Florida Gators 2012 spring practice depth chart

You may be excited that, in a few lines, you are getting a look at the Florida Gators 2012 spring practice depth chart. Don’t be. As he explained one year ago, head coach Will Muschamp does not put a lot of stock in the spring’s first depth chart, referring to it in 2011 as not worth the paper it was printed on. In other words, it is just a starting-off point for 2012 and plenty can change between now and the end of spring, the start of summer, the beginning of fall or when the season starts. Nevertheless, below is the depth chart as it was presented on March 13.

RELATED: Muschamp, Pease talk offense | Muschamp, Quinn talk defense

Florida omitted players who are injured or limited and not participating in spring practice. A list of those players can be found at the end along with some additional explanations.

QB: 12 Jacoby Brissett OR 6 Jeff Driskel
RB: 23 Mike Gillislee, 33 Mack Brown
FB: 8 Trey Burton OR 43 Hunter Joyer
WR (X): 4 Andre Debose, 89 Stephen Alli
WR (Z): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 83 Solomon Patton
WR (Slot): 85 Frankie Hammond, Jr., 13 Latroy Pittman
TE: 11 Jordan Reed, 20 Omarius Hines* OR 88 Clay Burton

LT: 71 Matt Patchan*, 73 Xavier Nixon
LG: 66 James Wilson, 50 Sam Robey*
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne*
RG: 67 Jon Halapio, 74 Jessamen Dunker
RT: 75 Chaz Green, 71 Matt Patchan*

DE: 73 Sharrif Floyd*, 91 Earl Okine
DT: 44 Leon Orr*, 4 Damien Jacobs*
NT: 99 Omar Hunter, 58 Nick Alajajian
Buck DE: 7 Ronald Powell, 25 Gideon Ajagbe*
SLB: 49 Darren Kitchens, 55 Graham Stewart
MLB: 1 Jon Bostic, 51 Michael Taylor
WLB: 3 Jelani Jenkins, 72 Antonio Morrison

CB: 15 Louchiez Purifoy, 27 Willie Bailey
CB: 31 Cody Riggs*, 14 Jaylen Watkins
Nickel CB: 22 Matt Elam*, 31 Cody Riggs
S: 22 Matt Elam*, 26 De’Ante Saunders
S: 9 Josh Evans, 10 Valdez Showers*

K: 19 Caleb Sturgis, 97 Brad Phillips
P: 44 Kyle Christy
H: 47 John Crowfoot, 44 Kyle Christy
LS: 46 Drew Ferris, 43 Kyle Crowfoot
KR/PR: Not listed

LIMITED FOR SPRING: LB Neiron Ball (vascular condition), CB Marcus Roberson (neck)

OUT FOR SPRING: CB Jeremy Brown (knee), DT Dominique Easley (ACL), OL Cole Gilliam (shoulder), DE Kedric Johnson (shoulder), OL Tommy Jordan (shoulder), LB Lerentee McCray (shoulder), OL Ian Silberman (shoulder)

*BEING CROSS-TRAINED: Floyd – DE/DT/NT, Jacobs – DT/NT, Riggs – S/CB/NCB, Elam – S/NCB, Hines – RB/TE, Patchan – LT/RT, Orr – DT/DE, Ajagbe – SLB/Buck, Jabari Gorman – S/NCB, Showers – S/NCB, Robey – C/G, Koehne – G/C

OGGOA NOTES
– TE A.C. Leonard remains indefinitely suspended from the team for his recent arrest for misdemeanor domestic battery. He would fit in at the first or second slot at his position.
– Wilson was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, a big win for the Gators and their lack of depth and experience on the offensive line.
– Freshman D.J. Humphries, expected to make an impact at offensive tackle, is not yet on the two-deep depth chart likely due to an off-the-field reason like weight or conditioning.
– Brown (CB), Roberson (CB), Easley (DT), McCray (SLB) are four other starters/potential starters who are currently off the depth chart due to injury.

