Resilient Gators fall short against Bulldogs; Georgia wins third-straight over Florida 23-20

The Florida Gators nearly fought all the way back following their worst half of the season but fell just short of a come-from-behind victory on Saturday with the Georgia Bulldogs pulling off a 23-20 victory at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL.

Florida (4-4, 3-3 SEC) has now been defeated by Georgia (5-3, 4-2 SEC) in three-straight seasons for the first time since 1987-89. Gators head coach Will Muschamp fell to 0-7 all time in the Florida-Georgia series, losing thrice as a coach and four times as a former Bulldogs player.

After allowing Georgia to score the first 20 points of the game, Florida buckled down and outscored its rival 17-0 in the second half via a mixture of impressive defensive plays and effective offense. Unfortunately for UF, many mistakes were made in both halves and it was too much of a burden for it to overcome.

The Bulldogs bit the Gators early after Florida won the toss and deferred to the second half. Georgia put together a seven-play, 75-yard drive out of the gate including a 25-yard rush and five-yard touchdown run by running back Todd Gurley.

It looked like the Gators were primed to answer back immediately as redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy hit redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar for a 83-yard reception on UF’s second play. However, Florida stalled and was pushed back on 3rd-and-Goal from the UGA eight after senior WR Solomon Patton committed a personal foul.

The Gators were forced to settle for a 40-yard field goal, but kicker Frankie Velez missed his attempt wide right.

Continue Reading » Resilient Gators fall short against Bulldogs; Georgia wins third-straight over Florida 23-20

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Can freshmen save the Gators’ 2013 season?

The Florida Gators have now officially lost eight players, five of which were starters, to season-ending injuries. For a team that was already forced to replace 13 starters from the previous season and currently stands 4-3 (3-2 SEC) with some tough games ahead, it sounds like an insurmountable predicament.

But head coach Will Muschamp on Wednesday, during his only media availability of Florida’s off week, mentioned a number of freshmen who could join cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and (more recently) punter Johnny Townsend in becoming key players for the Gators over the latter half of the regular season.

The first of which is running back Kelvin Taylor, who received five carries in garbage time during the first game against Toledo but only touched the ball once over the following four contests. When sophomore Matt Jones tore his meniscus against LSU and saw his season come to an end, Florida had no choice but to give Taylor more work behind redshirt junior Mack Brown.

Taylor averaged 5.2 yards per carry in that very game, looking sharper and more decisive than Brown. Against Missouri on Saturday, he took the majority of the carries, rushing 74 yards on 12 touches and scoring the first touchdown of his career. Muschamp admitted Wednesday that the Gators should have leaned on Taylor more in the game, and it would be no surprise if he earned his first career start against Georgia on Nov. 2.

“I thought he played well. I thought he ran the ball extremely well. He continues to improve in all facets of the game. We’ve been very pleased with where he is right now,” Muschamp said.

Continue Reading » Can freshmen save the Gators’ 2013 season?

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10/23: Muschamp talks injuries, state of Gators, confidence in staff, running Kelvin Taylor

Updated at 5:45 p.m.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spoke twice on Wednesday, making his scheduled appearance on the Southeastern Conference‘s coaches teleconference before sitting down with the media for the only time during his team’s off week.

INJURY UPDATES

Florida lost another player for the season, Muschamp announced, as freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell tore his anterior cruciate ligament in a non-contact situation during the Missouri game while on the field with the punt block unit. He is the eighth player the Gators have lost for the season, four of which have gone down with ACL injuries. “He’s a guy who was really emerging, special teams-wise. He did a great job on kickoff for us and on special teams, was really playing well,” Muschamp said.

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, who played Saturday with an injured shoulder after not practicing most of the week, will be held out of practice all week but “will start throwing again next week [and] should be fine” to start against Georgia.

Similar precautions are being used with redshirt junior LB Ronald Powell (ankle), who missed the Mizzou game and will also be held out of practice this week. Muschamp expects to get him back on the field next week. “I think we’ll get Ronald Powell back next week. He’s been unable to do anything thus far this week. He’s been running but just not ready for the change of direction and taking on blocks. But I think he’ll be fine,” he said.

Additionally, senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head) should return next week. Jacobs was injured against LSU when his helmet came off in a pile and he got kicked in the head. Florida pointed out that he returned to the game, but Jacobs did not fly with the Gators to Columbia, MO, and has not practiced since. “I felt like he was going to play last week. I really didn’t know until Thursday practice he was not going to be able to go,” Muschamp noted.

He also could not provide much of an update regarding redshirt junior LB Darrin Kitchens (shoulder), who is rehabbing from his injury but also currently away from the team with his wife, who gave birth to a baby girl Monday night. “He’s been with his family, which is where he needs to be,” Muschamp said.

