2012 Gator Bowl teleconference: Easley out, Marotti gone, Meyer lingers over game

The Gator Bowl Committee held a teleconference Sunday to officially announce that the Florida Gators (6-6) will face the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-6) in the 2012 Taxslayer.com Gator Bowl set for Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. Florida head coach Will Muschamp and Ohio State interm head coach Luke Fickell each spoke about a variety of topics on the call.

EASLEY OUT FOR GATOR BOWL AND LONGER

Gators sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who went down with a knee injury against Florida State, has torn his anterior cruciate ligament and will have surgery on Wednesday, Muschamp said. He will be forced to sit out the bowl game and miss all of spring practice, too.

Easley’s recovery time will likely take longer than six months, which means his being able to return for summer practice is in doubt. Redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter will likely start alongside redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard in the bowl game.

MAROTTI ON HIS WAY TO OHIO STATE

Muschamp confirmed OGGOA‘s reports that Florida strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti has decided to leave the program and work at Ohio State under new head coach Urban Meyer beginning in 2012.

“Mickey left to go to Ohio State, but our coaching staff is in tact,” he said. “We’ve had coaches on our staff have other opportunities. I’m excited about the continuity of our staff and our staff that’s in place.”

As far as replacing Marotti goes, Muschamp said there is a ways to go until that decision is made (and it probably will not come until after the bowl).

“I’m going to take my time on that. That’s a critical hire,” he said. “Mickey did a great job at the University of Florida, and I appreciate his efforts, but we need to get stronger. We need to get physically and more mentally tough, and it starts there in the weight room. That’s a critical hire for me.”

MEYER’s SHADOW HANGS OVER BOWL GAME

Despite the fact that he will not be coaching the Buckeyes in the game, Meyer will undoubtedly be the most talked about storyline when the game is discussed. Fickell said that he thinks all of the anxiety will be on the Gators’ side even if Meyer is slightly uncomfortable with the matchup.

“It might be a unique situation for the other people involved, but for our coaches and our players, I don’t know that it will be much of a difference,” he said.

“For Coach [Meyer], I imagine it’s going to be a little bit harder. Just to know the situation and the matchup. I’m sure there are a ton of people at Florida that he loves and respects, as well as players that he loves and respects. I think there might be a little bit more anxiety there than with the rest of us.”

Fickell also said that Meyer’s familiarity with UF’s roster probably won’t play much of a role in OSU’s preparations.

“I don’t know that’s a huge, huge part of what we do. You can have some ideas of guys, but you can get that from coaches that play against other guys, coaches that were on somebody’s staff a year before. That might be a little bit a part of something, but it still comes down to what you do,” he said.

Muschamp dismissed the notion, saying that he does not believe Meyer’s job at Ohio State will be a distraction to Florida because “we’ve moved on.”

NOTES and QUOTES

» Muschamp on accepting the bowl bid: “We’re so excited to play in front of all the Gator fans there in Jacksonville and in the state of Florida.”

» Muschamp on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s status: “We’re going to do what we got to do to win the football game. John’s disappointed with the way he played the last game there in the swamp. He’s disappointed and so are we. He’s fine back from that game.”

» Muschamp on Florida transitioning: “Right now at Florida, we’re very disappointed with a 6-6 season. It’s not acceptable, and we were 7-5 the year before. We’re going through a little transition at Florida as well. We’ve got to get back to numbers as far as recruiting is concerned. We are in a bit of a transition with these two years back to back.”

» Muschamp on Ohio State already selling their allotment of tickets and what florida fans need to do: “They need to support the Florida Gators, and I appreciate them. We have the best fans in the country, and they’re upset and they’re frustrated and I don’t blame them. Our guys are going to work hard and put on a good show there against Ohio State.”

» Muschamp on offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s injured hip: “He’ll probably have some hip surgery done after the bowl game, but he’s fine.”

» Muschamp on if he is encouraged about the last week of recruiting; “It’s going great. Recruiting has been outstanding. First of all you’re recruiting with the University of Florida. It’s a great school, great campus, great tradition of football program and a great staff. A hard working staff in recruiting. Players can very easily see where we’re headed with this.”

» Fickell on his relationship with Muschamp: “I’ve known will for a few years. I know that he’s just taken over and probably had some ups and down as well. That’s probably why we’re record-wise in a similar situation. [...] I can tell you that if they’re going to take on the personality of their head coach, they’re going to be tough, they’re going to be well-coached and they’re going to be disciplined. That makes for two similar teams.”

