Demps, Rainey run wild as Gators rout Cats

It took the No. 15 Florida Gators a few drives to get their offense rolling, but after they did it was off to the races at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, KY on Saturday evening as Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) dismantled the Kentucky Wildcats (2-2, 0-1 SEC) 48-10.

The Gators extended their winning streak against the Wildcats to 25 games by attacking their opponent on the ground, rushing for the sixth-most yards in school history (405) and most as a team since 1989. Senior running back Jeff Demps set a career-high with 157 yards on 10 carries and also scored twice, while redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey carried it 15 times for 106 yards and had the evening’s most awe-inspiring play.

After consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, the Gators got on the board rather quickly. On the Wildcats’ second possession of the game, running back Josh Clemons fumbled the ball. It was recovered by redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, and Florida took over at Kentucky’s 45-yard-line. On the very next play, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley threw a strike down the middle of the field to redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian for an early touchdown.

With the ball back in their hands, the Gators again took advantage of great field position. Brantley hit redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. for 20 yards, and Demps – thanks in part to a great block Rainey – took Florida the rest of the way with a 20-yard stretch run for a touchdown.

The Wildcats’ miscues continued as, on third-and-10 at their own 29, QB Morgan Newton was picked off by Gators sophomore safety Matt Elam, who returned it 18 yards to Kentucky’s 28-yard-line, setting up another short field.

One play later, Rainey took a handoff to the left, stopped, reversed field and ran it 27 yards to UK’s one after being spurred by blocks from redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio, redshirt freshman WR Quinton Dunbar and redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson. Florida sophomore RB Trey Burton scored on a touchdown run from one yard out, his seventh against Kentucky in his two-year career.

Kentucky answered back with a 29-yard pass to tight end Nick Melilo on their next possession. Three more first-downs later, the Wildcats kicked a 24-yard field goal to reduce their deficit to 21-3. The three points were the first scored against the Gators’ defense during the first quarter this season.

Following a Florida punt, Kentucky took over at their own seven. On second down, a sack by junior linebacker Jon Bostic forced the ball to pop out of Newton’s hand and into those of redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard, who ran it two yards into the end zone for another Gators touchdown, their first defensive score of the season.

After another Wildcats punt, UF decided to keep the ball on the ground, running it on nine-of-11 plays on their next drive to set-up a 46-yard field goal attempt, which redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis converted after clanging the ball off the uprights. Brantley got injured on the last play of the drive and headed to the locker room, resulting in freshman QB Jeff Driskel taking over for Florida’s next possession.

Driskel was hit as he threw incomplete on first down before being sacked and fumbling the ball on second down. Kentucky took advantage of the short field, scoring two plays later when Newton threw it to WR La’Rod King for a 19-yard touchdown.

With the first half winding down, Driskel again returned to the huddle and again turned the ball over. After Rainey ran the ball three times for 34 yards, Driskel threw to Hammond, who caught it on the goal line; unfortunately, the ball popped out of Hammond’s hands and into those of LB Avery Williamson to end the half.

Forcing the Wildcats to punt on the opening possession of the second half, the Gators found themselves backed up at the one-yard-line. Three consecutive rushes resulted in a Florida first down, and two plays later Demps hit a big hole on the left side and exploded for an 84-yard touchdown run to put UF ahead 38-10.

The Gators gained possession again when redshirt freshman LB Michael Taylor Taylor intercepted Newton at Florida’s 25 and returned it 30 yards across midfield to Kentucky’s 45. After stalling in the red zone, Sturgis connected on a 27-yard field goal for UF, giving his team a 31-point lead with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter. He remains perfect on the season with 11 field goals and 18 extra points.

With 11:40 left in the game, Florida junior RB Mike Gillislee took consecutive carries, fumbling the second one after bumping into the referee. Kentucky was unable to capitalize, however, and Gillislee got redemption on the Gators’ next drive, replicating Rainey’s run from earlier by rushing to the right, changing direction and taking off on a career-long 60-yard run down the field for a touchdown.

Demps’s 84-yard run was the sixth-longest in school history and the longest since Emmitt Smith’s 96-yard score in 1988. Florida now has four-straight games with a 100-yard rusher, the most since they had five-in-a-row in 1999. Additionally, the Gators had two players (Demps, Rainey) each run for at least 100 yards in the same game for the first time since Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin did so in the 2009 BCS Championship.

