11/2: Florida vs. Georgia post-game report

The Florida Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) fought back from a rough start but still fell 23-20 to the Georgia Bulldogs (5-3, 4-2 SEC) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. After the tough loss, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its defeat.

OPENING STATEMENT

“Very proud of our players and the effort and the intensity and the fight and the resolve to battle back. We dug ourselves too big of a hole especially with the big plays on defense early in the game. … Field position got us a little bit. … Settled down in the second half. I think we had about 250 yards in the first quarter and 155 for the rest of the game. But we dug ourselves too big of a whole. We moved the ball offensively. I thought we did protect well for the most part. … We ran the ball effectively at times. We threw the ball well at times. We just go to somehow figure out a way to create some more explosive plays for our football team to gain momentum.

“I give our guys credit defensively. Third down was a killer obviously there at the end, not being able to get off the field. In those situations, we’ve got to be able to convert some third downs and force a punt in that situation, especially with that much time on the clock. Disappointed in that but very pleased in our players and how they continue to play hard.”

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Georgia holds a 49-40-2 all-time advantage over Florida in the series between the two teams. The Bulldogs also lead 32-37-1 for games played in Jacksonville.
» UGA has won three-straight games over UF for the first time since 1987-89.
» Neither Florida nor Georgia were ranked heading into the annual rivalry game for just the second time since 1980.
» Saturday was just the Gators’ second loss to an unranked opponent under Muschamp.
» Muschamp is still winless in the Florida-Georgia series as a player (0-4) and head coach (0-3).
» Muschamp is 5-7 against UF’s traditional rivals of Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami and Tennessee. Three of those victories have come against UT.
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 18-straight games.
» Florida is now 7-12 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 8-8 when an opponent scores first and 4-11 when tied or trailing at the half.
» The Gators forced a safety for the first time since Sept. 10, 2011 vs. UAB.
» Florida committed seven total personal fouls on Saturday though some were not counted due to offsetting penalties. The Gators still finished with seven penalties for 70 yards lost, slightly over their already-high average.
» Georgia went 7-for-12 on third down against the top-ranked third-down defense in the conference in Florida’s unit.
» The Bulldogs gained 335 yards of total offense in the first half but picked up just 79 in the second half.
» UF scored 17 unanswered points in the second half while holding UGA scoreless.
» Florida won the coin toss and chose to defer possession until the second half for the third-straight game. Georgia, like Missouri two weeks ago, scored on its opening possession, putting UF in a deficit right off the bat.
» The Bulldogs ran the final 8:17 off the clock with a three-point lead, putting together a 15-play, 67-yard drive that included four third-down conversions (one via penalty).
» Florida gained just 34 yards on 23 first-down snaps (1.47 yards per play).

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar has extended his stream of games with a reception to 24. His 83-yard catch in the first quarter was the longest for Florida since Sept. 17, 2011. It was also the longest completion of redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy’s career.
» The Gators registered a two-point conversion for the first time since Oct. 13, 2012. Murphy hit junior tight end Clay Burton in the end zone for the latter’s first reception of the season. (It will not count in the stat book, however.)
» Redshirt junior defensive tackle Leon Orr registered a fumble recovery for the second time this season on a heads-up play in which he jumped on top of a dropped lateral pass thrown by Aaron Murray.
» Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III picked up nine tackles, leading the team in that category for the first time in his career.

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Resilient Gators fall short against Bulldogs; Georgia wins third-straight over Florida 23-20

The Florida Gators nearly fought all the way back following their worst half of the season but fell just short of a come-from-behind victory on Saturday with the Georgia Bulldogs pulling off a 23-20 victory at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

Florida (4-4, 3-3 SEC) has now been defeated by Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC) in three-straight seasons for the first time since 1987-89. Gators head coach Will Muschamp fell to 0-7 all time in the Florida-Georgia series, losing thrice as a coach and four times as a former Bulldogs player.

After allowing Georgia to score the first 20 points of the game, Florida buckled down and outscored its rival 17-0 in the second half via a mixture of impressive defensive plays and effective offense. Unfortunately for UF, many mistakes were made in both halves and it was too much of a burden for it to overcome.

The Bulldogs bit the Gators early after Florida won the toss and deferred to the second half. Georgia put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive out of the gate including a 25-yard rush and five-yard touchdown run by running back Todd Gurley.

It looked like the Gators were primed to answer back immediately as redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy hit redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar for a 83-yard reception on UF’s second play. However, Florida stalled and was pushed back on 3rd-and-Goal from the UGA eight after senior WR Solomon Patton committed a personal foul.

