Driskel can win job back but Brissett leads

Contrary to popular belief, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp said Monday that he was not playing coy last week when not announcing who would start at quarterback for his team on Saturday against the LSU Tigers.

According to Muschamp, freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were both up for the job. However, he insinuated that Driskel’s inability to practice at full strength was to be the main reason why Brissett was able to earn the gig. He also claims he was not trying to gain any advantage but not announcing a starter at any point during the week.

“I wasn’t sure until Wednesday night that Jeff was not going to play in the game,” he said. “There was no deception on my point from the standpoint that I didn’t know until Wednesday night after practice that Jeff was probably not going to be able to play in the game. We were holding hope through Wednesday, went out Wednesday and he didn’t feel good with his ankle.”

If Florida was “holding out hope” for Driskel to be ready, one can assume the plan was for the Gators to roll with their year-long backup quarterback on Saturday. His sprained ankle made that impossible against LSU, but Muschamp thinks he will be fine to compete head-to-head with Brissett this week.

“They both are going to practice through the week,” he said. “Based on the injury report that I got this morning, Jeff should practice [Monday]. How limited he’ll be, I do not know that. Those guys will work with Jacoby being the starter at this point, and we’ll work through the week and progress to see who practices the best.”

Muschamp said that how the snaps are split – and how much Driskel practices – will be solely dependent on his health at this point in time.

“It’s not like one guy is a different quarterback than the other guy. They’re both very similar skill set as far as that’s concerned. A lot of that is going to depend on Jeff’s ankle,” he said. “How many reps will he be able to rep in practice? I don’t know at this point. We’re going to have about an hour and 15-minute practice [Monday night]. We’ll move from there and, as we move further in the week, I’ll know more obviously about how much he’ll be able to go and compete for the job this week. That will determine the reps and then obviously determine the starter.”

If Driskel is unable to practice at full speed or Brissett goes out again and earns the start, Muschamp is confident in the latter can continue progressing and play better.

“I thought Jacoby did a good job [against LSU]. As far as comparing how each quarterback performed in totally different environments, I’d have a hard time doing that. I thought he managed our offense very well,” the coach said. “I thought what we asked him to do he did very well. He’s a very composed young man. He’s very intelligent. He’s athletic. He’s smart. He works extremely hard since he’s been here as far as learning the offense and learning what to do and how we want to do it and manage our football team. I’m very pleased with his progress.”

Muschamp is so pleased, in fact, that he said offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will open the playbook even more for him if Brissett returns behind center. “Certainly we’ve got to do some more – something else offensively,” he said. “If you continue to do the same thing, you’ll continue to get the same results.” Driskel has been working with a larger playbook considering he’s been involved in the offense since the spring.

One thing that will not change as long as a backup quarterback is in, however, are running backs sophomore Trey Burton and redshirt senior Chris Rainey taking direct snaps in certain packages. Muschamp feels that helps take some of the pressure off of the young signal callers and gives the team a different element in a running game that was completely stopped against Alabama.

Florida will know who is starting at quarterback by mid-week, but who the Gators will trot out under center may once again remain a question until just before kickoff.


» Muschamp said redshirt senior QB John Brantley is progressing well in rehab and slipped up a bit, mentioning that the injury is indeed to his ankle. “He’s working hard. He’s been in the training room a lot and went on the road with us to get all the reps he could get as far as rehabbing his ankle. We feel like he’s making good progress. We’ll continue to go forward with that.”

» He also said that there is a benefit to not disclosing the specifics about Brantley’s injury. “There are some teams out there that might want to get him in a pile. Not that anybody in our league would do that.”

» Florida will again likely choose their starting quarterback on Wednesday after two full days of practice because that is when the offense primarily focuses on red zone and third down plays. “As you start to work through Tuesday’s practice, you need to move forward,” Muschamp said.

» He also addressed why redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy has not had a chance to start for the Gators. “He’s done some good things. He’s managed our offense well, but those other guys have just performed better,” Muschamp said.

