11/19: Driskel will play, Florida no longer “soft”

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s shutout victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who sprained his ankle two weeks ago and did not see the field against Jacksonville State, “will play” on Saturday against Florida State. Muschamp said Monday that Driskel could return to practice but will be held out until Tuesday for precautionary reasons and so he can get additional treatment. From there, he will see how well Driskel can play and how comfortable he is on his ankle, which will determine how much field time he sees Saturday.

“He will play in the game. To what degree? The week will determine that on how his health continues to improve,” he said. “We’re going to see how the week goes. I don’t know. I know right now, based on [Sunday], that he will play in the game. How much he’ll play, whether he’s going to start, I don’t know that right now.”

Muschamp was careful not to name Driskel the starter but that does not mean the designation will not come later in the week. He has yet to see Driskel practice on his injured ankle and is hedging his bets right now. If Driskel practices in full this week, especially towards the end of the week, there should be no doubt that he will start and be active for the full compliment of plays on Saturday.

Also coming off the injury report are redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle), redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (knee) and sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer (thigh), all of whom will take Monday off as a precaution before returning to practice on Tuesday. Each is expected to be healthy enough to take on FSU in six days.

Muschamp said Saturday that sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder) are out for the season, though no specifics were provided on Saunders.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/19: Driskel will play, Florida no longer “soft”

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9/22: Florida vs. Kentucky post-game report

No. 14 Florida Gators football (4-0, 3-0 SEC) started slow but eventually blew past the Kentucky Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, FL, shutting out the visitors 38-0 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. After the game, head coach Will Muschamp and sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel discussed the contest.

HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida has won 26-straight games against Kentucky, tying a SEC record for longest one-sided winning streak in league history. UF is 46-17 all-time against UK, 26-4 in The Swamp and 32-1 overall since 1980.
» The Gators are 7-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 8-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points.
» Florida is outscoring opponents 64-13 in the second half and 34-0 in the fourth quarter through four games in 2012.
» The Gators have outscored the Wildcats by at least 30 points in last five meetings.
» Florida registered its first shutout since Sept. 10, 2011 (Alabama-Birmingham) and first conference shutout since Sept. 29, 2001 (Mississippi State).
» The Gators have started the season 4-0 for the fourth-straight year.
» Florida won the time of possession battle by 15:22, more than a full quarter.
» UF nearly doubled UK in total offense (403-219) and more than tripled their opponent in passing offense (203-60).
» The Gators registered three interceptions in the second quarter, marking the first time the team has picked off three passes in a single quarter since Nov. 25, 2006.

INJURY UPDATES
Noticeably absent from Saturday’s game was junior running back Trey Burton, who Muschamp said at halftime had suffered back spasms on Friday and was held out of action. Muschamp expanded on those co
mments after the game.

“Trey Burton came in Friday morning with back spasms. We worked on him all day Friday, Friday night, into this morning. We did everything we could do but every time he planted on his right foot he had pain shooting up his right hip. That’s all it was,” he said.

Muschamp added that Burton did have some back spasm issues in 2011 but that the problem came out of nowhere on Friday and the staff had not seen any prior indications of him being unable to play.

Redshirt sophomore tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee inflammation) were both held out again though Muschamp specifically said he expects Easley to return against LSU on Oct. 6.

Junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (shoulder) were both dinged up during the game with neither returning to the field after being hurt. Muschamp said Floyd had a stinger on his shoulder and should be fine while Reed was unable to regain full range of motion right away and sat out as a precaution.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and Driskel had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 9/22: Florida vs. Kentucky post-game report

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Injuries pile up for Florida Gators: Jenkins, Riggs out; Powell re-injured; Gillislee good to go

One would think the news would be more positive for the No. 17/18 Florida Gators coming off a big win on the road against the Texas A&M Aggies, but head coach Will Muschamp actually spent most of his weekly Monday afternoon press conference delivering plenty of bad news as it pertains to his team’s health.

“We’ve kind of got a saying around here: ‘Man down, man up,’” he said.

Muschamp announced Monday that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (broken thumb) and junior cornerback Cody Riggs (fractured foot) will both miss at least a month after being injured against Texas A&M.

Jenkins, who had surgery on Monday, will definitely be out at least for this week’s road game against the Tennessee Volunteers but may be able to return sooner than his timetable dictates if doctors approve a protective device for his hand.

Riggs, however, could be out as long as six weeks depending how his foot heals as doctors said he does not need surgery on the fracture.

Freshman LB Antonio Morrison will take over for Jenkins as the starter at Will, but the Gators will also see plenty of redshirt sophomore Michael Taylor in a reserve role at both inside positions. Junior Darrin Kitchens will also have a bigger role in the defense.

