Florida Gators: James Wilson

Signing day primer: Florida 

January, 23, 2013
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- There are just a couple of short weeks remaining until national signing day, and the Florida Gators have met a majority of their recruiting needs. With graduation, transfers and players leaving for the NFL draft, there are a few areas Florida head coach Will Muschamp would still like to shore up.

Key holes to fill

The Gators lost key personnel along the offensive line, wide receiver, linebacker, running back and secondary and are hoping to replenish their talent with junior college transfers and incoming freshmen.

GatorNation position breakdown: G/C 

January, 10, 2013
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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday through Jan. 31, 2013, GatorNation will break down each position. We’ll look at 2013, of course, but also try and give you a peek beyond next season, too. Today is guard/center. We will profile tight end on Jan. 15.

GUARD/CENTER

[+] EnlargeJon Halapio
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackGuard Jon Halapio has been UF's most consistent lineman for the last three seasons.
Two-deep: With the graduation of sixth-year senior James Wilson, redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker and redshirt junior Max Garcia will compete for the starting job at left guard. Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio will return as starters at center and right guard, respectively. Both will be redshirt seniors. Redshirt senior Kyle Koehne and Ian Silberman, provided his shoulder injury is healed, are the reserves.

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Florida commits look to get early start 

December, 24, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Gators could have as many eight players enroll early and be eligible for for spring football. Three players -- Tyler Moore (Clearwater, Fla./Countryside), Darious Cummings (Titusville, Fla./East Mississippi Community College) and Trenton Brown (Albany, Ga./Georgia Military College) -- have already signed their letters of intent with Florida.

After losing offensive linemen James Wilson and Xavier Nixon to graduation, Florida will get immediate help from Brown and Moore. Brown is expected to compete with D.J. Humphries for playing time at left tackle, while Moore is likely to start off competing with right tackle Chaz Green for playing time.

Defensive tackle Omar Hunter graduates, and Florida could potentially lose Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley to the NFL draft in April. Cummings will likely work his way in to Florida's defensive tackle rotation early on next season. He'll battle with Leon Orr, Damien Jacobs, Quinteze Williams and Florida verbal commit Caleb Brantley for playing time next season.

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Tagging the Gators: G Jon Halapio

December, 23, 2012
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Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today we’ll look at G Jon Halapio.

G Jon Halapio
Redshirt junior
UF is averaging 194.5 yards per game rushing, 338.4 yards per game total offense, and has given up 36 sacks

[+] EnlargeJon Halapio
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackGuard Jon Halapio has been UF's most consistent lineman for two seasons.
Role in 2012: Halapio has been a mainstay at right guard and has started 27 consecutive games dating back to the final two games of the 2010 season.

The good: Halapio earned the team’s Scrap Iron award (given for blocking and toughness) eight times this season, more than any other player. That speaks to his consistency since he finally cracked the starting lineup for good at the end of 2010. The 6-foot-3, 321-pound Halapio is a very good run blocker and was a big piece of the Gators’ transition from the perimeter run game to the between-the-tackles style that coach Will Muschamp wants. He helped RB Mike Gillislee become the Gators’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Ciatrick Fason in 2004.

The bad: Halapio, like C Jonotthan Harrison and LG James Wilson, has at times had trouble in pass protection. The Gators have been hurt by delayed blitzes or overloads up the middle. UF quarterbacks have been sacked 36 times this season, and while all that blame doesn’t belong to the offensive line, a good portion of it does. This group is much better than it was in 2011, but it has to improve for the offense to flourish in 2013.

Crystal ball: Halapio will again anchor the offensive line in 2013. He and Harrison might be the only players from 2012 who will be in the same spot in ’13. UF will have a new left side and it’s possible that RT Chaz Green will get beaten out by Nebraska transfer Tyler Moore. The offense can’t be as one-dimensional as it was this season, and the passing game has to make strides. The pass protection has to improve to help QB Jeff Driskel’s development.
Jonotthan HarrisonMark LoMoglio/Icon SMIDurable lineman Jonotthan Harrison started every game this season.
Editor’s note: Each day between now and Florida’s Allstate Sugar Bowl date with Louisville, GatorNation will review the season for a key Gators player and attempt to project what’s next. Today, we’ll look at C Jonotthan Harrison.

C Jonotthan Harrison
Redshirt junior

Role in 2012: Harrison started every game at center this season despite suffering an elbow injury against Vanderbilt. Harrison started every game at either guard or center in 2011. UF is averaging 194.5 yards per game rushing, 338.4 yards per game of total offense and has given up 36 sacks.

The good: Harrison is the definition of durability. He has started 26 consecutive games dating to the 2011 Outback Bowl against Penn State. He played the season’s final six games with a brace on his arm after suffering a sprained elbow against the Commodores. He has had very little trouble with shotgun snaps, which is something that plagued Mike Pouncey at the beginning of his first season as the starting center. Harrison is a physical player with good size (6-foot-3, 309 pounds) and is a solid run-blocker.

