10/13: Florida at Vanderbilt post-game report

No. 4/6 Florida Gators football (6-0, 5-0 SEC) kept the positive momentum going on Saturday with a 31-17 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-4, 1-3 SEC) at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville, TN. The Gators became bowl eligible with the victory and matched their win total from the 2011 regular season while getting off to the team’s best start since 2009. Florida head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida now holds a 22-game winning streak against Vanderbilt including 21-straight in the annual series dating back to 1992. Those 21-straight wins rank second-longest nationally in an uninterrupted series (UF’s 26-in-a-row over Kentucky ranks first).
» The Gators have started the season 6-0 for the first time since 2009.
» UF is 11-1 against unranked opponents and 2-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011.
» Florida is 9-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 10-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points and 8-3 when scoring first.
» The Gators had been converting 41.7 percent of their third-down attempts this season but went just 2-of-11 (18.1 percent) against the Commodores.
» Florida had been holding opponents to 25.3 percent on third-down conversions but allowed Vanderbilt to convert 7-of-17 attempts (41.2 percent) on Saturday.
» UF out-possessed opponents by an average of 10:38 through five games but let VU win the possession battle by 6:20.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 98-23 in the second half and 54-10 in the fourth quarter. The Commodores’ 10 fourth-quarter points on Saturday were the first UF has allowed all season.
» Florida had not allowed a touchdown in nine-straight quarters before Vanderbilt scored on on its opening drive Saturday.
» The Gators are +7 in turnover margin through five games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (329) since 2000.
» Florida did not grab an interception for the first time this season.
» Vanderbilt sold out a home football game for the first time since 2008.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring), who was expected to be active for the game, was indeed dressed but did not play as his injury gave him issues. Muschamp believes he will be fine for the South Carolina game.

Redshirt senior left guard James Wilson, who had started all five games this season, injured his eye in practice on Wednesday and could not make the trip, Muschamp explained. He is expected to miss practice on Monday, return Tuesday and be able to play against USC.

Junior defensive end Dominique Easley, who tore his ACL last season and has experienced swelling in his knee throughout the season, had more again this weekend and did not dress for the game. He should also be able to play next week.

Five players got injured on Saturday. Senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (upper body), redshirt junior center James Harrison (arm), freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle), freshman tight end Kent Taylor (ankle) and redshirt junior TE Jordan Reed (eye/head) all got hurt with Reed the only one to return to the game. Muschamp did not have more extensive updates on the players but said he would on Monday.

“I’m extremely pleased to be able to rush for that many yards and have three starting offensive linemen down. That says a lot about our guys stepping up and ‘man down and man up,’” Muschamp said, pointing to freshman LT D.J. Humphries, redshirt sophomore LG Ian Silberman and senior senior C Sam Robey. “When you run for 300 yards, you’ve done something right. Very pleased with those guys stepping up and doing a nice job for us.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 10/13: Florida at Vanderbilt post-game report

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Gameday: No. 4/6 Florida Gators at Vanderbilt

Location: Vanderbilt Stadium – Nashville, TN [Capacity: 40,550]
Weather Forecast: 73°F, partly cloudy, winds SSE at 11 mph
Time: 6:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $98 on TiqIQ

TV: ESPNU (Clay Matvick, Matt Stinchcomb, Tom Luginbill)
SiriusXM: 129 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 4/6 FLORIDA GATORS VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: James Franklin
Record: 5-0 (4-0 SEC) Record: 2-3 (1-2 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -9, O/U 41

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what has been going on with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

Improvement evident but Gators can get better | Pease impressed with offense’s execution | Muschamp looking for improvement in return game | Franklin fawns over Florida | Team effort fueling Gators defense