Defensive backs sophomore Jabari Gorman and redshirt freshman Valdez Showers both filled in for Riggs on Saturday and will continue doing so in the near future. Junior Matt Elam will likely transition back to playing much more safety while junior Jaylen Watkins, who moved into the starting cornerback role last week, will take over at nickel.

The bad news continued as Muschamp added that junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in April during the team’s spring game and hoped to return sometime in October, re-injured his knee while rehabbing and will likely miss the remainder of the season.

“He is being reevaluated next week. He has got some swelling on the knee. We took the MRI – probably a little too much swelling to tell really where he is right now,” Muschamp said. “We’re going to reevaluate him next week. Very disappointing for him. Really a setback as far as where he is and where we thought he would be at this point as excelled as his rehab has gone.

“Talking to him [Monday] morning and his parents throughout the weekend, more than likely Ronald will redshirt this year. It’s just disappointing for him, a guy that mentally has been a rock, just been amazing in how he’s handled the process. And again, he’s handled it very well. The diagnosis is not totally final yet; we want to look at it again next week. Certainly it has put a speed bump in the recovery process. Very disappointed for him and us.”

Not all was negative on the injury front.

Senior running back Mike Gillislee, who has four of his team’s five touchdowns this season and appeared to hurt his groin while scoring in the fourth quarter on Saturday, only “strained” the muscle and will be able to practice all week.

“He’s going to be fine. He’ll be fine for this weekend,” Muschamp said. “He’s going to practice [Monday]. We just had a staff meeting and they said he is going to practice, so I think he should be fine. We probably won’t rep him 40 times [in practice]. We’ll make sure he’s ready to go for Saturday [and] we feel like he’s fully available.”

Senior safety Josh Evans (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (cramps) are both good to go as well.

Florida will also get sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (hamstring, suspension) and freshman tight end Kent Taylor (concussion) back for the Tennessee game though redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (strained pectoral) will probably be out until the bye week (at least two more weeks).

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (19-10)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

19 – Caleb Sturgis (St. Augustine, FL)
Redshirt senior kicker
5’11” 184 lbs.

Quick Bio: An Under Armour High School All-American entering his fifth and final year at Florida, Sturgis was a kickoff specialist as a freshman but became the team’s primary place kicker in 2009, when he hit 73.3 percent of his field goals (long: 56) and 44-of-47 extra points. He suffered through back pain early in the 2010 season and was forced to undergo surgery after just four games, being awarded a medical redshirt by the NCAA.

Career Stats (45 games): 46/60 (76.7 percent) on field goals with a long of 56 yards, 96/101 (95.0 percent) on extra points – 234 career points; 274 kickoffs for 17,726 yards (average: 64.7 yards), 36 touchbacks

2011 Season: One of three kickers in the nation to convert on three or more field goals of at least 50 yards, Sturgis was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award and arguably the most consistent player on the Gators. He was 22/26 on field goals and perfect with 31 extra points over the course of the season.

2012 Outlook: Sturgis returns as the starter for the fourth-straight season and is already second on Florida’s all-time list for made field goals (22 away from passing Jeff Chandler with 67). He has already kicked three of the four longest field goals in school history and is the only player on the roster to receive unanimous preseason recognition nationally.

18 – Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL)
Freshman tight end
6’5” 223 lbs.

Quick Bio/2012 Outlook:A four-star prospect, Taylor was widely considered the top tight end in the country last year and committed to the Gators despite having offers from every major school. He has impressed coaches this offseason with his hands and should play as a freshman mostly as a pass catcher because he still needs to add some size to be an effective blocker. “Kent catches the ball extremely well. He’s very athletic. I mean, very athletic. That’s another guy that you have to decide what he can do at this point,” head coach Will Muschamp said recently. “Obviously he’s a guy that needs to gain some girth and some strength as far as the blocking is concerned. Let’s don’t ask him to do something he can’t do. I know one thing – he can go get the football down the field. He can catch the ball. He can do some of those things. So let’s identify what he can do and what he can handle in those situations.”

Check out 10 more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (19-10)

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8/27: Muschamp on Gators injuries, playing time

Participating in his first game week press conference of the season, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the team’s first official depth chart and preparations heading into Saturday’s season-opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m. live on ESPN.

OGGOA RELATED: QB Driskel cleared, Gators will split first-half snaps by quarter between him and Brissett

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan – strained his pectoral on Saturday, will miss the season opener

Sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders – “pulled a hamstring” on Thursday and will miss multiple games – “He has a hamstring at this time. He’ll sit the first two games for right now. But he’s got a hamstring problem, so he wouldn’t be able to go the first game at least anyways,” Muschamp said.

