Updated/completed at 1:35 p.m.
Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) met with the media twice on Wednesday as his team continues its preparations for the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC). Florida is looking to defeat LSU for just the second time since 2010 as the Gators host the Tigers on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live nationally on the SEC Network.
Muschamp’s regularly-scheduled media appearance on Monday was postponed as freshman quarterback Treon Harris is currently under investigation for alleged sexual battery. He addressed that and a variety of other topics on Wednesday.
TREON HARRIS SITUATION
With his second-string quarterback, freshman Treon Harris, suspended indefinitely while under investigation for sexual battery, Muschamp declined to comment further on the situation. In fact, he indicated that he preferred to not even have a press conference this week but understood that he needed to in order to help the media do their jobs.
“The statement that the university released Monday, I think, was pretty self-explanatory. It is a very serious charge, and there has been no change in his status,” he said.
“You handle things in life and you move forward and that’s what we’re going to do [as a team]. I feel very comfortable with how we’ve approached this situation.”
Muschamp declined comment on any questions related to Harris.
Muschamp expects to have redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor (knee) and three freshmen – running back Brandon Powell (hamstring), QB Will Grier (back spams) and wide receiver C.J. Worton (broken hand) – back in action for Saturday’s game. Taylor has been dealing with the flu and missed two days of practice but will return to the field Wednesday and be active by the time the weekend rolls around.
A surprise player listed as questionable is junior RB Matt Jones. Muschamp initially said he had knee swelling and would be a game-time decision but added later in his press conference that he “fully expects” Jones to play in Florida’s next game. Jones has not yet practiced this week but is expected to return to the field Wednesday and start as usual on Saturday.
Still questionable is redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr, who missed the Tennessee game after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery a couple weeks earlier. Orr returned to team workout son Monday and Tuesday but will have to practice late in the week if he hopes to be active on Saturday.
The only previously healthy player ruled out for Saturday’s game is redshirt junior WR Valdez Showers, who suffered a high-ankle sprain and will miss the contest. Freshman LB Daniel McMillian also missed the Tennessee game with a head injury and his status is currently unknown for LSU.
“Tennessee was a big win for us. I thought offensively we improved on third down. we had seven conversions on third down. … I thought we ran the ball well. We need to continue to throw it better, be more efficient in the throwing game, timing, ball placement, catching the football. I think we protected well in the game but continued to make some progress there.
“Defensively, it was a total team effort. We had eight red zone snaps, you had -11 yards, three incompletions, an interception and a sack. I think our guys played extremely well. We made it a one-dimensional game. We were able to get pressure on the quarterback with four guys rushing, three guys at times. We picked our spots to pressure, it thought D.J. [Durkin] did a good job and our defensive staff.”
QUARTERBACK DEPTH CHART
Muschamp confirmed that redshirt junior Jeff Driskel will indeed start on Saturday but noted that he is not sure who will be listed as the No. 2 signal caller. Grier and redshirt sophomore Skyler Mornhinweg will split reps throughout the week in practice.
He also said that Driskel was absolutely in line to play Saturday no matter what, though Florida had not determined whether Driskel or Harris would have started the contest.
“We had not made a decision off the last game who would start the game. I knew Jeff would play in the game, I do know that. As we continue to practice [Wednesday and Thursday] … we’ll make that decision [on a backup] at game time.”
Muschamp once again praised Driskel for the way he has handled the situation, noting that he has kept a positive attitude despite being benched last week.
“Jeff’s a tough young man. He’s resilient, and I met with him Sunday and talked to him after the game and talked to him Monday. He understands that there’s some situations he needs to play better. He takes full responsibility to be the quarterback at the University of Florida. The way he has handled this has been outstanding.”
Muschamp also said that he has not necessarily moved away from potentially using more than one quarterback – “We’re going to do what needs to be done to win the game.” – even if that means potentially costing Grier his redshirt season.
“We hadn’t really made a decision considering the length we still had to go in the season. We had not had that discussion as far as redshirt at that time,” he said. “Given the situation of having two guys who had played to that point in the season, that’s probably where we were headed. Certainly given the situation right now, obviously not.”
Mornhinweg and freshman defensive end Gerald Willis got into a fight outside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Monday night over what wound up being a disagreement over a pair of cleats. OnlyGators.com covered the legal matter in full on Tuesday, but Muschamp offered his thoughts on the situation on Wednesday.
“That was a tremendous misunderstanding. I tell you, boy, we’ve made a big one out of this.
“We’ve got an air thing that takes the wetness out of the cleats. Skyler last year was No. 17 and Jordan Sherit is No. 17 this year. Gerald was coming from class and was trying to get ready for practice and couldn’t find his cleats on the air thing, and he grabbed No. 17 because he’s buddies with Jordan Sherit and he thought that would be OK, and he went out to practice. There was a disagreement on the cleats and whose cleats they were.
“Nobody stole anything. If anybody stole anything, they wouldn’t be on this football team anymore, I can assure you of that. There was a disagreement; I wish it would have been handled a little bit differently. That’s, you know…
“Me and my brother Mike used to fight all the time. It happened in our family. Maybe our family is really different from everybody else’s family. Me and my brother Pat, I never won, took swings, never won. It’s the way it goes. It’s families. It’s what happens.”
MR. MISS TWO BITS
Florida announced Wednesday that former Gators softball pitchers Stacey Nelson and Hannah Rogers (together) will serve as the honorary Mr. Two Bits for Saturday night’s game against LSU.
It is an interesting decision for UF. With this tradition expected to continue long into the future, one would think that Nelson and Rogers deserve their own, separate, opportunities to take on this role.
Nevertheless, the duo of hurlers will be the first females to perform Mr. Two Bits duties ahead of a Florida football game since the school started the honorary festivities in 2013.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp named Jones the team’s Offensive Player of the Game against Tennessee, and credited redshirt senior center Max Garcia as the Offensive Lineman of the Game. He handed the entire defense the Defensive Player of the Game award but singled out freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor and sophomore safety Keanu Neal as the Ball Hawks. Finally, redshirt sophomore kicker Austin Hardin and defensive backs sophomore Marcus Maye and senior Jabari Gorman all split the Special Teams Player of the Game award.
» Tabor was also named the SEC Freshman of the Week and took home a variety of Natioanl Freshman of the Week awards. He was tremendous in coverage on Saturday.
» On Hardin striking his game-winning field goal: “Austin Hardin hitting the 49 yarder, which would have been good from 60, I’m really proud of him. His confidence level has certainly taken a step forward and needs to continue to.”
» On Florida’s deep roster of backup running backs, specifically sophomore Kelvin Taylor and redshirt senior Mack Brown: “They’ve both been outstanding, and they’re both competitive guys. They both want to play. There’s one ball right now. Both of those guys, I expect their roles to maybe, depending on how we move forward in the next 72 hours with Matt, which I expect him to play, but I’ve got confidence in Kelvin, I’ve got confidence in Mack Brown, Adam Lane has been over repping with our guys the last couple days just in case, a guy that I’ve got tremendous confidence in him as well. Talk about a hard guy to tackle, a low center of gravity; a strong, tough back that catches the ball well out of the backfield. And then you add Brandon Powell to the mix of a guy that’s going to get some snaps Saturday in some different roles. I’m excited about that position. I think it’s pretty obvious to everyone in that ballgame that Matt Jones gets heavy as the game goes and he ran extremely well.”