Gameday: (18) Florida Gators at (23) Tennessee

Location: Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, TN [Capacity: 102,455]
Weather Forecast: 78°F, mostly cloudy, winds NNE at 4 mph
Time: 6:00 p.m. EDT

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
SiriusXM: 137/201 | Radio: Gator Radio Network (affiliates)
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

(18) FLORIDA GATORS (23) TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Derek Dooley
Record: 2-0 (1-0 SEC) Record: 2-0 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +3; O/U 48

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what happened with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Florida one win away from hitting “start fast” goal | Pease: Offensive line remains the strength | Freshmen contributing defensively | QB Driskel, TE Reed can get offense rolling | Gators are tougher, more experienced

EXTRA CREDIT: Four things Florida must do to take down Tennessee in Knoxville

HISTORY / STREAKS

» Florida is looking to extend its seven-game winning streak against Tennessee, which dates back to 2005. The Gators are 22-19 all-time against the Volunteers but just 11-10 in Knoxville. Additionally, UF is 20-6 against UT (9-4 in Knoxville) since 1976.
» Saturday’s game will be featured as the host site for ESPN’s College GameDay. It is the 23rd time (15-7) that Florida will be on the road for College GameDay and the team’s 34th occasion in which they have been featured on the program. The Gators were the visiting team for College GameDay last week as well and defeated Texas A&M.
» It is the seventh time in the history of the television program that UF-UT will be featured on College GameDay (second-most all-time). ESPN will be in Knoxville with the show for the first time since 2004.
» Florida is 9-1 against unranked opponents and 0-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011. Tennessee is 13-4 against unranked teams and 0-10 against ranked opponents since Dooley took the helm in 2010.
» Muschamp and Dooley know each other well having previously worked together under head coach Nick Saban at LSU (2001-04) and with the Miami Dolphins (2005).
» The Gators and Vols are both ranked heading into their showdown for the first time since 2007. UT is ranked for the first time, period, in 64 polling weeks.
» For the first time since 1996, Florida was not slated to open its SEC schedule against Tennessee (UF played TAMU last weekend). The Gators and Volunteers game will not be aired by CBS at 3:30 p.m. for the first time in eight years.
» UF won its eighth-straight league opener last Saturday.
» Florida was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but has started the 2012 season 1-0 in that category after outscoring Texas A&M 10-0 in the second half last Saturday.
» The Gators are 5-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. Florida is also 6-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points and 6-3 when scoring first.
» UF has converted just 8-of-28 third-down attempts (28.6 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 8-of-31 on third down (25.8 percent); UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» 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.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 23-7 in the second half and 17-0 in the fourth quarter through two games this season.
» Florida’s defense is one of 10 nationally that has not allowed a passing touchdown.
» Tennessee’s offense has eclipsed 500 total yards in consecutive games for the first time since 2000 and hit that mark in its first two games for the first time in school history.
» The Volunteers are ninth nationally in passing offense (353.5 yards per game) and 15th nationally in scoring offense (43 points per game).
» Tennessee has four scoring drives of 34 or fewer seconds through two games.
» The Vols are 10-1 under Dooley when eclipsing 25 points (13-3 when scoring 20+).
» Tennessee’s defense is +3 in turnover margin this season and nabbed four interceptions against N.C. State in the teams’ season opener.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida captured its seventh-straight victory over Tennessee when the programs met last season with the Gators defeating the Volunteers 33-23 in Gainesville, FL. UF took an early 16-0 lead on UT thanks in part to three field goals by Caleb Sturgis though Tennessee scored just before the half to reduce their deficit to 17-6. Florida wasted little time in expanding their lead, scoring two touchdowns (one an 83-yard pass from John Brantley to Chris Rainey) in the first seven minutes of the third quarter to jump ahead 30-7. The Gators’ defense softened from there as the Vols outscored them 17-3 over the remainder of the game, but Florida’s early lead catapulted them to victory and their seventh consecutive 3-0 record to start the season.

ESPN: KEYS TO THE GAME

Read the rest of the Florida-Tennessee preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sides of the field.
Continue Reading » Gameday: (18) Florida Gators at (23) Tennessee

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9/12: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made an appearance Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team and its upcoming game against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at 6 p.m. live on ESPN.

» Muschamp on if senior running back Mike Gillislee (groin) is healthy enough to play: “Yeah, he practiced yesterday. He looked good.”

