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Thursday Buffet: Scheduling, SEC honors, men’s basketball rebounding

Florida’s future schedules continue to get more rigorous, while the Gators of the hardwood hope to rebound from a tough loss.

USC v Arizona State Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As a reminder: Buffet-style posts like this come when we’re behind on Florida Gators news and need to catch up on a bunch of things at once.

Florida announces series with Arizona State

That the Gators will be playing a home-and-home series with the Arizona State Sun Devils in 2028 and 2031 came as no surprise when it was officially announced earlier this week; we knew this as of last week, thanks to reporting from Only Gators proprietor Adam Silverstein.

But what didn’t register for me as of last week was that Florida already had games set for 2028 and 2031. The Gators are now officially ticketed for a road date at Arizona State and a home game against Colorado in 2028, and a home game against Arizona State and a road game at Texas in 2031. (If the other half of Silverstein’s report about a Cal series in 2026 and 2027 is true, it fills a solid decade’s worth of two-year home-and-home series with various Power Five schools from 2022 through 2031.)

Florida should now be considered likely to play 11 games against Power Five schools in 2028, with its existing eight-game SEC schedule being joined by scheduled games against Arizona State and Colorado and the presumptive but not officially scheduled game against Florida State continuing that annual series. And with Scott Stricklin saying out loud that Florida is “in discussions with several other schools”... seems quite unlikely that the Gators will be putting together anything other than leather-tough schedules in the near future.

Gators’ Greenard, Diabate honored by SEC

I don’t generally care that much about SEC weekly honors — they’re nice, but, like, are you gonna list these on a resume, or something? — but the combination of Jonathan Greenard earning SEC Defensive Player of the Week and Mohamoud Diabate earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors this week bears mentioning.

On Diabate’s side, I just want to say “I told you so”:

Diabate doesn’t really look like an SEC linebacker just yet, but he’s quick and fast, and if he can maintain those traits while bulking up, he’ll be in line for more awards than the SEC Freshman of the Week honor he’s a shoo-in for this week.

Greenard is a more interesting case, because this is his second SEC Defensive Player of the Week nod — and because he might actually have an argument for being the SEC Defensive Player of the Year. He’s only got four sacks and seven tackles for loss on the year — somehow — but those numbers have him in the top 15 in the conference in both categories, and he’s just three sacks and TFLs off the SEC leaders in each category because this hasn’t been a great year for pass-rushers in the conference.

Greenard also has a forced fumble, a fumble recovery — for six, mind — and an interception, and has notched some PBUs and hurries to go with his other stats. And he’s playing for — anchoring, really — what has to be either the best or second-best defense in the league.

Looking around the league, Auburn’s Derrick Brown has stats pretty similar to Greenard’s, and I expect that his higher profile gives him a leg up on the Louisville transfer. Beyond Brown, though, I don’t see a lot of top-level competition for the award — and Greenard still has chances to add to his stats or have another disruptive game, like everyone else. If he can be as good as he has been at his best over Florida’s final two contests, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he’s earned this honor at season’s end.

Florida returning to basics after FSU loss

Florida’s loss to Florida State on the court on Sunday was bad. I’m not saying anything you don’t already know.

But it was also Florida’s second game of the year, not its 32nd, and the pain of a sixth straight loss to a hated rival is but one takeaway from the game — others include what Florida must now do to get itself in gear to beat teams as good and talented as FSU is.

For this team, that appears to be retrenching on strengths, such as feeding all-everything candidate Kerry Blackshear Jr. a steady diet of touches.

Blackshear mustered 10 points (and 13 rebounds) against the Seminoles, and did so on free throws alone. He missed all of his shots from the field, but also took only five, something that only happened twice last year at Virginia Tech — and that frankly shouldn’t happen at all at Florida, where he needs to be a focal point of the offense.

All of the people responsible for making him that fulcrum have said the right things since Sunday, from Mike White to his assistants and from Blackshear to his teammates. And there’s no real reason to believe that this won’t be an executable strategy going forward: FSU’s length certainly disrupted some of Florida’s attempts to get Blackshear the ball, but it didn’t double or triple him, nor did it go out of its way to deny him the ball.

So the question is this: Can Florida do what it says it must? I think so, and I think we’ll start seeing more of that tonight against Towson. (I also think we might see better shooting from a team that has made a pitiful 7-of-37 threes thus far.)

But we do have to wait and see.

2021 OLB Chief Borders commits

I’ve been slacking on recruiting stuff this fall — a bye week next week should help a bit on catching up in that regard — but I’m really not that enthused about writing up individual posts about players who are a year or more from signing with Florida, much less suiting up for the Gators.

That’s true even of a guy named Chief Borders.

Borders, who hails from McEachern, Georgia, committed to Florida on Sunday morning, and has some formidable size for an outside linebacker at 6’3” and 230 pounds. And though Borders doesn’t yet have a 247Sports Composite ranking, that’s not entirely uncommon for juniors, and Florida’s track record with linebackers under Todd Grantham and super-recruiter/linebackers coach Christian Robinson is reason for Florida fans to care more about him being a take than where he is ranked. (Holding offers from in-state Georgia and Georgia Tech also checks some boxes for me.)

Borders became the seventh commit in Florida’s 2021 class upon his pledge — and he’s the second of the seven without a national rating.