Report: Gators set to lose Floyd, Elam to draft

According to the Palm Beach Post’s Jason Lieser, the Florida Gators are preparing for a pair of juniors – defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and safety Matt Elam – to declare for the 2013 NFL Draft but are also expecting to keep at least two other prominent third-year players.

Two sources told the paper that “[junior defensive end] Dominique Easley and [redshirt junior Will linebacker] Jelani Jenkins are coming back for their senior seasons.”

Floyd and Elam have long been considered the two likeliest juniors to turn pro after the 2013 Sugar Bowl as each is expected to be selected in the first or second round.

The Gainesville Sun‘s Pat Dooley reported on Dec. 10 that “Floyd is gone.”

Sources close to Elam have told OGGOA throughout the season that his brother, Kansas City Chiefs safety Abram Elam, will play a big part in helping decide his future. Abram has told Matt in the past that he would prefer that he stay in school unless he assured of being a first-round selection.

Easley and Jenkins may be joined for one more year of college football by redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed, who remains a “wildcard,” according to Lieser.

Dooley also reported in early December that Floyd, Elam, Jenkins and Reed submitted paperwork to be evaluated for the NFL Draft. Easley did not.

Floyd, Elam and Easley all deflected questions about their respective futures during media opportunities this week in New Orleans, LA.

The Gators have not had an underclassman declare for and get selected in the draft since cornerback Joe Haden, center Maurkice Pouncey, DE Carlos Dunlap, S Major Wright and TE Aaron Hernandez were all chosen in the first 113 picks of the 2010 NFL Draft. S Will Hill left early but went undrafted in 2011.

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12/29: Elam, Bostic, Jenkins, Brissett, Floyd

No. 3 Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and a handful of players met with the media after practice on Saturday to preview the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the No. 21 Louisville Cardinals and provide thoughts on the team heading into the game.

ELAM’S IMPORTANCE AND FUTURE

Not every team has player as passionate and tough as junior safety Matt Elam. A first-team All-American who may very well be playing his final game at Florida, he was asked on Saturday what play he will remember from the 2012 season. “Maybe the LSU game. That strip was a big play. That saved the game. That probably was the biggest play of the year,” he said.

His teammates agree. “Right after they showed that the ball did come out and they said it was our ball. That might be the play,” senior linebacker Jon Bostic noted.

Elam is Florida’s best playmaker on the defensive side of the ball but may very well be taking his talents to the next level. According to Dwyer High School head coach Jack Daniels, who spoke to the Palm Beach Post, Elam’s time in the orange and blue may be through on Wednesday. “I think he’s got his mind made up. He’s gone,” Daniels said.

Whether or not he does decide to leave, something that neither he nor the coaching staff plan to discuss until after the bowl game, he has made a huge fan out of his defensive coordinator.

“The biggest transformation to me that I’ve seen from my first year of coaching Matt to now is how physical he is. And I think that really has to stem from the time and effort that he spent in the weight room changing. He’s getting stronger,” Quinn said.

“We play him at the line of scrimmage a lot, whether it’s at safety or nickel. And I think he can blitz. He can cover. But to me the physical style he plays with is one of the things that really jumps out on your team. He can blitz. He can cover. But just the physical nature that a guy can bring to your club really is a huge advantage.”

Read the rest of what the Gators had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/29: Elam, Bostic, Jenkins, Brissett, Floyd

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12/19: Quinn and Hunter talk practice, juniors

With the team beginning preparations for the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals in New Orleans, LA on Jan. 2, No. 3 Florida Gators defensive coordinator Brent Pease and redshirt senior defensive tackle Omar Hunter sat down with the media to discuss the team’s defense and how it is shaping up for the bowl game.

FOWLER IS “SPECIAL,” POOLE IS IMPRESSING

Head coach Will Muschamp has propped up sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy all season for making great strides in his game during practices leading up to the 2012 Gator Bowl. Asked Wednesday who has made similar strides so far in these bowl practices, Quinn pointed to two players in particular.

“In the front seven, one that is really coming on that you can see is [Buck linebacker] Dante Fowler. He’s played all year. He’s playing really at a high level right now and to me you can see the momentum, the confidence and the understanding at a faster rate. That part has been exciting,” Quinn said. “On the back end, one guy that has caught my attention that is doing a good job right now is [CB] Brian Poole. I’d say those two players are really ones to me that have caught my eye, and I thought they’ve had a good camp in terms of the work and stuff they’ve put in.”

For players like Purifoy last year and Poole this year, Quinn said it is all about growth and development. Freshmen may not pick up terminology or technique in the few practices before the season begins, so the coaching staff may not have the necessary confidence in them to play them early. As the season goes on, the players are able to pick up a lot more and are then able to display the improvements they have made in bowl practices when younger players get more time on the field.

Asked to point out players that have impressed him in bowl practice, Hunter named Purifoy, Fowler, junior DT Damien Jacobs, freshman defensive end Jonathan Bullard and sophomore CB Marcus Roberson. He had plenty of praise for Fowler in particular.

“That kid’s special. He’s special. He’s what I wanted to be my freshman year. He is very special. He’s going to be a great player here. Quick, powerful guy,” Hunter said. “I think he can play inside at three-technique; I think he can play outside at the end. He can cover tight ends. He’s just a special athlete, special football player. He’s learning the system more than anything. He’s getting smarter. He’s a smarter football player than he was when he first came in. These practices [are] where the coaches can help the younger guys more because the seniors know everything.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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12/17: Muschamp on players, Sugar Bowl, Phillips

No. 3 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the last two weekends of practice, preview the 2013 Sugar Bowl and update the statuses as well as provide his thoughts about a number of players on the team.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (foot) and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Ian Silberman (shoulder) will both miss the bowl game. Each player had successful surgery on his respective injury recently but will not be able to return in time. Furthermore, redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (torn pectoral) has been doing individual work with the team but has not been cleared to play just yet. Muschamp said there are no other players expected to be absent for the bowl game, though he did mention previously that sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders would not play.

