Danny Wuerffel taking it easy, still recovering

Back in June, former Florida Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel was diagnosed with and hospitalized for Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which, as the Mayo Clinc puts it, “your body’s immune system attacks your nerves.”

He has been undergoing extensive treatment and rehabilitation for the disease ever since in an effort to recover from it as quickly as possible. As he continues on the road to recovery, Wuerffel has been releasing updates on his condition through Desire Street Ministries, of which he is the executive director. Below is his latest [truncated] update:

Dear Friends,

I recently took a trip back to Birmingham for a follow-up visit with my doctor. As I was driving there (or more accurately, as I was dozing in and out of sleep while Desire Street’s new intern, Kyle Combest, was driving) I recalled a conversation I had with the doctor in the middle of June.

He told me I would need to “take it real easy” to recover, which I sensed was probably a good idea as I could still barely stand at that point. But he also said it would probably take at least until August before I felt fine—a month and a half away. That seemed like an eternity, and I thought he had overshot his prognosis (I’d recovered from knee surgery in less time than that).

Well, It’s September 6 now and Guillain Barre continues to humble me.

I’ve gotten discouraged a couple times the past few weeks, wondering if this is ever going to end. I just can’t seem to predict or plan when I’ll turn into “narcoleptic boy.” Several of our family plans have been interrupted by dad’s need for an unexpected nap. It hurts to hear my boys say, “Oh man…not again dad.” And while Jessica has been a wonderful trooper this whole summer, I can only imagine how this continues to wear on her too.

But on the bright side, I am having more “good days” it seems, and on the “good days” I have more and more strength and energy. I can play a little more aggressively with my kids (we went to Stone Mountain the other day and played soccer), and I’m starting to get around pretty well.

At this recent doctor visit, he was pleased with the way my reflexes and nerves are coming back (My left leg is lagging a bit behind but he didn’t seem to be concerned), and he said the fatigue and lack of energy is normal and I’ll just have to continue managing it for a while.

All in all, I continue to be grateful for the way God is healing my body, and like many things in life, I only get frustrated when I try to manage and expedite things that aren’t under my control. In fact, I’m learning that my attempt to “control” anything is often an illusion and waste of energy. I guess 37 years of practice at “controlling things” helped me build a strong personal script for life, one that makes it difficult to let go of controlling things and begin to “trust” more in the one who can. […]

So, once again, I’m finding that my physical struggles with Guillain Barre have forced me to re-evaluate some of the ways I deal with the struggles and frustrations of life. It’s forcing me to trust in my creator, sustainer, friend and savior. It’s not easy, but it is a beautiful thing!

And I’m thankful.

God bless you,

Danny

Wuerffel has requested that any gifts, donations or letters of support be made to DSM rather than him personally. Should you wish to send any of the aforementioned, please direct them to adam@onlygators.com, and I will forward them to the appropriate contact.

9/7: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators just days away from their second game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 7 p.m. against the UAB Blazers, 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 two action.

PLAYER UPDATES

Aside from his opening statement, Muschamp did not have an opportunity to discuss the Gators specifically because all questions surrounded the Texas A&M Aggies joining the SEC any day now. At the start of the call, he said freshman tight end A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus) was the only player ruled out this week but did not provide updates on some other injured players including sophomore running back Trey Burton (bruise), redshirt senior wide recevier Deonte Thompson (head), redshirt junior WR Omarius Hines (hamstring), redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring). He said earlier in the week that Burton, Thompson and Hines were all expected to be healthy, while Brown and Clark would be either probable or questionable depending how they performed in practice and the training room.

Muschamp was not asked about the status of sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd, though he likely would have avoided that question and provided a “no comment” reply anyway as the NCAA inquiry is ongoing.

SEC/TEXAS A&M THOUGHTS

On the future of the SEC and other conferences: “I really think we’re heading toward the 16-team leagues eventually. I think there will be four of them at some point, if you ask me personally.”

On if Texas A&M is good fit for SEC: “Their game day atmosphere is very much like the SEC. They’ve got a great backing and tradition and recruiting base is somewhat similar from the standpoint that they do go into Louisiana. When I was at LSU, we recruited against A&M a lot, especially in the southern region. I know they still continue to recruit in Louisiana, so certainly I think it’s a good fit.”

