UF QB Murphy focused on preparation, leadership

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy may have looked cool, calm and collected when he took over for injured junior starter Jeff Driskel on Saturday, but he was nervous deep down inside.

Such is the case when you haven’t played a meaningful down at quarterback in four years and you are not expecting to see the field on a given afternoon. Murphy nevertheless expects that queasy feeling to return on Saturday when he starts the first game of his college career for the No. 19/20 Florida Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC) against the Kentucky Wildcats (1-2, 0-0 SEC).

“I’ll have butterflies, I’m sure,” he admitted on Monday. “I’ll be anxious to get out there and maybe complete my first pass – or once I get hit – I think I’ll be fine. I don’t think it’ll be bad as it was last week,” he said.

Murphy started thinking about the Kentucky game hours after he led Florida to a 31-17 victory over Tennessee but not because he was salivating at the chance to start but rather so he could fix his mistakes and improve as a player.

“After the game I was kind of anxious to watch the film, see how I did. I was just kind of just thinking about how I would have to adapt to being a starter and stuff like that, taking on a new role. Just ways I could just really excel and be a leader,” Murphy said. “I’m the next guy in line, so I’m just thinking of ways I could help lead this team.”

He spent the whole night thinking about it while returning congratulatory phone calls and text messages of from friends, family and teammates.

“I’m just kind of ready to move on and start focusing on Kentucky,” he said, “getting back to doing what I love to do, which is playing football.”

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease got first crack at the film that Murphy had to wait until Sunday to view. He spoke Tuesday about what he liked about Murphy’s performance on Saturday.

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9/1: Muschamp updates injuries, previews Miami

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss some leftovers from the team’s 24-6 victory over Toledo while looking ahead to Saturday’s game on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. The contest will kick off at 12 p.m. from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, and air live on ESPN.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Week: Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown
“Mack ran extremely hard in the game and certainly a guy that really played well.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia, redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore
“I thought all three of those guys played really well, really built some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler and Max have been two really good additions for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Brown, senior wide receiver Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers
“Really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp, competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so. He’s a guy that adds some dimension to us.”

Defensive Player(s) of the Week: Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr., senior DL Dominique Easley, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr, redshirt junior Sam LB Ronald Powell
“All of those guys played well to contain [the quarterback] in the pocket, be able to rush four effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run.”

Ball Hawks: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (for the interception) and Easley, Powell, Orr and redshirt junior Mike LB Michael Taylor (for the pressure)

Hard Hat: Redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball
“A guy that’s really helped [take] a huge step forward defensively for us was for him to be able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done. Shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker. He’s been a huge addition for us.”

Special Team Player of the Week: Sophomore RB Mark Herndon
“He continues to be productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us.”

Big Play (Special Teams): Junior CB Marcus Roberson
“A guy that flipped the field a couple times with a couple big punt returns.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt junior WR Ryan Parrish, redshirt freshman LB Jeremi Powell, freshman WR Chris Thompson

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2013 SEC Media Days – Gators ready to rock

Florida Gators at 2013 SEC Media Days: Game times vs. Toledo, Miami set | Muschamp: I’m “100% responsible” for players | Easley steals the show | VIDEOS: Florida players have fun interviewing each other

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio represented the team on Tuesday by participating at the 2013 Southeastern Conference Media Days at the Winfrey Hotel in Hoover, AL. Below are highlights from Muschamp’s session along with some player comments.

MUSCHAMP FIRES A SHOT AT URBAN MEYER

Before he stepped up to the main podium, Muschamp spoke with reporters in a side session and was asked about Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer turning in Florida and running backs coach Brian White (Meyer’s former team and former assistant coach) for a minor secondary recruiting violation. Meyer and OSU also reported UF for what they perceived to be another recruiting violation last year.

“We appreciate our friends from Ohio making sure we are compliant with NCAA rules,” Muschamp said, according to Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples. “They certainly know something about NCAA rules.”

Muschamp continued: “It’s really a dead issue. In both situations we were turned in by Ohio, the University of Florida didn’t do anything wrong.”

PUNISHMENT STILL UP IN THE AIR

Muschamp also told reporters that he has not decided whether sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will be suspended for any games due to his arrest on a charge of misdemeanor simple battery one month ago. He has already been disciplined by the Gators but additional punishment has yet to be determined.

Morrison accepted a deferred prosecution agreement from the State of Florida and will pay fines, perform community service and complete other tasks during a six-month probationary period in order to get the charge expunged from his record.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced Tuesday that only two players would be limited heading into fall training camp – redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman and freshman LB Alex Anzalone – both of whom are nursing shoulder injuries after going under the knife during the spring.

He expects both players to eventually return to practice in the fall but noted that each would likely miss 10-12 sessions before being cleared by team trainers. Otherwise, he believes the Gators are “pretty healthy” on the injury front.

