Gators DT Dominique Easley out for the season

Florida Gators senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, a leader of the defense and one of the unit’s most explosive players through the team’s three games, will miss the rest of the 2013 season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and medial meniscus in his right knee during practice on Tuesday.

Head coach Will Muschamp officially announced Easley’s injury on Wednesday afternoon after downplaying it earlier in the day during the weekly SEC football coaches’ media teleconference.

“I talked to Dominique and the team this afternoon and we will continue to look for his leadership and experience throughout the season. Watching any of your players go through this is one of the hardest things about being a coach,” he said in a school release. “Obviously, it is hardest on Dominique. We are disappointed for him, but we will be there for him every step of the way through his surgery and rehab process.”

“It was non-contact,” said defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Wednesday. “He was turning, running on a screen pass and just tweaked it a little bit, it looked like on tape.”

Easley is the second big-time starter and team leader to go down for the Gators in a four-day span as Florida also lost junior quarterback Jeff Driskel to a broken right fibula during Saturday’s 31-17 victory over Tennessee.

“Gatornation thank you for all of 4 yrs of sticking wi th me but god has something else planned for and have no worries #believe,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

He is also the sixth UF player (fourth starter) to suffer a season-ending injury joining Driskel (ACL), redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (labrum), redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (ACL), freshman defensive back Nick Washington (shoulder) and freshman linebacker Matt Rolin (ACL). Green, Debose and Rolin were each knocked out for the season during fall camp.

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Four more Florida Gators – Purifoy, Cummings, Pittman, Williams – suspended for opener

Updated on Aug. 31 at 10 a.m.

Sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will not be the only Florida Gators player suspended for the season opener against the Toledo Rockets as the school officially announced on Saturday morning that four more players – including junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, senior defensive tackle Darious Cummings, sophomore wide receiver Latroy Pittman and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Quinteze Williams – will also be held out of action for violations of team rules.

Reports of these suspensions began leaking Friday evening, when OnlyGators.com reached out to Florida for comment, but the Gators did not officially confirm the suspensions until sending a tweet Saturday morning.

Asked Wednesday during the weekly Southeastern Conference football coaches teleconference if any other players besides Morrison would miss the game due to disciplinary reasons, Muschamp answered, “No, not at this time.”

Based on the depth chart released by Florida on Monday, Purifoy is the only one of the five that would have otherwise started against the Rockets. Senior CB Jaylen Watkins, one of three first-string cornerbacks, will start in his place.

Cummings is second on the depth chart behind senior Dominique Easley, while Pittman is listed as a second-stringer at the F position behind junior Trey Burton.

Williams is not on the two-deep depth chart.

The Gators lost 13 starters from the 2012 season and will be without six total would-be starters for the 2013 season opener including Morrison (suspension), Purifoy (suspension), sophomore running back Matt Jones (illness), redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral), redshirt senior WR Andre Debose (torn ACL) and redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green (labrum).

Jones and the five suspended players will likely be eligible to return on Sept. 7 on the road at Miami, while Halapio is set to play his first game on Sept. 21 at home against Tennessee. Debose and Green are out for the season with their respective injuries.

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Pease talks Dunbar and Robinson, Gators offense

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday, four days before the 2013 season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31.

MAXIMIZING TALENT AT RECEIVER

With junior Quinton Dunbar and freshman Demarcus Robinson both listed as X wide receivers (Dunbar the starter and Robinson as second-string) on the first depth chart of the fall, many began wondering whether Florida would try to get both players on the field at the same time to maximize the talent at the position and give junior quarterback Jeff Driskel as many weapons as possible.

Both Pease and head coach Will Muschamp said previously that they want to bring Robinson along slow, ensuring he knows the X receiver spot perfectly before trying to move him around the field, which would mean Dunbar lining up elsewhere while Robinson has his helmet on. Pease on Tuesday addressed whether that is something that will likely happen during games.

