3/11: Muschamp provides Florida football updates ahead of the start of 2014 spring practice

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2014 spring practice on Wednesday, March 19, head coach Will Muschamp media Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the team. He provided injury updates, offseason player evaluations and went over a number of hot topics entering the season.

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (ACL): Cleared on March 28 – “Has been in our offseason program, has progressed very well, and we’re pleased with his progress and where he is. He’ll be in non-contact situations for us in the spring.”

Freshman RB Brandon Powell (foot): Cleared late in spring practice – “Had a pre-existing issue with his foot from high school, had a small fracture. We decided in February to go ahead and have surgery and put a pin in that. … To that point, in January, had done an outstanding job in our conditioning drills. Great change of direction and speed. We’re really excited about that. He’s one of the guys we’re really excited about. It’s unfortunate that something like that happened from high school.”

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (wrist): Cleared on May 1 – “He has a fractured wrist from the season. It was a situation at the end of the season, he had about a month to go in the year and we felt like it would rehab itself. Going back and looking at it the first of February, we got a second opinion of whether to have surgery. … He would probably have been limited reps anyway with as many young guys as we need up front go help reps.”

Junior running back Matt Jones (meniscus): Cleared on May 1 – “Matt Jones is progressing well. … He will not go through spring. He will not go through non-contact. He will rehab there in the pit during practice but extremely pleased with his progress and where he is.”

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11/30: Florida vs. Florida State report; Purifoy declares, Foley speaks, Muschamp promises

The Florida Gators (4-8) lost their seventh-straight game on Saturday, falling 37-7 to the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Athletic director Jeremy Foley held an impromptu session with the media before the game, and head coach Will Muschamp spoke after the season-ending loss.

SENIOR DAY

DECLARATIONS BEGIN

Minutes after the conclusion of Saturday’s game, Florida junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy declared his intention to enter the 2014 NFL Draft. He told ESPN‘s Joe Schad as much after the game, but the Gators are unlikely to announce his decision (as well as those of others) for a few days.

Purifoy had an up-and-down season for Florida but did register an interception return for a touchdown earlier in the year and actually picked off Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston on Saturday. He struggled at times in coverage and with his discipline but will nevertheless be a second-round pick at worst in April. OnlyGators.com will have more on Purifoy’s declaration, as well as that of others, when the time comes.

“That is something I’ll discuss in the coming days. I’ve had discussions with a couple guys but I really don’t want to comment at this time about that,” Muschamp said.

INJURY UPDATES

Senior wide receiver Trey Burton was knocked from the game early in the first quarter after taking a zone read 50 yards down the field for one of his best plays of the season. Burton immediately went to the locker room and was ruled out with a shoulder injury, ending his career at Florida. As it turns out, the Gators actually planned to use Burton extensively on Saturday.

“We were probably going to have about 30-35 snaps with Trey, some of the misdirection runs now go out of the game plan so you got to make adjustments and you got to change,” Muschamp explained. “I hurt for Trey because he’s a senior and it was his last game in The Swamp. It was very difficult for him. He’s a great young man. But that kind of sums up what’s happened this year. It’s been very frustrating.”

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Friday Final: Changes coming for Gators, Florida player updates heading into Georgia game

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s neural-site contest against the Georgia Bulldogs scheduled to kick off at 3:30 p.m. from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL, and air live on CBS.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that either broke towards the end of the week or fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the six posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links).

Monday: Will Muschamp previews Georgia, updates injuries, talks new starters
Tuesday: Brent Pease talks changes to the offensive line and overall scheme
Wednesday: LT D.J. Humphries out 2-4 weeks, Florida-Georgia updates
Thursday: Overcoming embarrassment, can Gators’ defense return to form?

NEW LEADER IN THE BACKFIELD

Muschamp confirmed on Thursday during his weekly radio appearance that freshman running back Kelvin Taylor will be Florida’s starter on Saturday. “He’s earned the opportunity,” he said. “He’s really done a good job in the opportunities he’s had as the season has evolved.”

