9/13: Wenger, Dunbar, Halapio, Harrison speak

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preparing for their first Southeastern Conference opponent of the 2011 season, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Tuesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. in The Swamp.


A redshirt senior transfer from Notre Dame, starting left guard Dan Wenger said the talent of his teammates and future opponents he has watched on film have really opened his eyes as to how the Southeastern Conference is truly on a different level. “If you understand football and you know football, you can tell the caliber of athletes the SEC has,” he said. “With our guys alone, it’s a lot different than the guys we had at Notre Dame. Speed, quickness, all that strength adds up. I can only imagine that every school across the SEC is going to be the same way.”

Wenger’s impressions were forever changed the moment he stepped onto the Florida practice field and got a chance to take a look at his new teammates. “The athletes that our line has, it’s just unbelievable. When I came down and saw it first-hand, the first thought in my mind was, ‘These guys are freaks.’ You know, in a good way,” he said. “They do some things I haven’t seen before and just have a lot of athletic ability that I never got a chance to play with. It’s been amazing to be a part of this group of linemen. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play with on the O-line.”


Florida’s wide receivers have not been too heavily involved in the offense up to this point, but redshirt freshman Quinton Dunbar is not worried. In fact, all he cares about is the final score. “As long as the team is winning, I’m fine,” he said. “I’m happy.”

Nevertheless, he is confident that the passing game will pick up at least in part due to redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley continued improvement throwing the ball over the middle. “John’s been playing extremely well,” he said. “He’s been playing his game. He’s very confident and I believe he’s been playing good.”

Dunbar also opened up about how the wide receivers are being coached different this year, noting that the routes are much more precise. “It’s a totally different offense from last year,” he said. “All the offense is about timing and being in a certain spot, so if you don’t run a route right in a certain spot, you’re going to hang yourself out to dry and get hit.”


The Gators offensive line has yet to allow a sack in the team’s first two games, a statistic not lost on the unit’s starters. Due to strong personal relationships, great coaching and terrific performances, the players believe they can be the strength of the offense and will only get better as the season goes on. “I feel like we’ve played a lot better these past two games,” redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio said. “It shows on the field. We haven’t given up a sack and our goal is to not give up a sack this year. We’re trying to be the best offensive line this year.”

He credits that statistic mostly to offensive line coach Frank Verducci. “He’s just teaching us technique and the plays and we’ve been working hard ever since camp,” he said.

More than anything else, the unit’s chemistry may be the biggest factor in its early season success. Redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison said his teammates have learned how to get through to each other. “We know how to work with each other,” Harrison said. “We know if someone’s getting down on themselves, how to handle each person individually. Some people don’t accept yelling as well – maybe positive reinforcement [is better for them].”


» Halapio on Tennessee week: “Everything’s more intense this week. We feel like the preseason is over and we’re just getting ready for Tennessee, a big game.”

» Halapio on the team not singling Tennessee out: “Coach [Will] Muschamp preaches that every week. Nameless and faceless opponents. We’re just going to prepare every week the same and treat everybody the same.”

» Halapio on holding blocks longer for the playmakers: “Coach [Charlie] Weis was coaching us yesterday a lot about it. When [Chris] Rainey and [Jeff] Demps have the ball, play to the whistle because you never know what them two may do with the ball – hold your blocks as long as you can.”

» Halapio on the holding that negated Rainey’s touchdown: “I didn’t see a holding call at all and [the coaches] didn’t see a holding call at all. I had two penalties – the first one I don’t believe that I was holding – and the second one, yeah I blocked him in the back.”

» Halapio on if Brantley does stuff for the offensive line: “Yeah, he’s talked about it a lot but he’s been real busy. Over the summer Johnny B would bring some snacks and some Gummy Bears or some candy for the offensive line. I’m pretty sure that he’ll be doing that pretty soon.”

» Halapio on what he heard Tim Tebow did: “I think he would take them out to like McDonald’s or something.”

» Halapio on Rainey’s love for football: “Chris Rainey loves football. In practice he has a lot of juice and a lot of energy and he’s just bringing everybody up. Having him out there doing what he does helps us a lot have fun. He just loves the game and he loves to practice and he loves football.”

» Halapio on if Rainey loves football more than others: “I feel like it’s real important to everybody, I feel like he shows it – it’s really more important to him than others. It’s easier to see that through Chris Rainey because he’s a real joyful guy out there on the field. Never has a down day and just loves to come to work every day.”

