Florida Gators: Lerentee McCray

SEC's DLs, LBs strong at combine

February, 21, 2013
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Several of RecruitingNation's SEC sites will look this week at the players headed to the NFL combine, which begins Friday in Indianapolis, and other predraft camps. Today: Defensive linemen and linebackers.

Florida Gators


The heart of the Gators’ 2012 defense will participate in the combine today. DT Sharrif Floyd, whose stock is rising rapidly as he is projected to be taken as high as No. 3, had a fantastic season and anchored UF’s front. He dominated Florida State’s front, and his mixture of size, strength and quickness has scouts drooling. ILB Jon Bostic started every game the past two seasons and was UF’s leader on defense. Nobody was more dependable than Bostic. OLB Jelani Jenkins was limited in 2012 because of a broken finger, a strained hamstring and a broken foot, but when healthy he’s a solid player. OLB Lerentee McCray was forced into action at the buck position (hybrid end/linebacker) because of the injury to Ronald Powell. He didn’t produce big numbers but was a high-effort, high-motor guy.

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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.

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GatorNation position breakdown: DE 

December, 18, 2012
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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 defensive end. Thursday will be defensive tackle.

DEFENSIVE END

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger, Dominique Easley
Jake Roth/US PresswireFlorida's depth at defensive end will be impacted by the NFL draft decision of junior Dominique Easley.
Two-deep: Dominique Easley is the starter at end and Lerentee McCray is the starter at the buck (end/linebacker hybrid). Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler are the reserves. McCray graduates. Easley is a junior but could leave early for the NFL.

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Top 5 moments: Blitz

December, 13, 2012
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Editor’s note: GatorNation is counting down the top five moments of Florida’s 2012 season this week. They could be plays, drives, quarters or decisions, but regardless of what they are, they are the significant moments that shaped the season.

We continue with No. 2: Blitz

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- If you blinked, you might have missed one of the most significant moments of Florida’s season.

In fact, there were a lot of people at Florida Field on Oct. 20 who weren’t even in their seats when it happened.

[+] EnlargePurifoy
Gerry Melendez/Getty ImagesAfter forcing a fumble that led to an early touchdown against South Carolina, Loucheiz Purifoy forced another fumble on the ensuing kickoff return by Bruce Ellington.
It was the first offensive play of the game. CB Loucheiz Purifoy blitzed from the left side of the defensive formation and sacked South Carolina QB Connor Shaw and forced Shaw to fumble. LB Lerentee McCray recovered the ball at the 2-yard line, and three plays later the Gators led 7-0.

The turnover sparked the Gators, who went on to beat the Gamecocks 44-11 one week after a surprising 14-6 victory over LSU. The victory served notice to the rest of the SEC that Florida was a serious contender for the conference title.

"We’re on our way to being what Florida used to be, what Florida’s known for," C Jonotthan Harrison said after the game. "We remember the feeling [of going 7-6 in 2011], how bad it hurt. We just used that as pure motivation and came out and completely dominated this team."

Purifoy’s hit on Shaw started that. Though Shaw is a right-handed quarterback, he never saw Purifoy coming untouched from the right side of the offensive formation. Not until it was too late, anyway, and Purifoy knocked the ball out of Shaw’s hands at the 5-yard line.

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Top 5 moments: Jarred loose

December, 12, 2012
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Editor’s note: GatorNation is counting down the top five moments of Florida’s 2012 season this week. They could be plays, drives, quarters or decisions, but regardless of what they are, they are the significant moments that shaped the season.

We continue with No. 3: Jarred loose

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- All it took was one hit to erase a disastrous third quarter and send Florida to a huge victory over rival Florida State. And it only happened because starting linebacker Jelani Jenkins was out of the game with a foot injury.

"Man down, man up," UF coach Will Muschamp said after the Gators’ 37-26 victory in Tallahassee, Fla., on Nov. 24. "It happened for us again. A guy goes in and makes a play. Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, we tell our guys it really doesn’t matter. We don’t use excuses. We did enough of that last year. So when a guy gets hurt and the next guy comes in, he needs to play well."

The guy on this particular Saturday was freshman LB Antonio Morrison. He was the one who hammered FSU QB EJ Manuel and knocked the ball loose at the Seminoles’ 42-yard line with about 11 minutes remaining in the game. DE Dominique Easley recovered the fumble and returned it to the FSU 37.

