Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made an appearance Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team and its upcoming game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. live on SEC Network.
The injury situation up to this point has not been as devastating for the Gators as it has been in years past though some key players are still on the mend and attempting to rejoin the team this season.
Muschamp announced Wednesday that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins received a new hand cast for his broken thumb recently and has a very good chance of being ready to play against LSU after the bye week. “In eight days they’re going to pull the pin out of there and take another look at it, but he’s going to start lifting and running [Wednesday] as far as getting back into the swing of things, getting his body back. We’ll go from there,” he said.
The news was not as positive for junior defensive end Dominique Easley and fifth-year redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan.
Easley, who looked like he may have re-injured his knee (torn ACL against Florida State last season), did not do any major damage but still has swelling in the area and is “questionable” for Saturday’s game against Kentucky. Patchan (pectoral) continues to be out and Muschamp does not know when he will be back despite the fact that his injury was only expected to cost him a few weeks.
CONFIDENCE A HUGE FACTOR FOR FLORIDA
Starting the 2012 campaign with a 3-0 record including two big road victories against tough SEC opponents has been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Gators. Muschamp believes the team’s overall maturity, coupled with this confidence boost, is what has Florida rolling right now.
“Any time you win and have success it brings some confidence to you as a player. Confidence is such a key part of athletics,” he said. “When you feel good about something and you think positively about something. I always tell the players: A positive attitude doesn’t guarantee anything but a negative one does. Any time you’re negative or you think in a negative way, you’re not usually going to have much success. Our guys expect to play well. Our guys expect to win in every situation. That’s what you want in your program and that’s what happened around here for a long time. We got a lot of tradition in our program. Guys came here to Florida to play in games like they’ve played and they’ll play in again on Saturday at 12:21 p.m.”
Though the Wildcats are 1-2 with losses to Louisville and Western Kentucky and their sole win at home against Kent State, Muschamp said UF’s players have not begun looking ahead and are completely zoned in on this week’s game.
“My approach has always been every game counts as one regardless of the situation or circumstances of where you play or who you play,” he said. “That’s how we try to approach every game for that reason. I thought we had very good practice [Tuesday]. I thought we had really good tempo. Our guys went out and worked. We need to clean some things up, but I thought their focus was there. I thought they were tuned into what we were trying to do in the meetings and those sorts of things.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
[EXPAND CLICK TO EXPAND and read more of what Muschamp had to say.]» On if Florida has been trying to block punts through three games: “We’ve gone after one in every game and we plan to do so presented the situation. Had an opportunity against Bowling Green and Matt Elam barely missed it; I mean, got his hand right there – it was really close. I take that back. At [Texas] A&M I don’t believe we rushed one. We never were presented a situation. At Tennessee we did rush one and of course they changed and went to a rugby-style with the kicker. They didn’t even punt their punter against us because of the blocked punt from a year ago. They changed it up, which was a good play on their part. They were able to flip the field on us there. We went after open and weren’t successful on two situations.”
» On if he has more confidence now than he did last year in the wide receivers: “Certainly do, got a lot more confidence in playmaking ability and run after the catch and things that they’re doing. There’s a lot of things that goes into that. The number one thing that goes into that is we’re blocking well up front. I think it all goes back to our offensive line. We’re able to run the ball, which creates opportunities down the field. When you’re able to run the ball – you’re able to run the ball inside, you’re able to run the ball on the perimeter – it creates one-on-one matchups outside because people want to be able to load the box to stop the run. When you’re able to do that and those people can’t do those overload pressures and the different things they’re able to do because of the legs Jeff [Driskel] has and because of how we’re blocking up front, we simplify people also with our motions and shifts. We simplified some people defensively. I’m very pleased with the production obviously of Frankie [Hammond, Jr.]. Quinton Dunbar I thought made some big plays and blocks for us in the ballgame. Latroy [Pittman] and Raphael [Andrades] both played as true freshman. But when I talk in terms of wideouts, I always throw Omarius Hines and Trey Burton into that category as well. And then you talk about Jordan Reed and his production. And Andre [Debose] continues to come on for us. We just need to continue to give that group, collectively, moving forward [opportunities]. Solomon Patton has been huge for us as we’ve moved through the season here as far as some of the running things that Brent [Pease] has asked him to do. I think a lot of that is credit to Brent from the standpoint of finding out what the guys can do and let’s do what they do well. He’s put those guys in situations, to this point, to be very successful.”[/EXPAND]