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SIX BITS: practice, Leonard, baseball, Spikes

1 » The Florida Gators announced Monday that spring football practice will begin on Wednesday, March 14 and conclude as always with the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut on April 7 at 1 p.m. Unlike the 2011 season, when all of Florida’s spring practices were closed, the Gators will open two sessions to fans this year on Friday, March 16 (4:25-6:35 p.m.) and Saturday, March 17 (12:55-3:00 p.m.).

2 » Florida freshman tight end A.C. Leonard, arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery on Feb. 15 and indefinitely suspended from the team by head coach Will Muschamp one day later, entered a “not guilty” plea in Alachua County court on Monday, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Being represented by Gainesville, FL attorney Huntley Johnson, Leonard is not allowed to have any contact with the woman he allegedly hurt by judge’s orders and had to find a separate place to live at least until the court makes a final judgment on his case.

3 » No. 1 Gators baseball (3-1) pulled out a hard-fought, come-from-behind victory at home on Tuesday, scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (2-2) 8-6 at McKethan Stadium. Florida threw a trio of freshmen pitchers over the first 6.2 innings, beginning with right-hander Johnny Magliozzi who earned the first start of his career. Magliozzi allowed three earned runs on five hits with two walks and three strikeouts in 3.2 and was followed up by left-hander Bobby Poyner and RHP Justin Shafer. The duo gave up three earned runs combined on six hits with no walks and two strikeouts in 3.0 innings. By the time Shafer left the hill, the Gators were down 6-5 after previously having leads of 4-1 through three innings and 4-3 through four innings.

Junior catcher Mike Zunino hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to get Florida on the board, and the Gators rallied in the bottom of the third and fourth as four more runs crossed the plate. Zunino (2-3, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB) led off the seventh the same way he did the second, with another solo shot to tie the game 6-6. With junior RHP Austin Maddox (1-0) taking over to hold Bethune-Cookman to six runs, Florida again rallied in the eighth and took the lead with a RBI single by senior right fielder Preston Tucker (1-5). Junior first baseman Brian Johnson (1-4) had a two-RBI night for the Gators, and both senior left fielder Daniel Pigott (2-4, RBI, 2 R, BB) and freshman catcher Taylor Gushue (2-5, RBI) knocked in runs on Tuesday.

4 » New England Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes underwent surgery on Monday. The Boston Herald reports that the surgery was performed on his right kene and done in order to “clean out some cartilage.” A source told the paper that the procedure “went very well.” Spikes, who returned late in the season after spraining his MCL, was a tremendous contributor for New England on defense in 2011 (when he was on the field).

5 » Florida is attempting to secure a sixth year of collegiate eligibility for offensive lineman James Wilson, ESPN reported on Monday. Wilson, who has broken his foot twice and had four knee surgeries in the last five years, has played in 38 games for the Gators and is talented enough to potentially start for Florida in 2012 if he is able to return. What may hurt his chances at a NCAA waiver is the fact that he played in 11 games in 2011, his redshirt senior season. ESPN notes that the Gators expect to have an answer sooner than later.

6 » North Texas Mean Green head coach and former Florida defensive line coach Dan McCarney was released from the hospital on Feb. 16 after suffering a stroke and being rushed to the emergency room four days earlier. McCarney has since returned to work and is expected to continue coaching the team beginning with spring practice in March.

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TE A.C. Leonard arrested for domestic battery

Updated at 7:45 p.m.

Florida Gators freshman tight end A.C. Leonard was arrested Wednesday night for misdemeanor domestic battery and suspended from the team indefinitely by head coach Will Muschamp Thursday evening.

Leonard, who had an altercation with his girlfriend of 17 months (the two have lived together for about one month), was booked into jail Wednesday night and appeared in court for the first time Thursday morning before being released on his own recognizance.