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida leads Vanderbilt 34-9-2 in the all-time series but is just 15-7-1 in games played in Nashville. The two teams have played consecutively every year since 1992; the Gators are undefeated (20-0) in those games and hold a 21-game winning streak overall, outscoring the Commodores by an average of 21.9 points per game in that span.
» The two teams will square off in the month of October for the first time since 1989. The last time UF lost to VU (1988) was also the last time the teams went head-to-head in the month of October in Nashville.
» Vanderbilt’s five-point loss to Florida last season was the closest game between the two teams since 2002 (21-17 UF).
» UF is 10-1 against unranked opponents and 2-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011.
» The Gators have started the season 5-0 for the first time since 2009.
» Last week, Florida defeated a ranked opponent at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2008 and beat an SEC West time in Gainesville for the first time since Oct. 17, 2009.
» The Gators were 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have started the 2012 season 3-0 in that category with all three victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» Florida is 8-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 9-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points and 8-3 when scoring first.
» The Gators have scored on 15-of-16 red zone trips (93.8 percent) but have only converted 10-of-16 possessions (62.5 percent) into touchdowns.
» Florida has converted 30-of-72 of its third-down attempts (41.7 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 19-of-75 on third down conversions (25.3 percent), which is good for fourth-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is out-possessing opponents by an average of 10:38 through five games, a margin that ranks second nationally.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 78-13 in the second half and 41-0 in the fourth quarter. UF is the only team in the nation that has not allowed a fourth-quarter point.
» Florida has not allowed a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is sixth in scoring defense nationally (11.40 points per game).
» The Gators are +6 in turnover margin through five games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (328) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed seven interceptions so far in 2012 (three games with two each) and is already closing in on its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in all five games.
» The Gators are second nationally in pass efficiency defense.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered one in 2012.
» Vanderbilt is averaging 121.8 more yards of total offense than a year ago at this time and is holding opponents to 70.8 fewer rushing yards per game.
» The Commodores have sold out a home football game for the first time since 2008.
» Franklin has more wins in two seasons than any Vanderbilt head coach since 1991.

LAST TIME OUT

What looked like a one-sided affair at the half quickly became a hard-fought game as Florida coughed up its game-high 17-point halftime lead but still hung on to take down Vanderbilt 26-21 in Gainesville, FL. The Gators ended a four-game 2011 losing streak on the back of running back Jeff Demps, who took 23 carries for 158 yards and scored two of UF’s three touchdowns on the day (one a 52-yard dash late in the fourth quarter). VU quarterback Jordan Rodgers was responsible for all three of the Commodores’ second-half touchdowns, tossing two (one with 1:16 left in the game) and running for another. Vanderbilt tried an onside kick following that score but was unable to recover as Florida ran out the clock and earned the victory.

Read the rest of the Florida-Vanderbilt preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sidelines.
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 4/6 Florida Gators at Vanderbilt

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10/10: Quinn, players talk defensive improvement

Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics concerning his unit including how it is preparing for the upcoming road game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday at 6 p.m. A handful of Florida players spoke on Tuesday about LSU and their teammates.

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH

When head coach Will Muschamp hired Jeff Dillman as the team’s new strength and conditioning coach, he cited Dillman’s similar mindset and personality as two reasons why he felt that it would be a perfect fit. Just a handful of games into the 2012 season, it is looking like Muschamp made a superb hire, especially when one considers how similar the two men are in their persona and work ethic.

“Both high-energy, a lot of passion for what they do. They both bring it every day,” Quinn said.

Junior cornerback Jaylen Watkins, whose improved play has been a revelation for the Gators, said Wednesday that Dillman has done wonders for the players’ focus.

“[Dillman’s changed] our mentality as football players,” he said. “He coached us to be more physical in everything we do and before we had a lot of speed, so that’s pretty much what we worked on a lot.”

Muschamp has been preaching physicality since he arrived at UF, but he has also been known for his consistent high energy, another characteristic that Dillman shares.

“He’s always like that and that’s the best thing about him,” Watkins said of Muschamp. “He’s always genuine with us. It feels good to know your coach is right there with you celebrating.”

IT’S A TEAM EFFORT

Florida’s entire defense, a unit ranked eighth nationally one year ago, has still managed to take a big leap in season two, one which Quinn believes is fueled by the physicality that the players exhibit in each and every game.

“I thought we played with real toughness at the line of scrimmage. It was an area of emphasis for us for the game,” he said of the Gators’ effort on Saturday. “When we talk about that [with] that group, they have pride in how they do it. So I wasn’t surprised in that way and how they performed on the line.”

