9/1: Muschamp, players discuss season opener

No. 23 Florida Gators football (1-0) struggled a bit but eventually pulled away from the Bowling Green Falcons (0-1) on Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After the game head coach Will Muschamp and a handful of players discussed what occurred on the field.

MUSCHAMP’s OPENING STATEMENT

“It was good to get a win. We had some situations in the first half that killed ourselves offensively with again a couple of penalties. It put us behind in the sticks a little bit. I thought we ran the ball very well against a team that was loading the box. And we weren’t run-checking. I told Brent, ‘Run it.’ We need to develop toughness in our program and what we are trying to do. Obviously on my part [I was] probably a little hard-headed at times. […] Pleased with the win but obviously, looking at the game and studying the tape, we did some things that we need to tie up as far as creating some plays down the field offensively, which I think the run game will do for us. […] We just need to go back and work at it. We got a long season in front of us.”

HAS A STARTING QUARTERBACK BEEN CHOSEN?

Despite seeing the field for the vast majority (10-of-13) of the drives including all eight in the second half, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was not officially named the starter by Muschamp after the game.

“I haven’t made that decision,” he said. “We felt like Jacoby [Brissett] did a good job. There was nothing he wasn’t doing. I felt like the rhythm of the game dictated that we were going to need some pocket movement as far as some boots and nakeds and moving the pocket. I felt like Jeff gave us that better opportunity.”

Muschamp said the coaching staff was trying to be fair to everybody which is why Driskel got the first quarter and Brissett the second. He added that Driskel seeing the field more was not indicative of any decision and that a conversation with offensive coordinator Brent Pease on Sunday will be the next step he will take in coming to a conclusion.

He also explained why both signal callers were on the field for the first play of the game with Brissett behind center and Driskel out at wide receiver.

“I thought they both deserved to start the game,” he said. “I just felt like both of them deserved to start based on their training camp being two of our better players on the offensive side of the ball; they both deserved to trot out there and start the game. And that is what we came up with.”

Read the rest of this post for notes on the running game, penalties and numerous other occurrences during the contest…after the break!
Continue Reading » 9/1: Muschamp, players discuss season opener

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Gillislee runs Florida past Bowling Green 27-14

The 2012 season opener was not as much of a statement game as the No. 23 Florida Gators (1-0) hoped it would be despite the fact that the home team scored the final 13 points of the contest to earn a 27-14 victory over the Bowling Green Falcons (0-1) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida jumped on the back of senior running back Mike Gillislee, who rushed a career-high 24 times for a career-high 148 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who played the majority of the game under center for UF, added the other big score for the Gators on a 50-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. in the fourth quarter. He finished 10/16 for 114 yards and a touchdown, also taking three carries for 24 yards.

Head coach Will Muschamp surprised the crowd when Driskel and sophomore QB Jacoby Brissett were both on the field for the first offensive snap of the game. Brissett took the feed from the center with Driskel out wide but hurried off the field after handing the ball off, leaving the first two series to Driskel.

Bowling Green would strike first, ending a 12-play, 89-yard drive with a one-yard rushing touchdown by RB John Pettigrew. QB Matt Schilz completed seven-of-eight passes on the drive as the Falcons easily drove the ball down the field.

After the Gators committed two penalties on Driskel’s first series, he returned and led Florida on a 13-play, 85-yard drive that was concluded by a 15-yard touchdown by Gillislee. The Gators handed it off 11 times on the drive with Driskel only attempting (and completing) two passes but nevertheless tied the contest with 9:29 left in the first half.

Florida’s defense stepped up in a big way on the next two Bowling Green drives, forcing the Falcons into consecutive three-and-outs including a shanked 16-yard punt that fell out of bounds at their own 38-yard line.

The Gators took advantage of the miscue on the very next play as Gillislee scampered 38 yards down the right sideline into the end zone to give Florida a 14-7 lead with 5:03 remaining in the half. Brissett led the Gators on the final three drives of the half, including Gillislee’s touchdown, but did not register any additional points.

