1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to wrap up the 2012 season, look ahead to the upcoming spring practice and discuss some of the recent changes and issues within the program.

PUNISHMENT HANDED DOWN

Muschamp announced Friday that freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities pending the outcome of his legal affairs. Dunker was arrested Monday on a third-degree felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released on his own recognizance on Thursday and claims that he paid $600 for the scooter not knowing it had been reported stolen.

“I met with Jessamen Dunker [Friday] morning. I have suspended him from all team activities until we get more information,” he said. “I just met to him face-to-face [Friday] morning for the first time for 15 minutes. Once we get a little bit more information, then we’ll move forward, but he’s suspended from the team at this time. We’ll address that further when I know more.”

THREE MORE GATORS LEAVING PROGRAM

It was also announced Friday by Muschamp that redshirt juniors wide receiver Stephen Alli and defensive lineman Kedric Johnson will both be graduating in the spring and moving on from the Florida football program.

Muschamp said that Alli plans to go to graduate school; should he remain at UF, he will have the opportunity to join the team as a graduate assistant. Johnson “may play somewhere [else] next fall,” Muschamp said, and the two are planning to discuss it.

Furthermore, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tommy Jordan, who never stepped on the field for the Gators due to nagging shoulder problems, has applied for a medical exception to remain on scholarship but no longer play football.

CLEANING UP SOME INJURIES

Muschamp once again noted that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all had scopes on their various injuries this month.

“We expect all three of those [players] to participate at some point in spring. I don’t know when that will happen, how much contact there will be. I’ll know more as we move forward,” he said.

Junior WR Solomon Patton (broken arm) is “doing really well,” according to Muschamp. He has already been cleared for non-contact work during the spring.

Additionally, sophomore punter Kyle Christy had minor shoulder surgery and will be fine for spring football. “He played pretty well with it. I don’t know why we did surgery, but they felt like he needed it,” Muschamp said.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

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SIX BITS: NBA All-Stars, Dunker’s legal status, Brissett, Quinn, Hilliard, players drafted

1 » Final balloting for the fan vote for the 2013 NBA All-Star Game was released on Thursday evening and none of the players initially selected for the game were former Florida Gators. Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah (230,796 votes) finished seventh in Eastern Conference frontcourt balloting. Golden State Warriors power forward David Lee (165,875) checked in 10th in Western Conference frontcourt balloting with Houston Rockets forward Chandler Parsons (144,697) finishing 15th. The top three frontcourt players from each conference automatically became starters for their respective teams. The 30 NBA head coaches will vote for a total of 14 players – seven in each conference – to fill out the benches. Those reserves will be announced on Jan. 24 with Noah and Lee both expected to be chosen. Noah is averaging career-highs in points (12.4), assists (4.1), blocks (2.0), steals (1.3), minutes (38.4) and free throw shooting (.800) while also registering 10.7 rebounds per game. Lee is averaging 19.7 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.6 assists while playing a career-high 37.5 minutes.

2 » Arrested on Wednesday for third-degree felony grand theft of a motor vehicle and second-degree misdemeanor driving with a suspended license, Florida freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker entered an Alachua County Court on Thursday morning and was eventually released on his own recognizance. Dunker, via his attorney Huntley Johnson, denied stealing the scooter that was reported stolen. “His position is he paid $600 for the scooter and I’m prepared to represent him on that basis,” Johnson told the judge, according to The Gainesville Sun. The State Attorney’s Office has yet to file formal charges against Dunker as it is still reviewing the case. He remains on the Gators football team as of press time, but head coach Will Muschamp is expected to address the player’s status on Friday at noon.

Read four more BITS in this post…after the break!
Continue Reading » SIX BITS: NBA All-Stars, Dunker’s legal status, Brissett, Quinn, Hilliard, players drafted

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Gators OL Dunker arrested for grand theft

Updated at 4:30 p.m.

Florida Gators freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker was arrested on Wednesday in Gainesville, FL and charged with a third-degree felony for grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor for driving with a suspended license, a first offense.

