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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10/29: Muchamp on loss, injuries, running game

No. 7 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s sloppy 17-9 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Missouri Tigers.

OPENING STATEMENT

Muschamp had plenty to say when he stepped up to the microphone on Monday. Below is how he began his weekly press conference.

“Obviously the turnovers were the killer in the game. Self-inflicted. When you turn the ball over six times, you’re going to have a hard time beating anyone. That was disappointing really at the end of the game. Really inconsistent offensively in the run game and in the pass game. Never really got some continuity going from different issues. [...]

“I thought we were really good on third down against a good third-down defense. The inconsistencies and then the turnovers really were doomsday for us offensively. Defensively, disappointed with some of the first-half run fits. I thought we missed some things that we don’t normally miss. Got those things cleaned up. The last drive obviously we had an opportunity to win the game and don’t get it done. Red zone defense, third-down defense and really in the second half up until the last drive we played pretty solid. I thought we were solid in special teams, just nothing spectacular. We didn’t do anything to really change the game, which we have for the most part this season and we need to.

“Disappointed with the results but not the effort. Our guys played hard. It’s very evident as you watch the film, we played hard. We played extremely hard in the game. We laid a lot on the line out there on the field. Very pleased with the effort. We have a very resilient group of young men in the locker room. You turn the ball over six times, you face a lot of adversity in the game and we’re driving to win the game on the last drive of the game. That says a lot about our football team. That says a lot about the guys in the locker room, that they were able to overcome a lot of self-inflicted issues to continue to fight to win the game and have the opportunity. Six turnovers, you should have walked out of there losing by four touchdowns, honestly. That says a lot about the character on our football team and what we’ve got going on in that locker room.

“It’s not the result we wanted, and I’m disappointed, that falls on my shoulders and I’ll handle that and we’ll move forward and refocus as we go but that’s all on me. No different when we win, we need to focus on Florida, be technical in our approach. I told the staff yesterday and today again, obviously there was some things we did well in the game and there are some things we need to have corrected. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to focus on us and what we need to do to get better. [...]

“That’s the tough thing about football – you got to wait seven days, you know? Billy [Donovan] and them may lose on a Wednesday and they get to go back Saturday and play, or [Kevin O'Sullivan and the baseball team], they play a double-header, they play in the morning and then in the afternoon. They can get a win and get it out of their system, and we can’t. It is what it is. I’m disappointed again with the results, not the effort of our football team. I’m very proud of the resiliency, guys continuing to fight and battle in the game. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the results we wanted and that’s on me.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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10/27: Florida vs. Georgia post-game report

No. 2 Florida Gators football (7-1, 6-1 SEC) dropped a sloppy game 17-6 to the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. Georgia is now in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East while Florida is looking to regroup and still make something out of the 2012 season. Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» The victory gave Georgia consecutive wins over Florida for the first time since the 1980s when the Bulldogs won three-straight over the Gators from 1987-89.
» Muschamp is now 0-6 all-time in the Florida-Georgia series, going 0-4 as a Bulldogs player and 0-2 as head coach of the Gators. He is the first UF head coach since Galen Hall to lose more than one game to UGA in his career.
» Florida lost for the first time this season when trailing at the half (3-1).
» The Gators are now 1-5 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 100 yards.
» Saturday was the first time in 2012 that UF was outscored in the second half (10-3).
» After starting the year +11 in turnover margin, Florida’s season-long number fell to +8 as the Gators coughed up six turnovers in the game, three more than the Bulldogs.
» Florida has registered at least one interception in seven-of-eight games and picked up three on Saturday alone. It is the second time this season that UF registered three interceptions in a single game.
» The Gators lost their third game under Muschamp when holding an opponent to under 21 points and are now 2-6 under Muschamp when being out-rushed by an opponent.
» Florida was held without a touchdown in a game for the first time since Oct. 15, 2011 (at Auburn) and for the first time against the Bulldogs since 1988.
» The Gators were more efficient on third down (7-of-16 vs. 1-of-10), held the ball longer (33:41-26:19) and passed for more yards (185-150) than the Bulldogs. Florida, however, was outrushed 81-123 and coughed up three more turnovers
» UF entered UGA’s red zone four times on Saturday but amassed just six points by kicking two field goals and giving up a pair of turnovers.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis scored nine points on three field goals Saturday, making him one of three players in school history to register more than 300 career points. His 302 points are third behind Jeff Chandler (368) and Tim Tebow (342).
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel fumbled the ball thrice (lost two) and tossed two interceptions. He had only one interception on the season entering the game.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed tied a career-high with five receptions and set a career-best with 74 receiving yards, though his fumble late in the fourth quarter was a black eye on his performance.