On if Texas A&M joining the SEC helps recruit Texas: “We recruit the state of Florida first of all, and then obviously our region, and if it were to happen, it would certainly help open up some things. […] We do recruit nationally from the standpoint of we’ve got a great, outstanding academic institution, we got a great tradition, and we do attract some kids maybe outside of the state of Florida who want to be Florida Gators.”

On how the SEC could be affected recruiting-wise: “If you look at LSU and Arkansas, and you think back to when Arkansas was in the Southwest Conference and the number of great players they had from the Dallas area, just because that’s where their games were played. The exposure – you’re constantly on television, you’re playing in the state, you’re getting closer to home – all of those things would certainly help those two schools and the Mississippi schools. After that, I can’t really comment on the schools on the eastern side because we really focus our recruiting closer to home here unless there’s a national kid here or there.”

9/6: Weis discusses FAU, players, philosophy

With the Florida Gators preparing for their second game of the 2011 season (Sept. 10 vs. UAB), offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s 41-3 victory over Florida Atlantic and the team’s upcoming game.

QUARTERBACK EVALUATIONS

Redshirt senior John Brantley: “I thought he managed the team as well for an opener as you can possibly do. He had only one error that I would question his mental on the whole evening. For a first rattle out of the box, to have minimal mental mistakes at the quarterback position, that’s a very good start. I thought that he showed very good accuracy; he showed very good poise. There were a lot of things to be pleased about. Now, turning the ball over twice, that’s not what we’re looking for.”

Freshman Jeff Driskel: “He’s very, very athletic. The one thing with a young guy – I don’t encourage this from No. 12 by the way – the one thing with a young guy who is very athletic is you allow him to [tuck the ball and run]. You don’t discourage him from pulling the ball down and going because a lot of times that’s better than the alternative of them trying to force the ball down the field and have something bad happen.”

OVERCOMING MISTAKES

Weis believes in the mental aspect of football just as much as the physical. To this end, he has a particular method in which he likes to coach up his players while sitting on the sideline, one he has abided by throughout his coaching career.

“When I’m on the field you can sit there and just have a conversation and go over things and it’s kind of settling for [the players],” he said. “As a matter of fact, when they first come off the field, I don’t talk to them. Whether it was good or bad, I don’t talk to them. If it was good, I let the players all celebrate together so that I’m not looking for the kudos. If it’s bad at the same time the camera’s there looking to see what you’re going to say. That’s not the time. Let them get to the bench, let them go ahead and sit down. Then you come over and say, ‘OK, what were you thinking?’ And there might be an adjective or two in there.”

That is how he dealt with Driskel, who entered in the game in the second quarter and – on the first pass of his career – threw an interception. “We wanted to get him in when we felt that the game was still competitive. We weren’t looking to get him in for 20 plays. We were looking to get his feet wet, which is what we did,” Weis explained. “You couldn’t have choreographed it really any better. He comes in, he’s nervous, first time out, 90,000 people in The Swamp, it’s exciting for a kid at that position. But you saw how much more poised he looked the next time he came out there. He kind of got it out of his system. Will [Muschamp]’s plan, which I agreed with 100 percent, was, ‘Let’s try to get one of the young guys some experience so that – who knows when it’s going to be or if it’s going to happen or when it’s going to happen – you have to have the next guy ready to go.’ We didn’t want the first snaps that the backup quarterback got in a super-pressure situation.”

Speaking specifically about Saturday’s game, Weis said the turnovers were undoubtedly an issue. “When you have a minus-three turnover ratio for a game, usually you’re going to lose. That’s one of our points of emphasis [this week],” he explained. Weis added that there were three other potential turnovers during the game as the ball was put on the ground by redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison (bad snap), senior running back Jeff Demps (fumble) and redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. (ball popped out early). “Ball possession I think is a critical factor and one of the points that we’re emphasizing this week,” he noted.

RUNNING WITH THE BACKS

Between Demps, redshirt senior Chris Rainey and junior Mike Gillislee, the Gators combined for 203 yards of rushing and gained it on 7.25 yards per carry. For the first few quarters, Florida was gaining almost all of its rushing yards on the edges but that fact did not irk Weis one bit. “Everything starts with the run game. It’s obvious we’ve got a couple of dynamic guys with the ball in their hands,” he said. “I think what people don’t understand is sometimes they get more enamored with ‘Were the yards made inside or were the yards made outside?’ versus setting up the defense. I have no problem running the ball inside and getting a couple yards a pop over and over again because it now constricts the defense and opens up the outside runs.”