Building up Gators’ discipline after breakdowns

The 2011 incarnation of the Florida Gators were supposed to be a blue collar team that was all about work ethic, toughness and limiting mistakes.

To that end, head coach Will Muschamp has succeeded in fostering an environment of players taking initiative and doing their best to improve, but the discipline and reliability exhibited by some members of the team leaves a lot to be desired.

“That’s part of being a good football team – understanding what to do and how to do it, which is discipline,” Muschamp said on Monday during his weekly media availability. “All it takes is one breakdown on a play. You got 10 guys doing it right, you got one guy not doing it right, and then you got an issue and a problem.”

Those individual breakdowns have come often for Florida this season and rear their ugly heads mostly in the form of penalties and missed tackles.

Florida committed 12 penalties for 90 yards on Saturday, their second-highest total of the season. And that’s not counting lost yardage on plays that were called back. It was also the fourth time in 2011 that the Gators had nine or more penalties called against them in a single game.

Muschamp has given passes to effort penalties (pass interferences, for example) that occur when players are simply trying to make plays, but Florida has also had issues with mental mistakes including calls like false start, holding and block in the back.

“We blocked behind the ball 20 yards. You can’t do that. That’s just something you can’t afford to do. We benefit nothing out of that,” he said. “Offensively we had two false start penalties and a loud crowd, but we got to understand to handle that. We use crowd noise at every practice on offense and defense, so our guys got to understand to work without the voice inflection and work on ball movement defensively and ball movement offensively if that’s what it takes. It’s something that we’ve been working on. Obviously we have not worked on it enough, so we’re going to work on it more.”

Tackling is another area in which the Gators need to improve. It was a problem that plagued Florida one year ago and is proving to be an issue yet again. UF’s strong safety, sophomore Matt Elam, is tied for second on the team with 34 tackles – and that’s not because opponents are throwing on the Gators but rather because he’s forced to take down so many running backs who reach the second level.

Florida has faced two of the country’s best running games in as many weeks, but things will not get any easier against Auburn and Michael Dyer on Saturday. Muschamp said containing Dyer and working on tackling will be a focus yet again this week.

“We teach techniques of tackling and we teach the proper technique of how you tackle a player as far as an angle is concerned, as far as finishing on a carrier, as far as when you’re in close quarters, as far as when you’re in an open field,” he said. “Throughout training camp we all have individual drills that we do within every defensive coach. Obviously tackling for a defensive lineman can be different for a secondary player based on the quarters of where you’re going to make the tackle. We hit all of those things.

“In the secondary it has been a big problem. Have we worked on it? Yes. Have we worked on it enough? No, obviously not. So we’ll look at some different guys and see if they’ll tackle better.”

The Gators have also failed to force a single turnover in their last two games after taking away a season-high four in a single contest against Kentucky. Muschamp said that Florida is practicing on causing turnovers the same way his Texas defense did in his second year on the job (when they led the nation in forced turnovers).

“Those are things that I hope start to come in bunches for us,” he said.

In the end, it will be how the Gators deal with adversity that determines how far they go this season. With games against Auburn, Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina ahead, Florida still controls its own destiny and has as good of an opportunity as anyone to win the SEC East and move on to the SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA.

UF now has a choice. They can pick up the pieces and move on with a renewed focus and intensity or allow two blowout losses to permanently affect their psyche.

“It goes back to mental toughness and handling adversity. At the end of the day, adversity causes two things: It causes you to unify or it causes you to divide,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to unify and move forward with guys who are going to do it our way, and we’ve got a bunch. We’re where we need to be as far as pushing forward after two tough defeats.”

10/10: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meet with the media each Monday to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availability.


Muschamp began his appearance Monday but discussing the previous game and how the team is performing heading into its seventh game of the season, in which they go on the road for the second-straight week.