» Harrison on how the team is reacting to SEC play: “The intensity of practice just increases a little bit. Besides that, we just worry about one game at a time and are hoping to have a good game this weekend.”

» Harrison on how the return of sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd can help the team: “He is a great athlete, real strong guy, real powerful. Real modest also for how exceptional of an athlete he is. We’re glad to have him coming back this weekend. He’s an amazing pass rusher. Real good, real versatile on the line. His power and his quickness [make him an effective pass rusher] – he’s still pretty quick for a big guy.”

» Harrison on sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley’s dancing:: “He’s a firm believer in playing with what he calls swag. He just feels that if he can play how he likes to play – of course he’s still going to listen to coaches with technique and stuff – but the little dancing, that little energy is his way of playing. He’s just a real lively person, always energetic, that brings the whole team up so we appreciate that.”

» Harrison on if Easley’s dancing would piss him off as an opposing lineman: “It would and maybe that’s one of his techniques to getting into the offense’s head.”

TWO Basketball BITS: Larson’s trial, uniforms

1 » Just days after junior forward Erik Murphy was fully reinstated by head basketball coach Billy Donovan, Florida Gators redshirt freshman F Cody Larson had part of his recent legal issue settled. According to The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway, Larson accepted deferred prosecution for his misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges and will perform 200 hours of community service as his primary form of punishment. Like Murphy, Larson has already completed a substance abuse course and paid restitution to the victims, Brockway reports. Still to be determined is how the conclusion of this case affects Larson’s standing in his home state of South Dakota, where he is still on probation for an incident that occurred while in high school and before he committed to Florida. Donovan has yet to reinstate Larson as a member of the Gators.

2 » Athletes care about their uniform numbers, and now that Florida basketball is beginning preparations for the 2011-12 season, it was time for the team’s newest members to officially receive theirs. The freshman roster is as follows:

» No. 23 – Brad Beal (St. Louis, MO), five-star guard, 6’3″ 207 lbs.
» No. 35 – Walter Pitchford V (Grand Rapids, MI), three-star forward, 6’10” 221 lbs.

Also stepping on the court for the first time this year is a redshirt junior transfer from Rutgers who picked his number last year:

» No. 3 – Mike Rosario (Jersey City, NJ), four-star guard, 6’3″ 191 lbs.

Video: Maurkice and Mike Pouncey’s family story

In a special video segment produced for ESPN, columnist Rick Reilly looks into the family story of former Florida Gators centers Maurkice and Mike Pouncey and, more specifically, their relationship with step-father Rob Webster.

The Pounceys explain that one of the reasons Maurkice turned pro was to help the family out financially and get them out of debt after their step-father’s accident.

Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Week 1

With the 2011 NFL season officially underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 1 action, many of whom had an impact on their team’s performance. OGGOA has checked and re-checked the box scores to bring you a summary of what these Gators accomplished during the first week of the 2011 campaign.

QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: 21/34 for 305 yards, two touchdowns (QB Rating: 110.5), fumble

S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Nine tackles (seven solo, one for loss) [team-highs], sack, two passes defended
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Two receptions for seven yards (targets: 4, long: 5); four rushes for 15 yards (long: 8); kickoff return for 103 yards, touchdown
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Seven receptions for 103 yards, touchdown (targets: 10, long: 30)
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Six solo tackles (three for loss) [team-high], sack, three QB hits


LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Played as a reserve
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Played as a starter
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Four rec. for 66 yards [team-highs] (tar: 6, long: 35)
FS MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Four tackles (three solo)
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Target
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Two QB hits
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Three tackles (one solo), sack, five passes def.
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: Reserve
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Three QB hits
C MIKE POUNCEY*, Miami Dolphins: Played as a starter
DE JUSTIN TRATTOU*, New York Giants: Tackle
G COOPER CARLISLE, Oakland Raiders: Played as a starter
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Played as a reserve
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Solo tackle
P CHAS HENRY*, Philadelphia Eagles: Three punts for 109 yards (avg.: 36.3, long: 39)
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a starter
OT MARCUS GILBERT*, Pittsburgh Steelers: Played as a reserve
C DREW MILLER, St. Louis Rams: Reserve
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Six rushes for 13 yards (long: 9), eight receptions [team-high] for 58 yards (targets: 9, long: 16)
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Washington Redskins: Three receptions for 54 yards (targets: 7, long: 39), touchdown

