FOUR BITS: Ingram, Warren, Hill, Cooper

1 » Unfortunate news for former Florida Gators tight end Cornelius Ingram, who was waived off the Detroit Lions practice squad Wednesday. Ingram is once again a free agent and continues to rehabilitate his knee after multiple ACL surgeries and injuries.

2 » The New England Patriots re-signed former Gators defensive lineman Gerard Warren on Tuesday, a move that had been expected most of the season. He was previously released from the team in order to make room for a third tight end but is now back with the organization he played for in 2010.

3 » Former Florida safety Will Hill, who left school a year early to turn pro and was neither selected in the 2011 NFL Draft nor signed by a team as an undrafted free agent, agreed to a deal with the Arizona Rattlers of the AFL, the team announced on Wednesday. “I’m excited to get out on the field,” said Hill in the team’s official release. “I’m ready to get out there and put people over the [dasher board] wall.”

4 » Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid confirmed on Wednesday that wide receiver Riley Cooper, who suffered a concussion against the New York Giants last week, has been cleared to return to practice. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that Cooper’s concussion was his second with the Eagles (he had one in 2010) and third since he started playing college football.

SIX BITS: Leak signed, Thomas and Wright back, Murphy in limbo, Hernandez working, Gators fed

1 » In a story first reported by the Florida Times-Union one day earlier, former Florida Gators quarterback Chris Leak has officially been signed by the Jacksonville Sharks of the AFL to be the team’s starting signal caller this season. “I am blessed and excited to be a part of an organization that’s committed to excellence and winning championships,” Leak said in a prepared statement released after signing his contract. “This is a great opportunity to be home and closer to my family. I look forward to playing in Jacksonville with support of greatest fans in the AFL.” Now a member of the Sharks, Leak will be joining his fourth professional football league. He played one preseason game with the NFL’s Chicago Bears after being undrafted in 2007, signed with Team Florida of the AAFL (which was stopped before it started), and played for three teams over four years in the CFL. With Jacksonville, he may have finally found a long-term home. “I am very excited to add Chris to our Sharks family,” team head coach Les Moss said. “He was a player I originally targeted before our first season, but was under contract in Canada and could not join us. Chris has never played the indoor game, but his accuracy and skill sets are what attracted him to us and are the requirements to be a top quarterback in the Arena Football League.”

2 » Denver Broncos defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, who missed most of the preseason and his team’s first three regular season games with an injured pectoral muscle, has begun practicing with the Broncos for the first time in seven weeks. Nevertheless, he remains questionable to play on Sunday and may need another week in practice before he’s game-ready. Also returning to practice this week is Chicago Bears safety Major Wright, who was suffering from a head/neck injury that kept him out of last week’s game.

3 » Rehabbing a sports hernia that has kept him out of both practice and game action since early in the offseason, Oakland Raiders wide receiver Louis Murphyhas been missing practice again this week even though the team planned to have him back one week ago. Indications coming out of Oakland are that Murphy was improving but is now stuck in limbo. While he’s been out, the Raiders have seen some of their younger receivers step up, turning what was once a guaranteed starting job for Murphy into a fight for field time whenever he does get healthy.

4 » Speaking of recovering from injuries, New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is still working to that end after missing Sunday’s game due to injury. Hernandez sprained his MCL last week against San Diego and said this week that he is “feeling pretty good,” which is not necessarily an indication of when he will return. Various reports have him out 1-2 or 4-6 weeks, but Hernandez is optimistic he’ll be back on the field sooner than later. “I just take it day by day, and work with the trainers, and try to get back as soon as possible,” he said according to “We’ll just try to take it day by day and see how it feels.”

5 » A feature from The Wall Street Journal this week – discussing nutrition in college football as the “last frontier” for which teams can gain an advantage – featured (in part) the Florida program and a thought from one of the Gators’ nutritionists. “It’s the last remaining edge,” Chelsea Zenner said. “Every team at the top has a coach who deserves to be there and every team has great weight rooms and strength programs. The last edge is nutrition.” According to the article, Florida’s nutrition program (which began in 2003) spends $58,000 each year “just on pre- and post-practice snacks for the football team,” which include “five types of smoothies on demand.” There are “two full-time dietitians, a pair of interns and up to a dozen volunteers, with some staffers texting the players to remind them to eat lunch.”