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11/26: Florida vs. Florida State post-game

The Florida Gators (6-6) lost to the Florida State Seminoles (8-4) at home on Saturday for the first since 2003, dropping a 21-7 final even though they held their opponent to 95 yards of total offense. OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game along with plenty of notes and quotes from head coach Will Muschamp and the players.

INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

A number of Gators found themselves down on the ground hurt during the game Saturday. Thought specific, detailed updates were not available for all of the players, Muschamp said overall that he expects everyone to be fine.

Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee), redshirt sophomore tackle Kyle Koehne (knee), redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (hip), redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio (leg) and freshman tight end A.C. Leonard all hurt their extremities during the game but should not suffer any long-term issues.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley appeared to be concussed (and had a cut on his left cheek) after taking a helmet-to-helmet hit, and sophomore linebacker Darrin Kitchens was motionless on the field for a while after being hit hard on the opening kickoff of the second half. Muschamp did not provide an update on Brantley, though Kitchens is said to be “fine” and was walking around after the game.

Additionally, redshirt sophomore TE Jordan Reed did not suit up for the game after he struggled putting pressure on his injured ankle Thursday during practice.

GATORS “A SOFT FOOTBALL TEAM”

Muschamp began his post-game press conference with criticisms of his Florida team.

“I’m extremely disappointed again with today and this season overall. I didn’t do a very good job with this football team. At the end of the day, when you’re not able to run the football, you’re going to have a hard time winning games against good defenses. When you become a one-dimensional team, when you’re a lateral running team and you can’t run the ball inside and you can’t run the ball vertically at people, you’re going to struggle. And we haven’t been able to do that.

“We’re a soft football team. That’s the bottom line. I told our guys we’re not a physically tough team and we’re not a mentally tough team. Self-evaluation is hard sometimes but that’s the facts. That’s the facts. It’s hard to say it. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life but soft’s not one of them. And we are…and that’s my fault.”

Asked why he chose to call the team “soft” in particular, Muschamp said that should not be a new sentiment as far as the team’s feelings concerned. “That’s not the first time they’ve heard it. It’s not the first time they’ve heard it all season, I can tell you that,” he said. “I always say self evaluation’s hard. It starts with me and it falls on my shoulders and I’m the one who’s responsible, but at the end of the day, you are what you are. You are what your record is.”

Muschamp also explained how he will try to change that mentality immediately. “We’re going to have a very physical bowl practice. I thought we had a physical training camp. I thought we’ve amped up our physicality as far as practices are concerned, but we need to take it to another level – obviously,” he said. “When you can’t convert a 3rd and 1, 4th and 1, when teams have continually run the ball against you throughout the season, it’s very disappointing.”

Read the rest of the Florida-Florida State post-game notes…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/26: Florida vs. Florida State post-game

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Brantley’s picks doom Gators as Florida State upends Florida 21-7 in The Swamp

Senior Night in The Swamp was anything but a celebration Saturday for the Florida Gators (6-6), which fell 21-7 to the Florida State Seminoles (8-4) after their in-state rival scored 21 points off of turnovers and won at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL for the first time since 2003.

Florida State running back Devonta Freeman found the end zone twice on a pair of short touchdown runs following interceptions off of Florida redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, and safety Terrance Parks returned an interception off of freshman QB Jacoby Brissett 29 yards for a touchdown to ice the game in the fourth quarter.

Despite the Seminoles only gaining 95 yards of total offense on the evening and averaging 0.7 yards per carry, FSU was able to manhandle UF by making the most out of four turnovers and ensuring that the Gators had a tough time moving the ball on offense.

Brantley threw three interceptions in Florida’s first five possessions; the Gators went three-and-out and punted the ball the other two times.

Down two touchdowns, Florida chose to go for it on 4th and 1 from Florida State’s 15 midway through the second quarter, but sophomore running back Trey Burton lost 14 yards and UF turned the ball over to FSU on downs.

Attempting to overcome his poor play in the first half, Brantley remained composed with 1:49 left until halftime and delivered a 21-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. He was sandwiched on the play, and a helmet-to-helmet hit knocked him out for the remainder of the game.

Brissett took over for Brantley but failed to do anything with the Gators offense until Florida redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard recovered a fumble caused by redshirt freshman linebacker Michael Taylor with 4:32 remaining in the game.

