In order to make sure Florida Gators-related news stories don't fall through the cracks, once or twice a week The Silver Lining will take on a "news and notes" format to keep you up-to-date with the latest goings on in the world of University of Florida athletics.
Let's just say that South Carolina will be plenty healthy on Saturday. Despite earlier in the week noting that a number of his star players may very well be out of action against Florida, Steve Spurrier said Thursday that nearly everyone will make the trip and be able to play in Gainesville, FL. Running back Marcus Lattimore (hip) is still apparently scheduled to start on the bench though he did practice in full on Thursday. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (foot) and a number of other players that suffered minor injuries will all be active, joining another handful of players that had been ailing with a flu bug. The one player not set to travel with the team is defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who seriously injured his shoulder last week but is also being suspended one game for punching an LSU player.
In an ironic turn of events, it looks like former Gators punter Chas Henry may be replacing veteran punter Sav Rocca for the second time in as many seasons. Henry told me on Thursday that he was set to fly down to Virginia on Friday to officially workout for and sign with the Washington Redskins. Despite having a great first three weeks of the season with the Philadelphia, the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent two years ago and started him in all 16 games, Henry was cut loose and has been a free agent over the last few weeks. If all goes as planned, he will be on the field Sunday for Washington.
Not necessarily having the career many thought he would have coming out of Florida, first baseman Matt LaPorta suffered another setback when it was reported Friday by the Associated Press that he would be undergoing hip surgery that will keep him out of action 3-4 months. LaPorta, after producing solid numbers when he was called up to the MLB level in 2009, has floundered over the last few years despite, at times, showcasing the power he was famous for with the Gators. He was going to be in contention for a spot on the Cleveland Indians' main roster at the start of the 2013 season but is now likely to begin it back down in Triple A.
In an announcement on Thursday, Florida's entire 2013 football schedule was officially released for the first time. The Gators four non-conference games vs. Toledo (Aug. 31), at Miami (Sept. 7), vs. Georgia Southern (Nov. 23) and vs. Florida State (Nov. 30) remained unchanged. In fact, the only noticeable change to the schedule was the addition of a home game against Arkansas (Oct. 5) as UF's second SEC West contest. The Gators have gone back to opening up the SEC slate against Tennessee and will also spend a four-week period without playing a single game in The Swamp with consecutive away games against LSU (Oct. 12) and Missouri (Oct. 19) followed by a bye week and then the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party against Georgia (Nov. 2). The schedule appears to work out well for Florida through the first six weeks, but the Gators could face as many as four ranked teams over the final eight weeks of the season.
Now proving that they can truly be dominant on defense, juniors safety Matt Elam and defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd have had their names tossed about as candidates to potentially leave early and enter the 2013 NFL Draft. Both projected as picks in the first two rounds, Elam and Floyd were recently taken off of Todd McShay's board of the top 32 players available, though Floyd remained on Mel Kiper, Jr.'s Big Board featuring the best 25 draft-eligible players in the country. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was recently asked how Floyd could improve his play and had this to say: "It's going to be pad level as an inside player and his inside pass rush as a defensive tackle. At the line of scrimmage, really that's where you win the most, when you can play underneath a guy. It's something that, the inside guys, you harp on all the time whether you're in high school or college or even in the NFL. If you have your pads underneath a guy and you can play him and consistently see it on tape, you're usually going to win more matchups than you're going to lose."
Gators soccer and volleyball have another long weekend ahead of them as each is competing in a pair of matches on the road. Both teams will travel to Alabama on Friday at 8 p.m. before separating and playing different opponents on Sunday. Volleyball will take on Texas A&M on Sunday at 2 p.m. live on ESPNU, while soccer will face-off with Vanderbilt on Sunday at 2 p.m. live on Sun Sports. Also in action this weekend are women's tennis, women's swimming & diving, men's golf and softball, which plays a double-header against Chipola College on Sunday.