Driskel can win job back but Brissett leads

Contrary to popular belief, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp said Monday that he was not playing coy last week when not announcing who would start at quarterback for his team on Saturday against the LSU Tigers.

According to Muschamp, freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were both up for the job. However, he insinuated that Driskel’s inability to practice at full strength was to be the main reason why Brissett was able to earn the gig. He also claims he was not trying to gain any advantage but not announcing a starter at any point during the week.

“I wasn’t sure until Wednesday night that Jeff was not going to play in the game,” he said. “There was no deception on my point from the standpoint that I didn’t know until Wednesday night after practice that Jeff was probably not going to be able to play in the game. We were holding hope through Wednesday, went out Wednesday and he didn’t feel good with his ankle.”

If Florida was “holding out hope” for Driskel to be ready, one can assume the plan was for the Gators to roll with their year-long backup quarterback on Saturday. His sprained ankle made that impossible against LSU, but Muschamp thinks he will be fine to compete head-to-head with Brissett this week.

“They both are going to practice through the week,” he said. “Based on the injury report that I got this morning, Jeff should practice [Monday]. How limited he’ll be, I do not know that. Those guys will work with Jacoby being the starter at this point, and we’ll work through the week and progress to see who practices the best.”

Muschamp said that how the snaps are split – and how much Driskel practices – will be solely dependent on his health at this point in time.

“It’s not like one guy is a different quarterback than the other guy. They’re both very similar skill set as far as that’s concerned. A lot of that is going to depend on Jeff’s ankle,” he said. “How many reps will he be able to rep in practice? I don’t know at this point. We’re going to have about an hour and 15-minute practice [Monday night]. We’ll move from there and, as we move further in the week, I’ll know more obviously about how much he’ll be able to go and compete for the job this week. That will determine the reps and then obviously determine the starter.”

If Driskel is unable to practice at full speed or Brissett goes out again and earns the start, Muschamp is confident in the latter can continue progressing and play better.

“I thought Jacoby did a good job [against LSU]. As far as comparing how each quarterback performed in totally different environments, I’d have a hard time doing that. I thought he managed our offense very well,” the coach said. “I thought what we asked him to do he did very well. He’s a very composed young man. He’s very intelligent. He’s athletic. He’s smart. He works extremely hard since he’s been here as far as learning the offense and learning what to do and how we want to do it and manage our football team. I’m very pleased with his progress.”

Muschamp is so pleased, in fact, that he said offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will open the playbook even more for him if Brissett returns behind center. “Certainly we’ve got to do some more – something else offensively,” he said. “If you continue to do the same thing, you’ll continue to get the same results.” Driskel has been working with a larger playbook considering he’s been involved in the offense since the spring.

One thing that will not change as long as a backup quarterback is in, however, are running backs sophomore Trey Burton and redshirt senior Chris Rainey taking direct snaps in certain packages. Muschamp feels that helps take some of the pressure off of the young signal callers and gives the team a different element in a running game that was completely stopped against Alabama.

Florida will know who is starting at quarterback by mid-week, but who the Gators will trot out under center may once again remain a question until just before kickoff.


» Muschamp said redshirt senior QB John Brantley is progressing well in rehab and slipped up a bit, mentioning that the injury is indeed to his ankle. “He’s working hard. He’s been in the training room a lot and went on the road with us to get all the reps he could get as far as rehabbing his ankle. We feel like he’s making good progress. We’ll continue to go forward with that.”

» He also said that there is a benefit to not disclosing the specifics about Brantley’s injury. “There are some teams out there that might want to get him in a pile. Not that anybody in our league would do that.”

» Florida will again likely choose their starting quarterback on Wednesday after two full days of practice because that is when the offense primarily focuses on red zone and third down plays. “As you start to work through Tuesday’s practice, you need to move forward,” Muschamp said.

» He also addressed why redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy has not had a chance to start for the Gators. “He’s done some good things. He’s managed our offense well, but those other guys have just performed better,” Muschamp said.

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Tigers maul Gators 41-11 in Death Valley

It is called Death Valley for a reason.

The No. 17/18 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) learned Saturday exactly why their opponent’s home field earned that nickname while being routed 41-11 by the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC) at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA.

The Tigers jumped ahead 24-0 early on the back of a pair of touchdowns from running back Spencer Ware before the Gators got their first points on the board. Florida added a touchdown in the second half, but LSU ensured there would be no comeback.