He also thinks it helps that the defense plays together as a unit instead of individual players trying to stand out by making highlight plays. “I think the best player on our defense is our defense,” Quinn added. “We don’t need one guy to feel like, ‘Man, if he doesn’t do it, we’re not going to be able to make it.’ We have a number of guys that we feel can make plays on our defense. I think that’s good.”

Muschamp estimated on Monday that Florida has only missed seven total tackles over its last three games, an impressive stat considering some teams have whiffed on as many as 20 in a single contest this season. Watkins explained Wednesday why that has been the case for the Gators.

“Our mental approach,” he said. “Last year, I don’t think we took tackling as seriously. We didn’t really realize how much a missed tackle can hurt the game. This year when we’re doing the tackling drills, we actually lock in and take it serious.”

Florida has also greatly reduced its discipline penalties, an area that really killed the team early in the season. Quinn discussed how the Gators have succeeded in making such a vast improvement in that category.

“Yeah, we have cut down on that. [Knocks on wood] It’s something – you get what you emphasize. It’s something that has been a big emphasis for us, and we just stay consistent in terms of message,” he said. “We have the officials at practice. They throw the flag. Each day at practice we try to create as many game-like situations as we can to let them know that you can’t line-up offsides, you can’t jump, illegal contact or whatever the penalty might have been.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Quinn on how to defend a mobile quarterback: “Certainly it’s a challenge when you play a mobile QB in terms of the different things that they can do. Not only do they have a mobile QB, they also have a quarterback running game package where there’s some direct quarterback runs and those kind of things. You have to do a really good job setting the edges because sometimes when you face a guy that has the speed to get outside, he’ll break contain and try to create a play that way.”

» Quinn on sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy: “He adds a lot to our team, even form a special teams standpoint the way he can cover. […] He was certainly one guy we highlighted in terms of the way he played on teams. He does carry a lot for us.”

» Quinn on if redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins will be able to play on Saturday: “We’re pushing Jelani as hard as we can to get him ready to play. We certainly need him to. We’re taking it day-by-day. We’re hoping to have Jelani available for us.”

» Watkins on Florida playing with swagger and intimidation: “Last year, I feel like teams tried to do that to us more. This whole summer we thought about that and it’s always in the back of our hands that we won’t be the ones to be intimidated this year.”

» Watkins on which players help energize and motivate the defense:Matt Elam. He brings a different type of energy to the defense. If he’s down, I feel like the whole defense will be down. But when he’s up and he’s going, everybody will play around him. And Lerentee McCray, too. He and Matt Elam kind of have the same personality – that bad boy persona on- and off-the-field. And it works for them on the field. [Dominique] Easley is in his own category.”

» Senior linebacker Jon Bostic on his celebration penalty: “It was just really exciting for Matt to come up and set the tempo. I didn’t think it was too much, but I guess the ref did. That was a big play for us. We really saw that as one of those setting-the-tempo type plays.”

» Redshirt senior guard James Wilson on coming back to be a major part of the offensive line: “There was a little bit of doubt, but if there was any more doubt than that I would have hung up my pads. Scout team last year was pretty low. That didn’t feel good. We got a whole new change of offensive coaches and they saw what I could do. I’ll just say that these coaches believe in me more than coaches of the past.”

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10/8: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

No. 4/6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel with the media on Monday to review the team’s big 14-6 win over the LSU Tigers and preview Saturday’s road contest against the Vanderbilt Commodores.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We had an electric atmosphere, an outstanding atmosphere to play in. We really appreciate [the fans’] support. [The fans] caused some communication issues for the other team and that’s always an advantage playing here in The Swamp. As a team, I thought we played hard, played very physical. It was very evident on film as you watched the tape in all three phases. So, very pleased with the effort.”

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp said that redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who played Saturday with a cast on his hand after missing two games with a broken thumb, is “probable” for the Vanderbilt game after tweaking his hamstring. He added that redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) and junior cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) remain out.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Game: senior running back Mike Gillislee
“He’s a guy that’s just having an outstanding senior season, a great example or our football team, the type of young man you want on your team.”
* Gillislee was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week and one of two Walter Camp Players of the Week.

