Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Matt Baker, Times staff writer

Matt Baker, Times staff writer

Matt Baker joined the Times as a sports reporter in 2011. In 2014, he started covering the Bucs, Rays and Lightning. He previously covered high school and college sports for the Tulsa World and minor league baseball for the Springfield (Mo.) News-Leader. His work has been honored by the Best American Sports Writing series and the Associated Press Sports Editors. He is a Hoosier native and graduated from Northwestern University in 2008.

East Carolina head coach Scottie Montgomery watches his team prior to the start of their game against the North Carolina in Greenville, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018. (AP Photo/Karl B DeBlaker) NCKD103

After fleeing Hurricane Florence, East Carolina trying to keep routine in Orlando before USF game

There is nothing normal about the situation East Carolina's football team finds itself in after Hurricane Florence.The Pirates' last scheduled game (against Virginia Tech) was canceled. After evacuating campus a week ago, they remain...
Updated: 4 hours ago
MONICA HERNDON   |   TimesTampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) passes during the game against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Fla. on August 9, 2018. ***FOR BUCS SPECIAL SECTION***

Bucs’ Jameis Winston sued by Arizona Uber driver in alleged groping incident

†TAMPA — Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was sued Tuesday by the Arizona Uber driver who has accused him of sexual assault by groping her in March 2016.
Published: 09/18/18
Updated: 09/19/18
Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois (12) gets pressured by the Virginia Tech Hokies defense during the fourth quarter at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida on Monday, September 3, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)

Willie Taggart inherited a rough offensive line situation that has gotten even worse

Take your pick of ugly stats or stories about how bad Florida State's offensive line is. Like how only three teams in the nation have allowed more tackles for a loss than FSU (27). Or how one of the most talented running back units in the...
Published: 09/17/18
South Florida's head coach Charlie Strong calls out a play from the sidelines during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Young) ILJY16

Charlie Strong still not happy with USFís start against Illinois

TAMPA — USF coach Charlie Strong was obviously happy with how his Bulls rebounded Saturday to turn a 16-7...
Published: 09/17/18
South Florida's Blake Barnett makes a pass against Illinois during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Jim Young) ILJY107

USF still unranked but moving closer to AP Top 25

USF moved closer to being ranked in the AP Top 25 after its win over Illinois on Saturday.The Bulls received 14 votes, which would make them No. 32. That's two more votes than Texas, for what it's worth.Alabama remained at No. 1,...
Published: 09/16/18
LSU head coach Ed Orgeron hugs place kicker Cole Tracy (36) after he kicked the winning field goal to defeat Auburn 22-21 during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) ALBD120

Matt Bakerís AP Top 25 ballot: How far did LSU rise?

Three big top-25 matchups led to some obvious movement in my AP Top 25 rankings. Ohio State answered every question about how it'd fare without Urban Meyer by beating TCU. The Buckeyes, accordingly, moved up to No. 3 on my ballot.LSU now...
Published: 09/16/18
Gators linebacker Kylan Johnson (28) motions toward the end zone after a Colorado State fumble in the first quarter. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)

Florida Gators beat Colorado State to win Jim McElwainless Bowl

GAINESVILLE — Florida's early performance against Colorado State on Saturday looked like a fitting tribute to the Jim McElwain era.The defense looked good. The quarterback did not. It wasn't entertaining, and yet the Gators...
Published: 09/15/18
Florida Gators wide receiver Freddie Swain (16) reacts after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)

UF journal: Freddie Swain starting to gain some swagger

GAINESVILLE — WR Freddie Swain has spent most of his Florida career looking for a home.Through two seasons, the Ocala native had only 16 catches and three touchdowns. He was among the UF receivers who were highly touted in high...
Published: 09/15/18
Florida running back Jordan Scarlett (25) runs for a second-quarter touchdown against Colorado State. (BRONTE WITTPENN | Times)

Matt Bakerís takeaways from Florida-Colorado State

Dan Mullen wasn't kidding about his commitment to special teams, and it's clearly working. After two blocked field goals saved four points against Charleston Southern, UF scored two special-teams touchdowns against Colorado...
Published: 09/15/18
MONICA HERNDON   |   TimesFlorida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson (96) celebrates a stop during the fourth quarter of the Florida Gators game against Vanderbilt on September 30, 2017, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, in Gainesville, Fla. The Florida Gators defeated the Vanderbilt Commodores, 38 to 24.

Florida Gatorsí Cece Jefferson back from suspension against Colorado State

GAINESVILLE — The Florida Gators will get a boost along their struggling lines Saturday.Defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will return to the field after serving a two-game suspension for academics. He won't...
Published: 09/15/18