* Rookie

DE DERRICK HARVEY, Denver Broncos: Inactive
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Pectoral
LB BRANDON SILER, Kansas City Chiefs: Torn achilles (season)
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Groin
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Inactive
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Sports hernia

TE Cornelius Ingram (Detroit), SS Ahmad Black (Tampa Bay), OG Maurice Hurt (Washington)

DE Alex Brown, DE Bobby McCray, CB Lito Sheppard, OT Max Starks, DT Gerard Warren

2011 WEEK: 1

LB Finley arrested for third-degree felony

Updated Sept. 13 at 10:15 a.m.

Florida Gators redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley was arrested Monday on campus at the University of Florida and is being held overnight in Alachua County jail after being charged with a first-degree misdemeanor for driving a scooter with a suspended license as well as a third-degree felony for resisting arrest with violence.

During his appearance in front of a judge Tuesday, Finley’s third-degree felony charge was reduced to a first-degree misdemeanor for resisting arrest without violence.

The arrest report, first obtained by the Independent Florida Alligator, noted that Finley was driving his scooter around a barricade on Stadium Road when an officer pulled him over and asked for his license and registration. Finley, whose license is suspended in both Florida and Alabama due to his failing to pay numerous tickets and court fees associated with his suspended license, allegedly refused to comply, saying that he was late.

He then tried to leave the scene on his scooter, but the officer grabbed his wrist in order to put him under arrest. Finley responded by standing up and, as the officer wrote in the report, “squared to me while straddling the scooter” before the officer took out his Taser and threatened to use it if Finley refused to be taken into custody.

A Florida spokesperson released the following statement on the matter late Monday night: “Coach [Will] Muschamp is aware of the incident and will handle the matter.”

As a back-up at his position who had recently been impressing during practice and was set to get solid playing time in 2011, Finley will likely have his progress with the Gators significantly delayed. Chances are he will receive an indefinite suspension from Muschamp with a return time not specified.

9/12: Will Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meets 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 this week’s availability.


Muschamp began the press conference by noting that Florida had 16 explosive plays on offense and only gave up three, resulting in a great ratio of +13. In change of possession plays, the Gators were +3 due to the one turnover and two fourth down stops.

“The defense got a shutout – a lot of that is attributed to our offense possessing the ball in the second half,” he said, noting that Florida was also 91 percent on third down and did a great job running the ball for more than 300 yards.

However, he was very unhappy about the team’s nine penalties including the “six undisciplined penalties” that were caused due to alignment issues like jumping offsides on defense. “Some things that we just need to get cleared up and that’s something we just can’t tolerate,” he said.

Offensive Players of the Game: Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey
Scrap Iron Award (best offensive lineman): Redshirt senior transfer guard Dan Wenger
Big Play Award: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose
Extra Effort Award: Junior RB Mike Gillislee
Defensive Player of the Game: Redshirt junior linebacker Lerentee McCray
Ball Hawk Award: Sophomore safety Matt Elam
(also credited were Jabari Gorman and Marcus Roberson)
Special Teams Player of the Week: Sophomore LB Darrin Kitchens
Scout Team Players of the Week: Offense-Jason Traylor (fr.); Defense-Tim Clark (redshirt soph.); Special Teams-Louchiez Purifoy (fr.)


Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) has been trying to give it a go each week, but Muschamp noted that the “injury [was] obviously much more severe than we had first thought.” Nevertheless, he said Brown practiced well last week and had good movement straight-ahead just struggled laterally. “He worked extremely hard through the week and we feel like he can give it a go this weekend.”

He added that senior RB Jeff Demps (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) are fine and the team will be a full-go otherwise. He also expects freshman TE A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus) to get back to practice and work a little bit.

Muschamp also discussed why redshirt sophomore WR Stephen Alli and redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail did not dress for the game on Saturday. He said Alli “has a little bit of a hamstring. He went to the hotel and wasn’t going to participate,” while “Lynden just needs to play better.”


Muschamp provided his perspective on Saturday’s opponent, Tennessee, from all three facets of the game.

“Tyler Bray has played really good football, is completing close to 80 percent of his passes. They went to him latter part of last year, really turned around their offense as far as production is concerned. Both explosive playmakers outside – Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers – both guys who can stretch the field vertically, very good with the ball after the catch, both guys you got to account for. They’re going to run the football. They’re going to be balanced in what they do – the play actions and things.