BGSU threatened at the end of the half, driving 41 yards down the field in 1:13 following a UF punt. However, kicker Stephen Stein missed a 31-yard field goal at the end of the half to send Florida into the locker room with a seven-point lead.

Driskel returned to start the second half but did not succeed in moving the ball much on his first series. The Falcons made the Gators pay by driving 55 yards in eight plays; the possession was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run from RB Anthon Samuel.

A shanked punt by Bowling Green’s Brian Schmiedebusch, who executed a great fake early in the quarter, gave Florida great field position in the middle of the third, but the Gators were unable to move the ball and settled for a 34-yard field goal by redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis to jump on top 17-14 with 7:42 left in the quarter.

The Falcons once again drove on the Gators, taking the ball 57 yard in 10 plays, but were unable to capitalize as K Stephen Stein missed his second field goal of the game, this one from 29 yards out.

Escaping a dire situation, Florida gave the ball right back to Bowling Green three players later when Driskel and redshirt senior Omarius Hines fumbled a handoff.

Gators sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson stole the ball three players later when he picked off Schilz on Florida’s 16, returning the ball 31 yards. UF took advantage two plays later when Driskel hit Hammond for the 50-yard score.

The Gators defense took over from there, forcing the Falcons off the field on their next four possessions, one of which included a muffed punt that was recovered by junior long snapper Drew Ferris, who appeared to get injured on the play.

Florida’s running game afforded them two additional field goal opportunities over the duration of the game. Sturgis nailed a 52-yarder with less than nine minutes left but shanked a 27-yarder off the left goal post with 44 seconds remaining.

Penalties were a problem all game for the Gators but especially in the first half as Florida committed 14 total for 106 yards. UF outgained BGSU 365-327 over the course of the game mostly due to rushing for 220 yards as a team thanks to the efforts of Gillislee.

Florida held Bowling Green to 4-of-17 on third downs but allowed the visitors to go 3-for-5 on fourth. The Gators were 5-for-16 and 1-for-2 in the respective situations.

Brissett went 3/5 for 31 yards in limited action. Hammond led the receivers with three receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown and was joined by four other players with at least two receptions.

Redshirt junior WR Andre Debose looked sharp in the return game, registering a 38-yard kickoff return and 32-yard punt return.

The Gators had 5.0 tackles for loss (one sack by junior defensive end Dominique Easley) and won the turnover battle 2-1 thanks to Roberson’s interception and Ferris’s fumble recovery on the muffed punt. Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic had a team-high eight tackles (five solo) in the contest.

Florida will look to grow from this experience before they travel to College Station, TX next Saturday to take on Texas A&M at 3:30 p.m. in their host’s first-ever Southeastern Conference game. The contest will air live on ESPN.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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Gameday: No. 23 Florida Gators vs. Bowling Green

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Florida Field – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 90°F, partly cloudy, winds ENE at 5 mph
Time: 3:35 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Mark Jones, Brock Huard, Jessica Mendoza)
SiriusXM: 112/199
Online/Mobile Video: WatchESPN.com, WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(23) FLORIDA GATORS BOWLING GREEN FALCONS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Dave Clawson
Record: 0-0 Record: 0-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Mid-American
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -28.5; O/U 47.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before the first game of the 2012 season? No problem. OGGOA has been here the entire offseason compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam.

Quarterbacks will split snaps by quarter in opener | Updates on injuries, freshmen set to play | Defense wants to show it on the field

