No. 8 Florida looks to bounce back against Mizzou


No. 8 Florida looks to bounce back against Mizzou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) This was supposed to be a celebratory week at Florida.

The Gators expected to beat rival Georgia, clinch a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game and then worry about staying undefeated against Missouri.

Six turnovers changed everything.

The mistake-prone Gators lost 17-9 to the Bulldogs, leaving them in an unenviable position of trying to regroup from a setback that likely will prevent them from playing for a title.

How will No. 8 Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC) respond? Coach Will Muschamp and everyone else will find out Saturday when the Gators host conference newcomer Missouri (4-4, 1-4).

``The tough thing about football is you have to wait seven days,'' Muschamp said.

Florida probably could use the extra time to work on its offense. The Gators rank 100th in the nation in total offense, have the worst passing attack in the league and have been fairly predictable on first down.

And for the first time this season, the Gators acknowledged that they don't have a big-play receiver and that the offensive line has protection issues.

``Last game wasn't our best performance,'' center Jon Harrison said. ``I just know we're going to bounce back this Saturday and make sure everyone is fundamentally sound. You guys won't see that anymore out of the offensive line.''

If the Gators don't shore things up, they could be in for another long day.

The Tigers have a formidable front led by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. They lead the nation in forced fumbles (17), using three of them to dominate Kentucky last week and get their first SEC victory.

``Confidence levels are up,'' Richardson said. ``For the most part, we are just out here trying to get another win. We want more than one win in the SEC, so we are trying to get another one.''

Quarterback James Franklin returns to the starting lineup for the Tigers after injuring his knee against Vanderbilt on Oct. 6, sitting out the following week's game against Alabama and then coming off the bench last week against the Wildcats.

Franklin, who also missed the Arizona State game in September because of a shoulder injury, has completed 62 percent of his passes for 821 yards. He has four touchdown passes and two interceptions, but can make plays with his feet.

He had limited mobility against Kentucky, but led the offense to scores on three of four possessions in the second half.

``We were very cautious with him,'' coach Gary Pinkel said. ``We tried not to play him, but he was released to play. He did a good job. He really has come around a long ways. We'll see how this week goes and we'll adjust accordingly game-plan wise.''

Florida, meanwhile, has dealt with a flu bug this week. Backup defensive tackle Leon Orr ended up in a hospital, and safety Matt Elam and several others missed practice because of illness.

Regardless, Muschamp expects his team to bounce back from the flu and last week's loss.

``We've got a mature bunch that's able to refocus and put it behind them,'' he said. ``You don't forget the loss. I don't want them to forget the loss. I want them to learn from it and use it as motivation. ... The bottom line is you have to refocus and move forward.

``You can't let it linger.''

The Gators can still win the Eastern Division, but they need help. They need either Mississippi (Saturday) or Auburn (next week) to upset Georgia.

If not, the Gators still could win out - they finish the season with Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3), Jacksonville State (5-3) and No. 9 Florida State (8-1) - and make the Sugar Bowl.

``We're just focusing on Florida right now, getting back to where we need to be,'' cornerback Marcus Roberson said.

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

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'I started to realize that I’m not broken': Steve Smith opens up about mental health and depression

Former Carolina Panthers' star receiver Steve Smith spoke in front of a crowd of over 400 people at the fifth annual Wake up for Wellness breakfast that was sponsored by Mental Health America of Central Carolinas.

The 16-year veteran and current NFL Network analyst touched on the importance of seeking help for bouts with depression and spoke of battles that he has faced with the disease.

“On the outside you’ll see a tough exterior. But on the inside, I’m just broken or I believe even more broken than the average man. ... Because when the stadium goes dark and the cheers stop, you’re still looking for that pat on the back,” Smith said. “Throughout my whole career, I struggled with that.”

Smith discussed that in the beginning, he was so concerned about the stigma regarding mental health, that he opted for the professional to meet him for housecalls, and as time passed he realized the importance of speaking up.

“I started to realize that I’m not broken,” he said. “I’m not being sent back to the manufacturer ... I get up every morning and figure it out.”

Smith's comments on the issue came to light just a day after the NFL and NFLPA announced new legislation that focuses on mental well being.

The newly formed Comprehensive Mental Health and Wellness Committee will develop programs for members of the NFL in addition to collaborating with local and national mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Each team will be mandated to retain a Behavioral Health Team Clinician for assistance that will be required to be available to players at the individual team facilities for at least 8-12 hours per week and must conduct mandatory mental health education sessions for players and coaching staff.


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After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan got into a widely-discussed altercation after Washington's Week 16 loss to Tennesse last season.

But on Thursday, Lewan said he's finally ready to let bygones be bygones. 

Lewan tweeted he wants Norman to come on the "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast he co-hosts with former Redskins linebacker Will Compton to "settle our differences."

Judging by what happened last December, there are plenty of differences: Norman threw his helmet at Lewan after the latter approached him, Lewan later accusing Norman of trying to hurt Titans running back Derrick Henry.

"I'm not worried about Josh Norman, man," Lewan told reporters after the incident. "I'm an offensive lineman, he's a [defensive back]. I don't know who that is."

"I was pissed. He was trying to hurt Derrick [Henry]. That's BS. That’s not the way football’s supposed to be played, man. It’s not our fault you’re not relevant anymore."

"Why would you come to another man's sideline?" Norman said of the dust-up. "And then after you won a game, you pick fun at the player that is relevant. You go out of your way to come to his bench, his sideline, to go at him in that kind of way."

"We're not having it. We will not tolerate disrespect. That's zero tolerance for that. That was the ultimate disrespect. You just don't do that."

The incident happened months ago, so it's about time the pair made peace. And as an ex-Redskin and ex-Titan, perhaps Compton can help mend the fences. But if Norman does accept Lewan's invitation to come on the podcast, we might be in for even more verbal fireworks.