Gators RB Jones breaks out with career game

When Florida Gators sophomore running back Matt Jones was laid up in a hospital bed a number of weeks ago recovering from a serious viral infection, doubt crept into his mind as to whether he would ever get back to form this season.

It took him weeks of check-ups, blood tests and the like just to get on the practice field and more than two full weeks of practice until he saw game action.

That came against Miami on Sept. 7 when he averaged 2.6 yards per carry and coughed up a fumble. He played better two weeks later when Florida hosted Tennessee, scoring a touchdown and averaging 4.1 yards per touch, but fumbled for a second time in as many games.

Jones admitted after Saturday’s contest that he was not physically ready to play in either of those games. He kept telling himself that he was healthy and ready to go, but he was only about 70-80 percent at UM and a bit better than that against UT.

Though he still looked a step slow and did not have his normal burst during the Gators’ 24-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, Jones put together a career game he should remember for quite some time. He took a career-high 28 carries for a career-high 176 yards, averaging 6.3 yards per rush and scoring a touchdown, and also grabbed three receptions for 20 yards.

“I’d say I’m about 95 percent right now,” he said afterwards. “That’s what I grind[ed] for all offseason. Definitely missing camp kind of took me off track. But this is what I was really grinding for, just games like this.”

Continue Reading » Gators RB Jones breaks out with career game

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

Continue Reading » Friday Final: Florida prepares for Kentucky

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9/23: Muschamp talks injuries, rushers, Kentucky

No. 19/20 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers and his team’s upcoming road game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Sept. 28. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPNU.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced that junior quarterback Jeff Driskel’s surgery, originally scheduled for Sunday, will instead be performed on Wednesday. Driskel broke his right fibula during Saturday’s game and will have a plate inserted in the leg. “Again, very disappointed for Jeff. It’s part of the game, but it’s very difficult to deal with. Really hurt for him and his family and for us as a football team,” he said.

One other serious injury occurred as redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson, who missed all of 2012 due to injury, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot and will probably miss 1-2 weeks. “I’m disappointed for Colin. He was starting to really progress and do well for us,” Muschamp said. “He’s had some issues with his foot; this is a different issue with his foot. It’s something that has not happened before.”

Three other Gators were injured Saturday but each is expected to be active for Saturday’s game. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Leon Orr hurt his shoulder and will miss practice on Monday but should be back Tuesday or Wednesday. Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, who sat out the first two games of the season with a torn pectoral, got poked in the eye early Saturday and had three stitches after the game. “He’s going to be fine for this week. I’ll tell you, a tough young man he is to play through that,” Muschamp said. Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy was also knocked from the game after being hit hard on a kickoff return; he was later diagnosed with a thigh contusion and was back at practice running on Sunday.

As for the three Florida players that missed the Tennessee game, Muschamp believes two will be healthy enough to play at Kentucky. Junior CB Marcus Roberson (knee) ran well Sunday and will be back at practice Tuesday, and redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) will also be back in action Tuesday. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers, who injured his ankle during practice on Wednesday, was listed as “doubtful” and will likely be out at least one if not two weeks.

Continue Reading » 9/23: Muschamp talks injuries, rushers, Kentucky

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Florida receivers trending upward, running game questions, Jeff Driskel’s redshirt eligibility

OnlyGators.com tackles three hot topics coming out of Saturday’s 31-17 victory by the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC) over the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators have seen wide receivers step up, must deal with a change in running philosophy and have questions to answer about the team’s future at quarterback.

WIDEOUTS BEGINNING TO EMERGE

Heading into the 2013 season, it appeared that Florida’s best chance to significantly improve its passing game would come on the back of two players – just not the two players that have stood out through the first three games. With redshirt senior Andre Debose (torn ACL) out for the season and supposed freshman sensation Demarcus Robinson held catchless in his first two games (he was suspended against Tennessee for a violation of team rules), two veterans have stepped up in a major way.

Redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar has amassed 162 yards on 11 catches over the last two contests. He had a career-high 98 yards against Miami on Sept. 7 and added 63 yards – his third-highest collegiate total – on Saturday.

Perhaps even more impressive, senior Solomon Patton has totaled 192 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. In his previous 32 appearances, Patton only combined for 100 receiving yards and never found the end zone once.

“We challenged him. ‘Do you want to just continue to be a jet sweep guy or do you want to be a major contributor to our football team?’” explained head coach Will Muschamp after Saturday’s game.