» Muschamp on if it was X’s and O’s or an overall mentality that changed for Florida in the second half against Texas A&M: “I think our attitude was great in the first half. We didn’t get the results we wanted. We just played more disciplined football [in the second half]. That was the thing. You play a quarterback with legs, you got to be very disciplined in your rush lanes and we were not in the first half. We had some guys that wanted to do their own thing, run up the field and back-door blocks. That’s not how we play. I said it after the game, I’m absolutely never disappointed with this group as far as their work ethic, as far as their commitment, as far as their toughens, as far as playing hard and their effort. They do that. We just got to play a little smarter here and there.”

» Muschamp on the difficulties of replacing a big-time quarterback and leader like Tim Tebow: “Everyone looks at the numbers of rushing, throwing, winning games, championships. All of those things are things you can look at but what you don’t realize is the leadership. And I certainly, here at Florida, we were void the year before I got here in talking to Urban [Meyer] and now last year.

“What happens to you is you become so dependent on that guy – your team, your staff, everybody in the organization. And I feel the same way about Colt McCoy at Texas. You become so dependent offensively; defensively as well [knowing] he’s going to make a play. ‘We’re going to be OK here because he’s going to make it happen.’ And then you lose that guy. It’s a leadership standpoint. I don’t know the exact word I’m looking for but there’s a void in your program from a playmaking standpoint and people always knowing that he’s going to be there and he’s going to bail us out right here.

“I think that there’s a psychological loss as much as there is athletically. When one of those guys moves on suddenly it affects the staff. It affects the coaches. You had this guy that made so many plays and made so many things right that were not necessarily the perfect picture we were looking for. I certainly witnessed it first-hand with Colt and now being in the chair I am now, knowing what Tim brought to his program was so much more than what he did on the field.”

» Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley on Florida redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed: “He’s one of their big weapons. Any time you have a good run game the tight end is always important for the play actions, the quick flats when you’re in there hammering in the run. He’s a weapon. He’s a good player. I’m sure he’ll be playing in the NFL one day. He makes that offense harder to defend.”

Tags: , , , , ,

9/10: Muschamp talks Gators team improvement

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review his team’s 20-17 victory over the Texas A&M Aggies in the league opener for both squads on Saturday. He also discussed the game ahead this week as Florida will travel to Knoxville, TN to face the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at 6 p.m.

EXPERIENCE AND TOGETHERNESS

Muschamp said after Saturday’s game that he is not sure if the Gators would have prevailed in a similar situation a year ago. Asked Monday why that would be the case, he pointed to two things in particular that have improved as far as the team is concerned over the last few months.

“The number one thing is experience,” he said. “We had a bunch of guys playing for the first time last year. You look at our sophomore class from last year, I know I can’t tell you the exact number of snaps they played their freshman year, but it wasn’t many. So for the first time a lot of these guys were in those situations and playing for the first time.

“Togetherness – I think this is a pretty close team. You didn’t see any finger-pointing at halftime; you didn’t have any of that. You didn’t have the offense and defense divided in what we were trying to do. As a matter of fact, [offensive line coach] Tim Davis said in a staff meeting yesterday how good it was that the defense came off the field telling the offense, ‘Let’s go. Let’s keep it going.’ When you start to see things like that and guys pulling for each other and understanding it’s bigger than what’s on the back of their jersey – that it’s about playing for each other. I think this team has shown that they are willing and able to do that.”

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Game: redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison
* Muschamp said he was pleased with the way he directed the offensive line and got the team in and out of protections.

Scrap Iron: senior tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt junior guard Jon Halapio

Defensive Player of the Game: senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic
* Muschamp said he made a bunch of good plays in space and in the run game and was also a big-time leader throughout the contest.

Hard Hat: freshman LB Antonio Morrison
* Muschamp said he liked his physicality and instinctiveness. “This guy. He’ll throw his stuff up in there.”

Special Teams Players of the Game: redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis and sophomore defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy
* Muschamp said Purifoy did an outstanding job playing coverage on punts and held a big-time returner to next to nothing throughout the game.
* Sturgis was also named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week

Big Play: redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown
* Muschamp said Brown’s big play came on the kickoff after the final touchdown when he blew up the wedge and made a tackle inside the 20. “What a momentum change for us – to continue to have the momentum as opposed to letting him get to the 35-40-yard line. It’s a field goal game. People don’t see those things. What a huge play he made there; really proud of his efforts.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: walk-ons redshirt freshman defensive lineman Evan Holmes, junior wide receiver Ryan Parrish, freshman WR Darius Masline

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp on the overall game: “It was a great effort by our team. Very pleased in a team win, and I mean that in all parts as far as offense, defense and special teams. Not always exactly what we wanted in any phase but certainly picked each other up when we needed to throughout the game. That’s a credit to our players.”

