Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss some leftovers from the team’s 24-6 victory over Toledo while looking ahead to Saturday’s game on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. The contest will kick off at 12 p.m. from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, and air live on ESPN.
Offensive Player of the Week: Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown
“Mack ran extremely hard in the game and certainly a guy that really played well.”
Scrap Iron: Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia, redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore
“I thought all three of those guys played really well, really built some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler and Max have been two really good additions for us.”
Big Plays (Offense): Brown, senior wide receiver Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers
“Really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp, competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so. He’s a guy that adds some dimension to us.”
Defensive Player(s) of the Week: Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr., senior DL Dominique Easley, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr, redshirt junior Sam LB Ronald Powell
“All of those guys played well to contain [the quarterback] in the pocket, be able to rush four effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run.”
Ball Hawks: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (for the interception) and Easley, Powell, Orr and redshirt junior Mike LB Michael Taylor (for the pressure)
Hard Hat: Redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball
“A guy that’s really helped [take] a huge step forward defensively for us was for him to be able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done. Shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker. He’s been a huge addition for us.”
Special Team Player of the Week: Sophomore RB Mark Herndon
“He continues to be productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us.”
Big Play (Special Teams): Junior CB Marcus Roberson
“A guy that flipped the field a couple times with a couple big punt returns.”
Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt junior WR Ryan Parrish, redshirt freshman LB Jeremi Powell, freshman WR Chris Thompson
Sophomore running back Matt Jones was confirmed as active for Saturday’s game against the Hurricanes; however, the number of snaps Jones sees remains to be seen. “Matt will play this week, certainly will,” Muschamp said. “We feel pretty good about his progress. As we work through the week, we’ll be able to know how much he’ll be able to contribute, but he certainly will play.”
Easley got the flu over the weekend but should practice starting Tuesday.
Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries, who sprained his MCL during Saturday’s game, is expected to be limited at practice on Tuesday but should be full-go by Wednesday and play Friday. Senior LB Darrin Kitchens pulled his oblique muscle against Toledo but will be “fine.” He will likely miss a couple days of practice throughout the week but be active against Miami.
Muschamp appeared thrilled with the way the Gators played on Saturday, throwing out the word “outstanding” numerous times to describe what Florida did against Toledo.
He first noted that UF finished +7 in explosive plays, noting that margin was “outstanding” for the Gators. Muschamp then added the Gators’ defense handled the tempo of the Rockets’ offense very well, limiting the visitors to 60 snaps (54 not including penalties). “That’s outstanding for a team that wanted to snap the ball about 80 times in the game,” he said.
Third down defense was also “outstanding,” according to Muschamp, who said Florida registered three sacks and 15 quarterback pressures. “To me, a pressure is an incomplete pass affected by pressure. We only allowed them to have one scramble and that was late in the game on a third down. Leon Orr made a great effort play coming out of the stack there and making a tackle. [We] really affected the quarterback and did it with four guys rushing.”
Muschamp dropped the adjective twice more to praise his team’s conditioning. “Outstanding. Very pleased with our conditioning,” he said. “I think in the last two openers, in pretty hot conditions, we didn’t have one IV. And I think that says a lot about the owrk through camp, the job that Jeff Dillman and our strength staff do. They’re outstanding. They did a fantastic job.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On the importance of practice: “I am young, but I am old fashioned. You will play like you practice; I believe that, and you do have to practice here now. That’s part of the deal.”
» On his childhood memories about the Florida-Miami rivalry: “It was the lead-off game every year in the 80s. I remember I was sitting in the north end zone and James Jones made the one-handed catch there against Miami. ‘84 was Kerwin Bell’s first game. I think we went through five quarterbacks in preseason. We went through a bunch of them and Kerwin had his first start down in Tampa – I think is where we played that year. That was a game that, when it was in Miami, I remember watching or listening on the radio. And then obviously when it was here in Gainesville, I was trying to get in the stadium somehow.”
» On the freshman wide receivers, Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson: “Very good. I think Ahmad had a huge third-down conversion for us. I think he played 14 snaps. We’re going to get him more involved this week. That’s something we talked about [Sunday]. Demarcus, we had two balls going to him, one got tipped at the line on a hitch. We wanted to create a one-on-one for him outside and another situation we didn’t get the ball to him on the particular route based on the coverage they ran. But he had two of the outstanding blocks and one he climbed and sealed another defender for about a 15-yard gain on a screen. Very instinctive play on his part, especially the first time playing. Both guys played well. Their roles will continue to increase.”
» On freshman RB Kelvin Taylor and his future this season: “I think his role will continue to develop through the season. We’ll see how much as we move forward. He’s a natural runner, has really good vision. He just has to continue to do some of the other things you got to do at the position, but he’s a guy we’re excited about. There’s no question. From spring to now, [his blocking] is night and day. There’s no question you continue to see the improvement.”
» On renewing an annual rivalry with Miami: “[Laughing.] I think our schedule is what it is. You guys keep wanting to add the [Green Bay] Packers and everybody else. I’m kind of happy where it is right now. It’s been so unsettled just because [of the] SEC schedules moving forward. I don’t know that all of those things have been defined as of yet. We’re really kind of uncertain as we move forward right now.”
» On he and Hurricanes head coach Al Golden turning around their respective programs: “I don’t know that anybody’s ‘back.’ I think Al would say the same thing. I got a lot of respect for Al. I think he’s are ally good football coach. I think his situation as much different and much tougher than certainly ours was because of the NCAA situation. I think he and his staff have done a fantastic job. They’ve recruited extremely well. I think they’re really good football coaches. … They do a good job. I got a lot of respect for Al and his program.”
» On the Gators keeping their emotions in check on Saturday: “I think you got to keep your composure. It’s a very emotional game. There’s going to be a lot of – there’s going to be some ups and downs in the game. There’s going to be some good things that happen. You got to play for 60 minutes. It’s going to be an emotional game. Any time you’re going to go play a rival and go play somebody you know a lot about, certainly you need to make sure that you keep your composure within the game and play through the situations, play between the whistles, line up and play the next down. That’s my message.”
» On Miami starting QB Stephen Morris: “He’s experienced, number one. … He’s very accurate with the football. He takes the ball to the right spots. He gets the ball in the playmakers’ hands. He makes really good decisions about where to take the ball, and he makes quick decisions. He’s got a very quick mental makeup as far as where to take the football. I think he’s one of the better quarterbacks in college football.”
» Muschamp said Canes RB Duke Johnson has a great competitive nature and is a bigger version of Chris Rainey. He described Johnson as a hard and tough runner who is a good receive rout of the backfield. “He is an outstanding football player.”