Friday Final: Florida preparing for Maty Mauk, Alex McCalister stepping up for Gators

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) as they prepare to host the Missouri Tigers (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Missouri prep begins with Florida playing two quarterbacks
Notebook: Kurt Roper talks Gators’ offense and rushing attack
Story: Jeff Driskel will start as Florida readies Treon Harris
Notebook: Will Muschamp updates team injuries, quarterback situation

GATORS LOOK TO AVOID BEING MAUK-ED UP

One year ago, while making his first career start against a reeling Florida team, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk looked like a seasoned veteran, throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown and hitting the ground for another score. Sixty-one of those 295 yards came on two passes within the first 22 seconds of the game, as Mauk completed a 41-yard toss and then a 20-yard touchdown throw on consecutive plays. Suffice to say, the Gators have no plans to underestimate him this time around.

“I think he’s a very good player. He’s a guy that can make all the throws. He’s got extreme arm talent. He’s got good touch; he can zip it when he needs to. He’s got great legs,” said Florida head coach Will Muschamp. “He’s a guy that throws it extremely well. He has great command of their offense and what they do and how they’re doing it. I think he needs to get a little more help around him.”

Mauk threw four interceptions this week, though like many committed by the Gators this season, his Tigers playmakers have been partly responsible for some of his miscues by either running wrong routes or tipping decently-to-well-thrown passes. Prior to that game, he had a 14-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

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Friday Final: Roper on quarterbacks, offensive problems; Durkin on fresh faces on defense

In this week’s special edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at what offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin had to say ahead of the team’s fourth Southeastern Conference game.

The Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) return home to host the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp addresses recent incidents, prep for LSU
Story: Coaches want Gators’ playmakers to step it up

BACK IN THE SADDLE

Quarterback Jeff Driskel is having a horrible redshirt junior campaign. As a full-time starter, he’s completing a career-low 54.7 percent of his passes and averaging a career-worst 5.0 yards per attempt. He has thrown more interceptions through four games (six) than he did in 13 starters in 2012 (five).

Simply put, Driskel has regressed in a major way, and there should be no doubt whatsoever that confidence is the biggest factor in his decline. While Roper understands what is wrong with Driskel, he does not see a player struggling with confidence or poise.

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10/8: Will Muschamp addresses recent incidents, Florida’s preparations for LSU

Updated/completed at 1:35 p.m.

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) met with the media twice on Wednesday as his team continues its preparations for the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC). Florida is looking to defeat LSU for just the second time since 2010 as the Gators host the Tigers on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live nationally on the SEC Network.

Muschamp’s regularly-scheduled media appearance on Monday was postponed as freshman quarterback Treon Harris is currently under investigation for alleged sexual battery. He addressed that and a variety of other topics on Wednesday.

TREON HARRIS SITUATION

With his second-string quarterback, freshman Treon Harris, suspended indefinitely while under investigation for sexual battery, Muschamp declined to comment further on the situation. In fact, he indicated that he preferred to not even have a press conference this week but understood that he needed to in order to help the media do their jobs.

“The statement that the university released Monday, I think, was pretty self-explanatory. It is a very serious charge, and there has been no change in his status,” he said.

“You handle things in life and you move forward and that’s what we’re going to do [as a team]. I feel very comfortable with how we’ve approached this situation.”

Muschamp declined comment on any questions related to Harris.

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Snell’s Slant: Life not easy for the these Gators

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

I have to admit, as I sat in front of my television on Saturday, I was sweating bullets. For the first time in a decade, I honestly thought Tennessee was going to defeat Florida. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind.

The product that the Gators’ offense put on the field in the first half was, for a lack of a better word, atrocious. Actually, that’s the right word: atrocious.

For some reason Jeff Driskel, a redshirt junior in his third year as Florida’s starter, is regressing. He has made plenty of mistakes in his career, but Driskel has also helped the Gators win plenty of football games. Now the team is simply rudderless with him in the game. Despite all that, he is not playing as poorly as everyone insists. Yes, Driskel is playing with very little confidence; considering that Gator Nation goes on endlessly about his performance and demands his benching, you can probably understand why he is having some mental struggles.

It also needs to be made quite clear that the skill players around Driskel are not making life any easier. The simplest thing to do is blame the quarterback for the offense’s problems, but he cannot control receivers dropping the ball or running the wrong routes, or the offensive line blocking in the wrong protection scheme. These issues all affect his – and the offense’s – performance just as much as Driskel’s mental lapses.