» Muschamp n dominating the fourth quarter: “Won the fourth quarter. That’s something we emphasized to our guys – making plays in those situations and opportunities when they present themselves. Thought we did a good job of that.”

» Muschamp on the defense’s resurgence in the second half: “The second half they had six possessions and five of them were three-and-outs. Our guys came out poised at halftime, understood what we needed to do to be successful. Didn’t get any turnovers. We need to start the game better. We need to play with more discipline on defense, that’s the bottom line. I said it after the game. Our effort and your enthusiasm and our want-to is off-the-charts, but we’ve got to play more disciplined as a group as far as doing your job. You can’t cross-face on blocks and back-door blocks. It’s out of effort of wanting to make a play; it’s not out of defiance of not wanting to do something. It’s just guys that are trying to do a little too much. We just need to do our job.”

» Muschamp on how well the special teams unit played: “Special teams – back to our standard. Great effort. Outstanding effort on special teams. We’ve got some guys that were straining their guts out there, playing a bunch of snaps in a hot, hot day there in Texas. Very pleased with them.”

» Muschamp on Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley and the Volunteers: “He’s done a nice job there at Tennessee, especially if you look at their football team right now from a year ago. Obviously the injuries they had last year decimated their season. [...] You got an experienced team back. They want to be physical and run the football. They want to take advantage of their strengths offensively which are at the quarterback and receiver position this time. He wanted to get more aggressive defensively, and I think they’ve done that. His background has always been in special teams and I think they’re really good on teams. I think you’re seeing a little bit more of his identify and personality in this football team as maybe opposed to the previous two years.”

» Muschamp on the luxury of having Sturgis on the roster: “He’s very accurate and very dependable, never gets shook. He just lines up and does his job. [...] In my two years as head coach to have that opportunity to have a guy like him has just been a relief.”

» Bostic on the team’s winning streak against UT: “It’s a rival you never really want to lose to. Going into the season it’s always one of the games on your schedule that’s always circled. Pretty much a statement game. That’s usually our first SEC game but this year it’s our second, so we want to keep it going.”

» Bostic on the young linebackers: “Those guys, they can play. Even though they haven’t played as much, they can play. They learned the defense just like we did. It goes by game experience now. As soon as they get in they pretty much get to play and make checks just like I am.”

» Bostic on freshman LB Antonio Morrison: “He’s a physical linebacker, especially for a freshman. He doesn’t play like a freshman. He’s smart, pretty much learns from our mistakes. That’s one thing – you see him after every practice he’s beating me in the film room. That’s a good thing to start out with as a freshman because a lot of freshmen really don’t understand how important watching film is.”

» Bostic on redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown: “It just shows how much of a fighter he is. He’s open of those type of guys, you see him in the training room 24/7. He’s not one of those guys who is ever down. He’s always laughing, smiling with a positive attitude. I respect him for that. He’s one of those guys who has been through pretty much everything and just keeps coming back.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2012 SEC Media Days – All-SEC, coaches speak

The 2012 Southeastern Conference Media Days concluded Thursday in Birmingham, AL. Though the Florida Gators contingent met the media Wednesday, below are some highlights from the final two days of the event, which featured Georgia, LSU, Alabama, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Auburn, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Kentucky. Quotes courtesy of transcripts created by ASAP Sports.

FLORIDA GATORS ON ALL-SEC TEAMS (as voted by the media)

Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (first-team specialists), junior safety Matt Elam (second-team defense), senior tackle Xavier Nixon (third-team offense), junior defensive linemen Sharrif Foyd and Dominique Easley (third-team defense), senior linebacker Jon Bostic (third-team defense), redshirt junior kick returner Andre Debose (third-team specialists). [SEC coaches selected eight last week.]

Florida tied for fifth with the most selections (seven) though most of them were on the third team (five). The media picked the Gators to finish tied for seventh overall in the SEC and third in the SEC East (12 first-place votes).

GEORGIA HEAD COACH MARK RICHT

On having seven home games this season (one more than usual): “I love having seven home games. I’d like to have 12 home games if we could, certainly for our fan base and for our players. This season is one that I think the amount of home games is outstanding. The fact that we always play Florida in Jacksonville is going to give you a cycle of every other year not getting that one home game, but it’s certainly worth it to play in Jacksonville.”

On being picked by the media to win the SEC East (and that the media is usually wrong): “I hope the media’s right this time. But we haven’t done anything yet. We haven’t played a game. We haven’t won a game. We know our league is tremendous. We know the Eastern Division is going to be a rough road. All we’re trying to do is prepare the best we can to hopefully play the very best we can play and maximize the potential of this football team. Hopefully that will be good enough to get back to Atlanta and hopefully play a little bit better this time around.”