The Gators entered the game without the first two quarterbacks on their depth chart after redshirt senior John Brantley (lower leg) and freshman Jeff Driskel (ankle) were both injured last Saturday against Alabama.

Florida went three-and-out on Brissett’s first series, and LSU quickly took advantage of the short field with QB Jarrett Lee throwing a 46-yard strike to wide receiver Rueben Randle for the first touchdown of the game. The Tigers scored again on their next drive, rushing the ball six times for 52 yards before Ware bounced into the end zone.

The offense opened up a bit for the Gators after that. Brissett completed four passes on Florida’s next possession and earned a first down, but a fake punt run by sophomore RB Trey Burton failed, handing the ball back to LSU on UF’s 49.

Stopped on the ensuing possession, the Tigers decided to punt the ball before it was called back due to an illegal formation penalty. LSU’s next attempt was a fake with punter Brad Wing taking it all the way down the left sideline into the end zone.

However, Wing celebrated before reaching pay dirt and the officials tacked on a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for taunting at the spot of the foul, negating the score but allowing the Tigers to maintain possession. They wound up kicking a 35-yard field goal three plays later to take a 17-0 lead with 13:22 remaining in the first half.

Penalties suffocated the Gators’ next drive before it really got underway, and a deep interception thrown by Brissett turned the ball over once again. Two possessions later, the Tigers completed a two-play, 45-yard drive with an eight yard rush from Ware for his second touchdown of the day.

With time running out in the first half, Florida engineered its first scoring drive of the game with Burton and Brissett both playing quarterback. Brissett completed a pair of passes for third-down conversions and junior RB Mike Gillislee carried the ball six times for 35 yards on the drive before redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturgis hit a 23-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.

Each team failed in their first respective possession of the second half, but LSU added its second field goal of the afternoon to cap a 10-play, 51-yard drive that was helped along by three Gators penalties including a personal foul and two offside calls.

Florida responded quickly as Brissett connected with redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose for a 65-yard touchdown on the very next possession. The Gators also succeeded on a two-point conversion when a fake high snap to Brissett was taken direct by redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey into the end zone, cutting their deficit to 16 points.

Taking a cue from their opponent, the Tigers answered right away as Lee hit Randle for 57 yards down the left sideline. Three players later, QB Jordan Jefferson threw a jump pass to tight end Mitch Joseph for LSU’s fourth touchdown of the game.

Starting from midfield, Florida hoped to replicate their downfield success. Brissett tried to find Debose in the end zone, but cornerback Tyrann Mathieu caught up just in time and intercepted the ball. Sophomore WR Solomon Patton got a hand on the Tigers’ next punt, but the Gators again failed to capitalize on good field position.

LSU RB Alfred Blue ran for a short touchdown with 1:27 remaining in the game, finalizing his team’s 30-point margin of victory.

Ware led the Tigers with 24 carries for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Lee and Jefferson each threw a touchdown, and Randle caught four balls for 127 yards and a score.

Gillislee led the Gators on the ground with nine carries for 56 yards, and Debose’s 65-yard score was one of two balls caught by UF receivers on the afternoon. Brissett finished 8/14 for 94 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.

LSU outgained Florida 454-213 offensively and held the Gators to 2-for-11 on third down conversions. UF committed 12 penalties for 89 yards in the contest and also lost time of possession to the Tigers 35:40-24:20.

Florida hopes to bounce back from consecutive losses (including their worst defeat since losing to Nebraska 62-24 in the 1996 Fiesta Bowl) as they take on Auburn on the road next Saturday. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

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No. 17 Florida Gators at No. 1 LSU Gameday

Location: Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, LA [Capacity: 92,542]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, mostly sunny, winds E-SE at 14 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET) [3:39 p.m. kickoff]

SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Les Miles
Record: 4-1 (2-1) Record: 5-0 (2-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: LSU -14; O/U 42.5


Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense


» Florida leads the all-time series against LSU 30-24-3 and is 6-5 against the Tigers since 2000. The Gators are also 16-13 all-time in Baton Rouge (4-2 since 1999).
» Muschamp was a former defensive coordinator at LSU under now Alabama head coach Nick Saban, while Tigers passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales coached Florida’s pass catchers from 2005-09.
» Miles is 3-3 in his career against the Gators.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 64-13 in the first quarter and 106-44 in the first half this season. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of five games.
» Florida ran the ball for 15 net yards on Saturday after the Gators rushed for 405 yards the week before, the sixth-best single-game performance in team history and the most since 1989. The team had a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive games, its second-longest streak ever, before failing to accomplish that feat against Alabama.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed five sacks through five games, making them second in the SEC team and tied for 20th nationally allowing just one sack per contest.
» Though Florida is 19-for-21 (90.4 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» Florida did not acquire a single turnover against Alabama after forcing four in their previous game and seven total over the prior three weeks.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» UF’s defense is six in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 27.7 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida is No. 7 nationally and second in the SEC in total defense (258.6 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 13 nationally and third in the SEC in scoring defense (14.8 points per game).
» LSU is the only team in the nation with three victories over ranked opponents; they are looking for their second-straight 6-0 start to a season.
» The Tigers have won 13-straight games in their home stadium. LSU’s last loss in Baton Rouge was to Florida, 13-3 in 2009. They are also 4-0 against the SEC East since.
» LSU’s defense has held opponents without a touchdown in 15-of-20 quarters played.
» The Tigers have forced 12 turnovers in 2011 and have converted 75 percent of those into points (eight touchdowns, one field goal). They lead the SEC and are No. 4 nationally in turnover margin at +1.8 per game.
» LSU’s run defense has not allowed a rush of more than 17 years, and the Tigers have allowed just 13 rushing plays of 10 yards or more.
» Florida and LSU are split down the middle when it comes to the four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Crimson Tide in national averages of rushing yards 210.2-172.6 (21st-48th) and passing yards 203.6-177.0 (86th-100th), while LSU leads Florida in points scored 38.0-34.2 (18th-37th) and points against 12.8-14.8 (9th-13th). The teams both defeated Kentucky this year with UF winning 48-10 on the road and LSU earning the victory 35-7 at home.


Like this year, Florida started the 2010 season 4-0 before being routed by Alabama one week prior to taking on LSU. The Gators returned home to The Swamp and stuck around with the Tigers all night long, leading 29-26 with more than three minutes to play after Andre Debose returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown and Mike Gillislee ran for a score late in the fourth quarter. LSU engineered a crazy final stand, using a fake field goal to continue their drive and end it with a three-yard passing touchdown with just six seconds remaining in the game. The Tigers accumulated 142 more yards in the game (70 more through the air and 72 additional yards on the ground) , and Jordan Jefferson scored twice on the ground while Jarrett Lee threw two touchdowns to Terrance Toliver.


Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators will be featured during Saturday’s broadcast from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Because the Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country and the game is at LSU, the focus will primarily be on them with video packages and discussions about the team. Andrews interviewed both Les Miles and Tyrann Mathieu this week. There will be talk about Florida’s quarterback situation and, of course, the three hosts along with a guest picker will make their selections as to who will win the game.


» Inactive: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg)
» Unknown: Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle)


» Freshman quarterbacks Jeff Driskel (#16) and Jacoby Brissett (#17)…either of whom would start their first career game in one of the most hostile environments in college football. Driskel, who has been the backup all season and has gone 7/16 for 73 yards with two interceptions, is expected to start but may be replaced by Brissett due to a bum ankle. Brissett has not seen action during the regular season and did not participate in the team’s spring game either as he was still in high school at the time.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 661 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 17.6 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 8.8 yards per carry so far this year including a career-high 157 two weeks ago. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps now has 324 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (10) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list after posting a 65-yard touchdown last week on the first play of the game. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 154 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first five games.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is third on the team in tackles (22) and created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT) before failing to do so last week.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (22 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first five games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (29) and Jenkins (26) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has four tackles for a loss and two sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 2.0 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has 13 tackles on the season including two for losses.
» Redshirt junior Sam LB Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is third on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two three breakups and three QB hurries on the season.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is 12-for-13 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 51) and perfect with 19 extra points, leading the Gators with 55 points scored this season.

