A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media throughout the week ahead of the second game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 7.
WINNING THE STATE
For the Gators, a rare opportunity to win the state presents itself as Florida will take on both Miami (on the road) and Florida State (at home) in the same season. Numerous players mentioned that head coach Will Muschamp always stresses the importance of UF proving itself against in-state competition, more so than ever this season.
“It’s definitely a big game. It’s definitely an in-state game. Muschamp harps on winning the state so every time you have an in-state team we always want to win that game,” said redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye. “It’s a game on the schedule so we always want that ‘W’ next to that team on the schedule. It’s definitely a big game. Definitely it’s going to be a great atmosphere and stuff like that. We’re looking forward to it.”
A good portion of the Gators’ roster is from South Florida, which makes Saturday’s contest even more special than a normal in-state game. Redshirt junior S Cody Riggs said the game truly feels like a rivalry because he has been waiting so long to play the Canes, and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar added that he is extremely excited to play on his home turf.
Dunbar will have approximately 20 tickets for the game so family and friends can come out to Sun Life Stadium watch him play. The Booker T. Washington High School graduate was once committed to Miami but flipped to Florida for a number of reasons, including putting himself into a better situation.
“I just felt like this was the perfect fit for me,” he said. “It was just a situation to see something new, get out of Miami, start a new life somewhere.”
Dunbar grew up in an area of South Florida filled violence and drugs. Though he was never tempted to succumb to the negativity – “because my mom is a very great parent – she always kept me on point and made sure I didn’t do things other kids did” – he hopes his path is one some of the younger kids in the area can follow.
“Just coming from a community like that, the success rate is low, so I always just try to tell them that whatever you put your mind to you can achieve. Coming from a city like that where there’s a lot of drugs and there’s a lot of guns – it’s very hard to get out of it – but if you put your mind to it you can get out of that situation,” he explained.
“When I go back home, a lot of the kids look up to me because I’m doing something that they want to do in the future. So I wouldn’t say I’m a role model, but I’m just an example that you can come out of a situation like they’re in right now.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel on fumbling twice against Toledo: “We’re going to miss a block here and there, but I do have to take care of the ball. I don’t think I was lazy with the ball, but I do got to make a point to hold on to that ball because two times they were in there and two times I fumbled. Miami is definitely going to be going after that this game. I’ve put it on film that I put the ball on the ground, so I’ll have to work on that this week during practice.”
» Driskel on freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson getting more involved: “Demarucs didn’t get a catch but he blocked really well. He sprung trey on one of our bubble screens, sprung him free for like a 15-yard gain. You got to be able to block the perimeter when you’re playing wideout. The big plays are going to come for him.”
» Redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore on missing a block that caused Driskel’s strip-sack fumble: “That was mine. I missed the call. Especially when I saw it the next day when we were watching film … it made me mad the rest of the day because an easy pick of him and we probably could have gone down after a big turnover and gotten another score.”
» Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia on whether redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio has been doing any work during practice: “He’s been getting involved. Not sure too much I can say on that, but he’s been looking good.”
» Maye on Roberson: “He’s definitely one of the top corners in the nation. He has this attitude where that side is pretty much on lock down. He’s a great guy. He’s a student of the game. Technique wise, he’s a great player, and he’s made a lot of plays on his side of the field.”
» Maye on freshman CB Vernon Hargreaves III: “He came along fast. He’s going to be great. He’s very good. He’s a student of the game as well. Even though he’s young, it seems like he’s been a part of it for a very long time. He makes plays and flies around to the ball. I feel very confident about Vernon.”
» Senior WR Trey Burton on redshirt junior linebacker Neiron Ball being at full health and listed as a starter: “I can’t even put it into words how happy and excited I am for him. He’s one of the best players, one of the best guys we have on our team. Just extremely happy for him. Nothing could have went better than for him to get the start.”
» Burton on the potential of Florida’s offense this season: “There’s a lot more potential. Off the top of my head right now I can think of 17 points we left on the field that we didn’t capitalize on those opportunities. So hopefully in the future we can put up more points. We’re just worried about wins right now.”
» Burton on redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers suddenly switching to offense: “It’s pretty impressive because he came probably half way through camp. He didn’t get all spring, didn’t get all summer, he was on defense that whole time. It’s really impressive to see a guy like that being able to come over and transition over to offense really fast.”
» Burton on Driskel’s performance: “[He went] 21-for-22 in our minds. We had two dropped balls and two tipped passes. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
» Redshirt senior offensive lineman Kyle Koehne on what he’s seen from Driskel this offseason: “The maturity level has increased dramatically compared to last year. He’s a huge leader of this team now and he’s been stepping up.”
» Riggs on the return from suspension of junior CB Loucheiz Purifoy: “It’s really big. Loucheiz is a big part of our secondary and our chemistry. Having him back is really big for this game, especially with the weapons they have. I definitely missed having Loucheiz out there [last week]. Loucheiz can make a lot of plays. The chemistry, that’s what makes it easier because I’ve played with Loucheiz now going on our third year, so the chemistry helps a lot.”
» Roberson on Purifoy’s return: “It’s fun because Loucheiz has good energy that he can bring to the team and we like that about him. It’s gonna be fun.”
» Roberson on being called for pass interference last weekend: “I don’t make the calls, the refs do. I just forget about it and play the next play.”
» Roberson on the Gators’ defensive backfield: “I like our secondary over any receiving corps in the nation.”