On the upcoming four-team playoff: “I think the four team playoff is going to be outstanding. I’m not sure who’s going to decide who the top four teams are, but hopefully we’ll get a chance to have one and maybe two teams play out of our league if the season’s just right. One of the reasons why I like it is it doesn’t destroy the bowl system the way it is. Some people may not like it the way it is, but I think the bowl system is outstanding. I think our regular season games are huge. I’m talking about the entire BCS. [...] I just hate to see a day where we might play Florida, and whether you win or lose, you still go to the playoffs, no one thinks it’s that big of a deal. It is a big deal every game we play. I don’t want college football to lose that.”

Check out thoughts from eight more coaches…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2012 SEC Media Days – All-SEC, coaches speak

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9/21: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

Updated at 1:00 p.m.

With the Florida Gators just days away from their fourth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against the Kentucky Wildcats, he spoke with the media during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week three action.

GATORS’ PUNTING SUCCESS IS VERY STRAIGHTFORWARD

If you follow OGGOA on Twitter (and you should), then you may have seen a retweet we sent out Tuesday evening from a Kentucky sportswriter who believes Florida is skirting the rules on punt blocks. This was triggered by something Kentucky Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips said during a press conference on Tuesday about the Gators’ punt block team: “They’ve got big guys pulling this guy that way, and this guy that way and a little fast guy with world-class speed comes up the middle to block it. And you can’t get off the block,” he said. “We’ve got to punch them in the mouth when they try to grab you and get their hands off of you and come off and block the little guy that tries to split the gap.”

Asked about the play Tuesday, Muschamp responded with one of his (now standard) quips. “We just play hard. We play hard and coach hard,” he said. “I’m real pleased with what we do. They didn’t throw any flags on that play, did they? OK. We just ran a guy through a gap.”

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, whose team was victimized by the punt block on Saturday, brushed off the question, too. “If we do our job, we’re not even having this discussion,” he said.

Muschamp also expanded on why Florida has been so successful blocking punts over the last few years. “We have good players – that’s the first thing that jumps out at you. We’ve got some guys that got some special ability. There’s been a huge emphasis on special teams, obviously when Urban [Meyer] was here, and I’ve carried that over. Special teams are very important to me,” he said.

“I always talk to the players in terms of, if you want the opportunity to play in the National Football League, the old Bill Parcells line, ‘If you’re not a quarterback or an offensive lineman and you don’t play special teams, you’re a selfish football player.’ I live by that. Our guys understand our best payers will play on special teams – you look at what Chris Rainey and a lot of our starters do – we have good players.

“Second thing is we have good speed. You create space plays in special teams, you got to have guys who can run. And then the third thing, I think D.J. Durkin – our special teams coordinator – does an outstanding job. He puts his guys in the right spots, he does a great job with scheming guys to get good players free in certain situations whether it’s the returning game or specialist or whatever. He takes a combination of all those things, that’s why we are where we are.”

He even discussed how the Gators blocking a punt can significantly affect the outcome of that particular game. “The percentages of winning the game go through the roof. It’s such a deflating thing for the punt team,” he said. “I don’t think off the top of my head I’ve won many games if we’ve had a punt blocked. It’s hard to do. The change in momentum, obviously you can easily score off of it either by the scoop or the next offensive possession. The momentum of the game certainly can slip pretty quickly.”

Asked to clarify his comments at the end of the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, Phillips said he was not trying to insinuate that anything Florida was doing was against the rules. “There’s nothing illegal with that. Nothing,” he said. “Everybody does it. We try to do it also. There’s nothing illegal about it. I wasn’t saying there was anything illegal about it. I was saying they do a great job of it.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp said redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed has a “lower body” injury that is not specifically a hamstring problem. It is the same injury that kept him out last week, but the team has an outside chance of seeing him return to the field. “We still got a shot. He’s been moving around a little bit. He’s a little gimpy here and there, but who knows, we got a lot of time until Saturday,” he said.

» Opening statement: “[I’m] very pleased to be 3-0 with a good conference win over Tennessee. Heading to Lexington this weekend is our first road game. We got 16 guys in our two-deep who have not been on the road yet or got on a plane. It’ll be interesting there. Kentucky is playing very well defensively; they’re giving up 13 points a game and leading the SEC in kickoff coverage and punting. They’re playing well so we’ve got our work cut out for us, especially with the newness of what we’re trying to do.”