“Obviously when you start the game on the road against a good football team and you go three-and-out and then on the second play on the game you give up a big play, you’ve got to put yourself behind he eight ball. We’ve got to manage that better as a staff and a team as far as handling adversity. We faced a lot. You get down 14 points in two drives and we didn’t handle the circumstances very well. That’s part of growing up as a football team and it starts with me. We’ve got to become a more mentally tough team to handle those situations when they arise because, in this league, you’re going to have adversity. That’s been something that we’ve touched on through spring ball and in summer and into training camp. We’ve got to manage those situations better when they arise because they’re going to continue to arise through the season especially when you play in the league we’re playing in. I thought head good effort. I thought there were some guys who did play well. Not enough, obviously. That all comes back on me.”

He then spoke about next week’s opponent – Auburn – and what they bring to the table in all three phases of the game.

“The defending national champions. Got a lot of respect for Gene Chizik and the job he does as a head coach. Really a good defensive football coach. I got to know gene when I was the defensive coordinator at LSU and he was at Auburn. Gus Malzahn as the offensive coordinator, really does a nice job of running the football from spread sets and creating space plays but still maintaining the hard-nosed effect of running the ball down hill. Gives you a lot of of different formations and shifts. It’s going to be a big eye-control game for us defensively as far as being where you’re supposed to be because they’ll give us new wrinkles with what they do. He does an outstanding job of that. Ted Roof, the defensive coordinator, I think is a really good football coach there. Got a lot of young guys playing for them defensively and they’re really good on special teams. Tre Mason right now is 10th nationally and second in the SEC in kickoff returns. Both of their specialists are outstanding. Steven Clark their punter has 20 punts inside the 20 yard line, and Cody Parkley the kicker has got 20 touchbacks. They’ve got some good specialists and some good team speed. We’re going to Auburn, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity of getting our team on the road again and playing well. That’s what we plan on doing.”


In addition to the update Muschamp provided on the quarterbacks, he said that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) would once again miss next week’s game. However, he pointed out that the rest of the team should be healthy at some point this week and all were expected to be able to go on Saturday.

Senior running back Jeff Demps, whose ankle kept him out of most of the LSU game, is something he has work through at this point, Muschamp said. “Based on what I got this morning, he might be limited [Monday] and a little [Tuesday], but he should be full-go on Saturday based on the information I have.” He also said that sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (knee) and junior safety Josh Evans (arm) are “both expected to play.”


» Muschamp said junior RB Mike Gillislee has impressed the coaching staff and will get more work in the backfield. “Mike played well. He’s one of the guys we recognized that played the way you need to play – with toughness. Does a great job on special teams and is a guy who we need to get him some more touches,” he said.

» On looking for leaders on the team: “It doesn’t have to be a senior and we don’t have many. Anybody. It’s something I challenged them about this morning. It’s really hard to be a leader. We got a lot of guys who want to be a leader one day and then the next day want to step off the podium and let somebody else do it. That’s not part of the deal. When you want to be a leader, you step in front, you positively affect everybody in the organization every day. You’ve got to be a productive player. That’s how we’ve outlined it for them. When you face adversity, you find out a lot about where your leadership and where your football team is. I certainly feel very positive about a lot of how we responded – not enough. I hate to paint the whole group and say we didn’t do anything.”

» On if the team is stepping up the way he wants it to: “I look at the season for an entire season. I don’t look at one game or two games or whatever. I got to look at the total body of work and where we are and where we’ve come from. Have we made improvements? Yes, I believe we have. Is it good enough at this point? No. But it’s never going to be.”

» On if the team has an attitude issue: “Our guys work hard. We had a great Tuesday practice last week. We practiced well Wednesday. The guys’ work ethic has been outstanding. I have not had any issues as far as that is concerned. We know how to work. We know how to practice. We just need to coach and play a little better.”

» On areas Florida still has to get better in soon: “As much as anything, what I would say offensively is just consistency in running the ball because there’s time where we have run the ball extremely well. The consistency you’ve got to run the ball with has been disappointing that we haven’t done it all the time very well. The disappointing thing on defense I would say is tackling at times and playing blocks consistently upfront although we’ve made tremendous strides from where we were.”

