10/28: Roper on fixing Florida’s offense, QB Harris starting for the Gators on Saturday

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on Florida’s recent struggles and the Gators’ upcoming contest against the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs, which is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

FIXING AN OFFENSIVE OFFENSE

When Roper was hired to take over after Brent Pease’s ouster, it was expected that he would inject some life into the Gators’ offense. Florida would supposedly spread the ball out, throw it down the field and take chances that it had not in the past.

However, after posting 101 points in its first two games, UF has combined for just 72 in its last four contests. For Roper, it all comes down to a pair of major issues – the downfield passing game and turnovers.

“Right now, turnovers. Sometimes it’s a different theme, week-to-week. We obviously haven’t been as good in the passing game all season long. But specifically, in the last game, it’s turning the football over,” he explained.

“If you look at it, it’s kind of the trend. We were good in the first game, second game we were pretty good in, I think we had one. It’s been a theme of three until we doubled the three. We’re an offense that has to take care of the football better right now. It’s the primary goal going into this next opportunity.”

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10/27: Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks Harris starting, Gators offensive issues

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from consecutive losses while preparing for the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Florida-Georgia will play in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. with the game once again airing live on CBS.

MOVING ON

Set to be the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators in the Florida-Georgia game since Chris Leak in 2003, Treon Harris took nearly all the first-team reps with the offense during the bye week and will get the majority of them this week as UF prepares to take on UGA in Jacksonville.

Muschamp, to this point, has been impressed with what he’s seen from the signal caller.

“Treon will be getting his first start, excited for him and what he’s going to be able to do,” he said. “[Harris is] a guy that has a knack for making plays, certainly has got a calm, cool, collected [way] about himself and how he carries himself. I think we’ll play well. Identify some things he feels comfortable with as well as we continue to move forward offensively. As much as anything, we’ve struggled with an identity because of the turnovers. That’s been a major issue.”

He also believes Harris will be able to carry a full workload, without a limited playbook, considering all of the extra action he’s seen through the bye week.

“I think in the open week our offensive staff did a pretty good job of identifying some things that Treon does extremely well, so we won’t pare things down as much as you might think with a freshman quarterback,” he said. “He’s an extremely bright young man. He’s able to handle a lot of things on his plate. I think the [extra] repetition … will help him moving forward.”

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10/18: Florida-Missouri post-game report: Muschamp’s hot seat bursts into flames

A devastating 42-13 loss at the hands of the unranked Missouri Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) has sent the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) reeling and set head coach Will Muschamp‘s hot seat ablaze.

Muschamp met with the media after Saturday’s homecoming game to discuss the team’s second-straight loss to an unranked Southeastern Conference opponent at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida trails in its all-time series with Missouri 1-3 and has lost consecutive games to its new SEC East rivals.
» In addition to losing five-straight games against top 25 opponents and being 4-13 against ranked opponents under Muschamp, the Gators have now lost consecutive games to unranked SEC opponents, falling to 12-4 in such games. Saturday was Muschamp’s sixth loss to an unranked team.
» Florida is opening a season 3-3 through six games for just the second time in the last 28 years. UF’s opening game against Idaho was canceled.
» The Gators lost on homecoming in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1947-48. UF fell 34-17 to Vanderbilt last year.
» Florida, which allowed just five sacks in its first five games, gave up six on Saturday.
» The Gators were +8 in turnover margin two weeks ago and entered Saturday’s game +5; Florida finished -5 in turnover margin and is now even on the season.
» Florida’s defense gave up just 13 of Missouri’s 42 points on the evening. The Tigers scored 24 points off turnovers.


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Missouri stomps Florida 42-13 in The Swamp

Six turnovers including four return touchdowns – two on special teams – and an inability to get anything going on offense led to one of the worst home losses in school history for the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) as the Missouri Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) routed their hosts 42-13 on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday night.

Missouri, coming off a 34-0 defeat at the hands of Georgia just one week ago, shut out Florida in the first half for the second time UF’s last three games. The Gators opened the contest in an immediate hole – Tigers’ returner Marcus Murphy brought back the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown – and never recovered.

Florida looked to be in trouble again on its first offensive series after redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and junior running back Matt Jones fumbled an exchange, but UF got the ball back almost immediately on an interception by redshirt sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye.

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10/14: Roper explains Florida’s rushing approach

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on Florida’s second loss (at home against LSU) and the Gators’ upcoming contest against the Missouri Tigers, which is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

RUNNING THINGS

To say that Florida’s approach to running the football last Saturday was questionable is an understatement. The Gators entered the game with their starter, junior running back Matt Jones, injured (ankle) and questionable. UF planned to run redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel a lot in the contest, too.

Despite Jones’s health and the prospect of overworking a quarterback who had not carried the ball that much in any other game this season as very real concerns, Florida did not appear to have a power rushing backup plan.

