Florida Gators at No. 24 Auburn Tigers Gameday

Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium – Auburn, AL [Capacity: 87,451]
Weather Forecast: 71°F, clear, winds W at 4 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: ESPN3.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

FLORIDA GATORS (24) AUBURN TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Gene Chizik
Record: 4-2 (2-2) Record: 4-2 (2-1)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3; O/U 50.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. on the road.

Story: QB Brissett earns second start at Auburn
Notes: RB Gillislee to see increased workload, might start at Auburn

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Auburn leads the all-time series against Florida 42-38-2, and the Tigers have won consecutive contests against the Gators. However, Florida has a 7-3 record the last 10 times the teams have played, and Auburn has a 25-8-1 advantage in home games.
» Each of the last four games in the UF-AU series have been decided in the final minute; the Tigers have won three of those four contests.
» In their four victories, the Gators are outscoring opponents 54-3 in the first quarter, while in their losses they have been outscored 24-10. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of six games.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (19 seniors, 16 juniors) as they do underclassmen (34 sophomores, 33 freshmen) on the roster the season.
» Muschamp was a former graduate assistant and defensive coordinator at Auburn. Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson played with the Tigers from 1999-02 and began his coaching career as a student and graduate assistant at AU.
» The Gators had a 100-yard rusher in four-straight games to start the season, the team’s second-longest streak ever, before failing to accomplish that feat in each of the last two weeks against two of the country’s best defenses.
» Though Florida is 20-for-22 (90.9 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed six sacks through six games, making them second in the SEC team and 24th nationally allowing just one sack per contest.
» The Gators not forced a turnover in two weeks after acquiring four in their previous game and seven total over the first four weeks of the season.
» Florida’s pass defense is allowing just 176.0 yards per game, good for fourth in the SEC and 12th nationally.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» UF’s defense is 12th in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 30.8 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida is No. 11 nationally and fifth in the SEC in total defense (291.0 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 20 nationally and third in the SEC in scoring defense (19.2 points per game).
» Auburn is 9-0 in games decided by four points or less (5-0 in SEC action) under Chizik and 19-2 when leading at halftime.
» Since 2000, the Tigers are 23-4 (.852) at home in night games.
» AU has an 11-game home winning streak.
» Florida leads Auburn in three of four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Tigers in national averages of passing yards 186.3-170.7 (98th-106th), point scored 30.3-27.8 (53rd-65th) and points against 19.2-29.2 (20th-79th), while Auburn leads Florida in rushing yards 204.0-194.0 (27th-30th). The teams both defeated Florida Atlantic at home this year with UF winning 41-3 and AU earning a 30-14 victory.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida and Auburn have not squared off since 2007, when a last-second 43-yard field goal by AU kicker Wes Bynum lead the Tigers to a 20-17 upset of the No. 4 Gators at home in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Auburn handed Florida its first loss of the season (and first loss in The Swamp under Urban Meyer) while simultaneously snapping UF’s 11-game winning streak. The Tigers jumped ahead early and led 14-0 at the half. By the time the third quarter ended, the Gators were still down by 14 points, 17-3. However, consecutive touchdowns in the fourth quarter – a pass from quarterback Tim Tebow to tight end Cornelius Ingram and a rushing score by Tebow – tied the game with just over seven minutes to play. Auburn got the ball back with 3:38 remaining and drove it 35 yards down the field on 10 plays to seal the victory with Bynum’s kick.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators and Tigers will only be featured as a mention and during the picks segment on Saturday’s broadcast from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Inactive: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg), sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (neck), redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Freshman quarterback Jacoby Brissett (#17)…who will start his second one again for injured redshirt senior John Brantley (#12). Brissett, who had not played a down in his college career until he was named the starter one week ago, went 8/14 for 94 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions against LSU. Fellow freshman QB Jeff Driskel (#16) may also see time behind center. Driskel was the backup to Brantley all season but was unable to play last week due to an ankle injury.
» Junior running back Mike Gillislee (#23)…who will see extensive playing time against Auburn and may even earn a start. Gillislee led Florida in rushing last week and is third on the team with 242 yards and rushing touchdowns. He set career-highs in carries (11) and rushing yards (84) in separate games this season.
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 712 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.4 yards per carry and 15.3 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (#4)…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list with mirror image 65-yard touchdowns in each of the last two weeks. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 219 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first six games.
» Sophomore RB Trey Burton (#8)…who took many direct snaps last week after primarily serving as a receiver and running back in the team’s first five games. Burton is being used to help fill the void at the quarterback position created by Brantley’s injury.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is tied for second on the team in tackles (34) and at one point created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT). His 12 tackles against LSU one week ago marked a career high.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (23 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 8.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first six games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (42) and Jenkins (34) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has five tackles for a loss and three sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing eight games one year ago with an injured back. He is 13-for-14 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 51) and is perfect with 19 extra points, leading the Gators with 58 points scored this season. Sturgis is tied for the national lead with 13 field goals made.