OPENING STATEMENT

Below is what Muschamp had to say at the beginning of the post-game press conference marking his first loss since Nov. 26, 2011.

“I’ve said all season long that we’re not a team that has a lot of margin of error. Six turnovers leads to 10 points – critical plays in the game. You got to rise up and those opportunities you have, you got to make those plays. You got to give [Georgia] credit; they did and we didn’t. Six turnovers. Wow. That’s tough to overcome.

“The turnover before half, we got to get points in that situation. We had a hard time establishing some things in the run game, and they’ve got some good players defensively. We’re just not quite there explosive enough-wise offensively to overcome…or any team…six turnovers, at the end of the day. That’s the end of the game, in my opinion, six turnovers. We got, I think, two field goals off two interceptions. We just can’t turn the ball over like that. That’s unfortunate.

“I felt like we did a nice job on the last drive. Jeff made some really outstanding throws and plays and gave us an opportunity to win the game. No one play loses a game. Great effort on Jordan’s part trying to get the ball in the end zone. We just got to do a better job with ball security. That’s really it. Ball security’s it.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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10/24: Quinn on defense; Easley on motivation

No. 2 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 No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs. Junior defensive end Dominique Easley and redshirt senior left guard James Wilson also spoke with the media this week.

» Quinn on redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins: “Even though the one turnover we didn’t get on his interception where we lined up offsides, it was great to see him back and playing and in action. He certainly has speed to match up with people. He’s a good blitzer. I thought he had a couple physical tackles, too. I was really pleased, for having some time off, for him coming back and contributing the way that he did in his first extended action in a while.”

» Quinn on the fourth down touchdown passes thrown last year in the Florida-Georgia game: “The deciding factors in the game. We had a chance to make a play on the ball and we didn’t. We’ve worked hard in terms of playing technique and that kind of thing. As far as a new call and that kind of stuff, some of those same calls happened during the game that we made plays on. It just so happened on those two we didn’t make the play on the thrown ball. Those two were critical fourth-down ones [and we gained] more experience in playing it. Even the tough experiences you lose from in terms of how your play your technique or not getting the ball down. Both of those were 50-50 balls where they had a chance to make a play and we weren’t able to come up with it in that place.”

» Quinn on the Bulldogs’ last offensive drive in 2011: “It was certainly a low point for me. When you look back at it, we had chances to win the game. When you don’t, it eats at you for a long time when you’re thinking about it or during an offseason or when you put the film on during the offseason to start on the study for them. The number of times we’ve seen that sequence of plays this year, during this week especially, is hard because you knew you had a chance to maybe make a stop and give us a chance to win the game, and we weren’t able to get that done.”

» Quinn on the ‘violators’ tag for players likely to fumble the ball: “In a nutshell, sometimes we look for a ball carrier or it could be a quarterback who, when they’re running the ball, they don’t’ keep it secure. It might be a runner who doesn’t keep the ball high and tight or you may see it swing. Sometimes we may say, as a second guy in who’s into the tackle, knowing that a guy doesn’t keep it all the way locked in, you may have an opportunity against this player, for the second guy in, to see if you can get the ball out. A violator, for us, we see as a player who may carry the ball loosely for the second guy in to be able to get it out.”

PLAYERS

» Easley on the Georgia game in 2011: “We lost. We got our butts kicked, and it still hurts.”

» Easley on if he is motivated by last year’s loss: “We was one of the first teams to almost have a losing season in Florida’s history. That takes a toll on us. That takes a toll on all of us just to lose mostly every game that we had.”