» On Auburn star RB Michael Dyer: “I think Gus does a nice job creating a lot of what I call ‘window dressing’ in the offense as far as motions, shfits, different formations. Ontario McCalebb is a big-time speed guy, so most of the carries that Michael has the ball, there’s some sort of deception with it. You’ve got to honor the other deception issues and then also be able to play him. They do a nice job of protecting the general runs he’s going to make in the game. [Dyer is] a good football player. He’s a guy that’s a low center of gravity guy, very strong, quick step. He’s got top-end speed when he breaks to the second level. There’s not a whole lot of folks catching him. He’s a power runner and he’s’ done a nice job for them.”

» On Malzahn’s up-tempo offense that limits defensive substitutions: “They’re no-huddle the whole game. They have different sets of tempos. They go with on-the-ball, look back to the sideline, they may look back twice, and then they’re on the ball and they snap it. So you’ve got to be ready to play within your package and you got to be limited in your substitutions. That’s what they try to do – tire your front people out as the game wears along there. They do a nice job of that. That’s certainly something you’ve got to deal with.”

Tebow nearly leads Broncos to comeback win

The Denver Broncos faithful have been waiting, hoping and – yes – praying for quarterback Tim Tebow to take the reins of their team this season.

With the Broncos sporting a 1-3 record and losing 23-10 to the San Diego Chargers at halftime on Sunday, they finally got their wish.

Tebow entered Sunday’s contest for a two-yard rush earlier in the game but took over for veteran QB Kyle Orton in the third quarter. At that point, Denver’s sole touchdown was a result of an interception return that occurred in the first quarter.

He came in after Orton had completed just 6-of-13 passes for 34 yards with an interception and started slow but eventually changed the complexion of the game.

Tebow was 1-for-5 on his first three drives; two of them went three-and-out and all three ended with a punt. Denver got the ball back at midfield with 8:34 remaining in the game, and that is when Tebow began leading the comeback.

After running back Willis McGahee hit a hole for 28 yards, Tebow avoided a pass rush on the next play and scrambled for 11 yards. He then took a designed draw up the middle 12 yards for a touchdown, and McGahee followed to score the two-point conversion.

The Broncos recovered a fumble on the ensuing possession, providing Tebow with another short field. He ran for eight yards on the first play and threw a screen pass on the third that RB Knowshon Moreno took 28 yards for a touchdown. Denver went for another two-point conversion to tie the game, but wide receiver Brondon Lloyd dropped a fade from Tebow that hit him in the hands.

San Diego ran out the clock and hit a field goal after that, and Denver started out at their own 20 with just 24 seconds left in the game. Tebow responded by completing consecutive passes of 20 (a redemption grab by Lloyd) and 31 yards to lead the Broncos down to the Chargers’ 29-yard-line with one second to go.

Taking the final snap of the afternoon, Tebow scanned the field for an open receiver, scrambled for five seconds (avoiding three sacks) and threw an incompletion into the end zone to conclude the game. The home crowd chanted “Tebow, Tebow” after the incomplete pass as he was interviewed on the field afterward.

He finished having completed just 4-of-10 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown (for a QB rating of 101.7) but also carried the ball for 38 yards and another score.

Tebow has now thrown and rushed for a touchdown in all five NFL games in which he has attempted at least two passes (three starts).

Denver has a bye next week and will play its next game on the road against the Miami Dolphins on Oct. 23. Miami has decided to honor the Florida Gators 2009 BCS National Championship team that day with a special on-field ceremony. Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer and a number of former Gators players will be in attendance.

Photo Credit: Joe Mahoney/Associated Press

Consecutive losses drop Gators out of polls

The Oklahoma Sooners held on to their season-long No. 1 spot in the USA Today Coaches Poll, while the LSU Tigers kept the No. 1 ranking they earned from the Associated Press last week when the latest top 25 polls were released on Sunday. The Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC), fresh off back-to-back losses including a 41-11 drubbing by LSU on Saturday, completely fell out of both rankings.