AUBURN
» RB Michael Dyer (#5)…who is one of the best backs in the nation with a propensity for making game-changing plays. Dyer is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has rushed for 679 yards with eight touchdowns this season. He has run for more than 110 yards in four of six games and has scored at least one touchdown in five of six contests.
» WR Emory Blake (#80)…who is the Tigers’ position leader in receptions (19), yards (333) and touchdowns (four). Blake caught a touchdown in each of Auburn’s first four games but was held to just three receptions for 16 yards last week at South Carolina.
» Defensive end Corey Lemonier (#55)…who has registered five tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble over the last three games. He is also the team’s leader in all three categories with seven, four and two, respectively.
» Punter Steven Clark (#30)…who leads the SEC and is T-1 nationally with 20 punts downed inside the 20-yard-line this season. Clark is averaging 39.7 net yards per punt.
» QB Barrett Trotter (#14)…who started hot but has struggled as of late for the Tigers. After combining for five touchdowns and one interception in the first two games of the season, Trotter has thrown four scores and five picks in the last four contests. He has not topped 200 yards passing since the team’s season opener against Utah State and nearly lost his job after going just 6/19 for 81 yards last week.

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10/12: Quinn focuses attention on defensive line

As the Florida Gators prepare for their second-straight road game on Oct. 15 against the No. 24 Auburn Tigers, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss last week’s game and the team’s upcoming contest.

DEFENSIVE LINE NEEDS TO STEP UP, BIG TIME

If this headline looks the familiar, it should, because it is unchanged from Quinn’s meeting last week. Speaking Wednesday about the area in which the defense must show the greatest improvement going forward, Quinn admitted he was disappointed with the defensive line and how it has performed over the last two weeks. “Us and our staff take a lot of pride in the way we play run defense. Certainly when one of the things that you really are counting on to be a backbone of your core, and you don’t play the technique quite as well as you want, certainly there was some frustration there,” he said.

One player in particular – sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd – earned some praise from Quinn, though he did not offer up much for the rest of the unit. “Floyd would have been one that stood out and had a better performance than the week before. Overall one of the things we’re really emphasizing is getting our hands and getting knock backs and separation – really moving back the line of scrimmage. It’s such an important part of playing defensive line. It’s something we’ve emphasized from the time we’ve gotten here,” he said.

“As as whole unit, there may be certain guys here and there that shined to us, but it was a tough performance for all of us and not a lot to pull from to be honest with you. We didn’t single anybody out necessarily that stood out to us one way or another.”

PICKING UP POWELL

One man who was expected to be a big playmaker for Florida’s defense, sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell, has been relatively quiet the last three weeks after helping force two interceptions with his pass rush against Tennessee. Quinn on Wednesday expressed his disappointment with Powell’s production lately.

“At that position we certainly want the production to be higher,” he said. “When the rush opportunities are there, converting faster into your rush. [The] technique of edge setting when we’re playing that way. I wouldn’t say it’s one thing. It’s something we’re working on daily in practice with him. In pass rush, it’s all about our get-off with him. In the run game, the outside guy has to set the edge. It’s a daily thing with he and a lot of the guys to say how are we going to play our brand of football better.”

Quinn was quick to note that changing Powell’s position to less of a hybrid role was not under consideration at this time. “He’s in the right spot for the system. What we’re looking for at that spot is a guy who has speed and length and he certainly has those two,” he said. “For him, like a lot of our guys, it’s just a function of us playing better. The evaluation on him, like a lot of the guys, is nowhere near complete. At that position, along with others, we really need to play better.”

STOPPING OFFENSES AND CREATING TURNOVERS

The main area in which the Gators have struggled over the last two weeks has been stopping the run. Florida’s opponents put up season-high numbers against them, which is not exactly the goal going into the game. Quinn, though he praised Alabama and LSU, did not want to make excuses for the line. “We’ve faced some talented backs and some talented offensive lines. Really it says we’ve got to play a certain way. When you face a good team – whether it’s a good offensive line or a good running back – you really have to be on your technique,” he explained. “It told us, ‘This is where we are today. This is where we have to get to.’ That’s the message I gave to the club. I told them, “These are the errors we made. This is how we’re going to play.’ And we’re working hard to getting back to the style we want to play.”

Quinn also spoke about the team’s inability to get off the field on third downs and how the Gators have been unable to secure a single takeaway in their consecutive losses. “It’s our job to stop them. Some of the times for the long drives we missed a critical third down where maybe we could have got off the field,” he said. “We’re firefighters and let’s go put out the fire. If it’s third down, we got to get off the field. If we didn’t stop it, we had to go another series, then it’s on us to get it stopped and really get the ball. That’s one of the things we’ve been most disappointed about the last few weeks – not creating opportunities for the offense. Zero takeaways for us is really hard to swallow. It’s something we’re working hard at.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Quinn said that an eight-man rotation on the defensive line is optimal.

» On how the linebacker rotation will change with Dee Finley transferring: “Certainly Mike Taylor is the top backup inside behind Jon [Bostic] and Jelani [Jenkins]. We’re kind of working in as we have been the last few weeks Graham Stewart and Juice Johnson.“

» On Finley transferring: “I wish him the best.”