Florida has now scored 40 or more points against Kentucky 15 times during their 25-game winning streak dating back to 1986.

Brantley, who was in-and-out of the game after being hurt, finished 8/15 for 114 yards and a touchdown, his lowest total output of the season. Christian and Hammond were the only Gators to catch more than one pass, totaling five receptions for 98 yards including Christian’s first-quarter score.

Florida returns to the friendly confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium next Saturday for a showdown with No. 2 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC). The game will air live on CBS at 8 p.m. UF has not defeated UA since 2008, falling in consecutive contests – the 2009 SEC Championship and during the 2010 regular season.

Photo Credit: Ed Reinke/Associated Press

No. 15 Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Gameday

Location: Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 67,942]
Weather Forecast: 67°F, partly cloudy, winds 5 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

SiriusXM: 217/200
Online Video: ESPN3
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Joker Phillips
Record: 3-0 (1-0) Record: 2-1 (0-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -20; O/U 44


Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense


» Florida leads the all-time series against Kentucky 44-17 and has won 24-straight contests including 11-in-a-row in games played in Lexington dating back to 1988. UF is also 30-1 against UK since 1980.
» The Gators achieved more turnovers (two interceptions) against Tennessee than they did in their first two games combined (one fumble).
» Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis (of Florida) and co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter (of Kentucky) served on the same staff when Weis was head coach of Notre Dame.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida’s offense has been impressive early this season with only three three-and-outs in 35 total offensive drives and only six punts in three games.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed one sack this year, making them the only SEC team and one of six nationally to accomplish that feat through two three.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (307) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (70) since 2008.
» Though Florida is 15-for-16 (93.8 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on nine of those opportunities.
» Teams are averaging just 1.2 yards per carry against Florida’s defense this season. The Gators are first in the country, allowing just 30.7 rushing yards per game, and are one of six teams in the nation that have not allowed a rushing score in 2011.
» Florida is No. 6 nationally in scoring defense (8.67 points per game) and No. 7 in total defense (209.33 yards per game).
» The Gators’ defense has only allowed 7-of-25 (20 percent) third-down conversion attempts to be achieved against them over the first three games.
» UF has blocked a total of two punts in three games so far this season.
» Saturday’s game is Kentucky’s SEC opener for 2011.
» The Wildcats upset then-No. 10 South Carolina last season at home.
» Kentucky is 5-0 under Phillips in games that they win the turnover margin.
» The Wildcats are 11th nationally in net punting, allowing 42.1 net yards per punt.
» UK has forced six turnovers in their first three games – all interceptions.
» Though it is early in the season, Florida is head and shoulders above Kentucky in national averages heading into Saturday’s contest. The Gators top the Wildcats in passing average 232.0-155.3 (58th-108th), rushing average 210.3-119.3 (30th-91st), points scored 37.7-19.3 (27th-100th) and points against 8.7-13.3 (6th-18th). The teams have not played a common opponent this season.


Florida may have started the 2010 season slow, but they still took it to Kentucky with a dominant 48-14 victory at home in Gainesville, FL. Quarterback Trey Burton scored a school record six-touchdowns as Florida helped Urban Meyer become the sixth-fastest head coach in NCAA history to reach 100 career victories. The Gators also had a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jeremy Brown in the second quarter and saw starting QB John Brantley throw for a career-high 248 yards on 24-of-35 passing.


The Gators will not be featured on Saturday morning’s edition of ESPN‘s College GameDay, though former dazzler and current reporter Erin Andrews will host the 9 a.m. version and make an appearance on the primary program beginning at 10 a.m. Florida is one of two sites (the other being Madison, WI) expected to be in contention to host next week’s College GameDay. The Gators will take on Alabama on Oct. 1.


