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Sunshine State Report

The latest on college sports in Florida

Wondering about freshman quarterbacks under Jim McElwain? Meet Rob Compson

If history is the best indication of the future, then one of the most important characters for the Florida Gators' game Saturday against South Carolina involves a stiff quarterback you've never heard of from Montana State.

Hang with me.

UF coach Jim McElwain has no problem burning a quarterback's redshirt with three games left in the regular season. That means Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks could start this week against the Gamecocks, with starter Luke Del Rio (shoulder) out.

On Monday, McElwain said he's played a freshman this late in a year before, back when he was at Montana State.

That brings us to Rob Compson.

I wrote about Rob a little bit last August, as McElwain began his first season with the Gators. McElwain's comparison is a little fuzzy; Compson had already redshirted when he made his college debut.

Anyway, when I spoke to Compson last year, he told me the story of his first start, which has some similarities to what's going on this week. Compson was the scout-team quarterback when the starter got hurt. He put himself in the competition, then moved up quickly. He got his first start with three games left in the season. Sound familiar? …

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Florida State's Jesus Wilson has foot surgery, Derwin James' return still unclear

Jesus Wilson had surgery to repair a foot injury.


Jesus Wilson had surgery to repair a foot injury.

Florida State will continue to be without receiver Jesus Wilson, who had surgery to repair a foot injury, coach Jimbo Fisher said Monday.

Wilson is the Seminoles' second-leading receiver in catches (30) and yards (390). Nyqwan Murray and Wharton High product Auden Tate and will continue to receive extra reps without Wilson.

Wilson has missed the last two games with the injury.

There's still no timetable for the return of star safety Derwin James (knee), but Fisher said he is "dying to go."

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Florida-LSU game gets 1 p.m. kickoff

The rescheduled game between the Florida Gators and LSU will have a 1 p.m. (Eastern) kickoff next week on the SEC Network, the conference announced Monday. 

The game was originally scheduled to be played Oct. 8 in Gainesville but was moved to Nov. 19 in Baton Rouge because of Hurricane Matthew. UF said at the time that the game would kick off no later than 3:30 p.m.


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Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio out this week against South Carolina

Luke Del Rio injured a shoulder in the second quarter of Saturday's 31-10 loss at Arkansas.

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Luke Del Rio injured a shoulder in the second quarter of Saturday's 31-10 loss at Arkansas.

GAINESVILLE - Florida Gators quarterback Luke Del Rio will be out "a while" with an injured shoulder, coach Jim McElwain said Monday.

McElwain said Del Rio hurt the shoulder in the second quarter of Saturday's 31-10 loss at Arkansas. UF didn't know the severity of the injury until after the game. Del Rio had his shoulder iced during his postgame interview.

Del Rio has an MRI scheduled today, and UF does not yet know the extent of the injury or how long he will be out.

"It's bad, man," McElwain said. "When you can't lift your duffel bag up, chances are something's hurt."

Austin Appleby, a grad transfer from Purdue, will get the first reps in practice today with Del Rio out. Appleby started both games earlier this season when Del Rio was out with a knee injury.

McElwain said the competition will be open at quarterback. He hasn't ruled out starting one of his true freshmen, Kyle Trask or Feleipe Franks, even though it would mean burning a redshirt with three regular-season games remaining.

UF considered benching Del Rio Saturday. In retrospect, McElwain said, the Gators should have because Del Rio was not 100 percent. …

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Will Muschamp has no animosity toward Florida Gators as he returns to The Swamp


South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp insists there are no hard feelings between him and the Florida Gators. He said that in the spring, and he said that Sunday night in a teleconference with reporters, as his Gamecocks prepare to come to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.


"We had four great years at the University of Florida," Muschamp said. "I have tremendous respect for the university, the program. I grew up in Gainesville. I grew up a Gator...We've got great memories. We've got great friends that are friends to this day.


"In this profession, if you don't win enough games you get fired. That's part of it."


The game will have another wrinkle, because it's UF's senior most of the Gators being honored will be playing their final game at The Swamp against the coach who recruited them there.


Muschamp said he doesn't know how much that knowledge of personnel will help him Saturday. He hasn't heard from any of his former players this week, and he's not sure what that feeling will be like.


"We'll cross that bridge when we come to it," Muschamp said.

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Florida Gators drop big, fall below FSU in latest AP poll

The Florida Gators dropped 12 spots to No. 22 in the latest AP poll, which was released Sunday.

UF entered Saturday ranked No. 10 before suffering a 31-10 loss at Arkansas. UF hosts South Carolina this weekend at noon.

The Gators fell below rival Florida State, which moved up four spots after its 24-20 comeback win at North Carolina State.

The top five remains Alabama, followed by Clemson, Michigan, Washington and Louisville. Check out the full rankings here.


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Arkansas-Florida matchup to watch: Keon Hatcher vs Florida Gators secondary

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Greetings from Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, where Arkansas hosts the No. 10 Florida Gators at 3:30.

One final thought as kickoff nears: The big key today will be how UF handles Arkansas' passing attack. Austin Allen is the best quarterback the Gators have faced all season, and he'll be the best they face until the regular-season finale at Florida State.

