle LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson the Gators’ loss to the Tigers. Photo by Tim Casey
Former Florida basketball players Joakim Noah and Al Horford wave to fans during the Gators’ game against Alabama. Photo by Andy Gregory
How are you going to reach Gator fans? $4.99
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Let us help your business or brand grow. FACT: Workers installed lights in the football stadium in the late 1930s.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 29
STEP RIGHT UP!
Gator Trivia By Chris Lee
30 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: The Fighting Gator Band became a regular fixture at football games in the late 1940s.
STEP RIGHT UP!
a) 5 b) 23 c) 32 d) 15
2) Who was the Gators’ first 6) What team did Steve men’s basketball head coach? Spurrier coach before a) C.J. McCoy getting the UF head b) Billy Donovan coaching job? c) Lon Kruger d) Norm Sloan
3) During what year did the men’s basketball team first make it to the NCAA Tournament? a) 2000 b) 1990 c) 1969 d) 1987
a) Duke b) Washington Redskins c) Alabama d) Tampa Bay Bandits
7) In what year did UF enter the SEC? a) 1960 b) 1932 c) 1918 d) 1912
4) During what year did the 8) Who was the Florida men’s basketball team make it Gators’ first-ever Allto its first NCAA Final Four? American in Football? a) 2006 b) 2000 c) 1994 d)1987
a) Dale Van Sickel b) Fred Taylor c) Steve Spurrier d) Jevon Kearse
FACT: UF’s band had a tradition of service, dating back to 1917.
9) During Steve Spurrier’s 13) When did Vanderbilt Heisman trophy winning season last defeat the Florida in 1966, who did the Gators Gators in football? a) 1975 defeat in the Orange Bowl? a) FSU b) Miami c) Notre Dame d) Georgia Tech
b) 2009 c) 2000 d) 1988
10) How many All-Americans has the Florida basketball team had?
14) How many former football players are members of the College Football Hall of Fame?
11) what year did the football team wins its first official SEC title?
15) Who was the first UF alumnus to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame?
a) 10 b) 1 c) 5 d) 3
a) 1968 b) 1996 c) 1991 d) 1995
12) When did FSU and UF first meet on the football field? a) 1920 b) 1980 c) 1958 d) 1960
a) 6 b) 7 c) 8 d) 5
a) Emmitt Smith b) Lomas Brown c) Jack Youngblood d) Jesse Palmer
a) Udonis Haslem b) Vernon Maxwell c) Neal Walk d) David Lee
5) How many Florida Gators basketball players have been drafted?
1–C, 2–A, 3–D, 4–C, 5–B, 6–A, 7–B, 8–A, 9–D, 10–C, 11–C, 12–C, 13–D, 14–A, 15–C
1) Who was the first Florida Gators basketball player to be drafted?
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 31
Young quarterbacks building for the future By Thomas Goldkamp
32 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: The small scoreboard in the south end zone lasted from the 1930s to the 1960s.
YOUNG GUNS! Jacoby Brissett was not rattled by the LSU defense. Photo by Tim Casey
Brissett and Driskel pressed into action Florida entered its season with a senior starting quarterback, but a nasty twist after a sack against Alabama left John Brantley clawing at his right knee and ankle and writhing in pain.
Driskel was rated as the top pro-style prospect in the nation, while Brissett was tabbed as the third-best dualthreat quarterback in the nation.
“That’s arguably two of the top five quarterbacks in the country they have on the same roster,” Auburn head coach Gene Chizik said prior to playing Florida.