HISTORY / STREAKS

» Florida and Bowling Green have never squared off on the football field though both teams are coming off disappointing seasons in which they went 3-5 in conference games.
» The Gators are 78-27 all-time in games that open the season and hold a 63-6 mark in Gainesville; UF is on a 22-game winning streak in season openers, which is tops in the SEC and second nationally to Nebraska (26).
» Florida opens the 2012 campaign ranked in the polls for the 22nd-straight season.
» UF was 7-1 against unranked opponents and 0-5 against ranked opponents in 2011.
» Offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis are new additions to the Gators’ coaching staff, which also lost wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill to a resignation for personal reasons during the offseason. Graduate assistant Bush Hamdan has taken over for Hill in an interim capacity.
» Muschamp was the 15th (of 22) head coach in school history to complete his inaugural season with a winning record, finishing 7-6 after a bowl game victory.
» Florida had the No. 8-ranked total defense nationally in 2011 (299.5 yards per game).
» The Gators defense only amassed 14 turnovers in 2011 but forced six of those in the final four games of the season. UF had a turnover margin of zero in their seven victories and -12 in their six losses (-12 overall).
» Florida had the second-best third-down defense in the nation in 2011, holding opponents to a conversion rate of 27.3 percent (48-of-176).
» The Gators still lead nation in interceptions (76), interception return yards (1,412) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (14) since 2008.
» Florida was 7-2 when rushing for more than 100 yards in 2011 but 0-4 when failing to eclipse that benchmark.
» The Gators were 7-1 in 2011 when leading at the half but 0-5 when tied or trailing at that point in the game.
» Florida converted 32 of 37 red zone opportunities (86.5 percent) in 2011 but only scored touchdowns 18 times (48.6 percent) in those 37 chances. UF was better towards the end of the season, finding the end zone in seven of their last 11 opportunities (63.6 percent) over the final five games.
» The Gators have had at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010.
» The Falcons are returning 20 total starters and feature a much more veteran roster overall than a year ago. However, Bowling Green still has the 10th-youngest roster in the country with 41.9 percent made up of freshmen.
» BGSU will be facing an SEC program for just the fourth time in school history. The game with UF was originally scheduled when Urban Meyer, a former head coach of the Falcons, was leading the Gators.
» Thirteen members of the Bowling Green roster are from the state of Florida, second-most of any state behind, of course, Ohio (44).
» Some college football rule changes for 2012: kickoffs moved up to the 35-yard line, touchbacks moved up to the 25-yard line, player losing his helmet in action results in halting participation immediately and sitting out one full play.

LAST TIME OUT

This is the first-ever meeting between Florida and Bowling Green on the gridiron.

Read the rest of the Florida-Bowling Green preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sides of the field.
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 23 Florida Gators vs. Bowling Green

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QB Driskel cleared, Gators will split first-half snaps by quarter between him and Brissett

Announcing Monday that sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (shoulder) has been cleared to play for Saturday’s season opener against the Bowling Green Falcons, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp also laid out part of his plan for rotating his signal callers throughout the game.

Muschamp said Monday that one quarterback – either Driskel or fellow sophomore QB Jacoby Brissett – will play the entire first quarter with the other one taking over when the second quarter begins.

However, what will happen from there is currently unknown as Muschamp said he and offensive coordinator Brent Pease will meet at halftime to determine how the snaps will be split in the second half of the ballgame.

“As I’ve stated before, both quarterbacks will play in the game,” he explained. “Brent and I right now plan to play one in the first quarter – we have not made that decision yet – and another in the second quarter. And then through halftime make a decision as we go forward.”

Muschamp will not decide on the first quarter starter until later in the week but does not believe that the choice will ultimately matter in the long run.

“I think both guys are good players,” he said. “Again – I’ve said it before – I’m not overly concerned with the quarterback position and the talent level that we have there. We’ve got good players.”

Whether Driskel or Brissett are on the field, Muschamp expects each to perform to the level he has seen in practice and is confident that they can do what is necessary to help the team succeed. He also outlined what he wants to see from both signal callers.

“Win. Play well. Take care of the ball. Score points. Move our football team. Get us in and out of the huddle. Just manage our team and not in a conservative manner. Let’s get the ball moving,” he said.

How well each players accomplishes those goals may help determine who takes the snaps in all four quarters going forward this season.

Photo Credit: David Carr/The Independent Florida Alligator

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Florida Gators 2012 opening week depth chart

Though things could still change over the next five days, the Florida Gators on Monday morning released the team’s first official depth chart for the 2012 season. As was noted by head coach Will Muschamp last week, sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will both play against the Bowling Green Falcons though who will take the first snap has not yet been determined.

