No. 10/11 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and a handful of players met with the media on Monday to review the team’s bye week while also previewing Saturday’s upcoming home game against the No. 4/3 LSU Tigers.
Muschamp said that junior running back Trey Burton (back), junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) are all scheduled to play against LSU.
Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb), who had a surgically-inserted pin removed on Friday, will be non-contact at the beginning of the week before attempting to practice in a cast on Wednesday. He is questionable. “We’re going to see how it goes. Jelani is a tough kid, and we’ll see what he can do,” Muschamp said.
Senior Mike LB Jon Bostic said he is thrilled to have Jenkins back in the mix and hopefully back on the field come Saturday. “He helps out in pretty much every way. He’s one of those guys I’ve played next to since I’ve been here. We have that chemistry between us,” he said. “Getting the calls out, sometimes in the past couple weeks I’ve been making sure the linebackers have been on their [assignments]. With him coming back, we can kind of split the defense up where I’m going with the defensive line and he’s going with the secondary making sure everybody is on the same page.”
Finally, junior cornerback Cody Riggs (pectoral) and redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) are out and will not play.
GATORS DON’T NEED SUPERHEROES
A stance he has maintained all season, Muschamp noted again Monday that as long as his players do their job and do not try to do anything more, Florida will have a great chance to win on Saturday. This stance not only pertains to instances like the defensive front seven maintaining their rushing lanes (an adjustment UF made when coming back strong in the second half against Texas A&M) but also to sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel playing within himself throughout the game.
“I think Jeff needs to be Jeff. We don’t need any super-human effort here,” Muschamp said. “We just need to go out and execute and play our game. That’s what we plan on doing. He doesn’t need to do anything more than he’s done in the previous four weeks.”
Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Though he may not be posting eye-popping numbers, Driskel has been a model of consistency this season. He’s completing nearly 70 percent of his passes while averaging 175 yards through the air, almost 40 on the ground and just over a touchdown per game. Aside from an brain-fart interception against Kentucky and a tendency to hold onto the ball too long against Texas A&M, Driskel has shown marked improvement each and every week.
His preparation is a big reason for his development and success. To that end, Driskel said Monday that he has a good idea of what LSU is going to throw at him and his team this weekend.
“They’re a team that’s going to try to go one-on-one. They think they have better players across the board, and they do have very good players,” he said. “They’re going to try to be one-on-one in the secondary and just bully up front. We think we have outside receivers and tight ends that can create mismatches, so you kind of got to find the mismatch and go there.”
When Muschamp anointed Driskel as the team’s starter following the first week of the season, he made it a point to note that he was confident in Driskel’s abilities considering what he showed throughout the entire offseason. He remains proud of what he has done up until this point. “He’s a guy that took his circumstances and did something about it. It’s a credit to him and his fortitude and his drive to be the starting quarterback at the University of Florida,” Muschamp said Monday.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on how Florida’s recruiting has overcome consecutive sub-par seasons on the field: “When you have sub-par years, everybody thinks they can come in and start. That helps in recruiting. That’s one thing that sells an opportunity – it’s part of a reason why a young man may choose a university. He sees himself having an opportunity to play. I think that was the No. 1 selling point for a lot of young men, whether I was selling opportunity or not. They thought they could come in and certainly contribute. As most young men do when they get to a place like Florida, they realize we still have some good players here. We just maybe in some areas needed to shore some things up. I think that would be the No. 1 attraction for having some sub-par years. And then you look at the tradition of Florida, winning. You look at the academic record of when you’re getting this diploma it’s not a state degree, it’s not a regional degree. It’s a national degree.”
» Driskel on the role that big games like this play in recruiting: “It’s definitely a big game. I’m sure there’s going to be recruits all over the place this weekend. I know that if I was in high school, I would be at this game. It’s fun to attend games like this, see the atmosphere. This is really what the SEC is all about.”
» Driskel on the team’s chances this year against LSU: “We go into every game thinking we have a shot and knowing that we have a shot. This year we’re definitely confident. It will be a lot closer, that’s for sure. It won’t be like last year.”
» Driskel on if the game can be used as a measuring stick for UF: “At the end of the day, it’s just another game, but it’s definitely a big one. That’s a really good opponent, and we’re excited or the opportunity to be matched up against one of the best [teams] in the country.”
» Muschamp on if the Gators will game plan for the Tigers’ notorious fake punts and kicks: “We don’t emphasize it any more than we do any other week. It’s just all about executing and doing your job. We have people responsible for the punter and for the fakes and the different spots in every call that we have. It’s just about guys going out and executing.”
» Muschamp on LSU succeeding in special teams fakes the last two years: “It was lack of execution. It comes back on me. Though I wasn’t here two years ago, y’all blame it on me anyway.”
» Muschamp on the pass blocking of senior running back Mike Gillislee: “I think Mike – that’s one of the thing that makes Mike very attractive as a guy on the next level because of his protection and how he intelligent he is in picking up the right blitz pick-up and sticking his face in there and being able to block the [line]backer or the safety or the corner, whoever the extra guy is they’re bringing. Mike does a great job.”
» Muschamp on whether senior Xavier Nixon or freshman D.J. Humphries will start at left tackle: “Whoever practices the best will play.”
» Muschamp on if Gator Chomps in celebrations can draw penalties from the referees: “We’ve addressed it, and we need to move on. They certainly can [call that penalty], and we’ve addressed it.”
» Redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. on LSU overcoming their early-season mistakes: “I’m pretty sure they’re going to tighten up their screws.”