The bad: Harrison sometimes has trouble in pass protection. The Gators have been hurt by delayed blitzes or overloads up the middle. As the center, Harrison has the responsibility for picking up those blitzers, whether he’s free already or if he has to come off a double-team block. UF quarterbacks have been sacked 36 times this season, and while all that blame doesn’t belong to the offensive line, a good portion of it does.

Crystal ball: Harrison should return as the starter in 2013. He’s really the only experienced center on the roster, although Kyle Koehne has worked at the spot as well as guard and tackle. He’ll have to deal with a whole new left side because left guard James Wilson and left tackle Xavier Nixon graduate, but the offensive line should be better and deeper than it was this season.

Film study: Gators vs. Florida State 

November, 26, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s an analysis of three key plays in Florida’s 37-26 victory over Florida State on Saturday.

Manuel to O’Leary

FSU cuts into UF's lead

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 6 Florida plays host to FCS opponent Jacksonville State on Saturday. It’s the final home game of the season and the last chance for a tuneup before playing Florida State in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 24.

Here's five storylines for the game:

1. It’s the Jacoby Brissett show: Starting QB Jeff Driskel is out with a sprained right ankle, so Brissett will make his second start of the season (he also started the opener). He’s not the runner that Driskel is, so expect the offense to change a bit. More wildcat with Trey Burton, for instance, to run the read-option plays that Driskel has had so much success with. Brissett has thrown just 13 passes this season, but he started two games in 2011 in place of the injured John Brantley. He has likes to throw the ball deep more than Driskel, so expect a few of those early.

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GAINESVILE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp took to the SEC's weekly teleconference on Wednesday morning to talk about the Gators’ game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. He touched on injuries, the passing offense, and what he remembers about telling QB Jacoby Brissett that Jeff Driskel had won the starting job.

1. Three guys are out

The Gators will be without two reserves and their top kickoff returner against the Ragin’ Cajuns, Muschamp said.

Mack Brown probably will be out with an ankle. He’s not been able to do anything thus far this week.

"Andre Debose hyperextended his knee last Thursday and has been unable to get back in action so far, so definitely those two guys [won’t play]. Expecting everybody else back.

"Leon Orr, who’s missed time with an illness, right now is working his way back in shape. Probably will not play Saturday.”

The Gators’ other injured players -- LT Xavier Nixon (undisclosed), LG James Wilson (knee), RG Jon Halapio (ankle), FB Hunter Joyer (thigh bruise), K Caleb Sturgis (ankle) -- will play.

2. Airing it out

UF has thrown the ball 52 times in the last two games, including a season-high 29 times against Georgia. Not by design, though.

“I think it’s a little bit how the game played out. We realized we need to do a little bit more vertically throwing the football. It’s been a little bit of a conscious effort but more than anything what the defense is giving us. People are loading the box. We’ve got to create some opportunities for us down the field.”

3. A smooth conversation

Muschamp has commented several times this season about how well Brissett has handled himself after losing out on the starting job. Muschamp was asked what the meeting was like when he told Brissett that Driskel had won the job and what his message to Brissett was.

“Jacoby is a competitor and a guy that has handled this as good as anybody can handle it. But [the meeting went] very well. ... [Muschamp told him] that I thought he had done a great job preparing and working and we decided to go with Jeff. That meeting is between Jacoby and I. He was very professional.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The next two weeks might not result in much excitement among Florida fans or even players, but there’s no doubt that two upcoming games against weak nonconference opponents are just what the Gators need right now.

Six starters and two key special teams players are among nine players who either missed Saturday’s victory over Missouri or suffered injuries during the game. None of the injuries appear to be particularly serious, and there’s plenty of time for those players to rest in the next two weeks so they can be completely healthy for the Nov. 24 regular-season finale at rival Florida State.

But if some can't play against the Seminoles, UF coach Will Muschamp isn’t worried. He has watched his team overcome injuries all season, and do it well enough to be 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the Southeastern Conference.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Florida 14, Missouri 7 

November, 4, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida finished its SEC schedule with a 7-1 record, a significant improvement over last season’s 3-5 mark, by beating Missouri on Saturday at Florida Field. The Gators weren’t pretty on offense but made two big plays to score both touchdowns.

Here are the good and bad from the 14-7 victory:

THREE UP

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Five storylines: Florida vs. Missouri 

November, 1, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 7 Florida plays host to Missouri on Saturday in the Gators’ final SEC game. The Gators (7-2, 6-1 SEC) are still alive in the Eastern Division race, but they have to beat the Tigers and have Georgia lose to either Ole Miss or Auburn.

Here's five storylines for the game:

1. Mental rebound: The Gators played their worst game of the season last weekend against Georgia. How do they respond? Does the loss, which kept the Gators from controlling their own destiny in the division race, linger and cause more problems this week? Are there any lingering conflicts between the defense, which held Georgia to 17 points, and the offense, which turned the ball over six times? It should be clear pretty early if the Gators have rebounded.

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Film study: What loss shows about UF 

October, 29, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s an analysis of three key plays in Florida’s 17-9 loss to Georgia on Saturday.


Costly interception



Rob Foldy/US Presswire

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s an analysis of three key plays in Florida’s 44-11 victory over South Carolina on Saturday.