Florida omitted players who are not participating in the season opener, therefore the below depth chart is not the “best case scenario” version. A list of those players can be found at the end along with some additional explanations.

QB: Jeff Driskel OR Jacoby Brissett
RB: Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown
FB: Hunter Joyer, Trey Burton
WR (X): Frankie Hammond, Jr., Latroy Pittman/Andre Debose
WR (Z): Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton
F: Trey Burton, Omarius Hines
TE: Jordan Reed, Clay Burton

LT: Xavier Nixon, Kyle Koehne
LG: James Wilson, Ian Silberman
C: Jonotthan Harrison, Sam Robey
RG: Jon Halapio, Jessamen Dunker
RT: Chaz Green, Trip Thurman

DE: Dominique Easley, Earl Okine
DT: Sharrif Floyd, Damien Jacobs
NT: Omar Hunter, Leon Orr
Buck DE: Lerentee McCray, Dante Fowler, Jr.
Sam LB: Darrin Kitchens, Neiron Ball
Mike LB: Jon Bostic, Michael Taylor
Will LB: Jelani Jenkins, Antonio Morrison

CB: Jaylen Watkins OR Louchiez Purifoy
CB: Marcus Roberson OR Cody Riggs
S: Matt Elam, Valdez Showers
S: Josh Evans, Jabari Gorman
Nickel CB: Matt Elam, Jaylen Watkins
Dime CB: Matt Elam, Brian Poole

K: Caleb Sturgis, Brad Phillips
P: Kyle Christy, Todd Fennell
H: John Crofoot, Tyler Murphy
LS: Drew Ferris, Kyle Crofoot
KR: Andre Debose, Solomon Patton
PR: Marcus Roberson, Andre Debose

OUT SATURDAY: Redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (hamstring), junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee), redshirt junior DL Kedric Johnson (knee)

POSSIBLY OUT SATURDAY: Redshirt junior DB Jeremy Brown (wrist), freshman LT D.J. Humphries (MCL), freshman DB Marcus Maye (knee), redshirt freshman OL Tommy Jordan (shoulder)

NOTES
– Debose is not listed as a starting receiver.
– Koehne and Thurman are inserted as reserve tackles because Patchan is out.
– Silberman is listed as the second-string left guard because Koehne is filling in at tackle.
– Taylor is at Mike LB and Morrison at Will LB as reserves but both are interchangeable.
– All four cornerbacks are expected to see 75 percent of the snaps in a particular game.
– Phillips beat out freshman Austin Hardin for the No. 2 kicker job.
– Murphy is the back-up holder after working on that during the fall.

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FOUR BITS: Addazio, volleyball, soccer, Harvin

1 » When things do not always go as planned for the Florida Gators, the fan base seems to freak out. Like last year, fans’ frustrations have already been pin-pointed on offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio. But as both the Orlando Sentinel‘s George Diaz and The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley will tell you, it was only one game and Addazio may indeed deserve a break. “I wasn’t happy with some the play calls Saturday, especially the screen pass from the 1-yard line that should have been ruled a safety,” Dooley wrote in particular. “But with Addazio as coordinator, Florida is now 14-1. I think that has to count for something. Let’s see what happens the rest of the way. Off the ledge, people. Like I’ve said a million times, nobody suffers winning like Gator fans.”

2 » Facing a top-15 opponent for the third time in their first five matches of the 2010 season, No. 4/6 Florida volleyball (5-0) defeated the No. 13/15 Colorado State Rams (5-1) in four sets – 25-22, 25-19, 25-27, 25-21. The victory, which won the Gators the Campus USA Credit Union Invitational emanating from the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL, featured another brilliant performance from junior right-side/setter Kelly Murphy. She, along with senior middle blocker Lauren Bledsoe, recorded 13 of Florida’s 10 kills. One day prior, in matches that took place earlier in the invitational, volleyball swept the both the Bowling Green Falcons (25-12, 25-11, 25-16) and Albany Great Danes (25-8, 25-21, 25-14) in three sets.