“Defensively I’ve got a lot of respect for Justin Wilcox and what he’s done defensively. The guy’s a really good football coach and he’s got his guys playing hard, playing fast, playing physical. They’re in the right spots as far as what they’re doing defensively. Derek [Dooley]’s background is in special teams and offense, but special teams are very good.”


Anyone watching the game on television (or with a good look from the stands) has undoubtedly noticed that sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley like to dance – throughout the entire game. Whether waiting for the ball to be placed on the field or waiting to get on the field while the offense is playing, Easley appears to be light on his toes and has a big smile on his face while doing so. Muschamp said Monday that he had no problem with his player’s antics.

“I think every player is different. Obviously as long as it’s within the rules and our officiating crew does an outstanding job. As long as he’s not doing anything to taunt the opponent, I’m fine with that. I want guys to be who they are,” he said.

Redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter, one of Easley’s linemates, enjoys the show. “That’s just him. That’s Dominique Easley. He always wants to have fun while he’s playing and we enjoy that,” he explained earlier on Monday. “He brings a lot of excitement to our team, a lot of energy, and we definitely use that and it motivates us. I think the dancing helps him focus even more.”


Asked how much input he has on the team’s offense, Muschamp explained Monday that he does have plenty of control from a philosophical standpoint but makes sure that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis handles most of that unit’s operations because, simply, it is not his specialty.

“As far as the personnel is concerned and philosophically what I want to be offensively – 100 percent. As far as what we’re doing, as far as what Charlie’s calling the plays and what he feels we need to do to be successful – he’s running it,” Muschamp said. “The worst thing you can do in a leadership position is be something you’re not. I’ve never called plays before and I haven’t coached quarterbacks either. I hired those guys with the idea that they were going to run the offense.”

He also discussed how the team has transitioned from a spread to pro-style offense under Weis. “You see some elements here and there that they’re very familiar with in the run game – especially last Saturday,” he said. “That’s one thing that Charlie and our offensive staff have done a really nice job of – identifying what we do well and make sure we accentuate the things we do well as opposed to plugging them into our system and saying, ‘This is what we are,’ and running it. I think that’s Charlie’s experience. He understands the playmakers – to get those guys the ball in the situations we need to do that.”


» On sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell needing to improve: “We’d like to have some more production. As far as affecting the quarterback, he had a couple nice hits the other night pressuring the quarterback. It was more of a timing passing game; they got the ball out pretty quick. I think he’s playing well at the point of attack in the run game, but we need a little more production. I talked to him about it yesterday as far as being a more productive player as far as some of those things – sacks, hits and those things need to be a little bit more.”

» On if he’s excited to coach his first SEC game (sarcastic reply): “Yeah. That was a heck of a question. I’m really, really, really excited.”

» On not getting any sacks last week: “We need to get pressure with four guys rushing. That’s the best pass defense in America. You need to be able to rush four guys and we need to do a better job of that.”

» On if he sees a difference between facing UAB and SEC teams unlike his players: “From an approach standpoint, I don’t like to treat any other game more important than another one. It’s the next one, that’s why it’s the most important one. It’s a great rivalry and it’s in the SEC East and it’s a game we need to play well and win. From that standpoint, sure, it’s a really important game and I don’t think you need to tell our players that. They come to a place like Florida to play in a game like this. We don’t treat other teams more important than other teams. I think that’s when you start to get an ebb-and-flow of play and how you approach the game. So that’s why we approach it that way.”

» On Rainey’s mindset each day being a catalyst for the team: “When you walk on the practice field there are certain guys every single day that you see football is really important to them. Football is really important to Chris. You see how he competes, how he handles himself, how he approaches the meetings and how he goes on the field and works at practice. You could walk out and not know anything and not know any names and pick out certain guys and pick them by number and understand, ‘Hey, football is important to this guy.’ It’s a day-in, day-out deal. It’s not just a one-day deal. He works extremely hard every day.”

» On if Rainey going what he went through made football more of a priority: “I think so. I think anytime you have something taken away from you that’s important to you, you find out a lot about yourself and about how important it is to you. There’s no question.”

» On not asking too much of his young players: “You’re always mindful about the situations you’re going to put your players in. that certainly affects how you call the game, how you prepare in the game and understanding the situations that some of these young men are going to be in for the first time in a big-time atmosphere.”

