Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 68°F, few showers (30% chance of rain), winds NNE at 1 mph
Time: 1:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $15 on TiqIQ

TV: Pay-Per-View (Larry Vettel, Nat Moore) | ESPN GamePlan (outside Florida)
SiriusXM: 104/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com (outside Florida)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS JACKSONVILLE STATE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jack Crowe
Record: 9-1 Record: 6-4
Conference: Southeastern (FBS) Conference: Ohio Valley (FCS)
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: OFF

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida and Jacksonville State have never squared off on the gridiron.
» The Gators have the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule nationally.
» Florida can finish 7-0 at home in a season for just the third time in school history. The 2006 and 2009 UF teams also accomplished that feat.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season with wins of Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» UF was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have flipped that around and are 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 10-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 13-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 30-of-36 red zone trips (83.3 percent) but have only converted 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season, which is tied for 88th nationally in that category.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 33:11 in time of possession through 10 games, a margin that ranks sixth nationally and first in the SEC by 1:36 per game.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 155-55 in the second half (34-27 over the last three games) and 85-23 in the fourth quarter.
» Florida is third in scoring defense nationally (12.9 points per game).
» The Gators are +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (341) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed 15 interceptions so far in 2012 and has already surpassed its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in seven-of-10 games and has also forced eight fumbles.
» The Gators are first nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.4), fifth in total defense (284.9 yards per game) and 11th in rushing defense (99.9 yards per game).
» Florida has 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. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» The Gators are second nationally in net punt average (41.9 yards per punt).

Read about the injuries and absences and Senior Day…after the break!
Continue Reading » Senior Day – Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Jacksonville State Gamecocks

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Florida football’s 2011 media day – Muschamp

With the Florida Gators finally beginning 2011 fall practice on Saturday, head coach Will Muschamp, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley and dozens of other players met with the media to discuss the upcoming season. The Gators will take the field Saturday but all practices will be closed to both fans and the media.

STAT TO CARE ABOUT: TURNOVER MARGIN

Muschamp made it a point throughout both his media session to explain hat turnover margin is the only statistic that will be a primary focal point for all members of the coaching staff, whether on the offense, defense or special teams.

“The stat I emphasized with our team is turnover margin. Last year, the top 10 teams in turnover margin, six of them played in BCS games,” he said. “The critical factor I try to emphasize with our football team is turnover margin and big play ratio. When you’re dealing in that world, you’re talking about game-changing, field position-changing, vertical field-possession changing momentum in the game. We got to take control of the ball offensively and create what we call a ball hawk defense.”

Asked later if focusing on turnover margin made the team more defensively oriented than Florida football has been historically, Muschamp disagreed. “I wouldn’t necessarily say that. Turnover margin is something that affects both sides,” he noted. “We’ve got to have great ball security offensively, and we’ve got to create some turnovers on defense. On special teams, control the vertical field position. But from my chair, that affects all of us and how we play. It controls the field position; it controls the momentum of the game.”

FOUR TEAM GOALS HEADING INTO THE SEASON

When it comes to what he looks for in not only a successful player but more specifically a leader, Muschamp has those characteristics defined. He believes each represents a goal that the players should individually achieve by the time the season begins.

“We talk about leadership, and we define it to our players as: No. 1 – You got to be a productive player. If you’re not producing and you’re not making plays, it’s hard to be a leader. [No. 2] – You can’t have a bad day. You can’t come, ‘I hope that guy didn’t get hurt.’ So when you come to work, you can’t just say, ‘Well Coach, I just didn’t play good today.’ You got to play well all the time. [No. 3] – You got to positively affect everybody in the organization. [No. 4] – You got to stay humble in what you do. So you can’t be a negative guy that sits in the locker room and complains about how we’re practicing, how hot it is, or what we’re doing offensively or defensively. Stay humble and move forward with the mistakes and don’t make them again.”

INJURY UPDATES

All four of the injured players the Gators were worried about heading into 2011 have been cleared in one way or another. Redshirt freshman running back Mack Brown (broken fibula) will need to be careful with his endurance but is cleared to practice and will be “worked up to speed.” Redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) has been cleared for the field as well, but coaches will “make sure that we get out there and he’s ready to roll as far as contact and things are concerned.” Senior tackle William Steinmann (meniscus tear) is cleared for everything but contact (Aug. 15), and redshirt sophomore long snapper Christopher Guido (hernia surgery) will be good to go on Aug. 10.

BUILDING THE OFFENSIVE LINE

Muschamp continues to be worried about depth on three fronts, starting with the offensive line. Florida did not have much of an opportunity to build such depth in the spring as many players were injured and others were just putting their feet in the water for the first time.