Following a pass interference call on 1st and 10 from Florida State’s 21-yard-line, Brissett hit Dunbar in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. The late score allowed the Gators to avoid their first shutout since 1988.

Joining Brantley on the trainer’s table were redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey, sophomore DT Dominique Easley, sophomore LB Darrin Kitchens and redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio, all of whom were injured in action and did not return to the field.

Kitchens was injured on the opening kickoff of the second half and was carted to the locker rooms after laying motionless on the field for a number of minutes. He gave a thumbs up to the crowd on his way to the back.

Brantley finished his final game in The Swamp 9/15 for 104 yards and three interceptions. Rainey carried the ball 15 times for 42 yards, and senior RB Jeff Demps touched it just four times for -8 yards.

Dunbar finished with three receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown, and freshman tight end A.C. Leonoard led all Gators with 65 yards on the evening.

Florida’s stout defense held Florida State QB E.J. Manuel to six completions on 13 attempts for 65 yards and Freeman to 44 yards on 15 carries.

The Seminoles committed nine penalties for 85 yards and held the ball three minutes longer than the Gators did on Saturday.

Florida finished the regular season with a .500 record for the first time since 1979 (0-10-1). The Gators await a bowl invite but are expected to face Ohio State in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 2, 2012 in Jacksonville, FL.

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Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 69°F, mostly cloudy, winds ESE at 5 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN2/ESPN2HD
SiriusXM: 219/199
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Record: 6-5 (3-5) Record: 7-4 (5-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +3; O/U 45.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week this week’s game? 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.

Story: Seniors can end Gators careers on high note
Story: Seniors talk about their careers, final home game

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Mid-week update

HISTORY and STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series against Florida State 33-20-2 and boasts a 20-8-1 record in games played in The Swamp. FSU ended UF’s six-game winning streak (the longest since 1981-96) with a 31-7 victory in 2010.
» The Gators have not lost at home to the Seminoles since 2003 and have not dropped consecutive games to their in-state rival since 2002-03.
» All five Florida’s losses this season have come to ranked opponents.
» Muschamp and Fisher were both coaches at LSU under Nick Saban from 2001-04. A number of assistants on each team have coaching relationships with one another from stints as players or coaches at Georgia, Auburn and LSU.
» UF is 5-0 when outrushing their opponent but 1-5 when being outrushed.
» The Gators are 6-1 this year when leading at the half but 0-4 when tied or trailing at the midway point in a ballgame.
» Florida became bowl eligible for the 21st season in a row with their victory over Furman last week. It is the longest streak in the SEC and second-longest in the nation.
» The Gators and Seminoles are tied for 118th (out of 120 teams) nationally in penalties, each committing 89 in 11 games. Florida has lost up 674 yards due to those miscues, while Florida State has given up 746 yards.
» UF’s offense has struggled as of late, and the Gators have had major problems putting the ball in the end zone. Florida has scored points in 32 of 44 quarters this season and touchdowns in only 24 of those quarters.
» The Gators have half as many upperclassmen (13 seniors, 12 juniors) as they do underclassmen (27 sophomores, 24 freshmen) seeing action this season. The roster is equally split with 19 seniors, 14 juniors, 33 sophomores and 33 freshmen.
» Florida is only converting 48 percent (16-of-33) of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns but has scored at least a field goal when the offense has a possession inside the 20-yard-line 88 percent of the time.
» The Gators’ defense is fourth in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 29.1 percent of those attempted to be successful. However, UF is 66th nationally in preventing fourth-down conversions, allowing a 52.2 percent success rate.
» Florida is No. 11 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (318.2 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 25 nationally and fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (20.5 points per game).
» UF’s pass defense is allowing just 176.5 yards per game, good for fourth in the SEC and 11th nationally.
» Florida State is No. 7 nationally in total defense (282.8 yards per game) and scoring defense (15.9 points per game). The Seminoles are No. 30 nationally in pass defense, allowing 198.5 yards per game.
» The Gators’ defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (315) since 2000. UF also has the most interceptions in the nation (76) since 2008.
» Florida State leads Florida nationally in two of the three major offensive statistical categories this season. The Seminoles score more points 32.6-27.3 (31st-62nd) than the Gators and acquire more passing yards per game 275.2-195.6 (25th-87th), but UF outrushes FSU 152.2-126.1 (65th-86th) on average. The teams have not played a common opponent this season.