» On linebackers junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins being so in sync: “Over a period of time as far as practice is concerned, they’ve played together last year, first of all. Number two, they’re very close off the field. Generally in my experience in coaching, guys that are close on and off the field generally have a bond. [...] As much as anything, they’re both highly intelligent young men, very driven. They’re good football players and very productive for us. Those guys have a good bond of the field and they see things the same on the field.”

» On if redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey is doing well off the field, too: “I can only judge from the time I’ve been here. He’s done everything we’ve asked and then some as far as being accountable on and off the field as a football player, a member of our football team and this university. He’s a guy that is early in the meetings, works extremely hard as far as workouts are concerned and practiced, [and] does everything that’s asked of him academically. He’s been a great example for the rest of our football team.”

» On if Rainey should be in the race for the Heisman Trophy: “I think you look at the first three ball games and his production and what he’s done for our football team – running, catching and all the special teams [like] the return and blocking kicks – you’re talking about value to a football team. It’s a long season. We need to continue to play consistently well at his position and what he’s doing for our team. There’s nothing that tells me he won’t from the standpoint of how he’s working in practice and how he’s approaching the game.”

» On the Gators’ depth at running back: “We’ve really consistently played that group of guys [Rainey, Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee, Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer] and have been very productive at the position. A lot of that credit should go to Charlie [Weis]. Here’s a guy that’s identified, ‘OK these guys are playmakers. These guys can do good things for us. Let’s narrow their role down based on what they can do and their skill set.’ I think he’s done a really good job of identifying what they do well.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

No. 16 Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 87°F, scattered thunderstorms, winds 8-9 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET) [3:39 p.m. kickoff]

TV: CBS/CBSHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(16/17) FLORIDA GATORS TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Derek Dooley
Record: 2-0 Record: 2-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9.5; O/U 50.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week three action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in The Swamp.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Tennessee 21-19 and holds a 10-5 record at home in those games. The Gators have won six-straight contests against the Volunteers and, since the teams began playing annually in 1990, hold a 15-6 head-to-head record.
» UF has begun the season outscoring their first two opponents by a combined total of 80-3. This just the second time Florida has allowed three of fewer points to a pair of opponents to start a season (1933).
» The Gators’ shutout of UAB was the team’s first since 2006 (Western Carolina).
» It took UF seven quarters to achieve their first turnover of the season.
» Head coaches Muschamp (of Florida) and Dooley (of Tennessee) previously worked together on staffs under the stewardship of head coach Nick Saban at LSU (2001-04) and in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins (2005).
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida’s offensive line has not allowed a sack this year, making them one of two teams in the SEC and one of five nationally to accomplish that feat through two contests.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (305) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (68) since 2008.
» Though Florida is 11-for-12 (91.7 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on seven of those trips.
» Teams are averaging just 1.9 yards per carry against Florida’s defense this season.
» The Gators’ defense has only allowed three-of-23 (13 percent) third-down conversion attempts to be achieved against them over the first two games.
» The Vols are looking to start their season 3-0 for the first time since 2004. Should they win, it would also be their first three-game road winning streak since 2005-06.
» Though it is early in the season, Florida and Tennessee have each excelled in different areas heading into Saturday’s contest. The Gators top the Vols in rushing average 248.5-127.0 (16th-82nd) and points against 1.5-19.5 (1st-45th), while UT leads UF in passing average 358.0-241.5 (9th-47th) and points scored 43.5-40 (20th-30th). The teams have not played a common opponent this season.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida may have started the 2010 season slow, but they still took it to Tennessee with a 31-17 defeat in Knoxville, TN. The Gators let their running game do the work with Jeff Demps carrying the ball a career-high 26 times for 73 yards and Mike Gillislee scoring two of the team’s four touchdowns that afternoon. Aside from a pair of field goals, the Volunteers only touchdown came on a 49-yard strike midway through the third quarter.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from ESPN reporter Erin Andrews hosting the 9-10 a.m. version of College GameDay on ESPNU, the Gators will be covered extensively on the latter portion of the show from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. In an OGGOA exclusive, we have learned that former Florida head coach Urban Meyer will break down how his former team will have to attack Tennessee’s offensive line. Following that segment, Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso will have a discussion specifically about the Gators’ defense under Muschamp.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