» On preparing for an up-tempo offense like Auburn’s: “It’s not uncommon at times, when you have to prepare for a team that could do some tempo to use two huddles. When a group of five guys go out, maybe the offensive line stays the same and maybe a different set of running backs and receivers comes in. That’s one way to simulate the speed. Certainly our offense has the ability to go in and out of that system as well. For us, being able to go against our offense or try to simulate it in practice was really a critical part of our preparation this week.”

» On how the team has prepared for Auburn’s offense: “The scout guys had a really critical role in this to watch tape together and see how fast the action went. How fast you have to get back to the line of scrimmage. That was really an important part of it.”

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Update: Gators LB Dee Finley will transfer

Florida Gators redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley has decided to transfer to another school, the University of Florida officially announced on Wednesday.

“Dee has decided that he would like to pursue other opportunities,” head coach Will Muschamp said in a release. “We wish him the best of luck and we appreciate his time at Florida.”

A four-star defensive back coming out of high school who transferred to the Milford Academy for a year in order to improve his grades and qualify to enroll at UF, Finley was moved to linebacker upon joining the team in 2009.

He appeared in 14 games in his first two seasons, playing in 10 as a freshman but only four as a sophomore. Finley fractured his collarbone against LSU in 2010 and was forced to miss the remainder of the season.

Muschamp praised Finley as a “solid” linebacker and “outstanding” special teamer in the spring, but he has not played much in 2011, slotted as the reserve Will linebacker behind redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins

Finley had played in five of the Gators’ six games this year but has only registered four tackles. He missed one game while serving a suspension after being arrested for driving with a suspended license and resisting arrest without violence.

“Although I’ve enjoyed my time here at Florida, I think it’s best for me to move on and get a fresh start somewhere else,” Finley said in the same release. “I plan on finishing the semester here and concentrating on my academics.”

Finley is the seventh player to leave Florida since Muschamp took over the team. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was dismissed following two marijuana rests in less than 90 days. Defensive end Chris Martin, wide receiver Chris Dunkley, WR Javares McRoy, running back Mike Blakely and tight end Michael McFarland transferred.

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No. 17 Florida Gators at No. 1 LSU Gameday

Location: Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, LA [Capacity: 92,542]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, mostly sunny, winds E-SE at 14 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET) [3:39 p.m. kickoff]

TV: CBS/CBSHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(17/18) FLORIDA GATORS (1/2) LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Les Miles
Record: 4-1 (2-1) Record: 5-0 (2-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: LSU -14; O/U 42.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against LSU 30-24-3 and is 6-5 against the Tigers since 2000. The Gators are also 16-13 all-time in Baton Rouge (4-2 since 1999).
» Muschamp was a former defensive coordinator at LSU under now Alabama head coach Nick Saban, while Tigers passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales coached Florida’s pass catchers from 2005-09.
» Miles is 3-3 in his career against the Gators.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 64-13 in the first quarter and 106-44 in the first half this season. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of five games.
» Florida ran the ball for 15 net yards on Saturday after the Gators rushed for 405 yards the week before, the sixth-best single-game performance in team history and the most since 1989. The team had a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive games, its second-longest streak ever, before failing to accomplish that feat against Alabama.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed five sacks through five games, making them second in the SEC team and tied for 20th nationally allowing just one sack per contest.
» Though Florida is 19-for-21 (90.4 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» Florida did not acquire a single turnover against Alabama after forcing four in their previous game and seven total over the prior three weeks.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» UF’s defense is six in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 27.7 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida is No. 7 nationally and second in the SEC in total defense (258.6 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 13 nationally and third in the SEC in scoring defense (14.8 points per game).
» LSU is the only team in the nation with three victories over ranked opponents; they are looking for their second-straight 6-0 start to a season.
» The Tigers have won 13-straight games in their home stadium. LSU’s last loss in Baton Rouge was to Florida, 13-3 in 2009. They are also 4-0 against the SEC East since.
» LSU’s defense has held opponents without a touchdown in 15-of-20 quarters played.
» The Tigers have forced 12 turnovers in 2011 and have converted 75 percent of those into points (eight touchdowns, one field goal). They lead the SEC and are No. 4 nationally in turnover margin at +1.8 per game.
» LSU’s run defense has not allowed a rush of more than 17 years, and the Tigers have allowed just 13 rushing plays of 10 yards or more.
» Florida and LSU are split down the middle when it comes to the four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Crimson Tide in national averages of rushing yards 210.2-172.6 (21st-48th) and passing yards 203.6-177.0 (86th-100th), while LSU leads Florida in points scored 38.0-34.2 (18th-37th) and points against 12.8-14.8 (9th-13th). The teams both defeated Kentucky this year with UF winning 48-10 on the road and LSU earning the victory 35-7 at home.