Redshirt junior DB Jeremy Brown – set to have his wrist reevaluated on Tuesday to see if he can return to practice, will miss the season opener

Freshman OT D.J. Humphries – outside shot he will play if doctors clear him to return to practice from an injured MCL

Redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan – will miss opener with a shoulder injury

PLENTY OF FRESHMEN WILL PLAY

Though only five true freshmen (two offense, three defense) are listed on the opening week depth chart, Muschamp said Monday that as many as 10 are in line to see time on the field throughout the course of the game.

Wide receiver Latroy Pittman (X), guard Jessamen Dunker (right), linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. (Buck), LB Antonio Morrison (Will) and defensive back Brian Poole (dime cornerback) are all listed on the depth chart and will assuredly see plenty of action.

Joining them will be Humphries (if healthy enough to compete), defensive end Jonathan Bullard (“a guy that is definitely going to play Saturday, probably very early in the game”), running back Matt Jones, WR Raphael Andrades and tight end Kent Taylor.

ADJUSTING TO THE NEW KICKOFF RULES

With the kickoff tee moved forward and the ball set to be placed at the 25 yard line for touchbacks, Muschamp and special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin have spent plenty of time working with the team this offseason to help them adjust to the new rules.

Muschamp said Monday that ensuring that redshirt junior wide receiver and starting kickoff returner Andre Debose brings back kicks is of paramount importance.

“We’d like for Andre to bring it out. That’s what we’d like for him to do…depending how deep it is,” he said. “We’ve kind of given him a little bit of a landmark back there of when we want him to take it out. We’ve worked really hard on that and making a good decision for those situations. That’s also affected by the hang time of the kick.”

On the more “defensive” side of the play, Muschamp is confident that redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis will be able to kick the ball out of the end zone. However, he also cautioned that Florida may try to pin teams back on occasion. He is equally confident in the Gators’ coverage teams and their ability to eliminate any potential significant returns.

Read the rest of what Will Muschamp had to say on Monday…after the break!
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Florida Gators 2012 opening week depth chart

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 2012 season. As was noted by head coach Will Muschamp last week, sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will both play against the Bowling Green Falcons though who will take the first snap has not yet been determined.

Florida omitted players who are not participating in the season opener, therefore the below depth chart is not the “best case scenario” version. A list of those players can be found at the end along with some additional explanations.

QB: Jeff Driskel OR Jacoby Brissett
RB: Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown
FB: Hunter Joyer, Trey Burton
WR (X): Frankie Hammond, Jr., Latroy Pittman/Andre Debose
WR (Z): Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton
F: Trey Burton, Omarius Hines
TE: Jordan Reed, Clay Burton

LT: Xavier Nixon, Kyle Koehne
LG: James Wilson, Ian Silberman
C: Jonotthan Harrison, Sam Robey
RG: Jon Halapio, Jessamen Dunker
RT: Chaz Green, Trip Thurman

DE: Dominique Easley, Earl Okine
DT: Sharrif Floyd, Damien Jacobs
NT: Omar Hunter, Leon Orr
Buck DE: Lerentee McCray, Dante Fowler, Jr.
Sam LB: Darrin Kitchens, Neiron Ball
Mike LB: Jon Bostic, Michael Taylor
Will LB: Jelani Jenkins, Antonio Morrison

CB: Jaylen Watkins OR Louchiez Purifoy
CB: Marcus Roberson OR Cody Riggs
S: Matt Elam, Valdez Showers
S: Josh Evans, Jabari Gorman
Nickel CB: Matt Elam, Jaylen Watkins
Dime CB: Matt Elam, Brian Poole

K: Caleb Sturgis, Brad Phillips
P: Kyle Christy, Todd Fennell
H: John Crofoot, Tyler Murphy
LS: Drew Ferris, Kyle Crofoot
KR: Andre Debose, Solomon Patton
PR: Marcus Roberson, Andre Debose

OUT SATURDAY: Redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (hamstring), junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee), redshirt junior DL Kedric Johnson (knee)

POSSIBLY OUT SATURDAY: Redshirt junior DB Jeremy Brown (wrist), freshman LT D.J. Humphries (MCL), freshman DB Marcus Maye (knee), redshirt freshman OL Tommy Jordan (shoulder)

NOTES
- Debose is not listed as a starting receiver.
- Koehne and Thurman are inserted as reserve tackles because Patchan is out.
- Silberman is listed as the second-string left guard because Koehne is filling in at tackle.
- Taylor is at Mike LB and Morrison at Will LB as reserves but both are interchangeable.
- All four cornerbacks are expected to see 75 percent of the snaps in a particular game.
- Phillips beat out freshman Austin Hardin for the No. 2 kicker job.
- Murphy is the back-up holder after working on that during the fall.

