8/26: Optimism and confidence surround Florida as Muschamp kicks off game week vs. Idaho

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to open up game week ahead of the first game of the season against the Idaho Vandals at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor also shared some comments to kick off game week.

This post was updated Wednesday will comments Muschamp made during his weekly appearance on the Southeastern Conference media teleconference.

OPTIMISM AND CONFIDENCE

A new season is on the horizon for the Gators, and Muschamp knows that his team is ready for the opportunity to prove to doubters that 2013 was a fluke and not how Florida football is supposed to be played. He has seen the renewed drive and dedication from his team on the field, in meeting rooms and during events outside of the facility. Now he just hopes that UF will be able to put it all together on Saturday.

“Any time you go through a tough time in your life, you reflect and you get humble and you work hard and you pull together and you understand that people around you are close to you. Certainly in the building, number one, but within that locker room, number two, I’ve seen a very close-knit unit,” he said.

“In that locker room, there are a lot of guys that know how to practice, know how to practice the right way. They know how to compete and get after each other but also how to take care of each other. It’s been a lot of fun in training camp. I’ve really enjoyed being around the guys. You can see the camaraderie and togetherness in this football team, and I really look forward to seeing them competing in front of our fans.”

Taylor said the excitement around the program is palpable, and the Gators have an opportunity to ride the wave of momentum into the season by pulling off a victory over the Vandals.

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8/18: Muschamp on depth chart, competition heating up as season approaches

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to kick off his team’s final few days of practice before preparation finally begins for the team’s first opponent on Saturday, Aug. 30.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators were dealt their first notable injury blow this season as Muschamp announced that freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley, who was already dealing with scar tissue on a sports hernia he had repaired in high school, also had an undetected torn labrum in his hip and was scheduled for surgery on Monday. Holley will take a redshirt.

Senior offensive guard Trenton Brown (foot contusion), redshirt sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye (hamstring) and freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe (ankle) were all injured in practice this week, though all are expected back soon. Brown will return to practice on Tuesday, while Maye and Sharpe are scheduled to get back onto the field next Monday after a week on the sideline.

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8/13: Fowler breakout, Leak coaching, Jones ready

A handful of Florida Gators met with the media on Tuesday to discuss both how fall practice is going and how the team is coming together ahead of the 2014 season. Others met with the media last week to discuss similar topics.

BREAKOUT TIME

Junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. had his share of moments during his sophomore campaign. He looked strong at times and explosive at others but had little help around him to stop the double teams and allow him to be truly dominant.

With 2014 now approaching, Fowler has the opportunity to step up and be the dominant name on Florida’s defense, even more so than sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. According to some of his teammates, he’s on his way to earning that type of recognition.

“He’s been relentless,” said sophomore safety Keanu Neal. “Effort, that’s what he’s bringing. He’s bringing a lot of effort and continuing to work on his technique to get better.”

Fowler has also taken over Dominique Easley’s role as a leader on the Gators’ defense. That baton was ceremoniously passed when Easley relinquished his Chucky doll and allowed Fowler to be the adoptive father. Fowler tried to fill in for his role model last year, but even with Chucky in tow, he had a ways to go. This year, it seems he is putting it together on the leadership front.

“He’s one of my best friends. Me and him were roommates last semester, so we’re pretty close. Every time I’m on the field with him it’s like playing next to one of my good friends. He pretty much brings me up, tells me to work hard. He’s definitely a good guy, definitely a good role model,” explained sophomore defensive tackle Joey Ivie.

Fowler is doing all of this without Chucky in the locker room, at least for now.

“I haven’t seen the doll yet. I don’t know if I will,” redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor said. “I wasn’t scared of it; it was just a matter of fact that you got a little doll that kills people in movies. Besides that, no, I haven’t seen it. We might see it soon, but I don’t know. We’ll have to see at the first Gator Walk.”

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8/12: Roper breaks down Gators offense, backup quarterbacks and running backs

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday after the team’s 11th fall practice to provide his thoughts on the offense to this point. Roper also evaluated a number of Gators who should be big factors for Florida in 2014.

EARLY RETURNS

The theme coming out of spring practice was that the Gators installed more of the offense and were much further along in the learning process than Roper expected. While that might have been true then, Roper was cautious Tuesday to say that Florida’s players fully understand what is going on with his scheme.

“I think they’ve got a really good understanding of what we’re asking them to do, our base offense, I should say, the guys that were around for those 15 days – our two offensive lines, our two quarterbacks,” he explained. “Really, the young guys, it’s a battle right now to have a great understanding because it is so new to them and our defense is so multiple and causes so many problems. But the guys that have been in the battles before can obviously apply experiences to what we’re teaching them offensively, I think they’ve really got a good understanding of what we’re doing.”

He later added: “These guys aren’t there yet because they’ve just been in it 25-26 practices in. The biggest thing to guard against is putting too much on their plate.”

While Roper may still be spoon-feeding the Gators his offense, he is pleased with how the team has responded to his system and coaching.

“I think [their attitude's] been really good. I think these guys are excited about playing football,” he explained. “It wouldn’t matter who you rolled in here. When this time of season comes running around, everybody is excited. But I hope they’re enjoying the offense. I hope they’re enjoying competing every day on the practice field, and I think they’re excited about going and competing on Saturdays.”

