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MAY 2008— Table of Contents

  • 15 DAYS

    Spring football answers and creates questions for the Gators

    Maurkice Pouncey probably said it best one very warm April afternoon when the Gators had just finished practice: “Losing four games… that’s embarrassing.” After 45 straight wins, three state championships and two national championships at Lakeland High School, Florida’s 9-4 2007 was a bit of comeuppance for Pouncey, a first team Freshman All-American guard. “I don’t ever want to go through that again,” said twin brother Mike Pouncey, a backup center who moved to defensive line in time to lead the Gators to a 4-0 record in November. He will be back to the familiar digs of the offensive line in 2008, playing right guard while Maurkice moves over to make the line calls at center. He spent the spring playing with a bit of attitude. He was determined to do his part to ensure he never has to go through four losses in a single season ever again. “Losing just sucks,” he said. “I hate to lose.”


    Breaking down the scholarship players

    The talent level from top to bottom of the roster is greater than at any time in the Meyer era. What the spring showed is that if the Gators can (a) make progress at a couple of critical positions; (b) get everybody healthy and (c) have a chemistry-building offseason, there certainly won’t be another four-loss season. A championship season wouldn’t be out of the question. Here are the position-by-position grades for spring practice 2008:


    Spring football practice around the SEC and Florida’s 2008 opponents

    Spring practice has wrapped up on college campuses, which means that there is roughly only 100 days until the practice fields are lined, helmets buffed and blocking sleds readied for use. In July, the media masses will convene in Hoover, Ala. for the Southeastern Conference Media Days. We’re fortunate enough in Gainesville to get to watch a few days of the practice before they’re closed up for the year. Interestingly, in their first five games of the 2008 season, the University of Florida will face three teams with new head football coaches (Hawaii, Ole Miss, and Arkansas), a second year coach (Randy Shannon) of a hated rival (Miami), and Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer, whose Volunteers haven’t won a Southeastern Conference title since 1998.


    Looking back on the 2007-08 basketball season.

    Maybe it is fitting that the final game of the season was played at Madison Square Garden, just a few blocks from the theater and entertainment district. Florida’s basketball season could be best described as an off-Broadway stage adaptation to the Clint Eastwood movie “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.” This was a season in which there was plenty of good, an equal amount of bad and far too much ugly. THE GOOD: Florida finished the season 24-12, eclipsing the 20-win mark for the tenth straight year. Prior to Billy Donovan’s arrival at Florida, the Gators won 20 or more games only five times.


    A trio of Florida baseball players are making their mark in 2008.

    It’s time the University of Florida baseball program rightfully honors one of their own. They don’t have to form a search committee. They don’t have to browse through the records and review the names of other outstanding Gators athletes. No, merely take a few steps into their own locker room. The award, you ask? The Brandon McArthur Award for Courage and Perseverance.


    All-American softball player Kim Waleszonia almost missed the current season to be with her ailing father.

    When hundreds of orange-and-blue-painted people got off a bus in front of UCLA’s softball stadium from Fontana, Calif., all Kim Waleszonia could do was laugh. The hourand- a-half trip dumped these maniacs off at the doorstep of the stadium in 2007, causing UCLA fans to immediately alert the coaching staff of the large number of Florida fans in attendance. The trip was the idea of Kim’s father, Lester, who wanted as many people to make the trip to see his daughter play. When she made the decision to play her college softball across the country in Gainesville, he knew the opportunities would be rare. The residents of her town wouldn’t miss a chance to see her play.


    Every month, Gator Country Recruiting Analyst Bob Redman tells us who the Gators are hot after in football recruiting.


    Buddy Martin’s column

    If you indeed can tell anything from a spring football game, then the “Orange and Blue Debut” in April could be a harbinger of good things to come.

    (First, though, put that thought on hold for this official complaint: Couldn’t we just go back to the old-fashioned “Orange and Blue Game?” I just don’t get the “Debut” thing being used over and over since Urban Meyer’s first appearance in 2005.) In a private interview after the game for his upcoming biography, “Urban’s Way,” Meyer told me he was cautiously optimistic about 2008, but was firm in his conviction about not getting ahead of himself. He agreed with me, however, that things appear to be taking shape nicely and is hopeful that the presence of more playmakers on offense and defense will bode well.

  • BONUS EXTRA:  Pull-out full color poster of the Circle of Life drill during O&B Game:

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