12/17: Muschamp on players, Sugar Bowl, Phillips

No. 3 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the last two weekends of practice, preview the 2013 Sugar Bowl and update the statuses as well as provide his thoughts about a number of players on the team.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (foot) and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Ian Silberman (shoulder) will both miss the bowl game. Each player had successful surgery on his respective injury recently but will not be able to return in time. Furthermore, redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (torn pectoral) has been doing individual work with the team but has not been cleared to play just yet. Muschamp said there are no other players expected to be absent for the bowl game, though he did mention previously that sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders would not play.

TRANSFER CONFIRMED

Muschamp confirmed that freshman defensive back Willie Bailey, a three-star recruit who did not play this season, has decided to leave the program and pursue opportunities elsewhere. “Willie Bailey has decided to transfer. He and I met last week and felt like he wanted to move on. We will support him in that,” he said.

He also noted that there should not be any more transfers before the bowl game but things could certainly change after Jan. 2. “We’re good right now. Obviously after the bowl game you sit down and evaluate where a young man is but right now we’re good to go,” Muschamp added.

RETURNING TO PRACTICE

Florida has practiced each of the last two weekends but has spent that time mostly working on fundamentals and getting back to basics. Muschamp said that the Gators will begin preparing for the Louisville Cardinals on Tuesday. Florida will then take a break for the holidays before resuming practice in New Orleans, LA, the site of the Sugar Bowl, on Dec. 27.

One thing he has tried to do since the end of the regular season is come up with a balance for the team between resting and getting away from it all but still remaining sharp football-wise.

“It’s really important for them to get away and decompress a little bit from football. You look at bowl games, with this long of a layover, it’s a one-game season. That’s how you really got to approach it,” he said. “You got to put all of your energy into it. I don’t like focusing too early on a bowl game because I think the players get too stale with the preparation. They get tired of watching the same film over and over and over again.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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Florida Gators hire Joker Phillips as new wide receivers coach, recruiting coordinator

The Florida Gators on Monday afternoon officially announced that former Kentucky Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips has been hired as the team’s new wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator.

News of Phillips’s hiring first broke Monday morning. Florida confirmed hours later that he has agreed to join the program and will officially begin working for the team on Friday. The Gators coaching staff is currently out recruiting. It is expected to return to Gainesville, FL to begin practice on Dec. 14-15.

“We are excited to have Joker join our staff,” said head coach Will Muschamp in a school release. “His background as a head coach and the number of years he has coached wide receivers will be a tremendous asset to our coaching staff and players. Joker is obviously very familiar with the Southeastern Conference and has always done a great job in recruiting. Obviously I had a number of experiences with Joker both on and off the field, as our paths have crossed often, but I’ve been really impressed with Joker Phillips as a man during this hiring process.”

At 49 years old with 25 years of coaching experience, Phillips spent time coaching for five different teams with two separate stints at Kentucky.

After playing wide receiver for four years with the Wildcats (1981-84), two years with the NFL’s Washington Redskins (1985, 1987) and one year with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts (1986), he decided to get into coaching.

He began his career at UK as a graduate assistant from 1988-89 and became the assistant recruiting coordinator in 1990 before taking over the job of receivers coach from 1991-96. He then went to Cincinnati and coached receivers in 1997 and defensive backs in 1998. Phillips followed that gig up by coaching receivers at Minnesota (1999-2000), Notre Dame (2001) and South Carolina (2002) before returning to his alma mater and adding the job of recruiting coordinator, which he held from 2003-04.

Phillips was promoted to offensive coordinator and held that position from 2005-08. In 2009, his job title was reclassified as “head coach of offense” as the school determined that he would be the successor for Rich Brooks. He took over as head coach in 2010 and led the team to a 13-24 record over the last three seasons.

The second African-American head football coach in Southeastern Conference history, Phillips took the Wildcats to a bowl in 2010 but saw his win totals decrease each of the last two seasons. He was fired after the first 10 games of the 2012 campaign but agreed to stay on and coach the team for the duration of the season.