Redshirt junior BUCK Ronald Powell, who missed the entire 2012 season with a pair of anterior cruciate ligament surgeries, will be cleared for the start of fall practice.

“Probably the guy I’m most excited to see is Ronald Powell,” Muschamp said. “Here is a guy who has been through a lot of adversity. He’s been cleared to go after it in fall camp. A guy I’m really excited to get back on the field to see is No. 7 running around in orange and blue, a guy that’s been through an awful lot. Two surgeries. Never complained. Never got down about anything. [He] is truly a great individual and excited that he’s a leader of our football team as well.”

POSITION-BY-POSITION ANALYSIS

As part of his 2,400-word filibuster opening statement, Muschamp went in-depth about each position on the Florida football team and often spoke at length about particular players. Below is a breakdown of what he had to say about those positions.

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6 BITS: Bonner, Miller, Johnson, Simpson, Beisel

1 » In South Florida for about a week while his team participated in the first two games of the 2013 NBA Finals, San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner told ProBasketballTalk that he was getting a lot of support from Florida Gators fans in the area. “I’ve been getting ‘Go Gators’ everywhere,” Bonner said. “Even people with Miami Heat jerseys, walking down the street will yell at everyone else then see me, wait for no one to look and [whisper] ‘Go Gators.’ It’s the whole spectrum, older Gators, younger Gators. You know, it’s six degrees of separation, except here it’s like two or three degrees of Gator separation.” Bonner, who OGGOA noted last week is a big fan of sandwiches, also said that he enjoyed a few Cuban sandwiches while in town.

2 » Miami guard Mike Miller looks every bit of 33 years old most of the time, but his ability to drain threes in the playoffs has made him a hot name for the second-straight postseason. On Sunday during Game 2 of the NBA Finals, Miller went 3-for-3 from downtown, scoring nine points on the evening as his team pulled off a victory. Though he still looks old, Miller feels young for the first time in a while; during the 2012 playoffs, he could not run without limping. “I’ve got a lot of basketball left. It’s the best I’ve felt in five years,” Miller told ESPN’s Israel Gutierrez. “Sometimes, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even when you’re frustrated. I feel great. Knock on wood it stays that way.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
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Josh Evans – Path to the 2013 NFL Draft: Pro Day

Through the 2013 NFL Draft from April 25-27, Florida Gators safety and 2012 leading tackler Josh Evans will be keeping fans up-to-date on his Path to the Draft via a weekly blog entry exclusively here at OGGOA.

Evans’s fifth entry covers his second return to Gainesville, FL during the offseason, the Pro Day workout on Tuesday and what his plans are for the next three weeks as he continues to workout and meet with teams.

I came back up to Gainesville late last week and the first thing I did was settle in to my place and meet up with a massage therapist to get my hamstring rubbed down. It’s just a strain. It’s something I felt during the combine. It’s kind of nagging, but it feels alright. Once I get to top speed, it is sometimes hard to maintain without it giving out. But I’m feeling better each day and we have a phenomenal training staff here at Florida so I know they’ll get me back to 100 percent in no time.

Over the weekend I also worked out a bit, did a few starts and warmed up, nothing too big because the Pro Day was in a couple of days. So I basically just worked on my flexibility and made sure I was good to go. I also met with San Francisco on Monday and had a great talk with them.

A lot of people noticed how I now have a yellow stripe in my hair. I got that done two days ago just to do something a bit different. I don’t plan to have it long, but I wanted to have it for Pro Day because I figured it would definitely help me stand out on the field.

As far as Pro Day goes, I was pretty comfortable the whole time. Any time you come back to your home field, The Swamp, there’s always that comfort you have being around your teammates and seeing the coaching staff you’ve dealt with for the last few years. I did not feel nervous; however, you still want to go out there and perform well in front of the head coaches, general managers and scouts. It was a pretty good day to get out there and run around, and I felt like all went well.

We were all concerned a bit when we first got out there saw it was raining because you don’t want to run on a wet field if you can help it. We try not to use excuses of course, but to be honest, the field was wet. The balls were even wet sometimes. We managed to overcome the obstacle and all performed well.

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FOUR BITS: NCAA, volleyball, Mularkey, Dillman

1 » The NCAA on Tuesday chose to recognize some of the top players and teams that have participated in NCAA Tournaments, as well as many of the top moments to occur in those events, over the last 75 years. The organization picked the 2006-07 incarnation of the Florida Gators as one of the top-25 teams and also recognized center Joakim Noah as one of the top-75 players ever to participate in the tournament. Noah was named Most Outstanding Player of the 2006 tourney after he registered a then-record 29 blocked shots in the event and averaged 13.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. Both Noah and the 2006-07 UF team are finalists in their respective categories, which will be voted on before awards are presented at the 2013 NCAA Final Four in Atlanta, GA.