LAST TIME OUT

Like this year, Florida started the 2010 season 4-0 before being routed by Alabama one week prior to taking on LSU. The Gators returned home to The Swamp and stuck around with the Tigers all night long, leading 29-26 with more than three minutes to play after Andre Debose returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown and Mike Gillislee ran for a score late in the fourth quarter. LSU engineered a crazy final stand, using a fake field goal to continue their drive and end it with a three-yard passing touchdown with just six seconds remaining in the game. The Tigers accumulated 142 more yards in the game (70 more through the air and 72 additional yards on the ground) , and Jordan Jefferson scored twice on the ground while Jarrett Lee threw two touchdowns to Terrance Toliver.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators will be featured during Saturday’s broadcast from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Because the Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country and the game is at LSU, the focus will primarily be on them with video packages and discussions about the team. Andrews interviewed both Les Miles and Tyrann Mathieu this week. There will be talk about Florida’s quarterback situation and, of course, the three hosts along with a guest picker will make their selections as to who will win the game.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Inactive: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg)
» Unknown: Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Freshman quarterbacks Jeff Driskel (#16) and Jacoby Brissett (#17)…either of whom would start their first career game in one of the most hostile environments in college football. Driskel, who has been the backup all season and has gone 7/16 for 73 yards with two interceptions, is expected to start but may be replaced by Brissett due to a bum ankle. Brissett has not seen action during the regular season and did not participate in the team’s spring game either as he was still in high school at the time.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 661 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 17.6 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 8.8 yards per carry so far this year including a career-high 157 two weeks ago. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps now has 324 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (10) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list after posting a 65-yard touchdown last week on the first play of the game. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 154 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first five games.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is third on the team in tackles (22) and created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT) before failing to do so last week.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (22 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first five games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (29) and Jenkins (26) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has four tackles for a loss and two sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 2.0 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has 13 tackles on the season including two for losses.
» Redshirt junior Sam LB Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is third on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two three breakups and three QB hurries on the season.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is 12-for-13 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 51) and perfect with 19 extra points, leading the Gators with 55 points scored this season.

LSU
» CB Tyrann Mathieu (#7)…who is one of the most feared defenders in the nation this season due to his propensity for making game-changing plays. Mathieu leads the SEC in forced fumbles (four) and fumble recoveries (three). He also nabbed an interception this season, scored two defensive touchdowns and leads his team in tackles (35).
» QB Jarrett Lee (#12)…who torched UF for two touchdowns in 2010. He has thrown for 793 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception in 2011 but is only completing 59.3 percent of his passes.
» QB Jordan Jefferson (#9)…who returned to action last week after missing the first four games due to suspension. Jefferson rushed for two scores against Florida in 2010 and is expected to be mixed into LSU’s offense this week.
» RBs Spencer Ware (#11) and Michael Ford (#42)…who have combined for 625 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Ware is the more powerful of the two, while Ford is elusive and averaging more yards per carry on fewer touches each game.

CBS SPORTS VIDEO PREVIEW

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#12 Florida Gators vs. #2 Alabama Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 68°F, clear, winds N-NW at 6 mph
Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
SiriusXM: 220/199
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(12) FLORIDA GATORS (2/3) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 4-0 (2-0) Record: 4-0 (1-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Alabama -4.5; O/U 44

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 22-14 and is 5-2 against UF dating back to 1999. The Crimson Tide defeated the Gators in the 2009 SEC Championship game (32-13) and during the 2010 regular season (31-6).
» Florida achieved more turnovers vs. Kentucky (two interceptions, two fumbles) than they did in their first three games combined (two interceptions, one fumble).
» The Gators’ 405 rushing yards last week was the sixth-best single-game performance in team history and the most the team has accounted for since 1989.
» Muschamp, Saban and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart all worked together when Saban was head coach of LSU from 2001-04. Muschamp, Saban, Smart, Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and UA tight ends/special teams coach Bobby Williams all worked under Saban with the Miami Dolphins during his short tenure (2005-06). Muschamp and Smart previously worked together at Valdosta State in 2000.
» Saban is 4-4 in his career against UF.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida’s offense has been impressive early this season with only six three-and-outs in 52 total offensive drives and only 11 punts in four games.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed two sacks this year, making them the only SEC team to give up two or fewer sacks and one of seven teams nationally to average fewer than 0.5 sacks per game.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» Florida is fifth nationally and third in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing just 56.5 yards per game. Alabama is third nationally and first in the SEC in the same category, allowing just 45.75 yards per game.
» Conversely, the Gators and Crimson Tide are 1-2 in the SEC and 9-19 nationally in rushing offense with 259.0 and 230.75 yards per game, respectively.
» Florida has had a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive games, the team’s second-longest streak ever. One more game of 100+ rushing yards would tie the school record streak of five games first set in 1999.
» Though the Gators are 18-for-19 (94.7 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» UF’s defense has only allowed three first-quarter points through our games.
» Florida is No. 4 nationally in scoring defense (9.0 points per game) and No. 5 in total defense (231.8 yards per game); however, Alabama is No. 2 nationally in both scoring defense (8.0 points per game) and total defense (184.0 yards per game).
» The Gators have blocked a total of two punts in four games so far this season.
» Florida has made 16-straight field goals dating back to the 2010 season, which is the third-longest streak in school history and the longest active streak in the nation. Two more made field goals will give the team its second-longest streak ever behind 28-straight makes from 1984-85.
» The Crimson Tide have the second-most wins (40) since 2008, two more than the Gators (38) in that same period of time.
» Alabama is returning 19 starters and 51 lettermen from its 2010 team.
» The Crimson Tide’s defense has surrendered just 47 first downs through four games while holding opponents to 30.43 percent (21-of-69) on third-down conversion attempts.
» Florida and Alabama are split down the middle when it comes to the four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Crimson Tide in national averages of rushing yards 259.0-230.8 (9th-19th) and points scored 40.3-38.5 (15th-21st), while Alabama leads Florida in passing 225.3-202.8 (64th-79th) and points against 8.0-9.0 (2nd-4th). The teams have not played a common opponent this season.