Driskel to Reed for a TD

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
AP Photo/John RaouxFlorida tight end Jordan Reed (11) celebrates after scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard pass against South Carolina.
The score: Scoreless less than a minute into the game.

The situation: Third-and-goal from the South Carolina 3-yard line.

Why it worked: TE Clay Burton gets a pick on LB Reginald Bowens to clear a spot for Reed.

The breakdown: The Gators are in 12 personnel -- meaning one running back (Trey Burton) and two tight ends (Burton and Jordan Reed). QB Jeff Driskel is in the shotgun, with Trey Burton to his left. WR Quinton Dunbar is lined up wide right and WR Frankie Hammond is lined up wide left but off the line scrimmage.

Reed is lined up in the slot on the left side. Clay Burton is lined up to Reed’s left, but on the line of scrimmage. Hammond goes in motion to the right and settles just to the left of Clay Burton.

At the snap, Trey Burton heads into the left flat, where he’s covered by FS D.J. Swearinger, while Dunbar heads into the end zone. Clay Burton crosses in front of Reed and heads into the middle of the field. Hammond heads straight into the end zone. Reed settles right behind Hammond at the goal line.

Burton runs into Bowens in the middle of the field at the goal line while Reed stops 2 yards into the end zone and faces Driskel. Hammond continues behind Reed to the back of the end zone.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Florida 44, S. Carolina 11 

October, 21, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida moved a step closer to an SEC East championship by routing South Carolina and former coach Steve Spurrier on Saturday. The Gators didn’t look impressive on offense but -- as usual -- made some adjustments at halftime and were better in the second half.

Here are the good and the bad from the 44-11 victory at Florida Field, which marked the first time the Gators have beaten former coach Steve Spurrier without Tim Tebow on the roster:

THREE UP

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No. 7 South Carolina (6-1, 4-1 SEC) at No. 2 Florida (6-0, 5-0 SEC)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.
CBS

Three storylines

1. Division race: This game won’t officially decide the Eastern Division championship, but it will give the winner the inside track. If the Gators win, all they would have to do is beat Georgia on Oct. 27 to win the title. If South Carolina wins, the Gamecocks would have the tiebreaker over Florida and Georgia. They still have games against Arkansas and Tennessee remaining, and the Gators would need to win out and have South Carolina and Georgia lose another game to win the title.

2. M.A.S.H units: Both teams have been ravaged by injuries and the flu. South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore has a bruised hip and coach Steve Spurrier said he may not start. Plus, DT Kelcy Quarles is doubtful because of a shoulder injury and DE Jadeveon Clowney is bothered by a foot injury. Several other Gamecocks are banged up, too. There’s also been a flu bug that has run through the team this week, and it caused WRs Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington to miss practice. Florida has five starters recovering from injuries: G James Wilson (eye), C Jonotthan Harrison (arm), LT Xavier Nixon (upper body), DE Dominique Easley (knee) and LB Jelani Jenkins (hamstring). UF coach Will Muschamp said all should play against the Gamecocks, but he has been vague about injuries before. If UF’s players do return, that will give the Gators the advantage.

[+] EnlargeConnor Shaw
Daniel Shirey/US PresswireSouth Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw might not have the track speed of Florida counterpart Jeff Driskel, but he's got a better track record as a passer.
3. Make plays in the passing game: Going on the assumption that Sanders and Ellington have recovered from the flu, this is an area which clearly favors South Carolina. Sanders and Ellington both have 17 catches, but Ellington is the big-play receiver. Sanders averages 9.4 yards per catch while Ellington averages 15.6. Connor Shaw is a dual-threat quarterback -- as is UF’s Jeff Driskel -- but Shaw is a more accomplished passer and is completing 69.4 percent of his passes for 910 yards and 10 TDs with four interceptions. UF is last in the SEC in passing (145.0 yards per game). UF’s biggest weapon in the passing game is TE Jordan Reed (21 catches, 237 yards, one TD), but the WRs have struggled to get separation and to consistently make plays. Frankie Hammond (11 catches) has two catch-and-run TDs of 50 yards or longer, but he’s also got four drops. UF’s wide receivers have a combined 30 catches.

Gators to watch

RB Mike Gillislee: He didn’t put up great numbers against Vanderbilt (67 yards on 17 carries) but he did shred LSU’s defense for 146 yards. He’ll need to have similar success against the Gamecocks.

LB Jon Bostic: Bostic has benefitted from the new strength program as much as anyone. He’s more physical than he was last season and he’s able to shed blocks easier. His play will be key to the Gators’ effort to limit Lattimore.

RB Omarius Hines: It seems like every time Hines touches the ball, good things happen (except, of course, for his fumble against Bowling Green). The Gators are in need of playmakers in the passing game, and Hines should get a few chances on Saturday.

Gamecocks to watch

DE Devin Taylor: Clowney gets all the publicity, but Taylor is a dangerous pass rusher as well. Though he only has 1.5 sacks this season, he has 17.0 in his career. If the Gators pay too much attention to Clowney, Taylor could hurt them.

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