True freshman Jeff Driskel looked on from the sidelines, nervously fidgeting and looking on as offensive coordinator Charlie Weis sat next to him, calmly coaching him up as Still, neither was being counted on Florida’s defense was on the field. to play a significant role in his first season, though Muschamp said Driskel entered the game against repeatedly throughout the preseason the Crimson Tide in the second he wanted to get Driskel some quality half, and the results were about snaps in case he was called upon. what you’d expect from a true freshman playing his first While both have struggled to run meaningful snaps against one the offense, the experience they’re of the nation’s top defenses. gaining by playing will be invaluable to Florida moving forward. Florida struggled to move the ball and the offense looked out of sync Weis said after Brissett’s first road with Driskel running the attack. start against LSU that the first-game jitters are now out of the way. That’s To make matters worse, Driskel something Brissett won’t have to learn injured his ankle late in the game, next year. He’s already figured out forcing Florida to turn to another what things will be like against some true freshman quarterback the of college football’s toughest defenses. following week on the road at LSU. Even though Brissett struggled in Jacoby Brissett had a rough outing, the blowout loss against the Tigers, just like Driskel. The Tigers’ defense Weis saw a lot of positives from hounded the true freshman, and his performance. Florida’s inability to create a running game left the first-year “I thought he showed very, very good player with little option other than poise,” Weis said. “That’s what I to try to beat LSU by himself. expected from being around him a bunch, but until you go out there If only doing so were as easy and actually watch it, you don’t as it sounded. know what’s going to happen for sure the first time guys go out there.”
“Playing a true freshman quarterback in this league is difficult,” head coach Will Muschamp said. “They’re going to be fine. It’s not all their fault. You have to play better up front, you got to play better at the wide out position, you have to develop some things in the run game.” Both quarterbacks are immensely talented and were some of the most recruited players in the country coming out of high school. FACT: In 1949, George Edmonson, Jr., known as Mr. Two Bits, would go to the center of Florida Field to lead the “two bits” cheer.
“There’s a lot of good practice players that when it comes time to play in a game they disappear, but he certainly isn’t one of them.” Brissett’s composure under pressure and ability to lead his teammates is one of the things that attracted Weis to him after he took the Florida job. Florida’s new offensive coordinator didn’t have a whole lot of time to evaluate him as a quarterback, but what he saw in person impressed him. GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 33
“He played really, really well,” Burton said following the loss in Baton Rouge. “Especially for the environment and the situation he was put in. We all have his back, and he’s going to get better from here on out.” Driskel’s play has also earned him the respect of his teammates despite the overall lack of success the offense has had when he’s in. He offers Florida a slightly different dimension than Brissett, too. While Brissett prefers to scramble in the pocket to buy more time to throw, Driskel will pull the ball down and run when he gets a lane. He had a key 31-yard scramble against Alabama on a big third-down play, and he’s shown the ability to get loose and make plays with his feet throughout his freshman season.
Jeff Driskel saw action during the Gators’ win at Kentucky. Photo by Tim Casey
“I watched him play on his basketball team and watched his presence and his command when he was playing basketball,” Weis said. “It’s so much easier when you actually can watch a guy physically doing it. That’s something that’s different, presence is something you can’t really watch on tape.” Despite his struggles as a freshman starter, Brissett has shown increased poise in the pocket with each game. He has a knack for avoiding pass rushers in the backfield to buy more time to make throws downfield.
He’s also got a rocket arm, which he’s flashed at times, including on his first college touchdown pass, a 65-yard bomb down the left sideline to Right: John Brantley Andre Debose at LSU.
suffered a leg injury after getting sacked by Courtney Upshaw during the Gators’ 38–10 loss to Alabama on Oct. 1. Photo by Andy Gregory 34 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Even though Florida ultimately lost that game, Brissett’s play was enough to catch the eye of teammate Trey Burton, who was a quarterback in high school.
“He keeps a lot of plays alive a lot longer,” wide receiver Andre Debose said. “He has a strong arm and when things are going bad he always can get away with his legs.” Though he hasn’t played much, the experience Driskel has gotten has already helped shape him into a better football player. Like Brissett, the experience he is gaining as a true freshman will be very important for the Gators down the road. Driskel played against much weaker competition than Brissett in high school, but he’s learned quickly as he has faced some stout SEC defenses. “His whole attitude has changed since the time he’s been here and to this point,” Debose said. “He’s a whole different person. He let us know that he doesn’t consider himself as a freshman.”