Scrap Iron: offensive linemen, fullbacks and tight ends
“They did a really nice job of getting a hat-on-a-hat in the run game, creating some opportunities for Mike and our runners.”

Defensive Player of the Game & Hard Hat: junior safety Matt Elam
“I thought he played outstanding, played his best football game since I’ve been here. It was great effort. He always does give great effort, but it just was a very productive game for him. Obviously the strip on the long completion was just a phenomenal play. What an extra-effort play. It wasn’t his play but he came across the top and just made an outstanding effort play that sort of exemplifies kind of who we are.”
* Elam was also named SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week.

Ball Hawks: Elam, junior CB Jaylen Watkins, senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic, freshman Buck LB Dante Fowler, redshirt sophomore Sam LB Neiron Ball, sophomore S De’Ante Saunders

Special Teams Player of the Game: sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy
“[He is] a guy that’s covering as well as I’ve been around. Here’s a guy that plays corner, starts at corner, plays in upwards of 50-60 snaps in a game. The way Kyle [Christy] is playing right now, he’s covering punts for about 50. [Purifoy] just does a great job of getting down the field and disrupting returns. He’s on our kickoff coverage team. The importance of special teams – here’s a guy that understands it and gets it.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » 10/8: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

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10/6: Florida vs. LSU post-game report

Florida Gators football (5-0, 4-0 SEC) came away with a signature win on Saturday afternoon at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL as they upended the LSU Tigers (5-1, 1-1 SEC) in a match-up of top-10 teams. It was the Gators’ first victory over the Tigers since 2009 and marked an important win in the young career of head coach Will Muschamp, who spoke with the media following the contest.

HISTORY / STREAKS / NOTES

» Florida is 2-0 against ranked opponents in 2012 after going 0-5 against such foes in 2011. UF has also improved 3-0 when trailing at the half in 2012 after going 0-5 in similar situations just one year ago.
» The Gators are 8-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 9-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points.
» Florida is outscoring opponents 78-13 in the second half and 41-0 in the fourth quarter through five games in 2012.
» The Gators have not allowed a touchdown in nine-straight quarters.
» Florida has started a season 5-0 for the first time since 2009.
» The Gators defeated a ranked opponent at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2008.
» Florida defeated an SEC West team in Gainesville for the first time since Oct. 17, 2009.
» The Gators have held opponents to just 19-of-75 (25.3 percent) on third down conversion attempts.
» Florida won the time of possession battle by 14:52, nearly a full quarter. It is the second-straight week in which UF held a similar margin (15:22 vs. Kentucky).
» The Gators ran the ball on 25 consecutive plays to end the game.
» Florida has registered at least one interception per game this season.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who returned to action Saturday with a cast on his hand after missing two full games with a broken thumb, barely got a chance to make an impact as he went down with a hamstring injury in the second quarter and did not return to the field. Muschamp said after the game that Jenkins likely just tweaked his hamstring and team doctors expect him to be able to return to practice in a few days.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
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Gameday: No. 10/11 Florida vs. No. 4/3 LSU

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, scattererd T-storms (45% chance of rain), WNW at 4 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $58 on TiqIQ

TV: CBS/CBSHD (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson, Tracy Wolfson)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: CBSSports.com | Mobile Video: CBS Sports app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

(10/11) FLORIDA GATORS (4/3) LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Les Miles
Record: 4-0 (3-0 SEC) Record: 5-0 (1-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +2.5, O/U 42

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on what happened with the Gators over the last two weeks? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.