SENIOR DAY

The Gators’ 2011 senior class consists of 19 players who have either spent four or five seasons wearing the Orange and Blue. The true senior class heads into the game with a four-year record of 40-12 (22-5 in The Swamp) including four victories against Tennessee, three over Georgia and a 2-1 record against Florida State. It is 3-0 in bowl games including wins in the 2011 Outback Bowl (vs. Penn State), 2010 Sugar Bowl (vs. Cincinnati) and 2009 BCS National Championship (vs. Oklahoma).

* John Brantley – #12 – QB – Ocala, Fla. (redshirt)
* Jeff Demps – #28 – RB – Winter Garden, Fla.
* William Green – #96 – DE – Hoover, Ala.
* Jaye Howard – #6 – DT – Apopka, Fla. (redshirt)
* Moses Jenkins – #36 – CB – Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (redshirt)
* David Lerner – #40 – P – Gainesville, Fla.
* Chris Rainey – #1 – RB – Lakeland, Fla. (redshirt)
* Deonte Thompson – #6 – WR – Belle Glade, Fla. (redshirt)
* Dan Wenger – #56 – G – Coral Springs, Fla. (redshirt)
* James Wilson – #66 – G – St. Augustine, Fla. (redshirt)
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* Phillip Bellino – #38 – RB – Boca Raton, Fla.
* Brian Biada – #31 – CB – Naples, Fla.
* Zack Brust – #98 – K – Jacksonville, Fla.
* Cody Hampton – #50 – LS – St. Petersburg, Fla.
* Newton Lizima – #45 – DB – Plantation, Fla.
* Minch Minchin – #33 – LB – Gainesville, Fla.
* Solomon Schoonover – #29 – WR – Aventura, Fla.
* William Steinmann – #87 – TE – Daytona Beach, Fla.
* Jason Traylor – #34 – FB – Melbourne, Fla.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

» Probable/Questionable: Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (ankle), redshirt senior guard/center Dan Wenger (ankle), redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (ankle), redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder), senior defensive end William Green (undisclosed)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), freshman CB Marcus Roberson (neck)

LAST TIME OUT

Florida State ended its six-year losing streak to Florida by drubbing the Gators 31-7 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL. UF held an early 7-3 lead on FSU but was outscored 28-0 the rest of the way, allowing the No. 22 Seminoles to cap their regular season on a high note. Florida State wound up earning a spot in the ACC Championship game with the victory because Maryland defeated North Carolina the same day. Florida’s sole touchdown came on a 20-yard pass from John Brantley to Robert Clark early in the first quarter. Christian Ponder torched the Gators for 221 yards and three touchdowns through the air, though UF did hold FSU to just 2.7 yards per carry on the ground.

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 58.9 percent of his passes (123-of-209) this season for 1,808 yards and 10 touchdowns but also threw three interceptions including one returned for a score. Brantley had missed 10 quarters of action after injuring his ankle against Alabama but returned with limited health and mobility against Georgia. He had a career-best game last week, throwing for 329 yards and four touchdowns against Furman. Brantley has thrown 114 passes without tossing an interception, the seventh-longest streak in school history (he also has the second-longest streak in UF history at 157 attempts without a pick).
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 1,093 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 14.4 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing 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.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#2)…who is second on the Gators in carries (87) and rushing yards (547) this season but leads Florida in touchdowns scored (six). Injuries and poor run blocking have limited Demps’s effectiveness in 2011, but he continues to do whatever he can to help the team each week.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who jumped to first on the Gators’ receiving list with a career-high 151 yards and two touchdowns last week against Furman. Debose had mirror image 65-yard touchdowns against Alabama and LSU earlier in the season. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, but his 423 receiving yards now lead the team. Additionally, his 28.2 yards per catch is the highest average in the SEC and second nationally.
» Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who has vaulted up UF’s production chats with at least three receptions in four-straight weeks. Reed has also gone for 56 or more yards in three of the last four weeks and scored touchdowns against Georgia and Furman.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary. He is second on the team in tackles (64) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU a month ago marked a career high, and his 8.5 tackles for loss this season are a team-high.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of the Gators’ strongest unit. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (28 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 13.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-3 on the team in tackles. Bostic (81) and Jenkins (60) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has six tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack, six pass breakups and a pick-six 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 21-for-25 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 55) and is perfect with 27 extra points, leading the Gators with 90 points scored this season. Sturgis is second in the nation with 21 field goals made but tied for 14th in kicking points.

