Gators hire Trojans OL coach Mike Summers

By Mike Brandes – OnlyGators.com Contributor

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced the hiring of former USC Trojans offensive line coach Mike Summers to the same position.

Summers, who will replace Tim Davis and has 33 years of experience coaching the offensive line, previously worked under current Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips at Kentucky from 2010-12.

“I’m excited to have Coach Summers join our staff,” said Muschamp in a school release. “He has 34 years of experience, has been an offensive coordinator for 15 years and has coached in the SEC. He has a diverse background and has experience in the NFL. He will be a great addition to our staff.”

Bringing a wealth of knowledge and talent to the Gators coaching staff, Summers, 56, began his career as a graduate assistant at UK (1980-81) and Texas A&M (1982-84) before moving on to become the offensive coordinator for Northern Illinois (1985-90). He then left for Oregon State, where he worked as the assistant head coach/offensive coordinator from 1991-95, prior to taking over as assistant head coach/offensive coordinator at University of the South (1996-99).

Summers’s one year not coaching the offensive line came as tight ends coach at Oklahoma State. He then returned to manning the offensive line at Ohio (2001-02) before joining Bobby Petrino’s staff at Louisville (2003-06) and moving on with him to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons in 2007.

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Florida OC Roper talks Cutcliffe, coaching, challenges and expectations with Gators

Hours after officially being announced as the new offensive coordinator of the Florida Gators, Kurt Roper met with the media via a teleconference held by the Duke Blue Devils. He will remain with Duke as offensive coordinator for the 2013 Chick-Fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31 before joining the Florida football program.

FROM THE COACH THAT KNOWS HIM BEST

For all but one of his 17 years as a coach, Roper has worked in some way, shape or form under Blue Devils head coach David Cutcliffe with stops at Tennessee, Ole Miss and now Duke. Cutcliffe on Thursday discussed Roper at length, explaining why he believes he is ready for a top-tier job.

» On Roper’s strengths: “There’s the things that we pride ourselves in: detail and training quarterbacks, the attention to detail of preparing an offensive team to play a game, practice habits. It’s the total package. I think you have a systematic approach, everything is covered. You try to take players offensively – that’s what your job is to be an offensive coordinator – to put them in every circumstance they can possibly be in, in a game, in practice, and build confidence through great execution. Kurt will certainly, that will be one of their great strengths. They will be extremely well-prepared coming out of practice.”

» On Roper’s coaching style: “His style would be intensity, tempo, quality of repetition. From the minute they hit the field, it’s going to be intense. He’s not a…I wouldn’t call him a laid-back football coach by any stretch of the imagination. It’s going to be what we call ‘treat the ground like a hot stove.’ If you hit the ground, you better get up running. By the time they get on the field until they get off, they’re going to be moving and getting a bunch of quality reps. So I would call it very intense.”

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Muschamp interviews Roper for Florida OC job

Updated at 4:15 p.m.

Head coach Will Muschamp on Monday interviewed Duke Blue Devils offensive coordinator Kurt Roper for the same position on the Florida Gators staff, according to CoachingSearch.com, and was still in the process of doing so as of press time.

According to the travel history of the University Athletic Association’s private jet, Muschamp or Florida representatives flew into Raleigh, NC, Monday morning around 6 a.m. but left a half hour later, arriving back in Gainesville, FL at 8 a.m. with Roper as a passenger. The same flight departed from Gainesville in the afternoon and has already set down back in Raleigh.

One of five finalists for the 2013 Broyles Award (which is handed out to the best assistant coach in college football), Roper is in his fifth season at Duke and also serves as the program’s assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach. His unit has finished top-70 nationally each of the last two seasons in both scoring and total offense.

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2014 WR Ryan Sousa flips to Florida from FSU

A team badly in need of playmakers has picked up a second wide receiver for its 2014 recruiting class as the Florida Gators on Monday gained a commitment from three-star prospect Ryan Sousa (Orlando, FL).