» CB Tyrann Mathieu (#7)…who is one of the most feared defenders in the nation this season due to his propensity for making game-changing plays. Mathieu leads the SEC in forced fumbles (four) and fumble recoveries (three). He also nabbed an interception this season, scored two defensive touchdowns and leads his team in tackles (35).
» QB Jarrett Lee (#12)…who torched UF for two touchdowns in 2010. He has thrown for 793 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception in 2011 but is only completing 59.3 percent of his passes.
» QB Jordan Jefferson (#9)…who returned to action last week after missing the first four games due to suspension. Jefferson rushed for two scores against Florida in 2010 and is expected to be mixed into LSU’s offense this week.
» RBs Spencer Ware (#11) and Michael Ford (#42)…who have combined for 625 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Ware is the more powerful of the two, while Ford is elusive and averaging more yards per carry on fewer touches each game.


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Track the Florida Gators en route to Baton Rouge

The Florida Gators are on their way to Baton Rouge, LA, to face the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers in their toughest road game of 2011. As a special ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive feature, the following is the flight information for the Gators, who are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 737-800 twin-jet. You can also track the flight live in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Baton Rouge Metro Airport (KBTR)

DURATION: 1 hour 15 minutes

DEPARTURE: 4:46 p.m. EDT [scheduled 4:30 p.m. EDT]
ARRIVAL: 5:00 p.m. CDT [scheduled 4:45 p.m. CDT]

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10/5: Quinn counting on Gators’ defensive line

As the No. 17/18 Florida Gators prepare for their biggest road game of the 2011 season on Oct. 8 against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the team’s big upcoming contest.


Considering Florida’s defensive line was supposed to be its strongest position on its unit, it was quite disappointing how ineffective it was this past weekend. A lot has been said recently about how physical Alabama was on both sides of the line of scrimmage, but Quinn said physicality had not previously been an issue for the Gators.

“I don’t think we weren’t a physical team leading up to that point. I wouldn’t say it has been a history of the whole season, in my opinion,” he said. “I’m looking forward to us hitting blocks and getting back to the style that we taught. That’s what I expect to see.”

Quinn said that is the line’s top priority heading into the LSU game. “The number one thing I’d say we addressed is we want to hit blocks. At times the tape showed we were catching but not shedding violently when we were hitting our guys,” he explained.

With the Tigers’ offensive line only having allowed three sacks all season long, Quinn realizes his first line of defense is up for another rough outing on Saturday. He explained Wednesday why LSU has been so successful in protecting their quarterback this year.

“It’s a combination of things,” he said. “Their offensive line is playing well. They also utilize their tight ends and their [running] backs involved in the protection. At times you’ll see some seven-man protections – usually that’s the five offensive linemen, the tight end and a back. Most teams are using six-man protections – the offensive line and maybe a back or tight end. They’re playing well as a unit; it’s an experienced bunch coming back.”


Sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd (and if he will play inside more): “Not this week there hasn’t been [any extra work]. Really the focus has been on us sharpening up our skills. There will be some times where he’ll play inside at tackle, but we’ve really been focusing him outside.”

Junior linebacker Jon Bostic (and the punch he threw Saturday): “He’s one of the guys we really count on for leadership for our team. For him to lose his composure was disappointing for us, knowing that he’s one that we’re really counting on in a leadership role for us. We talked to him about that and he understood that. I didn’t ask him specifically regarding that play. I would think it would be a culmination of things when you’re frustrated. He just lost his head and who he is and how to play. That won’t be part of our defense, that’s for sure.”

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (and his progression this year): “I’m pleased with the progress that Jaye is making. He didn’t play the spring, so as we went through training camp he kind of developed a role with us where he can play nose and defensive tackle. For me to keep seeing him keep improving like he is has been a real positive for us and for him too. I’m pleased with where he’s headed.”

The team’s quarterbacks: “All the guys, to me, are impressive at QB. That’s a spot on our team that we got some really talented guys. They all kind of jump out at you in different ways, and he’s certainly one that has to me. Although they’re different in their own ways, they’re all really talented.”


» On his unit’s performance against Alabama in the second half: “We did start off the second half. Kind of our message was: “Let’s settle down and go back to playing our style of football.” We kind of got back to playing our style where we can play physical, get our hands on people. I thought we did that for a time in the third period and then, as it wore on in the game, it kind of fell back to where we all weren’t on the same technique. […] I’d like to give [Alabama] credit. They out-physicaled us in the game. That’s hard to accept and swallow and that’s what happened. We addressed it and now we’re moving forward.”

» On how the team is responding to an injured player: “As a whole team, any time a guy steps down, it’s not necessarily just [on] one player. We kind of had that message early in the season. We had one of our defensive players down for two games. It was the same message. […] Going through that experience sends the message for when another guy is down, it does not fall on one player to get it done [in his place].”