TRANSFER CONFIRMED

Muschamp confirmed that freshman defensive back Willie Bailey, a three-star recruit who did not play this season, has decided to leave the program and pursue opportunities elsewhere. “Willie Bailey has decided to transfer. He and I met last week and felt like he wanted to move on. We will support him in that,” he said.

He also noted that there should not be any more transfers before the bowl game but things could certainly change after Jan. 2. “We’re good right now. Obviously after the bowl game you sit down and evaluate where a young man is but right now we’re good to go,” Muschamp added.

RETURNING TO PRACTICE

Florida has practiced each of the last two weekends but has spent that time mostly working on fundamentals and getting back to basics. Muschamp said that the Gators will begin preparing for the Louisville Cardinals on Tuesday. Florida will then take a break for the holidays before resuming practice in New Orleans, LA, the site of the Sugar Bowl, on Dec. 27.

One thing he has tried to do since the end of the regular season is come up with a balance for the team between resting and getting away from it all but still remaining sharp football-wise.

“It’s really important for them to get away and decompress a little bit from football. You look at bowl games, with this long of a layover, it’s a one-game season. That’s how you really got to approach it,” he said. “You got to put all of your energy into it. I don’t like focusing too early on a bowl game because I think the players get too stale with the preparation. They get tired of watching the same film over and over and over again.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 12/17: Muschamp on players, Sugar Bowl, Phillips

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Sugar Bowl against Florida a well-deserved treat for “good guy” Charlie Strong

Charlie Strong and Florida Gators defense are terms that go hand-in-hand, except this time Strong will not be leading one of the best units in the country onto the field but rather trying to figure out a way to score on it.

All of that will occur in one month when Florida and Strong’s Louisville Cardinals square off in the 2013 Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2 in New Orleans, LA.

It will be one day short of exactly three years from the last time he donned orange and blue and coached the Gators’ defense against Cincinnati in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Florida allowed just three points in the first half and cruised to an impressive victory.

“We are so excited here at the University of Louisville to be playing an opponent like the University of Florida,” said Strong on Sunday after the game was announced. “I spent so many years there and I just think back; it seems like it yesterday we were in the Sugar Bowl playing Cincinnati for the last time being at the University of Florida.”

Though he is years removed from the program, Strong praised the Gators’ defense and said he watches Florida play each and every week. In fact, he still communicates with some of the players he helped recruit, most of whom are in their final seasons at UF.

“You look at the defense and you’re so familiar with the guys there, when you think about those guys,” he said. “Lerentee [McCray], he has been there forever, Omar [Hunter] and [Jelani] Jenkins, all those players, Frankie Hammond at wide receiver; and Caleb Sturgis, I thought my man was done but he’s still kicking there. You look at [Jon] Bostic and how well he’s played. Then you look at the quarterback position with [Jeff] Driskel being a dual threat where he can run and throw the ball.

“That’s an outstanding program; a program that’s built with toughness, offensive and defensive line, a very tough program. So it’s going to be an exciting matchup.”

Strong certainly seemed enthused on Sunday. His passion for the Florida program sounded as genuine as it was when he was a coordinator. He also took some time to praise the school’s administration, head coach Will Muschamp and what the Gators have accomplished so far this season.

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
Continue Reading » Sugar Bowl against Florida a well-deserved treat for “good guy” Charlie Strong

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Snell: A good ol’ backyard woodshed ass-kicking

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell has joined OGGOA as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team throughout the 2012 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

In a game that most experts predicted was going to bring the Gators back down to earth, Florida came out and once again proved all the naysayers wrong, completely dominating Florida State in the same way they did LSU and South Carolina. This was, by far, the most complete win the Gators have had in the last two seasons and probably the most satisfying, too.

The Gator Nation should give quarterback Jeff Driskel a standing ovation. Ankle sprains, whether severe or not, don’t heal in just two weeks. The training staff obviously worked Driskel over and ensured that he was ready to go on Saturday. One could tell from some of his facial expressions that the ankle (and other parts of his body later in the game) was hurting him quite a bit. That’s true guts, people. That’s one quality of a good leader. He cared more about this team and helping them win than about a bum ankle or the massive shot he took to the side of his body.

Everyone needs to come to the understanding that, at this point, the genetic makeup of this offense, especially at the QB position, is not to put up gaudy, ridiculous video game numbers. Driskel is doing what head coach Will Muschamp and in turn offensive coordinator Brent Pease have asked him to do all year: play smart and make solid gains while taking care of the ball.

This is a big reason why Florida crushed FSU and improved to 11-1 on the year. Driskel, for the most part, managed games very well and ensured his team was always in a position to win. Though he struggled against Georgia and had a costly turnover on Saturday, he also did what was necessary down the stretch to give the Gators a shot in the former game and bring them back in the latter.

He has made crisp, sound decisions, and he has not put the offense in too many situations that were impossible to dig out of. All of this and he is a true sophomore who is still learning how to play college football in his first year with a new offensive coordinator. It is crazy that people were giving him such grief at times because this young man gave you all that he had this year.

Read the rest of this edition of Snell’s Slant…after the break!
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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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