11/26: Jenkins out, players praised, bowl notes

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s important 37-26 victory over the then-No. 10 Florida State Seminoles and preview the next few weeks of inaction.

INJURY UPDATES

Exciting the game early, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins learned that he broke a small bone in his foot and will be out 4-6 weeks. Muschamp said he was having surgery on the foot Monday and will probably miss the bowl game.

Florida is relatively healthy otherwise. Redshirt sophomore LB Neiron Ball (ankle) will be back in time for the bowl game. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle) is sore but fine coming out of the Florida State victory. Redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (ankle) got dinged up and is in a boot but will be OK as well. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (kidney infection) should be able to return to physical activity this week.

As far as sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders, Muschamp said he remains out for the bowl game with what was mentioned a few weeks ago to be the hamstring injury.

Reporter: “Saunders, you said a couple weeks ago wouldn’t…”
Muschamp: “Yeah, he won’t be in the bowl game.”
Reporter: “Is that injury or discipline?”
Muschamp: “Yep. he won’t be in the bowl game.”
Reporter: “Because of?”
Muschamp: “Injury.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 11/26: Jenkins out, players praised, bowl notes

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11/24: Florida at Florida State post-game report

No. 4 Florida Gators football (11-1) concluded the regular season with a huge 37-26 victory over the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (10-2) at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida won 11 regular season games for the fifth time in school history.
» The Gators are 4-1 vs. teams currently in the BCS top 12.
» Florida is 34-21-2 all-time against Florida State and leads the series 13-11-1 on the road in Tallahassee. This was UF’s first victory vs. FSU in three years.
» The Gators boast the No.1 ranked strength of schedule nationally.
» Florida is 4-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp with a 4-1 mark in 2012 with wins over Tennessee, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State (and a loss to Georgia).
» The Gators are 12-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards, 11-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 12-3 when scoring first and 14-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has faced four top-25 total offenses, giving up an average of 20 points per game to those teams. FSU was the first opponent that UF let score more than 20 points this season.
» The Gators have faced five top-20 total defenses and five top-20 scoring defenses. Against the Seminoles, the Gators scored 37 points.
» Florida completed 8-of-15 third-down conversion attempts (53.3) percent despite heading into the game with a 34.3 percent conversion average.
» The Gators possessed the ball for 36:20, 3:31 longer than their season average, which ranked ninth nationally and first in the SEC.
» Florida is +17 in turnover margin after being -12 in 2011. UF forced five turnovers on Saturday and gave up the ball just once.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 115-29 in the fourth quarter in 2012.
» Florida has grabbed 19 interceptions so far in 2012, 11 more than it registered one year ago. UF has grabbed at least one pick in nine games and has also recovered 10 fumbles.
» UF’s defense has allowed just two passing touchdowns over its last six games.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis made three field goals for the second-straight week and fifth time this season. He has set the school record for made field goals in a career with 69, passing Jeff Chandler’s former record of 67. Sturgis also tied Bobby Raymond’s single-season record of 23 made field goals.
» Senior running back Mike Gillislee became the first Florida rusher to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau since Ciatrick Fason in 2004. Saturday was his third 140+ yard game of the year his fourth two-touchdown game of the season. Gillislee alone rushed for more yards than Florida State has allowed to any team this season.
» Seven different Gators forced and/or recovered turnovers on Saturday: junior safety Matt Elam (INT), redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (INT), sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson (INT), sophomore LB Darrin Kitchens (FF), sophomore CB Jabari Gorman (FR), freshman LB Antonio Morrison (FF), junior defensive end Dominique Easley (FR). The five total turnovers were a season-high.
» Sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy became the first player since Keiwan Ratliff (2002) to start on offense and defense in the same game.
» Sophomore RB Matt Jones registered a career-high 81 rushing yards and ran for more yards than the Seminoles had given up to six teams this season.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We seem to make it interesting and overcome [the penalties]. Very proud with how we played the game, the mental toughness that we played with. When I first came to Florida, it was a little bit of a question mark. Last time we were in this stadium it was a 31-7 game, and it wasn’t tonight. That football team showed you their resolve and their fight and their oneness and their togetherness, and I’m very proud to be a part of them. We have an outstanding staff that’s completely on board with what we’re trying to do and we have all the support to continue to move forward. Just very proud of the victory. The fifth team in UF history to win 11 games in the regular season. Heck of a season. Pulling for ‘Fight On.’ Some of them guys, I’ve always been a big Lane Kiffin fan.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say on the run and the players…

Continue Reading » 11/24: Florida at Florida State post-game report

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No. 4 Florida Gators chomp No. 10 Florida State as Mike Gillislee rumbles for two touchdowns

A 24-point fourth quarter for the No. 4 Florida Gators (11-1) turned around what looked to be an epic collapse and clinched a 37-26 win over the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles (10-2) at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL.