MORE CHANGES AT TACKLE

Though the Gators experimented with redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia at left tackle during the off week, he will remain in his current role. Unfortunately, sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphires going down with a sprained MCL on Monday means that redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore, who was actually benched as the starting right tackle in favor of junior Trenton Brown, will be back in the lineup.

“We were going to give Trenton Brown an opportunity to start at right tackle,” Muschamp explained. “Unfortunately, D.J. Humphries sprained his MCL Monday in practice and he’ll probably miss 2-3 weeks. We hope to get him back before then. But Tyler Moore will bump over to left tackle.

“Max has been playing inside and playing very well inside at left guard. We didn’t feel like it was good to move him and possibly create another void at the left guard position.”

BURNING REDSHIRTS

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10/30: D.J. Humphries (MCL) out 2-4 weeks

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 neutral-site contest against the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, FL.

ANOTHER BIG LOSS

While he was practicing to save his starting left tackle job on Monday, sophomore D.J. Humphries sprained his MCL and has been ruled out of action for the next 2-4 weeks, Muschamp announced. “He’s a quick-recovery guy. It’s the other knee that he had sprained from earlier in the season. So we’re hoping just two weeks on it and get him back out there,” he said.

Humphries will be replaced on the left side of the line by redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore, who was on his way to losing his starting right tackle job after another poor performance last week. Junior transfer Trenton Brown will start at right tackle in his place. Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia may also play some left tackle in Saturday’s game as he cross-trained at the position during the bye week.

INJURY UPDATES

The rest of the injury news was positive for a change.

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) is fine and redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle) practiced Tuesday for the first time in more than two weeks. He and senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) are both “good to go” for the game. Redshirt junior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) was also able to practice Tuesday, but his status remains up in the air at this time.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Freshmen DTs Joey Ivie and Jay-nard Bostwick have been playing well in practice and may see the field on Saturday. Both players are currently redshirt candidates as neither has stepped on the field this season.

» On whether freshman running back Kelvin Taylor reminds Muschamp of Fred Taylor: “I don’t think that’s fair with Kelvin, to compare him to his father. Kelvin’s his own player and he’s a really good football player. He’s got natural running instincts. He’s a one-cut runner, gets the ball north and south. He’s a guy that’s got some special ability. But the thing that’s really struck me as we’ve moved forward in the season is him doing a better job in protection and some of the other things you got to do at the running back position besides running the ball. He’s really worked extremely hard off the field on those things, and I’m really proud of him.”

» On if he feels bad for Georgia with their injury problems: “Not necessarily. I hurt for young men. These guys put a lot of time and effort into playing college football, and it’s hard, no matter where you are. By the time you put in offseason workouts, spring practice, summer workouts, people don’t realize the amount of time and effort they put in to playing college football. … You don’t want anyone to get hurt. That’s not good for anybody. That’s not good for college football.”

» On Bulldogs RB Todd Gurley: “He’s a back that, whether they block him or not, he gains positive yards. You don’t see many negative plays when he’s in the game. He runs. The thing that strikes me with the guy is he competes, he competes on every run. He goes after it every play. He’s a guy that’s certainly got the speed to take it the distance at any time. … He’s a big, physical back that’s got really good speed. He’s got the combination you want. He catches the ball out of the backfield well, he protects. He’s a complete back, no question.”

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Can freshmen save the Gators’ 2013 season?

The Florida Gators have now officially lost eight players, five of which were starters, to season-ending injuries. For a team that was already forced to replace 13 starters from the previous season and currently stands 4-3 (3-2 SEC) with some tough games ahead, it sounds like an insurmountable predicament.

But head coach Will Muschamp on Wednesday, during his only media availability of Florida’s off week, mentioned a number of freshmen who could join cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and (more recently) punter Johnny Townsend in becoming key players for the Gators over the latter half of the regular season.