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (49-40)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

49 – Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL)
Junior linebacker
6’1” 229 lbs.

Quick Bio: A three-star prospect who committed to Florida late in the process, Kitchens has been productive throughout his young career. He played on the kickoff coverage team in nine of 13 games during his freshman season, registering a pair of tackles.

Career Stats (22 games): 23 tackles (nine solo, 2.5 for loss)

2011 Season: A reserve for most of the season who played on defense and special teams, Kitchens earned his first career start against Furman, a game in which he registered a team- and career-high 12 tackles. He recorded 21 tackles over 13 games including 2.5 for a loss.

2012 Outlook: Kitchens and redshirt sophomore Neiron Ball have been competing all offseason for the starting Sam linebacker job which became available when redshirt senior Lerentee McCray moved over to the Buck position. With Ball being versatile and also repping at Buck, it is possible that Kitchens will win the Sam job by default though both players will see plenty of field time in 2012.

47 – John Crofoot (Windemere, FL)
Redshirt junior kicker
5’11” 156 lbs.

Quick Bio/2011 Season: A walk-on high school kicker whose brother is also on the team, Crofoot spent his freshman year as a long snapper but did not see the field and eventually took a redshirt. He transitioned to being a kicker and holder in 2010 and played in nine games, serving as the starting holder in the final seven games. Crofoot was also Florida’s starting holder last season; the Gators’ kickers combined to go 24-for-29 on field goals and 33-for-33 on extra points.

2012 Outlook: Though redshirt sophomore quarterback Tyler Murphy has also held the ball during fall practice, Crofoot enters the season as the starter once again and should hold down the job for the duration of the year.

Check out five more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
Continue Reading » The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (49-40)

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8/20: Muschamp on roster, starters, injuries, etc.

With the Florida Gators under two weeks away from the beginning of the season and set to compete in their third and final scrimmage of training camp on Tuesday, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide updates on the team.

SOME, BUT NOT ALL ROSTER DECISIONS MADE ON SUNDAY

Muschamp said on Saturday that the entire coaching staff would sit down Sunday and iron out the roster in order to determine who should get the most reps heading into the third and final scrimmage. Though he said that the Gators will not be releasing a depth chart until Aug. 27, Muschamp explained what was accomplished Sunday as far as organizing the roster is concerned.

“We looked at the roster and went through everybody. We did not necessarily set depth charts; I know everybody will be asking for that. We will release that Monday of game week,” he said. “More than anything we narrowed down who is getting reps and then talked in terms of special teams. Who are the guys that we need to be stepping up on special teams for us? Especially some of the younger players, where are they figuring in as far as snaps are concerned.”

Florida has now mostly figured out out which “guys we can count on” and “guys that we need to continue to rep,” an important step before a the final scrimmage on Tuesday that will look in many ways like a game day.

“We’re going to have another situational scrimmage. We’ll treat it like game day,” Muschamp explained. “We’ll have a pre-game at 11:30 [a.m.], and we’re going to kick it off at 3:30 [p.m.]. We’re going to go in for halftime; we’re going to come out. We’ll have to be able to adjust coming out of the locker room and put them in some situations.

“We’ll have some move-the-field. I want to have another [situation of] coming out off the goal line. We weren’t very good in the first scrimmage on that. Some more third-down work, some more red zone work and then some just getting on the field and functioning as an offense, get the coaches in the booth. It will now be our third time [doing that]. That, as much as anything, is what [Sunday] was about.”

SO…WHO IS STARTING?

Though position-by-position starters were not discussed by Muschamp on Monday, he did provide a handful of notes on who has nailed down jobs prior to the third scrimmage.

QUARTERBACK
Sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will continue splitting reps down the middle during practice on Monday and the scrimmage on Tuesday. Muschamp said both will be non-contact (the plan was apparently always to return to that) for he duration of practice heading into the game on Sept 1.

Muschamp noted over the weekend that he expects to name a starter on Aug. 27 (along with the release of the entire team’s depth chart) but also said that Driskel’s bruised shoulder will be reevaluated next Monday. That can be looked at one of two ways: Either the health of his shoulder is a deciding factor as to whether or not he gets the start (in which case one would expect that evaluation to occur before the press conference) or it is a non-factor (in which case the time is of no matter).

Either way, Muschamp is pleased with the way both have improved.

“Both guys, I would say, are just commanding the huddle, knowledge of the system, understanding what Brent [Pease] wants,” he said. “What I have seen with both guys is a maturity level now of anticipating some of the situations that come up and what we’re going to go to. When you start getting that then you start maturing as a player and you’ll play better because you have better anticipation of what’s going to happen.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say on Monday…after the break!
Continue Reading » 8/20: Muschamp on roster, starters, injuries, etc.

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