Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

The Florida Gators (6-4) took care of business, routing the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s 52-3 victory on Saturday got the Gators bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 and also marked the second-largest win margin in any game under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to leave The Swamp with his head held high.

BOWL GAME COACH CHOSEN

Moments after Florida’s win was finalized, the school announced that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would serve as interim head coach for the Gators’ bowl game this year. Durkin, the second-longest tenured member of the staff (five years) behind running backs coach Brian White (six years), will take the reigns of the program once Muschamp’s dismissal is finalized next Saturday, Nov. 29.

FINAL LESSON: A TOUGH WEEK, ROAD AHEAD

There should be no doubt that the entire Florida football team took Muschamp’s dismissal hard. Gators players spoke of him fondly on Monday after his press conference and were obviously playing with an extra gear on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard even went so far as to write his coach’s last name on his eyeblack.

“I’ve just been through a lot and he’s been there for me,” Bullard said. “When I lost my grandmother, he was a big supporter; he let me go home as long as I needed. Just little things he did helping me through that whole situation, he’s just been a real good person to me. I respect him a lot, and actually, I love him. I just wanted to show some respect for him, everything he’s done for me, and show him that I appreciate it.”

Muschamp admitted Saturday that it took a while for Florida to get back in the swing of things this week. Monday’s practice was thwarted due to the weather; Tuesday the team looked “just OK” and did not show “great effort” on the field; and Wednesday was just “a little bit better.”

So Muschamp spent the Gators’ regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting speaking about much more than just the upcoming game but rather how Florida’s players need to deal with his dismissal and their futures going forward.

Continue Reading » Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

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Gators DE Dante Fowler Jr. tweets that he will leave for the NFL, other juniors could follow

Updated on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

Florida Gators junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. announced Tuesday on Twitter that he will forgo his final season of college football and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.

“I came in with champ. I’m leaving with Him,” Fowler wrote, referring to ousted Florida head coach Will Muschamp. “Simple as that.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Fowler met with the media and said that Muschamp would absolutely have an influence on his decision to leave school, though it appeared he meant that in more of an advisory role after the season.

“I’m going to approach that at the appropriate time. Definitely me and him are going to sit down and [he will] talk with me and my family,” Fowler said.

The Gators’ leader in sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (10.0) and quarterback hurries (15) this season, Fowler is also tied for second in total tackles with 49. He also has a team-high two forced fumbles.

Fowler flashed as a freshman and improved as a sophomore and was expected to have a breakout season in 2014, which came to fruition and led to this decision.

Continue Reading » Gators DE Dante Fowler Jr. tweets that he will leave for the NFL, other juniors could follow

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Friday Final: Gators aim to take back The Swamp; game could be the last for Muschamp, Spurrier

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) as they prepare to ride their momentum against the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-5, 2-5 SEC) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Freshman QB Treon Harris leading turnaround effort
Notebook: Will Muschamp breaks down Florida entering South Carolina game
Notebook: Kurt Roper pleased with Harris, offense’s balance
Story: Max Garcia emerging as one of the game’s best thanks to great coaching
Story: DL Jonathan Bullard’s sacrifices, team-first mindset paying off for Gators
Story: QB Jeff Driskel says benching was “tough,” but he’s happy to contribute

ONLY GATORS GET OUT ALIVE

Head coach Will Muschamp kicked it off on Monday, noting that he has made it a theme this week for the Gators to “take back The Swamp,” which is “what we need to do this coming Saturday.” Muschamp and Florida’s players understand that the team has let down its home fans during his tenure with the program. UF is just 17-7 at The Swamp over the last four seasons with a 9-6 record against SEC opponents and Florida State.

A number of players addressed what a victory in front Gator Nation would mean on Saturday. Check out what each of them had to say about it.

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Gators aim to take back The Swamp; game could be the last for Muschamp, Spurrier

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Florida DL Jonathan Bullard’s sacrifices, team-first mindset paying off for himself, Gators

For most teams, the sudden departure of a redshirt senior defensive lineman would prove to be a major blow, but the Florida Gators have been operating most of the season without Leon Orr in the starting lineup – and likely have been better because of it.

