11/12: Driskel doubtful, injuries, Florida’s case

No. 6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s tight victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns and preview Saturday’s game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who went down with what is being called a sprained ankle during the third quarter on Saturday and did not return to the game, was listed as “doubtful” by Muschamp on Monday. He is currently in a precautionary walking boot and will spend Monday and Tuesday trying to rehab his ankle before being given an opportunity to test it out on Wednesday.

Joining Driskel on the “doubtful” list were redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose, who hurt his knee in practice two weeks ago and has yet to play since. Specifics have not been provided.

Muschamp said he expects senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee), redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee) and redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown (ankle) to return to practice Tuesday and be ready to play on Saturday.

He was not as optimistic about four other players that got hurt on Saturday, noting that he expects redshirt junior WR Stephen Alli (shoulder), sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders (knee), redshirt freshman defensive back Valdez Showers (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder) to miss practice on Tuesday. All four will be reevaluated on Wednesday, which is when a decision will likely be made as to whether or not they can play in the home finale.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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Purifoy, Jenkins link up for game-changing play

“In all my years of playing football, I’ve never seen a touchdown like that on a blocked [punt]. I went ballistic,” said Florida Gators junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd, recalling how Saturday’s game against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns came to a thunderous conclusion right before his very eyes.

For most of the players on the field and many of the fans both in the stands and watching nationally the SEC Network affiliates, Saturday’s game was an unexpected nail-biter and ended with a jolt that was equally unfathomable.

After tying the game 20-20 late in the fourth quarter, Florida kicked off to Louisiana-Lafayette, expecting the team to try and gain a first down in order to run out the final 1:42 of regulation and force overtime.

As head coach Will Muschamp explained:

“We score, I wanted to see what they were going to do. Obviously when they put [running back Alonzo Harris] in the game, which had been about 100 percent run in the game on first down, I knew we had two timeouts. I was going to hold it and see what they did on second down.”

The Ragin’ Cajuns ran the ball again, but Muschamp did not budge and allowed the clock to continue ticking down. After Harris ran a third time and was stopped three yards short of a first down, he called his first time out with 13 seconds left in regulation.

“I felt very good about what D.J. [Durkin] had for a [punt] block. I asked D.J. on the headsets, ‘Do you feel good about [us] getting there?’ He said, ‘Absolutely.’ So instead of taking this timeout after second down, I was going to take it to overtime and then try to block on third down. It just turns out it worked out well for us,” Muschamp explained.

“They ran the ball there on third down. We called timeout. We had 13 seconds. I told [sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders], ‘Don’t field the ball – get away from it – we’re going to try to block it.’ I told D.J., ‘Make sure we’re safe just in case they might try and fake one.’ He said, ‘We got all the eligible [receivers] covered and we’re going to go after it.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely. Let’s go do it.’”

And “do it” the Gators did.

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
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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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No. 6 Gators eke out 27-20 win over Ragin’ Cajuns

The No. 6 Florida Gators came minutes away from arguably the worst loss in school history and seconds away from playing overtime at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on homecoming until a late offensive touchdown and punt block return for a touchdown with two seconds remaining clinched a 27-20 victory over the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns on Saturday in Gainesville, FL.

Leading 13-3 early in the third quarter, Florida stumbled defensively and allowed Louisiana-Lafayette to score 17 unanswered points including its own punt block returned for a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett, in as an injury replacement, led the Gators to a touchdown late in the fourth quarter, tying the game at 20 with under two minutes to play.

On the ensuing possession, the Ragin’ Cajuns decided to run the clock and play for overtime, but UF head coach Will Muschamp called a timeout as ULL was getting ready to punt on fourth down. Sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy promptly snuck his way inside the protection on the punt and blocked the ball, which fell into the hands of redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who charged 36 yards into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

The Gators avoided what may very well have been the worst loss in program history. UF had won 49-straight games against non-automatic qualifiers and had not fallen to such a team since Memphis State in 1988.

