1/13: Will Muschamp updates the Florida Gators’ major injuries, talks plans for offseason and 2014

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday for the first time since the conclusion of the 2013 season in which his team finished 4-8. Muschamp updated the team’s injuries and provided some thoughts about a number of subjects.

Additional information about Florida’s offense, the three new members of its coaching staff and the Gators’ nine early enrollees will be published in subsequent posts.

CLOSING STATEMENT

“You are what your record is. I’m a 4-8 coach and we’ve got a 4-8 ball club. We need to work hard to get better and improve in every facet.”

INJURY UPDATES FOR SPRING PRACTICE

» Redshirt sophomore running back Matt Jones: “He had a radial tear of the meniscus, which basically splits the meniscus in half. … Generally, when you have a radial tear, one of two things you try and mend the meniscus back where you take it out and create a bone on bone situation, which, for a running back, is not good. In the first operation, our orthopedics put 60 percent back, which is very good. We’re very optimistic about the meniscus being fine. We’re going to go back and build the quad back and then we’re going to come back in three to four weeks to have a scope to repair the remaining 40 percent. And our orthopedics feel very confident that they’re going to be able to do so. But it is a little more lengthy. When you hear a ‘meniscus,’ you feel, ‘OK, it’s just a meniscus.’ You go in and reattach it and it’s fine. But this was torn all the way through. It’s a little more serious than a regular meniscus. He will miss spring; we feel like he’ll be ready to go for summer.”

» Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (broken fibula): “We did bump back spring [practice] about 10 days or so, which [he] should be fine. His rehab is coming very well.”

» Redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (torn ACL): “He is doing well with the ACL, but he probably won’t be in any contact drills.”

» Redshirt junior offensive tackle Tyler Moore (elbow): “Tyler Moore should be fine for spring. He has another X-ray in about 2-3 weeks that will tell us more about when he will be clear for contact, but he should be fine for spring.

» Second-year linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder), Jeremi Powell (torn ACL) and Matt Rolin (torn ACL): “[All three] will be out. Rehab is going very well.”

» Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Octavius Jackson (shoulder): “Octavius Jackson had shoulder surgery on a chronic shoulder. We’ll know more about his future in the coming weeks. He’s having some issues there with his shoulder.”

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11/13: Muschamp and Spurrier talk Florida-South Carolina, mutual respect; Murphy injury update

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team heading into Saturday’s game against the South Carolina Gamecocks and head coach Steve Spurrier.

INJURY UPDATES

While sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) has already been ruled out of Saturday’s game, Muschamp said redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) and junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) remain day-to-day. Neither Murphy nor Roberson has practice this week as of press time.

Asked if Murphy’s shoulder was more seriously injured than it had been, Muschamp explained that nothing is torn but the player did experience some swelling and discomfort coming out of the last game. Florida did not think Murphy would start against Missouri, but he felt good enough at the start of the game and wound up playing. The same may happen this week, but he will have to see some practice time first.

Muschamp also said linebacker sophomore Antonio Morrison (torn meniscus) and freshman Jeremi Powell (torn ACL) were going under the knife Wednesday with Morrison’s surgery already completed. He will likely be out 2-3 months and back in time for spring practice.

MUTUAL RESPECT

Squaring off against Spurrier for the third time as coach of the Gators, Muschamp once again reiterated how much he respects the guy who helped build Florida football.

“I admire the job that he’s done as a head coach, period,” he said. “What he’s did and accomplished here at Florida in his 12 years and then the job he did at South Carolina and then the job he did at Duke and the Tampa Bay Bandits and the list goes on. He’s done it the right way, too. He does things the right way, does things first-class. He handles things the right way and I just have a lot of respect for the man.”

Spurrier shared a similar sentiment about Muschamp, saying the two have a good relationship and he very much respects how Muschamp is running the Gators.

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11/11: Muschamp on Murphy’s injury, fixing Gators

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 34-17 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores and upcoming road contest against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Nov. 16. The homecoming contest will kick off at 7:00 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

BIG NAME LEADS LIST OF INJURED GATORS

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy has been dealing with a shoulder injury since the LSU game but has yet to miss a start. Muschamp announced Monday that Murphy will not practice Monday or Tuesday but should be back out on the field Wednesday.

The player admitted later Monday that he would not be able to play if the game was that day, noting that the injury was aggravated – and potentially worsened – by getting hit in and falling on his shoulder multiple times against Vanderbilt.

“I’m missing Monday and possibly Tuesday,” Murphy said. “I need all the practice I can get. It’s just frustrating, being banged up a little bit, I have to sit out and try to get healthy. I’m just going to live in the training room and get healthy and try to get out there as soon as possible.”

There are rumors circulating that Murphy’s injury is worse than is being let on by the coaching staff, but to put that chatter in proper perspective, what exactly would Florida – a two-touchdown underdog to South Carolina – have to gain by lying about a season-ending injury the same day one is announced for another starter.

“It’s more of a day-to-day thing,” Murphy said about his ailment. “I’m just trying to get healthy so I can get back out there and try to contribute to helping this team.”