The first of which is running back Kelvin Taylor, who received five carries in garbage time during the first game against Toledo but only touched the ball once over the following four contests. When sophomore Matt Jones tore his meniscus against LSU and saw his season come to an end, Florida had no choice but to give Taylor more work behind redshirt junior Mack Brown.

Taylor averaged 5.2 yards per carry in that very game, looking sharper and more decisive than Brown. Against Missouri on Saturday, he took the majority of the carries, rushing 74 yards on 12 touches and scoring the first touchdown of his career. Muschamp admitted Wednesday that the Gators should have leaned on Taylor more in the game, and it would be no surprise if he earned his first career start against Georgia on Nov. 2.

“I thought he played well. I thought he ran the ball extremely well. He continues to improve in all facets of the game. We’ve been very pleased with where he is right now,” Muschamp said.

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8/16: Muschamp discusses injuries, standouts and Florida’s roster; decision day ahead for Gators

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media following the team’s first open practice of fall camp ahead of the 2013 season.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

Sophomore running back Matt Jones “continues to improve” from a serious viral infection that put him in the hospital, according to Muschamp, who could not pinpoint when the presumed starter will be able to return to the team. “He’s exercising, getting back into it but not ready to get out in the heat in full gear yet,” Muschamp added. “I’ll certainly update when I know. I’m anticipating that news, hopefully sooner than later.” Jones has yet to practice this fall.

Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) was hoping to be cleared for practice last Friday and was only supposed to miss 7-10 days as of Monday but instead got dealt another week on the sidelines by team physicians. Apparently, he will not be cleared this Friday either and Muschamp now hopes he is ready to go in time for the first game of the season on Aug. 31. “I think [he] has an appointment next Friday,” he said. “I hope to get him cleared for game week. That’s kind of the prognosis we’ve gotten so far, and I want that to happen.”

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (knee) is not expected to be cleared until game week either, according to Muschamp.

Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot) remains day-to-day following an initial prognosis that he would be out one week and could be back on Monday.

Junior fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring), expected to miss 7-10 days on Monday, will miss “another 5-7 days.”

There are also three new injuries to report, which has been standard operating procedure for Florida throughout the fall. Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Alex McCalister and freshman offensive lineman Octavius Jackson are each day-to-day with shoulder injuries, redshirt freshman OL Quinteze Williams is day-to-day with an illness, and freshman DB Vernon Hargreaves III will miss at least 5-7 days with a shoulder injury of his own. “He’ll be fine,” Muschamp said of Hargreaves.

IT’S “D-DAY” FOR THE GATORS

Muschamp is ready to whittle down the Gators’ roster and figure out who is going to be seeing the field for Florida this season, and he plans on starting that process following the team’s Friday scrimmage.

“I told the team the last two days, this is going to be moving day for a lot of guys. We’ve got to start narrowing reps,” he said. “We can’t continue to rep everybody. So as far as the guys preparing as we move forward in the season, this will be a D-Day, so to speak, for a lot of guys.”

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Gators 2013 freshmen pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers and now that Florida Gators football team is a month away from beginning fall practice, it was time for the remaining freshman – aside from the eight early enrollees which received uniforms in the spring – to choose theirs. Below is the list according to the school’s most recent media guide:

TRANSFERS
» No. 55 – Darious Cummings (Titusville, FL), junior defensive lineman (EE)
» No. 73 – Tyler Moore (Clearwater, FL), redshirt sophomore offensive lineman (EE)
» No. 74 – Trenton Brown (Milledgeville, GA), junior offensive lineman

FRESHMEN (EARLY ENROLLEES)
» No. 9 – Matt Rolin (Ashburn, VA), freshman linebacker
» No. 11 – Demarcus Robinson (Fort Valley, GA), freshman wide receiver
» No. 13 – Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, FL), freshman linebacker
» No. 21 – Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL), freshman running back*
» No. 34 – Alex Anzalone (Wyomissing, PA), freshman linebacker
» No. 91 – Joey Ivie (Dade City, FL), freshman defensive lineman