Dunker, who was previously cited on Nov. 14, 2012 for driving without a seat belt and reportedly directed multiple expletives at the officer who pulled him over, was arrested by the University Police Department and booked into Alachua County Jail at 12:01 p.m. on Wednesday, according to Alachua County Court records.

Per The Gainesville Sun:

According to Maj. Brad Barber, at about 9:50 a.m. Wednesday a UPD officer spotted a scooter following a UF physical plant truck too closely. The officer noticed the scooter did not have a license plate attached and stopped Dunker at the south end zone area of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Police determined that Dunker was driving on a suspended license and on a scooter that had previously been reported stolen near the football stadium.

According to the Palm Beach Post, Dunker told the UPD upon his arrest that he had previously purchased the scooter (which was not adorned with a license tag) for $600.

He remains in lock-up as of press time as bond has not been set for his case because he has not yet been called before a judge.

Dunker paid ticket fees and court costs of $127 to settle his previous issue. However, as a result of those payments being received more than 30 days after the citation was issued, his license was suspended when payment was made on Dec. 26, 2012.

Not playing in 2012 during his true freshman season, Dunker is expected to compete for playing time and perhaps even a starting role as a redshirt freshman in 2013.

Head coach Will Muschamp is on the road recruiting but aware of Dunker’s situation. He will address it when he returns, according to team spokesman Steve McClain. A media availability had previously been scheduled this week for Friday at noon.

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12/18: Pease, Driskel, Hammond talk offense

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 offensive coordinator Brent Pease – along with sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. – sat down with the media on Tuesday to discuss the team’s offense and how it is shaping up for the bowl game.

YOUNGSTERS SHOWING OUT IN BOWL PRACTICE

Head coach Will Muschamp has crowed all season long about the play of sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, often mentioning how he began breaking out for the team during practice leading up to the 2012 Gator Bowl.

Asked Tuesday which players are already standing out since the team has reconvened for the Sugar Bowl, Pease, Driskel and Hammond all mentioned that freshman WR Latroy Pittman is looking really good.

“Definitely Pittman,” said Driskel when he was asked to single out a player. “Pittman’s had great bowl practices. I expect him to make some plays in the bowl game.”

Despite drawing plenty of praise in the offseason, Pittman barely contributed during the 2012 campaign. He did play in 11 games but saw most of his time on special teams, hauling in just two balls and totaling six yards on the season.

Hammond called Pittman “an overall balanced receiver,” noting that he has a big body to go along with solid speed. “There’s a lot of things you can do with him when you’re dealing with a guy that size,” he said.

Other players mentioned by Pease as those that have stood out to him thus far include freshman running back Matt Jones, walk-on freshman RB Mark Herndon, freshman guard Jessamen Dunker, freshman tight end Colin Thompson, sophomore TE Tevin Westbrook, sophomore TE Clay Burton and freshman WR Raphael Andrades. Dunker (preparedness) and Thompson (foot) are both taking redshirt seasons and will not play in the bowl game.

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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TWO BITS: Dunker cited, Prather returns

1 » Florida Gators freshman guard Jessamen Dunker was cited on Nov. 14 for driving without a seat belt and directing multiple expletives at an officer who pulled him over. According to a report from The Gainesville Sun, the officer’s report on Dunker was not filed right away, an action that has prompted an investigation and a leave of absence. “Lt. William Gainey, who coordinates security at football games and supervises the officer who issued the citation, has been put on leave pending an investigation,” writes the paper’s Nathan Crabbe. “Gainey met with UF athletic association officials following the incident involving Dunker, the source said. The report ended up being filed the next day and said Gainey told the officer to report the incident, so it’s unclear why the report wasn’t initially filed.”

Alachua County Court Records show that Dunker owes $104 in fines ($32) and court costs ($72) for his citation and has until Dec. 14, 2012 to pay his fees.