WeekResultBCSUSA TodayAssociated Press
Preseason--No. 10 (930)No. 10 (894)
2W 24-6 vs. Toledo-No. 9 (974)No. 12 (875)
3L 16-21 at Miami-No. 20 (410)No. 18 (405)
4Open-No. 18 (398)No. 19 (412)
5W 31-17 vs. Tennessee-No. 19 (449)No. 20 (414)
6W 24-7 at Kentucky-No. 19 (515)No. 18 (481)
7W 30-10 vs. Arkansas-No. 17 (574)No. 17 (536)
8L 6-17 at LSU-No. 22 (240)No. 22 (249)
9L 17-36 at Missouri-NR (4)NR (17)

This Week 1-5: Oklahoma (32), LSU (15), Alabama (11), Wisconsin (1), Stanford
6-10: Boise State, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Oregon, Michigan
11-15: Arkansas, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Nebraska, Illinois
16-20: West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Kansas State, Michigan State, Arizona State
21-25: Texas, Houston, Texas A&M, Baylor, Penn State
Florida finished “No. 26” with 72 voting points.

Last Week 1-5: Oklahoma (27), Alabama (21), LSU (10), Stanford, Wisconsin (1)
6-10: Boise State, Oklahoma State, Clemson, Oregon, Texas
11-15: Michigan, Arkansas, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, Nebraska
16-20: Illinois, Virginia Tech, Florida, West Virginia, Michigan State
21-25: Kansas State, Florida State, Auburn, Arizona State, Texas A&M

This Week 1-5: LSU (40), Alabama (10), Oklahoma (8), Wisconsin, Boise State (1)
6-10: Oklahoma State, Stanford, Clemson, Oregon, Arkansas
11-15: Michigan, Georgia Tech, West Virginia, Nebraska, South Carolina
16-20: Illinois, Kansas State, Arizona State, Virginia Tech, Baylor
21-25 Texas A&M, Texas, Michigan State, Auburn, Houston
Florida finished “No. 26” with 86 voting points.

Last Week 1-5: LSU (40), Alabama (12), Oklahoma (7), Wisconsin, Boise State (1)
6-10: Oklahoma State, Stanford, Clemson, Oregon, Arkansas
11-15: Texas, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Auburn
16-20: West Virginia, Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, Kansas State
21-25: Virginia Tech, Arizona State, Florida State, Texas A&M, Baylor

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.


10/8: Florida at LSU post-game notes, quotes

The No. 17/18 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) fell on the road on Saturday, dropping a 41-11 decision to the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC). OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game with notes and quotes from both head coach Will Muschamp and the players.


Early in his post-game media availability, Muschamp provides his own quick recap of the game as he sees it from offense, defense and special teams.

“I’m obviously disappointed in the game. Defensively [there were] too many big plays. Penalties killed us in the game. We’ve got to get better on the line of scrimmage. We wore out as the game wore on. No forced turnovers for us and we committed two. We just got to play better on the line of scrimmage and big plays. We gave up some big plays trying to load the box in the run game. We gave up some big plays. [I’m] disappointed in the game. We’ve got to get better.”


In addition to redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg) and freshman QB Jeff Driskel (ankle) not dressing for the game, two notable absences from the field were junior left tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar During the game, sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (neck) and junior safety Josh Evans (arm) were injured, and senior running back Jeff Demps (ankle) came in for a play or two but quickly exited and was unable to continue.

Muschamp explained after the game that freshman Jacoby Brissett got the start at quarterback because Driskel’s health prevented him from taking the reigns of the team. “He practiced this week,” Muschamp said of Driskel. “We came to the conclusion Wednesday night that we just didn’t feel like he was healthy enough to go and play in that environment. We tried to rep him throughout the week and it wasn’t fair to him. It wasn’t fair to us.”

He continued, “[Driskel]’s more experienced and he’s played. So as far as the packages, you look at the number of reps that Jeff’s gotten through spring and into fall camp, obviously he’s gotten a lot more turns. That’s part of the game. You’re not going to hear me talk about youth or injuries. That’s pretty obvious with our teams.”