Continue Reading » 10/23: Muschamp talks injuries, state of Gators, confidence in staff, running Kelvin Taylor

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Friday Final: Florida to square off with Mizzou

No. 22/22 Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s road game against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers scheduled to kick off at 12:21 p.m. from Memorial Stadium in Columbia, MO, and air live on SEC Network affiliates.

Below are some stories, notes and quotes that fell through the cracks and did not make it into one of the six posts already published here on OnlyGators.com (see links).

Monday: RB Matt Jones out for the season | Will Muschamp recaps LSU, talks injuries, previews Missouri
Tuesday: Updated depth chart | Limping, struggling Gators down but not out
Wednesday: Injury and kicking game updates from Muschamp
Thursday: Brent Pease talks RB Kelvin Taylor, pass protection (plus more notes from Pease and D.J. Durkin)

FLORIDA CONTROLS ITS OWN DESTINY

With every team in the East division already having dropped a league game – with the exception of Missouri, a team Florida could hand a loss to on Saturday – the Gators are very much in control of their own destiny, at least as far as the Southeastern Conference is concerned. Florida still has all of its goals in sight – winning the division, moving on to the SEC Championship in Atlanta, GA – a fact that was not lost on the coaches or players this week.

» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy: “A lot of people brought up saying we could still win the East, we still have a chance to get to Atlanta. That’s our number one goal. Everyone was just saying we really need to focus in and have a great week of practice and get ready to go on the road and put forth a great effort to beat Missouri. We have a bye week the week after so this is a big week for us. Nothing would be worse than losing to Missouri going into a bye week. That’s in the back of everyone’s head. Everyone’s ready to go and ready to get this game on the road.”

» Senior safety Jaylen Watkins: “We definitely turn our eyes towards the East now. We definitely would like to have that game, but we do have everything still in front of us that we want to accomplish his season, which is the Sec East and going to the SEC Championship. We just have to regain our focus and get ready to go play Missouri.”

» Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson: “We haven’t lost to a team in the East yet, so we just have to win on out from Georgia, South Carolina, Missouri is coming up. We just have to win out and keep a positive mindset. We can’t let the past or the games we lost affect our season ahead of us. We control our own destiny, so if we play good and just do and trust what the coaches [tell us], we’ll win.”

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Florida Gators update depth chart for Missouri

Though things could still change over the next five days, the No. 22/22 Florida Gators on Monday afternoon released an updated depth chart ahead of Saturday’s game.

Florida omitted players that are not participating against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers due to injury or suspension; therefore, the depth chart below is an “active” version rather than a “best-case scenario” version.

Changes are noted below and marked with (»).

OFFENSE

QB: 3 Tyler Murphy, 17 Skyler Mornhinweg
RB: 33 Mack Brown, 21 Kelvin Taylor
» 24 Matt Jones (torn meniscus) is out for the season.
FB: 43 Hunter Joyer, 25 Gideon Ajagbe
WR (X): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 11 Demarcus Robinson
WR (Z): 83 Solomon Patton, 5 Ahmad Fulwood, 85 Chris Thompson
F Position: 8 Trey Burton, 9 Latroy Pittman
» Pittman was added as second-string on last week’s depth chart.
TE: 88 Clay Burton, 87 Tevin Westbrook

LT: 70 D.J. Humphries, 76 Max Garcia
LG: 76 Max Garcia, 63 Trip Thurman
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne
RG: 67 Jon Halapio, 64 Kyle Koehne, 77 Ian Silberman
RT: 73 Tyler Moore, 74 Trenton Brown

Continue Reading » Florida Gators update depth chart for Missouri

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10/14: Muschamp recaps Florida’s loss, updates Powell, Taylor, changes at kicker and punter

No. 22/22 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 17-6 defeat at the hands of the No. 6/8 LSU Tigers and his team’s upcoming road contest against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 19. The contest will kick off at 12:21 p.m. and air live on SEC Network affiliates.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We got beat on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Any time that happens, it makes it difficult to win football games. Didn’t run it consistently enough. … Against a defense like that, you got to be balanced. You can’t get in situations that are obvious passing situations. … We got to improve in the run game. Obviously protection was not as good as we’ve been. We gave up four sacks and that falls on the offensive line, the running backs, tight ends, the quarterback. As far as the protection is concerned, too many negative plays offensively. We got to create more explosives on the road in that situation to create more positive momentum for our football team. We had them against Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, had 11 against Miami and didn’t take care of the football. But we’ve got to create more explosive plays offensively both running and throwing the ball.

“Defensively, we lost it on the line of scrimmage. When you get behind the down and distance against a team like that, especially on first and 10, it becomes difficult to call the game from the standpoint of they’re able to create balance eon you running and throwing it. … Overall, I thought our effort was good. Physicality was just not what it needs to be.”

(OTHER) INJURY UPDATES

In addition to the season-ending torn meniscus suffered by sophomore running back Matt Jones, Muschamp announced Monday that redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell injured his ankle during the game. Though he did provide specifics on the injury, it appears that Powell sprained his ankle.