2 » The Gators announced Tuesday that junior guard/forward Casey Prather, who has yet to play this season after suffering a pair of concussions over the course of two weeks during practice, was officially cleared Monday by team doctors to return to the court and did just that during the team’s latest practice. As head coach Billy Donovan noted on Monday, Prather will be eligible to play on Friday as long as he remains healthy and without further incident. Should that be the case, he would have missed Florida’s first five games of the season (including Georgetown).

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11/9: Florida vs. Louisiana-Lafayette post-game

No. 6 Florida Gators football (9-1) struggled mightily but eventually came away with a tough 27-20 victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (5-4) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, 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 is now 5-0 all time against Louisiana-Lafayette though Saturday’s win was its first since the school has adopted that name. Its previous four victories came against Southwest Louisiana.
» The Gators are 13-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp, 10-0 when rushing for more than 150 yards (UF had 149 on Saturday), 10-3 when scoring first and 12-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida was 3-3 in the red zone and has scored on 30-of-36 trips (83.3 percent) this season, converting just 19 of those possessions (52.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted a paltry 52-of-142 of its third-down attempts (36.6 percent) this season after going just 4-for-14 in such situations on Saturday.
» The Gators held the Ragin’ Cajuns to 2-of-12 on third down but allowed their visitors to continue drives with poorly-timed penalties. UF’s defense has held opponents to 38-of-144 on third down conversions (26.4 percent) in 2012.
» Louisiana-Lafayette was just the second team (Tennessee) to score 20 points on Florida this season. The Gators have held three teams to 17 points, two under 15 and three to a touchdown or less.
» Florida is +12 in turnover margin through 10 games after being -12 in 2011.
» The Gators are now 65-22-2 all-time on homecoming in The Swamp.

PLAYER NOTES

» Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy blocked a punt for the second-straight game and continues to be a standout performer for Florida on special teams.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed bounced back from a tough performance against Georgia to register career-highs in receptions (five) and yards. He also matched a career-long with a 39-yard catch.
» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis inched closer to Jeff Chandler’s school record of 67 made field goals. Sturgis connected on two more attempts and now has 17 on the year, putting him four away from tying Chandler. He is also six field goals away from tying the school single-season record of 23, which was set by Bobby Raymond.
» Redshirt junior linebacker Jelani Jenkins not only had the game-winning touchdown on a punt block return, he also led the defense with seven tackles.
» Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett saw his most extensive action of the season and made the most of it, leading the Gators to a game-tying touchdown on a three-yard pass to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Quinton Dunbar.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We certainly make it interesting. It’s a football team that is finding ways to win games. We certainly shot ourselves in the foot enough in the game to put it in that situation. I thought we managed the game very well late in the game as far as field position was concerned and time was concerned in what we wanted to do and then our players going out and executing it. I credit our football team. I know one thing: There’s nobody questioning that character in that room and the resolve and the fight. Sometimes our decision making could be questioned, but I think our guys have continued to believe in what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and the way we’re going to get it done and they have a strong belief in that. That’s a hard thing, I know in a coaching perspective, I’ve been on the other end when you’re, ‘Oh no, here we go again’ mentality instead of embracing the station, the adversity, handling it and finding a way to do it. It ain’t just been one time this year; it’s been a bunch. I really credit our kids’ resolve in this situation.

“Obviously the penalties just killed us in this game, and they were [legitimate] penalties. We’ve talked about it. We’re going to reemphasize it again. We’ve emphasized it every day in every situation we could. We’ve benched guys and we’ve done everything we can do. I’m going to find another way. I don’t know. We’re going to meet as a staff [Sunday] and figure out what we need to do to continue to move forward and improve our team. That’s where it really hurts.”

A few minutes later, Muschamp continued speaking about the team’s resolve.

Read the rest of what Muschamp and the players had to say…after the break!
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9/17: Muschamp, players discuss Florida’s win

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review his team’s dominant 37-20 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville, TN. He and some players also looked ahead to this week’s game as Florida hosts Kentucky on Saturday at 12:21 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

INJURY UPDATES

Junior cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) and redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (thumb) remain out with their respective injures though Muschamp expects to have an update on Jenkins (he may be able to play with a club on his hand if swelling goes down).