“So he worked on route running. He worked on letting us have the confidence to tailor some things after him. … He mastered those throughout spring and then he had a great summer. He came in and had a really good camp. That, to me, as much as anything, he saw an opportunity his senior year in his last go-around at the University of Florida and ‘I’m going to take advantage of my opportunities.’ And he certainly did.”

Continue Reading » Florida receivers trending upward, running game questions, Jeff Driskel’s redshirt eligibility

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

9/21: Florida vs. Tennessee post-game report

Six forced turnovers and a surprisingly poised performance by redshirt junior back-up quarterback Tyler Murphy led the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC) past the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After topping the visitors 31-17, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

DANNY WUERFFEL AS MR. TWO BITS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is extended its winning streak against Tennessee to nine games (2005-13).
» UF also won its ninth-straight SEC opener (eight against UT).
» The Vols fell to 1-24 against top 25 teams since 2008 and have now lost 18-straight games when squaring off against ranked opponents.
» The Gators are 14-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (6-9 when rushing for fewer than 150 yards). Florida is also 16-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 12-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 7-6 when an opponent scores first and 16-1 when leading at the half.
» UF is 16-2 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» UT did not score an offensive touchdown until there was 10:10 left in the game.
» The Gators have now possessed the ball for 38:20 or longer in each of their three games this season. Florida out-possessed Tennessee 39:37-20:23 on Saturday.
» UF has forced at least one turnover in 14-straight games.
» The Gators have forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (354).
» Florida’s six turnovers were the most the team has forced in a single game since Aug. 30, 2008 against Hawaii and the most UF has registered against an SEC opponent since doing the same to UT on Sept. 21, 1996.

» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton registered 100 receiving yards and no receiving touchdowns combined in the first 32 games of his career. Over the last two games, Patton has totaled 192 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He had three receptions for 73 yards, including a career-long 52-yard catch, and a score on Saturday.
» Murphy threw a completion and a touchdown pass for the first time in his college career. He finished 8-of-14 for 134 yards and a score but also picked up 84 yards and a rushing touchdown on 10 carries.
» Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown led Florida in rushing with 86 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
» Five different Gators forced turnovers including sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., who created two forced fumbles – the first and second of his career.
» Sophomore defensive back Brian Poole, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye and junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings each caught the first interception of their respective careers.

Continue Reading » 9/21: Florida vs. Tennessee post-game report

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Florida prepares for Tennessee, secondary shifts

No. 18/19 Florida Gators (1-1) defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin spoke with the media on Wednesday, and a number of players chimed in throughout the week, ahead of the third game of the season against the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) on Sept. 21.

SIGNING “ROCKY TOP”

Florida fans may cover their ears when the Tennessee band blares “Rocky Top” – especially when it’s done at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – but the players on the field have no such option. A number of Gators were asked this week how they handle the song and many, somewhat surprisingly, admitted that they sing along with it.

“[The] song gets so annoying you got to make the best out of it,” said senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley, who noted that he only knew the words “Rocky Top” but not the rest of the song. “That’s stunning to you?”

Junior fullback Hunter Joyer chimes in as well: “When we flex and warm up and stuff and they play that, I sing a little bit. … It’s a good song. I don’t like Tennessee, but it’s a good song.”

As competitive a player as Florida has on its roster, redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor said he has never uttered the words to the Vols’ tune. “Nope. I’ve never seen a Rocky Top mountain, so I don’t really sing it. I mean, we know the words because the song is kind of corny but that’s about it.”

So what does he think about his teammates singing it during the game? “We’re usually winning,” he said, “so it’s pretty much an insult to them.”

Senior safety Jaylen Watkins, playing his last game against Tennessee, notes: “All of us hate the Rocky Top [song]. It will be good to not hear it anymore.”

He is more focused on winning. “This is a big rivalry, and it would be great to leave and say I never lost to Tennessee.”

SHIFT IN THE SECONDARY

A relatively poor performance for redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye, who started the first two games of his career against Toledo and Miami, moved him off of the first string at least for the time being. Replacing him is Watkins, who many believed would start at safety anyway this season.

“Jaylen’s been a guy for us all along that has played more than one position. It’s nothing new. It’s just a matter of shuffling things around and getting our best guys on the field at one time,” said Durkin on Wednesday. “However we got to do that, we’re constantly talking about our depth chart and our personnel and building our packages to get the best 11 guys on the field to go execute what we want to do.”