» On not installing stuff late in the week: “The hay is in the barn after Thursday. We’re not adding stuff on Friday. Especially [not] with a young team. You can certainly do that with a veteran group.”

» On if he minds playing a friend in Dooley: “You’d rather not but, bottom line on Saturday, he’s going to do the best job he can for his team and I am for mine.” Does he still speak to him a lot? “Not much now.” What if they coached in different conferences? “Maybe.”

» On if he is impressed of the top-flight LSU coaching staff he was a part of (including himself, Dooley, Jimbo Fisher, etc.): “We had a really good staff. We had some really good coaches. Credit Nick [Saban] in the interview process in hiring the right guys and hiring the right fit. We were very fortunate. We had some really good players – that’s a huge part of it. We recruited well and coached well.”

» On sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd returning from suspension: “Looking forward to seeing him play. First of all, he’s a good young man, and second of all he’s a good football player. We’re excited to have him back.”

» On telling the team to stop running its mouths during the game: “You see some things obviously that you don’t like and then the official comes and says, ‘We’ve got a lot of chatter going on.’ So that’s my job to handle that. I walked in at halftime and told them, ‘Do the talking with your helmet. Shut up and play the game.’ That’s really all it is. Guys who want to run their mouth all the time generally aren’t playing very good in my opinion.”

Floyd’s teammates anxiously await his return

Serving a two-game suspension for violating the NCAA’s preferential treatment rules “including receiving $2,500 cash over several months from an individual not associated with the university,” Florida Gators defensive lineman is likely ready and raring to go for his first game action of the 2011 season on Saturday against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Though the situation was obviously difficult for the player, his teammates, the coaching staff and the university as a whole appear to have had his back – especially if you consider the statements from athletic director Jeremy Foley and head coach Will Muschamp as testimony to that fact.

For the first time since he was suspended, Floyd’s teammates had the opportunity to open up about their brother in arms. Three defensive players spoke with the media on Monday and all explained how pumped up they were for him to return.

“It’s going to be a big emotional boost,” redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said. “Sharrif is a great teammate and we can’t wait to have him on the field with us.”

Redshirt junior sam linebacker Lerentee McCray said Floyd’s return provides some additional opportunities for the defense to succeed against a tough Southeastern Conference opponent in Tennessee.

“Getting Sharrif Floyd back does a lot for our team. It’s motivation, just bringing our brothers along, getting guys back in the rotation so we can have fresh bodies,” he said. “It gives us a real big boost going into a SEC game.

“Sharrif brings size, speed, athleticism – he just brings a lot to that position that you can’t normally get from a guy my size or somebody my stature. He’s a big guy – fast, quick, powerful – he’s a great guy who can play defensive end or defensive tackle, so he brings a lot to the position.”

McCray said he was proud of how Floyd dealt with the NCAA investigation and sitting out the first two games of the season. He also explained how Floyd was still able to contribute to the team from the sidelines.

“I think he handled it very well. I didn’t see him be down on himself very much,” McCray said. “He just watched the game from the sideline and gave us tips and things that we could do better. He just broke down the opponent from the sideline during the game, told us what they were doing and things that could help us out.”

Redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins believes Floyd’s character will also be a big help to a young team looking for as much leadership as possible each game.

“Sharrif has amazing talents,” he said. “He is a great person, great player, great leader and I’m excited to have him back. I’m looking forward to it. He has a great pass rush ability. With him on the field, it makes everybody’s job a lot easier.”

Unlike the rest of his teammates, Floyd will get his first taste of game action this year against one of Florida’s biggest rivals. If he plays as well as his teammates and coaches expect him to from the get-go, Floyd could be a major boost to a Gators defense that is looking to improve in the pass rush in order to help out a very young secondary.

9/12: Gators discuss rivalry week, improving pass rush, converting in red zone & more

With the Florida Gators beginning preparations for their first Southeastern Conference opponent of the 2011 season, number of prominent players were made available to the media on Monday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the Tennessee Volunteers on Sept. 17 at 3:30 p.m. in The Swamp.


Of Florida’s three main rivals, Tennessee is always the first they face each season, and different players have varying perspectives about the week in general. While all believe it is important in terms of being the first SEC game of the season, some care very much that it is against Tennessee while others are not fazed whatsoever.