“Obviously with the moving parts we had going through spring ball, that’s something we need to gel and we need to gel early,” Muschamp said. “We need to get five guys playing well together. And you’d like to build that number to seven, eight, nine, 10 guys if you can, but build depth on the offensive line of scrimmage.”

Overall, however, he is pleased with the development of the guys he got to see in spring. Muschamp praised redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio for his toughness and effort, junior tackle Xavier Nixon for being up to 290 lbs. but remaining athletic with more punch and power, and redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison for his transition from guard to center – “that’s a tough deal to do, do make the calls. We put an awful lot on the center.” He was also excited about redshirt freshman Ian Silberman’s move to guard, and redshirt freshman Chaz Green’s growth at tackle.

BUILDING THE FRONT SEVEN

Just like on offense, Muschamp hopes his defensive line rotation is something that can be solidified by the time fall camp comes to a close. With plenty of depth at defensive tackle including the two veterans – redshirt senior Jaye Howard and redshirt junior Omar Hunter – he said that sophomore Sharrif Floyd will mainly play on the inside but will also see some time at defensive end. Senior DE William Green will primarily play there but also get some time at outside linebacker, too.

Linebacker is another position in which depth is a concern for Muschamp. Aside from junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins, he is looking to fill in the blanks. Helping him do just that might be redshirt freshman Michael Taylor, who stood out to him as a “tough, physical kid” who “understands a little more what we’re asking of him.” Muschamp also noted that redshirt sophomore Dee Finely is progressing from his move from the secondary: “When your position moves closer to the ball, the game happens a lot faster. He’s been a guy that’s shown some flashes and was very productive for us early in spring.”

Obviously sophomore buck LB Ronald Powell will be counted on heavily in the pass rush, but Green and redshirt junior DE Lerentee McCray will also both work on getting to the quarterback. “Lerentee has done some nice things. Willie Green has done some nice things. But, consistently we haven’t seen enough,” Muschamp said. He did, however, have some extra praise for McCray. “Lerentee has got a great motor. He is very passionate about playing at Florida. It’s important to him to be a Gator,” he said. “He’s a guy that can give us some pass rushing plays, plays extremely hard. He’s tough, and he sticks his face in there. He’s a guy that you really appreciate coaching; he’s always up in the meeting rooms to watch film, ask questions. We’re expecting him to have a really good year.”

BRANTLEY AND THE OFFENSE

Asked how well he and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis are meshing together, Muschamp noted the duo shares the same offensive philosophy and have a great working relationship. “We want to be a running football team, have the play actions off of it, but still be able to spread the field and create plays in space for our playmakers,” he said. “I’ve got great confidence where we are and where we’re headed with our offense.”

His confidence, of course, begins with redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, who he believes should have complete trust in himself considering that Weis has all the faith in the world in regards to his abilities on the field. “He’s got great confidence in John; that should give John great confidence. That ought to give him great confidence as a quarterback, and I think it does,” Muschamp said.

He added there is “no question” that Brantley is the starter and noted that sophomore Tyler Murphy is currently the back up with freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett fighting for that role. “John is the starter. I say create some separation behind John; we need to find who is our backup quarterback going into the season, how are we going to tailor offense for the backup quarterback. And that’s a decision we need to make as quickly as we can in camp,” Muschamp explained.

FINDING A TRUSTWORTHY SECONDARY

With the Gators losing three veterans in the secondary, Muschamp has placed an emphasis on solidifying the positions, whether that is with older or younger players. “Secondary, I really like our athleticism,” he said. “I like starting with athleticism. I’d rather start with that than experience if I could take one of the two.”

He also shared his thoughts on four players in particular…

Sophomore safety Matt Elam: “Obviously, he plays safety and nickel, but he’s a guy who’s shown some play-making abilities. If you look at a defensive back and you look at critical factors of being able to play in space, that means you’ve got to be able to tackle and cover them, have physical toughness to play the position. He can spin in the box and play in the box and play in the deep part of the field. He judges the ball extremely well. He’s bright, he’s intelligent, and he can get in and out of the chase.”

Junior safety Josh Evans: “[He] has certainly been another guy that’s shown that he can do that.”

Redshirt freshman safety Josh Shaw: “[He] is certainly a guy who I think can do that, but he’s got to do it more consistently.

Sophomore cornerback Jaylen Watkins: “[He] is a young man we played at corner and safety in the spring and I think can give us a little position multiplicity in what he can do.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Florida will be holding split-squad practices on the first few days of camp in order “to let younger players have a better opportunity to learn.” NCAA rules state that players can only practice once per day over the course of the first five days of practice. Therefore, Muschamp will have the older players practice early and plans to film them. The younger players will then watch the film and go out in the afternoon and practice. “Now they’re able to, at least for two practices, get a better idea of what is going to be expected on the practice field,” he said. Monday is the team’s first day as a full unit.