Sousa (6-foot-0, 180-pounds) flipped from Florida State to Florida just two days after watching the Seminoles whip the Gators 37-7 in Gainesville, FL. Nevertheless, the lifelong Florida fan decided to make the switch.

Listed as a four-star player by ESPN, Sousa finished his senior season with 100 receptions for 1,664 yards and 23 touchdowns. As a junior, he racked up 21 scores and 1,601 yards on 92 catches. He’s averaged 16.70 yards per reception for his high school career, which lasted three years as Sousa did not play during his freshman season.

The Gators did not offer Sousa until Nov. 1. At the time, he called the offer from his favorite team a “special moment” but remained committed to FSU.

Wide receivers coach Joker Phillips has been instrumental in his recruitment, speaking with Sousa every week since he camped at Florida back in June.

“Coach Phillips and I have a relationship just like I do with my head coach for my high school. We have gotten pretty close and I trust Coach Phillips with everything and I think he’s a great coach,” Sousa told InsidetheGators.com’s Blake Alderman on Nov. 4. “I have heard lots of good things about him and heard he has great character.”

Sousa joins four-star Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL) as the only wide receivers committed to the Gators at this time. He also made his pledge despite Florida firing its offensive coordinator on Monday.

247Sports first reported Sousa’s commitment on Monday evening.

He is the 16th member of the Gators’ 2014 recruiting class, which you can check out in full by clicking here.

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Florida’s Solomon Patton transforms from “jet sweep guy” to game-breaking wide receiver

It’s fair to say senior wide receiver Solomon Patton was an afterthought for the vast majority of his career with the Florida Gators.

As Florida struggled to find playmaking wideouts in each of his first three years with the program, Patton (5-foot-9, 177 pounds) was viewed as not much more than speedy guy who could play a role on special teams and occasionally be used as a gadget player.

And he did all of those things quite well. In 2010, Patton appeared in 10 games on special teams. He returned some kicks, brought back a blocked punt for a touchdown against Vanderbilt and blocked a punt of his own in the bowl game against Penn State. In 2011’s season opener against Florida Atlantic, Patton blocked another punt.

Then in 2012, head coach Will Muschamp and then-new offensive coordinator Brent Pease handed him a new task – running jet sweeps on offense. Patton succeeded there as well, taking 14 for a total of 140 yards (with a long gain of 54) before breaking his arm against Georgia and missing the remainder of the season.

Through three seasons, Patton had registered just eight receptions for 79 total yards with a long gain of 17. The coaching staff, and Patton himself, decided it was time for a change in his final collegiate season.

Muschamp challenged Patton to become more than just a “jet sweep guy.” He wanted him to improve his route running and become a complete receiver, someone the Gators could count on to make vertical plays rather than just horizontal ones.

The first sign of his hard work paying off was the second week of the season against Miami when Patton grabbed a career-high six receptions for a career-high 118 yards and the first receiving touchdown of his career. He gained more receiving yards that game than in his previous three seasons combined.

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Friday Final: Florida prepares for Kentucky

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, offensive coordinator Brent Pease, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin and a number of players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s road game against the Kentucky Wildcats scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. from Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, KY, and air on ESPNU.

Below are some notes and quotes that fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the 10 posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links).

Monday: Updated depth chart released | Muschamp talks injuries, rushers and more | Special teams not so special (exclusive)
Tuesday: QB Tyler Murphy focused on preparation, leadership
Wednesday: Muschamp updates injures; Steve Spurrier and Mark Stoops join him on SEC teleconference | Ousted Kentucky coach Joker Phillips making an impact at Florida | QB Jeff Driskel undergoes successful surgery | DT Dominique Easley out for the season (torn ACL)
Thursday: CB Vernon Hargreaves III making an early impact | Gators hope BUCK Dante Fowler, Jr. continues to dominate

GETTING THE RUNNING GAME GOING

The Gators are currently ranked 48th in rushing offense, averaging 199.7 yards per game. It’s not exactly where Florida wants to be at this point in the season, and the coaching staff has altered its approach on how carries will be divided up going forward. Rather than having sophomore running back Matt Jones automatically take the bulk of the carries, UF will go with the hot hand each game.