“It’s a big rival game. It’s probably my favorite rival game – playing that and the Florida State game,” said redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter, who expects the contest to be physical. “Growing up I used to always watch the Florida-Tennessee rivalry. Being from Georgia, both of those teams are hated, but I always grew up watching the Florida-Tennessee game has always been fun to me. These two teams hate each other and they always love to play. Everyone gives it their all and they all enjoy playing in this game.”

For redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, a life-long Gators fan, it is all about getting the win. “We start out SEC play against a tough opponent each year, which is Tennessee. To walk out of the game with a ‘W,’ know that you’ve played fairly well, that gives you some confidence and everything leading into other SEC play,” he said.

Sophomore running back Trey Burton is just ready to play. “It’s a big game for us and it’s always fun to play SEC games because they count,” he said. “It’s a conference game. Our goal is to get to Atlanta, and if we don’t wint his game then we won’t be able to get to Atlanta. These are obviously a little more important than the other games.”

Feeling slightly different is redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who cares more about giving maximum effort at all times than the team he faces. “We try to come out every day and attack each opponent the same,” he said. “Tennessee – they probably have more talent [then our first two opponents] – but we still like to play the best that we can every week, it really doesn’t matter what opponent we play.”


Florida did not register any sacks against UAB on Saturday, which head coach Will Muschamp said was OK simply because the opponent got the ball out fast and did not allow many opportunities to do so. “Not having any sacks is some place that we need to get better at. That’s something we were very unhappy about, but we did affect the quarterback and still got some hits on him as he was throwing the ball,” Jenkins said. “Those are always stats that they don’t really show too much but they add up and help us out in the long run.”

Nevertheless, the players are well aware that improving in that area will be a major focus this week heading into SEC play. “This week in practice we need to have a good pass rushing session. We need to get better with our pass rush as far as the defensive line goes,” Hunter noted. “In the UAB game, we could have got to the quarterback a lot more, and I think that’s a big emphasis on what we need to do this weekend.” Redshirt junior LB Lerentee McCray agrees. “The pass rush emphasis is going to be a real big deal after that last game with us not getting any sacks. Just mostly our get-offs. It’s probably going to be a real big emphasis by coaches this weekend at practice.”


Though Florida’s offense has performed well over the last two games, the running game has led the Gators in both contests. “Like any quarterback, you want to be able to throw touchdown passes and everything, but the run game has been working,” Brantley said. “The pass game has really been working also, we just haven’t gotten the ball into the end zone through the air. That’s fine as long as we’re putting points on the board and coming out with the W – that’s all that matters to me.”

He recognizes this as well as the fact that Florida has been unsuccessful in converting most of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns. “We ran the ball real well. Once we got to that red zone we just kinda stalled,” he said. “I’m sure this week we’re going to concentrate on it. Once you get in the red zone you got to score. Field goals are nice, but you’d like to punch it in the end zone. […] Everything just gets a lot harder in the red zone. It’s a smaller area of field. We got the right plays for it and everything, we just got to execute them.”

Brantley is also aware that the passing game must open up, but he will not do so at the risk of attacking covered players. “[Long passes are] in the game plan and everything, but we take what the defense gives us. That’s one thing Coach [Charlie] Weis stresses to me and that’s what we’ve been doing,” he said. “All the receivers are built-in to this offense and they completely understand. They know as much as we check down or have to check down, sooner or later it’s going to open up. If they get frustrated or anything, they might miss that opportunity for a big play or something like that to happen. You always want to throw down field, but we’ve got great receivers and one-on-one I know the receivers can get open. We’re just going to go out there and take what the defense gives us.”


Taking his first carry in the orange and blue uniform into the end zone for a touchdown on Saturday, freshman fullback Hunter Joyer has been impressing teammates on both sides of the ball as well as the entire coaching staff. His focus, dedication and talent is something that his teammates respect and enjoy competing against.

Jenkins, who encounters Joyer in the backfield from time-to-time when rushing the passer during practice, noted that his strength is a major plus. “[Jon Bostic and I] both have a lot of respect for Hunter Joyer. He’s a great player. He’s real low to the earth, so you have to come at him real low. He’s strong,” he explained. “I remember first seeing him in the weight room benching like 315 [pounds] like it was easy. A lot of guys can’t do that at all. He’s a great player, and I love having him on the other side because we get to practice against him. We’re going against one of the best to prepare for other teams.”