FLORIDA STATE
» QB E.J. Manuel (#3)…who has passed for 2,352 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions this season. He has not thrown a pick since Oct. 29 and is completing 66.3 percent of his passes. Manuel can also make an impact on the ground and has rushed for 20 or more yards five times this season.
» RB Devonta Freeman (#8)…who is FSU’s leading rusher with 487 yards and six touchdowns on the year. He rushed for 100+ yards in consecutive games this year and at one point scored five touchdowns in four contests.
» WR Rashad Greene (#80)…who has more receptions (33) and yards (497) than any Florida player despite missing four games this season. He is complimented by WR Rodney Smith (#84), who has 511 receiving yards and four touchdowns of his own.
» LB Nigel Bradham (#13)…who leads the Seminoles defensively with 75 tackles (nine for loss), two sacks, an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
» CB Greg Reid (#5)…who is also Florida State’s dynamic returner and can change a game on a dime.

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Florida Gators vs. Furman Paladins Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 77°F, partly cloudy, winds E at 10 mph
Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: Pay-Per-View
SiriusXM: 217/198
Online Video: ESPN3.com (Subject to blackout)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS FURMAN PALADINS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Bruce Fowler
Record: 5-5 (3-5) Record: 6-4 (5-3)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -31

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 afternoon at 1:00 p.m.

Story: Florida’s little mistakes result in big losses
Story: Gators’ CB Marcus Roberson out for season
Story: Foley says Muschamp has a chance to be “special”

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

HISTORY and STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series against Furman 6-2 but has won six-straight games dating back to 1947. The teams have not played since 1990.
» All five of the Gators’ losses this season have come to ranked opponents.
» UF will be bowl eligible with a victory on Saturday.
» Florida is 5-0 when outrushing their opponent but 0-5 when being outrushed.
» The Gators are last in the nation in penalties, committing 83 in 10 games. Florida has lost/given up 614 yards due to those miscues. Those numbers average out to UF committing 8.3 penalties per game for 61.40 yards.
» In their five victories, the Gators are outscoring opponents 54-3 in the first quarter, while in their losses they have been outscored 31-20. Florida has also scored on their opening drive in four of 10 games.
» UF’s offense has struggled as of late, and the Gators have had major problems putting the ball in the end zone. Florida has scored points in 28 of 40 quarters this season and touchdowns in only 20 of those quarters.
» The Gators have half as many upperclassmen (13 seniors, 12 juniors) as they do underclassmen (27 sophomores, 23 freshmen) seeing action this season. The roster is equally split with 19 seniors, 14 juniors, 33 sophomores and 33 freshmen.
» Florida is only converting 45 percent (14-of-31) of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns but has scored at least a field goal when the offense has a possession inside the 20-yard-line 87 percent of the time.
» The Gators have a negative turnover margin in their wins and losses this season. UF is -1 in its five wins and -9 in its five losses.
» Florida is No. 12 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (305.4 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 20 nationally and fifth in the SEC in scoring defense (19.3 points per game).
» UF’s pass defense is allowing just 113.9 yards per game, good for fourth in the SEC and eighth nationally.
» The Gators’ defense is fifth in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 29.4 percent of those attempted to be successful. However, UF is 55th nationally in preventing fourth-down conversions, allowing a 47.6 percent success rate.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (313) since 2000. UF also has the most interceptions in the nation (74) since 2008.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida last faced Furman during the third week of the 1990 season, defeating the Paladians 27-3 in Gainesville, FL. Gators quarterback Shane Matthews passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns in the victory, which was Florida’s third-straight in route to a 9-2 season with losses only to Tennessee and Florida State.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

» Questionable: Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder), redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chaz Green (ankle), redshirt freshman defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder)
» Inactive: Redshirt senior guard/center Dan Wenger (ankle), redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), freshman CB Marcus Roberson (neck)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 59.1 percent of his passes (107-of-181) this season for 1,479 yards and six touchdowns but also threw three interceptions including one returned for a score. Brantley had missed 10 quarters of action after injuring his ankle against Alabama but returned with limited health and mobility against Georgia.
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 993 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.3 yards per carry and 14.6 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 against Alabama and LSU. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 272 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first 10 games. Additionally, his 22.7 yards per catch is the highest average in the SEC and second nationally.
» Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who had a season-high five receptions for 62 yards last week and has caught 12 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown over the last three games. Reed is starting to emerge as a reliable receiving option for Brantley and Florida.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary. He is second on the team in tackles (61) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU a month ago marked a career high, and his 7.5 tackles for loss this season are a team-high.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of the Gators’ strongest unit. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (27 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 12.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-3 on the team in tackles. Bostic (77) and Jenkins (50) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has six tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack and five 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 19-for-21 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 55) and is perfect with 21 extra points, leading the Gators with 78 points scored this season. Sturgis is third in the nation with 19 field goals made but missed a game three weeks ago (leg).

