The No. 18/19 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) prepared all week for a hard-nosed, physical contest and got just that from the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After winning the game 30-10, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its latest victory.
CHRIS DIMARCO AS MR. TWO BITS
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida extended its winning streak against Arkansas to nine games dating back to 1995 and hold a 9-1 record in the all-time series. The Gators have won nine-straight contests against the Razorbacks. UF has yet to lose a game to UA since the latter program joined the SEC in 1992.
» The victory pushes Florida to 3-0 in SEC play, marking the second-straight season it has begun the conference slate undefeated through three games.
» UF’s 20-point margin of victory is its largest so far in 2013.
» The Gators improved to 7-9 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 18-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-6 when an opponent scores first and 18-1 when leading at the half.
» The Hogs have not defeated a ranked opponent since 2011.
» Florida improved to 18-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Gators won the time of possession battle once again and have done so in every game this season. But the 32:22-27:38 margin was the smallest of the 2013 campaign.
» Florida registered two sacks on Arkansas, more than three times the average number of sacks the team was allowing per game entering the contest (0.60).
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 16-straight games.
» UF has forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (358).
» Florida has registered a nation-leading 104 interceptions since 2008. UF is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (17) and interception return yards (1,832).
» The Gators registered at least one passing touchdown for the seventh-straight game but were held without a rushing score for the first time since Nov. 10, 2012.
» Florida gave up 275 yards of total offense to Arkansas, the most allowed by UF’s defense in a single game this season.
» The Gators have now yielded eight red zone trips through five games. In those eight appearances, opponents began two of drives already in the red zone.
» UF has held 12-straight SEC opponents to 20 points or less.
» Florida did not commit a penalty in the first half, the first time that has happened in a single half under Muschamp during his three seasons with the team. UF was flagged eight times for 84 yards in the second half, however.
» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 72.7 percent of his passes (16-of-22) for 240 yards and three touchdowns, all career-best marks.
» The Gators have not failed to score in the red zone since Murphy took over as the primary signal caller. UF is a perfect 9-for-9 on scoring opportunities inside the 20.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton also set career marks with 124 yards, two touchdowns and six receptions (tying a career-high) on Saturday. He is the first wideout since Riley Cooper to catch two touchdowns in a single game and register two 100+ yard games in a single season (2009).
» Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy grabbed his first career interception and celebrated by returning it 42 yards for a touchdown. He also forced a fumble on a sack.
TALE OF TWO RUN DEFENSES
The Gators looked like they had met their match early in the first half when Razorbacks freshman running back Alex Collins appeared to get whatever yards he wanted. In the first quarter of Saturday’s contest, Arkansas racked up 86 rushing yards on 14 attempts, 20 more than Florida had allowed in an entire game this season.
“Disappointed with how we played the run early in the game. We got out or our gaps and guys trying to make plays,” Muschamp said. “When you play a team like that, you can’t get frustrated. Our guys were creating negative plays. When you do that, you become very undisciplined in your gap control. And that’s what happened to us. … Far too many situations where we’re not in the right gap, our eyes are in the wrong gap and things like that.”
The issue appeared to be corrected in the second quarter onward as the Gators only allowed 47 more rushing yards on 15 total attempts over the final three quarters. Florida’s ability to take away Arkansas’ running game and limit Collins to just 59 rushing yards on the evening played a major factor in its victory.
Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers (ankle) was surprisingly active for the game after being listed as doubtful earlier in the week. On the other hand, junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) was surprisingly inactive after practicing with the team Tuesday-Thursday. Muschamp said Roberson “ran well” during the week but “didn’t feel totally right” on Saturday. He “should be good for next week” against LSU.
UF’s only injury during the game was suffered by freshman linebacker Jarrad Davis, who got a laceration on his cheek. Because it swelled and trainers wanted to be cautious, he did not return to the game.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On the Gators wearing pink during the game: “I want to commend our players for wanting to go with the breast cancer awareness. I think everyone in here, in some form, has been affected by that. It’s a very difficult thing to deal with. I really commend our players that came to me during the week. It was something they wanted to do.”
» On Florida’s kicking game, specifically redshirt freshman Austin Hardin’s blocked 48-yard field goal: “Obviously the blocked kick…[mumbling]…Austin just kicked it too low. That had nothing to do with penetration. I mean, I could’ve blocked it. We got to improve there. You can’t miss an extra point at the end. So obviously you’ve seen a little bit of where we are in the kicking game and why we’ve had some issues and where I’ve been with that. So that’s a little frustrating. I’ve got confidence in those guys. Both of those guys have the ability; they just got to go out and do it. They’ve certainly shown the ability. Consistency in their performance is what needs to improve.”
» On redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell’s two 15-yard penalties on the final series of the game: “Disappointed with how we ended the game defensively. Just some silly penalties we don’t need that can’t be part of our game. We played pretty penalty-free to that point. I was just very disappointed with that.”
» On Purifoy’s pick-six: “I’ve seen that play a lot. I haven’t seen him finish that play. I’ve seen him be in that position and he bats it down sometimes. To finish on that play, to create some momentum to get that crowd going – the top came off the place when that happened. I thought it was good pressure on the play. It was very good coverage; we executed the coverage very well. We were in a man-match situation and the kids really, really executed well. He was there to make the pick.”
» On redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison being ejected for touching an official: “Jon’s an emotional guy. He lost his temper and did something he shouldn’t’ have done. And he was ejected from the game, rightfully so. We’ll handle it and we’ll move forward.”