Florida senior running back Mike Gillislee led the way for the Gators offense, rumbling for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. That unit got plenty of support from the defense and special teams, which combined to recover five turnovers on the afternoon. Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis was also clutch for UF, making all three of his field goal attempts with a long of 45 yards.

Florida opened up the game throwing, completing two of its first three passes and tossing the ball eight times on a 14-play, 54-yard drive that lasted 5:47 and ended with a 39-yard field goal Sturgis. Florida State took the kickoff at the 35-yard line after Sturgis booted it out of bounds and got down to UF’s 27 in just two plays. However, a third-down interception thrown by FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel and caught by junior safety Matt Elam ended the possession without any points going on the board.

The Gators looked to be stalled at their own 34-yard line on their next drive, but a 31-yard scramble by sophomore QB Jeff Driskel extended the possession, which wound up going 62 total yards. Faced with 3rd-and-1 at the Seminoles’ 26, Driskel threw incomplete on a play action and junior running back Trey Burton missed brother and sophomore tight end Clay Burton on a muddle huddle play attempted on fourth down.

A few possessions later, Florida put together another long drive but stalled short of the end zone. The Gators converted two third-down tries but settled for a 45-yard field goal to take a 6-0 lead after gaining 54 yards in 10 plays.

Florida got another big play from its special teams on the ensuing kickoff as junior linebacker Darrin Kitchens forced a fumble that was recovered by sophomore defensive back Jabari Gorman at Florida State’s 21-yard line. Three plays later, Gillislee rumbled nine yards down the left sideline for a touchdown, giving UF a 13-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first half.

The Seminoles were able to hold on to the ball on the next kickoff, but Manuel threw his second interception of the game on the opening play from scrimmage, tossing a bullet right into the hands of redshirt junior Will LB Jelani Jenkins. The Gators would waste the possession by getting called for two penalties and suffering a big loss on third down.

Florida State finally made some offensive gains on its last possession of the first half as Manuel completed three passes and scrambled for 23 yards to put his team in field goal range. The Seminoles reduced its deficit to 13-3 at the half as K Dustin Hopkins knocked in a 50-yard field goal.

UF won the time of possession battle 21:58-8:02 in the first half and nearly doubled up FSU on offense but had a bigger advantage before the home team’s final possession as it sported a 192-53 advantage through the first 27:50 of the opening half.

Read the rest of the Florida-Florida State game story…after the break!
Continue Reading » No. 4 Florida Gators chomp No. 10 Florida State as Mike Gillislee rumbles for two touchdowns

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11/12: Driskel doubtful, injuries, Florida’s case

No. 6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s tight victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns and preview Saturday’s game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who went down with what is being called a sprained ankle during the third quarter on Saturday and did not return to the game, was listed as “doubtful” by Muschamp on Monday. He is currently in a precautionary walking boot and will spend Monday and Tuesday trying to rehab his ankle before being given an opportunity to test it out on Wednesday.

Joining Driskel on the “doubtful” list were redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose, who hurt his knee in practice two weeks ago and has yet to play since. Specifics have not been provided.

Muschamp said he expects senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee), redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee) and redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown (ankle) to return to practice Tuesday and be ready to play on Saturday.

He was not as optimistic about four other players that got hurt on Saturday, noting that he expects redshirt junior WR Stephen Alli (shoulder), sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders (knee), redshirt freshman defensive back Valdez Showers (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder) to miss practice on Tuesday. All four will be reevaluated on Wednesday, which is when a decision will likely be made as to whether or not they can play in the home finale.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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Purifoy, Jenkins link up for game-changing play

“In all my years of playing football, I’ve never seen a touchdown like that on a blocked [punt]. I went ballistic,” said Florida Gators junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, recalling how Saturday’s game against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns came to a thunderous conclusion right before his very eyes.