» Easley on the ‘violators’ on offense: “They got that ball – that’s ours. They got that ball hanging out. Violator is when somebody doesn’t know how to carry the ball correctly. We’re going to come get it from you. [...] We see that ball. [When] we see a little bit of that pigskin, we’re coming to get it.”

» Easley on the rivalry: “I wouldn’t say it’s nasty. I mean, I don’t like them. They Georgia. That’s all – they’re Bulldogs – that’s all.”

» Easley on his motivation: “I just try to let the other team feel my pain and my hurt, that’s all.”

» Easley on all Florida losses: “Let’s just say… Every one of those games I have not stopped watching. I have those games at my house and I watch every night before I go to sleep.”

» Easley on what it feels like to watch those losses: “It’s like somebody telling you that you’re going to watch a video clip of you getting punched in the face over and over again. You going to get mad every time you watch it?”

» Easley on the success that UF has had already: “One thing about us, we haven’t had success until we win the SEC or the national championship. So there has not been no success this year yet.”

» Easley on losing: “I hate losing. In my high school career I only lost one game. In any sport, I rarely lose, so I hate losing. That’s all. I just hate losing.”

» Wilson on the offensive line’s improvement: “We’ve made leaps and bounds since last season. There is always something to correct and we’re going to do our best like always.”

» Wilson on missing so much of his college career due to injury: “I wish things would have [gone] better, but I’m happy with how everything turned out. This is awesome.”

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Florida players discuss South Carolina victory

A handful of Florida Gators football players met with the media both after Saturday’s game and on Monday afternoon during the team’s weekly media day. Below are some choice quotes from those sessions.

» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel on throwing red zone touchdown passes (Monday): “I’d say I’ve been confident the whole year but haven’t really had that many opportunities to throw the ball in the red zone because we’ve been so efficient running the ball. We’ve shown that we can make plays in the passing game down there, so they’re going to have to account for that now.”

» Driskel on how facing Florida’s defense in practice helps the offense (Saturday): “We’re going up against some of the best corners, best pass rushers and best linebackers in the country. It’s making us both better because we have some good players on offense as well.”

» Driskel on the feeling on campus recently (Monday): “The last couple weeks, there’s been a buzz around campus. Everyone’s excited, telling you ‘good game’ and ‘way to go’ and to ‘keep it up.’ I definitely expect a buzz around campus.”

» Senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic on hitting the opposing quarterback hard (Monday): “We always stress that on defense. We got to get in the quarterback’s face. We got to put pressure on him so he can’t just sit back there and feel comfortable to get the ball downfield. That’s always a big thing for a defense. You want to get to the quarterback and get as many hits as you can on him. That’s when the timer in their head starts to go off a little bit faster than it normally does. When they’re not getting it, they feel like they’ve got all day back there.”

» Sophomore punter Kyle Christy on another fantastic performance (Saturday): “I’ve never really gotten this much attention after a game before. I’m pretty stoked right now. I feel great.”

» Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy on his forced fumble (Saturday): “I came off the edge and it was home free. I thought he was going to bring a [running] back over to help him, but he ain’t bring him over. He stepped up with the ball and I just swiped at the ball.”

» Junior running back Trey Burton on his forced fumble and fumble recovery (Saturday): “I was running down the field. I had an open shot on him, so I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna hit him. I’m gonna hit him. I’m gonna hit him. I’m gonna hit him.’ He put a little shake move on me and I dove for him and got the ball and everything else was in slow motion. The ball was bouncing all over the place and I got an opportunity to jump on it.”

» Redshirt junior Will LB Jelani Jenkins on the revenge mentality that the Gators possess this season (Saturday): “A lot of guys were in those locker rooms last year when we lost. LSU we lost last year; we felt that pain in the locker room. We lost South Carolina last year; we felt that pain. A lot of guys don’t want to feel that again. I think that had a lot of people playing with a chip on their shoulder.”

» Jenkins on head coach Will Muschamp tackling him on the sideline after his interception (Saturday): “I didn’t even know he hit me until all the teammates told me. I thought it was another teammate that hit me, but they said Muschamp tackled me. He really is the ‘Boom’ coach. He knocked me out.”