6 » The Florida basketball team will be holding walk-on tryouts on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m., which Gainesville Sun reporter Kevin Brockway notes are being held to fill a spot vacated in the offseason. Apparently walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan left the team after spending three years on the Gators’ bench. OGGOA learned Thursday afternoon that McClanahan left the team with no ill will and simply “had enough” of being a walk-on for three years.

9/28: Quinn talks defense, Richardson and Saban

As the No. 12 Florida Gators prepare for their biggest game of the 2011 season thus far on Oct. 1 the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the team’s big upcoming contest.


Quinn may have only spent two years as defensive line coach for now-Alabama head coach Nick Saban’s during his tenure with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, but he has as high of a regard for his former boss as anyone else who speaks about him. “He’s one of the brightest football minds that I’ve been around,” Quinn said of Saban Wednesday. “He’s a really bright guy and it will sound like a simple term, but he gets football.”

He also noted how impressed he was at Saban’s command of the entire team during their time working together. “He was hands-on with the whole program. I learned a great deal from him,” Quinn added. “He was really hands on from the way we selected personnel, the way we installed our defense in practice, and he was certainly involved with the offense too. He was certainly involved with every part of the organization.”

Going head-to-head on Saturday, Quinn is excited for the opportunity even if all friendships are out the window once the whistle is blown. “In the coaching profession it happens. “Certainly there’s familiarity not only with him as the head coach but some of the assistants,” he said. “It’s not too uncommon. Certainly during my time in the NFL you had guys on your staff go to the other staff. You may know the guys, but once the ballgame starts it’s about the game.”


One thing that has been talked about ad nauseum this year is how close the Florida football team was coming out of the offseason program and into the 2011 season. Quinn said Wednesday that the extra steps were taken to build team chemistry not only because of any lingering issues from 2010 but also because there was a mostly brand new staff coming onboard.

“I believe that you win in the locker room first. I believe that with every team and each team is different I think it’s important that each team gets connected,” he said. “I don’t think it was any different from, maybe it was just a function of so many of us being new to the program. To be honest, it was us getting to know the guys, too. That was part of it, too. Not only do the players have to have a connection, there has to be one from the coaches to coaches and from player to coach as well. That’s certainly part of the building process.”

One of the benefits of that closeness is that the on-field communication is improving on a weekly basis. “It’s something that we’re constantly working on to get it better and better,” Quinn said. “Now that they’ve had a few games together, you see a little more of that familiarity where it’s just a look or a hand signal to say, ‘Yeah, I understand what you’re saying now.’ We needed that experience early in the season to gain the edge. We had some young players playing and they needed to play, so that’s good for us.”


» On simulating adversity with a team that has not seen much yet: “It’s something that you talk about as a team. You try to put those situations together even in training camp at times when you’re going against the offense. Sometimes you have to create it a little bit as a coach. It’s certainly going to happen in ball games.”

» On how much concentration is being put on forcing turnovers this week: “For us it’s really each week we talk about it. It’s kind of the core of where we start – getting after the ball. It’s something that we believe in so strongly. We really try and stress it high so each game we play we’re really trying to make that emphasis.”

» On why Alabama running back Trent Richardson is so good: “One of the things, when you talk about a great running back, is usually his running style. One of the things you wouldn’t know is the guy is a really good blocker in blitz pick-up and he’s got good hands to catch the ball. I think he’s their second or third leading receiver. Although he’s a talented runner, I think you can really see this guy as a complete back because he can block. He can play on all downs. Sometimes you may see a really good runner just play on first and second down but doesn’t play much on third down for protections and stuff. This is a guy who plays on all downs. I think that’s a real tribute to him and the style that he plays.”

9/28: Evans, Bostic and Elam on Alabama

With the No. 12 Florida Gators preparing for their biggest game of the 2011 season thus far, three prominent defenders were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 1 at 8:00 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.


Head coach Will Muschamp made it a point to say this week that the team’s best method of stopping Alabama running back Trent Richardson on Saturday is to gang tackle him at every opportunity and ensure that he’s wrapped up every time he touches the ball. His players echoed those sentiments later Wednesday afternoon.

“Basically you just got to tackle [Richardson]. It’s not different from any other running back we’ve played,” junior linebacker Jon Bostic said. “This week we’ve really worked on wrapping up, getting to the ball. He’s a strong runner. If you try to wrap him around his legs, he’s going to take off. We’re going to treat him as a normal running back. He puts on his pants just like we do.”

