Florida Gators: Florida Atlantic Owls

For the first time ever, the SEC had five different teams last season to win 11 or more games.

Two-time defending national champion Alabama won 13. Georgia won 12, and Florida, South Carolina and Texas A&M each won 11.

Obviously, the SEC expanding by two teams helped. Previously, only one other time had as many as four teams in the league won 11 or more games in a season, and that was 2011. LSU won 13 that year, Alabama 12 and Arkansas and South Carolina each 11.

With five SEC teams cracking the top 10 in the preseason coaches' poll, it's possible that five could hit the 11-win mark again this season, although the odds are probably against that happening for a second straight season.

SportsNation

Which of the SEC teams that won 11 or more games last season is most likely to take a step back in 2013?

  •  
    4%
  •  
    30%
  •  
    10%
  •  
    12%
  •  
    44%

Discuss (Total votes: 17,850)

Chances are somebody's going to fall off.

Who's that going to be? We'll let you make the call.

So go to our SportsNation poll and vote on which of the 11-win teams from a year ago is most likely to take a step back this season.

For what it's worth, of the five teams that won 11 or more games last season, Florida probably has the toughest schedule. The Gators have to face Georgia, LSU and South Carolina all away from home. They also have to travel to Miami the second week of the season and face Florida State at home to close the regular season.

Georgia also faces a tough slate, especially with the season opener at Clemson. The Bulldogs, though, get LSU and South Carolina at home and face Florida like they do every year in Jacksonville.

Alabama's schedule is probably the easiest of the five. The Crimson Tide open the season against Virginia Tech in Atlanta, but avoid Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the East. They also get Ole Miss at home for the second straight season, and LSU has to come to Tuscaloosa this season.

Texas A&M's nonconference schedule is the easiest in the league, but the Aggies have to play at Ole Miss and at LSU. The biggie is Alabama at home the third week of the season.

We'll give you a few days to vote in our poll and will review the results next week.

T.J. Harrell to lean on visits 

March, 29, 2013
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T.J. Harrell (Tampa, Fla./Tampa Catholic) is going to be leaning heavily on visits.

The 6-foot, 197-pound two-way athlete has a bunch of offers, but to distinguish them, he's going to have to see what the school is like behind the brochures he gets in the mail.

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Despite having been committed to Florida since July, three-star Florida wide receiver commit Chris Thompson (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville) is still receiving interest from other programs.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound athlete said after Gainesville's disappointing loss to Miami Central in the FHSAA class 6A state championship game on Saturday that Marshall and Florida Atlantic continue to recruit him despite his pledge to the Gators.

"I still talk to a couple of them -- like Marshall and FAU," Thompson said. "But I'm still solid to Florida."

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Shaw draws interest in and out of state 

September, 27, 2012
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Please excuse class of 2014 athlete Rashawn Shaw (Fort Pierce, Fla./Central) if he can’t think much beyond his big game against Vero Beach (Fla.) on Thursday.

"So far the season is going real well and we'll be facing Vero Beach (on Thursday),” Shaw said. “The game is going to be streaming on the Internet I believe. It should be a fun game.”

This year Shaw has been getting bigger -- he said Florida coaches measured him at 6-foot-2, 227 pounds -- and making several trips around the state.

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Class of 2014 running back prospect Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage) surprised many when he jumped on the field for a full workout in June at the first session of camp at Florida State.

It was his first time on the field since suffering a torn ACL in August 2011, and it turned out to be his only workout of the summer. However, one workout was all anyone needed in order to see that the 5-foot-11, 205-pound junior was back.

"I had just planned to go to FSU and watch things since a couple of my teammates were working out," Michel said. "But I was sick of watching and I just needed to do something. It was time to come back."

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For wide receiver Chris Thompson, it has been a life-long dream to play for the University of Florida. On Monday, the Gainesville (Fla.) High School senior fulfilled that dream by verbally committing to the Gators. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound athlete chose Florida over offers from Utah, UMass, FAU and Marshall.