2 » Florida junior middle back Chloe Mann, who put together an impressive 2012 campaign for a Gators volleyball program that exceeded its preseason expectations, was named a First Team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) on Wednesday. Mann was honored along with outside hitter Ziva Recek, who was named Freshman of the Year by the organization. Florida as a team lasted until the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament where it fell to three-seed Texas. The Gators concluded the season with a 27-5 record and their first SEC Championship since 2010.

3 » Former Florida tight end Mike Mularkey, now head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was hospitalized on Monday on the advice of a team trainer after feeling ill at his team’s facility. He was released shortly after being admitted and was healthy enough to return to practice on Tuesday. Mularkey’s first year with Jacksonville has been anything but productive as the Jaguars are currently 2-11 and have lost nine of their last 10 games. This is his second NFL head coaching stint as he previously led the Buffalo Bills to a 14-18 combined record from 2004-05.

4 » As much as head coach Will Muschamp has been credited with turning around the Gators football program, strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman is in many ways equally deserving of praise. Dilliman recently sat down with his hometown paper, the Richmond County Daily Journal, and discussed both how he arrived at Florida and what he thinks of what the team has accomplished this season. Throughout the year, Dillman received plenty of credit for the team’s performance against LSU and how it stood up to the long season from a conditioning perspective. In the interview, he turned around and put the praise back on Muschamp for how the team was run this year. “At the end of the day, it’s the program,” he said. “It goes back to Coach Muschamp and the kids because they worked their butts off. We all have a job to do and Coach Muschamp lets me do my job. All the kids come in and believe in what we are trying to accomplish. Coach is big on keeping it real. My staff and I will be honest with a player, but we also want to keep a positive environment. I have a philosophy of actions trigger feelings and feelings trigger actions. Good things come out of being positive and negative things come out of being negative. I always try to be positive while training an athlete.”

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11/19: Driskel will play, Florida no longer “soft”

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s shutout victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who sprained his ankle two weeks ago and did not see the field against Jacksonville State, “will play” on Saturday against Florida State. Muschamp said Monday that Driskel could return to practice but will be held out until Tuesday for precautionary reasons and so he can get additional treatment. From there, he will see how well Driskel can play and how comfortable he is on his ankle, which will determine how much field time he sees Saturday.

“He will play in the game. To what degree? The week will determine that on how his health continues to improve,” he said. “We’re going to see how the week goes. I don’t know. I know right now, based on [Sunday], that he will play in the game. How much he’ll play, whether he’s going to start, I don’t know that right now.”

Muschamp was careful not to name Driskel the starter but that does not mean the designation will not come later in the week. He has yet to see Driskel practice on his injured ankle and is hedging his bets right now. If Driskel practices in full this week, especially towards the end of the week, there should be no doubt that he will start and be active for the full compliment of plays on Saturday.

Also coming off the injury report are redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle), redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (knee) and sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer (thigh), all of whom will take Monday off as a precaution before returning to practice on Tuesday. Each is expected to be healthy enough to take on FSU in six days.

Muschamp said Saturday that sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder) are out for the season, though no specifics were provided on Saunders.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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Muschamp managed expectations, set intensity

One of the primary jobs of a head football coach, especially in the Southeastern Conference, is to keep his team’s fan base engaged while also managing its expectations. Florida Gators fans are easily engaged but tough to manage, which is something that head coach Urban Meyer learned toward the end of his tenure but Muschamp knew from day one.

With Florida falling flat to .500 in the regular season last year, Muschamp repeatedly dismissed notions that Meyer left the cupboard bare in Gainesville, FL. What he mentioned time and time again at press conferences, media availabilities and fan gatherings was that he needed time to turn the program around, let the young players develop and have the entire team buy in to his philosophies.

“I said we were a very young team,” Muschamp recalled on Monday. “Over 70 percent of our roster was freshmen and sophomores. We had less starts than anybody in the SEC on the defensive side of the ball and the offensive line – two critical areas in our league that you need to be really good. We inherited a very young football team that had talent. We went through some growing pains last year.

“When you lose your senior quarterback – regardless of how many years you’ve been in the program – you’re going to probably face some struggles. And we certainly did. I felt like we inherited a young, talented team that just needed some growing up, needed some maturity, needed some more experience playing the game. We had a lot of guys playing for the first time last year in a lot of situations. We didn’t have depth and we’ve recruited well to that. We’ve added good depth on the defensive line and the offensive line this year. I think the depth has certainly helped us.”

His ability to handle the team (and its failures) last year with confidence and poise assured some fans that the Gators were in the right hands and on the right track even though a vocal minority was beginning to light fires under his seat.

Read the rest of this story on Muschamp…after the break!
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