Safeties sophomore Matt Elam and junior Josh Evans know their tackling will be just as important if Richardson does happen to make his way through the front seven. “Tackling is a big point of emphasis – especially for Trent Richardson because he’s a big, powerful running back so you got to get him on the ground the best way you can,” Elam said. “Coach talks to us all the time about tackling,” Evans added. “We got to be a fundamental team in tackling. We’ve done pretty good. Everybody can be better. We can absolutely be better at what we do.”


There were plenty of things wrong with the 2010 version of the Gators, and lack of focus in big game situations was certainly a major issue. Evans did not want to admit that specifically on Wednesday when asked what happened last season in Tuscaloosa, AL, but he did say that focus during the game became an issue.

“I don’t want to say it was a lack of focus, but I’ll say that first drive we was looking pretty good and after that offensive drive kind of broke us down a little bit,” he said. “Everybody kind of separated a little bit – it broke us down early in the game and we lost focus.”

He also talked about the team’s cohesiveness as a whole last year. “We was together last year but people had their differences,” he said. “This year it’s nowhere near like that. Everybody is pretty much together.”

Why exactly? Because of how much time the entire team spent together over the summer both in strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti’s training programs and during team building activities. “You can see on our shirts it says ‘grind’ and everything. We became pretty close this year as a team,” Evans said. “We’re young and that’s one thing that helped us. We went out more; we did a lot more team stuff together. That’s one thing coach preached about. I feel we have a lot more team chemistry this year.”

» Bostic on the term “ball hawks” being used as praise for players on the team: “It’s basically just getting after the ball. We want the defense to go try and make turnovers.”

» Evans on what he sees from watching Alabama on film: “I see a good team that’s coming here in The Swamp to play against us. They got a couple guys but I think we match up perfectly against them.”

» Elam on why turnovers are so important to the defense: “That’s what the defense plays the game for – to create turnovers and get the ball in the offense’s hands as much as possible. Turnovers are the most important thing in the game. Whoever gets the most turnovers wins, I think.”

» Elam on why he has been breaking on the ball better in games: “Confidence has a lot ot do with it. I watch film a lot more. I’m playing faster.”

» Elam on if the secondary is trying harder to avoid penalties: “You can’t back off. When you back off, that’s when you get beat. You got to stay aggressive and don’t’ worry about the penalties. Just play your game and let the refs [make their] calls.”

» Elam on freshman safety De’Ante “Pop” Saunders: “Pop is a hard worker. He looks to get better every day in practice. I can see him getting better. He’s getting confident so he’s getting better every week. Confidence is a big thing. Once you get confidence, you play faster and you get better.”

» Elam on redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian’s touchdown: “[Smiling] I see my boy from my high school scoring in the end zone. We putting on for our team.”

9/28: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators just days away from their fifth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 8:00 p.m. against the Alabama Crimson Tide, he spoke during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week five action.


For Muschamp, being effective in running the ball and stopping the run are characteristics that he wants to help define the Gators. In addition to that, he believes those abilities will result in Florida being successful for the long haul.

“I have not and I don’t know that I’ve seen one,” Muschamp said when asked if he’s seen a winning team operate without a solid running game. “Running the football is number one to me, it creates toughness on your football team. You’re going to come to times in your schedule – whether it’s in the red zone or to end the game – it’s just a matter of toughness to me. Stopping the run and playing the run. I always wanted, when I got a head coaching opportunity, to be balanced in what you do.

“When you’re multiple and you’re balanced in what you do, now you get [the defense] a little uncomfortable. Generally when defenses are uncomfortable or unsure, that’s when they don’t play well – even if it’s good players. It’s a total program deal to me as far as running the football. You got to be able to do that to develop toughness.”

Even though running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey are a pair of undersized (for their position) speedsters, Muschamp said the Gators have concentrated on using them inside as well as outside the tackles.

“They’ve been very effective. Charlie [Weis] has used them very well. The perimeter run game has been very good, but we’ve also run the ball well inside. That’s something we’re committed to doing regardless of the size of our backs,” he said. “If you do one thing too much, the defenses – they watch film too. They’re going to hold the edges and if you don’t run the ball inside. We still run the inside and we still run the power off tackle. We utilize all of the same run game with both Jeff and Chris in there because of defenses trying to stop what you do best. We’ve been very effective with the inside and outside running game.”


