No. 18/19 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 24-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and his team’s upcoming home game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 5. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.
HEADING TO THE NFL
Asked about senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley future and whether he would consider applying for a medical redshirt and playing a fifth season, Muschamp announced that there was no question Easley would be moving on with his career.
“Dominque’s definitely going to go to the NFL,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s had two ACLs. I think that’s the best move for him right now is go and prepare himself for April and getting ready for that. He and I talked briefly about it. That’s what he wants to do, and I support it 100 percent.”
Muschamp said he is not concerned about teams being worried in regards to Easley’s injury history. He thinks what Easley has been able to do on the field will be more than enough to convince teams to draft him.
“He’ll have plenty of interest. He’s going to be a productive guy on the next level. He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s extremely intelligent. He gets the game. His tape speaks for itself in how he plays the game, how he approaches the game. He’ll be fine. There will be a lot of organizations that want him in their organization.”
Muschamp also noted that he has not spoken at length with redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose regarding his future though the two did touch base. Debose would have to apply for a second medical hardship waiver but would likely have it granted considering he did not play a single down in 2013.
Aside from season-ending injuries, the Gators appear to be relatively healthy heading into their next game. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers (ankle), who has missed the last two games, should be back in practice by Tuesday but will definitely see the field by Wednesday at the latest. Muschamp also noted that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) could have played against the Wildcats if needed but was held out as a precaution considering he was a game-time decision.
Redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) will remain out for this week, but sophomore TE Kent Taylor (ankle) should be back in uniform for the game. Muschamp had not previously announced Taylor’s injury but noted Monday that he has missed 2-3 weeks of action.
With six players out for the season due to injury – five of those injuries being to anterior cruciate ligaments and shoulder labrums – Muschamp addressed, at length, whether he has taken a look at the program’s strength and conditioning or practice habits.
“We constantly look at those things. … Everybody wants to ask a question about the ACLs. Well, I did that research after Matt [Rolin] and Andre both had, within a 4-5 day period, ACLs, both in non-contact situations, planting and changing direction.
“Number one, football is a very violent game. Guys have gotten stronger. Their bodies have gotten stronger. Sometimes it’s harder for their bodies to hold based on the orthopedic surgeons I’ve talked to that sometimes things just happen. In our first two years here, we had two ACLs – Dominique Easley against Florida State when he was rolled up on … and Ronald Powell in the spring game – and that was it. We’ve had three in two months.
“So, there’s nothing that we can look at from the standpoint of strength and conditioning that shows any information that would show you something’s not going right. We also look at shoulder injuries from a standpoint. A lot of the shoulder injuries – we’ve had six since we’ve been here in three years – four of them had [previously injured] labrums coming in to Florida. So that’s a pre-existing situation. Also a pre-existing situation is you look at from Ronald’s re-tear and you also look at from the situation with Matt Rolin. Matt had an ACL in high school.
“Your percentages of patellar tendon tying the ACL back is 1-of-12 is a chance for a re-tear. If you use a cadaver, it’s 1-of-4. So all of those things, when you’ve had an injury, a pre-existing injury which we’ve had in a lot of those situations, there’s a chance for that to happen again. I’m not saying that should happen again; I’m just being realistic here. So it’s unfortunate. …
“It’s a guy planting and changing direction. That can happen in the offseason program. It can happen walking to class. I mean, they’re going to go to class. We constantly evaluate those situations, absolutely, and make sure we’re doing the right things. I pulled our medical staff in, our strength staff in. I’ve consulted with outside orthopedics to make sure to watch the films and the situations. There’s nothing we’re doing wrong here.”
Offensive Players of the Week: Sophomore RB Matt Jones, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia
Scrap Iron: Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries, redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, junior TE Clay Burton
Big Plays (Offense): Jones, redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, redshirt junior WR Quinton Dunbar, senior WR Trey Burton
Defensive Players of the Week: Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell, sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard
“I thought Ronald played probably his best game since he’s been back, his best football, played extremely hard in the game, did a really nice job of pushing the pocket. Several of the sacks really should have been credited to him as far as winning against the tackle, forcing somebody else to have an opportunity to get a sack there. I thought Jon Bullard played his best game since he’s been at Florida.”
Ball Hawks: Powell, freshman CB Vernon Hargreaves III
Hargreaves was also named SEC Freshman of the Week on Monday.
Hard Hat: Junior safety Jabari Gorman
Special Teams Player of the Week: Freshman S Keanu Neal
“A guy that continues to cover very well, does a nice job and continues to progress at the safety position. I’m very pleased with his progress.”
Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt sophomore walk-on LB Cody Adams (offense), freshman C Cameron Dillard (defense), freshman WR Alvin Bailey (ST)
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On the performance of redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin: “Very pleased with how Austin kicked in the game. The 53-yarder, I had all the confidence in the world he was going to make it. He made them all in pre-game. Got to put him out in those situations and let him kick. Really pleased in how he handled last week, the challenge and the opportunity that was presented in front of him. Very pleased with his performance.”
» On how Bullard looked inside at defensive tackle in addition to playing defensive end: “He’s a big-bodied guy. He’s got some fast twitch for an inside payer, can give us some push inside. But he’s going to play both end and tackle for us. He’s going to play both end and tackle. Obviously a little bit depends on our package that week and what we’re trying to do, but he will continue to do both.”
» On Arkansas: “They’re a very physical football team. I don’t think, defensively, we’ve seen a team like this as far as the two-back running game is concerned, the play actions, very big up front, talented up front, two talented runners in [Jonathan] Williams and [Alex] Collins. … They’ve got a well-rounded football team. … We got our work cut out for us.”
» On Hogs head coach Bret Bielema: “You see his imprint on this football team from the physicality standpoint. They play good defense. They do a good job on the offensive line as far as moving people. I think he does an outstanding job.”
» On if he is excited for a physical football game against a pro-style offense: “I’m pumped at every practice, I think, so I’ll be excited. Every game I’m excited. I love playing spread offenses, too. Look at the results.”
» On what he thinks about when playing in The Swamp at night: “Loud. We got the best fans in the country. Our last home game was outstanding and the Gator Walk and our crowd certainly made a difference in the game. It makes a difference here. I’ve been here on the opposing sideline. It makes a difference.”
» On an old College GameDay sign / the band Nickelback: “I heard I listen to Nickelback. … I couldn’t name a song. Are they good?”