12/21: Quinn “ready to rock,” prepared for bowl

As the Florida Gators prepare for their 2011 Gator Bowl match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Jan. 2 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media Wednesday to discuss the upcoming game.

COMING BACK AND KEEPING THE ENGINE RUNNING

There may be some turnover on the offensive staff this offseason, but Quinn made it clear Wednesday that he will be wearing the orange and blue in 2012 (and he expects all of his assistants will be as well).

“I certainly feel that way,” Quinn said when asked if the entire staff will be back, saying there was “no doubt” in his mind and that he was “ready to rock” as soon as the bowl game is over. “I plan on being here. I really do enjoy it,” he continued. “For me, part of the reason leaving the NFL was to get an opportunity at a place like this. I’m having a blast with these guys and doing everything that we do.”

He is also sure that the team will benefit greatly from the continuity because “any time you get some experience at something, where you get some turns and you build some trust with some of the players and they back at you, I think that can only be a positive thing moving forward.”

That is why Quinn expects his defense to be even better in 2012. “So many returning players coming back along with the staff, I think that’s a big thing,” he said with a smile.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Quinn said that, with sophomore Sharrif Floyd moving back to defensive tackle for the bowl game, senior William Green will likely start at defensive end. However, Floyd will also play the end in certain sets with redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter playing on the inside next to redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard. Going forward, Quinn expects Floyd to play both positions depending on the roster.

» On practices being like training camp: “It was kind of like going back, ‘Alright, let’s work against the offense, fundamentals, technique, playing blocks.’ It was kind of a cool thing to go through to say, ‘Alright, let’s work our skills hard against each other.’ I think that’s some of the best work you can do. So that’s what we’ve done. It has been more like a camp mentality. It’s been a physical time in the bowl preparation; going forward I think that will help us playing against that style of team.”

» On how he can help the defense create more turnovers: It’s going to have to come through the practice reps first. [...] For us to have that [few] takeaways for I feel like the talent that we have on defense and the style that we can become is not acceptable. We recognize that and will move forward accordingly.”

» On the team’s third-down defense: The third-down defense – you’ll hear us talk about affecting the quarterback – sometimes it’s just resetting the guy, getting him off the spot. For us affecting the quarterback is going to be getting more sacks and that kind of thing. Some of them were not all pass. They were some short-yardage where we played well at times in the run game. I was pleased, when you look back at the results, I wasn’t necessarily thinking going into the year that these guys are really doing it on third down.

» On improvement he’s seen from sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell at the end of the season: “With a lot of the guys, I thought he got better as we went along. [...] I thought the last couple of ballgames we saw [good things] out of him. He’s had a terrific bowl practice.”

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Floyd stepped up; players on Meyer, Marotti, Weis

With the Florida Gators hoping to end the season on a high note with a victory in the 2012 Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes, three players were made available to the media Tuesday to discuss a number of topics.

FLOYD DID “WHAT’S BEST FOR THE TEAM”

A career defensive tackle, sophomore Sharrif Floyd moved to defensive end before the season began at the request of head coach Will Muschamp, who was searching for a capable starter and depth at a very shallow position. “It was good on my part because it shows that I can do more than just what I’m here for. I can do what’s best for the team and learn things the best I can. I think it was a good fit for my resume this year,” Floyd said, putting a positive spin on the move.

With redshirt senior Jaye Howard and sophomore Dominique Easley manning the inside, Floyd played out of position on the end but still finished sixth on the team (and second on the defensive line) in tackles with 44 (18 solo, five for loss). “As I started to progress at D-end, I started noticing more teams just not coming my way. It was frustrating but at the end of the day it was make a play however it happens,” he said. “It was frustrating at the beginning until I started talked to my coaches about it. They told me to just hang in there and work with them. I did what was best for the team and came out as one of the leaders in tackles.”

That is exactly what Floyd did and though the plan was always for him to move back inside in 2012, Easley tearing his ACL has prompted that move to occur one game earlier. “[I’m] definitely more comfortable,” Floyd said of moving back to tackle. “Don’t like the way it happened or the reason why I went back in[side], but it happens in the game of football. I can’t be more excited. Three-technique is definitely my position now and until I’m done. Since I’ve been playing over eight-nine years now, I’ve been at D-tackle. I know it. I know all the blocks. I know what’s coming at me. There’s no thinking, there’s just going. I understand it a little more and there’s no need to be patient at D-tackle.”