Weis noted that the offensive line and tight ends played quite well throughout most of the game but one other position group really helped spring the backs into the open field. “I was exceptionally pleased with the downfield blocking with the wide receivers,” he said. “That’s one of the things we’ve challenged them [to do] – we can’t play with receivers who don’t block down the field.”

Asked how pleased he was about the performances of Demps and Rainey, Weis smiled but also said he plans to be effectively cautious with them long-term. “I tried to forewarn you of what I expected and what I expected was basically what you saw. They’re both exceptional football players,” he said. “Our job is to make sure that we utilize them enough and not too much, and I think that’s important. Because you’re going to play a 14-game season, which is what we intend to do. If you’re going to play a 14-game season, then you have to worry about the stamina of guys that aren’t 230 pounds.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Weis believes that only touchdowns count as successful red zone possessions. “Sixty percent touchdowns in the red zone – that’s not a good number,” he said. “People will say 80 percent with the interception, but I don’t consider a field goal in the red zone a conversion. That’s a win for the defense.”

» On redshirt freshman right tackle Chaz Green becoming a starter: “He really struggled in the spring. He was also kind of a one-man gang because you had no X[avier Nixon] for half the spring, no [Matt] Patchan for the whole spring as far as full-time go. He was like a man in his own country. Once he got into that rotation with those other guys and competition started getting better and better. He’s a very competitive person and I think the competition made him play better.”

» With Tommy West stepping in as UAB’s new defensive coordinator after a year off, Weis said he had to go back to tape of Memphis in 2009 (in addition to watching UAB’s players from last year) in order to prepare for the unknown defense he will face. “The one thing about UAB is, once again for the second week in a row, we have no evidence for sure what they’re going to do on defense,” he said. “You have two volumes of stuff right here.”

» Weis joked about Rainey’s comment that Florida only ran six offensive plays and explained that the Gators did a lot more than that during the Florida Atlantic game – even if they didn’t give away everything just yet. “First of all, [the players] don’t know what I’m doing. I’m just calling plays. They’re just running the plays,” he said. “For Rainey to try to give you an analysis of what we’re doing – that’s comical in its own right. For him, there were six plays that had No. 1 attached to it, so as far as he’s concerned, those were the only six plays that existed. He forgot about all those other ones that [No.] 1 wasn’t getting the ball. We obviously didn’t throw out the kitchen sink there, but we did enough things in there. We upped the tempo, we went in and out of modes, we went in and out of personnel groupings. There was enough for our first game right there to let them kind of get a feel for the different things that we would like to do.”

» Though he scripts anywhere from 12-24 plays for each game, Weis explained that a lot of times you have to go with the flow and change things up early on. “Sometimes you run it down just the way you have it. Now there’s been other games where it just hasn’t gone very well, where it might be after three series you say, ‘Welp, let’s scrap this and go on to something else,’” he said.

» On first downs not always being the most important thing on offense, speaking specifically about the plays after Harrison’s bad snap: “When the ball is down, unlike what everyone else is thinking, I’m not trying to get the first down. I’m trying to get into field goal range. I’m trying to get points. It’s third-and-25, we get 18 [yards], that was one of our non-conversions on third down, but to me that was a conversion because that got us points. That 18-yard comeback to Quinton [Dunbar] on the left sideline got it close enough where [Caleb] Sturgis could go ahead and get three on the board right there.”

Report: Floyd’s eligibility hearing held Tuesday

Though it has neither been confirmed by the University of Florida nor the NCAA, a hearing to determine Florida Gators sophomore defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd’s eligibility was reportedly held on Tuesday.

The Gainesville Sun’s Jeff Barlis, who spoke to Floyd’s high school head coach Ron Cohen, reports that Cohen wrote a letter describing “Floyd’s background, his character and what kind of clothing and travel expenses were paid for by Cohen and other members of Floyd’s George Washington High School community,” which was sent to UF and presented at the hearing.

