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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Week 9: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

Location: EverBank Field – Jacksonville, FL [Capacity: 84,000]
Weather Forecast: 77°F, partly cloudy
Time: 3:30 p.m. (EST)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
Sirius/XM: 121/141
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Online Audio: Yahoo!
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Head Coach: Urban Meyer Head Coach: Mark Richt
Record: 4-3 (2-3) Record: 4-4 (3-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Pick ‘em; O/U 49

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Georgia leads the all-time series 46-39-2 against Florida, holding a 40-36-1 advantage in Jacksonville. The Gators have won back-to-back games in the series, defeating the Bulldogs 49-10 in 2008 and 41-17 last season.
» Over the last 20 years, UF holds a 17-3 advantage over UGA. Under Meyer, Florida is 4-1 against Georgia since 2005.
» The Gators are now 22-30 in the red zone in 2010 with 20 touchdowns and two field goals. Earlier this season, Florida had a run of 15 straight scores inside the red zone including 14 touchdowns.
» Florida’s offense has seen 12 different players overall score a touchdown this year – including defense and special teams.
» The Bulldogs are out-scoring opponents 63-31 in the first quarter while the Gators are being outscored 14-26 in the same period.
» Florida is one of two schools in the nation (Nebraska) that has three players with at least three interceptions.
» The Gators have faced the SEC’s (at-the-time) leading rusher three times this season; each time, the player no longer led the SEC after facing UF.
» Florida under Meyer is 40-1 when holding an opponent under 16 points, 29-3 when shutting an opponent out in the fourth quarter, 37-3 when holding an opponent to 35 percent or less on third down, 37-2 when giving up two or less big plays (15-yard run/25-yard pass) and 31-3 when the Gators defense scores or creates three turnovers.
» Florida is tied for the national lead with 13 interceptions on the season. Five have been returned for more than 30 yards – three for touchdowns.
» Georgia has won three straight games (Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Kentucky) by a combined score of 128-45. The Bulldogs scored 41 or more points in all three contests. Comparatively, the Gators scored 31 and 48 points against UT and UK, respectively.
» The Bulldogs out-rank the Gators in three of four major statistical averages. Georgia is 55th in passing yards (228.4), 59th in rushing yards (153.8), 39th in points scored (31.5) and 30th in points against (19.1) compared to Florida being 82nd in passing yards (186.9), 75th in rushing yards (142.1), 62nd in points scored (27.6) and 26th in points against (18.7). Both defeated common opponents Tennessee and Kentucky, but UF has faced two top-10 defenses this year in Alabama (No. 2) and LSU (No. 10).
» Saturday’s game is the first time since 1979 that at least one of the two teams is not nationally ranked. In fact, both teams have been in the top 25 on 17 occasions when they have faced each other since that year.
» New Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity previously worked was executive senior associate athletic director of internal affairs under Florida’s Jeremy Foley; he was with the school from 1992-2010.
» Gators redshirt sophomores defensive tackle Omar Hunter and fullback T.J. Pridemore both attended Buford High School, as did a number of Bulldogs including Kolton Houston, Billy Johnson and Dallas Lee.
» Florida is unranked for the first time under Meyer’s. The Gators had been listed in every poll since he took over in 2005 until they lost to Mississippi State two weeks ago.
» Four players were inducted into the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame on Friday including former Gators linebackers Scot Brantley and Wilber Marshall, and former Bulldogs quarterback Zeke Bratkowski and linebacker Knox Culpepper.
» Florida will wear Nike Pro Combat uniforms for the Georgia game. They are one of 10 teams selected to wear a specially designed uniform by the company this season.

KEEP AN EYE ON…

FLORIDA
» Redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley…who had thrown 156 consecutive passes without an interception dating back to 2009, now has a 6-5 TD/INT ratio this season after throwing another pick last week. He has completed 125-of-208 passes (62.0 percent) for 1,266 yards and has a passer rating of 117.9.
» Junior running back Jeff Demps…who is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and still leads the Gators in rushing (482 yards) after missing a full game and being limited in three others. He was Florida’s leading rusher in its first five games of the season.
» Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson…who has seen a dip in his average yards per game this season down to 50.4. He remains the Gators’ leading receiver with 25 catches for 353 yards with a majority of his receptions earning UF first downs.
» Redshirt senior WR Carl Moore…who continues to be clutch for the Gators each week. Twelve of Moore’s last 15 catches have been for first downs including two against Tennessee, four against Kentucky, two against Alabama, three against LSU and one against Mississippi State.
» Freshman QB Trey Burton…who set a school record and SEC freshman record by scoring six touchdowns in a single game against Kentucky. He has nine scores on the season, has played five positions and may see more time behind center with the team wanting to run the ball better out of the option.
» Senior punter Chas Henry…who is the end-all be-all of Florida’s kicking game now that he has taken over for junior Caleb Sturgis (back) as the team’s field goal kicker. Henry has missed his last four field goal attempts (one negated by penalty) after nailing his first two against Alabama.
» Florida’s secondary…which has intercepted eight balls this season but has been held without a pick over the last three games. Senior safety Ahmad Black (three), redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown (three) and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins (two) and are leading the way for the unit. Brown returned one for a touchdown two games ago, and Black is tops on the team with 50 tackles on the year while also being the conference’s active leader in interceptions (11) and interception return yards (233).
» Black…who has led Florida in tackles four times this season: vs. LSU (13), Miami (10), Mississippi State (10) and USF (8). He is tops on the team overall with 60 tackles, including three for loss.