» Active: Senior running back Jeff Demps (shoulder), sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd (suspension), sophomore wide receiver Robert Clark (hamstring), freshman tight end A.C. Leonard (meniscus), redshirt freshman WR Stephen Alli (hamstring), redshirt junior WR Omarius Hines (hamstring)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore TE Jordan Reed (hamstring), redshirt freshman DE Lynden Trail (performance), redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (suspension)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 67.3 percent of his passes (33-of-49) this season for 424 yards and a touchdown but also threw two interceptions in the season opener. Brantley only had a 60.8 completion percentage in 2010 with more picks than scores and remains the starter this year.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 308 combined yards this season with four total touchdowns including a punt block return. Rainey is averaging 7.3 yards per carry and 12.2 yards per reception and became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 8.2 yards per carry so far this year including 105 in the season opener. He sat out most of the team’s second game with a shoulder injury and is Florida’s returning rushing leader from a year ago. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark in the first game of the year.
» Sophomore “RB” Trey Burton (#8)…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who stood out all offseason as the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary and moved into a starting role. He is the leading tackler with 11 and recorded the first forced fumble of his career against UAB.
» Sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd (#73)…who will play his first game of the season after sitting out the first two due to suspension. Floyd moved to end this year even though he is a true tackle and will start for the Gators.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (19 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for three tackles for loss through the first two games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who have combined for 15 tackles. Bostic has already registered two for a loss, and Jenkins earned the team’s first Hard Hat Award for a big hit in week one.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on nine field goal attempts (long: 51) and five extra points.

TENNESSEE
» QB Tyler Bray (#8)…who has completed 78.5 percent of his passes for 698 yards and seven touchdowns without throwing an interception in two games this season. He is only the second passer in team history to throw for more than 400 yards in a game, has tossed two or more touchdowns in eight consecutive games and set his school’s record for completion percentage with an 82.9 percent mark against Cincinnati.
» RB Tauren Poole (#28)…who is averaging 5.0 yards per carry in his first two contests this season and had the seventh 100-yard rushing game of his career against Cincinnati.
» WRs Justin Hunter (#11) and Da’Rick Rogers (#21)…who have combined for 502 yards and five touchdowns this year. Hunter’s SEC-leading 302 yards tops the team, and the duo both recorded 10 catches in a single game for the first time in school history.
» LBs Curt Maggitt (#56) and A.J. Johnson (#45)…who are two freshmen in the Vols starting front seven, the first linebackers in their class to ever do so for the team. The duo has combined for 10 tackles (1.5 for loss) in two games.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9/14: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators just days away from their third game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the Tennessee Volunteers, he spoke with the media during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week three action.

PLAYER ABSENCE AND INJURY UPDATES

The availability of a few players has been on fans’ collective minds throughout the week, and Muschamp on Wednesday discussed how they are progressing.

About redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finely, who was arrested and charged with a pair of misdemeanors for driving a scooter with a suspended license and resisting arrest without violence, Muschamp was dismissive and refused to provide any details. “Yeah, I’m handling that. We’ll work through that. That’s where we are,” he said.

As far as sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd, Muschamp confirmed that he is set to return from a NCAA-mandated two-game suspension. He also said that Floyd’s plan in regard to paying back the $2,700 the NCAA deemed he owed to charity has been put into motion. The only thing he did not know was which charity Floyd would be donating the money to. “I have no idea. It’ll be a good one though,” he said.

Muschamp also had the opportunity to speak about Floyd’s character and what he brings to the team from multiple standpoints. “He’s a really good player. He’s a guy that is probably the most respected player in our locker room as far as how he handles himself on- and off-the-field,” he said. “He’s just a great young man and a guy that brings a lot of passion and a lot of energy to the locker room, to our football team. On top of all that, he’s a really good football player. God has blessed him. He’s very talented, hard-working – he’s as hard-working a kid as we have on this football team.”

Though Muschamp was not asked about the status of redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed’s hamstring (he said on Monday that Reed should play on Saturday), he was questioned about senior running back Jeff Demps’s shoulder. “He’s fine. He’s going to be fine. He’s practicing,” Muschamp stated.

EVALUATING TENNESSEE

A member of the same coaching staff as Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley when the two were at LSU some years ago under Nick Saban, Muschamp is well aware what the Volunteers will be bringing to the table on Saturday.

“We’ve got Tennessee coming to The Swamp this weekend, and I’m looking forward to that opportunity,” he said as part of his opening statement. “They’re very explosive team offensively with [Justin] Hunter and [Da’Rick] Rogers outside. [Tyler] Bray is playing very well at quarterback. [They] run the ball well and do play-actions off of that. Defensively the guys are playing hard with a lot of multiple looks. They’re doing a nice job and, of course, Derek does a great job with special teams – he and Eric Russell. A lot of respect for those guys and we’re looking forward to playing them Saturday.”