FRESHMEN
» No. 5 – Ahmad Fulwood (Jacksonville, FL), freshman wide receiver
» No. 12 – Max Staver (Brentwood, TN), freshman quarterback
» No. 14 – Chris Wilkes (Orlando, FL), freshman walk-on quarterback
» No. 16 – Vernon Hargreaves III (Tampa, FL), freshman defensive back
» No. 17 – Jordan Sherit (Tampa, FL), freshman defensive lineman
» No. 22 – Adam Lane (Winter Haven, FL), freshman running back
» No. 22 – Nick Washington (Jacksonville, FL), freshman defensive back
» No. 26 – Marcell Harris (Orlando, FL), freshman defensive back~
» No. 35 – Johnny Townsend (Orlando, FL), freshman punter
» No. 40 – Jarrad Davis (Kingsland, GA), freshman linebacker
» No. 42 – Keanu Neal (Bushnell, FL), freshman defensive back
» No. 45 – Antonio Riles (Lawrenceville, GA), freshman defensive lineman
» No. 50 – Octavius Jackson (Moultrie, GA), freshman offensive lineman
» No. 55 – Roderick Johnson (Delray Beach, FL), freshman offensive lineman^
» No. 57 – Caleb Brantley (Crescent City, FL), freshman defensive lineman
» No. 71 – Cameron Dillard (Canton, MI), freshman offensive lineman
» No. 80 – Trevon Young (Bradenton, FL), freshman tight end
» No. 81 – Marqui Hawkins (Columbus, GA), freshman wide receiver
» No. 85 – Chris Thompson (Gainesville, FL), freshman wide receiver
» No. 89 – Alvin Bailey (Seffner, FL), freshman wide receiver
» No. 99 – Jay-nard Bostwick (Port St. Lucie, FL), freshman defensive lineman

* Kelvin Taylor’s father, Fred Taylor, also wore No. 21 for the Gators.
~ Mike Harris’s father, Mike Harris, wore No. 13 for UF. His son doubled his number.
^ Roderick Johnson is not yet enrolled at Florida.

NUMBER CHANGES
» Sophomore LB Antonio Morrison switched from 12 to 3.
» Redshirt sophomore walk-on DB Evan Schroeder switched from 21 to 22.
» Redshirt freshman walk-on WR Darius Masline switched from 81 to 80.

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Gators open spring practice notes and opinions

While Florida Gators basketball was participating in the 2013 SEC Tournament, the football team held a pair of open spring practices on Friday and Saturday that OGGOA was unable to cover at that time.

Below is a smattering of notes and opinions from the InsidetheGators.com staff, which was in attendance at the practice sessions and delivered six premium reports (as well as two free roundtable discussions) following the proceedings. Each tidbit below has been re-written by OGGOA, but the parts in quotation marks are the specified writer’s own words. Corresponding articles have been linked accordingly.

FREE: Friday Practice Roundtable | Saturday Practice Roundtable

It is important to note that Friday’s gathering was a shirts-and-shorts practice while Saturday’s was the team’s first in full pads this spring.

FRIDAY, MARCH 15

OFFENSE

» Sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore had a rough day overall and was beat off the edge consistently by some of Florida’s most talented rushers like sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. and senior defensive end Dominique Easley. [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]

» In addition to senior wide receiver Solomon Patton, who took nearly all of the Gators’ jet sweeps when he was healthy in 2012, four other pass catchers got a chance to run the ball on that play including sophomore Raphael Andrades, junior Loucheiz Purifoy and freshman Demarcus Robinson. [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]

» Good news for redshirt senior WR Andre Debose who “showed flashes of the player Florida fans have wanted him to be for four years. Debose is as fast as ever and showed the kind of ball skills that have been missing on a jump-ball catch over Brian Poole.” [Bryan Holt, InsidetheGators.com]

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