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

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Florida Gators at No. 24 Auburn Tigers Gameday

Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, AL [Capacity: 87,451]
Weather Forecast: 71°F, clear, winds W at 4 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS (24) AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Gene Chizik
Record: 4-2 (2-2) Record: 4-2 (2-1)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3; O/U 50.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four 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 evening at 7:00 p.m. on the road.

Story: QB Brissett earns second start at Auburn
Notes: RB Gillislee to see increased workload, might start at Auburn

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

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Auburn leads the all-time series against Florida 42-38-2, and the Tigers have won consecutive contests against the Gators. However, Florida has a 7-3 record the last 10 times the teams have played, and Auburn has a 25-8-1 advantage in home games.
» Each of the last four games in the UF-AU series have been decided in the final minute; the Tigers have won three of those four contests.
» In their four victories, the Gators are outscoring opponents 54-3 in the first quarter, while in their losses they have been outscored 24-10. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of six games.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (19 seniors, 16 juniors) as they do underclassmen (34 sophomores, 33 freshmen) on the roster the season.
» Muschamp was a former graduate assistant and defensive coordinator at Auburn. Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson played with the Tigers from 1999-02 and began his coaching career as a student and graduate assistant at AU.
» The Gators had a 100-yard rusher in four-straight games to start the season, the team’s second-longest streak ever, before failing to accomplish that feat in each of the last two weeks against two of the country’s best defenses.
» Though Florida is 20-for-22 (90.9 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed six sacks through six games, making them second in the SEC team and 24th nationally allowing just one sack per contest.
» The Gators not forced a turnover in two weeks after acquiring four in their previous game and seven total over the first four weeks of the season.
» Florida’s pass defense is allowing just 176.0 yards per game, good for fourth in the SEC and 12th nationally.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» UF’s defense is 12th in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 30.8 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida is No. 11 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (291.0 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 20 nationally and third in the SEC in scoring defense (19.2 points per game).
» Auburn is 9-0 in games decided by four points or less (5-0 in SEC action) under Chizik and 19-2 when leading at halftime.
» Since 2000, the Tigers are 23-4 (.852) at home in night games.
» AU has an 11-game home winning streak.
» Florida leads Auburn in three of four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Tigers in national averages of passing yards 186.3-170.7 (98th-106th), point scored 30.3-27.8 (53rd-65th) and points against 19.2-29.2 (20th-79th), while Auburn leads Florida in rushing yards 204.0-194.0 (27th-30th). The teams both defeated Florida Atlantic at home this year with UF winning 41-3 and AU earning a 30-14 victory.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Auburn have not squared off since 2007, when a last-second 43-yard field goal by AU kicker Wes Bynum lead the Tigers to a 20-17 upset of the No. 4 Gators at home in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Auburn handed Florida its first loss of the season (and first loss in The Swamp under Urban Meyer) while simultaneously snapping UF’s 11-game winning streak. The Tigers jumped ahead early and led 14-0 at the half. By the time the third quarter ended, the Gators were still down by 14 points, 17-3. However, consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter – a pass from quarterback Tim Tebow to tight end Cornelius Ingram and a rushing score by Tebow – tied the game with just over seven minutes to play. Auburn got the ball back with 3:38 remaining and drove it 35 yards down the field on 10 plays to seal the victory with Bynum’s kick.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators and Tigers will only be featured as a mention and during the picks segment on Saturday’s broadcast from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Inactive: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg), sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (neck), redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett (#17)…who will start his second one again for injured redshirt senior John Brantley (#12). Brissett, who had not played a down in his college career until he was named the starter one week ago, went 8/14 for 94 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against LSU. Fellow freshman QB Jeff Driskel (#16) may also see time behind center. Driskel was the backup to Brantley all season but was unable to play last week due to an ankle injury.
» Junior running back Mike Gillislee (#23)…who will see extensive playing time against Auburn and may even earn a start. Gillislee led Florida in rushing last week and is third on the team with 242 yards and rushing touchdowns. He set career-highs in carries (11) and rushing yards (84) in separate games this season.
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 712 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 15.3 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list with mirror image 65-yard touchdowns in each of the last two weeks. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 219 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first six games.
» Sophomore RB Trey Burton (#8)…who took many direct snaps last week after primarily serving as a receiver and running back in the team’s first five games. Burton is being used to help fill the void at the quarterback position created by Brantley’s injury.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is tied for second on the team in tackles (34) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU one week ago marked a career high.
» 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 (23 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 8.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first six games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (42) and Jenkins (34) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has five tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing eight games one year ago with an injured back. He is 13-for-14 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 51) and is perfect with 19 extra points, leading the Gators with 58 points scored this season. Sturgis is tied for the national lead with 13 field goals made.

AUBURN
» RB Michael Dyer (#5)…who is one of the best backs in the nation with a propensity for making game-changing plays. Dyer is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has rushed for 679 yards with eight touchdowns this season. He has run for more than 110 yards in four of six games and has scored at least one touchdown in five of six contests.
» WR Emory Blake (#80)…who is the Tigers’ position leader in receptions (19), yards (333) and touchdowns (four). Blake caught a touchdown in each of Auburn’s first four games but was held to just three receptions for 16 yards last week at South Carolina.
» Defensive end Corey Lemonier (#55)…who has registered five tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble over the last three games. He is also the team’s leader in all three categories with seven, four and two, respectively.
» Punter Steven Clark (#30)…who leads the SEC and is T-1 nationally with 20 punts downed inside the 20-yard-line this season. Clark is averaging 39.7 net yards per punt.
» QB Barrett Trotter (#14)…who started hot but has struggled as of late for the Tigers. After combining for five touchdowns and one interception in the first two games of the season, Trotter has thrown four scores and five picks in the last four contests. He has not topped 200 yards passing since the team’s season opener against Utah State and nearly lost his job after going just 6/19 for 81 yards last week.