» On the challenges of facing two different quarterbacks at once: “When you go through the offseason, you have the study of who the QBs are. You kind of make some notes and go through a mock game preparation. That was important at the start of the week knowing, ‘OK, this player is back into it.’ You really had to have a little bit of plan for both styles of player because they’re different. One is really mobile and wants to move and is running and one is not so much of that. I guess that would be the biggest challenge, knowing the different style of the quarterback in the game.”

» On how the defense can better create pressure: “It’s going to start with the whole defense. Sometimes when you’re max protected you can do some different things from a cover standpoint – they have less guys out. It’s the back-and-forth. If they’re going to keep more in than there is more you can adjust in your coverage.”

» On the secondary playing well against Alabama: “It was certainly hard for us to find a lot of silver linings for us in that performance for our defense. They didn’t have a lot of opportunities with the amount of carries they had. Certainly in some of the man-to-mans we denied the ball. […] Although we played poorly on third down, there were some things on the back end that we saw as positives.”

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10/5: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators just days away from their sixth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the LSU Tigers, he spoke during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week six action.


Though Muschamp refused to name a starting quarterback for the third day in a row (offensive coordinator Charlie Weis deflected the question on Tuesday), he did note that freshman Jacoby Brissett has jumped redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy on the depth chart. Murphy will remain the team’s No. 3 quarterback even though redshirt senior John Brantley is out due to injury, and Brissett will take the No. 2 spot as long as freshman Jeff Driskel is indeed named the starter for Saturday’s game.

“Jeff’s obviously [ahead] because of the playing experience, but we’re repping all three guys for the game and preparing all three of those guys,” Muschamp said. “I feel very comfortable about our preparation up to this point. Obviously today’s a big day. We’re working the red zone and third down, so that will be critical for all three.”


In addition to Alabama being better, one of the reasons Florida struggled so badly in the second half was the fact that the entire offense was tailored around Brantley and his abilities. Muschamp echoed Weis’s sentiments from Tuesday that, given the new situation, the Gators will be much better prepared heading into the LSU game.

“After the game, Charlie and I sat down and he said, ‘You know, I just don’t know if we gave Jeff much of a chance because of the game plan and the experience that john has in running the offense,’” he said. “It’s tough when you’re getting ready to play a defense like Alabama or LSU and you’re preparing for your starter to play the game and then something happens. You got to be able to adjust and adapt to the situation and do the best job for your football team.”

Muschamp said that Florida prepares itself for “injuries at all positions including the quarterback position throughout training camp,” but now the team must step up to make up for a big loss. “Now you’re getting into a point in the season where you have an injury that’s unfortunate because John has been playing so well. He’s playing his best football since he’s been at Florida,” he said. “Very disappointing for him, but we got to move on and understand that he’s not going to play this week. Our guys need to accept the challenge not just at the position but as the team as a whole.”


» On LSU’s talent and ability: “LSU’s got a good football team, very balanced, got a lot of respect for Les [Miles] and the job that he’s done. They’ve got an outstanding staff and team. They’re very balanced offensively with what they do with the run and the pass, the two-back package as well as the zone read. Compliments to what they do. Defensively they’re playing very well, especially in their front seven. They’ve got a lot of playmakers on the back end and John Chavis does a great job.”

» On LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu: “Ball hawk. Just an electric guy on the field. Plays with great energy and tough, hard-nosed, great blitzer and has just a knack for getting the ball of people as far as strips are concerned and interceptions. Just one of those guys that shows up in the right spots. Certain players have a certain knack, have a certain ability to be in the right spots at the right times and make plays. He plays the game extremely hard. He’s a physical player. Got a lot of respect for the young man.”

» On the Florida-LSU annual game being in jeopardy if divisions shift: “It’s been a great game through the years, especially recently. That decision ill be made by people far above my head. Certainly the Flordia-LSU game has been a game that’s been nationally watched and has national implications every year.”

» On if the run defense has improved after he ripped into them this week: “We had a really good practice yesterday, but it needs to transfer to game day and that’s the bottom line. I thought we had good preparation last week. It’s about playing blocks. It’s about understanding your job within each call, striking the guy across from you, keeping him off the second level. We did not do a good enough job of that the other night. We had too much second-level blocks and the ball bounces to the second-level, not getting the carrier down. A lot of that had to do with our front. We got to play blocks better up front. That’s something we’ve seen throughout the year, it’s not something that just happened Saturday night.”