From The Gainesville Sun:

According to the report, the couple had been arguing around 7:20 p.m. Wednesday when Leonard, “shoved her forcibly with both hands in her chest/neck area. The force of the shove knocked her down to the ground, causing her head to strike a dog cage that was behind her.”

The woman told [Officer Amanda] Prince that Leonard told her to get her belongings and leave, then followed her into the bedroom where he grabbed her by her hair and tried to drag her out of the apartment. According to the arrest report, when the woman resisted, Leonard, “Grabbed her by both feet and pulled her out of the apartment,” then locked her out of the apartment.

Being represented by Gainesville, FL attorney Huntley Johnson, Leonard will not be allowed to have any contact with the woman by judge’s orders and must find a separate place to live at least until the court makes a judgment on his case.

Leonard, who is facing a first-degree misdemeanor for his actions, refused comment when he was arrested, only telling police: “I never hit her. I just wanted her to leave.”

It is Leonard’s first arrest as a Florida football player and the 10th since Muschamp took over the Gators in January 2011.

“This behavior will not be tolerated and A.C. has been suspended from team activities at this time,” Muschamp said. “I certainly don’t condone this type of behavior — it is not what we expect from the University of Florida football program.”

Of Florida’s other nine arrests since Muschamp arrived, eight were for either underage drinking or marijuana possession with one coming for driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest. Three of the eight players previously arrested are no longer with the Gators football program.

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12/19: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Monday to answer some questions and look ahead to the Florida Gators‘ next opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida and Ohio State will go head-to-head in the 2011 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from Monday’s availability.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley (torn ACL): “That surgery went very well. He is rehabbing as we speak. He probably will miss spring but will certainly be cleared for the summer, so he’ll be ready to get back.”

– Sophomore Sharrif Floyd will move back inside and play his natural position of defensive tackle after spending the entire year at defensive end. “Sharrif will play inside. For lack of numbers, we played Sharrif at end,” Muschamp said. “He is a more natural inside player. When [Easley] was injured in the Florida State game, we moved Sharrif inside and he played extremely well.”

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee): “We’re evaluating him right now. There’s a possibility he will have surgery to repair his knee. We’ve exhausted every measure as far as not having surgery at this point and we’re in that process at this time.” Muschamp hopes to have him back next season depending on the severity of the injury.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (concussion): “He’s fine. We gave our guys off the week after the game while we were on the road [recruiting]. We lifted him and [he] ran a little bit.”

SEARCHING FOR AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Muschamp maintained Monday (sorry for the alliteration) that Florida will not officially hire an offensive coordinator until after the bowl game but that does not mean he has been stationary in his search for Charlie Weis’s replacement. “A lot of people have a tremendous interest in the job,” he said. “I’m taking my time. I’m talking to an awful lot of people and will continue to do so to find the best fit for the University of Florida. We will make that decision after the bowl game.”

Interim offensive coordinator Brian White, the team’s running back’s coach who is filling in for the bowl game, is a candidate at the top of Muschamp’s list and will have bowl practice and the game itself to convince his head coach that he deserves the job. “I’ll sit down and talk to Brian but again, he’s a guy I’ve been with every day. I like how he’s managing our offensive football team at this time,” Muschamp said. “He’s doing an outstanding job. He has experience at the position with Wisconsin and had great success. Certainly he’s a candidate.”

Other candidates – like Jacksonville head coach and former UF QB Kerwin Bell – are being interviewed in the meantime. In the end, Muschamp is looking for someone who can add his special touches but keep the status quo. “You’re also looking for the right fit. We’re not going to come in and change what we’re doing. We don’t think that it’s smart to hire a guy and have 40 guys learning as opposed to one guy learning,” he explained. “Obviously will he tweak some things? Certainly. Will he change some things? Yeah, maybe. But we’re not going to just take a playbook, throw it out the window and bring another one in. We got a young football team, and I think continuity is the most important thing at this point with our football team.”