Read the rest of the Florida vs. Louisiana-Lafayette game story…
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Gameday: No. 6 Florida Gators vs. Louisiana

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 72°F, mostly sunny, winds ENE at 9 mph
Time: 12:21 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Starting at $24 on TiqIQ

TV: SEC Network (Mike Morgan, Chris Doering) [Affiliates]
SiriusXM: 112/200 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: ESPN3.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter and SportsYapper

No. 6 FLORIDA GATORS LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Mark Hudspeth
Record: 8-1 Record: 5-3
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Sun Belt
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -27

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 4-0 all time against Louisiana-Lafayette though all four victories came when the team was named Southwest Louisiana.
» The Gators are 12-1 against unranked opponents and 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp since he took over in 2011. Florida is 3-1 against ranked opponents this season with wins of Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» Florida was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have flipped that around and are 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 10-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 12-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-3 when scoring first and 11-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has scored on 27-of-33 red zone trips (81.8 percent) but have only converted 17 of those possessions (54.8 percent) into touchdowns.
» UF has converted 48-of-128 of its third-down attempts (37.5 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 36-of-132 on third down conversions (27.3 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 33:11 in time of possession through nine games, a margin that ranks seventh nationally and just one minute behind the country’s leader.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 138-38 in the second half and 71-20 in the fourth quarter. UF was the only team in the nation that had not allowed a fourth-quarter point until one month ago.
» Florida had a stretch of not allowing a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is fourth in scoring defense nationally (12.11 points per game).
» The Gators are +11 in turnover margin through nine games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (340) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed 15 interceptions so far in 2012 and has already surpassed its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in seven-of-eight games and has also forced seven fumbles.
» The Gators are first nationally in pass efficiency defense (87.43), fifth in total defense (286.9 yards per game) and 10th in rushing defense (100.3 yards per game).
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» The Gators are second nationally in net punt average (43.5 yards per punt).

LAST TIME OUT

Four defensive touchdowns propelled Florida to a 55-21 victory over then-Southwest Louisiana back when the teams last met in 1996. The Gators had a pair of fumble return touchdowns and interception return touchdowns in the game but also forced two additional turnovers. Wide receiver Ike Hilliard led the way for Florida with 117 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES*

» Probable/Questionable (6): Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (ankle), redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray (ankle), senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee), redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee), redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapi (ankle), junior safety Matt Elam (unknown)
» Inactive (12): Redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown, redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown), redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (flu) Junior defensive back Cody Riggs (foot), redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), junior long snapper Drew Ferris (collarbone), redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan (shoulder), junior Buck LB Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot), redshirt junior defensive end Kedric Johnson (knee), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee)

* As of Saturday at 4:00 a.m.

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11/6: Pease on Kentucky, Brissett, offense

With the team preparing for its 10th game of the season, a 12:21 p.m. game at home in Gainesville, FL against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns, No. 6 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss his the team’s latest victory and how his unit can improve on the field.

AN OPTION TO LEAD KENTUCKY?

Pease, also a former offensive coordinator with the Kentucky Wildcats, is one of a number of coaches who has been named as a possibility for the team’s vacant head coaching job. Asked about that opportunity on Tuesday, Pease said he “can’t comment to a ghost story right now” but did discuss how he would handle an interview request.

“I’m not going to approach it in-season at all,” he said. “If the opportunity comes up afterwards, I’ll do whatever is appropriate at that time. I think you always visit with people. That’s what we’re in the profession for, yeah.”

He continued, “That situation is out of the question right now because I haven’t heard anything. I wouldn’t do that; I’m focused on here. I’ve only been here one year, and I’ve made a commitment to be here, especially with my family. I’ll move on if that situation arises.”

Pease did, however, discuss the Wildcats program in general. “I think it’s a good program. I’ve been there. They got great people. They got a great program and the faculties are good,” he said. “I think they’re committed to winning and they have won. They won when we were there, when I was there on staff; they won when Rich Brooks was there. And you can get good kids there.”

WILL THE OTHER QUARTERBACK STAY?