“There will be situations like that. One thing with Quinton, you know, he’s a kid that’s been in it. Actually Quinton last year was a Z and we moved him to the X,” Pease said. “He knows the Z and will be inside for us sometimes. He’s a guy with experience. He’s learned the spots. … He’s a kid we can move around now.”

Robinson, despite being supremely talented, does not have the in-game experience just yet. Nevertheless, Pease noted this week that he is ahead of schedule for a player his age and should be an important contributor for the Gators this season.

“Oh yeah. Yeah, that guy is really developed for a young kid. Physically, he’s developed. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s got great hands,” Pease said. “You always want to see consistency, how you’re going to perform … and understand your routine and develop your trade and your professionalism, how you’re going to approach it. … With him, I think he’s getting to that point. He’s comfortable with things. He’s playing on his instincts. Now, let’s see you do it in the game because that’s what it’s going to come down to. …

“Is the kid going to make mistakes? Yes, because he’s a freshman. Does he have the ability to be fun to watch? Absolutely. Is he fun to be around and coach? Absolutely.”

PLAYER THOUGHTS AND EVALUATIONS

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Florida RT Chaz Green (labrum) out for the season, RB Matt Jones should return next week

Game Week – Monday: Opening Week Depth Chart | LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | New Mr. Two Bits, Muschamp on Tight Ends, Opener

Head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced that the Florida Gators have lost a second starter for the year as redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green tore his labrum in practice last Tuesday and will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday.

“Really disappointing news with Chaz Green. He’s going to have to have surgery this week to repair a labrum,” Muschamp said. “It happened in last Tuesday’s practice, felt it was OK, got the MRI back Friday afternoon. Chaz was playing his best football, playing extremely well, had certainly solidified himself at the right tackle spot.”

Muschamp also announced that sophomore starting running back Matt Jones, who is still recovering from a serious viral infection, is expected to be cleared to play the second week of the season at Miami on Sept. 7.

“Matt Jones continues to progress and do well. I certainly think he will be available next week,” he said. “He’s getting some more blood work done today as we work through it. Unless we have some sort of setback, I certainly think that’s going to happen.”

Muschamp continued: “He’s running, he’s cutting, he’s lifting. We haven’t put pads on him yet and he hasn’t gone out in the heat yet [with pads]. He’s been out in the heat as far as running is concerned. They’re just worried about a relapse from the standpoint of coming back too early. That’s what we’re waiting on the blood work to get back for him today. I’ll know more [Monday] afternoon or [Tuesday]. I saw him [Sunday]; he looks great. But again, I’m not a doctor.”

Green joins redshirt senior kick return Andre Debose (torn ACL) as starters lost for the 2013 campaign. Debose was also expected to see significant time at wide receiver.

Redshirt sophomore transfer Tyler Moore will take Green’s place in the starting lineup, just as he did during spring practice when Green was sidelined with an ankle injury. Junior transfer Trenton Brown will serve as the back-up.

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2013 SEC Media Days – Gators ready to rock

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players | Easley steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio represented the team on Tuesday by participating at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL. Below are highlights from Muschamp’s session along with some player comments.

MUSCHAMP FIRES A SHOT AT URBAN MEYER

Before he stepped up to the main podium, Muschamp spoke with reporters in a side session and was asked about Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer turning in Florida and running backs coach Brian White (Meyer’s former team and former assistant coach) for a minor secondary recruiting violation. Meyer and OSU also reported UF for what they perceived to be another recruiting violation last year.

“We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules,” Muschamp said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples. “They certainly know something about NCAA rules.”

Muschamp continued: “It’s really a dead issue. In both situations we were turned in by Ohio, the University of Florida didn’t do anything wrong.”

PUNISHMENT STILL UP IN THE AIR

Muschamp also told reporters that he has not decided whether sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will be suspended for any games due to his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery one month ago. He has already been disciplined by the Gators but additional punishment has yet to be determined.