“I think that he runs our team well,” Weis said. “The team’s not afraid when he’s in there. He can make every throw. Just gaining experience, that’s what he’s doing. Every time he’s out there it’s a good thing, regardless what happens because he’s gaining experience.” Sure, Florida fans would like that experience to come while the team is winning. But the reality of the situation is it’s tough to start a freshman quarterback and find success in the SEC. Florida has played two freshmen quarterbacks this season. That may not pay dividends this season, but it certainly will when the Gators need one of them to take over as the full-time starter next year. “I like both of these guys,” Weis said. “I don’t like one of them a lot, I like both of them a lot. They both have attributes to be a very good quarterback.” Right now, it’s all about getting better and making the best of a bad situation. While John Brantley’s injury may have derailed Florida’s 2011 season, it might just jump-start the 2012 season for Florida. Moving forward, Driskel and Brissett are the future. As long as they continue to improve, the Gators will be in good hands going forward.
“The more reps and the more turns those young [quarterbacks] get, they’re going to be really good football players,” Muschamp said. “I’m excited about both of them.”
Florida’s offensive coordinator also has a lot of faith in the true freshman’s ability to run the offense, even if it doesn’t look pretty during his first season. Weis sees signs that Driskel can be a productive quarterback in his offense down the road. FACT: Medical assistance was often quite basic in the games of the 1940s.
ABOVE & BELOW Photo by Rob Foldy
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ABOVE & BELOW Photo by TIM CASEY
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FACT: Adding upper levels to the stadium in 1950 ushered in Bob Woodruff’s decade as UF’s 13th head coach.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 35
SIDECARS AND SOCCER!
By Lisa Greenberg
More than just a coach Becky Burleigh leads UF soccer team with a dynamic personality Florida women’s soccer head coach Becky Burleigh poses for a photo with her dog, Cody. The yellow lab wears “doggles” when riding in the sidecar of Burleigh’s scooter. Photo by Tim Casey
Florida Gators soccer coach Becky Burleigh had been toying around with the idea for a long time – to get a sidecar, or not to get a sidecar? That was the question. Burleigh, who prefers to take a scooter when driving alone, wasn’t sure about the idea of a sidecar for it. Having two dogs, she thought that both dogs would not fit in the sidecar, and that it would be unfair to take one dog and not the other. But after the recent passing of her first yellow lab, Copa, given to her 16 years ago by the first team she coached, Burleigh pulled the trigger. Now Cody, her yellow lab, is able to cruise along with Burleigh, and even has his own pair of goggles so that he is riding in style.
36 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: The Gators beat Tulsa in the 1952 Gator Bowl. It was the Gators first bowl game.
SIDECARS AND SOCCER! Photo by Rodney Rogers
“When I first got the sidecar, Cody would just sort of lay down inside of it and I thought, ‘I don’t know if he likes this or not,’” Burleigh said. “After he got used to it, now he sits up, and I love taking him with me. It’s great to be able to take him with me and take my scooter at the same time.” But it’s not just Burleigh’s vast love for her pup that sets her apart from other soccer coaches. Burleigh also moonlights as a DJ. It started out as something fun for her to do outside of soccer, but at one of her friend’s parties, Burleigh started doing a little DJing and began to get into it. Since then, her skills have progressed, and now she is DJing at friends’ and former players’ weddings.
“The weddings are a lot of fun because it’s a way to be involved,” Burleigh said. “It’s been really fun, and I really look forward to doing it. It’s a little easier for me because I know the people involved. I usually also know the fiancés and their families, and I think it’s just a great connection.” Burleigh also likes to bring her fun personality with her on the soccer field. While practices aren’t all fun and games, she likes to throw in some unexpected activities.