One matchup I'm especially interested in is how Razorbacks receiver Keon Hatcher handles a UF secondary that might be as talented as any in the country. I covered Hatcher at Owasso High, just north of Tulsa, Okla. He had a message written on the bottom of his pads, which stuck out from underneath his jersey: CUL8R.

See you later.

Hatcher has never lacked confidence. But then again, neither have UF's defensive backs.

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Video: Previewing Florida-Arkansas, FSU-NC State and the championship race heats up

The calendar has turned to November (or Novembert, if you believe in Arkansas' Bret Bielema), and the College Football Playoff race is starting to heat up. Times staff writers Joey Knight and Matt Baker preview this week's games. How will the Razorbacks challenge a Florida Gators team looking to win the SEC East? Will North Carolina State provide any test for Florida State? And who's in our final four?

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Vernon Hargreaves (not that one) raves about Florida Gators talent

Vernon Hargreaves Jr., back, watches as his son, Vernon Hargreaves III, leaves his introductory news conference after he was selected by the Bucs in the 2016 NFL draft.


Vernon Hargreaves Jr., back, watches as his son, Vernon Hargreaves III, leaves his introductory news conference after he was selected by the Bucs in the 2016 NFL draft.

Tampa Bay is familiar with Vernon Hargreaves - not the Bucs rookie and former Gators star, but his father, a former USF assistant.

Hargreaves is now preparing to face Florida as Arkansas' linebackers coach, and he obviously has some knowledge of the Gators' personnel. That led him Razorbacks head coach Bret Bielema to share this comment from Hargreaves on the SEC's teleconference: "Coach, my son's a pretty good player, but they've got four more behind him just like him."

The younger Hargreaves obviously was good. That's why the former Wharton High star became an All-American at UF and a first-round NFL draft pick. But his dad is right. Jalen Tabor outplayed Hargreaves last year...and Quincy Wilson is outplaying Tabor this year.

Arkansas could challenge the Gators' secondary this week. The Razorbacks' passing offense is ranked third in the SEC, and it's second in the league in efficiency.

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What are the greatest coaching rants in college football history?

No list of the greatest rants in college football history would be complete without Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy.

AP photo

No list of the greatest rants in college football history would be complete without Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy.

The dust has obviously settled on Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher's officiating rant after Saturday's loss to Clemson.

But it got us thinking: What are some of the other great rants in college football history? A random sampling, with help from our Joey Knight, Mike Sherman and Traci Johnson:

The first one is obvious, even for a man like me who is not yet 40.

Alabama's Nick Saban has had a few, but I'm partial to the satellite camp rant I (partially) witnessed this spring in Destin. Plus, I'm all about references to Adam's house cat, whoever Adam and his house cat are.

Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads' rant, in the immediate wake of a 31-30 home loss to Texas, possesses a local angle. The Cyclones led 30-24 in the waning moments when Texas' Johnathan Gray appeared to fumble at the ISU 1-yard line, with former Clearwater High standout Jeremiah George recovering. Officials, however, ruled Gray's forward motion had been stopped, negating the fumble. Shortly, thereafter, Texas scored and Rhoads fumed.


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The first College Football Playoff rankings come out tonight. Here's what to watch

Matt Baker has Michigan among his top four teams.

AP photo

Matt Baker has Michigan among his top four teams.

Tonight will give us our first glimpse of which teams have the best shot at coming to Tampa for the Jan. 9 national title game at Raymond James Stadium.

That's because the first College Football Playoff rankings will be unveiled at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

You can read all about how the selection committee comes up with those rankings here, based on my experience on a media mock committee last month.

Joey Knight and I are planning to do a Facebook Live event after the rankings are unveiled. You can join us here.

In the meantime, a few things I'll be watching for tonight:

1. What's the order of the top four? As our Tom Jones wrote in today's Times, the top four seems pretty obvious: Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and Washington. If all four win out, those are your semifinalists. But what's the order? My guess: Bama is first, because the Crimson Tide has simply dominated. Clemson is second because it has three impressive wins (at Auburn, Louisville and at Florida State), followed by the Wolverines and Huskies, in that order. …

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Unhappy with Bucs' Dirk Koetter? Let's check in on Lovie Smith

Lovie Smith's first team at Illinois is 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten.

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Lovie Smith's first team at Illinois is 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten.

Bucs fans probably aren't too thrilled with coach Dirk Koetter and a 3-4 team that just allowed Derek Carr to record the most passing yards in franchise history.

Misery, I suppose, is relative. Let's check in on the Bucs' last head coach, Lovie Smith.

Smith's first team at Illinois is 2-6 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten. The Illini have the same conference record as Purdue but are technically last in the division, after a 34-31 loss to the woeful Boilermakers earlier this year. A week later, those Boilermakers fired their head coach.

Smith's name is circulating in national college football circles, which isn't good when you're 2-6. ESPN (in this story behind a pay wall) writes that "several industry sources say that Smith is miserable in Champaign" and that his situation is "especially sour - and that the rebuilding job looks much greater than he anticipated." It even raises the question of whether Smith could be one and done with the Illini.

USA Today called the Illinois job a "dark horse" to open in its latest coaching carousel update.

Smith, for what it's worth, tried to end the speculation last night. …

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