Florida coordinators Kurt Roper, D.J. Durkin evaluate units ahead of Alabama game

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media this week to provide some thoughts on the Gators and their first road opponent of 2014, the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide, ahead of Saturday afternoon’s road game at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

HOT TOPICS: OFFENSE

» Roper on the challenges that Alabama’s defense provides: “These guys do a great job of contesting every pass. They like to press the receivers and pattern match a lot of things. They’re running with a lot of receivers. When we looked at the explosive plays, in a four-game breakdown, there were like 15 explosive passes, which are 16 yards or more for us. A lot of them, they’re just big-time plays by wide receivers with [defensive backs] right on them. They don’t give you a lot of layups. They’re hard to get separation from.

“They add the ability to rush the passer on top of that, shortening the time. Those are challenges. They’re physical up front and can get off blocks and make the run game difficult. They’re a well-coached defense, physical defense. It’s a challenge, an SEC football game in those standards, obviously playing one of the best minds in football between those guys on defense doing it and good football players. You see similarities to Florida State, but they all have their differences.”

» Roper on how much head coach Will Muschamp being familiar with Nick Saban helps him in preparation: “Obviously that’s helpful to have those conversations to maybe clarify some things as we start watching film, saying, ‘OK, why are they doing this? What’s going on here?’ So, you know obviously that is an advantage of things that are going on.”

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Healthy, motivated Matt Jones makes statement


Photo Credit: Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun

It would be unfair to label junior running back Matt Jones as a forgotten man but there is no question that another, younger Florida Gators rusher was the prime candidate to breakout in a major way in 2014.

And sophomore Kelvin Taylor may do just that at some point this season.

For now, it is Jones who will not be denied, Jones who is making a major statement and Jones who carried Florida’s offense on his back for 25 yards into the end zone in the third overtime of Saturday’s game.

“We knew Matt Jones could run like that, has been running like that through camp. We’re really just excited to see him be that powerful back. Not a lot of people are talking about him in the SEC, but we feel like he’s the best back,” said redshirt senior center Max Garcia, one of Jones’s interior blockers.

“Just to see him work hard like that and be our workhorse on the offense, just to see him break tackles – I think he broke like 16 tackles or something like that – that just motivates the offensive line to block just a little bit more, to take another bite.”

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 82°F (feels like 88°F), scattered t-storms (chance of rain: 40 percent)
Time: 7:30 p.m. EDT

TV: SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Maria Taylor)

Streaming Video: SEC Network | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 119/190 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Mark Stoops
Record: 1-0 (0-0 SEC) Record: 2-0 (0-0 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern

Odds: Florida -18.5 | O/U 53.5

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you forgot to check out via the links below!

Notebook: Muschamp sees room for improvement after Gators’ 65-0 win
Notebook: Jeff Driskel avoiding miscues; Dante Fowler Jr. leading defense
Notebook: Mark Stoops preparing for big test at Florida
Notebook: Kurt Roper wants Gators offense to stay humble, speed up
The Silver Lining: Florida loses J.C. Jackson for the season
Friday Final: “Trash talk,” coaching connections, Tim Tebow returns

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Friday Final: “Trash talk,” coaching stops, Tebow

In this week’s Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com tackles some exaggerated “trash talk” leading up to the game, familiar faces for both sides and quarterback Tim Tebow returning to Gainesville, Florida, for the second time in two months.

The Florida Gators (1-0) open their Southeastern Conference slate by hosting the Kentucky Wildcats (2-0) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and will air live on SEC Network.

“TRASH TALK”

During a post-practice interview on Tuesday, Kentucky running back Jojo Kemp (a Deland, Florida, native) was asked about playing at Florida in front of friends and family. In the middle of a rather innocuous reply, he dropped a line that – when singled out and defined as “trash talk” – has since drawn some attention.

“A couple of my [high school] teammates actually went to Florida, so I’m familiar with a lot of those guys. It’s going to be fun walking out with a victory and rubbing it in their faces,” said Kemp with a light laugh when he was asked if he knew some players on the Gators.

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The Silver Lining for Wednesday, September 10: Gators lose J.C. Jackson for season

Gators lose two for season

It may be two weeks into the season, but Florida has already lost two starters – one for the season – as well as a potential future starter after just one game.

Head coach Will Muschamp announced Tuesday that freshman cornerback J.C. Jackson will miss the remainder of the 2014 campaign after re-aggravating a shoulder injury he brought with him to UF from high school.

“J.C. Jackson will have surgery on his shoulder next week, a labrum issue that had in high school that was repaired and continues to slip out,” Muschamp explained.

“He possibly could continue to push through the season, but we felt like at his young age, [it makes sense to] just try to get it fixed and move forward. A guy who was certainly was going to help on special teams and at corner [and] is going to be outstanding player. Disappointed for him, but we’ve got to move forward.”

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9/9: Kurt Roper wants Florida Gators offense to stay humble, be careful, speed up

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and a couple of his players met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on Florida’s first game and the Gators’ upcoming contest against the Kentucky Wildcats, which is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

KEEPING THEIR HEADS

Florida’s offense exploded on Saturday to the tune of 65 points and 655 yards of total offense, though Roper was not necessarily surprised by the performance.

“Yeah, that’s not easy to do,” he said. “I think as coaches what you look at [are] the things that you have to improve on. Obviously it’s nice to win and score that many points and all that but there’s so many things to correct that that’s what sticks on your brain as a coach. We’ve got to be better here or it’s going to create some issues.”

As a coach, Roper is used to keeping his head and not letting his players get too far into the clouds after stellar performances. On Tuesday, he explained exactly how he goes about doing that on a weekly basis.

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Driskel avoiding miscues, praising Harris; Fowler leading troops without fear

Florida Gators redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and junior defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. met with the media on Monday to wrap-up their 65-0 win over the Eastern Michigan Eagles and preview Florida’s next game against the Kentucky Wildcats.

Driskel discussed the Gators’ comfort level in their new offense while Fowler displayed many characteristics of an emerging leader for Florida’s defense. Both players also praised some of their freshmen teammates.

SUCCEEDING AND STAYING HUMBLE

Driskel earned plenty of praise from his teammates and coaches alike in the offseason, and it was even pointed out separately by both groups that he never once turned the ball over in 11-on-11 competition. He was error-free in that regard Saturday, too, though head coach Will Muschamp was not completely thrilled with that being pointed out on Monday.

“Are you trying to jinx us, or what? I mean, what the heck’s going on?” Muschamp jokingly asked the questioning reporter. “Jeff’s been really smart with the football and that’s a day-to-day process you’ve got to go through. But I think, again, people saw the command that we’ve seen in camp and the comfort level he has in what we’re trying to do.”

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Andre Debose flashed talent, potential for Gators

It may have taken six years and 32 games, but on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, Florida Gators redshirt senior Andre Debose finally broke out.

Sure, Debose entered Saturday’s game tied for the Southeastern Conference record (while simultaneously holding the school record) in kickoffs returned for touchdowns with four. And yes, back on Nov. 19, 2011, Debose did have 151 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a one game against FCS opponent Furman.

However, to this point, Debose has achieved his modest success at Florida strictly through his speed. Saturday, he also displayed his burst, change-of-direction skills, elusiveness and field vision – and he did it on more than one occasion.

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