FURMAN
» QB Chris Forcier…who has passed for 2,099 yards with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions this season and leads the FCS in passing efficiency with a 180.9 rating. He is completing 65.4 percent of his passes in 2011 and hopes to top former Gators QB Ingle Martin for most touchdown passes in a season in school history (22).
» RB Jerodis Williams…who has rushed for 922 yards with seven touchdowns this season. He is attempting to become the team’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2003.
» TE Colin Anderson…who is the team’s leading pass catcher with 668 yards and seven scores on 38 receptions. He is a big target and great outlet for Forcier.
» LB Kadarron Anderson…who has registered 111 tackles (5.5 for loss) with two sacks and a forced fumble in 2011 but may miss the game after spraining his knee against Elon last week. Anderson has started 32-straight games for Furman.

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Florida Gators at No. 13 South Carolina Gameday

Location: Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC [Capacity: 80,250]
Weather Forecast: 57°F, sunny, winds SSW at 6 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
SiriusXM: 220/199
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS (13) SOUTH CAROLINA
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 5-4 (3-4) Record: 7-2 (5-2)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +3; O/U 40

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 afternoon at 12:00 p.m.

Story: Florida’s The Hawk belt motivates defenders

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Muschamp’s update

HISTORY and STREAKS
» Florida leads the all-time series against South Carolina 23-5-3 and holds a 10-4-1 advantage in games played in Columbia, SC. Before falling to USC in 2010, UF had won four-straight contests and 18 of 19 dating back to 1964.
» This will be the first time since 2004 that the Gators are not ranked when playing the Gamecocks. South Carolina has never faced Florida when the former was ranked and the latter was not.
» Spurrier led UF as head coach from 1990-2001, picking up six SEC titles and a national championship. He was also the 1966 Heisman Trophy winner and played for the Gators from 1964-66.
» Spurrier is 2-4 when facing his former team.
» South Carolina will be the fifth ranked opponent that Florida has faced. The Gators are 0-4 against such teams and will have played four of the five games away from home.
» The Gamecocks are holding homecoming this weekend.
» South Carolina can clinch the SEC East if they defeat UF and Georgia falls to Auburn. Should they beat the Gators on Saturday, it will be the first time they have gone undefeated in the SEC East in school history.
» Florida is 5-0 when outrushing their opponent but 0-4 when being outrushed.
» The Gators are last in the nation in penalties, committing 78 in nine games. Florida has lost/given up 584 yards due to those miscues. Those numbers average out to UF committing 8.67 penalties per game for 64.89 yards.
» In their five victories, the Gators are outscoring opponents 54-3 in the first quarter, while in their losses they have been outscored 31-17. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of nine games.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (19 seniors, 14 juniors) as they do underclassmen (33 sophomores, 33 freshmen) on the roster the season.
» Fourteen different Gators made their first career start this season including five freshmen and three redshirt freshmen; 15 total have seen action this year.
» UF’s offense has struggled as of late, and Florida has had major problems putting the ball in the end zone. The Gators have scored points in 25 of 36 quarters this season and touchdowns in only 19 of those quarters.
» Florida is No. 14 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (306.1 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 20 nationally and fourth in the SEC in scoring defense (19.7 points per game).
» UF’s pass defense is allowing just 182.8 yards per game, good for fourth in the SEC and 11th nationally.
» The Gators’ defense is seventh in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 30.3 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (312) since 2000. UF also has the most interceptions in the nation (73) since 2008.
» The Gators and Gamecocks lead one another in a pair of major statistical categories. Florida tops South Carolina in national averages of passing yards 189.3-179.8 (92nd-98th) and points against 19.7-20.1 (20th-24th), while USC leads UF in rushing yards 188.3-156.4 (36th-62nd) and points scored 29.9-26.0 (50th-72nd). The teams have played five common opponents, each defeating Tennessee, Kentucky and Vanderbilt and falling to Auburn. The Gamecocks, however, defeated Georgia 45-42, while the Gators fell 24-20.