» On if Alabama and LSU’s defenses look very similar: “Athletically, you look at the front seven of LSU and the thing that strikes you is that they have a lot of guys. They’ve recruited well. They’ve got some length up front, they’re athletic, they got great speed, they’ve done an outstanding job coaching those guys. I’ve got tremendous respect for John and the job he’s done wherever he’s been. And then they’re very athletic on the back end. You see the length and the size of the secondary, being able to cover space. They are very similar. This is the SEC and those are two of the best defenses going, obviously.

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Weis not tipping hand on Gators’ starting QB

The position of quarterback is one that demands stability, and the Florida Gators had that this season until redshirt senior John Brantley went down with a high-ankle sprain on Saturday against the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide. Set to square off against their second top-ranked opponent in as many weeks, Florida goes into their game against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers uncertain who will be under center on the first series.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis refused to indicate who that might be, even though freshman Jeff Driskel has been the second-string quarterback all season long up to this point.

“I can tell you, but I’d have to shoot you,” Weis said jokingly. “We don’t know yet. We’re practicing as the head coach has already previously told you. Brantley’s out and we’re practicing the other three guys. By the end of the week, we’ll decide who the starter is.”

Aside from Driskel, Florida has redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett on the roster. Whoever Weis chooses will be tasked with starting the first college game of their young career, a big step up from starting in high school.

“The first thing they have to realize is…you were the star in high school and it came easy for you. Now there’s 90,000 people every week when you go to play,” he said. “The stage is the first thing you got to get used to. It’s a different set of circumstances. A lot more people involved and a lot more pressure involved [and you’re playing] against better athletes. With every young quarterback, every play they’re out there, he’s getting more experience, which only makes him better in the long run.”

Weis said he will “objectively” pick his starter for Saturday but admitted that Driskel “has obviously got the upper hand because he has played and the other guys really haven’t played meaningful football yet.” However, all three are getting reps early in the week and Weis anticipates each to succeed in his own way.

No matter who eventually wins the battle, Weis is much more confident in being able to create a game plan for a back-up given a week to prepare rather than having to scrap one in the middle of a game and start from scratch.

“I feel a lot better now than I would have doing it last week in the game. You devise a game plan really around John, and when John goes down, you have to cut back in what you’re doing,” he said. “Now at least knowing that John is out for this week, you can devise a game plan around less experienced guys rather than more experienced guys.

“The best thing for this week versus last week is everything’s being tailor made around these guys. You don’t add more, you cut back so you get used to doing the things that they feel comfortable doing. You don’t expose them to as much material, which gives them a lot more confidence.”

Weis was also quick to point out that replacing Brantley is not a one-man job. The entire team will have to step up to fill the void created by their signal caller’s untimely injury.

“Everyone knows that part of their responsibility with Brantley out is everyone, on both sides of the ball and on special teams, has to pick up some of the slack,” he said. “There isn’t one guy that picks it up. It isn’t the backup quarterback coming in alone that picks up the slack. It’s everyone that has got to kind of pick up the slack.

“We can’t lose the line of scrimmage. [If] we lose the line of scrimmage Saturday afternoon, we’ll be in for a long day. It starts there with making sure that you don’t go get roughed up. If you control the line of scrimmage with the players we have on offense, I like to think that will give us a legitimate chance.”

In a hostile environment against a tough opponent trying to fight back after a disappointing showing at home one week earlier, chances are the Gators will have plenty to worry about on Saturday in addition to their quarterback situation.

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10/4: Weis on Brantley, Murphy, Brissett, Debose

As the No. 17/18 Florida Gators prepare for their biggest road test of the 2011 season on Oct. 8 against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s loss and the upcoming contest.


All week leading up to Saturday’s contest against the Alabama Crimson Tide, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley‘s teammates kept saying how impressed they were with their leader’s confidence and poise. Brantley showcased just that during the game, opening the contest with a 65-yard touchdown pass and completing 69 percent of his passes for 190 yards through just two quarters before being injured. Weis said Tuesday that he was as impressed as he has ever been with Brantley during the game.