LSU a big test, great opportunity for Florida | Gators do not need superheroes | Miles says Florida is much improved | Gators defense can still improve

HISTORY / STREAKS

» Florida leads LSU 30-25-3 in the all-time series between the two teams and holds a 14-11-3 advantage in Gainesville. The teams have squared off every year since 1971. The Tigers have won consecutive games in the series but have split the last 12 contests with the Gators 6-6 dating back to 2000. UF is the last team to have won more than two-straight games in the series, capturing four contests in a row from 1998-2001.
» It is just the fourth time in the series that Florida and LSU enter the game both ranked in the top 10. It is just the fifth time that the Gators and Tigers are both undefeated when going head-to-head on the gridiron.
» Florida is 10-1 against unranked opponents and 1-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011.
» Muschamp spent four years at LSU as an assistant coach under Nick Saban. He is 1-2 all-time as a coach against the Tigers (0-1 at UF, 1-1 at Auburn).
» Since 1990, the Gators are 28-9 overall and 8-2 in The Swamp when playing a game after being afforded a bye week.
» Florida has started the season 4-0 for the fourth-straight year but is looking to improve to 5-0 for the first time since the 2009 season. LSU is 5-0 for the fourth year in a row.
» The Gators have not defeated a ranked opponent at home since Nov. 15, 2008.
» Florida has not defeated an SEC West team in Gainesville since Oct. 17, 2009. LSU has won seven-straight games against SEC East opponents overall with its last loss coming to UF in 2009.
» The Gators were 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but has started the 2012 season 2-0 in that category with both victories coming against league opponents.
» Florida is 7-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. The Gators are also 8-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points and 8-3 when scoring first.
» UF has scored in all but one quarter (15-of-16) so far in 2012.
» The Gators have scored on 13-of-14 red zone trips (92.9 percent) but have only converted 8-of-14 possessions (57.1 percent) into touchdowns.
» Florida has converted just 23-of-58 third-down attempts (39.7 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 18-of-62 on third down (29.0 percent); UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 64-13 in the second half and 34-0 in the fourth quarter through four games this season. UF is the only team in the SEC to not allow a fourth-quarter point to be scored.
» Florida is out-possessing opponents by an average of 9:34 through four games, a margin that ranks eighth nationally.
» The Gators are +5 in turnover margin through four games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (325) since 2000, while LSU has forced the second-most turnovers (316) in that span of time.
» Florida has grabbed six interceptions so far in 2012 (three games with two each) and is already closing in on its 2011 total of eight picks.
» The Tigers are riding an 18-game regular season winning streak into The Swamp on Saturday. It is the longest such streak in the nation.
» LSU will play its 20th straight game as a top-five ranked team.
» The Tigers are ranked in the top 10 nationally in rush defense (ninth), total defense (fourth), scoring defense (ninth) and pass defense (sixth).
» A total of 20 players on LSU’s roster have recorded an impact defensive play (sack, tackle for loss, interception, forced/recovered fumble).
» The Tigers under Miles are 12-10 vs. top 10 opponents and 4-3 against the Gators.

LAST TIME OUT

After dropping a heartbreaker at home to LSU in 2010, Florida entered Tiger Stadium looking for some revenge against their annual SEC West rivals. Instead the Gators were dished a harsh dose of reality by the Tigers, which outscored them 14-0 in the first quarter, led 24-3 at the half and went on to wipe out the visitors 41-11 in Baton Rouge, LA. Florida was forced to start freshman Jacoby Brissett at quarterback for the second-straight game, and he was held to just 94 yards passing, which included a 65-yard touchdown throw. LSU outgained UF 253-124 on the ground, and the Tigers’ defense dominated the Gators’ offense, registering four tackles for loss (one sack), a forced fumble and two interceptions.

Read the rest of the Florida-LSU preview including injuries and absences and which players to look out for from both sides of the field.
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 10/11 Florida vs. No. 4/3 LSU

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10/3: Quinn thinks defense can only get better

No. 10/11 Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics concerning his unit including its personnel as well as how it is preparing for Saturday’s game against the No. 4/3 LSU Tigers.

IT CAN ALWAYS GET BETTER

Florida may be rolling into Saturday’s showdown ranked No. 17 nationally in total defense (305.00 yards per game) and No. 10 in scoring defense (12.75 points per game), but the team is bested by LSU in both categories (fourth at 217.80 YPG and ninth at 12.60 points per game, respectively).

As far as Quinn is concerned, the Gators have plenty of room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball. And on Wednesday he detailed the areas in which he thinks the unit can improve.