Morrison accepted a deferred prosecution agreement from the State of Florida and will pay fines, perform community service and complete other tasks during a six-month probationary period in order to get the charge expunged from his record.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced Tuesday that only two players would be limited heading into fall training camp – redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman and freshman LB Alex Anzalone – both of whom are nursing shoulder injuries after going under the knife during the spring.

He expects both players to eventually return to practice in the fall but noted that each would likely miss 10-12 sessions before being cleared by team trainers. Otherwise, he believes the Gators are “pretty healthy” on the injury front.

Redshirt junior BUCK Ronald Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season with a pair of anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, will be cleared for the start of fall practice.

“Probably the guy I’m most excited to see is Ronald Powell,” Muschamp said. “Here is a guy who has been through a lot of adversity. He’s been cleared to go after it in fall camp. A guy I’m really excited to get back on the field to see is No. 7 running around in orange and blue, a guy that’s been through an awful lot. Two surgeries. Never complained. Never got down about anything. [He] is truly a great individual and excited that he’s a leader of our football team as well.”

POSITION-BY-POSITION ANALYSIS

As part of his 2,400-word filibuster opening statement, Muschamp went in-depth about each position on the Florida football team and often spoke at length about particular players. Below is a breakdown of what he had to say about those positions.

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Florida Gators 2013 post-spring depth chart

Below is the 2013 post-spring practice version of the Florida Gators depth chart. Though some fans will be excited to see where the team stacks up below, head coach Will Muschamp cautions each year that feeling that way is not worth the energy.

Muschamp makes it quite clear that he does not put a lot of stock into depth charts, even those that are published after spring practice is over. In fact, back in 2011 and again on Wednesday, he stated it is “not worth the paper it is printed on.” In other words, the depth chart seen here is just a starting-off point for 2013 and plenty can change between now and the start of the season.

Nevertheless, below is the depth chart as it was presented on April 24. Notations marked with (») denote changes from the pre-spring depth chart released March 12. Players marked with (*) were out for all or most of spring practice.

OGGOA will update this post with more from Muschamp shortly.

OFFENSE

QB: 6 Jeff Driskel, 10 Tyler Murphy
» Murphy inches ahead of 17 Skyler Mornhinweg for the No. 2 job.
RB: 24 Matt Jones, 33 Mack Brown
» Brown understandably inches ahead of freshman 21 Kelvin Taylor.~
FB: 43 Hunter Joyer, 25 Gideon Ajagbe
» Ajagbe wins the second-string job over 29 Rhaheim Ledbetter.
WR (X): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 11 Demarcus Robinson
WR (Z): 13 Latroy Pittman, 4 Andre Debose, 83 Solomon Patton
» Debose switches from second X to second Z receiver though the players switch in those positions. Pittman takes over the top spot at Z from 15 Loucheiz Purifoy.
F Position: 8 Trey Burton, 13 Latroy Pittman
TE: 88 Clay Burton, 87 Tevin Westbrook OR 18 Kent Taylor OR 84 Colin Thompson

~ Muschamp on Brown edging past Taylor: “You’re not going to get through the SEC with one back. That’s not going to happen. Certainly Mack has distanced himself as a second-team back at this time, a guy that we’ve got a lot of confidence in, that we expect big things form in the fall to continue to progress. I think he’s done a nice job of running the football, and protections, catching the ball, finishing plays. Kelvin certainly has done some nice things and he needs to continue to progress – more than anything- mentally with the offense. Physically, he’s got some ability.”

LT: 70 D.J. Humphries, 74 Trenton Brown
LG: 76 Max Garcia, 77 Ian Silberman*
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne
RG: 67 Jon Halapio, 63 Trip Thurman*
RT: 73 Tyler Moore OR 75 Chaz Green*
» Brown (an incoming JUCO transfer) replaces Thurman, who moves from back-up LT to back-up RG. Silberman replaces Koehne at back-up LG.