IT STARTS WITH SELF-EVALUATION

Already looking back on the Gators’ 6-6 regular season, Muschamp (as he has all year) puts the blame primarily on himself, saying he is responsible because it all falls on his shoulders. Nevertheless, he thinks there is plenty for Florida fans to look forward to with the bowl game and offseason upcoming.

“At the end of the day, are we headed in the right direction? Yes, I emphatically believe that. Is it where we want to be at this point? No. Are we going to get there? Yes,” he said. Muschamp added that the 2011 season did not go as expected because, simply put, Florida did not play for a SEC Championship. “That’s what I understand, and that’s what I expect,” he said.

Asked if there was one thing he could change about how the year went, Muschamp said it would be one of the very first decisions he made as head coach. “The most disappointing thing or poor decision I made was training camp not having been more physical because of numbers. You get nervous about injuries. You get nervous about situations with guys as far as having a more physical camp to prepare our team for the season. If I had one thing I wish I could have changed, that would be it,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Florida began practicing on Friday and worked on fundamentals and technique over the weekend. Preparations for Ohio State began on Monday, and the team will practice Monday-Thursday this week before going to Jacksonville next week.

» On the sophomore class: “Without getting specific, there’s no question the majority of our playmakers are in that class. You look offensively, defensively and special teams of the guys who really contributed to our football team.”

» On there being so much attrition this year: “I would attribute it to a lot of different things. I think it is hard to really put your finger on one thing and say, ‘This is it.’ Anytime you have transition there is a natural attrition that occurs. Whether it is the coach that recruited you, the position coach, the coordinator, the head coach is different, the scheme is different. There are a lot of things.”

» On why Brantley impresses him: “Regardless if you pay attention to it or not, you hear negativity a lot. Quarterback is a tough position to play. It is the hardest position o play on the field. When it’s going well, you normally are put on a pedestal that you actually are playing probably better than you really are. At times when things aren’t going very well, you’re probably painted to be a little bit worse than you really are. From that standpoint, a guy that went through a frustrating year the previous year, came into our situation [and] really embraced it, did a good job with our offense, unfortunately had some injuries and some setbacks. The one thing I’m going to tell you about John is that he’s a positive guy. He loves being a Florida Gator. And that’s important to me. He’s a guy that does everything he can do in a first-class manner. He’s got a great family that supports him and is a guy I’m really proud of to be a part of this football group.”

» On how he will approach recruiting with so many empty spots: “You still want to evaluate and take the right guys. It’s a little different now because we have a whole year to evaluate. My philosophy at that point was not taking a guy you weren’t sure about. That’s the most important thing – right now we’ve had a full year to evaluate. We know what we’ve evaluated. We’ve ranked everybody at every position. We understand the numbers at certain positions that we want to take, but we’re not going to take a guy to take a guy. We’d rather – if there’s five at this position and you want to take three, you know you’re going to get two so you take four more at this position if you really feel good about those four. More than anything, at the end of the day, it’s kind of like the NFL Draft. You take the best player available at those situations.”

» On redshirt junior tight end Omarius Hines not seeing the field much: “He had some injuries early in the year. As we moved forward, you look at Jordan Reed and A.C. Leonard were very productive at the position. […] We expected more of an impact on special teams as well, not just on offense. The injury put him behind a little bit as far as moving forward.”

» On his plan for redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy: “To compete at the quarterback position.”

On sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell: “He played better as the year rolled on. He’s having a nice bowl practice as we progress to this point. He’s had his best practice since we’ve been here the other day as far as just his pad level, his hand placement and affecting the quarterback in the rush. He always plays with good effort and toughness.”

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11/26: Florida vs. Florida State post-game

The Florida Gators (6-6) lost to the Florida State Seminoles (8-4) at home on Saturday for the first since 2003, dropping a 21-7 final even though they held their opponent to 95 yards of total offense. OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game along with plenty of notes and quotes from head coach Will Muschamp and the players.

INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

A number of Gators found themselves down on the ground hurt during the game Saturday. Thought specific, detailed updates were not available for all of the players, Muschamp said overall that he expects everyone to be fine.

Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee), redshirt sophomore tackle Kyle Koehne (knee), redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (hip), redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio (leg) and freshman tight end A.C. Leonard all hurt their extremities during the game but should not suffer any long-term issues.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley appeared to be concussed (and had a cut on his left cheek) after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit, and sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens was motionless on the field for a while after being hit hard on the opening kickoff of the second half. Muschamp did not provide an update on Brantley, though Kitchens is said to be “fine” and was walking around after the game.

Additionally, redshirt sophomore TE Jordan Reed did not suit up for the game after he struggled putting pressure on his injured ankle Thursday during practice.

GATORS “A SOFT FOOTBALL TEAM”

Muschamp began his post-game press conference with criticisms of his Florida team.

“I’m extremely disappointed again with today and this season overall. I didn’t do a very good job with this football team. At the end of the day, when you’re not able to run the football, you’re going to have a hard time winning games against good defenses. When you become a one-dimensional team, when you’re a lateral running team and you can’t run the ball inside and you can’t run the ball vertically at people, you’re going to struggle. And we haven’t been able to do that.

“We’re a soft football team. That’s the bottom line. I told our guys we’re not a physically tough team and we’re not a mentally tough team. Self-evaluation is hard sometimes but that’s the facts. That’s the facts. It’s hard to say it. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but soft’s not one of them. And we are…and that’s my fault.”

Asked why he chose to call the team “soft” in particular, Muschamp said that should not be a new sentiment as far as the team’s feelings concerned. “That’s not the first time they’ve heard it. It’s not the first time they’ve heard it all season, I can tell you that,” he said. “I always say self evaluation’s hard. It starts with me and it falls on my shoulders and I’m the one who’s responsible, but at the end of the day, you are what you are. You are what your record is.”

Muschamp also explained how he will try to change that mentality immediately. “We’re going to have a very physical bowl practice. I thought we had a physical training camp. I thought we’ve amped up our physicality as far as practices are concerned, but we need to take it to another level – obviously,” he said. “When you can’t convert a 3rd and 1, 4th and 1, when teams have continually run the ball against you throughout the season, it’s very disappointing.”

Read the rest of the Florida-Florida State post-game notes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/26: Florida vs. Florida State post-game

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Brantley’s picks doom Gators as Florida State upends Florida 21-7 in The Swamp

Senior Night in The Swamp was anything but a celebration Saturday for the Florida Gators (6-6), which fell 21-7 to the Florida State Seminoles (8-4) after their in-state rival scored 21 points off of turnovers and won at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2003.

Florida State running back Devonta Freeman found the end zone twice on a pair of short touchdown runs following interceptions off of Florida redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, and safety Terrance Parks returned an interception off of freshman QB Jacoby Brissett 29 yards for a touchdown to ice the game in the fourth quarter.

Despite the Seminoles only gaining 95 yards of total offense on the evening and averaging 0.7 yards per carry, FSU was able to manhandle UF by making the most out of four turnovers and ensuring that the Gators had a tough time moving the ball on offense.

Brantley threw three interceptions in Florida’s first five possessions; the Gators went three-and-out and punted the ball the other two times.

Down two touchdowns, Florida chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from Florida State’s 15 midway through the second quarter, but sophomore running back Trey Burton lost 14 yards and UF turned the ball over to FSU on downs.

Attempting to overcome his poor play in the first half, Brantley remained composed with 1:49 left until halftime and delivered a 21-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. He was sandwiched on the play, and a helmet-to-helmet hit knocked him out for the remainder of the game.

Brissett took over for Brantley but failed to do anything with the Gators offense until Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard recovered a fumble caused by redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Taylor with 4:32 remaining in the game.

Following a pass interference call on 1st and 10 from Florida State’s 21-yard-line, Brissett hit Dunbar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The late score allowed the Gators to avoid their first shutout since 1988.