Said Taylor of his teammate moving into the starting lineup: “Jaylen’s a smart football player. He knows the defense very well. I think he’ll be able to execute very well for us back there and provide us with some big plays. Not saying that anybody else wasn’t able to, but he’ll be able to provide us with some big plays that we need as well.”

Durkin spoke on Maye’s demotion, noting that he will still see plenty of time on the field. “Marcus Maye is and will continue to be a great player for us. He’s very talented. He’s got to continue to learn and grow and get comfortable with what he’s doing back there,” he said. “But I think Marcus Maye, we have all the confidence in the world he can play. And he will. You’ll see him out there, and he’s going to really help us.”

Continue Reading » Florida prepares for Tennessee, secondary shifts

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Snell’s Slant: No surprises with Gators game plan

A three-year starter for the Florida Gators who played under Steve Spurrier and Ron Zook, former guard Shannon Snell joined OnlyGators.com in 2012 as a football columnist to provide his unique perspective on the team. He has returned to continue sharing his musings through the 2013 season. Snell, who played in 46 games over four seasons and started 36 of those contests, was named a First Team All-American by Sporting News in 2003 and spent two seasons in the NFL.

While some may think the Florida started slow on Saturday, scoring just 24 points against a Toledo team that really struggles defensively, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how the Gators looked overall.

Those of you that read this column know I predicted that Florida’s offense and defense would both be rather “vanilla” on Saturday and that is basically what happened no matter what the coaches want to claim.

RELATED: Brent Pease – “We didn’t have a ‘vanilla’ game plan.”

Offensively, especially for playing with a toned-down game plan, the Gators executed quite efficiently. There were two 10-play, 80-plus yard drives in the first half alone.

It really seems that the strength of this year’s team, as it was last year, is the offensive line. Not having been able to watch practice, I was curious to see how this group would gel with so many parts having changed after last season. As an offensive lineman myself, I can definitely say I was thoroughly impressed with these gentlemen.

Mack Brown had over 100 yards rushing, Jeff Driskel had ample time to find open receivers and there were very few penalties tagged on this group.

It generally takes a few games for an offensive line to start clicking as well as the Gators’ line did on Saturday, especially when there’s new starters. That Florida line looked as if it was already in midseason form from the opening snap of the game.

While the passing game was decent – all respect goes to Driskel for his performance – it is fair to say that everyone was left wanting to see the kind of explosive plays that the Gators are going to need to take that step forward this season.

There was hope that Florida would really open things up vertically and give some of the young, inexperienced wideouts a chance to spread their wings against this non-conference opponent. Even though the game plan was expected to be simple, more vertical passes could certainly have been called.

Continue Reading » Snell’s Slant: No surprises with Gators game plan

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

9/1: Muschamp updates injuries, previews Miami

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss some leftovers from the team’s 24-6 victory over Toledo while looking ahead to Saturday’s game on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. The contest will kick off at 12 p.m. from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, and air live on ESPN.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Week: Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown
“Mack ran extremely hard in the game and certainly a guy that really played well.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia, redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore
“I thought all three of those guys played really well, really built some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler and Max have been two really good additions for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Brown, senior wide receiver Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers
“Really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp, competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so. He’s a guy that adds some dimension to us.”

Defensive Player(s) of the Week: Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr., senior DL Dominique Easley, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr, redshirt junior Sam LB Ronald Powell
“All of those guys played well to contain [the quarterback] in the pocket, be able to rush four effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run.”

Ball Hawks: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (for the interception) and Easley, Powell, Orr and redshirt junior Mike LB Michael Taylor (for the pressure)

Hard Hat: Redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball
“A guy that’s really helped [take] a huge step forward defensively for us was for him to be able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done. Shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker. He’s been a huge addition for us.”

Special Team Player of the Week: Sophomore RB Mark Herndon
“He continues to be productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us.”

Big Play (Special Teams): Junior CB Marcus Roberson
“A guy that flipped the field a couple times with a couple big punt returns.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt junior WR Ryan Parrish, redshirt freshman LB Jeremi Powell, freshman WR Chris Thompson

Continue Reading » 9/1: Muschamp updates injuries, previews Miami

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

 Page 3 of 17 « 1  2  3  4  5 » ...  Last »