Muschamp said the staff with “reevaluate where Jeff is” before the Auburn game because Driskel may be able to return but said Brantley will “be out for the game more than likely.” He did not give a timetable for Brantley’s return (Georgia game would be the earliest) but said the coaching staff needed to “evaluate where we are on the offensive side of the ball and what we need to do to be successful” going forward.


Florida committed 12 penalties for 90 yards on Saturday, their second-highest total of the year. And that’s not counting lost yardage on plays that were called back. It was also the fourth time in 2011 that the Gators had nine or more penalties called against them in a single game. Florida kept two (in particular) LSU drives alive due to their penalties and even had consecutive offside calls on a possession that ended in a touchdown for the Tigers. The Gators also had a great run by senior running back Chris Rainey negated due to a holding call well behind the play.

“There’s aggressive penalties that are judgment situations and then there are penalties that shouldn’t happen. We got a 30-yard run in the first quarter and we’re blocking 20 yards behind the ball. That’s not very smart,” Muschamp said. “It’s something that’s been talked about 100 times and it needs to be talked about 200. We’re going to talk about it 200 times this week because that’s not very smart. We’re going to talk about it 205-12-15, something like that, to see if we can do a little better.”

Another area that UF proved to be undisciplined was in tackling. For the second straight game, Florida had the opportunity to wrap up runs and short passes on the first level but failed by taking bad angles and using their arms instead of their bodies and legs. Muschamp was obviously none-too-pleased with that fact after the game.

“Tackling is ‘want to’ to me,” he said. “You either want to do it or you don’t. I’ll find guys who want to tackle.”


It is a rough situation to start a freshman QB against a SEC opponent, especially when that opponent is LSU, the game is at Tiger Stadium, and the signal caller has never taken a collegiate snap before. With all that being said, Brissett performed admirably on Saturday, finishing 8/14 for 94 yards with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Andre Debose. He also threw two interceptions in the game – one down the middle of the field that should not have been thrown and another to Debose in the end zone that Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu made a great play on.

Brissett worked well off the play action, had decent vision down field, stepped up in the pocket on occasion, showed he could be mobile and proved that he indeed has a big arm. “I thought he was solid under the circumstances against a good football team defensively,” Muschamp said. “I think he’s going to be a really good football player for us. We’ve got to play better around him in some spots and create some more situations in the run game.”

The Gators tried to do that by giving sophomore Trey Burton multiple snaps at the quarterback position. Burton mostly handed the ball off and was used more than anything because Brissett had a limited package of plays that he was prepared for heading into the game.

“[We did that] just to take the pressure off of Jacoby. We felt like we had a package for him that we could execute and execute well,” Muschamp said. “I thought, for the most part, [Burton] did a nice job. I was very pleased with that. Trey’s package, we got the ball moving in the second half with that package and it was effective for us.”


With a questionable offense heading into the season and a defense that was one of the best in the country against the run heading into last week’s game against Alabama, Florida looked to have at least one area of their team completely figured out. Wrong.

The Gators have allowed their last two opponents to rush for 226 and 238 yards, respectively, which equates to an average of 5.04 yards per carry. Muschamp is obviously aware of this and continues to say it will be a point of emphasis in practice this week.

“I thought we would play better than we did in the last two ball games. Again, we’ve got to come up with some ways to stop the run game better than we’re doing at this point, and that’s been disappointing because I did think we would play the fronts better,” he said. “We’re not tackling well when we’ve got the ball on the perimeter in some spots. It’s just a collective effort. It’s not one area.”

One reason he gave for why UF may be failing in this area is its lack of depth up front. “We’re really playing three or four guys inside and three guys at end,” Muschamp said. “We just got to do a better job of getting off the field earlier in the game in those situations.”


Debose was put on the spot this week to replicate his performance from last Saturday and he did just that with a mirror image 65-yard touchdown reception. He did not catch another ball in this week’s game but was open on occasion and had an early jump on Mathieu on a ball that was eventually intercepted.