Since he took the helm at Florida, Muschamp has preached “taking care of the state of Florida” when it comes to recruiting, ensuring that the Gators get the best players in-state before targeting players nationally. He said that will not change with another team and a large recruiting base being added to the Southeastern Conference.

“That’s where we’re going to win championships, with players from the state of Florida,” he said. “That’s where we recruit first and then after that the southeast regions, the ties that our assistant coaches have in certain areas obviously, and then nationally looking at some guys we think can come in and make a difference.”

He also noted that, just because Texas A&M has joined the SEC does not mean Texas high school football players will suddenly have more of a reason to leave the state.

“Having worked in the state of Texas, a lot of those guys growing up in Texas want to be Longhorns and some of them want to be Aggies and Oklahoma has always done a good job in the Dallas-Fort Worth and East Texas area,” he said. “If there’s an attachment to Florida with a young man from the state of Texas, we’ll certainly recruit him if they’re athletically and academically what we’re looking for. I do think [recruiting will] open up a little bit, but I don’t think you’ll see a huge change of guys all of a sudden leaving the state of Texas to go to different places.”


» Muschamp reiterated in his opening statement that the entire team is healthy except for redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown, who will neither dress nor play on Saturday.

» Muschamp on if he’s pleased where Florida is through four games: “Well exactly. We’re 4-0. That’s where we wanted to be. I approach the season a little differently. It’s a series of one-game seasons. This week, this is our game, this is our season. Next week it’ll change. I just focus on the opponent and the task at hand throughout the week and the preparation that we need to have to do a good job and make good decisions on game day. I don’t really look at the total part until it’s over with as far as the season is concerned. Where we are right now is where we wanted to be. We wanted to be 4-0 at this point and that’s where we are.”

» Muschamp on throwing the ball this week: “You’ve got to be multiple against Alabama. You’re not going to be one-dimensional and have success. You have to stay balanced in what you do in both the run and pass and be effective and efficient in both areas.”

» Muschamp on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron: “I think he’s been very efficient. He’s only had two interceptions so far this season. He’s taking the ball to the right spots.”

» Muschamp on Alabama RB Trent Richardson: “He’s an outstanding player and has got a low center of gravity, great balance, great vision. He’s a one-cut guy. When he sees the hole and gets it going north and south, he gets the ball downhill. You hardly do not see any negative run plays with him. He’s always moving the chains in a positive direction for their team. You got to gang tackle this guy. You’re not going to get him down single-handedly a lot of the time. We need to do a good job with eyes on the ball and leveraging the football the right well and tackle well and wrap and get him down which, at times in the secondary, we’ve been very average.

» Muschamp on the budding Florida-Alabama rivalry: “Both programs – the tradition speaks for itself as far as the championships and the tradition and the history of the two programs. I’m just looking forward to playing in the Florida-Alabama game Saturday night.”


» Saban on going up against Florida: “This is the biggest challenge we’ve had all year which also makes it the greatest opportunity for our team in terms of playing a really good Florida team that has played extremely well in the first four games. Will has done a great job there from a discipline, execution and technique standpoint. Their guys are playing hard, and we’re certainly going to have to match that intensity on the road and get the kind of execution that we need and play smart so that we give ourselves a chance to play winning football. This is going to be a real test and a real challenge for us.”

» Saban on his first meeting with Muschamp: “Sometimes you just meet somebody and you really get a good feel for them. Will was a real good person, real genuine. You could tell he was hard-working and had a special intensity about him in terms of what he wanted to do. And a passion for football and how important it was to him. That first impression really held true in this case. It is pretty obvious based on the career he’s had and what he’s done so far as a head coach that all those things are correct.”

» Saban on how Gators redshirt senior QB John Brantley is playing this year: “I think he’s playing extremely well. I think he’s so far has taken what the defense gives and we certainly feel like he has the capacities to throw the ball down the field. A lot of what they’ve done to this point has been to utilize some of the playmakers that they have, which are two really, really good running backs who have great speed and explosive ability. They’ve gotten the ball to them a lot of different ways, and I think that’s probably good coaching on their part to take advantage of that. I do think they have capable receivers, good athletic tight ends, and John Brantley is certainly capable of throwing the ball down the field. There’s no lack of their respect for their ability to do that on our part.”