Bray, who has completed 78 percent of his passes through the first two games of the season, is of primary concern for a Florida defense that will feature a young secondary at the start of Saturday’s contest. “He’s been very accurate with the ball – not just in the intermediate but also with the vertical passing game,” Muschamp said. “He’s got two explosive guys outside, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

He also took some time to complement Dooley for his ability to coach up his team each week. “Derek is a smart guy, extremely hard-working, very detail-oriented in his approach to everything that we do,” he said. “[He] did a great job with our special teams, but a guy that sees the big picture. [He’s] very detail-oriented coach and that obviously shows on tape with this football team.”

COACHES NOT HOLDING ANYTHING BACK

Having outscored the team’s first two opponents a combined 80-3, Muschamp was asked if his team was holding anything back from a schematic standpoint during the first two contests. He scoffed at the notion though he did admit that the lopsided scores dictated that they could go away from their game plan in the latter portions of the game.

“We game plan every week to win the game. We’re going to do what we got to do to win the game,” he said. “Obviously as the game changes, you change your play calling offensively and defensively and even in special teams from the standpoint of what you’re doing based on the score. Obviously in our first two games we got up early and played very good there at times. We may have not done some things we had planned for in the game, but we don’t go into a game holding stuff for another opponent. I guess some people do that. I don’t. We prepare to win the game and we prepare to take the things we’ve got to do to win the game. Now whether or not we call them depends on the situation in the game.”

THOUGHTS FROM TENNESSEE COACH DOOLEY

» Opening statement on Florida: “This will be certainly our biggest challenge because it’s on the road and it’s against a team that’s dominated this league in the last decade. And it’s a team that we haven’t played very well against in a while. It’ll be a good measuring stick of where we are and we’ll see how we do.”

» On what part of the Gators’ defense and offense concerns him: “The first thing you notice on defense is probably the most talented defensive line in the country –extremely big, athletic and disruptive and almost impossible to block. If your five can’t block their four, it doesn’t matter what plays you have, it’s going to be a long day. Schematically, they were able to be very vanilla just because of the nature of the two football games that they played. I don’t think we’ve seen near what we might see on Saturday and that’s to be expected. Ultimately it’s going to come down whether we can handle up front. On the other side of the ball, of course, what you see is they do a great job of getting their ball to their playmakers and creating air for them. When they create a little air for their fast guys, they’re hard to catch and hard to bring down.”

» On his team’s third-down efficiency: “Jim [Chaney]’s done a good job with a play calling, but the Jimmys and Joes tend to make third down a lot easier for the coaches. Tyler’s done a great job of placing the ball where it needs to be. The receivers have done a good job of running fast routes and being where they’re supposed to be. So far we’ve been pretty good, but we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We’ll find out how we handle it against a quality defense this week.”

» On his young offensive line: “They’re young but we think they’re talented, too. They’re starting to get experience. Now this will be about their seventh or eighth game. Hopefully as each game goes on they play a little bit better and a little bit more confident.”

» On dealing with Florida redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey: “It’s not just his first two games. Watching his body of work over time, he just has an incredible way to impact a game. Whether it’s at runner, whether it’s at returner, whether it’s blocking punts, whether it’s returning blocked punts for touchdowns, you always see the guy in critical moments making big plays. Players like that are very hard to stop or contain. It’s just a combination of tremendous speed and athleticism but also competitive character.”

» On if he has memories of coaching against Muschamp in LSU practice: “Yeah, I have a lot of memories. Six years of them. He’s got his team and he’s in charge of everything now, not just the defense. I know this – his team is going to be well-prepared. They’re going to be very well-coached. They’re going to prepare fast and hard and fundamentally sound and tough, and it’s going to be a big challenge because he’s a good football coach.”

» On his team’s young defenders: “We’re glad we have A.J. [Johnson] and Curt [Maggitt]; we’d be in a real bind if we didn’t. That doesn’t mean they’re playing great, but it means they have the potential to be really good players for us over the long haul. They’ve done a real good job for true freshmen over the first two games, but this is going to be a big test for them because they’re going to be playing a lot and going against guys that are more athletic, bigger that are blocking them than they’re used to, and they’re going to be chasing down guys who are faster than they’ve ever seen.”

Tags: , , , ,

2011 SEC Spring Meetings Recap – Day One

Head coaches, athletic directors and support staff gather in Destin, FL each year for the Southeastern Conference Spring Meetings, which provide an opportunity to discuss rule changes, new procedures and much more. Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp and head basketball coach Billy Donovan were both in attendance on Tuesday and made waves with their stances on some of the hot topics of the week.

WILL MUSCHAMP

» He once again took a hard line on oversigning (accepting national letters of intent for more players than open scholarships you have in a given year) and greyshirting (denying scholarships to oversigned players and forcing them to enroll in the following spring or fall), saying emphatically that Florida does not believe in either method of recruiting. “We don’t over-sign. That’s a policy we have at the university,” he said. “We’ve been successful, so it’s not an issue for us.”