Seeing increased playing time for the injured Demps, junior RB Mike Gillislee again proved that he can be effective with the ball in his hands. Gillislee carried the rock nine times for a team-high 56 yards and was integral on Florida’s sole scoring drive in the first half. “Mike was very effective in the game,” Muschamp said afterward. “He runs hard; he runs with his pads down. He does a nice job in the run game. He’s done a better job with protections. He’s got to continue working on catching the ball out of the backfield.”


» Florida has been outscored 79-21 over their last two games. The Gators’ 41-11 loss Saturday was their worst since the 1996 Fiesta Bowl (62-24 to Nebraska), and the team has not fallen so badly in consecutive games since dropping back-to-back decisions to Auburn (40-7) and Georgia (49-7) in 1971.

» On failing to properly cover the fake punt: “We had two guys assigned for the punt that didn’t do their job. We’ll move on with that. That’s coaching. We had two guys assigned to do their job that didn’t do it. They did what they wanted to do. And those guys aren’t going to play in our program anymore, guys that do what they want to do when they want to do it. It’s undisciplined football and that’s my fault and nobody else’s.

» On if he took any positives away from the game: “Not a whole lot. Not a whole lot.”

» On running the fake punt early in the first half: “We came here to win the game. And I felt like in that situation we were backed up. Worst thing we could do was punt again into the wind. The ball’s going to be at midfield. We had a hard time with the wind in the first quarter, so I felt like we had to get the first down. The fake punt we felt like was there. We hit it tighter than we wanted to. We felt like it was there, and I would call it again.”

» On deciding to kick the field goal in the first half: “We needed points at that time. It was a three-score game and we needed points. I didn’t want to come out without points.”

» On how he will handle consecutive losses against top -three opponents: “A loss is a loss regardless of how it looks. We just got to look at the film, evaluate where we are as a football team and that’s what we’re going to do to move forward with the guys that are willing to do the things we need to do to be successful. That’s what we plan on doing. We got a bunch of guys in that locker room who are hurting right now, as well as us, and we just need to get better.”

Tigers maul Gators 41-11 in Death Valley

It is called Death Valley for a reason.

The No. 17/18 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) learned Saturday exactly why their opponent’s home field earned that nickname while being routed 41-11 by the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA.

The Tigers jumped ahead 24-0 early on the back of a pair of touchdowns from running back Spencer Ware before the Gators got their first points on the board. Florida added a touchdown in the second half, but LSU ensured there would be no comeback.

The Gators entered the game without the first two quarterbacks on their depth chart after redshirt senior John Brantley (lower leg) and freshman Jeff Driskel (ankle) were both injured last Saturday against Alabama.

Florida went three-and-out on Brissett’s first series, and LSU quickly took advantage of the short field with QB Jarrett Lee throwing a 46-yard strike to wide receiver Rueben Randle for the first touchdown of the game. The Tigers scored again on their next drive, rushing the ball six times for 52 yards before Ware bounced into the end zone.

The offense opened up a bit for the Gators after that. Brissett completed four passes on Florida’s next possession and earned a first down, but a fake punt run by sophomore RB Trey Burton failed, handing the ball back to LSU on UF’s 49.

Stopped on the ensuing possession, the Tigers decided to punt the ball before it was called back due to an illegal formation penalty. LSU’s next attempt was a fake with punter Brad Wing taking it all the way down the left sideline into the end zone.

However, Wing celebrated before reaching pay dirt and the officials tacked on a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting at the spot of the foul, negating the score but allowing the Tigers to maintain possession. They wound up kicking a 35-yard field goal three plays later to take a 17-0 lead with 13:22 remaining in the first half.

Penalties suffocated the Gators’ next drive before it really got underway, and a deep interception thrown by Brissett turned the ball over once again. Two possessions later, the Tigers completed a two-play, 45-yard drive with an eight yard rush from Ware for his second touchdown of the day.

With time running out in the first half, Florida engineered its first scoring drive of the game with Burton and Brissett both playing quarterback. Brissett completed a pair of passes for third-down conversions and junior RB Mike Gillislee carried the ball six times for 35 yards on the drive before redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis hit a 23-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.

Each team failed in their first respective possession of the second half, but LSU added its second field goal of the afternoon to cap a 10-play, 51-yard drive that was helped along by three Gators penalties including a personal foul and two offside calls.