Skip to 6:10

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No. 2 Florida chomps No. 7 South Carolina 44-11

A hard-fought Southeastern Conference battled turned into a one-sided blowout on Saturday when the No. 2 Florida Gators, led by a career-high four touchdown pass performance by sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, trampled the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks 44-11 in Gainesville, FL.

On a day in which ESPN’s College GameDay emanated live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC) proved that it is a new team in year two under head coach Will Muschamp, preventing head coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC) from winning a third-straight game in the annual series.

The Gators turned three fumble recoveries into 21 first-half points and went five-for-five in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on every trip as they put the SEC East crown within their grasp pending the outcome of next week’s game against Georgia.

Florida started the game on fire as sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy forced a fumble that was recovered on the South Carolina two-yard line by redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray on the first play from scrimmage. Faced with a third down, Driskel hit redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed for a short touchdown to give UF a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.

Read the rest of the game story and watch video highlights…after the break!
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10/17: Muschamp, Spurrier on SEC teleconference

No. 2 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier made appearances Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding their respective teams and the game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators wound up playing without three starting offensive lineman on Saturday, but the good news is that all three look to be in the mix to take on the Gamecocks. Muschamp said that redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (eye) practiced on Tuesday and that both redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (elbow) and senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (concussion) were returning to the field Wednesday.

He also noted that junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) returned to action on Tuesday though freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle) remains questionable.

Spurrier said that a number of South Carolina’s players have been bit by a flu bug over the last 2-3 days and that some of his defensive linemen have been dealing with ankle sprains. One player in particular, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, has a bad shoulder injury and is doubtful. He may not play even if healthy as Spurrier noted that the player will probably face team discipline for throwing a punch in last week’s game against LSU.

In his post-practice press conference on Wednesday, Spurrier added that star running back Marcus Lattimore did not practice with a bruised hip. “I don’t know how to list him. We’re not sure he is going to be able to play,” he said. Spurrier mentioned that Lattimore will not start the game (that job will go to Kenny Miles) but could be used as a reserve depending how he is feeling.

He then went on to list big-time defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as limited with a foot injury, another major surprise. Spurrier maintained that both of his defensive tackles have sprained ankles, which makes them questionable, and then rattled off the names of a handful of players who have missed significant practice time with the flu.

MUSCHAMP PRAISES SPURRIER

Muschamp was asked about Spurrier’s impact on the Southeastern Conference and college football in general. He delivered some hefty praise to the first coach ever to win a national title at Florida.

“Honestly, if you really – being an SEC guy and growing up in this part of the country and being a huge fan of Southeastern Conference – there’s really two coaches that come to the forefront of your mind as far as what they’ve done for this league. That would be Bear Bryant and Steve Spurrier. For winning, bringing championships to the University of Florida and understanding what that’s about. Those would be the two guys that jump out in my mind. That’s just personally my opinion. You look at what he did. When he came to our league, it was more of three yards and a cloud of dust league. He came in and spread the ball out a little bit. He was credited with throwing a bunch but heck, they were 50-50. They ran the ball extremely well when he was here. It became a little bit more of a throwing league and things changed defensively. It helped advance this league from an offensive mindset, in my opinion. Again, that’s my opinion. Those would be the two guys that would jump out to me as coaches in this league that for a long period of time had tremendous success.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Spurrier on if him coaching against Florida is still a story: “I don’t think it’s much of a story now that it’s eight years that we’ve gone and played each other, the fourth time I’ve been down there coaching. I guess it is a little unusual to be on the other team when you come into the ballpark and your name is on the wall up there. I think everybody handles it pretty well.”

» Muschamp on the atmosphere in The Swamp: “Our fans are outstanding, the best in the country. I’ve been in a lot of arenas and none like this one as far as I’ve been in pro and college. It’s an electric atmosphere. You can feel it on campus already.”

» Muschamp on not throwing the ball vertically: “We’ve identified who we are and Brent [Pease] has done a fantastic job. You know, Brent is not a stat guy. Most of these offensive guys are all stat guys, that’s all they care about. He cares about winning football games and doing what we need to do to win the game. That’s a credit to him.”

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