GEORGIA
» WR A.J. Green…who leads the Bulldogs in receptions (22) even though he missed the first four games of the season. Since returning, he has amassed 365 yards and four touchdowns, catching six or more balls three times for 86 or more yards.
» QB Aaron Murray…who has completed 121-of-193 passes this season for 1,766 yards, 12 touchdowns and three interceptions, earning him a 157.0 passer rating. Murray has passed for seven TDs and one INT in the last four games (Georgia is 3-1).
» RB Washaun Ealey…who is averaging five yards per carry on 105 touches. With seven touchdowns on the season, he has accounted for more than any other player on the team and also leads Georgia with 526 rushing yards.
» Linebacker Justin Houston…who leads the SEC with nine sacks after registering 5.5 over the last three games. He is also second in the conference in tackles for loss (14.5).

INJURIES and INACTIVES
Injuries
Active – Junior RB Jeff Demps (foot), sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring), redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody (thigh), redshirt freshman right guard Jon Halapio (finger)
Probable – Redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose, redshirt junior DT Jaye Howard

Inactives
Redshirt sophomore LT Matt Patchan (broken wrist), junior K Caleb Sturgis (back), sophomore LB Dee Finley (fractured collarbone), freshmen RB Mack Brown, WRs Quinton Dunbar and Chris Dunkley (hamstrings)

FLORIDA ON ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators and Bulldogs will be featured during ESPN’s College GameDay broadcast beginning at 9 a.m. on ESPNU (hosted by Erin Andrews) and continuing from 10 a.m. until noon on ESPN. Reporter Joe Schad will have an exclusive interview with Meyer and the show’s three hosts – Chris Fowler, Lee Corso and Kirk Herbstreit – will be picking the game in the show’s final segment.

Read OGGOA’s Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs preview after the jump!
Continue Reading » Week 9: Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs

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TWO BITS: Driskel’s adjustments, Foley on Meyer

1 » As he finishes his junior baseball season and gets ready for his senior year of football at Hagerty High School, four-star 2011 Florida Gators quarterback commitment Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) knows the comparisons to Denver Broncos signal caller Tim Tebow will be coming sooner than later. “I’d love to continue the standards he set on the field and off the field,” Driskel told ESPN. “But at the same time, I have to make my own impact and be my own person.” Driskel is also aware that extra attention will be paid to him throughout the upcoming season due to his commitment to Florida. “Whenever you are linked to the football program at the University of Florida, all eyes are going to be on you,” he said. “I know there will be people that have never seen me play [who will] develop a new interest in us and how well we play this season.” Driskel is receiving plenty of praise and support from his coaches who realize that he will be a good fit with the Gators. “I had visited a few schools but every time I went to Florida it felt right,” Driskel admitted. “I wanted to be in the SEC because that’s where the best football in the country is played. Florida is competing for national titles every year and they run an offense suited around the quarterback. I love everything about that program.”

2 » Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley was in Jacksonville, FL, on Wednesday night, speaking to a bunch of fans at the Jax Beach Gator Club’s annual Gator Gathering. WJXX ABC 25 was on hand to cover the event, where Foley spoke about head coach Urban Meyer, redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley and a number of other topics.

On Meyer: “He’s doing well. He’s really doing well. He’s worked very hard – worked on some things that will help him be a better coach in terms of obligation. Very excited about the upcoming year. I can see the energy back. I can see the color in his face back.”

On Brantley: “I think his a heck of a talent. I know what our coaches think about him. I know how hard he’s worked. I know how hard he’s worked this spring. Johnny Brantley is a quality kid, a quality quarterback. Does he have the same reps as Tim Tebow? No. Will there be a learning curve for him? Certainly, but I think he’s got a chance to be a big time player. We’re very excited about Johnny Brantley.”

On Florida-Georgia: “It’s a tradition that’s second-to-none, in my opinion, in college football. Probably similar to Texas-Oklahoma. It’s as good as football stadium in the country, and we do have a contract. There’s a few Is to be dotted a few Ts to be crossed. I think that thing will be signed before next fall, and keep it here for another seven years and that certainly excites us all in Gainesville.”

Photo Credit: ESPN

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FOUR BITS: Tebow is tough; Meyer and recruits; airing it out; alcohol changes for Fla-Ga

1 » Florida Gators senior quarterback Tim Tebow has always been a tough person and even tougher football player. He has scored a touchdown on a broken leg (for Nease in high school), played with a fractured hand, run over players with a hyper-extended knee and played through seasons with injuries to his back and shoulder. But coming back from a concussion is not about being tough. It is about the brain – both protecting it and using it to make sure you do not return too soon.

2 » The worst part for a head coach about having their phone number leaked is not just changing the number but making sure everyone has the new one. This includes staff, players, parents and, perhaps most importantly, recruits. One thing you can be sure of, however, is that Urban Meyer is a recruiting powerhouse all his own and took care of that situation swiftly. “Oh, we e-mailed the recruits and all that, so it’s OK,” Meyer said on Monday. “We’re doing alright. We got a plan.”

3 » As referenced Monday in his press conference, Meyer seeks to improve the Gators’ passing attack. Even though, as one OGGOA reader pointed out, Florida’s appears to be ahead of pace in that area compared to 2008, it is not where Meyer wants it to be. “I think we’re pretty close,” Meyer said. “I like where we’re at.” For Tebow though, stats are not everything. “We’re 5-0 and very happy with that,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we score 13 points or 2 points, as long as we win the game.” It would still do the Gators good to improve in their aerial attack. “Hopefully we’ll keep progressing and getting that timing, getting that rhythm and getting that feel,” Tebow said.

4 » The event formerly but no longer officially referred to as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is doing even more to curb alcohol consumption. There will be fewer places to buy alcohol at the Jacksonville Landing and no longer will vendors be allowed to walk around the property selling shots. University of Florida President Bernie Machen has been adamant about making Florida-Georgia weekend safer, and the city of Jacksonville, FL, is willing to abide him in a new plan that was submitted on Friday.

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