» Saban on how much change he sees from Florida this year: “I think [they are] significantly different. There’s not the zone read option-type basis for what they do. It’s more ‘pro-style’ in terms of they run a lot of sweeps and some direct runs with these guys. They do a good job upfront. The drop-back passing game is certainly a lot different in style in terms of what they’ve done in the past. To me there’s not many similarities.”

Weis confident in Florida’s offense but wary of Alabama’s “solid, unusual” defense

The No. 12 Florida Gators offense has undoubtedly seen a resurgence this season, even if most of its success has come on the ground against some weak opponents.

Heading into their tilt with the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide on Saturday, Florida sports the No. 1 scoring offense in the Southeastern Conference at 40.2 points per game and holds the same ranking in total offense (461.8 yards per game) and rushing offense (259.0 yards per game). UF is also No. 9 nationally in running the ball.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has not hidden the fact that the Gators will earn their due each week with a solid rushing attack, with running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey leading the way by combining for 731 yards on 97 attempts (7.54 yards per carry) with six touchdowns so far this year.

“Just like you study the opponent’s personnel, you study your own personnel, and these guys [Chris Rainey] are pretty special,” Weis said on Tuesday. “So it’s only right that the foundation of our offense starts through the middle and starts with them getting a good number of touches each game.”

What has been lacking, however, is the Gators’ passing attack, which ranks 79th in the nation and sixth in the SEC with 202.8 yards per game.

Questioned all season about whether or not he has been holding back some of Florida’s passing game from its first four opponents, Weis has dismissed the fact previously but said there will be absolutely nothing left over after Saturday’s game.

“You have to play sound, fundamental football and you have to go ahead and throw the kitchen sink at them now,” he said of taking on the Crimson Tide. “They’re going to get the kitchen sink. You guys have been writing about holdings things back, well you won’t have to worry about that this week. They’re going to get plenty.”

Not that it is going to be easy for Florida.

Alabama’s defense is as tough as it comes in college football this year. They are only allowing eight points per game (second in the nation) and lead the sec in total defense (184.0 yards per game), rushing defense (45.8 yards per game), passing defense (138.2 yards per game) and passing defense efficiency (74.7 percent).

Weis recognized this fact from the moment he started watching film and expressed how difficult the sledding will be for his unit.

“It’s unique when you come against a defense that is solid at every position. That doesn’t happen very often,” he said. “There’s two things you look at when you’re studying an opponent. Most people look at what they do on defense schematically. I always start with personnel. I always look for weak links in personnel – people that you can attack. This is an unusual group because they really don’t have one.

“You have your work cut out for you. We’ll show up on Saturday. We have a lot of confidence in our own ability and we realize that this will be quite the challenge and we have a lot of respect for both Alabama’s defense and their coaching staff. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves, too.”

And should the Gators’ offense not find too much success running the ball?

“Sometimes when you’re playing football, you have to realize that punting isn’t necessarily a bad thing,” Weis said. “We want to score a touchdown every time we get the ball, but what you have to do is, you have to make sure you make good decisions in the game where you don’t make that critical mistake.”

9/27: Weis focuses on rushing, offensive line

As the No. 12 Florida Gators prepare for their biggest game of the 2011 season thus far on Oct. 1 the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s victory and the upcoming contest.


Ensuring that running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey not only touch the ball but have space to make plays after doing so has been relatively easy for Weis early in the season. The duo shredded three opponents and played quite well against Tennessee, too. With a stout Alabama defense coming to town featuring the best run defense in the Southeastern Conference, Weis knows he will have to get creative.

“You have to wait and see how they play the game. You have to have multiple ways of being able to do that. You can’t just do the same thing each week,” he said. “You have to have a plan where, if they stop this, you have another way of getting to the same means to an end. You just have to wait and see how it goes. You go into the game with a plan and then you have some tweaks in the plan ready to go depending what they end up doing.”

One thing that could work to Florida’s advantage is the number of eyes that will be on Rainey every time he touches the ball. Weis explained, “When we call plays, it’s not designed that we’re throwing the ball to [one player]. The first curl that they threw to Frankie [Hammond], [the defense] had Rainey fever, so Rainey’s running to the flat and so is everybody else runs to the flat. There’s a big hole, Frankie on the curl got us an extra 10 yards after the catch. That’s the type of thing we’re looking for.”


Probably the biggest surprise this season for the Gators has been the success their young offensive line has had game-in and game-out. Weis believes the momentum comes from how tough and rugged the unit has been every time it takes the field.

