Friday Final: Players ready for Florida-Georgia

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) as they prepare to lay it all on the line against the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks starting Treon Harris, fixing Florida’s numerous offensive issues during bye
Story: Gators adopt “bunker mentality” as players support coach
Story: Tim Tebow on Treon Harris: We’ll see what he’s made of
Notebok: Kurt Roper talks Harris starting, Florida’s progress on offense
Notebook: Gators defense ready to stop Bulldogs rush, more from D.J. Durkin
The Silver Lining: Florida players exuding confidence entering Georgia game

WORLD’S LARGEST OUTDOOR COCKTAIL PARTY

Every player on the Florida roster always has and always will get geared up for Georgia game, no matter how either team is playing entering the contest.

Head coach Will Muschamp announced Thursday that four redshirt senior Peach State natives – linebacker Neiron Ball, running back Mack Brown, center Max Garcia and LB Michael Taylor – will be captains for the game. Two of them, along with a couple other players, spoke with the media this week about what the UF-UGA game means to them.

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10/29: Florida focused on stopping Georgia rush

Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday with just three days to go until his team links up with the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

GURLEY OR NOT, HERE COME THE GATORS

Florida’s players have spoken all week about preparing for Georgia running back Todd Gurley and doing whatever they can to limit his effectiveness in the game.

As well as the Gators might have defended Gurley, they are still no match for the NCAA, which ruled on Wednesday that Gurley will have to sit out two more contests (including UF-UGA) as he serves a four-game suspension after receiving more than $3,000 for signing memorabilia. He will also have to pay restitution and do community service.

With Gurley – a Heisman Trophy candidate averaging 8.2 yards per carry – out of action, the Bulldogs will rely on Nick Chubb to tote the rock, which he has been doing to the tune of 5.7 yards per rush this season.

For Durkin and the players, not much will change in Florida’s defensive preparation for Georgia’s run-heavy offensive attack.

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10/28: Roper on fixing Florida’s offense, QB Harris starting for the Gators on Saturday

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on Florida’s recent struggles and the Gators’ upcoming contest against the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs, which is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

FIXING AN OFFENSIVE OFFENSE

When Roper was hired to take over after Brent Pease’s ouster, it was expected that he would inject some life into the Gators’ offense. Florida would supposedly spread the ball out, throw it down the field and take chances that it had not in the past.

However, after posting 101 points in its first two games, UF has combined for just 72 in its last four contests. For Roper, it all comes down to a pair of major issues – the downfield passing game and turnovers.

“Right now, turnovers. Sometimes it’s a different theme, week-to-week. We obviously haven’t been as good in the passing game all season long. But specifically, in the last game, it’s turning the football over,” he explained.

“If you look at it, it’s kind of the trend. We were good in the first game, second game we were pretty good in, I think we had one. It’s been a theme of three until we doubled the three. We’re an offense that has to take care of the football better right now. It’s the primary goal going into this next opportunity.”

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Tebow on Harris: We’ll see what he’s made of

Tim Tebow never had to start as a freshman with the Florida Gators, but he still knows a thing or two about seeing action as a first-year player and competing in pressure situations as a rookie, including in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.

Tebow, who finished his collegiate career with a 2-1 record as a starter against the Georgia Bulldogs, fully understands the pressure freshman quarterback Treon Harris will feel Saturday afternoon and had some advice for the young signal caller during a radio appearance Tuesday morning on 1010 XL (92.5 AM) out of Jacksonville, Florida.

“It’s his first start. He’s going to be nervous. He’s going to have butterflies. There’s going to be emotions going through him,” he said.

“Emotionally, you’re always going to be nervous. It’s a huge game. This is something that you grow up dreaming about. This is what you love. If I’m him, I’m loving it. I don’t want my first start to be against one of the schools that you get to open the season up against. You want it to be against a team like Georgia.

“If I’m him, I’m loving this opportunity and this situation to go out there and show that this is why I came to the University of Florida. I think we’ll see a lot of what he’s made of. From everything I’ve heard and seen, he’s been a winner in the past and we’ll see how he comes out and plays Saturday afternoon.”

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Muschamp, Gators adopting ‘bunker mentality’ as Florida players support embattled coach

Shielding themselves from falling bombs of criticism and ear-piercing chants for the ouster of a starting quarterback and head coach, Will Muschamp said Monday that he hand the Florida Gators have adopted a “bunker mentality” that he hopes will serve the team well through the remainder of the season.

With redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel benched for freshman Treon Harris after Driskel turned the ball over 12 times in his last four games, one part of the call from Florida fans has been answered.

However, Muschamp still remains coach of the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) after their devastating 42-13 blowout loss to Missouri on homecoming, and fans continue to let it be known that they want athletic director Jeremy Foley to make a change and fast.

Muschamp accepts the fervor and heavy criticism because it comes with the position of head coach, explaining that he is singularly focused on Florida’s next opponent – the SEC East-leading, No. 9-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) – and not what fans think about his job status.

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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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Tebow wants fans to ‘rise above’ booing Gators

Appearing in his weekly role as a SEC Nation analyst Saturday on SEC Network, Florida Gators quarterback Tim Tebow took a full minute to speak directly to his former team’s fan base and suggest how it can best support the team going forward this season.

Specifically, Tebow wants Florida fans to “rise above” booing the Gators and instead support their team each week, regardless of how they feel about the state of the program or head coach Will Muschamp.

Florida’s success over the last two decades gives its fans a chance to be “better than these other universities that boo their student-athletes,” Tebow explains. It gives the Gators the ability to “show character” and “stand up” for the players on the field.

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Florida opponent previews – Missouri and Georgia

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

After squaring off against two bitter rivals, the Florida Gators will square off against one of the two newest additions to the Southeastern Conference, the Missouri Tigers.

The 2013 Florida squad drew comparisons to Missouri’s 2012 team, under-performing because of excessive injuries that ravaged its roster. The Gators hope to replicate what the Tigers did in 2013 as well as the program rebounded from that injury-plagued season to win the SEC East with a 7-1 conference record.

Head-to-Head

FLORIDA GATORS MISSOURI TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp (Year: 4) Head Coach: Gary Pinkel (Year: 14)
2013 Record: 4-8 (3-5) 2013 Record: 12-2 (7-1)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Common Opponents: 3-3 Common Opponents: 5-1
Scoring Offense: T-112th (18.8 ppg) Scoring Offense: 13th (39.1 ppg)
Scoring Defense: 15th (21.1 ppg) Scoring Defense: 34th (23.1 ppg)

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