LAST TIME OUT

After starting out the 2010 season with a 4-0 record, Florida was brought back down to earth when Alabama trounced them 31-6 in Tuscaloosa, AL. The Gators turned the ball over four times in the contest but otherwise held even with their opponent in yards gained and time of possession, snapping their 24-game regular season winning streak as the Crimson Tide rushed for 170 yards including 63 from Trent Richardson and 47 along with two touchdowns from Mark Ingram. Florida’s John Brantley threw two interceptions in the game and fumbled the ball on Alabama’s one-yard-line in the third quarter, negating any chance of a late UF comeback.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators will be prominently featured during Saturday’s broadcast. There will be a live interview with Muschamp, and former head coach Urban Meyer will also be live on the program speaking about the Florida-Alabama match-up. The three hosts and guest picker Jerry Ferrara (Turtle from Entourage) will make their selections as to who will win the game, and there will also be an entire segment about the game.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Active: Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (lower body), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee)
» To be determined: Redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail (performance)

ALABAMA
» Inactive: Starting LB C.J. Mosely (elbow)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 64.0 percent of his passes (55-of-86) this season for 752 yards and four touchdowns but also threw two interceptions in the season opener against Florida Atlantic. Brantley turned the ball over three time in last year’s loss against Alabama.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 625 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and 19.5 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He has also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 9.4 yards per carry so far this year including a career-high 157 last week. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps now has 320 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (nine) and fifth-most receiving yards (70) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Sophomore “RB” Trey Burton (#8)…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver. He has already scored four touchdowns this season and has totaled 135 yards on 22 total touches.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is tied for second on the Gators in tackles (17) and has created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble, interception, interception).
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (21 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first four games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (26) and Jenkins (17) have eached excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has three tackles for a loss and two sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 2.0 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has nine tackles on the season including two for losses.
» Redshirt junior Sam LB Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is second on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two pass breakups and eight total tackles.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on 11 field goal attempts (long: 51) and 18 extra points, leading the nation in both categories while leading the Gators with 51 points scored this season.

ALABAMA
» RB Trent Richardson (#3)…who is one of the best players at his position in the nation and is averaging 6.6 yards per carry this season. Richardson has rushed for at least 111 yards in three-straight games and started the season with eight rushing touchdowns through three contests.
» RB Eddie Lacy (#42)…who is Richardon’s back-up but is playing just as well this year. Lacy is averaging 8.9 yards per rush and has four touchdowns on the ground this year. He has only carried the ball 41 times but has amassed 365 yards already this year.
» QB A.J. McCarron (#10)…who (like Brantley) has thrown four touchdowns this season but posted two interception in Alabama’s season opener against Kent State. McCarron is completing 66.3 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns last week against Arkansas in his best performance of the young season.
» WR Marquis Maze (#4)…who is the Crimson Tide’s leading receiver but has fallen relatively silent over the last few weeks. Maze posted 118 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions in the season opener but has caught 12 balls for just 108 yards since. He is also the team’s punt returner and already brought back one for a score this year.
» LB Dont’a Hightower (#30)…who is one of the most feared defenders in college football this year. He is his team’s leading tackler with 25 on the season (4.5 for loss) and will be charged with ensuring Florida’s running backs do not reach the second level.

CBS SPORTS VIDEO PREVIEW

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9/27: Harrison, Hunter, McCray and Burton speak

With the No. 12 Florida Gators preparing for their biggest game of the 2011 season thus far, four prominent players were made available to the media on Tuesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide on Oct. 1 at 8:00 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

EACH OPPONENT IS “NAMELESS/FACELESS”

Unlike former head coach Urban Meyer, who made it a point to build up rivalries and big games in the locker room, head coach Will Muschamp prefers his players look at each opponent as one who is “nameless [and] faceless.”

His players follow that mantra every time they speak, and redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison explained Tuesday exactly why. “That’s just how we approach every game,” he said. “[Muschamp] says it to the whole team every meeting.”

Why exactly? “It just keeps us focused on the assignments and the football concepts in general,” he said. “Florida is focused on Florida. We’re about completing the season, winning the next game.”

Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray said that the anonymous designation does not change how psyched up the players get for the more important games. “It doesn’t really take away from big games,” he said. “Coach stressed the fact from day one that we’re going to play the first opponent as if it was the SEC Championship game. ‘Play every game like the best game.’”

BOSTIC AND JENKINS ARE MATURING

If the Gators hope to beat the nameless/faceless opponent that we’ll refer to as the Crimson Tide for the sake of brevity, the defense will be counted on to stop one of the best running backs in the country in Trent Richardson. The onus of that task will start with the defensive line but be shared by junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins, a pair of linebackers who have stepped up big time so far this season.