Burleigh’s coaching style definitely works for the team and is a major contribution to the program’s success.
“Our Halloween practice where everyone “She’s definitely something special,” dresses up is a lot of fun,” Burleigh said. Burke said. “She knows how to balance “Even just playing some competitive our emotions with competition out on games. We play this one game every week the playing field.” called ‘shots and crosses’ and I’m the referee. I always like to try to fire up one When asked about how her outgoing of the two teams and make controversial personality affects her relationships with the calls to get everybody riled up.” players, Burleigh couldn’t help but giggle. While Burleigh likes to keep things fun on the field, she still manages to balance work and play with the players. Sometimes she has to be the disciplinarian and make decisions that players may not like, but in the end they still manage to have a good time.
“I think that if you enjoy doing what you’re doing, then you’re going to be more motivated to do it. We get through a lot of hard work and the players would tell you that, but those activities are just ways of having fun but still accomplishing something productive.” Freshman goalkeeper Taylor Burke feels that Burleigh is a rare find. She believes
“I think our players might tell you a different story about if I’m fun or not,” she said with laughter. “But I’m very interested in them as people, not just as soccer players. I think that part helps keep things a little separate off the field and on the field.” And of course, as the players graduate, the dynamic of the relationship she shares with them changes. Because there are no longer pressures from soccer, even more fun is incorporated. Burleigh maintains very close ties with her former players and was the creator of the Alumni Weekend for Florida’s soccer team. This provides current players the opportunity to meet
FACT: The ’50s saw a growing awareness of good training, eating and exercise for the Gators.
the girls that played before them, a very special event to Burleigh. When Burleigh isn’t coaching, scooting with Cody, or DJing at weddings, she devotes her time to many other interests and activities. She likes traveling to “non-touristy” types of places. She scuba dives enjoys the cultural arts scene in Gainesville. Another one of her favorite things to do is attend other sporting events at the University of Florida. “I really enjoy going to all of the other sports at Florida. That’s a lot of fun. Especially when you know the participants involved. That’s another way for me to bond with our players, because most of them are at those sports.” Burleigh has a multifaceted personality and long list of off-the-wall activities, making her one of the most unique coaches at UF and around the country. When asked what her all-time favorite thing to do is, Burleigh cracked a smile.
“I think that’s my problem, I really enjoy doing a lot of different things. There’s not really one thing. I think I like a lot of variety.” GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 37
A WELL-ROUNDED UNIT
By Thomas Goldkamp Photos by Tim Casey
Back in action Gators built on foundation of a talented backcourt
38 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: One of the new traditions in the Coach Woodruff era was the ringing of the so-called Victory Bell after an important win.
A WELL-ROUNDED UNIT Left: Mike Rosario’s tattoos are a reminder of where he’s from and where he is going.
Brad Beal comes in with lofty expectations after an All-America high school career.
Inked on Mike Rosario’s left shoulder is a tall brick building, with a young man sternly standing in front. The black tattoo is his favorite of dozens. It’s a reminder where he came from, a projects housing unit that has since been ripped down and built over with townhouses. On his right hand just between his thumb and pointer finger, a dark pistol is inked onto his skin. It’s a simple, not-so-subtle reminder that his right hand is deadly.
“I don’t shoot people,” Rosario laughs. “That’s my shooting hand. I can stroke it a little bit.” Rosario, a right-handed combo guard on the basketball court, is known for his scoring ability after racking up more than 1,000 points in his first two seasons of college basketball at Rutgers.
He’s one of two incoming stars for the Gators basketball team who figures to make Florida’s backcourt one of the best in the nation in the 2011–12 season. After transferring from Rutgers a year ago and sitting out last season, Rosario will join freshman Bradley Beal as one of the newest faces in Florida’s backcourt. It’s a loaded one. With senior Erving Walker, junior Kenny Boynton and sophomore Scottie Wilbekin returning along with Rosario, the Gators already boast 3,472 points of college production. That’s on top of Beal’s arrival, and he enters his true freshman season as the player with the most hype, having drawn comparisons to Ray Allen for his smooth shooting stroke. He was widely considered the best pure shooter in high school a year ago.