Though Phillips and Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease both coached at Kentucky, they did not do so together. The two seasons Pease spent at UK (2001-02) occurred while Phillips was coaching elsewhere. Muschamp coached against Phillips once in 2002; the former was defensive coordinator for LSU while the latter was coaching at South Carolina. The two were also on opposing staffs when Muschamp was a graduate assistant at Auburn in 1995.

“I’m thrilled to become part of the Gator family,” said Phillips in the same release. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to compete and win at the highest level. I believe in Coach Muschamp’s philosophy and what he has done in his short time here at Florida is phenomenal. I’m looking forward to contributing to the long-term vision that he has for this program. In addition, it will be very rewarding to be involved in the hands-on development of the players I will coach.”

Phillips has had a hand in developing a number of extremely talented receivers including current NFL stars Stevie Johnson, Randall Cobb and tight end Jacob Tamme, former NFL pass catcher Troy Williamson, and SEC career receptions standouts Craig Yeast (No. 2), Derek Abney (No. 5) and Keenan Burton (No. 7).

He replaces Aubrey Hill, who served as the Gators’ wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator during Muschamp’s first season but resigned prior to the 2012 campaign. Florida’s pass catchers were coached by Pease and graduate assistant Bush Hamdan this past year.

Photo Credit: Kentucky.com

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Florida head coach Will Muschamp wants staff, players to do what is best for their careers

A common theme emerged during Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp’s weekly press conference on Monday when the man in charge was asked about his feelings on coaches potentially leaving for other jobs and juniors on his team considering departing early to play professionally in the NFL.

His stance? Do it – if it advances your career.

Already having replaced two coaches in his second year on the job, Muschamp is not afraid of staff turnover and said Monday that he is certainly prepared should that occur despite the fact that he does not anticipate anyone leaving at this point in time.

“This is a great place to work and we’ve got a good, young football team, and we’re going to be good for a long time,” he said.

“I always tell our staff this: ‘If you have an opportunity for a promotion … I support you 1,000 percent.’ That says what kind of job we’re doing here at Florida.”

Muschamp was sure to make a distinction between coaches leaving to advance their careers – a position coach becoming a coordinator, a coordinator becoming a head coach – and others who are perhaps more impatient and would move on only changing their polo shirt and not their job title.

“Guys that want to make parallel moves and they’re always looking for the next job, they don’t need to be here anyway. We’ll go find a good coach. There’s a bunch of people that want to coach here. There’s a long list…right on my desk,” he quipped.

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
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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.
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8/3: Muschamp on Hill, Hamdan, leadership

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday following the first day of fall practice for the Florida Gators. Muschamp spoke about a number of hot topics concerning the coaching staff and personnell heading into the season.

HILL’S RESIGNATION WAS “VERY SURPRISING”

Though Muschamp did not want to go into too much detail about the departure of wide receivers coach/recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill, he did say that he informed the team of his resignation on Thursday night and was ultimately surprised by the decision.

“Obviously disappointed in the situation,” Muschamp said. “I really don’t have anything more to say. It’s a personal situation with Aubrey. It has nothing to do with the University of Florida, and we wish him well and he’ll always be a Gator.”

He also complimented Hill and said that he does not hold his decision against him.

“Aubrey’s a good man, a good football coach, a good guy and a great Gator. He felt like this was something he needed to do and that’s what we did,” Muschamp said.

FILLING IN FOR HILL ON THE FIELD, IN THE OFFICE

Hill’s departure leaves what many would believe are two glaring holes in the Florida coaching staff considering the fact that he held two positions. Muschamp was quick to point out, however, that “recruiting coordinator” is not one that needs to be filled because, at the end of the day, it all falls on his own shoulders.

“You’re looking at him. Every day,” Muschamp quipped when asked who would replace Hill as recruiting coordinator. “That title don’t mean a whole lot to me. I’m the recruiting coordinator. I handle all the recruiting; I’ve recruited every player we have.”