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter believes the duo’s increased maturity is the main reason for their impressive starts. “They’ve grown up so much. They’re able to call up the huddle and lead guys where as it used to be a defensive lineman [doing so],” he said. “They’re two great athletes. They work hard every day in practice perfecting their craft and it’s really paying off for them right now.”

Bostic and Jenkins (who is tied with sophomore safety Matt Elam) currently lead Florida in tackles with 26 and 17, respectively. The duo has combined for three sacks and five tackles for loss, while Bostic has added a forced fumble and Jenkins has four pass breakups (all which could have been interceptions).

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Hunter on the defense coming together: “The offseason program that [Mickey Marotti] put us through made us come together so close, that’s paying off right now. You can see it as a defense. We’re all starting to come together a lot more now.”

» Hunter on playing on defense in The Swamp: “It’s so loud. Sometimes it’s so loud we can’t even hear each other out there so we can’t communicate. We love it though. It gets you fired up.”

» Hunter on redshirt senior Jaye Howard’s fumble catch and return for touchdown: “He has the worst hands on the team.” What about Jenkins? “[Laughing while revising his statement] Second worst hands on the team.”

» Sophomore running back Trey Burton on if he’s excited to play Alabama: “This is why you come to Florida. That’s why they go to Alabama. That’s why we come to Florida. To play in big games like this.”

» Burton on learning from offensive coordinator Charlie Weis: “It’s unbelievable. He’s unbelievably smart and a great coach. You see it every week.”

» Burton on how Weis is tough on the players during the week: “He’s all over us during practice and stuff. He just wants us to be perfect. He’ll yell at you but he won’t make it obvious he’s yelling at you. He’ll bring you aside and talk to you about it instead of screaming at you. He’s a really, really nice guy.”

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9/26: Will Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp and a few players meet with the media each Monday to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availability.

OPENING STATEMENT AND PLAYER AWARDS

Muschamp began his portion of the press conference by commending Florida for a terrific team effort against Kentucky and recapping Saturday’s game.

“[It was the] first road win for us. A SEC victory is always important,” he said. “I felt like offensively when you rush the ball for 400 plus yards that’s always exciting. Two guys went over 100 yards in Jeff [Demps] and Chris [Rainey] but really blocked well up front, played very physical on the line of scrimmage. [We] had a 99-yard drive to be able to flip the field, come off the goal line, obviously the 84-yard run was huge by Jeff. It was well blocked. Our downfield blocking was outstanding in finishing some runs. That’s really what creates explosive runs for you. Defensively we affected the quarterback. We stopped the run. We were 82 percent on third down which is critical on getting off the field. We created four turnovers and had three fourth down stops, which we count as a turnover situation.”

He also handed out his weekly awards, which can be found below along with honors that one Florida player received from the Southeastern Conference:

Offensive Player of the Game: Senior running back Jeff Demps
Scrap Iron Award (best OL): Redshirt sophomore tackle Kyle Koehne
Big Play Award: Redshirt freshman tight end Gerald Christian (45-yard touchdown)
Extra Effort Award: Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey (blocking)
Defensive Player of the Game: Junior linebacker Jon Bostic
Hard Hat Award: Junior safety Josh Evans
Ball Hawk Award: Sophomore S Matt Elam, redshirt freshman LB Michael Taylor, redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard, redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter, redshirt sophomore LB Jelani Jenkins
Special Teams Players of the Week: Freshman LB Chris Johnson (coverage)
Scout Team Players of the Week: James Wilson, Mike McNeely, Scott Peek

Howard was also named the SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

WEEKLY INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), who has yet to play in 2011, will be the only player out of action for Saturday’s game against Alabama. Redshirt sophomores TE Jordan Reed and wide receiver Andre Debose – both of whom traveled to Kentucky but did not suit up for the game – are healthy and able to return to the field.

Apparently injured on Saturday, redshirt sophomore right guard Jon Halapio is “good” and feeling better, according to Muschamp. Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley also appeared to get dinged up but he said all he felt Monday was some soreness. “I feel good. I took a couple shots bu that happens in football,” he said.

ADVICE FOR ALABAMA DEFENDING DEMPS AND RAINEY

Between Demps and Rainey alone, the Gators rushed for nearly 300 yards on Saturday. Asked how he would negate the speedsters if he was the opposition’s defensive coordinator, Muschamp offered his honest thoughts on the subject.

“I don’t have to, so that’s a good thing,” he joked. “I don’t think there’s one answer for that. That’s something that could take a long time to really talk about. Obviously you’ve got to gain the edges, but we do run the inside zone and some different things that are off-tackle and inside plays. It’s not like it’s only a perimeter run game. You got to get speed on the field.

“Do you match up in nickel or do you match up big people? It’s a little bit of a ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’ so to speak as far as what you want to do defensively and what you want to try to take away. I don’t know all the answers to that. That’s not something I spend a lot of time worrying about as far as our preparation is concerned. You got to look at those two guys and understand they’re doing a lot of things well as far as running, blocking and catching the ball. When you’re talking in terms of defending them, something that has got to hang in your mind is that one missed tackle is pretty costly.”

