No. 22/22 Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s road game against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers scheduled to kick off at 12:21 p.m. from Memorial Stadium in Columbia, MO, and air live on SEC Network affiliates.
Below are some stories, notes and quotes that fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the six posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links).
Monday: RB Matt Jones out for the season | Will Muschamp recaps LSU, talks injuries, previews Missouri
Tuesday: Updated depth chart | Limping, struggling Gators down but not out
Wednesday: Injury and kicking game updates from Muschamp
Thursday: Brent Pease talks RB Kelvin Taylor, pass protection (plus more notes from Pease and D.J. Durkin)
FLORIDA CONTROLS ITS OWN DESTINY
With every team in the East division already having dropped a league game – with the exception of Missouri, a team Florida could hand a loss to on Saturday – the Gators are very much in control of their own destiny, at least as far as the Southeastern Conference is concerned. Florida still has all of its goals in sight – winning the division, moving on to the SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA – a fact that was not lost on the coaches or players this week.
» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy: “A lot of people brought up saying we could still win the East, we still have a chance to get to Atlanta. That’s our number one goal. Everyone was just saying we really need to focus in and have a great week of practice and get ready to go on the road and put forth a great effort to beat Missouri. We have a bye week the week after so this is a big week for us. Nothing would be worse than losing to Missouri going into a bye week. That’s in the back of everyone’s head. Everyone’s ready to go and ready to get this game on the road.”
» Senior safety Jaylen Watkins: “We definitely turn our eyes towards the East now. We definitely would like to have that game, but we do have everything still in front of us that we want to accomplish his season, which is the Sec East and going to the SEC Championship. We just have to regain our focus and get ready to go play Missouri.”
» Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson: “We haven’t lost to a team in the East yet, so we just have to win on out from Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri is coming up. We just have to win out and keep a positive mindset. We can’t let the past or the games we lost affect our season ahead of us. We control our own destiny, so if we play good and just do and trust what the coaches [tell us], we’ll win.”
» Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor: “That’s always good. When you can control your own destiny, you don’t have to hope and pray for somebody else to lose. Knowing, if you wine very game, that you can reach all your goals, that’s always a good thing. We were in this position last year. We were in this position the year before that. We’ve blown it two years ago. Like we’ve all been saying, we’re not going to blow it this year. We’re going to take advantage of the opportunities we have this year and not blow it like in the past.”
» Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio: “It’s a real big game, not only for the offense but just or our football team, just for that confidence booster going into that bye week. If we just handled business the right way, all of our goals are still in front of us. If we don’t handle business and play it like how we usually play than those goals don’t mean nothing.”
» Junior S Cody Riggs: “I’ve been here for four years and I still haven’t gone to Atlanta. That’s still in front of us. That’s the main goal. You get to Atlanta and good things happen.”
The Gators’ offensive line, as a whole, had a rough outing against LSU, but sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries stood out as someone who struggled big-time in the game. In fact, on the most important offensive series of the game for Florida, he committed to false start penalties and allowed a sack on Murphy. He did not shy away from the blame when he spoke this week.
“That was just me off key. We were going on a signal by the center, and I was just too far ahead. Just too ahead on his key. We weren’t going on the sound. It was kind of a key thing. I was just moving too fast,” he said of his false starts.
Humphries also spoke about the sacks he allowed. “I just played those terrible. I played both of those protections bad. Gave them too much space, allowed them to stop the pass when I should’ve been jumping on them,” he noted.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Murphy on he and the Gators playing a cold-weather game: “I’m not sure if anyone’s ever been to Missouri. I’ve never been. That’s going to be different just playing in a different atmosphere and being in a different stadium and stuff. … I don’t think the cold will have an effect on us, especially when you’re out there running around you tend to warm up.”
» Murphy on whether he will be cold: “Usually when I go home for Christmas it’s in the teens. That’s cold. It’s kind of funny to see people around here, when it’s in the 60s, they all have hoodies and sweatpants on. I’m the only person with shorts and a T-shirt.”
» Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia on the offensive line struggling: “As an offensive line, we’re just going to try to do our best against the blitz during practice and making sure we’re mentally there because physically we are there. I don’t think we have a problem with the strength, getting bull-rushed. You don’t see guys getting bull-rushed out there. I think it’s just a mental part of the game that we got to get down and it really comes down to communication.”
» Roberson on why it took him so long to get healthy: “I was just taking it day by day, doing what’s best for me and the team. … It was frustrating but I was just trying to do what was best for me and the team, just get healthy and get back out there and start where I left off.”
» Taylor on Florida being unable to stop the run against LSU: “It was disappointing that we couldn’t stop what we knew they wanted to do. They came in and they established the run and that pretty much controlled most of the game for them. They really fed a lot of their offense off of the run, play action, taking shots deep. So when they established the urn like they, they’re a multi-dimensional team. They can do both things. That’s difficult for a team to stop when you don’t know it’s coming.”
» Taylor on if UF will be able to stop the run against Mizzou: “I expect us to stop the run against them. Hit the person with the ball and get them on the ground, that’s about it. Don’t let them run around like they plan on doing, probably.”
» Taylor on whether physicality is mental: “Football is physical sport. As soon as you sign your papers, you know what you’re getting yourself into. As soon as you sign those waivers when you’re playing pop warner, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Physicality comes with the sport. It’s definitely a mentality. You got some guys that are out there that want to be vanilla and stuff, but when it comes down to it, everybody’s going to have to hit somebody.”
» Taylor on rattling the signal caller: “No quarterback likes to get hit so, therefore, we’re going to have to hit him, basically.”
» Halapio on how his pectoral feels: “It’s a lot better. I feel real good with it. I actually asked the trainers if I could start practicing without the brace but they advised me not to. That’s how confident and good I feel with my pec.”
» Riggs on if he’s ever seen a team this injured in one season: “I’ve never been on a team with this many season-ending injuries. We’ve had a lot of guys step up, so at least we have the depth to make up for it.”
» Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown on the Gators’ injuries: “I played ball for like 16 years. I’ve never seen nothing like this before. We just got to step up and do our jobs. It’s not over yet. Just got to keep moving.”
» Humphries on freshman RB Kelvin Taylor: “I felt like the little bro came in and did his thing. He got his opportunity and he took advantage of his opportunity. He’s still young and there’s a lot of stuff we all can improve on, but I feel like he took advantage of his opportunity for sure. When he was seeing the hole, he was just hitting it. He was coming in with a lot of energy, making a big impact.”