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2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Preview

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EDT)

TV: Sun Sports (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore, Brady Ackerman)
SiriusXM: None | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: FOXSportsFlorida.com (nationally) | Mobile Video: None
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Reference: Roster | Schedule

EVENT INFORMATION

Schedule:
9:00 a.m. – Gator Locker Room Yard Sale (outside Gate 9)
10:00 a.m. – Verizon Fan Fest in North End Zone Lawn
10:30 a.m. – Gator Walk
11:30 a.m. – Gates Open to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
11:30 a.m. – Warm-ups begin on the field
12:30 p.m. – Alumni Flag Football Game
1:00 p.m. – Orange & Blue Debut

Parking: Stephen C. O’Connell Center parking garage (first-come, first serve), Gale Lemerand Drive commuter lot (with shuttle)

Tickets: Free for alumni, students and the general public.

EVENT FORMAT

Instead of a full scrimmage, Saturday’s event will be an open practice that also includes limited scrimmage snaps. Florida will mix in approximately 40 scrimmage snaps with football drills. The format adjustment was made because the Gators currently only have six healthy offensive linemen and head coach Will Muschamp feels that it would be right to ask them to participate in 60-100 snaps over the course of a single afternoon. “It’s not fair to go into a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60-70 snaps in a row,” he explained. “That’s not healthy. That’s not good, it’s not good for our team.”

Muschamp also detailed what will occur during the practice/scrimmage (in order): (1) Field goal/point after touchdown drills, (2) punting and individual drills, (3) one-on-one work with the secondary and receivers going head-to-head while the quarterbacks throw the ball, (4) one-on-one work with block reaction for the offensive line, (5) linebackers and running backs picking up blitz protection and coverage responsibilities, (6) two series of scrimmage with the ball on the 35-yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (7) red zone one-on-one, (8) offensive and defensive line two-on-ones, (9) two series of scrimmage with the ball at the 35 yard line, a total of 8-12 plays, (10) two full cover punts and a punt/punt block drill, (11), two series of scrimmage from midfield, (12) two full cover kickoffs and a kickoff/kickoff return drill, (13) two series of scrimmage from midfield, (14) red zone 7-on-7s with the ball at the 18-yard line, (15) additional drills including pass rushing, (16) backed up punt drill, (17) one-minute scrimmage drill.

“It’s about getting good-on-good work. It’s about getting your best players going against your best players. … You get better when you’re going good-on-good,” Muschamp said. “This is good work. It’s good special teams work. This is a normal scrimmage-type situation for us as far as our football team is concerned. It’s good-on-good and that’s all I’m concerned with.”

MORE: Injury report, offensive and defensive notes, list of commitments and recruits in attendance…all available after the break!
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Banged up offensive line limiting Gators in spring

In each of the last two offseasons, the Florida Gators battled through deficiencies on the offensive line during spring practice. In 2011 and 2012, low scholarship numbers limited what Florida was able to do on the practice fields. The Gators remain handcuffed in 2013 but for now for a different reason – a rash of injuries that has prevented head coach Will Muschamp from running practice the way he wants day in and day out.

“What really hurt us is on the offensive line. Right now we got six healthy guys,” Muschamp said Tuesday after announcing that redshirt sophomore Trip Thurman (shoulder) will likely be out an extended period of time.

“Our numbers are good as far as scholarships – we got 11 guys on scholarship right now for spring which is about normal of what you want with the incoming guys coming in to get your numbers to 15-17 in that range – but we’ve been hit.”

Thurman (assuming he is out for the rest of spring) joins redshirt junior Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt junior Ian Silberman (shoulder) as players sidelined until at least the summer. Additionally, redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (knee) is extremely limited and redshirt freshman Jessamen Dunker remains suspended indefinitely at the very least until his legal cases are settled.

That leaves six scholarship offensive lineman for Muschamp, offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis to work with: sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia (also dealing with a back issue), redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore, redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt senior Kyle Koehne and redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams, who is playing offensive line for the first time after shifting over from the defensive line.

In other words, not much at all.

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