“With the exception of the interception where he didn’t ever see the guy – he was trying to throw the check-down to Trey [Burton] and should not have thrown it because he couldn’t really see Trey either. Think about it, he throws 16 passes, he completes 11 and he has three dropped balls,” he said. “You think about it: 14/16 against that defense? He’s stepping up in the pocket. That’s what real quarterbacks look like. Stepping up in the pocket, shuffling a little to the left, shuffling a little to the right. Making the big throw down the field that everyone said he couldn’t make. Stepping up and making the crossing route to Deonte [Thompson]denote which was his fourth read of the play. He goes boom – boom – boom and hits them out the back door.

“He would like to have that interception back, but you notice the one thing I liked the most about him was when that happened, I said three words to him when he came off the field: “Short term memory.” He came back, we went on that two-minute drive right at the end and got the ball down to the 14-yard-line before we got back-to-back sacks. It never fazed him. [He] never lost his cool. I look into peoples eyes. It was pretty easy to see that he expected to play a good game. That’s why it was unfortunate that he got injured.”


Weis also discussed Florida’s two other quarterbacks on Tuesday, noting that each can play and has the opportunity to win the starting job this week.

Redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy: “His biggest asset over those other guys is just a year of experience. Having been involved in the college football program for a year, be it a different offense, gives him a little bit of an upper hand.”

Freshman Jacoby Brissett: “Jacoby probably, the only reason why Jacoby hasn’t been a factor at this point is only because he came here in the summertime. He had to play catch-up over the other guys. The other guys were here in the spring when we put everything in. That’s the only thing that kept Jacoby from possibly being the second guy in. I don’t know how it would have played out if he was here in the springtime with the other guys, but he wasn’t.”

He also addressed whether or not specific thought has been given to redshirting Brissett (or even Driskel before the season began). “Although the thought is in the background, it’s too early in the year to do that. Once Jeff played, you don’t want to put Jacoby in just to hand off. But if Jacoby gives us a chance to win this week, Jacoby will gladly play. He would be more than happy to trot out there for the first time.”


» On if he thinks Brantley will play again this season: “Yeah, I do. You already were told by the head coach that he’ll let you know on Monday. He’s going to let you know on Monday, right? Isn’t that what he said/ He said, “I’ll let you know on Monday,” so the head coach will let you know on Monday.”

» On if he has had to rebuild the offense’s confidence this week: “Our coaching staff, at least the veteran coaches on our staff, have all been through experiences like this before, and we got a good idea how to handle it. It’s not like panic sets in, pandemonium sets in, it’s very matter-of-fact evaluation of what we do and what they do. It’s not a finger-point situation. Let’s be objective about the things that we could have done better and then here’s what we’re going to do to fix it and let’s move on. I don’t think there was any panic or any loss of confidence or all those things. I think that when you have a bunch of experienced guys who have been through the highs and lows, it becomes much more matter-of-fact.”

» On losing to Alabama: “They coached better than I did and they played better than we did. Not ever would I ever not start with the fact that I have to do a better job. When John goes down, I have to do a better job to put us in a better position to make plays.”

» On his evaluation of LSU: “We know it’s a formidable opponent. They’re ranked first in the country. They’ve got a great defense. You’re playing them on the road. It’s loud and you’re playing without your starting quarterback. What that does is, that gives you all the, “us against the world” mentality where you sit there and say, “Yeah, I guess we should just not go. We should just stay home this week.’”

» On if all three quarterbacks could play Saturday: “I would doubt that.”

» On if Driskel did indeed sprain his ankle on Saturday: “All three guys practiced today. What more do you want me to tell you? I’m not going there. It’s just not my territory. I feel I’m overstepping my bounds when I address that subject. I should always follow protocol and I just don’t think that’s my place.”

» On redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose stepping up recently: “The arrow has been pointing up on Andre for about a month. He’s been a very, very slow start – didn’t have a great training camp. He’s got tons of ability, an ability to be a front-line, top-line wide receiver. But he’s got to show you evidence of that. You don’t just go by reputation. They have to show you evidence. That’s part of the good thing that Will’s done since he’s been here. People don’t play based off of reputation; they have to give you evidence. For about the last four weeks…for him, the arrow’s clearly pointing up.”

» On if any changes will be made to the offensive line: “They have to get pressed more and not feel comfortable. With guys that play better or worse, they need to know that they’re not just handed a position. It’s still the same cast of characters that is involved in the mix. […] It’s not a question of who the people are, it’s just a question of how you intend to utilize them.”

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