Muschamp also announced Monday that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) will miss two days of practice but should return Wednesday. Freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell (knee) is scheduled for surgery this week, and sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL) is doubtful for Saturday.

“He’ll be back this season, just based on the injury report this morning he’s doubtful for this weekend,” Muschamp said. “He can get into a stance and move and stuff, he just can’t press off of it right now. He’ll play [again] before the year is out.”

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10/23: Muschamp talks injuries, state of Gators, confidence in staff, running Kelvin Taylor

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spoke twice on Wednesday, making his scheduled appearance on the Southeastern Conference‘s coaches teleconference before sitting down with the media for the only time during his team’s off week.

INJURY UPDATES

Florida lost another player for the season, Muschamp announced, as freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a non-contact situation during the Missouri game while on the field with the punt block unit. He is the eighth player the Gators have lost for the season, four of which have gone down with ACL injuries. “He’s a guy who was really emerging, special teams-wise. He did a great job on kickoff for us and on special teams, was really playing well,” Muschamp said.

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, who played Saturday with an injured shoulder after not practicing most of the week, will be held out of practice all week but “will start throwing again next week [and] should be fine” to start against Georgia.

Similar precautions are being used with redshirt junior LB Ronald Powell (ankle), who missed the Mizzou game and will also be held out of practice this week. Muschamp expects to get him back on the field next week. “I think we’ll get Ronald Powell back next week. He’s been unable to do anything thus far this week. He’s been running but just not ready for the change of direction and taking on blocks. But I think he’ll be fine,” he said.

Additionally, senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) should return next week. Jacobs was injured against LSU when his helmet came off in a pile and he got kicked in the head. Florida pointed out that he returned to the game, but Jacobs did not fly with the Gators to Columbia, MO, and has not practiced since. “I felt like he was going to play last week. I really didn’t know until Thursday practice he was not going to be able to go,” Muschamp noted.

He also could not provide much of an update regarding redshirt junior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder), who is rehabbing from his injury but also currently away from the team with his wife, who gave birth to a baby girl Monday night. “He’s been with his family, which is where he needs to be,” Muschamp said.

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10/19: Florida at Missouri post-game report

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) were embarrassed by the explosive No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC), falling 36-17 on the road at Farout Field in Columbia, MO. After the tough loss, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its defeat.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We’re just not a very good football team. Certainly not today. It falls on my shoulders. We’re inept offensively. We have a hard time running it and certainly can’t protect very well. It obviously showed today against the front we played against. Just very disappointed that we haven’t made more positive strides offensively this season, just regressed again from last week. We’re going to go back and work extremely hard to get those things corrected. Defensively, [we allowed] too many big plays. …

“As a football team, we didn’t do enough good things out there, and that falls on my shoulders. We just need to get better and that’s what we’re going to do. Disappointed with the way we played. We need to improve and get better. We got an off week to get it turned around.”

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Missouri improved to 2-1 all-time against Florida, winning the first and only game the two teams have ever played in Columbia.
» The Gators are now 1-5 in their last six games against ranked opponents, beating Florida State in 2012 but falling to Georgia, Louisville, Miami, LSU and Mizzou all since Oct. 27, 2012.
» Florida fell to 7-11 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards and 4-10 when tied or trailing at the half.
» The Tigers posted 500 yards of offense against the Gators’ top-ranked defense, the most UF has allowed in a single game since the 2008 Capitol One Bowl against Michigan.
» Florida gained just 151 yards of offense, the fewest in a single game since the 1999 SEC Championship against Alabama.
» UF went 3-for-15 on first down, averaged 1.9 yards per rush and 6.1 yards per completion. Mizzou averaged 5.5 yards per carry and 16.4 yards per catch.
» The Gators’ defense had allowed just one play longer than 40 yards all season but coughed up three on Saturday.
» Florida failed to hold an SEC opponent under 20 points for the first time in 14 opportunities.
» UF forced at least one turnover in 17-straight games.
» The Gators went 109:01 of game time dating back to Oct. 5 without scoring an offensive touchdown until crossing the goal line in the fourth quarter.
» Florida lost the time of possession battle (29:18-30:42) for the first time this season.
» The Gators did not sack the opposing quarterback once for the second-straight week.
» Florida’s porous offensive line allowed six sacks on the afternoon.
» The Gators committed at least eight penalties in a game for the fifth time this season. Three of those five contests ended as losses.
» UF was held to 2.8 yards per carry and under 150 team rushing yards for the second-straight game and third time overall this season (two losses).
» Florida registered a season-high eight pass defenses.

» Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor registered career-highs of 12 carries and 74 yards – and scored his first career rushing touchdown – during Saturday’s game. He has combined for 22 carries and 126 yards over the last two weeks.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton returned a kickoff for a touchdown on the first play of the second half, catching the ball five yards into the end zone and bringing it back the length of the field. It was his first career return touchdown.
» Sophomore defensive back Brian Poole registered an interception, two tackles for loss and a pass defense. He nearly had a second interception, too.
» Redshirt junior walk-on kicker Frankie Valez kicked a 23-yard field goal in the first quarter and is now 3-for-3 on his career.
» Freshman punter Johnny Townsend made his first start and booted the ball eight times for 365 yards, averaging 45.6 yards per punt with a long of 61 and two touchbacks.

