Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

The Florida Gators (6-4) took care of business, routing the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s 52-3 victory on Saturday got the Gators bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 and also marked the second-largest win margin in any game under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to leave The Swamp with his head held high.

BOWL GAME COACH CHOSEN

Moments after Florida’s win was finalized, the school announced that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would serve as interim head coach for the Gators’ bowl game this year. Durkin, the second-longest tenured member of the staff (five years) behind running backs coach Brian White (six years), will take the reigns of the program once Muschamp’s dismissal is finalized next Saturday, Nov. 29.

FINAL LESSON: A TOUGH WEEK, ROAD AHEAD

There should be no doubt that the entire Florida football team took Muschamp’s dismissal hard. Gators players spoke of him fondly on Monday after his press conference and were obviously playing with an extra gear on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard even went so far as to write his coach’s last name on his eyeblack.

“I’ve just been through a lot and he’s been there for me,” Bullard said. “When I lost my grandmother, he was a big supporter; he let me go home as long as I needed. Just little things he did helping me through that whole situation, he’s just been a real good person to me. I respect him a lot, and actually, I love him. I just wanted to show some respect for him, everything he’s done for me, and show him that I appreciate it.”

Muschamp admitted Saturday that it took a while for Florida to get back in the swing of things this week. Monday’s practice was thwarted due to the weather; Tuesday the team looked “just OK” and did not show “great effort” on the field; and Wednesday was just “a little bit better.”

So Muschamp spent the Gators’ regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting speaking about much more than just the upcoming game but rather how Florida’s players need to deal with his dismissal and their futures going forward.

Continue Reading » Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

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Florida airs it out, tops EKU 52-3 on Senior Day; Gators become bowl-eligible

The Florida Gators (6-4) rolled to a 52-3 win over the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, subsequently becoming bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.

Florida quarterbacks freshman Treon Harris and redshirt junior Jeff Driskel combined for six total touchdowns, as wide receivers sophomore Demarcus Robinson and redshirt senior Quinton Dunbar each eclipsed 100 yards and hauled in two scores.

Harris completed just 4-of-12 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while Driskel was 9-for-11 for 164 yards with three passing touchdowns as well as a rushing score.

For Dunbar, who was playing his last game in The Swamp, the performance was the best of his Gators career. He registered a career-high 107 yards, caught his first touchdown since Nov. 24, 2012, and scored twice for the first time in his career.

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South Carolina fight back in The Swamp, defeats Florida 23-20 in overtime

Two blocked kicks – first on a field goal, then on a punt – kept the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5 SEC) alive, and a powerful running game allowed the visitors to pull out a 23-20 overtime victory over the Florida Gators (5-4, 4-4 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Florida spoke all week about its plans to “take back The Swamp,” and the Gators appeared to have the game well in hand until late, when after failing to gain a first down that would have run out the clock, UF had a punt blocked with 39 seconds remaining. USC rumbled into the end zone a couple plays later to force overtime and eventually outscored the home team 6-3 in the extra period to end the contest with a win.

The Gators dropped an overtime game for the first time in five tries and are now 4-3 all-time in such contests including 3-2 in The Swamp and 1-1 this season. UF is also now 22-7 against unranked opponentsa nd 13-5 against unranked Southeastern Conference teams under head coach Will Muschamp.

Muschamp falls to 1-3 against South Carolina and head coach Steve Spurrier, and his ability to keep his job is in serious question after another late meltdown cost UF another win at home.

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Florida works past Vanderbilt 34-10 in Nashville

The Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) won consecutive games against Southeastern Conference opponents for the first time in more than a year, working their way to a 34-10 defeat of the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-7, 0-6 SEC) on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

Though Florida’s rushing attack was nowhere near as proficient as it was when it compiled 418 yards on the ground against Georgia one week ago, the Gators did their damage on the ground, racking up 214 yards and four touchdowns on 50 total rushes. Three of those scores came on the legs of UF quarterbacks with freshman Treon Harris rumbling in for two touchdowns and redshirt junior Jeff Driskel adding a one-yard score of his own.