LAST TIME OUT

Riding a pair of victories, Florida hoped to continue its momentum at home against South Carolina. The Gators wound up falling 36-14 to the Gamecocks in a game that saw Steve Spurrier lead his team to its first SEC East title while winning in The Swamp for the first time as a visitor. Things looked promising for UF early when Andre Debose returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown, but South Carolina ran the ball down Florida’s collective throats with Marcus Lattimore carrying the rock 40 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns. The Gators accounted for just 226 total yards in the game and did not register a single point on offense until late in the fourth quarter.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Probable: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (arm), redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (ankle), redshirt sophomore Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (concussion), redshirt freshman tackle Chaz Green (ankle)
» Questionable: Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 58.8 percent of his passes (94-of-160) this season for 1,360 yards and six touchdowns but also threw three interceptions including one returned for a score. Brantley had missed 10 quarters of action after injuring his ankle against Alabama but returned with limited health and mobility against Georgia.
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 831 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 4.9 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 against Alabama and LSU. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 272 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first nine games. Additionally, his 22.7 yards per catch is the highest average in the SEC and second nationally.
» Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (#11)…who had four receptions for a career-high 69 yards two weeks ago against Georgia. He also caught just the second receiving touchdown of his career that Saturday – his first this season.
» 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 (53) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU three weeks ago marked a career high, and his 6.5 tackles for loss this season is second-best on the team.
» 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 (26 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 11.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks through nine games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-3 on the team in tackles. Bostic (65) and Jenkins (46) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has six tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack and five 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 17-for-19 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 55) and is perfect with 21 extra points, leading the Gators with 72 points scored this season. Sturgis is second in the nation with 17 field goals made but missed a game two weeks ago (leg).

SOUTH CAROLINA
» QB Connor Shaw (#14)…who has started the last four games for the Gamecocks after beginning the season as a backup. Shaw threw four interceptions in his first start (vs. Kentucky) but has a 2-4 TD-INT ratio through the air over the last three games (though he has rushed for three scores).
» RB Brandon Wilds (#22)…who has stepped in as starting running back after Marcus Lattimore went down with an injury three weeks ago. Wilds averaged 4.9 yards per carry on 28 touches against Tennessee but struggled last week gaining just 21 yards on 10 carries at Arkansas.
»WR Alshon Jeffery (#1)…who is USC’s most dynamic healthy offensive weapon. Jeffery is the team’s leading receiver with highs in receptions (36), yards (487) and touchdowns (five). He is easily Shaw’s favorite target and is a tough match-up for any team. Jeffery needs just 15 yards to be the school’s all-time leading receiver.
» Defensive end Melvin Ingram (#6)….who has scored three times this season including two fumble recoveries and a 68-yard run on a fake punt. He also has 5.5 sacks on the season – fourth best in the SEC.

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11/9: Watkins steps up, Patchan improving

With the Florida Gators finally earning a victory on Saturday after a difficult four-game losing streak, a number of players were made available to the media Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into Saturday’s game on the road against the No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks.

WATKINS STEPS UP AND EARNS PRAISE

After allowing a touchdown against Georgia, sophomore defensive back Jaylen Watkins worked hard in practice last week on his head turns and ability to play the ball while it is in the air. That paid off Saturday against Vanderbilt as Watkins became a disruptive player who earned praise from head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn this week.

“It was good to see him get some pass breakups in the ballgame. I was real pleased to see him do that,” Quinn said Wednesday evening.

Watkins attributed his improvement to preparation. “All week [Quinn] told me to get the ball off guys in the Georgia game. I was in two good positions and didn’t get the ball off. I think I was in good positions [against Vanderbilt and did my job],” he said. Watkins added that he stayed after practice to work on getting his head around and learning to play the ball better in the air. “Trying not to get a pass interference, timing when the ball is coming and actually getting it down when it’s coming [are the most difficult parts of playing the position,” he added.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Junior linebacker Jon Bostic on redshirt freshman Michael Taylor: “He’s growing up every week. He was asked to step up last week and that is what he did.”

» Bostic on redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard: “Leadership. With him being a senior, him being here the longest out of everyone, he’s seen everything. He’s been here during the good times and the bad times. He’s the one keeping everybody going and everybody up.”