Beal was a high school McDonald’s AllAmerican, one of the most prestigious honors given to basketball players. Boynton and Rosario were also given the distinction, giving the Gators an absurd three McDonald’s All-Americans in a five-man backcourt. Florida also has three players who have already topped the 1,000-point mark in their college careers.
“The one thing I’ve talked to our team about is that we have to be a very unselfish group,” head coach Billy Donovan said. “The one thing that I’m excited about, and that I really don’t have a lot of answers about, is that this is the first time that everybody has played together.” Walker and Boynton have mostly been on their own in the backcourt the past two years, as Florida had a trio of veteran players in the frontcourt that the team relied on.
FACT: After much reluctance, and at the urging of state legislators and Governor Leroy Collins, UF agreed to play the new Seminoles team of FSU in 1958.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 39
A WELL-ROUNDED UNIT
Kenny Boynton is a formidable defender and a constant offensive threat. Wilbekin arrived last year to provide some assistance, but the plethora of scoring options Florida has in the backcourt this year is something none of the three returning players have had in their college careers.
“Although Erving and Kenny have played a lot together, there’s going to be three other guys on the floor they have never really played together and vice versa,” Donovan said. “Our chemistry on the court has to be something that gets developed very quickly because of the strength of our schedule and how competitive it is early on. That’s going to take a lot of work.” While Walker is the leading scorer in the bunch with 1,330 career points, he’s largely been a distributor since he arrived at Florida. Boynton is more of a volume scorer and defender, while Wilbekin played a combination role as a distributor and defender during his freshman season. 40 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Rosario is more of a pure scorer as a combo guard, while Beal has perhaps the best balance in his all-around game as a shooter, slasher, rebounder and defender. The most intriguing thing to watch for Florida fans will be how the talented guards blend their different styles of play. “That’s our main focus, that’s what coach [Donovan] has us all focused on right now is our chemistry and the way we practice every day,” Rosario said. “We have to get better every day, and that’s our focus.” Rosario was the star player in his two years at Rutgers, but after two years of subpar performances by his team in the wins and losses column, he wanted a change of scenery. One of the main reasons he chose Florida was the chance to compete for championships and play with great players and a great coach.
“My first two years in college wasn’t so good,” the redshirt junior from Jersey City said. “I want to play against the best of the best. That’s why I came to this school. That’s why I surrounded myself by the players that I’m around right now – to get better every day.” Former Florida forward Chandler Parsons, who graduated last spring and has moved on to the NBA, has said Rosario was the best shooter in Florida’s practices last year while he sat out following his transfer. When asked about it, Rosario humbly plays down the compliment, nodding his head and smiling as he responds that Walker is the best shooter on the team. That’s not to say Rosario isn’t confident in his trigger hand.
“That’s another part of my game that I didn’t really have to work on this summer,” he said. “I just worked on a lot of things that I can do besides scoring the ball: playing defense, getting stronger and just working on things that I need to improve.”
FACT: Equipment in a 1960’s press box included a microphone, telephone, binoculars, stat sheet and food.
A WELL-ROUNDED UNIT
That was the emphasis for Donovan in the offseason. He wanted his individual players to improve their skills to create a well-rounded unit. He wanted his backcourt players to improve certain areas of their game that will bring out the best in their teammates. For Rosario, it was his defense and strength, but for Walker it was his ability to create open looks for his teammates.
“[Walker’s] goal needs to be to try to lead the league in assists,” Donovan said. “I don’t want him necessarily shooting less, as much as I want him playing off of what the game dictates. We’re going to need him to shoot and score, to do the things he’s always done. But for us to be collectively better, if he hasn’t taken a shot in eight straight trips down the floor and we’re sevenfor-eight from the field, he needs to recognize that, and probably make a sacrifice scoring the ball.”