“It was about an hour-and-a-half hearing,” Cohen told the Sun. “They told their side and [the NCAA] listened. Now they have to interpret it and decide how they want to react to it. There was no indication. We just have to wait and see.”

Cohen has been the only party who has spoken about Floyd’s situation and has consistently held that, to his knowledge, the player did nothing wrong in high school that should have his eligibility held in question.

Floyd, one of the nation’s top prospects, was invited to the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl but could not afford the travel costs. In an effort to help him finance the trip, his guidance counselor Dawn Seeger suggested he participate in a bake sale; it raised enough money to send him to San Antonio, TX.

“Supposedly that’s part of it,” Cohen said Tuesday. “That’s why I was questioned. I know the cookie sale was still being brought into it. But again, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. I don’t know how it went. They didn’t tell me.”

While at the event, Floyd was one of three top-rated prospects (linebacker Ronald Powell, safety Matt Elam) to commit to the Gators.

Though Cohen has mentioned the bake sale specifically, the NCAA could have other concerns about Floyd’s eligibility. With everyone staying tight-lipped about the situation, more may not be known until a final decision is made – likely in the coming days.

Five-star defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (Philadelphia, PA) choosing the Gators

9/6: Brantley, players talk about FAU, UAB

With the Florida Gators beginning weekly preparations for their second game on Sept. 10 at home against UAB, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Tuesday to discuss how the team is progressing.

ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley may have played well on Saturday against Florida Atlantic (21/30 for 229 yards, touchdown) but there are also plenty of ways he can get better going forward (two interceptions). Discussing how he can do just that, Brantley said his in-game mechanics could use some adjusting. “I need to work on some footwork a little bit more – just a little different footwork in this offense,” he said. “I need to carry that over from practice to the game. It’s always a different setting in the game. You don’t really think about that as much as you should, and I just need to work on that a little bit more.”

Helping him achieve that goal is offensive coordinator (and quarterbacks coach) Charlie Weis, who Brantley is starting to get on the same wavelength as. “Some of the stuff he describes [in the film room] I can see right there with him,” Brantley said, “and even if I don’t he is able to make it easy for me to understand.” Should he need further help during the game, he can count on Weis being seated right on the bench rather than up in a box overlooking the field, something Brantley appreciates. “It’s nice [to have him on the field]. He has the people upstairs telling him what’s going on,” he said. “Having him right there and just getting the feedback from him helps me out a lot throughout the game.”

FRONT FIVE GELLING AT RIGHT TIME

A potential weakness heading into the season, it is looking more and more like the Gators’ offensive line could be a strength for the team even it is does face depth issues. Redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio explained Tuesday that having redshirt senior transfer left guard Dan Wenger in as a starter is a big-time help. “He’s the wise man of the offensive line – a sixth-year senior. He knows every call there is, and we feel really comfortable with him out there calling all the calls and just running to the ball and being a leader out there,” Halapio said. He added that Wenger made many of the line’s calls in the season opener but that the entire unit communicated and others made calls as well.

One of the reasons the offensive line has been so successful early on is the versatility of redshirt freshman tackle Chaz Green. Though he started at right tackle on Saturday, Green can play on both sides of the line and does not have much of a preference either way. He made his first career start on Saturday, a fact he learned the evening before the game. “It was good to finally get my first game in and see how I felt,” he said. “I wasn’t really nervous because I was prepared. I was a little nervous but I knew after that first play I would be all right.”

SHINING AT HIS NEW OLD POSITION

Perhaps one of the most impressive players during Saturday’s game, redshirt junior sam linebacker Lerentee McCray is someone who has stood out all offseason. After moving from linebacker to defensive end upon arriving at Florida, McCray got the opportunity to move back to his old position and ensured that he won the job outright. “I’ve always been a well-conditioned guy, so running has never been a big hard task for me. Running is what I like to do. I like to run all over the field,” he said. “I just feel comfortable when I get the chance to run and tackle and hit people.”

The defense may have allowed only three points on Saturday, but McCray knows improvements can be made. “It’s always a big issue when we don’t get any turnovers. As a defense, that’s what we try to do, keep the ball in our offense’s hand,” he explained. “That’s going to be a big thing we’re going to do this week – stress turnovers, rips, picks, fumbles, stuff like that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Brantley on getting the wide receivers more involved: “Absolutely. They did a great job Saturday night. We have all the confidence in the world in them and we’re just going to keep giving them the ball.”