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9/1: Muschamp updates injuries, previews Miami

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss some leftovers from the team’s 24-6 victory over Toledo while looking ahead to Saturday’s game on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. The contest will kick off at 12 p.m. from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, and air live on ESPN.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Week: Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown
“Mack ran extremely hard in the game and certainly a guy that really played well.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia, redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore
“I thought all three of those guys played really well, really built some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler and Max have been two really good additions for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Brown, senior wide receiver Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers
“Really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp, competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so. He’s a guy that adds some dimension to us.”

Defensive Player(s) of the Week: Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr., senior DL Dominique Easley, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr, redshirt junior Sam LB Ronald Powell
“All of those guys played well to contain [the quarterback] in the pocket, be able to rush four effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run.”

Ball Hawks: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (for the interception) and Easley, Powell, Orr and redshirt junior Mike LB Michael Taylor (for the pressure)

Hard Hat: Redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball
“A guy that’s really helped [take] a huge step forward defensively for us was for him to be able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done. Shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker. He’s been a huge addition for us.”

Special Team Player of the Week: Sophomore RB Mark Herndon
“He continues to be productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us.”

Big Play (Special Teams): Junior CB Marcus Roberson
“A guy that flipped the field a couple times with a couple big punt returns.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt junior WR Ryan Parrish, redshirt freshman LB Jeremi Powell, freshman WR Chris Thompson

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2013 Florida Gators Orange & Blue Debut Review

With the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut now officially in the books, OGGOA is here to take a look at what happened Saturday afternoon on Florida Field inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the Florida Gators spring game practice and how head coach Will Muschamp felt about the team and his players after the conclusion of the day’s events.

OFFENSE: STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS
* Separate story on passing game (quarterbacks, wide receivers) to be posted Sunday.

Running Backs
A starter emerges: Sophomore Matt Jones did not see a lot of action on Saturday by design. Why? Because Jones has played so well throughout the spring that he has all but officially been named Florida’s starter in the backfield. “Matt has really had an outstanding spring. We have a good comfort level where he is as a player,” Muschamp said. “He’s a physical runner. He understands our protections. He’s got great hands in the throwing game. There’s no question he’s an all-around back. He can do everything for us and he’s shown it to us for 14-straight practices.”

Four-deep with a freshman shining: Behind Jones there are three other players competing for carriers – redshirt junior Mack Brown, freshman Kelvin Taylor and sophomore walk-on Mark Herndon. On Saturday, Brown barely got any carries with the vast majority of snaps going to the latter two players. Unlike Jones, it did not look like the coaching staff was resting Brown. Taylor looked dynamic and Herndon made it quite clear why the coaches have praised him throughout the spring with multiple nice runs including a touchdown scamper from inside the 10-yard line. Though Taylor started slow, he showed nice patience running between the tackles, looked decent in pass protection and showed shiftiness breaking a tackle and moving the ball to the outside. Late in the scrimmage, he had a 15-yard run off-tackle and later scored a red zone touchdown from eight yards out when he stuck the ball over the goal line.

Asked about Taylor after the game, Muschamp gushed about how impressive he has been just 15 practices into his Gators career. “Kelvin’s got a really strong lower body. He runs through contact extremely well. He’s got natural instincts in the run game. You get the turns and reps and [need to learn] the protections and all the things that you got to be able to do for us at running back, but [I’m] extremely pleased with his progress,” Muschamp said. “He’s a very talented runner. Some positions are easier than others to contribute as a freshman. That’s a natural instinct position. You get the guy the ball and let his natural instincts take over and run for daylight. And he can do that. It’s the other things we got to brush up on.”

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3/22: Friday practice notes, Morrison, kicking

Now over a week into 2013 spring football practice, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to discuss some of the latest developments surrounding the team and provide updates on specific players.

RISE AND GRIND

Florida started practice very early in the morning on Friday, a decision Muschamp made not to punish the team but rather provide it with as much rest as possible before the team’s half-practice, half-scrimmage on Saturday.

“We got cranked up about 5:40 this morning with flex, simply just for the turnaround for Saturday. I don’t like leaving the practice field at 6:30 on Friday afternoon and then you come back for a Saturday morning practice. I want to get some recovery time and also be able to review the film and install for Saturday,” he explained.

“It’s really not any magic deal there. We just try to separate the practices. We did this last year and the kids liked it from the standpoint of not leaving the practice field at 6:00 and then coming back and starting practice that early in the morning. That’s really all it is – just for their legs.”

Muschamp was satisfied with the way the Gators responded on Friday as well as the overall mindset of the team this spring. “I’ve been very pleased with the attitude and effort of our guys,” he said.

“YOU’D RATHER SAY ‘WOAH’ THAN ‘GIDDY UP'”

One thing that has been apparent early on in spring practice is the talent, effort and aggressiveness brought to the field each day by sophomore Mike linebacker Antonio Morrison. Muschamp is pleased with his development thus far and excited to see what kind of leader he will be for Florida’s defense in 2013.

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