Sacrifice is something all of Florida’s players seem to be echoing with the season approaching. Each of the talented guards realizes the skill of the players around him and that each can contribute to the Gators’ success. “I personally think it’s going to work out really well,” Walker said. “We all embrace each other. There’s a lot of talent out there with us. We just want to make each other’s jobs easier. If someone has a better shot, they should get the shot. Just make it tough for teams to guard us.” Walker said he’s perfectly content with his new focus on distributing and said he knows Donovan wants what’s best for his team. As Florida’s only senior, he’s embracing his role and encouraging each of his backcourt mates to do the same. Boynton and Wilbekin have already carved out their niche on the team as two of the
top on-ball defenders. The role is something each takes pride in, and they’ve even made it a bit of a friendly competition. While Boynton spent a lot of time over the summer working on his shot, he also worked on his lateral ability on defense, trying to improve his slide speed to hang with the most athletic attackers. Wilbekin added some muscle in the offseason and improved his athleticism and reaction time. Boynton noticed his effort in the offseason.
“I never realized [Wilbekin] was such a great defender till I came back here and I played against him five-on-five,” Boynton said. “He’s a tough defender, he can come in and do the same thing I’m doing. That’s definitely a nice role to have when you can just sit and he’s locking a guy down and you can switch whenever you want.”
Erving Walker, the lone senior on the roster, will look to lead the SEC in assists. FACT: In his first season as head coach, Ray Graves took his team to play Baylor in the 1960 Gator Bowl in Jacksonville.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 41
A WELL-ROUNDED UNIT
With the extra bodies in the backcourt this year, Wilbekin’s minutes may not increase tremendously, but he’ll still be counted on at times to face an opponent’s best guard, like he did last year against BYU’s Jimmer Fredette in the NCAA Sweet 16.
defender. In fact, there’s little Beal couldn’t do in high school, though making those skills translate to the college level may take a few games.
“He’s a unique kid. He’s probably as mature as any freshman I’ve had come He’s happy to be able to contribute in here,” Donovan said. “In terms of his the same manner this year, though he work ethic and talent, what he can bring also said he feels more comfortable on to our team, he’s certainly gifted. Like the floor as a shooter now. all freshmen, there will be some ups and downs. It won’t always be easy. He’s “I don’t think my role will change that very competitive, highly motivated and much from last year,” Wilbekin said. “I’m driven. I think he will be a great going to come in and play defense, guard addition to our team.” whoever the coaches want me to guard. I’m still going to be the pass-first point One of the things Donovan has really stressed about Beal that he’s different from guard that I was.” Wilbekin is also preaching some of the same things Donovan has been to the rest of the backcourt. He’s on the same page with his head coach with such a talented backcourt taking the floor for the first time together. “We just have to make sure we stay humble as ourselves and be good teammates to each other,” he said. “That’s all we can do, and it’ll all work out.” Boynton also said he understands the importance of making sure everyone’s playing together and there is no individual doing his own thing in the backcourt.
“We have to be unselfish,” Boynton said. “We’ve heard the stuff about we have a lot of scorers, but overall we all just want to win. We know we’ve got to sacrifice for each other to win.” Beal’s addition is a big reason people are talking about Florida’s backcourt as one of the best in the nation. It’s hard to overstate his ability and the potential he has to emerge as one of Florida’s top players as a true freshman. At 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, Beal has the best size of any of Florida’s guards. He’s capable of playing any of the three perimeter positions, and he has many of the best qualities in each of Florida’s other guards. Like Rosario, he can be a pure scorer. Like Walker, he can be a great distributor. Like Boynton and Wilbekin, he can be a great 42 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
most players who come in with the type of accolades and expectations that he has. Beal’s been humble and hard-working since arriving over the summer.