Muschamp also announced that junior defensive end Dominique Easley, who appeared to injure his knee in the fourth quarter on Saturday but was said to be fine after the game, has swelling in the knee and is currently day-to-day. Easley tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee last season against Florida State.

Finally, senior running back Mike Gillislee appears to be fine once again after carrying the ball 18 times on an injured groin. “He felt better after the game than he did before is what he told me. Everything we have from the injury report [Sunday] was very positive,” Muschamp said.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Game: sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and junior RB Trey Burton (Driskel was also named SEC Offensive Player of the Week.)

Scrap Iron: entire offensive line

Big Plays: redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. and redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed (touchdowns)

Defensive Player of the Game: redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray

Hard Hat: junior defensive end Dominique Easley

Special Teams Players of the Game: sophomore punter Kyle Christy and redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis

Scout Team Players of the Week: freshman guard Jessamen Dunker, redshirt freshman walk-on defensive back Ben Peacock, freshman walk-on RB Mark Herndon

27-0 vs. 22-72

The biggest takeaway from the first three games of the season for the Gators is how well the team has played in the second half. Florida spent the entire offseason focused on being better conditioned and more mature late in games, which is evident by what the team has shown on the field so far this year.

Three of the four players that spoke with the media on Monday expressed that exact same sentiment.

“Over the offseason [Jeff] Dillman pretty much engrained that in our minds basically to finish out games. I think they had a score up from last year about the fourth quarter scores from us as far as our opponents. We just keep that in the back of our minds,” Hammond said. “We just want to outscore opponents and finish games. I want to say it was 72-22. Every workout we came into he reminded us. It stuck in our heads and we don’t want to have that score. I mean, it needs to be flipped around this season, so that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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8/29: Players self-motivated to work hard in 2012

Florida Gators redshirt sophomore tackle Chaz Green and sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the season opener set for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the Bowling Green Falcons.

2011 WAS ALL THE MOTIVATION THE GATORS NEEDED

Ending the 2011 regular season with a paltry 6-6 record was enough motivation for Florida to work hard this offseason, Green said on Wednesday. In fact, he said the players did not even need the coaches reminding them how poorly they played to know that things had to change quickly.

“The year we had, there wasn’t much that needed to be said. We kind of just knew the mindset. We came in and everybody was hungry; everybody knew what we had to do. It wasn’t about talking or about pointing fingers. Everybody knew we didn’t have a good year. We have to get back to where we can be, where we should be,” he said.

One thing that did stick out the team’s mind, however, was head coach Will Muschamp calling them soft near the end of the regular season. Though he would only speak for his unit in particular, Green noted that the offensive line knew they needed to do better.

“I think we took that personally as a team,” he said. “We can only worry about us as the O-line. We realized there were things we had to improve on. We worked on that in the spring and feel that we’re stronger, ready to go.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Green said that he may be on the first team for the season opener, but he considers himself one of three starters (along with senior Xavier Nixon and redshirt junior Matt Patchan, who is out for the game) and not two. “It’s not really a ‘starter;’ it’s three guys that can rotate – three starters,” he said.

» Green on the quarterback competition: “There’s just so much [other stuff] that we got to worry about. Both guys we respect a lot. Whoever they go with, we’re fine with. We like both guys. They’re both great quarterbacks.”

» Green on freshman guard Jessamen Dunker: “He’s just one of those guys…you know he’s an O-lineman. He’s a nasty guy.”

» Green on if redshirt junior G Jon Halapio would be a good defensive tackle: “I think he’d be all right. Maybe short yardage, goal line, run stopper. He ain’t rushing no quarterback though, I’ll tell you that.”

» Joyer on the defense: “They’re looking great. I think they’ll be one of the top defenses in college football this year, to be honest. All the linebackers, defensive line, defensive backs are doing great as well.”

» Joyer on if the motions and shifts will continue the offense’s pre-snap penalty issues from a year ago: “I think our penalties will be way down this year.”

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