Harris finished 13-of-21 for 215 yards, adding 49 net rushing yards on 10 attempts. Driskel did not complete his only pass try, throwing the ball into the ground, but was effective in a rarely-used direct snap role.

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11/4: Roper on Florida’s passing game, Driskel’s new role, receivers’ blocking

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on his team’s recent upset victory and upcoming road game against the Vanderbilt Commodores, which is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee.

“WE’RE GONNA THROW IT MORE”

Head coach Will Muschamp told the media after Saturday’s win and again on Monday that there were additional passing plays scheduled to be run against Georgia, but Florida was so successful running the ball that the Gators did not want to take any chances and deviate from what was working.

Apparently, Muschamp told freshman quarterback Treon Harris the exact same thing immediately after the game. In the Vine below, via WCJB TV20‘s Zach Aldridge, Muschamp hugs Harris on the field and says, “We’re gonna throw it more.”

Continue Reading » 11/4: Roper on Florida’s passing game, Driskel’s new role, receivers’ blocking

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Snell’s Slant: Gators silenced many on Saturday

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

No one expected the outcome we got Saturday…besides Florida’s players and coaches. I can tell you that a former Gators player myself, one who just two weeks ago said the program was on a path to nowhere under Will Muschamp, I was absolutely shocked to see Florida pull out a victory in one of the team’s most important games – for a variety of reasons – over the last few years.

After weeks of uninspired, mistake-filled football, these Gators looked like they were on a mission. Not a mission to make the College Football Playoff (that’s long gone) or even go win the SEC Championship (still a long shot) but rather a mission to save Muschamp’s coaching career (at least as far as Florida is concerned).

You do not need me to tell you that another loss to Georgia would’ve been a proverbial death sentence for Muschamp. Most already had his fate sealed heading into the contest and were already speculating on who would be replacing him at the helm of the Gators. Well, Muschamp’s boys did not just run down Georgia’s throats on Saturday, they shut up a lot of Florida fans (and this columnist), too.

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10/27: Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks Harris starting, Gators offensive issues

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from consecutive losses while preparing for the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Florida-Georgia will play in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. with the game once again airing live on CBS.

MOVING ON

Set to be the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators in the Florida-Georgia game since Chris Leak in 2003, Treon Harris took nearly all the first-team reps with the offense during the bye week and will get the majority of them this week as UF prepares to take on UGA in Jacksonville.

Muschamp, to this point, has been impressed with what he’s seen from the signal caller.

“Treon will be getting his first start, excited for him and what he’s going to be able to do,” he said. “[Harris is] a guy that has a knack for making plays, certainly has got a calm, cool, collected [way] about himself and how he carries himself. I think we’ll play well. Identify some things he feels comfortable with as well as we continue to move forward offensively. As much as anything, we’ve struggled with an identity because of the turnovers. That’s been a major issue.”

He also believes Harris will be able to carry a full workload, without a limited playbook, considering all of the extra action he’s seen through the bye week.

“I think in the open week our offensive staff did a pretty good job of identifying some things that Treon does extremely well, so we won’t pare things down as much as you might think with a freshman quarterback,” he said. “He’s an extremely bright young man. He’s able to handle a lot of things on his plate. I think the [extra] repetition … will help him moving forward.”

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Missouri stomps Florida 42-13 in The Swamp

Six turnovers including four return touchdowns – two on special teams – and an inability to get anything going on offense led to one of the worst home losses in school history for the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) as the Missouri Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) routed their hosts 42-13 on homecoming at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday night.

Missouri, coming off a 34-0 defeat at the hands of Georgia just one week ago, shut out Florida in the first half for the second time UF’s last three games. The Gators opened the contest in an immediate hole – Tigers’ returner Marcus Murphy brought back the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown – and never recovered.

Florida looked to be in trouble again on its first offensive series after redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and junior running back Matt Jones fumbled an exchange, but UF got the ball back almost immediately on an interception by redshirt sophomore defensive back Marcus Maye.

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