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Snell’s Slant: Gators are bought in, ready to work

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

Hello, everyone. Did you miss me? After a long, boring summer of sports that really, honestly do not interest me one bit, college football almost back and soon to be gracing our beautiful high definition television screens once again.

Quite a few things have changed on the college sports landscape since you last heard from me following the Florida State loss, and the Florida football team has a legitimate opportunity to surprise some doubters as the 2014 season progresses.

I got the chance to do something this offseason that I have not done since I stopped playing for the Gators in 2003. I hung around with the team and met some of the current players. And most importantly, I came away impressed.

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New Gators football players pick numbers

With the entire football team now enrolled for the Summer B semester, the Florida Gators on Monday released the uniform numbers for all the new players set to suit up for the first time next season.

TRANSFERS –
» 72 – Drew Sarvary (Tallahassee, FL), junior offensive lineman
» 83 – Jake McGee (Richmond, VA), redshirt senior tight end

FRESHMEN – SUMMER ENROLLEES
» 2 – Ryan Sousa (Orlando, FL), three-star wide receiver
» 3 – Treon Harris (Miami, FL), four-star quarterback
» 12 – Quincy Wilson (Fort Lauderdale, FL), four-star defensive back
» 14 – C.J. Worton (Homestead, FL), three-star wide receiver
» 23 – J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, FL), four-star cornerback
» 27 – Deiondre Porter (Tampa, FL), three-star cornerback
» 52 – Travaris Dorsey (Jacksonville, FL), three-star offensive lineman
» 54 – Khairi Clark (Hollywood, FL), four-star defensive tackle
» 56 – Thomas Holley (Brooklyn, NY), four-star defensive tackle
» 77 – Andrew Mike (Tucson, AZ), three-star offensive lineman
» 78 – David Sharpe (Jacksonville, FL), four-star offensive lineman
» 80 – C’yontai Lewis (Alabaster, AL), three-star tight end
» 82 – Moral Stephens (Perry, FL), four-star tight end
» 92 – Gerald Willis III (New Orleans, LA), four-star defensive lineman
» 96 – Justus Reed (Clearwater, FL), three-star defensive end

FRESHMEN – SPRING ENROLLEES
» 5 – Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C.), five-star cornerback
» 7 – Will Grier (Davidson, NC), four-star quarterback
» 7 – Duke Dawson (Cross City, FL), four-star cornerback
» 20 – Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, FL), four-star running back
» 30 – DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS), three-star tight end
» 53 – Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, FL), three-star offensive lineman
» 71 – Nolan Kelleher (Mount Pleasant, SC), four-star offensive lineman
» 93 – Taven Bryan (Casper, WY), three-star defensive lineman

* Preferred walk-on kickers Brooks Abbott (Jacksonville, FL), a transfer from Virginia Tech, and freshman Jorge Powell (Coral Gables, FL) do not have numbers yet.

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Muschamp: Townsend out 8-10 weeks, issues at line of scrimmage, Florida playmakers step up

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media just over one week before the 2014 Orange & Blue Debut spring game to provide updates on individual players and how the team as a whole is progressing heading into its final practices.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore punter Johnny Townsend, who took over the starting job from senior Kyle Christy in 2013, underwent surgery on his wrist and will miss 8-10 weeks of action. Muschamp expects Townsend to be fine for the regular season and disclosed that Townsend’s injury happened over time – wear and tear through his years of playing football. The surgery does open a door for Christy to prove that he can once again handle the starting job in his final year with the program.

Redshirt senior fullback Gideon Ajagbe has also been ruled out for the remainder of spring practice with a shoulder injury. Though he does not need surgery and likely would have come back had there been two weeks of spring left, Ajagbe will heed the caution of Florida’s trainers, which suggested that he just rest up and get ready for the summer.

Sophomore safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) finally returned to the field but was limited, and redshirt junior right guard Tyler Moore (elbow) has been pushing through a weak arm while wearing a brace. Muschamp noted that Moore did not do any strength training until the start of spring practice.

The Gators also hope to get redshirt freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson (concussion) back on Monday and believe freshman running back Brandon Powell (foot) could be able to participate in non-contact work if his X-ray comes back clear.

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Gators 2014 early enrollees pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers and now that Florida Gators football team is beginning spring practice, it was time for the nine 2014 early enrollees to choose theirs. Below is the list according to the school’s spring roster:

TRANSFERS
» No. 72 – Drew Sarvary (Tallahassee, FL), junior offensive lineman

FRESHMEN
» No. 5 – Jalen Tabor (Washington, DC), freshman cornerback
» No. 7 – Duke Dawson (Cross City, FL), freshman defensive back
» No. 7 – Will Grier (Davidson, NC), freshman quarterback
» No. 20 – Brandon Powell (Deerfield Beach, FL), freshman running back
» No. 30 – DeAndre Goolsby (Derby, KS), freshman tight end
» No. 53 – Kavaris Harkless (Jacksonville, FL), freshman offensive lineman
» No. 71 – Nolan Kelleher (Mount Pleasant, SC), freshman offensive lineman
» No. 93 – Taven Bryan (Casper, WY), freshman defensive lineman

NUMBER CHANGES
» No. 2 – senior safety Jabari Gorman switched from No. 21.
» No. 8 – redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr switched from No. 44.

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