» On how younger players can also be leaders: “I’m not really worried about looking for senior leadership. You can be a sophomore, you can be a freshman and be a great leader. I’ve seen guys do that – positively affect the organization with how they play and how they approach things every day. We’ve got some guys, especially that sophomore class, that we’re counting on being very productive players and they need to be really good leaders on top of that.”

» On not allowing assistant coaches to speak to the media yet: “I do think it’s important right now that there’s one message for our football team, and I’m the one that knows that the best.”

» On having an open doors policy with former Gators: “I have open arms for every letterman that comes back here. They are welcome to come to any practices; it’s not closed to them. They can come to every practice if they want to. But when you have guys like Kevin Carter, who was in yesterday, Fred Taylor, Mike Peterson, Tim Tebow, I mean all these guys have come back in the summer. Percy Harvin, the list goes on, of guys that come back anytime so they can talk about their time at Florida and the expectations of playing at Florida. I’ve got a guy on my staff, Terry Jackson and Aubrey Hill, that played at Florida. They understand the expectation of what it takes to be successful here.”

» On that dirty word “potential:” “Potential? That means you really haven’t done anything. God blessed you with an awful lot of ability, you take advantage of it. Guys that get labeled with potential in our program don’t last long.”

» On being ranked No. 23 preseason: “I could care less.”

» On the future of sophomore Trey Burton: “I think he fits very well with what we want to do. He’s going to play what we call the F position. That position is going to be a full back, it’s going to be a slot receiver, it’s going to be a match-up on a linebacker outside, and it’s going to motion and create leverage in the run and pass game. He’s going to do so many things for us. He’s a guy that is going to be catching the football, he’s going to be blocking, he’s going to be carrying it. He was a short-yardage situation guy in the spring that was probably our best short yardage back. It is kind of limitless what he’s going to be doing in our offense.”

» Muschamp noted that replacing Chas Henry at punter will be difficult but that freshman Kyle Christy has the inside leg on the job. “[He’s] a young man that came in mid-year, very excited about him,” he said. Muschamp also mentioned, however, that senior David Lerner would have a fair shot at the gig.

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (49-40)

With just 40 days to go until the Florida Gators‘ 2011-12 football season gets underway, the sixth part of OGGOA‘s new series, The Countdown, takes a look at those players expected to contribute on the field wearing jersey numbers ranging from 49-40.

49 – Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL)
Sophomore linebacker
6’2” 230 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Kitchens was a late commit to Florida who is currently majoring in social & behavioral sciences.

2010 Season: Played on the kickoff coverage team in 10 of 13 games during his freshman season, registering a pair of tackles.

2011 Outlook: Slotted as a second/third-string weakside linebacker on the spring depth chart, Kitchens may see the field on defense during his second year with the team but will do so in a reserve role.

48 – Neiron Ball (Jackson, GA)
Sophomore linebacker
6’2” 220 lbs.

Quick Bio: An early enrollee last spring, Ball was a four-star prospect who was All-State in Georgia and currently majors in social & behavioral sciences.

2010 Season: On the field for all 13 games, Ball accumulated 10 tackles while mostly serving as a member of the kickoff and kickoff return special teams units.

2011 Outlook: After a blood vessel ruptured in his brain back in February, Ball hospitalized, treated and diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation in his brain. Now healthy and recovering, he has been unable to practice or workout with the team and is expected to take a medical redshirt for his sophomore season. Ball hopes to return when he is completely healthy and in football shape next year.

47 – John Crofoot (Windemere, FL)
Redshirt sophomore kicker
5’11” 155 lbs.

Quick Bio: A walk-on who majors in business, Crofoot spent his freshman year as a long snapper but eventually took a redshirt after he did not see the field.

2010 Season: Transitioning to a kicker and holder, he played in nine games last year and helped then-punter/kicker Chas Henry complete some important field goals including the 37-yard game-winner in overtime against Georgia.

2011 Outlook: Will compete for the holder job on field goals and extra points.

46 – Drew Ferris (Carlsbad, CA)
Sophomore long snapper
6’0” 215 lbs.

Quick Bio: A highly rated long snapper coming out of high school, the social & behavioral sciences major did not play as a freshman and took a redshirt in 2010.

2011 Outlook: Entered spring as the back-up long snapper and will likely retain that role throughout the season as long as redshirt sophomore Christopher Guido holds down his job.

44 – Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN)
Freshman punter
6’2” 195 lbs.

Quick Bio: An early enrollee this January, Christy was one of the highest rated punters in the nation coming out of high school and committed to Florida partially because of Henry’s departure and the ability to start right away.