Sophomore Kelvin Taylor and redshirt senior Mack Brown, who combined to tote the rock 259 times for 1,051 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013, touched the ball early in the contest but were not used late when it mattered the most – on 1st and Goal at the 2-yard line, 2nd and Goal at the 1-yard line, and 3rd and Goal at the 1-yard line.

Instead, the Gators ran 5-foot-9, 177-pound freshman tailback Brandon Powell on first down, gave Driskel a chance to run it in out of the shotgun on second down, and ran a triple option on third down (that would have succeeded had the pass not been dropped).

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10/11: Florida-LSU post-game report

A soul-crushing 50-yard game-winning field goal pushed the LSU Tigers (5-2, 1-2 SEC) ahead of the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-1 SEC) on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, as LSU took advantage of multiple Florida miscues to pull off a 30-27 come-from-behind victory in The Swamp.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media after the close loss, and OnlyGators.com takes a look at a number of key moments in the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» After the win, LSU is now 27-31-3 all-time against Florida, trailing the Gainesville portion of the series 12-15-3. The Tigers have won four of their last five meetings with the Gators.
» Saturday was the 44th consecutive year, dating back to 1979, that UF and LSU squared off on the gridiron.
» The Gators are now 21-5 against unranked opponents under Muschamp and 12-3 against unranked SEC teams during his tenure.
» Florida has converted 19-of-20 red zone trips into points this season but have only scored 11 red zone touchdowns through five games.
» The Gators scored more than 21 points in regulation for the first time in nine SEC games.
» UF’s offensive line once again did not allow a sack; the Gators have only given up five through five games, including none against Eastern Michigan, Alabama and LSU.
» Florida entered Saturday with a +8 turnover margin but lost three turnovers in the game and did not gain any back; the Gators are now +5 for the season. UF gained 15 turnovers in its first four games.
» Florida’s run defense had only allowed 11 double-digit runs on the year entering Saturday’s game but gave up nine more over the course of the LSU contest.
» Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar entered Saturday having caught a pass in 32-straight games. He dropped his only target of the evening and came three games away from tying a school record for most consecutive contests with a reception.

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Late field goal lifts LSU over Florida 30-27

An intense, hard-fought, back-and-forth affair Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, came to a close as Colby Delahoussaye booted a career-long 50-yard field goal to push the LSU Tigers (5-2, 1-2 SEC) to a 30-27 victory over the Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC).

LSU benefited from three forced turnovers – all coughed up by Florida redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel – tough running and some questionable penalty calls throughout the contest, while the Gators had multiple chances to win the game late but came up short by making numerous mistakes on both sides of the ball.

Freshman running back Leonard Fournette was beastly for the Tigers, taking 27 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns. LSU sophomore wide receiver Travin Dural also broke through for 52 yards and a one-handed touchdown, hauling in a huge 41-yard reception on 3rd and 25 late in the game to put his team in position to score.

For Florida, Driskel completed 14-of-25 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown, but a fumbled early in the contest and a late interception (one of two for the game) that led to Delahoussaye’s game-winning field goal. He also carried the ball a team-high 21 times for 71 yards and another score.

Redshirt senior WR Andre Debose was the Gators’ best playmaker on Saturday, returning one punt 62 yards for a touchdown and another 53 yards to set up a second Florida score. He also had one carry for 35 yards. Sophomore WR Demarcus Robinson, the beneficiary of a 73-yard bomb from Driskel late in the fourth quarter, led the wideouts with 104 yards on the evening, and freshman RB Brandon Powell took six receptions for 66 yards.

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Coaches want Gators’ playmakers to step it up

For weeks now, the Florida Gators coaching staff has claimed that redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is only part of the problem when it comes to the offense’s ineptitude. Last Saturday, the Gators proved head coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper right as drops, protection and other miscues – plus Driskel’s mistakes – seriously limited how effective Florida’s offense was through the first three quarters of the Tennessee game.

On Wednesday, Muschamp made it quite clear that the onus will not solely be on Driskel to play better in Saturday night’s showdown with the LSU Tigers. The skill players in particular must drastically improve, too.

“Fifteen drops at the [wide receiver] position, which is, you know…” said an exasperated Muschamp. “I look at the situation with the receivers, we’re trying to get some things going in the throwing game and we drop a slant on the first drive. And it’s like the air comes out of it a little bit. We’ve got to overcome those situations. We’ve got to finish on some plays; we’ve got to be able to place the ball on 3rd and 6 to an out route to a tight end on the money. There’s a lot of things involved in it. I think from the standpoint of us making some plays, creating some confidence for our guys is critical.”

In an effort to show the Gators’ playmakers how their minor mistakes – jumping too early for a pass, running the wrong route, failing to block effectively or altogether – are affecting Driskel and the offense as a whole, Muschamp addressed the unit Monday and stressed that the players need to take ownership of their roles on the team.

By doing so, he also attempted to take some pressure off of Driskel by pointing out to his teammates how the signal caller is not the only one causing the offense to appear as if it is stuck in the mud during games.

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