» Active: Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (suspension)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (lower body), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown), redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail (performance)


» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 65.3 percent of his passes (47-of-72) this season for 637 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two interceptions in the opener. Brantley had a career-high 248 yards last year vs. Kentucky.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 520 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 19.5 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 6.8 yards per carry so far this year including 105 in the season opener. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps returned Saturday against Tennessee and now has 163 yards and two touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (eight) and fourth-most receiving yards (68) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Sophomore “RB” Trey Burton (#8)…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver. He has already scored three touchdowns this season and has totaled 98 yards on 15 total touches.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary and moved into a starting role. He has the second-most tackles on the team with 13 including a career-high seven and his first forced fumble against UAB.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (20 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) throught he first three games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who have combined for 29 tackles. Bostic, the leading tackler on the team, has already registered three for a loss, and Jenkins has accounted for four pass breakups already this season. Each player also has a sack.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 1.5 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has seven tackles on the season including 1.5 for losses.
» Redshirt junior defensive end Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is the team leader in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two pass breakups and seven total tackles.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on nine field goal attempts (long: 51) and 12 extra points, leading the nation in both categories while leading the Gators with 39 points scored this season.

» WR La’Rod King (#16)…who leads the team with 226 yards and three touchdowns and achieved the first 100-yard game of his career this year against Central Michigan.
» QB Morgan Newton (#12)…who set career-highs against Louisville by going 27-of-41 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He has completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 466 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions over the first three games.
» S Winston Guy, Jr. (#21)…who is the second-leading tackler on the team with 30 (four for losses) but leads the Wildcats with two interceptions and a sack on the year.
» RB Josh Clemons (#20)…who is a freshman leading rusher with 193 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. He posted a career-high 128 yards against Central Michigan and combined for just 67 yards on 23 carries in the other two contests.

Track the Floida Gators en route to Lexington

The Florida Gators are on their way to Lexington, KY, to face the Kentucky Wildcats in their first road game of the 2011 regular season. An ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive EXCLUSIVE, the following is the flight information for the Gators, who are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 twin-jet. You can also track the flight live in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Blue Grass Airport (KLEX)

DURATION: 1 hour 9 minutes

DEPARTURE: 3:35 p.m. EDT [scheduled 3:30 p.m. EDT]
ARRIVAL: 4:44 p.m. EDT [scheduled 4:55 p.m. EDT]

TWO BITS: Tim Tebow DVD, Haden’s stock up

1 » The DVD version of the documentary Tim Tebow: Everything in Between, directed by Chase Heavener and originally released as part of ESPN’s Year of the Quarterback television series, is already available for pre-order and is scheduled to go on sale on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2011, according to ordering pages from stores like, and The DVD has a run time of 90 minutes and is expected to feature a longer cut of the documentary as well as some special features. Click on the cover below to pre-order through OGGOA via

2 » Miami Dolphins wide receiver Brandon Marshall, who along with his team will play a road game Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, said he is so impressed with second-year cornerback Joe Haden that he has been following the former Florida Gators star all offseason. “A young guy like that, he’s very talented,” Marshall said, according to ESPN. “He’s hungry. He puts a lot into it. I followed him on Twitter just to keep up with him and see what he’s doing. When I got on Twitter in February, he was one of the first guys I followed, just to check him out and for this weekend here. I have my work cut out for me. He’s pretty good.” Haden finished his rookie campaign with 64 tackles and six interceptions including five in his last eight games. He is already off to a fast start in 2011 and hopes to continue proving he is one of the top coverage corners in the NFL.

9/21: Quinn talks defense, evaluates players

With the Florida Gators preparing for their first road game of 2011 on Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, KY, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn spoke about the Gators defense and also evaluated some of Florida’s standout players.


For any coordinator, committing penalties and not taking advantage of turnover opportunities is a sore subject, but Quinn said Wednesday evening that he is not too concerned with either at this juncture. “We’re going to play physical and we’re going to coach aggressive and play aggressive. For us, some of those penalties, if they’re bang-bang plays, are going to happen,” he said about the pass interference calls on Saturday. “We’re certainly going to work our technique hard just like we do every week, but for us we’re going to stay to our style of play. […] For [the secondary] to play on guys and challenge, that’s exactly the style that we’re looking to do.”

He also believes that the dropped interception problem – especially with redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins – is a correctable one going forward. “We’re trying to coach all the time, whether that’s ball drills in practice, we’re constantly talking about getting our hands on the ball in practice,” he said. “The more opportunities that you do that, even in practice when you’re getting in the ball, those will now transfer to the game. If you’re not getting hands on it and picking it in practice, for the first time for something to happen in the game, we would not like for that to happen. We would like for them to get their hands on it in practice, too.”


