No. 22/22 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 17-6 defeat at the hands of the No. 6/8 LSU Tigers and his team’s upcoming road contest against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 19. The contest will kick off at 12:21 p.m. and air live on SEC Network affiliates.
“We got beat on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Any time that happens, it makes it difficult to win football games. Didn’t run it consistently enough. … Against a defense like that, you got to be balanced. You can’t get in situations that are obvious passing situations. … We got to improve in the run game. Obviously protection was not as good as we’ve been. We gave up four sacks and that falls on the offensive line, the running backs, tight ends, the quarterback. As far as the protection is concerned, too many negative plays offensively. We got to create more explosives on the road in that situation to create more positive momentum for our football team. We had them against Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, had 11 against Miami and didn’t take care of the football. But we’ve got to create more explosive plays offensively both running and throwing the ball.
“Defensively, we lost it on the line of scrimmage. When you get behind the down and distance against a team like that, especially on first and 10, it becomes difficult to call the game from the standpoint of they’re able to create balance eon you running and throwing it. … Overall, I thought our effort was good. Physicality was just not what it needs to be.”
(OTHER) INJURY UPDATES
In addition to the season-ending torn meniscus suffered by sophomore running back Matt Jones, Muschamp announced Monday that redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell injured his ankle during the game. Though he did provide specifics on the injury, it appears that Powell sprained his ankle.
Muschamp said the Gators will know more about his status for Saturday at in the “next 72 hours” depending on how much the swelling goes down. “I hope to get him back on Wednesday,” he added.
With Jones out for the season, redshirt junior Mack Brown and freshman Kelvin Taylor will split carries at running back for Florida.
Taylor has only touched the ball in three games this season but looked good when given extended work. He averaged 8.6 yards per carry against Toledo, racking up 43 yards on five touches and taking one ball 27 yards down the field. On Saturday, he registered career-highs with 10 totes and 52 yards including a long of 14 yards.
Muschamp explained that Taylor needed to make gains in his assignments and ball security in order to see the field more and that his active role Saturday was solely due to Jones’s health.
“When you’re able to do those two things, you give us more confidence in situationally playing you in the game. I thought he did a good job of that and deserved the opportunity,” he said. “Regardless of the injury he was going to play in the game more than he had previous to this game. Obviously the injury accelerated that.”
CHANGING OF THE
GUARD KICKER AND PUNTER
The Gators knew they had to replace Caleb Sturgis this season but certainly did not anticipate having to go with a redshirt junior walk-on at the position with redshirt freshman Austin Hardin and senior Brad Phillips on the roster. Nevertheless, that is exactly what Florida did on Saturday when Frankie Velez made his first career appearance and went 2-for-2 on field goals, even nailing a season-long 44-yarder.
“Very proud of Frankie Velez and the job he did coming in and giving us some consistency. Now he’s got to continue to do it week in, week out,” Muschamp said. “I thought Austin kicked off well. We’ll move forward with the guys that perform the best.”
Muschamp noted that Velez performed the best in practice and was therefore awarded with an opportunity to travel with the team and kick in the game. Though the competition will remain open, he made it sound as if Velez will be starting against Missouri.
Unfortunately for Florida, kicker is not the only specialist position that has been an issue this season as junior punter Kyle Christy has also struggled mightily. Coming off a season in which he was a finalist for the Ray Guy Award, Christy is averaging 39.6 yards per punt (down 5.8 yards on average from last year) and also failing to pin teams back when short, high punts are needed.
“Special teams we had two opportunities to pin them down in their territory in a field position game. Two times and we didn’t get it done,” Muschamp said.
That is why freshman Johnny Townsend, a surprise addition to the team as UF’s last commitment in its 2013 recruiting class, will be starting at punter on Saturday.
“We need to make a change there as far as we’ve been very inconsistent punting the ball throughout the season,” Muschamp explained.
Before deciding to go with Townsend, who was expected to redshirt this season, the Gators’ coaching staff did whatever it could to help Christy improve and preserve a year of separation between the two players.
“We’ve looked at his swing and different things,” Muschamp said. “We’ve tried to make some corrections as far as his drop is concerned, as far as the placement is concerned, as far as the swing is concerned. It comes to a point where we got to see some production. Right now we’re just not getting it. I think that Kyle is going to be fine. We just need to work through this at this time.”
Christy’s struggles have been well-documented, but Muschamp did make it a point to note that he believes the issues are mental and neither physical problems nor work ethic concerns.
“It is very frustrating, as much for him as anyone. It’s not from a lack of work or a lack of trying to get things right. There’s no question about that. It’s just a matter of him working through this and us continuing to try to search for answers. If you continue to do the same things, you’re going to get the same results.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On why Florida struggled so mightily in pass protection: “It was across the board. … There’s multiple things we can improve on from last Saturday.”
» On Missouri’s electric offense: “They’re playing very well. … They’re a team that’s very explosive. It catches your attention when you turn on the tape, on both sides of the ball.”