» Brantley on not having to run the option: “It was cool. It was fun just giving the ball to our playmakers and seeing what they can do with it.”

» Brantley on redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose: “Andre Debose definitely grew up and matured a lot in the past year. He had a great camp, worked really hard, and it showed on Saturday night. Hopefully he just keeps producing like he has each week. Just working hard – he goes out there every day with a great attitude and just tries to get better each day.”

» Brantley on the seniors picking orange jerseys for the season opener: “Us seniors kind of decided on it. We’re big fans of the orange jerseys I guess. We just like them. We just think they look good.”

» Sophomore tight end Gerald Christian on Brantley’s confidence: “He seems confident to me, way [more] confident than he was last year. I feel like all this worked out a lot better for him.”

» Christian on working with redshirt sophomore TE Jordan Reed: “We both can learn from each other I think, really two different type of tight ends. He’s real athletic, I’m a bigger guy, more stronger than him, and I think we feed off each other.”

» Halapio on playing “easier” opponents at home to start the season: “I like it a lot. We like it a lot as a team. It helps us to start fast and…just get all the wrinkles out of the mistakes that we had.”

» Halapio on his jersey color preference: “Personally I don’t like the orange. I like all blue.”

» Green on the offensive line’s starters being in flux: “It’s good competition. It keeps us right in practice every week. It’s also a good thing – we got three tackles that can rotate.”

Gators take step up in first polls of 2011 season

The 2010 Big 12 champion Oklahoma Sooners held on to their preseason No. 1 spot in both the USA Today and Associated Press Top 25 polls Tuesday. The Florida Gators, after defeating the Florida Atlantic Owls 41-3 at home on Saturday, rose slightly in both mostly due to teams ahead of them losing their games.

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

USA TODAY COACHES POLL
This Week 1-25: Oklahoma (43), Alabama (9), LSU (7), Florida State, Boise State, Stanford, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Arkansas, Oregon, Ohio State, Michigan State, Mississippi State, Florida, Missouri, Penn State, Texas, Auburn, Arizona State, West Virginia, TCU

Preseason 1-25: Oklahoma (42), Alabama (13), Oregon (2), LSU (2), Florida State, Stanford, Boise State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Nebraska, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, Arkansas, TCU, Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Auburn, Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Penn State

ASSOCIATED PRESS POLL
This Week 1-25: Oklahoma (32), LSU (17), Alabama (9), Boise State (2), Florida State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Wisconsin, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech, South Carolina, Oregon, Arkansas, Ohio State, Mississippi State, Michigan State, Florida, West Virginia, Baylor, Missouri, South Florida, Penn State, Texas, TCU

Preseason 1-25: Oklahoma (36), Alabama (17), Oregon (4), LSU (1), Boise State (2), Florida State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Wisconsin, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, TCU, Arkansas, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Ohio State, Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, Florida, Auburn, West Virginia, USC

*Numbers in parenthesis represent first-place votes.

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Former Florida Gators in the NFL: Preseason 4/4

With the 2011 NFL preseason officially underway, a number of Florida Gators participated in Week 4 action, some 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 final exhibition week of the 2011 campaign.

VETERANS
LB MIKE PETERSON, Atlanta Falcons: Two tackles (one solo)
OL JASON WATKINS, Buffalo Bills: Played as a reserve
Watkins was waived during final cuts.
WR ANDRE CALDWELL, Cincinnati Bengals: Kick return for 18 yards
OT PHIL TRAUTWEIN, Cleveland Browns: Played as a reserve
Trautwein was waived during final cuts.
DE DERRICK HARVEY, Denver Broncos: Solo tackle for loss
QB TIM TEBOW, Denver Broncos: 7/11 for 116 yards and a touchdown (QB Rating: 129.4), rush for eight yards
DE JEREMY MINCEY, Jacksonville Jaguars: Solo tackle
TE AARON HERNANDEZ, New England Patriots: Two receptions for 22 yards
DT GERARD WARREN, New England Patriots: Three tackles
G COOPER CARLISLE, Oakland Raiders: Started at right guard
WR CHAD JACKSON, Oakland Raiders Reception for nine yards (targets: 3)
Jackson was waived during final cuts.
DE JARVIS MOSS, Oakland Raiders: Sack
CB LITO SHEPPARD, Oakland Raiders: Three tackles (two solo)
Sheppard was waived during final cuts.
WR RILEY COOPER, Philadelphia Eagles: Two receptions for 14 yards (targets: 4)
TE CORNELIUS INGRAM, Philadelphia Eagles Two receptions for 27 yards
Ingram was waived during final cuts.
RB KESTAHN MOORE, Tennessee Titans: Six carries for eight yards
Moore was waived during final cuts.