Sophomore buck LB Ronald Powell: “I thought that he got off the ball a lot quicker. I really thought some of the hesitant, the waiting and the thinking that we saw in the first two ball games, we didn’t see that quite as much in the [third game]. I was pleased with the progress that he made, it was more in line with what the position entails, and I thought he did a good job in the game.” On why there was a big improvement for him: “We went back through the first couple ballgames and watched the technique. We kind of talked about what we were looking for moving forward. I thought it was a little bit of that light coming on and telling somebody exactly what you want and then have him go out and do it. I think that was a good step for him, a really good step. For the position, it’s a unique one, and I think early on he was thinking maybe too much. We saw less of that in the ballgame.”

Junior LB Jon Bostic: “Just the level of preparation, that’s one of the things I’ve noticed with him. He gets football easy, so now it’s talking about the game plan. […] He’s really progressing nicely.”

Senior defensive end William Green: “He’s one of the guys that you really trust. He’s been that way ever since I met him. He’s a guy who does extra. I thought coming out of training camp, he might have been our most improved player from the spring.”

Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley: “He brings a lot of energy to the team. He plays a style that we like – he plays fast and physical and gets his hands on you. I think he’s a disruptive player inside. The more he’s playing and gaining the experience, six games from now, nine games from now, he’s going to be that much better.”

Cornerbacks sophomore Cody Riggs and freshman Marcus Roberson: “Outside at corner, I think we play an aggressive style. We coach aggressive and those guys play aggressive. That’s how we are built on defense. Both of them are really competitive. That’s one thing that jumped out to me with Cody early on is how competitive of a guy he is. He’ll challenge people and play on them. I’m pleased with the style that those two guys are playing [with]. Whether they’re taller guys or shorter guys, I think they really rise to it and play.”

Safeties sophomore Matt Elam and freshman De’Ante Saunders: “I’ve been impressed with Elam from early on. I really thought he was a guy who can get his hands on the ball. I thought he did a good job communicating. He was fast. He was a good enough safety that he can play down and play nickel. Usually you don’t see that. That’s not as common for a safety, usually you see a corner that can go in and play nickel. You don’t see it the other way around that often. That’s one of the cool things about both he and Saunders, is that they’re safeties with cover ability. That’s one of the things that jump out to you about the two safeties, is that not only can they play the deep part of the field but they can also come down and cover. As a defense that really gives you more options, and we’re glad that they can do that.”


» On what he’s seen from Kentucky’s offense: “The first thing that jumps out at you is it’s a mobile quarterback – a guy that can move the pocket, play outside and make some plays with his feet. Outside No. 16 is a tall target that can really go and attack the ball. They use a number of different runners both inside-the-tackle runners and runners who are good screen and cut-back guys. Up front they have a better offensive line coming back. Usually when you have those guys that played some ball together, the communication and their technique is usually further along than most.”

» On communication between Bostic and Jenkins: “That’s true with really good defenses that you see – there’s a lot of good communication from position to position. […] I’m really encouraged, as we’re getting into our fourth ball game and moving forward, those are the kinds of things you expect.”

» On if sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd will see some more time at tackle: “It really depends just by the game. There are some games where we’re going to put him outside. Sometimes based on match-up, sometimes based on run-pass, and then there’s other times we’ll move him inside as a pass rusher there. He’s getting more comfortable with it. I think it’s just taking him some reps to do it.”

9/21: Jenkins communicates, Wenger beams

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preparing for their first road game of the 2011 season, a few prominent players were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the Kentucky Wildcats on Sept. 24 at 7:00 p.m. in Lexington, KY.


One reason why the Gators have not struggled too much within the defensive front seven is the top-notch communication between linebackers redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins and junior Jon Bostic. Asked Wednesday why he and Bostic communicate so well, Jenkins said their relationship on- and off-the-field has a lot to do with it.

“The Mike and the Will [linebackers] – they’re kind of like playing the same role pretty much in this defense, and the Sam is completely different from the Mike and the Will. We’re always in the meeting room together. We’ve been in the meeting room together since coach strong was there. We’ve always been working together in the meeting room and taking it onto the field,” he said.

Jenkins also described how the improved connection has paid dividends on the field. “Playing in The Swamp on defense, you really need to be able to communicate really well because it gets really loud. Without us communicating, giving hand signals and always knowing what each other is doing, we could have been put in real bad situations,” he said. “We made a few bad plays because we didn’t communicate well in The Swamp. We got to keep getting better at it, but I think it has helped us out from last year where we were young and we weren’t communicating as well as we are now.”