For most of the players on the field and many of the fans both in the stands and watching nationally the SEC Network affiliates, Saturday’s game was an unexpected nail-biter and ended with a jolt that was equally unfathomable.

After tying the game 20-20 late in the fourth quarter, Florida kicked off to Louisiana-Lafayette, expecting the team to try and gain a first down in order to run out the final 1:42 of regulation and force overtime.

As head coach Will Muschamp explained:

“We score, I wanted to see what they were going to do. Obviously when they put [running back Alonzo Harris] in the game, which had been about 100 percent run in the game on first down, I knew we had two timeouts. I was going to hold it and see what they did on second down.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns ran the ball again, but Muschamp did not budge and allowed the clock to continue ticking down. After Harris ran a third time and was stopped three yards short of a first down, he called his first time out with 13 seconds left in regulation.

“I felt very good about what D.J. [Durkin] had for a [punt] block. I asked D.J. on the headsets, ‘Do you feel good about [us] getting there?’ He said, ‘Absolutely.’ So instead of taking this timeout after second down, I was going to take it to overtime and then try to block on third down. It just turns out it worked out well for us,” Muschamp explained.

“They ran the ball there on third down. We called timeout. We had 13 seconds. I told [sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders], ‘Don’t field the ball – get away from it – we’re going to try to block it.’ I told D.J., ‘Make sure we’re safe just in case they might try and fake one.’ He said, ‘We got all the eligible [receivers] covered and we’re going to go after it.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely. Let’s go do it.’”

And “do it” the Gators did.

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
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11/9: Florida vs. Louisiana-Lafayette post-game

No. 6 Florida Gators football (9-1) struggled mightily but eventually came away with a tough 27-20 victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (5-4) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 5-0 all time against Louisiana-Lafayette though Saturday’s win was its first since the school has adopted that name. Its previous four victories came against Southwest Louisiana.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp, 10-0 when rushing for more than 150 yards (UF had 149 on Saturday), 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida was 3-3 in the red zone and has scored on 30-of-36 trips (83.3 percent) this season, converting just 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 of its third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season after going just 4-for-14 in such situations on Saturday.
» The Gators held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 2-of-12 on third down but allowed their visitors to continue drives with poorly-timed penalties. UF’s defense has held opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent) in 2012.
» Louisiana-Lafayette was just the second team (Tennessee) to score 20 points on Florida this season. The Gators have held three teams to 17 points, two under 15 and three to a touchdown or less.
» Florida is +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011.
» The Gators are now 65-22-2 all-time on homecoming in The Swamp.

PLAYER NOTES

» Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy blocked a punt for the second-straight game and continues to be a standout performer for Florida on special teams.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed bounced back from a tough performance against Georgia to register career-highs in receptions (five) and yards. He also matched a career-long with a 39-yard catch.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis inched closer to Jeff Chandler’s school record of 67 made field goals. Sturgis connected on two more attempts and now has 17 on the year, putting him four away from tying Chandler. He is also six field goals away from tying the school single-season record of 23, which was set by Bobby Raymond.
» Redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins not only had the game-winning touchdown on a punt block return, he also led the defense with seven tackles.
» Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett saw his most extensive action of the season and made the most of it, leading the Gators to a game-tying touchdown on a three-yard pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Quinton Dunbar.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We certainly make it interesting. It’s a football team that is finding ways to win games. We certainly shot ourselves in the foot enough in the game to put it in that situation. I thought we managed the game very well late in the game as far as field position was concerned and time was concerned in what we wanted to do and then our players going out and executing it. I credit our football team. I know one thing: There’s nobody questioning that character in that room and the resolve and the fight. Sometimes our decision making could be questioned, but I think our guys have continued to believe in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and the way we’re going to get it done and they have a strong belief in that. That’s a hard thing, I know in a coaching perspective, I’ve been on the other end when you’re, ‘Oh no, here we go again’ mentality instead of embracing the station, the adversity, handling it and finding a way to do it. It ain’t just been one time this year; it’s been a bunch. I really credit our kids’ resolve in this situation.

“Obviously the penalties just killed us in this game, and they were [legitimate] penalties. We’ve talked about it. We’re going to reemphasize it again. We’ve emphasized it every day in every situation we could. We’ve benched guys and we’ve done everything we can do. I’m going to find another way. I don’t know. We’re going to meet as a staff [Sunday] and figure out what we need to do to continue to move forward and improve our team. That’s where it really hurts.”