The Gators were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal, but kicker Frankie Velez missed his attempt wide right.

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9/30: Muschamp on Easley to NFL, injuries, Hogs

No. 18/19 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 24-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and his team’s upcoming home game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 5. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

HEADING TO THE NFL

Asked about senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley future and whether he would consider applying for a medical redshirt and playing a fifth season, Muschamp announced that there was no question Easley would be moving on with his career.

“Dominque’s definitely going to go to the NFL,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s had two ACLs. I think that’s the best move for him right now is go and prepare himself for April and getting ready for that. He and I talked briefly about it. That’s what he wants to do, and I support it 100 percent.”

Muschamp said he is not concerned about teams being worried in regards to Easley’s injury history. He thinks what Easley has been able to do on the field will be more than enough to convince teams to draft him.

“He’ll have plenty of interest. He’s going to be a productive guy on the next level. He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s extremely intelligent. He gets the game. His tape speaks for itself in how he plays the game, how he approaches the game. He’ll be fine. There will be a lot of organizations that want him in their organization.”

Muschamp also noted that he has not spoken at length with redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose regarding his future though the two did touch base. Debose would have to apply for a second medical hardship waiver but would likely have it granted considering he did not play a single down in 2013.

INJURY UPDATES

Aside from season-ending injuries, the Gators appear to be relatively healthy heading into their next game. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers (ankle), who has missed the last two games, should be back in practice by Tuesday but will definitely see the field by Wednesday at the latest. Muschamp also noted that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) could have played against the Wildcats if needed but was held out as a precaution considering he was a game-time decision.

Redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) will remain out for this week, but sophomore TE Kent Taylor (ankle) should be back in uniform for the game. Muschamp had not previously announced Taylor’s injury but noted Monday that he has missed 2-3 weeks of action.

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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 Gators 2013 opening week depth chart

Game Week – Monday: LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | RT Chaz Green Out for Season, RB Matt Jones Set for Miami | New Mr. Two Bits, Muschamp on Tight Ends, Season Opener

Though things could still change over the next five days, the Florida Gators on Monday morning released the team’s first official depth chart for the 2013 season.

Florida omitted players that are not participating in the season opener due to injury or suspension; therefore, the depth chart below is an “active” version rather than a “best-case scenario” version. Notations marked with (») can be found below certain positions.

OnlyGators.com will update this post shortly with additional details and thoughts from head coach Will Muschamp‘s Monday press conference.

OFFENSE

QB: 6 Jeff Driskel, 3 Tyler Murphy
RB: 33 Mack Brown, 37 Mark Herndon, 10 Valdez Showers
» 24 Matt Jones is not playing on Saturday.
FB: 43 Hunter Joyer, 25 Gideon Ajagbe
WR (X): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 11 Demarcus Robinson
WR (Z): 83 Solomon Patton, 5 Ahmad Fulwood, 85 Chris Thompson
» 13 Latroy Pittman and 4 Andre Debose (out for season) knocked out of Z.
F Position: 8 Trey Burton, 13 Latroy Pittman, 30 Michael McNeely
TE: 88 Clay Burton, 87 Tevin Westbrook, 84 Colin Thompson
» 18 Kent Taylor not on the three-deep.

LT: 70 D.J. Humphries, 76 Max Garcia
» 74 Trenton Brown no longer the back-up to Humphries.
LG: 76 Max Garcia, 63 Trip Thurman
» 77 Ian Silberman no longer the back-up to Garcia.
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne
RG: 64 Kyle Koehne, 77 Ian Silberman
» 67 Jon Halapio is not playing Saturday; Thurman moved to left guard.
RT: 73 Tyler Moore, 74 Trenton Brown
» 75 Chaz Green is out for the season; Brown moved to right tackle.

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8/16: Muschamp discusses injuries, standouts and Florida’s roster; decision day ahead for Gators

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media following the team’s first open practice of fall camp ahead of the 2013 season.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

Sophomore running back Matt Jones “continues to improve” from a serious viral infection that put him in the hospital, according to Muschamp, who could not pinpoint when the presumed starter will be able to return to the team. “He’s exercising, getting back into it but not ready to get out in the heat in full gear yet,” Muschamp added. “I’ll certainly update when I know. I’m anticipating that news, hopefully sooner than later.” Jones has yet to practice this fall.

Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) was hoping to be cleared for practice last Friday and was only supposed to miss 7-10 days as of Monday but instead got dealt another week on the sidelines by team physicians. Apparently, he will not be cleared this Friday either and Muschamp now hopes he is ready to go in time for the first game of the season on Aug. 31. “I think [he] has an appointment next Friday,” he said. “I hope to get him cleared for game week. That’s kind of the prognosis we’ve gotten so far, and I want that to happen.”

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee) is not expected to be cleared until game week either, according to Muschamp.

Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot) remains day-to-day following an initial prognosis that he would be out one week and could be back on Monday.

Junior fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), expected to miss 7-10 days on Monday, will miss “another 5-7 days.”

There are also three new injuries to report, which has been standard operating procedure for Florida throughout the fall. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Alex McCalister and freshman offensive lineman Octavius Jackson are each day-to-day with shoulder injuries, redshirt freshman OL Quinteze Williams is day-to-day with an illness, and freshman DB Vernon Hargreaves III will miss at least 5-7 days with a shoulder injury of his own. “He’ll be fine,” Muschamp said of Hargreaves.

IT’S “D-DAY” FOR THE GATORS

Muschamp is ready to whittle down the Gators’ roster and figure out who is going to be seeing the field for Florida this season, and he plans on starting that process following the team’s Friday scrimmage.

“I told the team the last two days, this is going to be moving day for a lot of guys. We’ve got to start narrowing reps,” he said. “We can’t continue to rep everybody. So as far as the guys preparing as we move forward in the season, this will be a D-Day, so to speak, for a lot of guys.”

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Appendix out, wound healed, Driskel ready to work


Six days standing on the sidelines.

Six days watching someone else take his snaps.

Six days waiting to work with the teammates he corralled and led through player-run practices over the summer was more than enough for Florida Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, who returned to practice on Thursday less than two weeks after being diagnosed with acute appendicitis and undergoing an appendectomy.

“It was good. Everything felt good in my stomach. I thought I threw the ball really well, and I thought we had a good day offensively,” Driskel said of his first practice back.

“I wasn’t limited at all. I was full-go, didn’t have any pain, no issues. Didn’t get all the reps I would like to because I’m still in the acclimation period, so I couldn’t be out there in pads, so there was a couple things I couldn’t do. But other than that, I wasn’t limited.”

According to NCAA rules, Driskel must return to practice by working in shorts for the first two days. He can then move on to two days of practice in shells before putting on the pads for the duration of fall camp.

Driskel spent the previous six days attending meetings, watching film and standing next to coaches during practice. He felt right at home when he put on his red non-contact jersey on Thursday, like nothing had changed during his short time not wearing cleats.

“I didn’t miss too much. I missed six days and feel like I didn’t miss a beat,” he said. “I definitely didn’t like standing there. Practice goes by a lot slower when you’re not involved, that’s for sure. …

“I think I’m up to speed. Second year in the offense, so there’s not really anything I haven’t done yet. I think I’ve done a good job staying alert in the meetings and getting the mental reps. I think I’m good to go.”

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8/8: Gators evaluate each other in practice

A handful of Florida Gators football players met with the media on Thursday to discuss how the team is looking at the start of fall practices.

“IT’S LIKE WE GOT TO PLAY WITH PILLOWS NOW.”

Suffice to say, redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor is not pleased with the NCAA’s new targeting and contact rules that restrict hits in games and allow referees on the field to assess penalties and eject players during games.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s kind of hard. It’s like we got to play with pillows now,” he quipped on Thursday. “[The coaches] tell you. We watch film. If you come through free on a blitz, they tell you that you got to target low. If you got a receiver flying across the middle, we don’t kill them in practice, but they let you know you can’t go targeting his head. I understand they’re trying to make the game safer.”

Taylor does not plan to change the way he plays, however, noting that thinking about the rule could result in mistakes being made on the field.

“I’m just going to react and play,” he said. “You can’t hold back because that’s when you give up plays, you give up big plays, giving up touchdowns. You can’t think when you’re on the field sometimes; you just got to react. So that’s what I feel. That’s all we have to do. And sometimes it’s out of our hands.”

Taylor also explained the message that head coach Will Muschamp conveyed to the team during meetings throughout the offseason.

“He’s telling us: ‘Be smart. Play smart about it. Don’t go running directly into a guy’s helmet. Don’t launch yourself. If you’re going to hit somebody, hit them face-up. Don’t launch yourself into them. If you’re making a tackle, wrap him up like you’re taught in Pop Warner.’”

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