In fact, the 2014 Gators are head coach Will Muschamp’s best pass rushing team, due in large part to the pressure Florida is getting up the middle with junior Jonathan Bullard and senior Darious Cummings.

The Gators already have 12 more quarterback hurries through eight games in 2014* than they have in any full season under Muschamp. Florida is also averaging more sacks per game than ever before and is on pace to finish with 32.5, the most under Muschamp (assuming a bowl game, like UF played in 2012).

Cummings, the starting nose tackle, has made a major impact with two sacks and four hurries. However, it is Bullard, with just half a sack but seven total hurries, that has blossomed in the middle for the Gators.

Continue Reading » Florida DL Jonathan Bullard’s sacrifices, team-first mindset paying off for himself, Gators

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Will Muschamp sends DT Leon Orr home on bus, says player is “not a Florida Gator anymore”

Minutes before the Florida Gators squared off against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday evening, Florida head coach Will Muschamp announced via a school release that redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr had been sent home from Nashville, Tennessee, on a bus. Later, he explained that Orr is now off the team after giving up on his coaches and teammates on game day.

Continue Reading » Will Muschamp sends DT Leon Orr home on bus, says player is “not a Florida Gator anymore”

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Friday Final: Roper on quarterbacks, offensive problems; Durkin on fresh faces on defense

In this week’s special edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at what offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin had to say ahead of the team’s fourth Southeastern Conference game.

The Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) return home to host the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp addresses recent incidents, prep for LSU
Story: Coaches want Gators’ playmakers to step it up

BACK IN THE SADDLE

Quarterback Jeff Driskel is having a horrible redshirt junior campaign. As a full-time starter, he’s completing a career-low 54.7 percent of his passes and averaging a career-worst 5.0 yards per attempt. He has thrown more interceptions through four games (six) than he did in 13 starters in 2012 (five).

Simply put, Driskel has regressed in a major way, and there should be no doubt whatsoever that confidence is the biggest factor in his decline. While Roper understands what is wrong with Driskel, he does not see a player struggling with confidence or poise.

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Friday Final: Florida confident, prepared for UT

In this week’s Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com tackles the team’s confidence entering its third Southeastern Conference game, the emergence of a young offensive lineman and a look at the unofficial depth chart ahead of the contest.

The Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) hit the road for the second time this season when they face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game kicks off at noon and will air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Tennessee, talks injuries and support
Notebook: Kurt Roper keeping Florida offense calm, focused
Story: With support, QB Jeff Driskel focused on improvement not criticism
The Silver Lining: QB Treon Harris not ready for prime time
Notebook: Muschamp, D.J. Durkin looking to fix Gators secondary

GOOD TIMING

According to players on both sides of the ball, Florida’s off week came at an opportune time for the program, just as it was coming off a devastating loss on the road to Alabama. It’s not that the Crimson Tide simply defeated the Gators while hosting them in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but rather that the victory was a dominant one which appeared to show that UF still has a long way to go to truly be competitive this season.

Simply put, not all of Florida’s players saw the gap as that wide.

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9/29: Muschamp talks injuries, support, secondary

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team begins preparations for the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC). Florida will look to extend its nine-game winning streak against Tennessee on Saturday at noon when the Vols will host the Gators at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

INJURY UPDATES

While Florida’s injury issues are nowhere near as bad as they were in 2013, the team is certainly dealing with some injured Gators one-quarter of the way through the season.

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (meniscus) will be sidelined for Saturday’s game as expected, though Muschamp hopes he will be able to return against LSU. Junior Jonathan Bullard will take many of his snaps on the interior.

Florida’s defense may also be without redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor (knee swelling), who is listed as “questionable-to-doubtful” this week. Freshman running back Brandon Powell (hamstring), who has not played since the opener against Eastern Michigan, received a similar designation from Muschamp on Monday.

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