“I like to think that we’re establishing somewhat of an identity of being fairly physical up front. You don’t run the ball that efficiently, you don’t protect the quarterback that well without being physical,” he said. “On top of everything else, I think our receivers have done a wonderful job being physical down the field, making some of those runs be longer runs. You’ve got to go toe-to-toe. They’re good but you got to be ready for a slugfest. You got to be ready to go toe-to-toe.”

One characteristic about the offensive line in particular has caught Weis’s eye, and it is something that has been discussed quite often already this season. “The reason why we have a chance every week is because those offensive linemen are very close knit. That’s not a façade. When you have cohesiveness on and off the field with your offensive linemen, you usually have a fighting chance,” he said.

“Psychologically, offensive linemen realize that the only time they ever get noticed is when something bad happens. When things are going good, no one ever talks about the offensive line. They understand that’s just the way football is. The only time they really get any notoriety is when bad things happen. Their quarterback’s getting under siege or else you can’t run the ball very well. They kind of bond together.

“The communication that takes place between five guys – it’s the only position there’s that many guys playing at one time. Communication is one of those critical factors to the offensive line. Usually the standard is the less they’re noticed, the better they’re playing. It’s sad but true, but that’s the way it is.”


Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (and his health after last game): “He was out there slinging it today, so that was encouraging. I told him to quit being so soft. [Smiling] Actually I think that we gave him most of the reps today. He got most of them. He’s glad that the game’s still a few days away, but I think that he’s moving along nicely. He’s really progressing nicely. He threw the ball well today.”

Redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian (and moving him back-and-forth from linebacker): “I knew Gerald from the first few days of training camp was a big, physical presence. We didn’t have a bunch of big, physical presence on the offensive skill position. […] We were quite banged up at the tight end position. For him to go back-and-forth from outside linebacker to tight end, I think one thing that shows is his big, physical presence. When you can go out there and make a couple big plays in the game. […] When you have a guy who can play offense and defense, what you have to do is figure out what gets him on the field the fastest. It really, really was a position of need. We needed him on offense; not that he wouldn’t play on defense, but we needed him more on offense than they needed him on defense. The kid’s unselfish. He didn’t care. Anywhere he had the best opportunity to help the team is where he wanted to go. I think it’s worked out.”

Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chaz Green (and his progress): “Chaz is a tackle that’s also very athletic. He has really good feet. Not only has good size but Chaz has just gotten better as the year’s gone on. He’s just gotten better and better. Remember, he’s a young pup. Everyone thinks that he’s been there for five years already. The kid’s relatively inexperienced.”

Freshman QB Jeff Driskel (and if he’s coming along): “He better because he’s second. It would be nice if he got a little bit more help in that game the other day. He’s got to take care of the ball. He can’t let 22 come in there and take the ball out of his hands. He was so worried about the pressure coming from outside off the right edge there that he got a little careless with the ball. The interception, that’s a bang-bang play. You can’t throw the ball much better than he threw the ball. I just don’t like strip-sack fumbles that lead to the only touchdown that the other team scores because ultimately we feel like we are the ones that gave them their one touchdown in the game. He runs our team well. The team’s not afraid when he’s in there. He can make every throw. Just gaining experience, that’s what he’s doing. Every time he’s out there it’s a good thing regardless of what happens because he’s just gaining experience.”

Redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr.: “Frankie has been very consistent for us. He’s been very consistent for us the whole time. He also has versatility for us because he’s one of the few guys at the receiver position that can play every position. He can line up at what we call the X, the Z, the F – he can line up at all those positions. Any time you have a player that has some position flexibility, it really helps you in this offense.”


» On if he is “happier” about the offense than he was last week: “I’m glad that we got on the road, got that kind of out of the way. It’s really tough. You got to give a lot of credit to Coach [Will] Muschamp and then the players, too. They knew what was on the horizon. We could sit there and talk ‘till we’re blue in the face. They’re going on the road for the first SEC game with a bunch of young guys that had never done it before. Everyone wants to talk about Alabama, nobody wanted to talk about Kentucky. I’m talking about outside our locker room. Will did a great job and our team showed an unusual amount of maturity for a team to not look past the opponent that they played last Saturday. For that, kudos. We ran the ball for over 400 yards. That doesn’t happen too often now. I was genuinely pleased that they didn’t go in there and look past that opponent to the one we’re playing this week.”

