Kadarius Toney

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No. 8 Florida does just enough to top rival Miami

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College football is finally, and officially, back.

In their first meeting in six years, No. 8 Florida did just enough to escape Orlando with a hard-fought 24-20 comeback victory over in-state rival Miami to kick off the 2019 season. Like many other Week 0 meetings too, the game had a bit of everything even if sharp play throughout was not one of them.

Turnovers, bone-headed penalties and a number of incredible touchdown scampers all served as highlights for the very first FBS game of the year and one that could set the tone for both programs in good ways and bad over the coming few months.

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks was good early and late even if he was just so-so in the middle against a feisty ‘Canes defense. He wound up throwing for 254 yards, two touchdowns and two picks (with a rushing score as well) in the win, looking every bit like a player who may be better than a year ago but is playing behind a ton of new faces along the offensive line.

Wideout Kadarius Toney had the early highlight of the night when he weaved and spun out for a 66 yard touchdown catch while tailback Lamichael Perine was all over the field in rushing for 42 yards and catching a team-high six passes for 25 yards and a score as well.

If only Dan Mullen’s squad would have been able to hold onto the ball the final scoreline might not have looked so close. UF turned the ball over four times total, leading to quite a few appearances from the new-look Miami turnover chain.

That aggressive ‘Canes defense was as advertised for most of the contest even if they came up a bit short. While everybody knew that unit would hold up their end of the bargain, it was the offense that was the more pleasant surprise — and encouraging longterm development for new coach Manny Diaz. Quarterback Jarren Williams was sharp early and didn’t seem rattled at all by the stage in throwing for 214 yards and a touchdown. He did trail off a bit after halftime but considering the offensive line he was playing behind (one that gave up 10 sacks), it was still a fairly nice debut behind center and lends more credence to the thinking that Miami is the team to beat in the ACC Coastal.

Tailback DeeJay Dallas also contributed a nifty 50 yard touchdown as part of a 95 yard night on 12 carries while seven different receivers wound up catching a pass for a very new look offense.

The Hurricanes will still look back and think about all the ‘what if’s’ given the number of chances they had down the stretch in the fourth quarter but losing a close one to a top 10 team — even a rival like UF — doesn’t sting quite as bad when put in the perspective of last year’s disastrous run.

As for the victors, Mullen and company have to thank their lucky stars they escaped with the first win of the entire 2019 season in FBS given all the mistakes that were made. The Gators have plenty to clean up before the heart of their SEC slate approaches but it’s hard to fault the team too much for prevailing in a sloppy Week 0 meeting.

QB Jarren Williams off to a good start as Miami leads No. 8 Florida at halftime

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The 2019 FBS college football season is officially underway.

No. 8 Florida was aggressive early on but missed a number chances to really take control of their much-anticipated opener against rival Miami as the Hurricanes scored late to take a 13-7 lead going into halftime of the Week 0 matchup down in Orlando.

Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks had a solid start to the game with 96 yards through the air and a touchdown pass to Kadarius Toneywho did most of the work in shedding tackles and weaving his way 66 yards for the score. Yards were predictably hard to come by on the ground against one of the best front sevens in the country and the Gators recorded only 49 yards on 16 carries at the break.

The story of the game though will undoubtedly prove to be the Hurricanes much maligned offense. Starting freshman signal-caller Jarren Williams had his moments and didn’t seem rattled at all, throwing for 158 yards on 12-of-14 passing with a late touchdown to boot. He engineered a game-opening field goal drive for the first points of the season and seemed to really settle in as the clocked kept ticking as the ceiling for the program seemed to elevate with each passing series.

Of course it helps when you can lean on a feisty defense that forced two turnovers, breaking out the latest edition of the turnover chain on fumble recoveries by Scott Patchan and Shaq Quarterman.

While we were not treated to the most entertaining first half of college football all things considered… does it really matter? These two rivals are certainly setting the stage for the rest of the 2019 season and doing so in an aggressive manner with plenty on the line despite the low score.

Florida suspends seven for failing to ‘live up to the Gator standard’

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Not that it matters much given the opponent, but Florida will be a bit shorthanded when it opens up the 2018 season.

In a news release about an hour before kickoff, Florida announced that seven players have been suspended for tonight’s opener against FCS Charleston Southern — defensive tackle Luke Ancrum, defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, cornerback Brian Edwards, defensive end CeCe Jefferson, running back Adarius Lemons, wide receiver Kadarius Toney (pictured) and offensive lineman James Washington.

The suspensions of Campbell and Toney aren’t surprising as they were involved in a bizarre offseason incident involving airsoft guns, a frying pan, a baseball bat, rocks and a gambler nicknamed Tay Bang. Five other Gators connected to that incident — wide receivers Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells, quarterback Emory Jones and tight ends C’yonta Lewis and Kemore Gamble — avoided suspensions.