PLAYERS ONLY SLIGHTLY FAZED BY DEPARTURES

Floyd, junior safety Josh Evans and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose each spoke about the impact and provided their unique opinions on former head coach Urban Meyer taking a new job at Ohio State, strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti leaving Florida to join him, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis taking the head coaching position with Kansas.

Floyd on how the team felt about Meyer’s decision: “There’s a lot of the guys on the team. We all got own opinions about things. I can’t really talk for everyone else but for me personally, I think that’s good for him. He’s going to do what’s best for him and his family. No hard feelings over here. If I saw the guy today, I would still shake his hand, talk to him, have a normal conversation. That’s the name of the game and it can happen anywhere. Congrats and good luck to him.”

Evans on Meyer’s choice and if the team was angry: “It was a shock. It was a little surprising, but we moved on and we’re past it. [...] He’s a good coach, and I wish the best for him. [...] I’m pretty sure there are some people that feel some type of way about it, but we don’t really discuss it as much.”

Evans on Marotti being a huge loss for the Gators: “That was big for us because he was a good coach and like a father to some players. That was a big loss because we came in here and basically everybody knew him as the strength coach. We got [Scott Holsopple] now and he’s a good strength coach, too. We kind of figured once Meyer took the job that it was a chance he probably was going to leave because we knew they were close, so everybody kind of had a heads-up on it.”

Debose on Weis suddenly departing: “It was a total shock. We had no clue that he was leaving. My reaction was that he had a great opportunity to be a head coach. I wouldn’t turn that down either. I wish him the best of luck.”

Debose on if Meyer’s decision or Marotti moving on was tougher: “Coach Marotti was just as important as Coach Meyer. I think Coach Marotti was a bigger shock to everybody because that’s our strength coach. He makes a lot of good decisions and he helps our bodies. For him to leave, that was a big shock.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Floyd on Muschamp’s proclamation that training camp was not hard enough: “If coach thinks it should have been tougher, than it should have been tougher. I’m behind whatever he wants to do.”

» Evans on redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown not playing: “To me that was a big loss because when I came in that was one of the first guys I met. Seeing him not play was difficult for me because we are real tight like brothers. He should be healthy after the season so he can get back in the spring and hopefully he can [play].”

» Debose on interim offensive coordinator Brian White: “Coach White is a great play caller. He has a track record; he has done it before. I’m behind him 100 percent. Coach White is a genius I feel like.”

» Debose said he had to work on his consistency each practice and looked to redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson as a model of consistency and high effort for him to follow.

» Debose on having so many transfers this year: “All I can say about that is: If you don’t want to be a Gator, you won’t be a Gator. And if you don’t, you’ll leave. They left.”

» Debose on how redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley will be thought of after the bowl game: “I think John Brantley will be remembered as a hard worker, great guy, good football player. I want him to go out with a bang. I want him to have a career game for the bowl game. Even if he didn’t, I would still think he had a solid career, but I want him to go out like a champ in his last game.”

» Debose on Muschamp hiring a replacement offensive coordinator: “Whoever he brings in, we know that he’s going to be the best for this program. We’re behind him 100 percent.”

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FOUR BITS: Elway apologizes to Tebow, Gators earn awards, volleyball falls, Macklin ready

1 » Nothing that Denver Broncos executive vice president John Elway has done to this point – whether it be verbal comments or body language – has shown that he fully supports quarterback Tim Tebow. Despite the fact that Tebow is winning games and doing so in a variety of ways, Elway recently answered “no” when asked by a radio station if he was “any closer to having your quarterback on this team” than he was a month earlier. With Tebow continuing to win and Elway receiving more and more criticism, he told FOX Sports this week that he “could have done a better job answering that question.” “It was a little too blunt,” he went on to say. “I should have said, ‘We’re not talking about the future. We’re talking about right now. Tim Tebow is definitely our guy.’”

Tebow recently avoided a question asking whether or not he felt the entire organization was behind him; that non-answer is likely what led Elway to personally apologize to his star, which FOX Sports notes he did recently. In fact, Elway has also told Tebow that he plans to work with him alongside QB coach Adam Gase in the offseason – not to “fix’ his throwing motion but rather to improve his accuracy. “I don’t believe you change a throwing motion. I do believe you can really help your accuracy by your feet,” Elway said. “That’s where, to me, Tim has so much upside. He’s improving. It’s just a matter of getting it burned into his reactions and mind.”