The Gators will host another tournament, the Nike Big Four Classic, beginning Friday. The other three teams participating in the event are No. 1 Penn State, Texas and Stanford, and all game information is available via OGGOA’s Upcoming Schedule table at the top right of your screen.

3 » Also running through the competition this year is No. 7 Florida soccer (5-0), which had six different players score while shutting out the Jacksonville Dolphins (2-3) 6-0 on Friday at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Junior forward Lindsay Thompson (27’), junior F/midfielder Tahnai Annis (30’), freshman F/MF Maggie Rodgers (45’), redshirt sophomore MF McKenzie Barney (50’), freshman defender Mary-Ann Krlin (80’) and sophomore F/MF Natalia Torosian (90’) all punched goals through. As a team, Florida had 30 shots on Jacksonville, 14 of which were on goal. UF is set to face Florida State next on the road Friday at 7 p.m.

4 » Though he missed most of training camp grieving two deaths and suffering from another severe bout of migraine headaches, former Gators wide receiver Percy Harvin says he is “ready to play ball” for the Minnesota Vikings beginning Thursday night in the NFL’s 2010-11 season opener against the New Orleans Saints (including former Florida defensive end Alex Brown and running back DeShawn Wynn). Harvin, who will be on of quarterback Brett Favre’s primary pass catchers along with the team’s kick returner, believes he is finally getting his migraines under control with the help of numerous doctors. “There’s no miracle solution for them,” he told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “The people I talked to had them for 40-plus years. My mom had them for 35 years and is just now growing out of them. It’s just something you got to hope to maintain. […] I think we have a great plan.”

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FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Trattou, Demps, Durkin

1 » Whether you call it sacrifice or making the right decision, former Florida Gators center Maurkice Pouncey’s decision to enter the 2010 NFL Draft had an impact on his brother. Now alone on the line for the first time without Maurkice, junior guard Mike Pouncey looks to move to his sibling’s old position next season – and it is for the best. “I think what really was impressive about [Maurkice] was when he was making his decision to come out, he wanted his brother to be able to play center,” Pouncey’s trainer Tom Shaw told FanHouse. “It was a big sacrifice because they’ve played everything together their whole life. That was one of their plans, he could come out and that will give Mike a chance to move up in the draft. It’s the ultimate sacrifice — he loves his brother and wants to spent time with him.”

2 » Junior defensive end Justin Trattou is ready for his captainship, and he realizes part of that comes with showing the youngsters the ropes. “It’s always [hard to adjust] when you come in as a freshman, especially when you come in midway in January,” Trattou said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “It’s always going to be tough because no matter what you did in high school, it’s not going to be the same intensity as it is here, between all the strength coaches and all the guys who have been here for a couple years.” Trattou’s toughness is not to be questioned, especially considering he played with a torn left bicep last season. “The one I had is ripped off,” Trattou said per the Orlando Sentinel. “Now it’s basically just scarred over. The key was giving it time to get stronger. […] Any time you can fight through injuries, it always gets respect from guys.”

Two more BITS on RB Jeff Demps and LB coach D.J. Durkin…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Pouncey, Trattou, Demps, Durkin

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Stanford assistant D.J. Durkin hired by Florida

MyValleySports.com is reporting that Stanford Cardinal defensive ends and special teams coach D.J. Durkin has been hired to coach linebackers and special teams for the Florida Gators. Durkin, who has coached at Stanford for the last three seasons, previously worked as linebackers and special teams coach with the Bowling Green Falcons from 2005-06.

A four-year starter for Bowling Green from 1997-2000, Durkin served as a graduate assistant and defensive specialist on the Falcons coaching staff while he pursued a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision. Florida head coach Urban Meyer, who led Bowling Green from 2001-2002, hired Durkin as one of his GAs during his tenure. After Meyer left, Durkin spent two years with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish where he was a GA for the entire defensive staff but worked closely with defensive ends.

An interesting twist to this story is that Meyer has always coached the Gators’ special teams unit, so hiring Durkin for the job may very well indicate that he is choosing to lessen some duties or drop them all-together. OGGOA will have more on this story as additional information is made available.

ESPN spent a day with Durkin during Stanford football practice:

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