[+] EnlargeDominique Easley
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesDominique Easley's fumble recovery helped turn the tide and give Florida its first victory over Florida State since 2009.
One play later, RB Mike Gillislee scored the go-ahead touchdown, and the Gators tacked on two others to snap a two-game losing streak in the series.

That erased a third quarter in which FSU scored 17 points to take a 20-13 lead. Caleb Sturgis’ 32-yard field goal with 13:31 to play had cut the Seminoles’ lead to 20-16 before Morrison made one of the season’s most critical plays.

The freshman from Bolingbrook, Ill., is undersized for an SEC linebacker -- he’s 6-foot-1 and 216 pounds -- but he hits like a 250-pounder. He drove his left shoulder into Manuel’s right shoulder while LB Lerentee McCray was dragging Manuel to the ground and jarred the ball loose.

The 6-5, 240-pound Manuel went down hard and went to the sidelines woozy. The Seminoles soon followed.

"He is physical," NT Omar Hunter said of Morrison, who has 31 tackles and played in every game this season. "I don’t know if he knows anything else, but he is physical."

That play is essentially the reason the Gators are playing in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. UF’s victory over FSU ensured the Gators a spot in the top four in the BCS standings, which results in an automatic berth in a BCS bowl.
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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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 6 Florida plays host to Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday. It’s the first of three non-conference games for the Gators, who finish the regular season against rival Florida State in Tallahassee. Florida has won the four previous meetings with the Ragin’ Cajuns.

Here are five storylines for the game:

1. Gators won’t be grounded: Florida has got to find ways to make some plays down the field in the pass game before the Nov. 24 FSU game. The Gators are going to work on that against the Ragin’ Cajuns. That means better pass protection from the offensive line and the backs and tight ends who have to pick up rushers, as well as better work from the receivers. It might be time to get Raphael Andrades and Latroy Pittman more involved as pass catchers, because Quinton Dunbar and Frankie Hammond have not been consistent enough, although they have come through with several big plays.

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Florida 10: Week 9 rankings 

November, 5, 2012
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Jeff DriskelKim Klement/US PresswireJeff Driskel showed his elusiveness against Missouri on Saturday.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Which Florida players are making the biggest contributions on the field? GatorNation will tell you every week. It’s not just a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here’s this week’s top 10 (last week’s rankings in parentheses):

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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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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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Game preview: Florida vs. Missouri

November, 2, 2012
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Missouri (4-4, 1-4 SEC) at No. 7 Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC)
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Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.
ESPN2

Gators to watch

QB Jeff Driskel: How does Driskel respond after committing four of the Gators’ six turnovers in their 17-9 loss to Georgia last week? He admitted he held the ball too long and didn’t make quick decisions, and those are issues that are certainly correctable in one week. Driskel probably put too much pressure on himself to make plays against Georgia. He needs to just run the offense and not force things.

[+] EnlargeRichardson
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonMissouri defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson leads the Tigers in tackles with 57.
LB Neiron Ball: Buck LB Lerentee McCray is battling an ankle injury and my not be able to play against Missouri. If he can’t go, the Gators will turn to Ball, who had his first career interception last week. Ball has played well in his return from the bleeding in his brain that cost him the entire 2011 season (nine tackles, two fumble recoveries) and he will get a chance to play a lot against the Tigers because the Gators will be in nickel defense for most of the game.

RB Omarius Hines: Somebody has to take over for the injured Solomon Patton (broken left arm) and run the jet sweep, and Hines is one of two candidates. The other is WR Andre Debose, but the coaching staff has more trust in Hines than Debose. Hines isn’t as fast as Patton, but he’s bigger, more physical and pretty good with the ball in his hands.

Tigers to watch

QB James Franklin: Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said that Franklin would start against the Gators. Franklin has been hampered by shoulder and knee injuries all season and that has kept him from being the dynamic player he was last season (3,847 all-purpose yards). But he’s still dangerous, especially if he’s healthy. He came on in the second half of last week’s game against Kentucky and looked pretty good in turning a close game into a rout.

DT Sheldon Richardson: Richardson leads the Tigers in tackles (57) and sacks (4.0), which is highly unusual for an interior defensive lineman. What it says is that Richardson is talented enough to make tackles down the field and anywhere along the line of scrimmage, plus quick and strong enough to get to the quarterback.