DOWNFIELD BLOCKING CREATES EXPLOSIVE PLAYS

Rainey’s reverse-field 27-yard run that brought the ball down to Kentucky’s goal line was one of the highlights of the evening. Watching the tape on Sunday, Muschamp said he was glad Rainey’s a Gator and explained that his “great vision” is what “keeps plays alive.” That and the downfield blocking by the receivers and offensive linemen.

“We always talk in terms of our extra effort award on offense is generally some type of downfield blocking. It’s been going to a wideout or an offensive linemen and this week Chris. That’s something that we really talk about because generally explosive runs are created by some sort of downfield blocking on a secondary defender or a linebacker trying to finish a play,” he explained.

“Our players understand the importance of that and they understand the importance of explosive plays. How do those happen? Generally in the run game they happen because of some downfield blocking. They all complement each other very well as far as players are concerned in blocking for each other. It’s part of what we’re preaching as a football team. Be unselfish – don’t be a selfish player. In doing so, that shows a lot of unselfishness as far as our players are concerned.”

One player had a slightly different take on Rainey’s play. “It’s magic. That’s all you can say. I’ve seen him do crazier things than that [in practice],” Jenkins said.

MUSCHAMP’s ENERGY “GETS THE PEOPLE GOING”

Anyone who has watched Muschamp on the sideline this year (or in the past) has obviously noticed how emotional he can be at any given time. Discussing whether or not his players feed off that emotion, Muschamp was unsure but said it did not matter much. “I’m going to be who I am. If it’s working and it’s good than I think it’s good,” he said. “If it’s not then we’ll change and do something different. It’s about being who you are. The worst thing you can do in a leadership position is try to be somebody you’re not.”

Sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd somewhat agreed with Muschamp’s explanation, noting that every player is different. “A good group of us feed off of Coach Muschamp’s emotion. We love it. It gets us going. It wakes us up. It’s amazing to me, actually, watching him pour his emotions out on game day and throughout the week,” he said.

Agreeing with Floyd’s assessment is Jenkins, who believes Muschamp “has the ability to get his team really fired up about going out there and playing,” something that makes him “really enjoy going out there and playing full speed for him.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp was asked if his relationship with Saban is like a “master vs. padawan” thing, a reference about Star Wars. Confused by the reference, Muschamp quipped: “What’s a ‘padawan?’ Huh? I watched Star Wars one and after that I watched Empire Strikes Back. I ain’t see nothing after that. I don’t know what a padawan is. You didn’t call me a bad name, did you? I don’t speak French either.”

» Muschamp on Florida’s three offensive turnovers: “I credit Kentucky there before the half with the nice play on their defensive back. Well-thrown ball by Jeff [Driskel] caught by Frankie [Hammond] – it’s a tough one to hold on to. That was a nice play by Kentucky. The other one we got to have better ball security in the pocket and protection with Jeff. And then Mike [Gillislee] there he’s got to keep that ball high and tight.”

» Muschamp on if his emotional nature ever clashed with Saban: “We’re both intense guys.”

» Muschamp on how the team’s depth at linebacker is doing: “I think Mike [Taylor]’s done some nice things for us in his opportunities. Obviously he was very productive the other night. We’ve got to continue to play better behind that. Dee Finley, Graham Stewart and Chris Johnson [and Darrin Kitchens] have all been guys who have got some opportunities. All of those guys need to continue to progress in order to give us some quality snaps.”

» Muschamp on the recruiting implications of Florida-Alabama: “To me a young man who makes a decision to go to college is not based on one game. It’s going to be based on a body of work – academically, athletically, socially, support system…”

» Muschamp on if the atmosphere will be intense on Saturday: “I hope – I’m sure it’s going to be loud. We got the best fans in the country, so I know they’re going to be excited.”

» Muschamp on how Christian has done in place of Reed: “Very well. Caught the vertical route there down the middle. Very pleased with that. Thought he blocked well. He did a really nice job in the pass game, had a critical third-down conversion coming off their goal line when we were backed up there. I’m very, very pleased with Gerald’s production.”

» Muschamp on Christian temporarily switching positions in the spring: “Gerald’s very intelligent. He can handle a lot. We would not have asked a player to do that who maybe couldn’t have handled it. The bottom line is, the best thing for our football team was for him to play tight end. He plays a little bit of what we play the F – a move position when we’re in 12 personnel – and the on-the-line tight end. He plays two positions offensively and there […] are different assignments on different plays based on what he’s doing. He handles all that very well.”

» Muschamp on how getting Reed back helps the team: “Vertical passing game, he’s a guy that can stretch the field. He’s a guy that blocks well at the point of attack. He’s also a guy that you’ve got to account for in the passing game. He’s an accomplished receiver.”

» Floyd on the importance of the defensive line’s play on Saturday: “I feel like every game we come across it’s going to be defined [by] how we play up front. A lot of teams want to run on us, a lot of teams want to run, so we got to defend the run before we can defend the pass.”

» Easley on being a unique character on- and off-the-field: “I just try to have fun. That’s how I get in my zone, just dancing, that’s how I just have my fun.”

» Easley on what he does that is “wacky” and if Muschamp’s intensity allows him to “get away with” his antics: “To me? Nothing. A lot of people say the Chucky doll is ‘wacky.’ […] It’s not really me getting away with it. It’s just who I am. I’m just really different.”