» On the SEC’s live Internet show streaming short interviews with some of the league’s coaches, Muschamp stressed that what separates this league from the rest of the country is the strong defenses, specifically up front on the line. “I’ve seen teams in this league with average quarterbacks win national championships because they’re really good on defense,” he said.

» One quarterback who he thinks is well above average is redshirt senior John Brantley, who Muschamp said needs to have the players around him step up in order to be successful. He related a conversation he had with Brantley when he told him that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has a lot of confidence in him going forward and how “that should tell you a lot” about the type of talent he possesses.

» Muschamp said that dismissing senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins after his second marijuana arrest in less than 90 days was not about making an example out of him but rather making sure he did what was in the best interests of the rest of the team. “I don’t look at it as trying to send a message; I look at it from a standpoint of doing what’s right for the program,” he said, according to the Palm Beach Post. “Guys are going to be expected to act a certain way and have a certain behavior, and if they don’t do that then they’re not going to be a part of our football team.”

» Addressing his decision to allow freshman running back Mike Blakely to transfer within the SEC to Auburn, he said it is not something he will normally allow. “It’s not my policy to clear a kid to leave for another conference school,” Muschamp said per the Montgomery Advertiser. “I don’t want to face our players on the field. I know how good they are. They signed with Florida for a reason, so that’s a situation I’m going to avoid.” He did not provide an exact reason for making an exception in this case, simply saying that “this was the right thing to do.”

Auburn head coach Gene Chizik, the beneficiary of Blakely’s services, agrees. “That was an extremely classy move on Will’s part to give him that chance to come back to Auburn,” Chizik said. “It says something about the kind of person Will is.”

BILLY DONOVAN

» The league’s basketball coaches are going to take on two separate but related issues this week – potentially removing the conference’s divisions and ways to reseed the SEC Tournament so it is more fair to the teams that perform at a high level all year. A move to a 12-team format (rather than two six-team divisions) would benefit the East, which feels it often gets a raw deal when the tournament comes around and West teams get undeserved byes. Options include seeding the tournament 1-12 by conference record (with tiebreakers) or using a model similar to the baseball format with division winners getting byes and the rest of the teams being slotted 3-12.

» Donovan, proposing a solution that could work whether or not divisions are retained, believes the tournament should seed teams by RPI. This would force coaches and ADs to schedule better non-conference opponents, which would also improve the SEC’s overall standing nationally. Commissioner Mike Slive said Donovan’s suggestion will not be one of the methods considered.

» The vote on the topic of reseeding was tied 6-6 last year but should have more steam on Wednesday due to Slive being publicly in favor of some type of change. Scrapping the divisions is a long-term topic that, even if approved of by a majority, would not occur next season. However, adjustments to tournament seeding procedures could be worked out this week.

OTHER NOTES

» Not everyone agrees that oversigning and greyshirting are bad things. Those who are happy with the way things are (28 maximum scholarships per signing class – a rule adjusted just one year ago) include Chizik, Houston Nutt (Ole Miss), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas) and Mark Richt (Georgia). “Everybody has a right to manage their own numbers,” Richt said.

» Petrino also took the opportunity to criticize the NCAA for allowing Ohio State to delay the suspensions of five players deemed to have taken illegal benefits before the 2011 Sugar Bowl. “They kind of changed the rules for that bowl game,” he said.

» Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley plans to submit a formal proposal requesting that the SEC increase the staff sizes for its football programs. Dooley believes the player-to-coach ratio (12-to-1) in football is significantly worse in football than other collegiate sports (or the NFL, which is 3-to-1) and thinks that hiring additional staff members will also help combat off-the-field issues.

» Alabama head coach Nick Saban admitted Tuesday that he made a “mistake” not hiring Muschamp as the defensive coordinator when he took the Miami Dolphins job after leaving LSU. “When I went to Miami as the Dolphins coach, I didn’t want to put guys that were college coaches in coordinator positions until they’d coached in the league and got some experience,” Saban said, according to The Gainesville Sun. “I had coached in the league for two years at Houston and became the (defensive) coordinator at Cleveland and it was really, really difficult, only being in the league two years and understanding the league, the personnel, match-ups and a lot of things.
“I should have made Will the coordinator. Dom [Capers] did a wonderful job, but Will probably deserved to get that job. It was me trying to protect him. I wanted to give him another year before he was out there. I was trying to protect people that were important to me. I don’t think we have any issues or problems.”

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 1 of 2  1  2 »