“Brad is not the kind of guy that comes in here and says, ‘I’m taking your job. I’m starting,’” Donovan said. “He’s not that way at all. He understands the importance of chemistry and being unselfish.” His teammates all say Beal’s a quiet, shy guy. He’s not very outspoken, and he tends to keep to himself unless he has questions. Boynton has taken him under his wing and said he’s a funny guy when he opens up. “Me and Brad probably hang out the most,” Boynton said. “We do everything together pretty much. We go eat together, we study together, everything pretty much. In the public eye, he’s quiet. He works hard, though. He’s focused. He has a good head on his shoulders.” While teammates and fans look at his McDonald’s All-American status and see a player who can come in and make an immediate impact, Beal sees himself as a guy who just needs to come in and work hard to earn his playing time in an already proven backcourt. “All that McDonald’s All-American stuff, all that doesn’t matter anymore,” Beal said. “There’s a lot of experience already on the team and a lot of good chemistry. I don’t want to come in and ruin that chemistry.”
“It’s a team game. I’m not going to try to come in and try to take over the team, because it’s everybody’s team. I’m just going to come in and learn my role and ease my way into the team and win games.” “They have a lot of experience. Just being around them, I’m learning. I’m kind of a quiet guy, I’m real shy, so I just sit back and watch things happen. I observe everything they do and see like where in practice what all they’re doing and how they do it and just take it and run with it.” Beal’s already got a Donovan-like mentality, too. He sees the importance of all aspects of the game, and that’s probably the one thing that has helped him earn such high praise from Florida’s head coach before his first college game ever tips off.
“People always underestimate the amount of pride I take in defense,” Beal said. “In my mind, defense always comes first. No matter how bad of a game you’re having on offense, you can always do something better on defense, no matter whether it’s rebounding, getting a steal or just stopping your man from scoring.” That’s a mantra the rest of Florida’s explosive backcourt is taking to heart. All the talent back there won’t do much if it’s not put to the best use so that the whole unit is playing all phases of the game equally hard. From Beal to Boynton to Walker to Wilbekin to Rosario, Florida’s guards are getting ready for one hell of a ride.
“Day by day, you’ve got to come in with a smile on your face and just be ready to work,” Rosario said. “No matter what the outcome is, you’ve got to be ready to push each other every day, especially with these guards that we have.” The goal is simple. Florida’s backcourt wants to add one more tattoo to Rosario’s collection: a national championship trophy.
Sophomore Scottie Wilbekin aims to stay a “pass-first” guard.
FACT: The 1960 Gator Bowl Victory was the first of four bowl games Coach Ray Graves’ team won that decade.
A WELL-ROUNDED UNIT
FACT: Steve Spurrier was not only a great quarterback, but also an effective kicker.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 43
OLD TENSIONS FUEL NEW FLAMES
By Thomas Morrell Photos by Tim Casey
Florida–FSU rivalry continues New coaches, same intensity between Gators and Seminoles Nigel Braham and Mike Pouncey talk trash during the 2010 Florida-FSU game.
Immeasurable devotion and underlying hatred have shaped this annual clash into a fierce and unforgiving, never-going-togive-up type of event. The University of Florida and Florida State University have been battling it out on the football field since 1958, and the intensity between these two adversaries grows stronger every year. UF and FSU are two of the oldest public universities in the state of Florida, and the fan base has grown larger every year. The Gators-
44 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
Seminoles rivalry is one of the best-known contests in the world of collegiate football. The battle between these two schools is entering its 53rd year, and the Gators lead the series at 33–20–2. But, unless UF football coach Will Muschamp can get the team back on track for the 2011 season, the Seminoles might make another tally in the win column for the second year in a row. Each year, the location of the game is alternated between Gainesville and Tallahassee, and on Nov. 26 the
Gators will host the Seminoles at “The Swamp.” On Saturday, another 60 minutes of vicious football rivalry will commence. One team will step up to seize the victory. One team will succeed in controlling the game. One team, and one team only, always does. Home-field advantage plays a huge factor. Tallahassee’s Bobby Bowden and Gainesville’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium are two of the most challenging stadiums in college football to play (and win) at.