Redshirt senior transfer left guard Dan Wenger may only be spending one year at Florida, but he is certainly the veteran in a young group of offensive linemen. Asked about how some of his teammates performed on Saturday, Wenger beamed when discussing two of them in particular.

Talking about what redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison did well, Wenger said, “Everything. He played an awesome game. Played his tail off and couldn’t be [happier] for him just for everything he did and the way he’s coming into himself as a player.”

In regards to redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan’s personality, Wenger called him a “wildcard,” saying that “you never know what to expect from him just as far as what he might say or do sometimes.” However, he also noted that Patchan is a “hard worker” and an “awesome guy” who he would “give the shirt off my back” for anytime.


» Jenkins on being much improved in his second year on the field: “I’m really enjoying the scheme and I’m loving the players I have around me. I can’t do any of it without them. I’m enjoying the coaching. All around it’s a really great start of the season.”

» Jenkins said he has gotten some grief for his dropped interceptions – “Yeah, they’re joking about it a little bit.” – but he does plan to work on his catching with a ball machine, something he hasn’t used much since high school. “I think it’s just bad luck,” he said of his drops. “When you play both ways in high school and then come to college and only play defense, you don’t see the ball as much.”

» Jenkins on sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley clotheslining sophomore safety Matt Elam after the latter’s interception: “We’re used to it. He’ll closthelsline us in practice.”

» Jenkins on if Easley had the same energy last year: “He was the same last year. I’m not exactly sure everything that was going through his head with last year’s scenario and all that, but he was always a playful guy, always having fun out there.”

» Wenger on problems the team had against Tennessee: “In my opinion, I can’t speak for anyone but myself, just being able to finish. We had some opportunities where we were placed in very good positions and we just didn’t capitalize. I’m going to put that on myself as far as me needing to play better. That’s what I’m focusing on this week in practice, just ironing out some of those little things.”

» Wenger if he is disappointed that the team had to use a play-action and fourth-down play to score in the red zone: “We want to pride ourselves on being able to move the football. We can move it all the way in the run game from backed up on our own one, but not being able to punch it in? That’s the most important thing.”

TWO BITS: Injuries good news for NFL receivers

1 » Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Andre Caldwell – stuck behind the likes of Chad Ochocinco, Terrell Owens and T.J. Houshmandzadeh during his NFL career – will finally move into a starting role with the team on Sunday. Jordan Shipley, the Bengals’ primary slot receiver, tore his ACL last weekend and was placed on injured reserve for the remainder of the season. This allows Caldwell to replace him in the rotation, a move that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown reception just moments after Shipley was injured on Sunday. Caldwell hopes to prove he deserves a starting role going forward as he tries to improve on his performance from 2009, the best year of his career in which he caught 51 passes for 432 yards with three touchdowns.

2 » In a similar situation going forward is Buffalo Bills pass catcher David Nelson. Though Nelson did perform well with 31 catches for 353 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie campaign, he will become Buffalo’s full-time slot receiver after both Roscoe Parrish and Marcus Easley were ruled out for the remainder of the season. Nelson scored the Bills’ game-winning touchdown on Sunday and has been an undrafted free agent gem for Buffalo since the team signed him in 2010. NBC Sports points out that, “The slot receiver in a Chan Gailey offense is a heavily targeted position and Nelson has excellent red zone skills at 6’5/220. There’s major breakout potential here, starting this Sunday with a plus matchup against the [New England] Patriots.”

9/21: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

Updated at 1:00 p.m.

With the Florida Gators just days away from their fourth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against the Kentucky Wildcats, he spoke with the media during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week three action.


If you follow OGGOA on Twitter (and you should), then you may have seen a retweet we sent out Tuesday evening from a Kentucky sportswriter who believes Florida is skirting the rules on punt blocks. This was triggered by something Kentucky Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips said during a press conference on Tuesday about the Gators’ punt block team: “They’ve got big guys pulling this guy that way, and this guy that way and a little fast guy with world-class speed comes up the middle to block it. And you can’t get off the block,” he said. “We’ve got to punch them in the mouth when they try to grab you and get their hands off of you and come off and block the little guy that tries to split the gap.”