Burton is working with Joyer as a part-time fullback himself and has seen first-hand how his preparation translates onto the field. “Coach [Brian] White works with both of us. Hunter is doing an unbelievable job especially coming in as a freshman,” he said. “I’m real proud of him and he’s learning real fast, and he’s a great kid. He’s unbelievable. He comes in and works real hard. He’s not a guy that will go out and talk a lot. He’s a really soft-spoken guy. He’s really quiet, doesn’t speak too much.”


» Hunter said the cast he has been wearing is a removable one that is heavy and has made it “difficult at times to do certain thing I would like to do.” He hopes to have it off before Saturday’s game.

» Hunter on the defensive line stepping up: “As a defensive line, we talk about it before games, that we want to put the pressure on ourselves because we’re the most experienced group on the field.”

» Hunter on Tennessee-week motivation: “It is a little different coming to the Tennessee game and not seeing the pictures, posters. New coaching staff and they got their own little thing they like to do and I’m enjoying it.”

» Hunter on how this staff prepares for each game compared to the last one: “They’re both very similar. They’re all about mental focus during practice and during the week, coming in and getting a lot of tape in, a lot of studying in and knowing what you have to do before the game starts. I think they’re both very similar in that aspect.”

» Brantley on how Weis has helped him improve: “He’s helped me out in a bunch of ways – mostly mentally. I think I’ve grown up a lot since last year, just forgetting about plays – even good plays and bad plays – you got to move forward. You can only worry about what’s going on right then and there; you can’t worry about the past.”

» Brantley on redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey being the leading receiver: “He has great hands and once he has the ball in his hands, he can do dangerous things. Coach Weis tells the receivers to keep blocking because you never know who he’s going to make miss and what he’s going to do.”

» Brantley on the intensity inside the locker room for Tennessee week: “Inside our locker room it definitely has the same intensity as it always has been. […] There’s been a lot of great memories. It’s always a big rivalry and always will be I believe.”

» Brantley’s opinion of the new offense: “It’s completely changed. Under center, I-back, just we’re going to run the ball at you. It’s completely changed and I think it’s changed for the good around here.”

» Brantley on how Weis uses Rainey: “He’s not a real downhill power runner, but Coach Weis – he’s able to get those running backs out on the edge, and I think that’s where Chris is most dangerous – in the open field out on the edge. Coach Weis just does a great job suiting the offense around what his players do best.”

» Brantley on if what Rainey can do ever shocks him: “He still surprises me sometimes, but I just know he has it in him. When I watch film on Sundays, when I come in and watch the game, because sometimes I’ll be faking away or I really don’t get to see it. It surprises me a lot. First game when he spun and scored that touchdown, I had no idea that he made that spin or anything. He definitely surprises me.”

» Brantley on Muschamp letting Weis handle the offense: “Coach Muschamp’s our head coach and everyone knows that. He’s not completely distant from the offense during practice; he overlooks the offense at times. We understand that Coach Weis is the main offense, but it’s not too much of a difference because he’s still around quite a bit.”

» McCray on sophomore safetyMatt Elam being the leader of the secondary: “Matt Elam has taken on his role very well. He’s quiet – he pretty much leads by example in the secondary. He has to talk to the other guys to get the guys going sometimes, but he’s doing a good job taking on his role as just being the quiet guy who leads by example.”

» McCray on if he plays harder against SEC opponents: “I just look at it as being a consistent player – just going out and playing your best every game. You can’t play better versus one team and worse versus another team. You just have to go out and put a consistent level of play every time you get on the field.”

» Jenkins on if his teammates make fun of him for dropping two interceptions: “Yeah they always give me grief about that. There are two plays I probably could have made.”

» Burton on how his brother, freshman tight end Clay Burton played during his first game time: “I was happy for him. He had a good time and my whole family was happy for him. He did pretty good. I didn’t really watch too much of what he did, but from what I saw on the sideline, he did pretty good. He was real psyched to play.”

» Burton on his conversation with Weis about his position before the season: “I just told him I wanted to play whatever he saw me playing. It’s his offense and he does what he wants to do.”

» Burton on if he’s noticed the crowd has not been at capacity: “I heard UAB brought back 5,000 tickets or 4,000 tickets, something like that. That might have had something to do with it, but I expect it to be a pretty good crowd on Saturday. The Swamp’s The Swamp.”

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