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Friday Final: Florida confident, prepared for UT

In this week’s Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com tackles the team’s confidence entering its third Southeastern Conference game, the emergence of a young offensive lineman and a look at the unofficial depth chart ahead of the contest.

The Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) hit the road for the second time this season when they face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game kicks off at noon and will air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Tennessee, talks injuries and support
Notebook: Kurt Roper keeping Florida offense calm, focused
Story: With support, QB Jeff Driskel focused on improvement not criticism
The Silver Lining: QB Treon Harris not ready for prime time
Notebook: Muschamp, D.J. Durkin looking to fix Gators secondary

GOOD TIMING

According to players on both sides of the ball, Florida’s off week came at an opportune time for the program, just as it was coming off a devastating loss on the road to Alabama. It’s not that the Crimson Tide simply defeated the Gators while hosting them in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but rather that the victory was a dominant one which appeared to show that UF still has a long way to go to truly be competitive this season.

Simply put, not all of Florida’s players saw the gap as that wide.

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Muschamp, Durkin looking to fix UF’s secondary

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday to provide some additional thoughts on Florida’s first loss (on the road at Alabama) and the Gators’ upcoming road contest against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at noon.

INJURY UPDATES

Two days after initially listing him as questionable, Muschamp ruled freshman running back Brandon Powell (hamstring) as out for his second-straight game. Redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (kneee) was previously listed as inactive by Muschamp, and redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor (knee) may join him if he is unable to put together a full practice before the team leaves for Knoxville, Tennessee.

While the Gators may be without two defensive starters on Saturday, they will be getting back a starting offensive lineman in junior left tackle D.J. Humphries. Muschamp said Humphries “looked great” in practice on Tuesday and should be full-go for Saturday.

REPAIRING A DAMAGED SECONDARY

Florida’s secondary has been bad through its first three games of 2014. How bad? The Gators are ranked 110th nationally in passing yards allowed per game (287.7)…and that’s with the team giving up just 45 yards through the air to Eastern Michigan.

Remove that EMU game and UF has allowed 409.0 yards passing yards per game and 17.4 yards per completion over its last two contests. Stunning, huh?

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Gameday: Florida Gators at No. 3 Alabama

Location: Bryant-Denny Stadium – Tuscaloosa, Alabama [Capacity: 101,821]
Weather: 86°F (feels like 89°F), sunny, winds ENE at 7 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

TV: CBS (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Allie LaForce)

Streaming Video: CBSSports.com – SEC Live | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app

SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 3 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 2-0 (1-0 SEC) Record: 3-0 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida +14.5 | O/U 50.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Notebook: Will Muschamp reviews Kentucky, previews Alabama
Story: Florida secondary faltered early, strengthened late
Story: Healthy, motivated Matt Jones made a statement
The Silver Lining: What Nick Saban thinks about Florida
Notebook: Kurt Roper, D.J. Durkin evaluate units ahead of showdown with Tide
Story: Gators not intimidated by recent success of Crimson Tide
Friday Final: Demarcus Robinson breaking out, Jeff Driskel stepping up

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Florida coordinators Kurt Roper, D.J. Durkin evaluate units ahead of Alabama game

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media this week to provide some thoughts on the Gators and their first road opponent of 2014, the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide, ahead of Saturday afternoon’s road game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

HOT TOPICS: OFFENSE

» Roper on the challenges that Alabama’s defense provides: “These guys do a great job of contesting every pass. They like to press the receivers and pattern match a lot of things. They’re running with a lot of receivers. When we looked at the explosive plays, in a four-game breakdown, there were like 15 explosive passes, which are 16 yards or more for us. A lot of them, they’re just big-time plays by wide receivers with [defensive backs] right on them. They don’t give you a lot of layups. They’re hard to get separation from.

“They add the ability to rush the passer on top of that, shortening the time. Those are challenges. They’re physical up front and can get off blocks and make the run game difficult. They’re a well-coached defense, physical defense. It’s a challenge, an SEC football game in those standards, obviously playing one of the best minds in football between those guys on defense doing it and good football players. You see similarities to Florida State, but they all have their differences.”

» Roper on how much head coach Will Muschamp being familiar with Nick Saban helps him in preparation: “Obviously that’s helpful to have those conversations to maybe clarify some things as we start watching film, saying, ‘OK, why are they doing this? What’s going on here?’ So, you know obviously that is an advantage of things that are going on.”

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