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10/10: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meet with the media each Monday to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availability.

OPENING STATEMENTS

Muschamp began his appearance Monday but discussing the previous game and how the team is performing heading into its seventh game of the season, in which they go on the road for the second-straight week.

“Obviously when you start the game on the road against a good football team and you go three-and-out and then on the second play on the game you give up a big play, you’ve got to put yourself behind he eight ball. We’ve got to manage that better as a staff and a team as far as handling adversity. We faced a lot. You get down 14 points in two drives and we didn’t handle the circumstances very well. That’s part of growing up as a football team and it starts with me. We’ve got to become a more mentally tough team to handle those situations when they arise because, in this league, you’re going to have adversity. That’s been something that we’ve touched on through spring ball and in summer and into training camp. We’ve got to manage those situations better when they arise because they’re going to continue to arise through the season especially when you play in the league we’re playing in. I thought head good effort. I thought there were some guys who did play well. Not enough, obviously. That all comes back on me.”

He then spoke about next week’s opponent – Auburn – and what they bring to the table in all three phases of the game.

“The defending national champions. Got a lot of respect for Gene Chizik and the job he does as a head coach. Really a good defensive football coach. I got to know gene when I was the defensive coordinator at LSU and he was at Auburn. Gus Malzahn as the offensive coordinator, really does a nice job of running the football from spread sets and creating space plays but still maintaining the hard-nosed effect of running the ball down hill. Gives you a lot of of different formations and shifts. It’s going to be a big eye-control game for us defensively as far as being where you’re supposed to be because they’ll give us new wrinkles with what they do. He does an outstanding job of that. Ted Roof, the defensive coordinator, I think is a really good football coach there. Got a lot of young guys playing for them defensively and they’re really good on special teams. Tre Mason right now is 10th nationally and second in the SEC in kickoff returns. Both of their specialists are outstanding. Steven Clark their punter has 20 punts inside the 20 yard line, and Cody Parkley the kicker has got 20 touchbacks. They’ve got some good specialists and some good team speed. We’re going to Auburn, so I’m looking forward to the opportunity of getting our team on the road again and playing well. That’s what we plan on doing.”

WEEKLY INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

In addition to the update Muschamp provided on the quarterbacks, he said that redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) would once again miss next week’s game. However, he pointed out that the rest of the team should be healthy at some point this week and all were expected to be able to go on Saturday.

Senior running back Jeff Demps, whose ankle kept him out of most of the LSU game, is something he has work through at this point, Muschamp said. “Based on what I got this morning, he might be limited [Monday] and a little [Tuesday], but he should be full-go on Saturday based on the information I have.” He also said that sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (knee) and junior safety Josh Evans (arm) are “both expected to play.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp said junior RB Mike Gillislee has impressed the coaching staff and will get more work in the backfield. “Mike played well. He’s one of the guys we recognized that played the way you need to play – with toughness. Does a great job on special teams and is a guy who we need to get him some more touches,” he said.

» On looking for leaders on the team: “It doesn’t have to be a senior and we don’t have many. Anybody. It’s something I challenged them about this morning. It’s really hard to be a leader. We got a lot of guys who want to be a leader one day and then the next day want to step off the podium and let somebody else do it. That’s not part of the deal. When you want to be a leader, you step in front, you positively affect everybody in the organization every day. You’ve got to be a productive player. That’s how we’ve outlined it for them. When you face adversity, you find out a lot about where your leadership and where your football team is. I certainly feel very positive about a lot of how we responded – not enough. I hate to paint the whole group and say we didn’t do anything.”

» On if the team is stepping up the way he wants it to: “I look at the season for an entire season. I don’t look at one game or two games or whatever. I got to look at the total body of work and where we are and where we’ve come from. Have we made improvements? Yes, I believe we have. Is it good enough at this point? No. But it’s never going to be.”

» On if the team has an attitude issue: “Our guys work hard. We had a great Tuesday practice last week. We practiced well Wednesday. The guys’ work ethic has been outstanding. I have not had any issues as far as that is concerned. We know how to work. We know how to practice. We just need to coach and play a little better.”

» On areas Florida still has to get better in soon: “As much as anything, what I would say offensively is just consistency in running the ball because there’s time where we have run the ball extremely well. The consistency you’ve got to run the ball with has been disappointing that we haven’t done it all the time very well. The disappointing thing on defense I would say is tackling at times and playing blocks consistently upfront although we’ve made tremendous strides from where we were.”

» On Auburn star RB Michael Dyer: “I think Gus does a nice job creating a lot of what I call ‘window dressing’ in the offense as far as motions, shfits, different formations. Ontario McCalebb is a big-time speed guy, so most of the carries that Michael has the ball, there’s some sort of deception with it. You’ve got to honor the other deception issues and then also be able to play him. They do a nice job of protecting the general runs he’s going to make in the game. [Dyer is] a good football player. He’s a guy that’s a low center of gravity guy, very strong, quick step. He’s got top-end speed when he breaks to the second level. There’s not a whole lot of folks catching him. He’s a power runner and he’s’ done a nice job for them.”

» On Malzahn’s up-tempo offense that limits defensive substitutions: “They’re no-huddle the whole game. They have different sets of tempos. They go with on-the-ball, look back to the sideline, they may look back twice, and then they’re on the ball and they snap it. So you’ve got to be ready to play within your package and you got to be limited in your substitutions. That’s what they try to do – tire your front people out as the game wears along there. They do a nice job of that. That’s certainly something you’ve got to deal with.”

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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.”

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