FACT: UF has 5,434 faculty members with distinguished records in teaching, research and service.
OLD TENSIONS FUEL NEW FLAMES
Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher will put his friendship with Will Muschamp aside on Nov. 26. The match-up began in the 1940s when college enrollment increased. With both schools now coeducational, the rivalry was set in stone – almost. The first game needed to be played. The FSU football program started requesting an opportunity to play the Gators, but UF was hesitant. At this point in time, UF was receiving the majority of state funding and feared a game against FSU would lead to less funding. It was not until Florida Governor Leroy Collins requested a yearly game between the two schools did the negotiations begin. Eventually, the traditional games between the two soon-to-be national powerhouses would consume the state of Florida. The first game happened in 1958, but the Seminoles were not able to get their first win until 1964. Up until this point, UF was considered to be a better school with a superior football program. The unexpected win helped to secure the rivalry.
Walk into “The Swamp” and its presence is eminent. Screaming fans decked out in orange and blue represent the beating heart of Florida Field. Instead of 60 beats per minute, their cheers and jeers amount to more than 90,000.
and a game designed for entertainment has reached epic proportions of intensity.
In Gainesville, the Gators have a record of 20–8–1 against the Seminoles. In Tallahassee, the Seminoles have a record of 11–12–1 against the Gators.
The Gators currently have a record of 4–2 and the Seminoles are sitting at 2–3. Regardless, the matches between these football powerhouses always have something at stake.
As the college football season nears an end and the inevitable UF-FSU game approaches, another emotion gets added into the mix: fear. Gators never want to lose to the Seminoles. Seminoles never want to lose to the Gators. To players and fans alike, a loss is so much more than a loss. The moment someone joins the UF or FSU community, he or she are predisposed to despise the opposition. Decades have influenced the animosity between the two,
In the last 37 matches between the two adversaries, the record has been eerily even at 18–18–1.
Year after year, each school puts a competitive team on the field. A win rarely comes easy. Each player knows the importance of this game and knows a year’s worth of bragging rights are on the table.
In 1976, a shift in favor of the Seminoles began. Bobby Bowden went to Florida State and FSU started grabbing wins against the Gators in chunks. It was the first time in their match-up history. The winning streaks would alter between UF and FSU, but FSU was starting to change the dynamic, and UF noticed. The 1980s was a better decade for the Gators, but rumors and scandal would lead to a short falling out for UF. It wasn’t until the 1990 hiring of Steve Spurrier, the former UF Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, that the rivalry would enter a new stage. Between the two schools, there are 14 conference championships and five national titles.
It’s difficult to put a price on a victory against an archrival.
As the years progressed, the intensity grew. Each incoming student would be implanted with the knowledge of the rivalry – one of the most extreme in college football.
It can help a team continue on to the next stage or salvage a season. A less-thanperfect season hurts a little less with a big win against a foe.
The players, coaches and students may change, but the rivalry stays the same. The battles between the two dominant schools are the highlight of every season.
FACT: Approximately 90 percent of incoming freshmen score above the national average on standardized exams.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 45
FANS FOR LIFE!
ABOVE Photo by ANDY GREGORY, BELOW PHOTO BY MARK CASEY
BELOW Photo by ROB FOLDY
46 GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011
FACT: The fall 2010 incoming freshman class had an average 4.3 GPA and 1945 SAT score.
FANS FOR LIFE!
BELOW Photo by ROB FOLDY
FACT: UF admitted 1,315 International Baccalaureate students — more than any other university in the U.S. — in fall 2010.
GATOR COUNTRY | NOV/2011 47
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