DRAFTED ROOKIES

C MIKE POUNCEY, Miami Dolphins: Did not play
OT MARCUS GILBERT, Pittsburgh Steelers: Started at right tackle
SS AHMAD BLACK, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did not play
Black was waived during final cuts but signed to the practice squad.
OG MAURICE HURT, Washington Redskins: Played as a reserve
Hurt was waived during final cuts but signed to the practice squad.

UNDRAFTED ROOKIES
LB DUKE LEMMENS, Arizona Cardinals: Did not play
Lemmens was cut during the week before Arizona played.
LB BRANDON HICKS, Buffalo Bills: Three tackles (two solo)
Hicks was waived during final cuts.
DE JUSTIN TRATTOU, New York Giants: Tackle
Trattou was waived during final cuts but signed to the practice squad.
P CHAS HENRY, Philadelphia Eagles: Three punts for 136 yards (avg.: 45.3, long: 58)
Henry will start as Philadelphia’s punter this season.

INJURED – DID NOT PLAY
LB ANDRA DAVIS, Buffalo Bills: Did not play
WR DAVID NELSON, Buffalo Bills: Did not play
FS MAJOR WRIGHT, Chicago Bears: Did not play
DE CARLOS DUNLAP, Cincinnati Bengals: Knee
S REGGIE NELSON, Cincinnati Bengals: Did not play
CB JOE HADEN, Cleveland Browns: Did not play
DT MARCUS THOMAS, Denver Broncos: Did not play
LB BRANDON SILER, Kansas City Chiefs: Torn achilles (season)
WR PERCY HARVIN, Minnesota Vikings Did not play
LB JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM, New England Patriots: Undisclosed
LB BRANDON SPIKES, New England Patriots: Undisclosed (ankle)
WR LOUIS MURPHY, Oakland Raiders: Hamstring
C MAURKICE POUNCEY, Pittsburgh Steelers: Did not play
DE RAY MCDONALD, San Francisco 49ers: Did not play
FB EARNEST GRAHAM, Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Did not play
WR JABAR GAFFNEY, Washington Redskins: Did not play
QB REX GROSSMAN, Washington Redskins: Did not play
Grossman was named the starter for week one.

DE ALEX BROWN, New Orleans Saints: Did not play
Brown was cut during the week before New Orleans played.

PRESEASON: Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

9/5: 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.

OPENING STATEMENT AND PLAYER AWARDS

Opening statement: “I thought it was a solid performance. I was really pleased with our mental focus coming into the game and how our kids approached the game, understanding we’ll play better people throughout the year to be realistic here. I thought for a first ball game we had some hiccups here and there, some things we got to get cleaned up, a lot to teach from the tape but a lot of positives as well.”

Offensive Players of the Game: RBs redshirt senior Chris Rainey and senior Jeff Demps
Scrap Iron Award (best offensive lineman): Redshirt senior transfer guard Dan Wenger
Big Play Award: Demps
Extra Effort Award: Junior left tackle Xavier Nixon
Defensive Player of the Game: Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Hard Hat Award (big hit): Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins
Special Teams Player of the Week: Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis
ST Big Play Award: Sophomore wide receiver Solomon Patton
Scout Team Players of the Week: Offense-Evan Holmes (fr.), Hygens Succes (jr.); Defense-Michael McNeely (fr.); Special Teams-Solomon Schoonover (sr.)

SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week: Redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore RB Trey Burton (bruise) and redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson (head) “should be fine” going into next week’s game. Redshirt junior WR Omarius Hines (hamstring) is expected to return this week.

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring) will be either probable or questionable based on how they perform throughout the week in both practice and the training room.