Joining Brantley on the trainer’s table were redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey, sophomore DT Dominique Easley, sophomore LB Darrin Kitchens and redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio, all of whom were injured in action and did not return to the field.

Kitchens was injured on the opening kickoff of the second half and was carted to the locker rooms after laying motionless on the field for a number of minutes. He gave a thumbs up to the crowd on his way to the back.

Brantley finished his final game in The Swamp 9/15 for 104 yards and three interceptions. Rainey carried the ball 15 times for 42 yards, and senior RB Jeff Demps touched it just four times for -8 yards.

Dunbar finished with three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown, and freshman tight end A.C. Leonoard led all Gators with 65 yards on the evening.

Florida’s stout defense held Florida State QB E.J. Manuel to six completions on 13 attempts for 65 yards and Freeman to 44 yards on 15 carries.

The Seminoles committed nine penalties for 85 yards and held the ball three minutes longer than the Gators did on Saturday.

Florida finished the regular season with a .500 record for the first time since 1979 (0-10-1). The Gators await a bowl invite but are expected to face Ohio State in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, FL.

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11/21: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meets with the media each week to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators‘ next opponent. Florida defeated the Furman Paladins 54-32 on Saturday in The Swamp and is beginning to prepare for Senior Day against the Florida State Seminoles on Nov. 26. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from Monday’s availability.

FURMAN REVIEW, AWARDS, INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp revealed Monday that he was quite happy with Florida’s ability to put points on the board Saturday but was equally upset with the Gators’ inability to keep Furman from reaching the end zone seemingly at will in the first half.

“Pleased offensively with the explosive plays – averaged 20 yards a completion, which was good to see with the vertical passing game. Played penalty free on offense,” he said. “Defense totally unacceptable. Tackling was poor, leveraging the ball, lack of communication in some areas, couple of blown situations for touchdowns. Just totally unacceptable. Got some young guys that think they’re just going to roll their hat out there and win games. That’s not the way it works. Regardless of the opponent, you have to prepare the same all the time. We let them know that after the game, during the game and then this morning. That is not going to be tolerated.”

He also handed out the team’s weekly awards:

Offensive Player of the Game: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley
Scrap Iron Award (best OL): Redshirt sophomore tackle Kyle Koehne
Big Play Award: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose
Extra Effort Award: Freshman tight end A.C. Leonard
Defensive Player of the Game: Redshirt sophomore Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins
Hard Hat Award: Sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell
Ball Hawk Award: Jenkins and freshman safety De’Ante Saunders
Special Teams Players of the Game: Sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens
Special Teams Big Play Award: Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley
Scout Team Players of the Week: Tevin Westbrook, Ja’Juan Story, Valdez Showers

Muschamp did not get into specifics regarding injuries this week, though he did note that redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (ankle) will probably miss practice Monday-Tuesday before returning Wednesday. He and the following players are all expected to play Saturday: Sophomore safety Matt Elam (groin), redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (ankle), redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder), redshirt senior guard Dan Wenger (foot), junior tackle Xavier Nixon (ankle) and senior defensive end William Green (undisclosed).

PLAYER EVALUATIONS/OPINIONS

Redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson: “He’s really helped himself as far as playing on special teams. He’s done a nice job on teams for us. Given his opportunities, I think he’s made some plays for us when given the opportunity. I think he’s played consistent for us. He’s blocked extremely well for us this year. […] Deonte’s worked extremely hard. He’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s had an outstanding career here. He’s going to graduate in December. He’s done all the right things, and I’m very pleased with Deonte. He can run – that’s the one thing – he can run vertically down the field, and he’s a very physical player. You look at most NFL rosters, they’re going to carry at most six receivers. If you’re not the top one or two, you got to play special teams. I think he’s helped himself this year on our coverage units – punt, punt block – and the different things that he’s been able to contribute to our football team. I think he’s really helped himself as far as those things are concerned.”

Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey: “I try to judge things with my own eyes. I don’t really like to form an opinion on something that you hear. In my eyes, since I’ve been here, I’ve seen a guy that loves the University of Florida. He loves to compete. He goes out to practice and in the weight room and everything he does, he does 100 percent. He’s got a great sense of humor. He positively affects everyone around him. This team loves him. It’s very obvious to see that. He’s banged up. He’s hurt. His ankle’s bad. We’re sitting there in the Vanderbilt game down on the goal line and we had decided in pregame not to play him. He’s tugging on my back telling me, ‘Put me in the game. Let me carry the ball.’ That’s the type of guy you’re dealing with. That, to me, is a competitive, tough guy that you want playing on Saturday and the type of guy you want on your football team. You need more of those kinds of guys.”

Redshirt senior guard Dan Wenger: “He’s a guy that ahs bonded very easily with our players, very quickly with our players. Maturity, knowledge of the system and what was expected. He’s been a very valuable member for us. He’s a guy that wants to be a strength coach, so he’s in graduate school right now doing very well. He’s a guy I think will be an outstanding coach because of how he deals with people.”

Freshman fullback Hunter Joyer (and his maturity): “The year he has had this season has been very somewhat unnoticed maybe outside of the building. In the building, he’s as appreciated a football player on our football team for what he’s accomplished as a freshman. To come in, block, carry, catch and do the things he’s done offensively and step into the role, he’s a good football player right now but his best football is ahead of him. He’s an outstanding young man and an outstanding student-athlete.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp said all nine scholarship seniors are set to graduate in December.

» Muschamp on the season so far: “We’re certainly not pleased with the season in any respect. It’s totally unacceptable here at Florida and I realize that. Our goal is to go to Atlanta. In all areas we need to improve.”

» Muschamp on the recruiting importance of UF-FSU: “I don’t think that any young man makes his decision based on the outcome of one game. I’ve never felt that way. At the end of the day, young men make their decision based on the opportunity that they have at a certain school from an education standpoint, a football standpoint, a playing time standpoint, a coaching standpoint, the position coach. I don’t think that three hours on Saturday make a decision for young men. Those ones that it does, I don’t know if you want them in your program.”

» Muschamp on not blaming players for mistakes/losses: “At the end of a game, I’m not like a lot of coaches. I’m not going to come in and blame all of our players. There are a lot of coaches that do that. I’m not going to do that. When we play well, it’s because our players played well. When we don’t, it’s my fault. That’s just been my approach all the time, and the players understand that, too. I’m the first one that’s going to stand up and say I need to do a better job. I think it’s very unprofessional for a grown man to come up here and blame a 19-20-21-year-old kid for a mistake. I think that’s ridiculous, and I’m not going to do that. So if it makes somebody mad, let me know.”

» Muschamp on what he told his team for Thanksgiving: “I love this time of the year, and I told the players this morning, ‘I want everybody to call somebody in your life and thank them. We’re in such a society of self-entitlement and how does it affect me. Somebody has helped you get to the University of Florida. Somebody has helped you accomplish the things you have accomplished in life. I want everybody in the room to call somebody and thank them for what they’ve done for them.’ I love this time of the year from the standpoint of rivalry games and Thanksgiving is a lot of fun.”

» Muschamp on if he considered selling the beach house he owns with Jimbo Fisher: “Have you seen the market up there? Do you want to buy it? The market is not real good right now. It’s a buyer’s market though, you’re more than welcome. Jimbo will cut you a heck of a deal.”

» Muschamp on leadership: “Leaders don’t have bad days. Leaders have maybe one a little tougher than another one, but leaders don’t have bad days. They step up every day and they bring it every day. For younger guys, that’s hard to understand. They’ve got to understand it’s an everyday process about being a good football player, about being a leader, about positively affecting everybody around them. You don’t have bad days. That doesn’t happen.”