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Florida Awards Tracker: Week 7

October, 23, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s a recap of how Florida’s players on national award Watch lists are faring this season:

Kyle Christy
Rob Foldy/Icon SMIKyle Christy is now first in the nation in punting after a huge day against South Carolina.
LB Jon Bostic
Watch lists: College Football Performance Award Linebacker Trophy, Butkus Award, Rotary Lombardi.
Last week’s stats: four tackles.
Season stats: 38 tackles, three sacks for minus-17 yards, three QB hurries, one forced fumble, two pass break-ups.
Comment: Stats don’t show it, but he played a solid game against the Gamecocks.

FB Trey Burton
Watch list: CFPA Running Back Trophy.
Last week’s stats: five carries for 10 yards, 1-for-1 passing for 1 yard, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery.
Season stats: 15 carries for 119 yards and two TDs, seven catches for 74 yards, 1-for-1 passing for 1 yard, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery.
Comment: His hit on Ace Sanders resulted in a fumble he recovered to set up Florida’s second touchdown.

P Kyle Christy
Watch list: CFPA Punter Trophy
Last week’s stats: averaged 54.3 yards on seven punts.
Season stats: averaging 47.9 yards on 36 punts, 13 inside the 20, 18 of at least 50 yards.
Comment: Huge day vaulted him to No. 1 in the nation in punting. Won SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

WR/KR Andre Debose
Watch lists: CFPA All-Purpose Trophy, CFPA Kickoff Returner Trophy, CFPA Wide Receiver Trophy, Biletnikoff.
Last week’s stats: one punt return for 19 yards, one kickoff return for 39 yards.
Season stats: averaging 25.3 yards on 12 kickoff returns, averaging 10.2 on nine punt returns, two carries for 1 yard, one catch for 5 yards.
Comment: Debose did a much better job of coming up to field punts and saving the Gators yardage. He’s starting to develop the consistency the coaching staff is looking for.

DE Dominique Easley
Watch list: Ted Hendricks Award.
Last week’s stats: one tackle, one sack for minus-3 yards.
Season stats: nine tackles, two sacks for minus-8 yards, two QB hurries.
Comment: He blew up South Carolina’s first place, forcing QB Connor Shaw to hold onto the ball too long and setting the stage for Loucheiz Purifoy’s strip sack.

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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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Florida Awards Tracker: Week 6

October, 16, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here’s a recap of how Florida’s players on national award watch lists are faring this season:

LB Jon Bostic

  • Watch lists: College Football Performance Award Linebacker Trophy, Butkus Award, Rotary Lombardi.
  • Last week’s stats: five tackles, one sack for minus-9 yards, one forced fumble.
  • Season stats: 33 tackles, three sacks for minus-17 yards, three QB hurries, one forced fumble, two pass break-ups.
  • Comment: UF coach Will Muschamp said Bostic is doing a better job shedding blockers and being in position to make plays this season.
FB Trey Burton

  • Watch list: CFPA Running Back Trophy.
  • Last week’s stats: two carries for 10 yards, one catch for 8 yards.
  • Season stats: 10 carries for 109 yards and two TDs, seven catches for 74 yards.
  • Comment: Burton also uncharacteristically dropped two passes against Vandy. He also had a two-point conversion run.
Kyle Christy
Rob Foldy/Icon SMIKyle Christy is now first in the nation in punting after a huge day against South Carolina.
P Kyle Christy

  • Watch list: CFPA Punter Trophy
  • Last week’s stats: averaged 46.2 yards on five punts.
  • Season stats: averaging 46.4 yards on 29 punts, 12 inside the 20, 11 of at least 50 yards.
  • Comment: Christy is sixth in the nation in punting.
WR/KR Andre Debose

  • Watch lists: CFPA All-Purpose Trophy, CFPA Kickoff Returner Trophy, CFPA Wide Receiver Trophy, Biletnikoff.
  • Last week’s stats: one punt return for 6 yards, two kickoff returns for 67 yards.
  • Season stats: averaging 23.9 yards on 11 kickoff returns, averaging 9.1 on eight punt returns, two carries for 1 yard, one catch for 5 yards.
  • Comment: Debose finally made a big play on special teams, returning a kickoff 60 yards in the fourth quarter to set up a field goal.

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Florida hit double digits in penalties for the second time this season, committing 10 penalties for 80 yards in its 31-17 victory at Vanderbilt on Saturday night.

Below is the breakdown. For the season breakdown, check out our message board.

Vanderbilt (10 penalties for 80 yards)

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