2 » The Florida Gators football team participated in its annual banquet on Saturday in which the team is presented a number of awards for everything from on-field performance to working hard in practice and how courageous a particular player may be throughout the season. Below are the 2011 award winners along with some award explanations, courtesy of the University of Florida.

Coaches’ Choice Awards
President’s Academic Award: Caleb Sturgis
Gene Elleson Community Service Award: Jesse Schmitt
Iron Gator Strength and Conditioning Award: William Green
Chris Patrick Courage Award: John Brantley
Most Valuable Offensive Scout Team Award: Tim Clark Defensive: Michael McNeely Special Teams: Hygens Succes and Solomon Schoonover

Players’ Choice Awards
Rex Farrior Most Team Spirited Offense: Jeff Demps Defense: Dominique Easley
Greg See Tenacity Award Offense: Matt Patchan Defense: Dominique Easley
MVP Offense: Chris Rainey Defense: Jon Bostic, Matt Elam ST: Caleb Sturgis
James W. Kynes Award (Best Mental/Physical Toughness): John Brantley
* Presented to the “player who best exemplifies the mental and physical toughness and ‘iron-man’ determination.’ The award is traditionally won by offensive linemen.
Ray Graves Award (Team MVP): Chris Rainey
* As voted on by the entire team.
Fergie Ferguson Leadership Award: Lerentte McCray, John Brantley
* Presented to the “player who displays outstanding leadership, character and courage.”
Captains: John Brantley, Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, William Green, Jaye Howard

3 » Florida volleyball’s inspiring run in the 2011 NCAA Tournament came to an end Saturday evening as the No. 3 Illinois Illini defeated the Gators 3-1 in four sets (25-22, 23-25, 25-14, 25-20) in Elite Eight action at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center in Gainesville, FL. UF has been ranked higher heading into the tournament in recent memory, but Florida reached the regional final this year for the first time since 2005. Seniors setter/right-side Kelly Murphy and outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel once again led the way for their squad. Murphy’s triple-double (13 kills, 21 assists, 17 digs) was the 30th of her career. Murphy posted 19 kills and 11 digs for a double-double. Each will end their careers in the top 10 of a number of categories in the Gators’ record book. Transfer Colleen Ward, who joined the Illini, posted 23 kills and 11 digs in the contest for a double-double of her own. Florida finished the season 27-6 and was on a 10-match winning streak before falling to Illinois.

4 » As one Gators rookie waits to sign his deal, center Vernon Macklin has already agreed to terms with the Detroit Pistons, which selected him in the second round of the 2011 NBA Draft. Macklin, who stayed in shape during the lockout by maintaining his college conditioning and working out with NBA players like Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant, Los Angeles Lakers F Metta World Peace, Atlanta center Al Horford and Chicago C Joakim Noah, recently told The Detroit News that he was star struck when he saw Detroit C Ben Wallace practicing. “It’s kind of a weird feeling,” he said. “Him going to Virginia Union, a lot of my family members idolized him and learned from him.”

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Sturgis, Rainey, Howard earn All-SEC honors

Three members of the 2011 Florida Gators football team earned recognition as All-SEC players this week when the Southeastern Conference coaches and Associated Press voters released their lists on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis was placed on the first team by both voting bodies, the only Florida player to receive such an honor. He has accounted for 91 points this season, going 21-for-25 on field goals and a perfect 28-for-28 on extra points for the Gators. Sturgis is also a finalist for the Lou Groza Award.

Honored by the SEC coaches, redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey was placed on the All-SEC first team as an all-purpose player. Rainey is Florida’s leading rusher with 790 yards and two touchdowns on 155 attempts and is also second on the team in receiving with 28 catches for 350 yards and two more scores. He has 1,318 all-purpose yards for the Gators this season for an average of 119.8 per game.

Additionally, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard received an honorable mention from the AP for his stellar play this year. Starting all 12 regular season games for Florida, Howard was fourth on the team with 60 tackles (8.5 for loss) and second in sacks with four. He also had two fumble recoveries and broke up two passes.

Combining both lists, the Gators had a total of three players recognized as All-SEC caliber this year. That is the fewest since the team had two players recognized in 1979.

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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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