» Brantley on everything coming full circle: “Me, Rainey and Deonte, it just seems like yesterday that we were sitting in the back row being freshmen. We’ve had a lot of great times and we’re just excited for our last game in The Swamp being against FSU.”

» Brantley on his health: “I’m feeling a lot better. I’m really close to 100 percent, just feeling better each week.”

» Rainey on his favorite player in the Florida-Florida State series growing up: “Emmit Smith. I got a chance to meet him. That’s all that matters to me.”

» Rainey on what was discussed in Monday’s meeting: “If you study on something on film and somebody comes out with a different formation, you just got to be alert to it, be focused all around. Give it all for the seniors and let them leave the right way.”

» Rainey on spending Thanksgiving with the Pouncey brothers: “They sure do eat a lot.”

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11/15: Furman preparations, Evans stepping up

With the Florida Gators again struggling on the road and losing their fifth game of the season, a number of players were made available to the media early in the week to discuss preparations heading into Saturday’s game against the Furman Paladins.

NOT OVERLOOKING FURMAN

Florida may have an “easier” opponent this week when they take on Furman at home but that does not mean the team is preparing any differently for the game. Three Gators spoke specifically about the Paladins early in the week and echoed similar sentiments to those provided by head coach Will Muschamp on Monday.

Junior linebacker Jon Bostic: “A win is a win. We’re going to go out with the same intensity we go out with any other team. It’s another chance to go out and play in our stadium.”

Junior safety Josh Evans: “Like coach said, we’re treating this like a regular team we play. We’re not down or anything like that. We’re coming in with the same momentum that we would come in for any other team. We’re treating it just as if it’s Florida State. It’s still a football game.”

Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed: “Just like any other game. That’s how we treat all the games this season. We’re going to work hard in practice and try to come out with a win.”

STEPPING UP ON DEFENSE

The 2011 season has been a coming out party for Bostic, who leads Florida in tackles (77), has registered six for a total loss of 42 yards, created a forced fumble and notched three sacks all in 10 games. Though he is playing better than he has in his Gators career, Bostic is not completely satisfied and knows he can continue to improve.

“I’m making improvements every day but there’s still a lot of stuff I can go out and work on every day,” he said. “We look at the film and look at the positives, but we also look at the negatives too on what we can get better on.”

Evans, on the other hand, has been trying to find his groove this year. He explained Tuesday a hamstring he injured in training camp has bothered him for much of the season. Now that it is feeling good and he is healthy, he is ready to continue playing at a high level like he did Saturday when he registered 11 solo tackles.

“I kind of started off the season kind of slow dealing with some injuries from camp,” Evans said. “It took me a minute to get back on pace but now I’m trying to play the role that everyone wants me to play.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley on his ankle injury: “It hasn’t gotten any worse whatsoever. It keeps getting better every day and each week.”

» Brantley on bowl practices benefiting the younger players: “That’s huge. To be able to have that for the young guys practicing into January, that’s huge for them. I was a Gator before I came here, and I’m going to be a Gator when I leave. I want to be able to see the program just keep getting better and watch these guys be successful here.”

» Brantley on redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar: “Once we went back and watched the film from Saturday, we thought Quinton played as hard as anybody else really. He didn’t have any stats or anything but to see him blocking down field on a lot of plays, finishing the plays, he did a great job this past Saturday even though it didn’t show with him on the stats.”

» Reed on transitioning to tight end: “Definitely I got more comfortable playing tight end. I’m more comfortable in my role. […] Running after the catch is kind of hard and difficult. It’s different than QB, when you see everything in front of you. When you catch the ball receiving, you have your back to the defense. It’s harder that way to run.”

» Reed on freshman TE A.C. Leonard: “He’s doing good. He’s getting better every day. His role is going to increase for the offense.”

» Evans on losing freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson: “I’d say he was playing pretty well for a freshman. Not too many guys come in and do the things that he did. He was playing pretty good.”

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