“From a coverage standpoint, I think there’s been some good matchups in terms of how the guys are playing routes and that way. From a communications standpoint on the back end, we would like to still see that improve where you play some no-huddle teams that move fast and that type of thing,” he explained. “In the run game, I’d like to see that area squared up at the line of scrimmage where we just didn’t maybe fit a run exactly like we needed to. And then the final phase for our area of improvement is getting the ball back.”

Florida’s 1.25 turnover margin (seven gained, two lost) is 18th best nationally. UF being able to take the ball away from LSU, which has coughed up the ball eight times already this season, could go a long way in helping fuel the upset.

THUMBS UP AT LINEBACKER

As head coach Will Muschamp announced during the weekly SEC teleconference on Wednesday, redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins returned to practice and has been cleared for game action on Saturday. Quinn said that Jenkins is already relatively comfortable with the cast he is wearing on his thumb (some of his other fingers are free) and is once again bringing experience and talent to the defense.

“I think the more they have it on, you kind of get used to it. It might be harder the first time you go out and practice. I think he would absolutely take it over not playing, so it’s good to have him back,” he said. “Through practice this week I’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen from him.”

Jenkins returning to the lineup means that linebackers redshirt sophomore Michael Taylor and freshman Antonio Morrison will see fewer reps than they have been used to over the last two-plus games. Quinn is still confident that they will be able to contribute plenty this week.

“With the other guys who backed him up, I really have a lot of trust in those guys, in Mike an Antonio. In that way, no differentiation for us with whose in the game,” he said. “I think what Jelani adds in experience and playmaking ability, he adds value for us and we certainly need to get him in there. But we’ll certainly still play Mike and Antonio in the ball game.”

STEPPING UP AT THE RIGHT TIME

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter claimed on Tuesday that winning SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week following the Kentucky game was not a big deal for him. However, the award was indicative of the vast improvement he has made this season, going from underperforming reserve to the fourth-leading tackler on the team. Quinn said Wednesday that Hunter’s improved strength and pop off the ball has made a major difference this season.

“His practice preparation leading up into Kentucky, into the bye week and going into LSU week – he’s been really practicing well. His pad level, his hand placement, all the things you’re looking for in a defensive tackle he’s been doing in practice. And that’s why, for him, it’s carried over into the game,” he noted.

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10/1: Muschamp talks injuries, Driskel, LSU week

No. 10/11 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and a handful of players met with the media on Monday to review the team’s bye week while also previewing Saturday’s upcoming home game against the No. 4/3 LSU Tigers.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp said that junior running back Trey Burton (back), junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (concussion) are all scheduled to play against LSU.

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb), who had a surgically-inserted pin removed on Friday, will be non-contact at the beginning of the week before attempting to practice in a cast on Wednesday. He is questionable. “We’re going to see how it goes. Jelani is a tough kid, and we’ll see what he can do,” Muschamp said.

Senior Mike LB Jon Bostic said he is thrilled to have Jenkins back in the mix and hopefully back on the field come Saturday. “He helps out in pretty much every way. He’s one of those guys I’ve played next to since I’ve been here. We have that chemistry between us,” he said. “Getting the calls out, sometimes in the past couple weeks I’ve been making sure the linebackers have been on their [assignments]. With him coming back, we can kind of split the defense up where I’m going with the defensive line and he’s going with the secondary making sure everybody is on the same page.”

Finally, junior cornerback Cody Riggs (pectoral) and redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) are out and will not play.

GATORS DON’T NEED SUPERHEROES

A stance he has maintained all season, Muschamp noted again Monday that as long as his players do their job and do not try to do anything more, Florida will have a great chance to win on Saturday. This stance not only pertains to instances like the defensive front seven maintaining their rushing lanes (an adjustment UF made when coming back strong in the second half against Texas A&M) but also to sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel playing within himself throughout the game.

“I think Jeff needs to be Jeff. We don’t need any super-human effort here,” Muschamp said. “We just need to go out and execute and play our game. That’s what we plan on doing. He doesn’t need to do anything more than he’s done in the previous four weeks.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » 10/1: Muschamp talks injuries, Driskel, LSU week

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