2011 Outlook: The starter going into spring practice, he was called “a real talented guy” with “a real good leg” by head coach Will Muschamp in April. Muschamp has been putting extra pressure on him during practice by standing right next to him while punting in an effort to help him mature quickly and rid himself of any nervousness going into the season.

41 – Hunter Joyer (Wesley Chapel, FL)
Freshman fullback
6’0” 237 lbs.

Quick Bio: The top-rated fullback nationally, Joyer enrolled in the summer and is expected to compete for time on the field right away.

2011 Outlook: On National Signing Day, Muschamp raved about how Joyer can help the team going forward. “We’re going to get back to more traditional as far as running two back runs. And he’s a young man that’s got a lot of lower body power, punch and explosion,” he said. “He’s a very strong young man. He lives in the weight room, and we’re excited to what he brings to our football team from a toughness standpoint.”

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (59-50)

With just 50 days to go until the Florida Gators‘ 2011-12 football season gets underway, the fifth part of OGGOA‘s new series, The Countdown, takes a look at those players expected to contribute on the field wearing jersey numbers ranging from 59-50.

58 – Nick Alajajian (New Port Richey, FL)
Redshirt sophomore center
6’4” 295 lbs.

Quick Bio: Majoring in sociology, Alajajian saw some time as a back-up offensive lineman in 2009, playing in seven games including the season opener. He was a four-star guard coming out of high school but has since changed positions.

2010 Season: Played in all 13 games mostly on the field goal unit, seeing just a few snaps on the offensive line as a reserve right tackle.

2011 Outlook: Originally listed as the back-up center on the spring depth chart, Alajajian may be back down to third string after tearing his meniscus in practice and seeing redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison take the first-string job. His surgery, which occurred in April, was supposed to keep him out three months but allow him to participate in summer workouts.

55 – Graham Stewart (Middletown, CT)
Freshman linebacker
6’1” 216 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Stewart was ranked as the best prospect coming out of Connecticut by Rivals.

2011 Outlook: Stewart may earn the opportunity to see some time on special teams but could be in line to take a redshirt for his freshman season. Head coach Will Muschamp is excited about what he can bring to the team. “He has all the critical factors. We had him in camp; he has all the good measurable on him,” Muschamp said in February. “He’s a very physical player, plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

54 – Christopher Guido (Altamonte Springs, FL)
Redshirt sophomore long snapper
6’2” 225 lbs.

Quick Bio: A former high school team captain who majors in health science, Guido took a redshirt after dressing but not participating in game action during his freshman season.

2010 Season: Played in all 13 games for the Gators during his third year with the team, starting as the long snapper for the punt unit.

2011 Outlook: With John Fairbanks having graduated, Guido will also take over starting long snapper duties with the field goal team.

52 – Jon Bostic (Wellington, FL)
Junior linebacker
6’1” 240 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star recruit and health education & behavior major, Bostic returns as a veteran defender and team leader. He has appeared in 25 games throughout his Florida career and goes into his third year looking to break out.

2010 Season: After leading all freshmen with 18 tackles in 2009, Bostic started six games in 2010 but was out on defense for the majority of snaps during the season. He appeared in all 13 games and registered 57 tackles (third on the team), 1.5 sacks and three interceptions.

2011 Outlook: Named to the Preseason All-SEC Third Team by the league’s coaches and placed on the watch list for the 2011 Butkus Award, Bostic earned high praise from Muschamp during spring practice for his work ethic and leadership. He is set to begin the season as the starting middle linebacker.

51 – Michael Taylor (Atlanta, GA)
Redshirt freshman linebacker
5’11” 220 lbs.

Quick Bio: The No. 3 linebacker in the country coming out of high school, Taylor was a four-star recruit who currently majors in social and behavioral sciences. Though he dressed for four games in 2010, he did not see the field and took a redshirt.

2011 Outlook: Taylor was listed as Bostic’s back-up on the preliminary spring depth chart but could have that role adjusted as the Gators try to figure out how the final depth chart will look for the middle men on defense. Either way, he should see the field in 2011 and could earn additional playing time if he makes an impact early.

50 – Sam Robey (Louisville, KY)
Redshirt junior center
6’4” 295 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star recruit coming out of high school, Robey sat out his freshman year with an injured left knee but played in 13 games in 2009 including the SEC Championship and Sugar Bowl.

2010 Season: Played in 10 games, seeing time at center in four contests. Served as an extra lineman in Florida’s goal line package and on the field goal unit.

2011 Outlook: A player who some fans wanted to see get time as a starter at center instead of then-senior Mike Pouncey, Robey looked to finally have the job to himself in the spring. However, after starting as the No. 1 guy on the first depth chart released, he was supplanted by Harrison, who worked at the position for the first time since high school. Robey can still win the job during fall practice, but early word about Harrison is that he is comfortable and succeeding in his new role.

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

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