Muschamp said the Gators will know more about his status for Saturday at in the “next 72 hours” depending on how much the swelling goes down. “I hope to get him back on Wednesday,” he added.

Continue Reading » 10/14: Muschamp recaps Florida’s loss, updates Powell, Taylor, changes at kicker and punter

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Gators RB Matt Jones out for the season

Florida Gators sophomore running back Matt Jones was officially ruled out for the remainder of the 2013 season on Monday after tearing his meniscus early in the first half of his team’s 17-6 loss to the LSU Tigers on Saturday afternoon.

“Very disappointed that Matt Jones will be out for the season. He’s having surgery as we speak,” head coach Will Muschamp announced during his weekly press conference on Monday. “We thought it was a sprain in the knee. Turns out it was a torn meniscus. He definitely will be out.”

Muschamp said after Saturday’s game that trainers did not think the injury to Jones’s left knee was serious but would evaluate it further after returning to Gainesville, FL.

“Very unfortunate. I hate it for Matt,” he added. “He’s a great young man. And to go through what he’s been through this fall, missing most of fall camp, working his way back in shape, starting to feel good about himself as far as how he felt physically, mentally. And then to have this setback is just disheartening for all of us.”

Jones sat out nearly all of fall camp while recovering from a serious viral infection and missed the first game of the season against Toledo as a precaution.

He returned at Miami but struggled in his first action back, fumbling the ball and picking up just 47 yards on 18 carries.

Jones finally broke out three weeks later at Kentucky, taking a career-high 28 touches for a career-high 176 yards while scoring a touchdown for the second-straight week.

He totaled 339 yards and two touchdowns in just over four full games.

Redshirt junior Mack Brown will step in for Jones as Florida’s primary running back. As the starter against Toledo, Brown had a career game by rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns on 25 touches.

He is averaging 3.7 yards per carry in 2013.

Freshman Kelvin Taylor will also see his workload increase. He is averaging 6.1 yards per carry this season and was second on the Gators with 52 yards on Saturday at LSU.

Jones is the fifth starter Florida has lost for the season joining junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green and redshirt senior kick returner Andre Debose on the mend.

A surgically-repaired torn meniscus usually requires at least two months of recovery before rehabilitation. The Gators did not provide a specific timetable for Jones but should have one after the surgery is completed.

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10/12: Florida at LSU post-game report

The No. 17/17 Florida Gators (4-2, 3-1 SEC) got manhandled by the more physical No. 10/11 LSU Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC), falling 17-6 on the road at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, FL. After the tough loss, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its defeat.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» LSU improved to 4-1 against Florida at Tiger Stadium since Les Miles took over the program and is now 15-16 at home all-time against UF
» The Gators are 1-4 in their last five games against ranked opponents, beating Florida State in 2012 but falling to Georgia, Louisville, Miami and LSU all since Oct. 27, 2012.
» Florida fell to 7-10 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards and 4-9 when tied or trailing at the half.
» The Tigers posted 327 yards of offense against the Gators’ top-ranked defense, the most UF has allowed in a single game yet in 2013. LSU was held to fewer than 400 yards and less than 30 points, both for the first time this season.
» Florida has held 13-straight SEC opponents under 20 points.
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 17-straight games.
» Florida failed to score a touchdown in an entire game for the first time since falling 17-9 to Georgia on Oct. 27, 2012.
» UF once again won the time of possession battle (34:11-25:49) and have done so in all six games this season.
» The Gators did not sack the opposing quarterback once, the first time that has happened in 2013.
» Florida committed at least eight penalties in a game for the fourth time this season. It’s also the fourth time the Gators lost 70+ yards in a game due to penalties. Two of those four contests ended as losses.
» UF was held to 2.8 yards per carry and under 150 team rushing yards for the second-straight game and third time overall this season (two losses).
» The Gators have not turned the ball over in back-to-back games.

» Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor registered career-highs of 10 carries and 52 rushing yards. He was a breath of fresh air in the Gators’ backfield but also missed a key block late in the game that resulted in a sack.
» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed just 55.6 percent of his passes, registered 115 passing yards and a QB rating of 91.3, all career lows. He also rushed for -13 yards (due to sacks), another career low mark. Murphy succeeded on a pooch punt attempt, booting the ball 36 yards and pinning LSU at its own one-yard line.
» Redshirt junior walk-on kicker Frankie Valez handled field goals for Florida on Saturday. He went 2-for-2, making the first two attempts of his career. His long of 44 was also a season-long for UF.
» Junior punter Kyle Christy struggled mightily in his primary role but completed a 14-yard pass to redshirt junior linebacker Neiron Ball on a fake punt. It was the first pass of his career and Ball’s first reception.
» The Gators did not register a sack on the evening, but Florida’s offensive line and allowed Murphy to be taken down four times and hurried on five more occasions.
» Redshirt junior nose tackle Leon Orr recovered the first fumble of his career.

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