» Bostic on beating a team with a winning record: “It’s important. It doesn’t change from week-to-week. Every week we want to go out and win.”

» Watkins on sophomore safety Matt Elam: “Matt is a leader. When we play teams that do the option and all that, we move him down to nickel to get him on the edge because he’s strong and smart.”

» Redshirt sophomore tackle Matt Patchan on returning and playing better: “I’m not perfect, so I always have to get better. That’s the way I approach every day. Everything I do in practice and in the games is to make improvements and get better.”

» Patchan on offensive line coach Frank Verducci: “Coach is a great coach. He really knows the technique part of it. It’s good that he’s an NFL type guy so he comes in and we get to learn that way. It’s really impressive. I like working with him.”

Redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter on beating South Carolina and/or FSU: “Those are big wins. Any time you can line up against South Carolina or FSU, those are big games. We always want to win those games.”

» Quinn on redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail: “We’re hoping to keep developing him. Right now he hasn’t cracked the two-deep in that way, but he’s out there practicing and working hard at it. [...] For us inside it was more just controlling blocks, being productive as a rusher, where he can make some more plays.”

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11/7-8: Brantley, Howard, Demps, Debose, Koehne

With the Florida Gators finally earning a victory on Saturday after a difficult four-game losing streak, a number of players were made available to the media early in the week to discuss how the team is progressing heading into Saturday’s game on the road against the No. 13 South Carolina Gamecocks.

WINNING OUT FOR THE SENIORS

It would be hard to blame him, so redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard admitting that he did not want to be seen during Florida’s four-game losing streak through the month of October is certainly understandable.

Now that the Gators have picked up a victory, the team has one goal remaining: win the rest and send the senior class out on a high note.

“My goals are to win for the seniors,” redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose said Tuesday. “You come to Florida to win and we just want to win all the games. That’s my only goal – just to win. If we do win out, it’s a very successful season. We would have accomplished a lot of things this year. We didn’t get the ultimate goal of going to Atlanta but with the team we have that’s a good season.”

Just like Debose, redshirt sophomore tackle Kyle Koehne said the team wants to ‘finish things right for the seniors.” He believes the Gators are “hungry for another SEC victory” and have a great shot doing that this week against South Carolina.

Senior running back Jeff Demps, who only has two more home games before hanging up his orange and blue uniform, said winning is important but he what he cares about most going forward is the effort his teammates show. “As long as we finish out good and everybody plays hard, I’ll be fine with that,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley on the young QBs: “These young guys are maturing faster than usual because of these tough times. You learn from these times. Just like Jacoby [Brissett], [Jeff Driskel is] growing up and maturing each week. [...] They’re going to have a good battle come springtime.”

» Howard on his NFL prospects: “Right now I’m just concentrating on winning. I want to win for my program and do it for Coach [Will] Muschamp. He really has been a tremendous change for me in my life. I just want to see him win and be successful. He motivates me. I talk to him every other day. He always has something positive to say. I needed that change.”

» Howard on what changed for him this year: “I took advantage of my time this year. I’m not taking any class so I’m in watching film with my classes every day, trying to get better. I have certain areas that I need to improve on. I’m still young. I’ve only been playing football since my freshman year in high school, so I still have a lot to learn.”

» Howard on which young defenders are improving the most: “Especially the [defensive backs]. They’ve really grown up over the last couple of weeks. you can just see them coming in, getting extra film work and carrying themselves like professionals.”

» Howard on his most improved player:Dominique Easley. He is completely a different guy from what he was last year. He’s all about football. That’s what he loves to do.”

» Howard on sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell: “He’s just learning the game also. That defensive line is going to be real good in the next two years. They’re probably going to be unstoppable.”

» Debose on the mood of the team after the win: “We’re definitely happy about the win. We’re a little bit more cheerful coming out to practice and stuff like that. We’re feeling more confident from losing four games straight.”

» Debose on losing so much this year: “You come to Florida to win. For you to just lose four-straight in a row, that’s not a fun feeling at all.”

» Koehne said redshirt junior center Sam Robey took first-team reps on Monday.

» Koehne on Brissett’s presence in the huddle: “He’s a calm guy. He’s slowly building confidence with us all and is taking the lead as a young quarterback.”

» Koehne on redshirt sophomore C Jonotthan Harrison being pulled: “We all wanted to help him out and pick him up. It’s up to him and how he responds to it to decide how he’s going to be in the future.”

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