Jefferson’s suspension is for academic reasons, the Orlando Sentinel reported.  It’s unclear what exactly the other four players did to earn their respective suspensions.

Toney’s 15 catches for 152 yards were both fourth on the team, while Jefferson led the team in sacks last season with 4½.  Campbell played in nine games during the 2017 season.

In traffic stop, Florida wideout says he had AR-15 ‘for protection because of locals’

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There’s some additional, interesting fallout from a bizarre set of circumstances this offseason.

Wide receiver Kadarius Toney is one of six Florida Gator football players facing university discipline following an on-campus confrontation in late May with a Gainesville-area gambler named Devante’ “Tay Bang” Zachery and his associates that involved airsoft guns that looked like real rifles, a frying pan, a baseball bat and rocks. The two groups had a beef that dated back to February and escalated from there when one football player was allegedly knocked out by one of Zachery’s friends during a bar altercation on the Fourth of July.

A little over two weeks later, the vehicle which Toney was driving and in which UF defensive back Brian Edwards was a passenger was pulled over by Gainesville Police Department officers for seat belt violations.

According to the Gainesville Sun, the officers found a real AR-15 rifle in Toney’s backseat. The police report stated that “Toney told police he bought the rifle and had it with him ‘for protection because of the locals.'”

Whether the locals referenced included Zachery, who told police he gave rental car discounts to UF football players, creating potential NCAA issues, and his crew are unclear at the moment.

The players were briefly detained and handcuffed as the officers cleared the weapon and searched the vehicle. No criminal charges, however, were filed at the time of the traffic stop, and the Sun writes that “State Attorney Bill Cervone said Tuesday he doesn’t expect any charges to be filed based on the information GPD provided.”

Toney’s 15 catches for 152 yards were both fourth on the Gators last season. Just what university punishment Toney and his teammates have received or will receive is not known.

Head coach Dan Mullen is expected to address the media Thursday morning ahead of the Gators’ kicking off summer camp.

Reputed gambler reportedly gave Florida Gator football players discounts on rental cars

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The Florida football program might have bigger issues to deal with than an incident involving mock assault rifles, rocks, bats and a frying pan.

A report emerged in the middle of last week that six Gators football players — wide receivers Kadarius Toney (pictured), Tyrie Cleveland and Rick Wells as well as defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, tight end Kemore Gamble and quarterback Emory Jones — are facing university discipline following an on-campus confrontation in late May with a Gainesville-area gambler named Devante’ “Tay Bang” Zachery and his associates.

In the latest development connected to the bizarre situation, First Coast News is reporting that Zachery, an employee at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, told the Gainesville Police Department that he gave Gator football players discounts on rental vehicles.  The Orlando Sentinel wrote that “Zachery filed a report last week with the [GPD] that gave further details on the fractious relationship with the Gators.”

The names of the players who were allegedly on the receiving end of the discounts weren’t divulged.

If Zachery’s claims are accurate, they would very likely constitute NCAA violations.  The university said in a statement that it’s aware of the allegations and is looking into it.

We understand GPD has followed up last week’s UPD report with a background report that has Devante Zachery (aka Tay Bang) as its primary source. We are not aware if there will be any additional information provided by GPD on this matter. Anytime we get information involving our student-athletes we look into it.

At this point, it’s unclear what if any type of punishment from the NCAA the unnamed players could be facing.  It’s also unclear if there is anything deeper to the gambling aspect other than Zachery’s alleged association with it.

Of the players involved in the original confrontation, Cleveland led the Gators in receiving yards (410) and was second in receptions (22) last season, while Toney’s 15 catches for 152 yards were both fourth on the team.  Campbell played in nine games in 2017, with Gamble taking a redshirt his true freshman season.  Jones, originally an Ohio State commit, was a four-star member of UF’s 2018 recruiting class.

The May kerfuffle was actually the second incident involving airsoft/BB guns for two of the players.

In mid-July of 2016, Cleveland and Wells were arrested and originally charged with criminal mischief for damaging property and shooting a missile inside an occupied dwelling; both of those charges were felonies. The two allegedly shot BB guns at and around a dorm on the UF campus, causing more than $1,000 worth of damage.

Those charges were ultimately reduced to criminal mischief, and Bonnie & Clod were suspended for the 2016 opener.

Additionally, Wells was one of several Florida players suspended for the entire 2017 season for the misuse of scholarship money at a bookstore, with some nine players total caught up in making improper charges on student IDs and selling said items for cash.  He was one of the four suspended players who returned to the team in late January.