He did, however, expand on who would be coaching the receivers and said that duty would indeed fall on the shoulders of graduate assistant and former Boise State quarterback Bush Hamdan.

“He’s a guy that is a really good young football coach,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very mature guy, an outstanding football coach. As we move forward, I will make a decision in December about that position.”

Muschamp appeared solid in this decision, noting that he has “all the confidence in the world [Hamdan] will do an outstanding job for Florida.” He also said that offensive coordinator Brent Pease would be helping him out just like he would any other coach.

“When you’re the coordinator, you wear a lot of hats. So it’s not like all of a sudden it’s a new responsibility being thrown on top of you. He was very comfortable with what we were doing anyways,” he said of Pease.

“I feel very comfortable about that situation. I’m not at all worried. I never blinked. We were going to be fine; I knew what we were going to have to do.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On how he felt after practice: “A lot of really good retention on both sides of the ball; very pleased with both of the retention. Obviously they’ve worked hard this summer knowing their assignments and the things that they do. [...] The younger guys went tonight…that was good, good effort. It was interesting. We lined up in some defenses I didn’t know we had. No, they did a good job. They did. It was good effort and energy and excitement, anxiety and all the stuff that you couple into a young guy going out.”

» Muschamp said that defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and redshirt freshman Valdez Showers both practiced with the younger players in the evening session not because they needed work on learning the system but because he wanted to make sure each got as many reps as possible.

» On if he saw increased toughness from his team on Friday: “You play in pads and we’re out there in helmets. Everybody looks tough and everybody’s got courage in helmets. Some of the courage doesn’t show up as much when you get into full gear, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.”

» On if players are able to determine leaders before coaches do: “At the end of the day, the players before the coaches normally know who the leaders are. I see them on the field, I see them in the locker room, I see them in the weight room. I have a pretty good idea of the personality they have and the type of person they are. But unless I’ve been around them for 2-3-4 years, sometimes you may miss on some guys. But they’re with them in the social settings and they understand the guys that are real and the guys that aren’t real at the end of the day. There’s no question that our players probably identify better early on who the true leaders are and who the real guys are and who the guys are that want to talk about it. You know, you got to walk the walk as well.”

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Florida Gators, WR coach Aubrey Hill part ways

Florida Gators wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill has resigned from his position with the team, the school announced on Friday.

Hill, who has been twice named by Yahoo! Sports in connection with major recruiting violations in his former position with the Miami Hurricanes (Aug. 16, 2011 | July 20, 2012), resigned for “personal reasons” according to head coach Will Muschamp.

“I have too much love and respect for this program to become a distraction as I deal with some personal issues,” Hill said in statement released by the school. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to have worked with Coach Muschamp, a tremendous staff and great group of players. The future is very bright here and the University of Florida will always have a special place in my heart. Go Gators.”

Muschamp said in a release that he appreciated Hill’s decision to move on.

“Aubrey informed me he was resigning for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the University of Florida,” he said. “Aubrey didn’t want to be a distraction to our team and our football program and he thought it was best for him to move on. I appreciate Aubrey’s efforts and wish him the best moving forward. He will always remain a Gator.”

A Miami, FL native, Hill is a Gators alum who played for head coach Steve Spurrier from 1991-94 when Florida won their first three SEC titles. He served as a graduate assistant under Spurrier from 1996-98 and coached wide receivers at four stops over 12 years before being hired by Florida. He also served as the Hurricanes recruiting coordinator only for the 2010 season, his last year with the team.

Filling in for Hill at least temporarily will be offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who also coaches the Gators’ quarterbacks, and offensive graduate assistant Bush Hamdan. Pease previously coached wide receivers at Boise State from 2006-10, and Hamdan was a backup quarterback in his offensive system.

Muschamp will likely hire a new coach after the season.

Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson is an early candidate to take over Hill’s recruiting coordinator duties; Florida already has 21 players verbally committed for the 2013 cycle as of press time and has an early jump on its 2014 class.

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