Once it became obvious that sophomore quarterback Jacoby Brissett would be the second-stringer for the Gators, the question of what he would decide to do career-wise became of paramount importance to fans. Now nine games into the 2012 season, Brisset has barely played and likely lost an opportunity to redshirt when head coach Will Muschamp inserted him in the South Carolina game to hand the ball off.

Though Muschamp said Monday that he expects Brissett to remain with Florida after the season and continue his career in Gainesville, FL, Pease was not so sure. “I don’t know. It depends, I guess, on his commitment to Florida,” he said. “Whatever he decides to do, I support the kid.”

Pease did agree with Muschamp in noting that Brissett has been a model teammate who continues to work hard each and every week in practice.

“I’m telling you, the kid has been a pure professional about it. He’s had a good attitude. Even at halftimes, he has suggestions. He’s into the game. At practice, he’s into practice. When he takes reps, he does a good job. I appreciate his support, and I support him and have confidence in him,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the development of sophomore QB Jeff Driskel: “I think in some areas its gone quicker. In some it’s probably about on pace. Every game is a growing process no matter if it’s a quarterback or o-lineman. If you really think about the situations that he’s probably grown up with, his experience prior to this season was really in high school. He was a great athlete, and I think they beat people pretty bad.”

» On going up-tempo to start the Missouri game: “I liked it. We’ve always worked on it. We’ve always had it. I think it loosened them up, got some energy in our kids. It helped us for what we tried to get out of it. I wish we would have been a little bit more consistent with it so we could have had a couple more completions. It was effective for what we wanted.”

» On senior running back Mike Gillislee playing at the next level: “He’s got good hands. He’s willing to block. He has all the phases that he can do at the next level – catching, running, blocking. I think those are what they’re looking for first. They all want to know if you’re coachable and how smart [you are, if] you can pick up. Even in the NFL, they have way more protections than we have because they’re constantly changing. And then physically if you match up against the linebackers you’re going to have to block at that level with their strength and speed.”

» On what went wrong on Saturday: “Catch the ball. We had some drops that we shouldn’t have. … The one thing that’s glaring that could have kept us on the field a lot longer was our third-down opportunities, and we were in pretty manageable situations.”

» On not being aggressive sometimes during games: “It’s just a matter of putting it all together, which I’m not saying that’s going to happen either. Being in my position, you kind of get to a point where not everything is going to be perfect through the whole scheme of the game. You kind of play based off of field position, the timing of the game, the flow of how it’s going. You’re always trying to put the kids in a good position.”

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11/5: Muschamp pleased with Florida’s resolve

No. 6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s hard-fought 14-7 victory over the Missouri Tigers and preview Saturday’s game against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.

INJURY UPDATES

Though the Gators dealt with a rash of injuries both last week and during the game Saturday, Muschamp said that only redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown (ankle) is listed as “questionable” for this week’s contest.

However, there are at least seven players who are “probable” for the Louisiana-Lafayette game including redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (knee), redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis (ankle), redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (knee), senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (knee), redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray (ankle), redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (ankle) and junior S Matt Elam (unknown).

Muschamp said none of the players will practice on Monday but he expects everyone listed as “probable” to participate in some way beginning on Tuesday.

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Game: Redshirt senior WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer
“[Joyer is] a guy that is having an outstanding year. He’s very unsung but blocks extremely well. A lot of the runs that we’re springing are because of him. He made a great block for Omarius [Hines]. Really, this is a season award for him. He had a really good game Saturday, but he’s played consistently well all season for us.”

Scrap Iron: Halapio, redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison

Big Plays: Hines, junior RB Trey Burton, senior RB Mike Gillislee

Defensive Players of the Game: Senior S Josh Evans and junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd
“I thought [Evans] played very well. He’s played consistently well for us this entire season and really is having a good year for us.”
* Floyd was also named SEC Co-Defensive Lineman of the Week
“Sharrif was very difficult to block inside in this past ballgame and has been for the most part this season. He’s really playing his most natural position inside…and having a fantastic year.”

Ball Hawks: Evans, Elam, senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic, junior defensive end Dominique Easley, sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, junior CB Jaylen Watkins

Special Teams Players of the Game: Purifoy, sophomore S De’Ante Saunders

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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