No. 6 Florida Gators football (9-1) struggled mightily but eventually came away with a tough 27-20 victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (5-4) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida is now 5-0 all time against Louisiana-Lafayette though Saturday’s win was its first since the school has adopted that name. Its previous four victories came against Southwest Louisiana.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp, 10-0 when rushing for more than 150 yards (UF had 149 on Saturday), 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida was 3-3 in the red zone and has scored on 30-of-36 trips (83.3 percent) this season, converting just 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 of its third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season after going just 4-for-14 in such situations on Saturday.
» The Gators held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 2-of-12 on third down but allowed their visitors to continue drives with poorly-timed penalties. UF’s defense has held opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent) in 2012.
» Louisiana-Lafayette was just the second team (Tennessee) to score 20 points on Florida this season. The Gators have held three teams to 17 points, two under 15 and three to a touchdown or less.
» Florida is +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011.
» The Gators are now 65-22-2 all-time on homecoming in The Swamp.
» Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy blocked a punt for the second-straight game and continues to be a standout performer for Florida on special teams.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed bounced back from a tough performance against Georgia to register career-highs in receptions (five) and yards. He also matched a career-long with a 39-yard catch.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis inched closer to Jeff Chandler’s school record of 67 made field goals. Sturgis connected on two more attempts and now has 17 on the year, putting him four away from tying Chandler. He is also six field goals away from tying the school single-season record of 23, which was set by Bobby Raymond.
» Redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins not only had the game-winning touchdown on a punt block return, he also led the defense with seven tackles.
» Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett saw his most extensive action of the season and made the most of it, leading the Gators to a game-tying touchdown on a three-yard pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Quinton Dunbar.
“We certainly make it interesting. It’s a football team that is finding ways to win games. We certainly shot ourselves in the foot enough in the game to put it in that situation. I thought we managed the game very well late in the game as far as field position was concerned and time was concerned in what we wanted to do and then our players going out and executing it. I credit our football team. I know one thing: There’s nobody questioning that character in that room and the resolve and the fight. Sometimes our decision making could be questioned, but I think our guys have continued to believe in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and the way we’re going to get it done and they have a strong belief in that. That’s a hard thing, I know in a coaching perspective, I’ve been on the other end when you’re, ‘Oh no, here we go again’ mentality instead of embracing the station, the adversity, handling it and finding a way to do it. It ain’t just been one time this year; it’s been a bunch. I really credit our kids’ resolve in this situation.
“Obviously the penalties just killed us in this game, and they were [legitimate] penalties. We’ve talked about it. We’re going to reemphasize it again. We’ve emphasized it every day in every situation we could. We’ve benched guys and we’ve done everything we can do. I’m going to find another way. I don’t know. We’re going to meet as a staff [Sunday] and figure out what we need to do to continue to move forward and improve our team. That’s where it really hurts.”
A few minutes later, Muschamp continued speaking about the team’s resolve.
Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
“Sometimes I feel like the ball bounces your way and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes you catch some breaks and sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you play yourself into it. Mark Hudspeth said at the end of the game, ‘Great teams find ways to win games, and you’ve got a great football team.’ I don’t know if I’d stretch it that far, but we’ve got a bunch of guys that are playing together, that are playing for each other, that have a strong belief in one another, that have a strong belief in what we’re doing and where we’re headed. The future’s bright.
“I told the guys how proud I was to be their head football coach, and I mean that just from the standpoint of you are a reflection of your football team as far as your team being a reflection of you as well. When you see guys continue to play, continuing to play with passion and energy, playing for each other and playing for the University of Florida, and playing in The Swamp. All of those things are really important to me, and I see a true football team that’s doing that. It certainly has made some positive strides with where we need to be.”
The big injury of the day was suffered by sophomore QB Jeff Driskel, who sprained his ankle and did not return to the game. Muschamp said he did not know the severity of Driskel’s sprain but said that he was told by the training staff that he would not have been able to return to the game.
He also announced that redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr has a kidney infection and will definitely miss the Jacksonville State game on Nov. 17 and likely the Florida State game on Nov. 24 as well. “It was a situation that got a little more serious than we thought,” he said.
Senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee) and redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee) did not play because both have been unable to press off of their injured appendage. Other injuries suffered Saturday, of which Muschamp does not know the severity of any, include redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle), redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder), and redshirt freshman defensive back Valdez Showers (shoulder).
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On the adversity faced by the Gators on Saturday: “Those were things that were caused by Florida, not anybody else.”
» On the penalties and other miscues: “Eventually the players need to understand that they need to take some responsibility to know what to do and have a little bit more urgency about what to do. That’s what I told them in the locker room. We got to get over this, you know? We got to get over jumping offsides on 3rd-and-10. Eventually, as a player, you got to look in the mirror and realize you got to play smarter that. But we’re going to hold them accountable and do what we got to do. We’re doing all we can do.”
» On Louisiana-Lafayette bringing it: “They don’t have a bad football team. They have good athletes. But we allowed them to stay in the game.”
» On allowing the cornerbacks to make some mistakes: “When you play corner for us, you better have a short memory. I don’t harp on all that stuff. We put a lot of pressure on our guys the way we play. Our guys rise up and make plays when they have to and do the things they got to do to be successful. If people understood how much pressure we put on our guys on the outside to play, they’d probably be a little bit more understanding, now and then, of a pass interference call. But, I doubt it.”
» Muschamp said the Gators are very much a MASH unit on the offensive line with only six or seven healthy players right now, which is why the heavy/jumbo package has not been used recently. He also mentioned that he does not want to burn the redshirt that freshman guard Jessamen Dunker will receive for not playing this season.