Brantley on Muschamp putting less of an emphasis on rivalry games than Urban Meyer did: “There’s certain games that bring the intensity. They mean the same on the schedule – a win’s a win. Different games bring different intensities, but we try to be as intense from game one to game 10.”

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No. 15 Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Gameday

Location: Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 67,942]
Weather Forecast: 67°F, partly cloudy, winds 5 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 217/200
Online Video: ESPN3
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(15) FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Joker Phillips
Record: 3-0 (1-0) Record: 2-1 (0-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -20; O/U 44

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Kentucky 44-17 and has won 24-straight contests including 11-in-a-row in games played in Lexington dating back to 1988. UF is also 30-1 against UK since 1980.
» The Gators achieved more turnovers (two interceptions) against Tennessee than they did in their first two games combined (one fumble).
» Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis (of Florida) and co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter (of Kentucky) served on the same staff when Weis was head coach of Notre Dame.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida’s offense has been impressive early this season with only three three-and-outs in 35 total offensive drives and only six punts in three games.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed one sack this year, making them the only SEC team and one of six nationally to accomplish that feat through two three.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (307) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (70) since 2008.
» Though Florida is 15-for-16 (93.8 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on nine of those opportunities.
» Teams are averaging just 1.2 yards per carry against Florida’s defense this season. The Gators are first in the country, allowing just 30.7 rushing yards per game, and are one of six teams in the nation that have not allowed a rushing score in 2011.
» Florida is No. 6 nationally in scoring defense (8.67 points per game) and No. 7 in total defense (209.33 yards per game).
» The Gators’ defense has only allowed 7-of-25 (20 percent) third-down conversion attempts to be achieved against them over the first three games.
» UF has blocked a total of two punts in three games so far this season.
» Saturday’s game is Kentucky’s SEC opener for 2011.
» The Wildcats upset then-No. 10 South Carolina last season at home.
» Kentucky is 5-0 under Phillips in games that they win the turnover margin.
» The Wildcats are 11th nationally in net punting, allowing 42.1 net yards per punt.
» UK has forced six turnovers in their first three games – all interceptions.
» Though it is early in the season, Florida is head and shoulders above Kentucky in national averages heading into Saturday’s contest. The Gators top the Wildcats in passing average 232.0-155.3 (58th-108th), rushing average 210.3-119.3 (30th-91st), points scored 37.7-19.3 (27th-100th) and points against 8.7-13.3 (6th-18th). The teams have not played a common opponent this season.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida may have started the 2010 season slow, but they still took it to Kentucky with a dominant 48-14 victory at home in Gainesville, FL. Quarterback Trey Burton scored a school record six-touchdowns as Florida helped Urban Meyer become the sixth-fastest head coach in NCAA history to reach 100 career victories. The Gators also had a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jeremy Brown in the second quarter and saw starting QB John Brantley throw for a career-high 248 yards on 24-of-35 passing.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators will not be featured on Saturday morning’s edition of ESPN‘s College GameDay, though former dazzler and current reporter Erin Andrews will host the 9 a.m. version and make an appearance on the primary program beginning at 10 a.m. Florida is one of two sites (the other being Madison, WI) expected to be in contention to host next week’s College GameDay. The Gators will take on Alabama on Oct. 1.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

» Active: Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (suspension)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (lower body), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown), redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail (performance)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 65.3 percent of his passes (47-of-72) this season for 637 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two interceptions in the opener. Brantley had a career-high 248 yards last year vs. Kentucky.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 520 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 19.5 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 6.8 yards per carry so far this year including 105 in the season opener. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps returned Saturday against Tennessee and now has 163 yards and two touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (eight) and fourth-most receiving yards (68) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Sophomore “RB” Trey Burton (#8)…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver. He has already scored three touchdowns this season and has totaled 98 yards on 15 total touches.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary and moved into a starting role. He has the second-most tackles on the team with 13 including a career-high seven and his first forced fumble against UAB.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (20 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) throught he first three games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who have combined for 29 tackles. Bostic, the leading tackler on the team, has already registered three for a loss, and Jenkins has accounted for four pass breakups already this season. Each player also has a sack.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 1.5 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has seven tackles on the season including 1.5 for losses.
» Redshirt junior defensive end Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is the team leader in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two pass breakups and seven total tackles.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on nine field goal attempts (long: 51) and 12 extra points, leading the nation in both categories while leading the Gators with 39 points scored this season.

KENTUCKY
» WR La’Rod King (#16)…who leads the team with 226 yards and three touchdowns and achieved the first 100-yard game of his career this year against Central Michigan.
» QB Morgan Newton (#12)…who set career-highs against Louisville by going 27-of-41 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He has completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 466 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions over the first three games.
» S Winston Guy, Jr. (#21)…who is the second-leading tackler on the team with 30 (four for losses) but leads the Wildcats with two interceptions and a sack on the year.
» RB Josh Clemons (#20)…who is a freshman leading rusher with 193 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. He posted a career-high 128 yards against Central Michigan and combined for just 67 yards on 23 carries in the other two contests.

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