Asked about the play Tuesday, Muschamp responded with one of his (now standard) quips. “We just play hard. We play hard and coach hard,” he said. “I’m real pleased with what we do. They didn’t throw any flags on that play, did they? OK. We just ran a guy through a gap.”

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, whose team was victimized by the punt block on Saturday, brushed off the question, too. “If we do our job, we’re not even having this discussion,” he said.

Muschamp also expanded on why Florida has been so successful blocking punts over the last few years. “We have good players – that’s the first thing that jumps out at you. We’ve got some guys that got some special ability. There’s been a huge emphasis on special teams, obviously when Urban [Meyer] was here, and I’ve carried that over. Special teams are very important to me,” he said.

“I always talk to the players in terms of, if you want the opportunity to play in the National Football League, the old Bill Parcells line, ‘If you’re not a quarterback or an offensive lineman and you don’t play special teams, you’re a selfish football player.’ I live by that. Our guys understand our best payers will play on special teams – you look at what Chris Rainey and a lot of our starters do – we have good players.

“Second thing is we have good speed. You create space plays in special teams, you got to have guys who can run. And then the third thing, I think D.J. Durkin – our special teams coordinator – does an outstanding job. He puts his guys in the right spots, he does a great job with scheming guys to get good players free in certain situations whether it’s the returning game or specialist or whatever. He takes a combination of all those things, that’s why we are where we are.”

He even discussed how the Gators blocking a punt can significantly affect the outcome of that particular game. “The percentages of winning the game go through the roof. It’s such a deflating thing for the punt team,” he said. “I don’t think off the top of my head I’ve won many games if we’ve had a punt blocked. It’s hard to do. The change in momentum, obviously you can easily score off of it either by the scoop or the next offensive possession. The momentum of the game certainly can slip pretty quickly.”

Asked to clarify his comments at the end of the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, Phillips said he was not trying to insinuate that anything Florida was doing was against the rules. “There’s nothing illegal with that. Nothing,” he said. “Everybody does it. We try to do it also. There’s nothing illegal about it. I wasn’t saying there was anything illegal about it. I was saying they do a great job of it.”


» Muschamp said redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed has a “lower body” injury that is not specifically a hamstring problem. It is the same injury that kept him out last week, but the team has an outside chance of seeing him return to the field. “We still got a shot. He’s been moving around a little bit. He’s a little gimpy here and there, but who knows, we got a lot of time until Saturday,” he said.

» Opening statement: “[I’m] very pleased to be 3-0 with a good conference win over Tennessee. Heading to Lexington this weekend is our first road game. We got 16 guys in our two-deep who have not been on the road yet or got on a plane. It’ll be interesting there. Kentucky is playing very well defensively; they’re giving up 13 points a game and leading the SEC in kickoff coverage and punting. They’re playing well so we’ve got our work cut out for us, especially with the newness of what we’re trying to do.”

» On linebackers junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins being so in sync: “Over a period of time as far as practice is concerned, they’ve played together last year, first of all. Number two, they’re very close off the field. Generally in my experience in coaching, guys that are close on and off the field generally have a bond. […] As much as anything, they’re both highly intelligent young men, very driven. They’re good football players and very productive for us. Those guys have a good bond of the field and they see things the same on the field.”

» On if redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey is doing well off the field, too: “I can only judge from the time I’ve been here. He’s done everything we’ve asked and then some as far as being accountable on and off the field as a football player, a member of our football team and this university. He’s a guy that is early in the meetings, works extremely hard as far as workouts are concerned and practiced, [and] does everything that’s asked of him academically. He’s been a great example for the rest of our football team.”

» On if Rainey should be in the race for the Heisman Trophy: “I think you look at the first three ball games and his production and what he’s done for our football team – running, catching and all the special teams [like] the return and blocking kicks – you’re talking about value to a football team. It’s a long season. We need to continue to play consistently well at his position and what he’s doing for our team. There’s nothing that tells me he won’t from the standpoint of how he’s working in practice and how he’s approaching the game.”

» On the Gators’ depth at running back: “We’ve really consistently played that group of guys [Rainey, Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee, Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer] and have been very productive at the position. A lot of that credit should go to Charlie [Weis]. Here’s a guy that’s identified, ‘OK these guys are playmakers. These guys can do good things for us. Let’s narrow their role down based on what they can do and their skill set.’ I think he’s done a really good job of identifying what they do well.”

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