Florida responded quickly as Brissett connected with redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose for a 65-yard touchdown on the very next possession. The Gators also succeeded on a two-point conversion when a fake high snap to Brissett was taken direct by redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey into the end zone, cutting their deficit to 16 points.

Taking a cue from their opponent, the Tigers answered right away as Lee hit Randle for 57 yards down the left sideline. Three players later, QB Jordan Jefferson threw a jump pass to tight end Mitch Joseph for LSU’s fourth touchdown of the game.

Starting from midfield, Florida hoped to replicate their downfield success. Brissett tried to find Debose in the end zone, but cornerback Tyrann Mathieu caught up just in time and intercepted the ball. Sophomore WR Solomon Patton got a hand on the Tigers’ next punt, but the Gators again failed to capitalize on good field position.

LSU RB Alfred Blue ran for a short touchdown with 1:27 remaining in the game, finalizing his team’s 30-point margin of victory.

Ware led the Tigers with 24 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Lee and Jefferson each threw a touchdown, and Randle caught four balls for 127 yards and a score.

Gillislee led the Gators on the ground with nine carries for 56 yards, and Debose’s 65-yard score was one of two balls caught by UF receivers on the afternoon. Brissett finished 8/14 for 94 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

LSU outgained Florida 454-213 offensively and held the Gators to 2-for-11 on third down conversions. UF committed 12 penalties for 89 yards in the contest and also lost time of possession to the Tigers 35:40-24:20.

Florida hopes to bounce back from consecutive losses (including their worst defeat since losing to Nebraska 62-24 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl) as they take on Auburn on the road next Saturday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Brissett to start at QB for Florida at LSU

Maybe Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp was not just playing coy when he said Monday that the team’s starting quarterback for their game against the LSU Tigers on Saturday was not going to be determined until the end of the week.

Muschamp and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis have decided that freshman Jacoby Brissett – not classmate Jeff Driskel – will start in place of injured redshirt senior John Brantley (lower leg) on Saturday.

Driskel, who had been Brantley’s backup all season long and was positioned to take the reigns after the starter went down with a reported high-ankle sprain against Alabama, has been dealing with his own health issue this week. He sprained his ankle Saturday and struggled practicing on it throughout the week, according to multiple reports.

Brissett has never started let alone appeared in a game for the Gators. A true freshman, he joined the team this summer and though not explicitly stated, it appeared the coaching staff was planning to redshirt him this season.

“The only reason why Jacoby hasn’t been a factor at this point is only because he came here in the summertime,” Weis said on Tuesday. “He had to play catch-up over the other guys. The other guys were here in the spring when we put everything in. That’s the only thing that kept Jacoby from possibly being the second guy in.”

Instead, with Brantley out and Driskel hampered by injury, Brissett moved ahead of redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy on the quarterback depth chart this week and earned the opportunity to step on the field for the first time in his college career.

“If there’s a kid capable of going into that environment as a freshman, he would be the one kid I would want,” Brissett’s head coach at Dwyer High School, Jack Daniels, told the Palm Beach Post on Friday. “When he was a freshman, we played Booker T. Washington in the Orange Bowl, and they had one of the best defenses in the country. Our quarterback got hurt in the third quarter and Jacoby came in and took us down the field twice against those guys. That’s when I knew there was something special about the kid.”

Muschamp said that all three quarterbacks would share reps in practice with each having an equal opportunity at winning the starting job for Saturday’s game. Brantley told CBS sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson before the LSU game that he hopes to return to action by Oct. 29, when Florida takes on Georgia in Jacksonville, FL.

A four-star recruit out of Dwyer in West Palm Beach, FL, Brissett led his team to a 12-2 record as a senior by throwing for 2,473 yards with 32 touchdowns and just one interception. He was the first recruit targeted by Weis when he joined the Florida coaching staff and committed to UF over Miami late in the process.

David Pingalore of WKMG Orlando first reported that Brissett would start.

Photo Credit: Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post

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