“We know what Matt is capable of and he’ll be fine. What he can’t do is get down on himself emotionally,” Pease said on Tuesday. “He’s still part of the game pan. You just got to understand you just go back and work harder. Kids think everything is always going to be perfect all the time. No, it isn’t. There’s ups and downs, peaks and valleys. What he did last year, he obviously worked himself where he was pretty consistent where he was at. … Now you’re an every-down guy so your expectation of execution is much higher on a play-to-play basis on consistency, performance. He’s fine. He’s a good player. He’ll be alright.”

In addition to giving more carries to redshirt junior Mack Brown, Florida wants to get freshman Kelvin Taylor more involved. Pease believes consistency is the main issue holding Taylor back from making an impact at this point.

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Ousted UK coach Phillips making impact at UF

Joker Phillips’ career with the Kentucky Wildcats spanned parts of four decades including 23 seasons and hundreds of games as a player, graduate assistant, assistant coach, coordinator and head coach.

On Saturday, for just the second time in his 26-year coaching career, Phillips will step foot into Commonwealth Stadium as a visitor, an unwelcome guest looking to earn a victory with his new team, the Florida Gators.

Due to program regulations, Phillips – a position coach – was not made available to speak with the media, so he could not directly discuss his thoughts and feelings entering Saturday’s contest. But other coaches and players provided were able to provide their opinions on his behalf.

“I know as a player and a coach there, as a coordinator and a head coach, there’s no question I’m sure he’ll be emotional about that. Any time you spend a lot of time at a place, as much time as we spend hours in the office and working hard for a university, there’s no question that’s part of it,” head coach Will Muschamp said.

“Joker is a professional. He’ll handle it the right way. Any time you spend a large amount of your life as a player and as an assistant, a coordinator and a head coach [at one school], certainly you’re invested in that university. …

“You do feel a little different going back to a place like that that you spent so much time. People don’t realize the amount of time and effort we put in to what we do, giving our time to young people and dedication to the administration and all the things involved with a university. And then when you’re not there anymore, for whatever reason, it takes a little part away from you. You always leave something where you’ve been before. I’m sure Joker feels the same way.

“He and I talked a little bit about it Sunday night, the amount of time he spent in Lexington and how much he enjoyed it and the situation there. He really has fond memories of his time at Kentucky.”

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9/18: Muschamp updates Gators injuries, redshirts

No. 18/19 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference, as did Tennessee Volunteers head coach Butch Jones. Both touched on a number of topics concerning his respective team heading into Saturday’s game.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp explained that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) and redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) were both “a little gimpy” during practice on Tuesday but “should be OK” on Saturday and active for the game as the Gators take on the Volunteers. He also noted that junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (knee) and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio have looked “really good” in practice and said Florida is healthy heading into the game.

FRESHMEN / REDSHIRT BREAKDOWN

Asked to go in-depth on which freshmen Florida may be redshirting this season, Muschamp began discussing which players have already contributed for the Gators and others that could before the season is out. Below is a breakdown of the freshmen that have played, may see action or are already headed toward the redshirt designation.

Active (9): Running back Kelvin Taylor; wide receivers Demarcus Robinson, Ahmad Fulwood and Chris Thompson; cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, linebackers Alex Anzalone, Jarrad Davis and Daniel McMillian; safety Keanu Neal

Muschamp said Taylor is “a guy that we will continue to try to get involved with the offense,” while he considers Hargreaves “a starter for us at this time based on how he’s playing and performing and producing.”

Next up (1): Defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick

Redshirt likely (12): DTs Caleb Brantley and Antonio Riles; punter Johnny Townsend; wide receivers Alvin Bailey and Marqui Hawkins; defensive lineman Joey Ivie; QB Max Staver; RB Adam Lane; offensive linemen Cameron Dillard, Octavius Jackson, Roderick Johnson and Trevon Young

Medical redshirt likely (4): Defensive backs Marcell Harris (knee) and Nick Washington (shoulder); LB Matt Rolin (ACL); DL Jordan Sherit (ACL)

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