» On how the offense responded after not starting well against Kentucky: “We made a mistake on the third play of the first drive. We got that ironed out. We figured that one out. The second drive – they did a couple things early in the game that were a little different than they [had] been doing. Sometimes that happens, but it didn’t take long. The sign of a fairly good team on offense is when things don’t go too well right in the beginning, you figure out what the problems are and go fix them. Too many times teams wait to make halftime adjustments. Well you still had a lot of time left after those first two drives. We had a bunch of points on the board by the time we went in to halftime.”

» On if the offense has seen enough adversity up to this point: “We coach them hard. We coach them hard. We coach them hard every day. You’d hope that by the time you get to the games that the games are actually easier than the practices. Even if the scores of the game weren’t that close, you can still create a lot of situations to get your team better. That’s all behind us now. This is going to be a tough challenge for us and we’re really excited and we’re really looking forward to it.”

» On if he sees any of Bill Belichick’s methods within Alabama’s defense: “One of the first things I did this week was [say to Muschamp], “Tell me about Nick [Saban], tell me about Kirby [Smart]’ because these are his boys. I know that Nick worked for Bill back in the Cleveland [Browns] days before he moved on to Michigan State. A lot of the terminology is the same. There are a lot of things that are consistent. They have a good, sound system that I have familiarity with, but they also got really good players. Sometimes you wish that weren’t the case, but that is the case. We have to be ready to make sure that we don’t create any mismatches in the opposite direction.”

9/27: Harrison, Hunter, McCray and Burton speak

With the No. 12 Florida Gators preparing for their biggest game of the 2011 season thus far, four prominent players were made available to the media on Tuesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 1 at 8:00 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.


Unlike former head coach Urban Meyer, who made it a point to build up rivalries and big games in the locker room, head coach Will Muschamp prefers his players look at each opponent as one who is “nameless [and] faceless.”

His players follow that mantra every time they speak, and redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison explained Tuesday exactly why. “That’s just how we approach every game,” he said. “[Muschamp] says it to the whole team every meeting.”

Why exactly? “It just keeps us focused on the assignments and the football concepts in general,” he said. “Florida is focused on Florida. We’re about completing the season, winning the next game.”

Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray said that the anonymous designation does not change how psyched up the players get for the more important games. “It doesn’t really take away from big games,” he said. “Coach stressed the fact from day one that we’re going to play the first opponent as if it was the SEC Championship game. ‘Play every game like the best game.’”


If the Gators hope to beat the nameless/faceless opponent that we’ll refer to as the Crimson Tide for the sake of brevity, the defense will be counted on to stop one of the best running backs in the country in Trent Richardson. The onus of that task will start with the defensive line but be shared by junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins, a pair of linebackers who have stepped up big time so far this season.

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter believes the duo’s increased maturity is the main reason for their impressive starts. “They’ve grown up so much. They’re able to call up the huddle and lead guys where as it used to be a defensive lineman [doing so],” he said. “They’re two great athletes. They work hard every day in practice perfecting their craft and it’s really paying off for them right now.”

Bostic and Jenkins (who is tied with sophomore safety Matt Elam) currently lead Florida in tackles with 26 and 17, respectively. The duo has combined for three sacks and five tackles for loss, while Bostic has added a forced fumble and Jenkins has four pass breakups (all which could have been interceptions).


» Hunter on the defense coming together: “The offseason program that [Mickey Marotti] put us through made us come together so close, that’s paying off right now. You can see it as a defense. We’re all starting to come together a lot more now.”

» Hunter on playing on defense in The Swamp: “It’s so loud. Sometimes it’s so loud we can’t even hear each other out there so we can’t communicate. We love it though. It gets you fired up.”

» Hunter on redshirt senior Jaye Howard’s fumble catch and return for touchdown: “He has the worst hands on the team.” What about Jenkins? “[Laughing while revising his statement] Second worst hands on the team.”

» Sophomore running back Trey Burton on if he’s excited to play Alabama: “This is why you come to Florida. That’s why they go to Alabama. That’s why we come to Florida. To play in big games like this.”

» Burton on learning from offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: “It’s unbelievable. He’s unbelievably smart and a great coach. You see it every week.”

» Burton on how Weis is tough on the players during the week: “He’s all over us during practice and stuff. He just wants us to be perfect. He’ll yell at you but he won’t make it obvious he’s yelling at you. He’ll bring you aside and talk to you about it instead of screaming at you. He’s a really, really nice guy.”

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