A few minutes later, Muschamp continued speaking about the team’s resolve.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
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No. 6 Gators eke out 27-20 win over Ragin’ Cajuns

The No. 6 Florida Gators came minutes away from arguably the worst loss in school history and seconds away from playing overtime at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on homecoming until a late offensive touchdown and punt block return for a touchdown with two seconds remaining clinched a 27-20 victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday in Gainesville, FL.

Leading 13-3 early in the third quarter, Florida stumbled defensively and allowed Louisiana-Lafayette to score 17 unanswered points including its own punt block returned for a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett, in as an injury replacement, led the Gators to a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 20 with under two minutes to play.

On the ensuing possession, the Ragin’ Cajuns decided to run the clock and play for overtime, but UF head coach Will Muschamp called a timeout as ULL was getting ready to punt on fourth down. Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy promptly snuck his way inside the protection on the punt and blocked the ball, which fell into the hands of redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who charged 36 yards into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

The Gators avoided what may very well have been the worst loss in program history. UF had won 49-straight games against non-automatic qualifiers and had not fallen to such a team since Memphis State in 1988.

Read the rest of the Florida vs. Louisiana-Lafayette game story…
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10/31: Quinn on Jenkins and Riggs, Halapio on OL

No. 7 Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss his side of the ball as the team prepares for another tough game against the Missouri Tigers. Redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio also spoke about the offensive line and how it can improve going forward.

INJURY UPDATES

Head coach Will Muschamp left redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins off his Monday injury report and for good reason as the Gators are not concerned about him playing on Saturday. In fact, though Jenkins did aggravate his hamstring injury against Georgia, Quinn noted that he has been practicing all week without any problems.

“I’m not sure why some of the recurring things have happen, but we’ve certainly had good practice attention moving forward. So hopefully these injuries are behind him and we can move forward,” he said.

Quinn also discussed junior cornerback Cody Riggs, who has missed most of the season with a broken foot. Though Riggs may be eligible for a redshirt, Quinn noted that Florida’s goal is to get him back on the field and playing at 100 percent, if possible.

“I’m not sure on the compliance of that, but I would think that it would be due to the nature of the injury so early,” he said. “It is something that certainly we’d consider moving forward. At this time, we’re just trying to push to get everybody back available as needed. With him just not being back yet, at [defensive back], if you can’t go and run and do the things that you need to do, then you’re not ready yet. Certainly at that position, when you get there outside on the freeway out at corner or safety, you better be able to run.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Quinn on redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball and how he has performed this season in his return to the field: “Really proud to see Neiron play. From when he was first injured, seeing him in a hospital room and seeing his family there, you’re just so worried about him. Missing the whole year and kind of hoping he would have a chance to fulfill all he wanted to do as a player, come back and do it, but certainly guarded because you just didn’t’ know what the medical outcome would be. It’s been a big step when we knew he was finally able to come back and play, and then to have him out on the field, it was really an exciting time for him, for us, for our whole team. I keep seeing him improve each week. You can imagine playing a little bit as a freshman and then having to sit out a whole year and then get caught up fast. It really speaks to his competitive side and what he’s about. I really feel like he’s got a huge future in front of him. He’s got great quickness to be an outside [line]backer. He’s got speed; he’s got length. I think the arrow is really going up for Neiron.”

» Quinn said that he is proud of Florida’s defense as a whole. He is impressed how much tougher the team has been at the line of scrimmage and believes that emphasizing tackling during the offseason has really paid off. He did, however, mention some ways in which the defense can take another step going forward. “The areas we’d certainly like to improve on moving forward is increase our takeaways [and improve] our communication,” he said. “At practice the guys are working at it hard, working their skills. I’m seeing some of those guys improve.”

» Halapio said the offensive line met as a unit with redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison and senior left tackle Xavier Nixon leading the meeting. “[We discussed] just that we need to step up. We need to be more consistent, Just all around we got to get better,” he said.”

» During the Georgia game, Florida’s offensive line fell apart and did not play nearly as well as it had in the prior seven games. Halapio explained why: “When injuries started to come up on the offensive line, we lost our composure. We just need to do a better job with that. We were too aggressive after plays, definitely getting penalties off of that. I felt like we agreed that we were doing too much talking, talking trash to the Georgia front. We should have just done our jobs better.”

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