After participating at Friday Night Lights camp, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with Thompson on Monday where he decided to extend a scholarship offer to the speedy wideout. Thompson immediately accepted.

"Florida's always been the team I wanted to play for," Thompson said. "It's home, it's close to my mom -- close to my family. That's why I chose Florida. It feels great. I've always wanted to be a part of Gator Nation. I can't even put it in to words, it feels so great."

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Tyson's Take: WR Chris Thompson 

June, 21, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With 18 verbal commitments and just over seven months until signing day, the Gators have filled about 75 percent of their recruiting class. Over the next two weeks, GatorNation will take a look at some uncommitted prospects who could end up in the Florida Gators' recruiting class. Some of them are highly rated and some may surprise you. Next up is wide receiver Chris Thompson (Gainesville, Fla./Gainesville HS).

Why he could end up in Florida's class


Thompson grew up a Florida fan, and obviously the Gators are in his hometown. The 5-foot-11, 170-pound speedster camped at Florida last week and impressed the Florida coaching staff. Thompson, doesn't have a Florida offer yet, but don't be surprised if the Gators do pull the trigger and offer the talented three-star player. Thompson, holds offers from Utah, Marshall, UMass and FAU, but if the Gators were to offer, Thompson would likely jump at the chance to play for his childhood dream school.

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The University of South Florida held the first session of its Sling & Shoot 7-on-7 tournament over the weekend and a one-day prospect camp today. The Bulls coaching staff will be involved with the program's padded-team camp this week leading into their SuperBull Showcase on Saturday.

" Lakeland (Fla.) Christian's top underclassmen, freshman quarterback Christian Alexander and junior running back T.J. Simmons, both worked out in the morning session. Lakeland Christian head coach Wayne Peace took them to Florida over the weekend, where both players met with the Gators coaches.

"Christian worked out with coach [Brent] Pease for about 45 minutes and then T.J. worked out with Coach [Brian] White for about 45 minutes," Peace said. "After working out they had a chance to go to the coaching office and meet with Coach [Will] Muschamp. They were both very excited."

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The 7th annual Heath Evans Foundation 7-on-7 tournament will be loaded with FBS talent when the first pass is thrown Saturday morning in West Palm Beach, Fla.

ESPN 150/300 Prospects

Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Tampa (Fla.) Wharton (No. 4)

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ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. Over the next 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett
Icon SMI, Getty ImagesWith true freshmen QBs Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett forced onto the field, Florida struggled to convert third downs in 2011.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Offense is what kept Florida from being a better team in 2011.

The Gators had one of the nation’s better defenses last season. UF ranked in the top 10 nationally in third-down defense (second, 27.3 percent), pass defense (seventh, 166.8 yards per game) and total defense (eighth, 299.5 yards per game). But that couldn’t overcome an offense that scored just 27 points in losses to Alabama, LSU and Auburn, and scored 12 or less points in five of its six losses.

The biggest reason for the offensive struggles -- other than the injury to quarterback John Brantley -- was the Gators’ ineffectiveness on third down. UF converted just 32.1 percent of its third downs (51-of-159), which ranked 111th nationally (out of 120 teams) and was the second-worst percentage in school history. Only the 1979 team (26.1 percent) was worse.

(Read full post)

What I learned this weekend 

November, 14, 2011
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Elder sets first official
Four-star safety Chaz Elder (College Park, Ga./Banneker) has set up his first official visit and will hit South Carolina on Nov. 25. Elder, 6-2 and 185 pounds, will likely also set up visits to Georgia and Vanderbilt. If the list grows, watch out for are Arizona State and LSU. Don’t be surprised if he visits one of both of those schools.

But Elder could go ahead and decide to pull the trigger in two weeks when he’s in Columbia as the Gamecocks are thought to be the frontrunner at this time.

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