A TAKE ON ALABAMA-BIRMINGHAM

Muschamp provided his perspective on Saturday’s opponent, Alabama-Birmingham. He said he is familiar with head coach Neal Calloway and knows that he “understands about toughness” in regards to a football team’s mentality. Muschamp expects a one-back offense behind a very experienced offensive line that has combined for 118 starts and is returning all five starters from a year ago. He said UAB moved the ball on every opponent they faced one year ago, noting that offensive coordinator Kim Helton played at and graduated from Florida before beginning his coaching career. Muschamp said a new defensive coordinator, Tommy West, will provide the Gators with some unknowns heading into the game and that UAB’s rugby-style punt team will be an something Florida will be prepared for going into the contest.

NOTES & QUOTES

» In regards to sophomore DT Sharrif Floyd’s NCAA eligibility and status, Muschamp partially deflected the question but seemed confident that all would work out in the end. “He’s fine. I have no comment on that at this point,” he said.”

» On if 32 combined touches were too many for Demps and Rainey: “A little of that had to do with Trey [being injured], but we scored 41 points, so we were kind of happy about that.”

» On redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s performance: “I thought John was outstanding. I thought he directed the offense, got us in and out of the right runs and passes – no different than I felt watching the film. I thought he was very accurate with the ball, took it to the right places with what they were giving us –t hey were playing more of a sink, soft coverage taking away some vertical things down the field. We hit swing passes all night.”

» On the 10th anniversary of September 11th: “That’s a tough deal. Obviously an attack on our country, to go through what I know a lot of people close to me went through with that is just a tough deal. To have to think through all of that happening – it seems like it was yesterday to me, not 10 years ago now. It’s a tough deal.”

» On how he dealt with his team that weekend: “Getting our team ready was an afterthought after that happened to me. It was more about circling the wagons, understanding why it happened, explaining it to young men why something like that happens. You can’t. You can’t think rationally with irrational people. What happened was totally irrational.”

» On freshman fullback Hunter Joyer’s performance: “We planned on playing him. He’s really progressed well. He really, for a first ball game going out there, was very productive for us in protections, in blocking. A guy that I’m very excited about having on our football team. He gives you a lot of variety of what he can do. He’s very tough; he’s going to be a really good football player for us and we’re very pleased with where he is right now in his progress.”

» Muschamp said that redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose is getting better and better each time he sees him and is one back-up who really stood out to him on Saturday. “Andre Debose continues to make progress,” he said, “made a really nice catch on third own there on the seven-cut on our sideline.” Defensively Muschamp shouted out freshmen safety De’Ante Saunders, cornerback Marucs Roberson linebacker Graham Stewart and redshirt LB Michael Taylor as players who caught his eye.

» On not getting any turnovers but giving up three: “Yeah, it was a huge concern. That’s something we’re trying to emphasize I think in camp. We did a decent job with that. We were minus-three in turnovers and we were plus-eight in explosives. We had 10 explosives offensively and gave up two defensively. Those are the two factors that we can talk about – all the others you want to talk about – those are the two most critical ones: big play ratio and turnovers.”

» On whether or not he is pleased with how the team has bought into his blue collar mentality: “I want to credit Urban [Meyer] and his staff. A lot of that credit goes to Mickey [Marotti] in the weight room because that’s really where the foundation of your team [is set]. Coaches can only touch the athletes so many times out of the year by the rules. Mickey is with them 12 months out of the year. Certainly his work ethic, his approach and what they’ve been engrained through this program – and that’s why I wanted to retain Mickey for the job he does. They knew how to work, they knew how to compete, they knew how to work out, they knew how go to the practice field every day and have a business-like approach to what we’re trying to do. They certainly have bought in from day one, in my opinion. Some better than others and the ones that didn’t as much aren’t here anymore. I feel very comfortable where we are as far as the work ethic and the approach. Can we do it consistently? We’ve got some young guys that have got to display that over a period of time. We’re talking about one football game at this time. We’ve got a long season ahead of us. That’s the big challenge, and I’m going to challenge the football team today. ‘You’ve got to do it consistently. Now you’ve shown you can, now it’s a week-in, week-out deal. It’s a day-in, day-out. You can’t just show up some days because you’re excited because it’s the first game. It’s got to be week-in, week-out.”

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