Four Murphy turnovers doom Gators, Florida loses to Vanderbilt for first time since 1988

A horrible season for the Florida Gators got even worse on Saturday as the Vanderbilt Commodores entered Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, on homecoming and picked up a 34-17 victory, beating their SEC East rivals for the first time since 1988.

Vanderbilt came through with a win in Gainesville for the first time since 1945, one that ended Florida’s 22-game winning streak in the series. It was also the Commodores’ first league victory against the Gators dating back to when they joined the SEC in 1992.

Florida dropped its fourth-straight game by falling behind early and never finding a way to recover. The Gators are now below .500 for the first time since 1992 and are in the process of breaking their consecutive bowl game streak, which currently stands at 22.

After winning the toss and deferring possession, Florida allowed its opponent to pick up an opening drive score for the third-straight week. Vanderbilt gained 62 yards on 13 plays, converting two first downs in UF territory, and took an early 3-0 lead.

The Gators responded immediately with a 12-play, 48-yard drive, but redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin missed a 44-yard field goal wide right.

Florida committed another miscue just minutes later when redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, on 1st-and-10 from UF’s 25-yard line, threw an interception that was returned to the 10. On the very next play, VU running back Jerron Seymour rumbled into the end zone to put his team up 10-0 in the first quarter.

Continue Reading » Four Murphy turnovers doom Gators, Florida loses to Vanderbilt for first time since 1988

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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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10/9: Muschamp and Miles talk Florida-LSU

No. 17/17 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team heading into Saturday’s road contest against the No. 11/10 LSU Tigers. Les Miles, LSU’s head coach, also spoke Monday and Wednesday about this week’s match-up.

INJURY UPDATES

Updating his team’s injuries, Muschamp said junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) had his best practice since being injured a month ago and will be full speed for Saturday’s game. Additionally, freshman linebacker Jarrad Davis (facial laceration) will be fine to play.

Unfortunately, the news was not all positive for Florida as freshman LB Alex Anzalone sprained his ankle against Arkansas, was unable to practice all week and is already listed as out for this weekend’s game.

MAD HATTER ON THE GATORS

Miles discussed his team’s upcoming showdown with Florida on Monday at the start of his weekly press conference with local and national media.

“We’ll be challenged. A very, very talented team. They have good players. They’ll be coming to Tiger Stadium. Any time that we get these two teams matched up – I can think back into ’07 and think back into times that we’ve faced Florida in this stadium – they’ve always been very competitive, a great challenge certainly to both teams. So good, quality Florida team, ranked number 17, which in my opinion, they look a lot better than 17. They’re the No. 1 team defensively in the league. They’re allowing 12 points, 217 yards, 65 yards rushing and 152 yards passing. They lead in all major defensive categories. Again, a very sound scheme. They don’t give up big plays. Again, Will Muschamp does a great job with that defense.

“Offensively they’re averaging 25 points, just under 400 yards a game, 107 yards rushing and 200 yards passing. And they, again, good balance. The quarterback is a playmaker. Tyler Murphy, and they have two very, very quality running backs and this Trey Burton comes in. He’s a playmaker. He leads them in receiving, and he can play quarterback. … Seems like we’ve been playing that guy for a long time. We need check his eligibility. But a very, very quality team, and we’re looking forward to getting to work on him [Monday]. It’s a workday. We look forward to welcoming Florida to Tiger Stadium, and we expect that it will be a loud, very, very home team-friendly crowd.”

[Editor's Note: Burton has career statistics of 64 total yards and one rushing touchdown in three games against the Tigers.]

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10/7: Muschamp recaps Arkansas, previews LSU

No. 17/17 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 30-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks and his team’s upcoming road contest against the No. 11/10 LSU Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 12. The contest will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Players of the Game: Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton
“He’s playing at a high level, creating plays after the catch. … Really proud of Solomon and how he’s playing. He’s a great young man, works extremely hard, has really dedicated himself to developing himself as a receiver and certainly is getting great results.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia
“Max is a smart guy. … Max is pretty solid all over. He was a guy that did a lot of things well for us. He can play left tackle, he can play multiple positions. He’s been a really good fit for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Patton, senior WR Trey Burton, redshirt junior WR Quinton Dunbar, sophomore running back Matt Jones, redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy

Defensive Players of the Week: Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy
Purifoy was also named SEC Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.

Ball Hawks: Purifoy, junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., redshirt junior LB Michael Taylor

Hard Hat: Freshman LB Jarrad Davis

Special Teams Player of the Week: Senior safety Jaylen Watkins

COULD MUSCHAMP HANDLE THE DEFENSE ALLOWING 50 POINTS?

LSU’s suddenly impressive offense has registered some huge outputs in its first six games of 2013 (including three SEC contests).

The Tigers scored 35 and 59 points in respective victories over Auburn and Mississippi State and also posted 41 points in a loss to Georgia.

Asked Monday if he would be able to handle his defense coughing up that many points, Muschamp explained that it would have been a concern for him in the past but now all he cares about is leaving each game victorious.

“As long as we win, I don’t care what happens. I’ll be honest with you. I got real caught up with all of that stuff when I was a coordinator. But I’m a head coach. I want to win. If it takes 51-50, let’s go,” he said. Watch the film on Sunday and we’ll figure out what we need to do to get better.

“But I can tell you right now, I used to grab the stat sheets when I was a coordinator. Not anymore. There’s one stat that matters and that’s winning. Do what you got to do to win games. It’s hard enough on Saturday afternoon to worry about all that other stuff. Just do what you got to do to win.”

Fowler concurred that winning is most important to Muschamp but was honestly concerned with the possibilities of what could potentially happen if the Gators gave up that many points in a single game.

“He’ll be happy that we won, but 50 points? Nah, he wouldn’t be happy with that,” he said. “Oh, no, not 50 points. Even if we win, I’ll have a nightmare. Scared. Jesus. No. … I don’t even know how he would physically handle that. I honestly don’t know what would happen. I wouldn’t want to know. That would be crazy.”

Continue Reading » 10/7: Muschamp recaps Arkansas, previews LSU

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10/5: Florida vs. Arkansas post-game report

The No. 18/19 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) prepared all week for a hard-nosed, physical contest and got just that from the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After winning the game 30-10, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its latest victory.

CHRIS DIMARCO AS MR. TWO BITS

HIGHLIGHTS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida extended its winning streak against Arkansas to nine games dating back to 1995 and hold a 9-1 record in the all-time series. The Gators have won nine-straight contests against the Razorbacks. UF has yet to lose a game to UA since the latter program joined the SEC in 1992.
» The victory pushes Florida to 3-0 in SEC play, marking the second-straight season it has begun the conference slate undefeated through three games.
» UF’s 20-point margin of victory is its largest so far in 2013.
» The Gators improved to 7-9 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 18-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-6 when an opponent scores first and 18-1 when leading at the half.
» The Hogs have not defeated a ranked opponent since 2011.
» Florida improved to 18-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Gators won the time of possession battle once again and have done so in every game this season. But the 32:22-27:38 margin was the smallest of the 2013 campaign.
» Florida registered two sacks on Arkansas, more than three times the average number of sacks the team was allowing per game entering the contest (0.60).
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 16-straight games.
» UF has forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (358).
» Florida has registered a nation-leading 104 interceptions since 2008. UF is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (17) and interception return yards (1,832).
» The Gators registered at least one passing touchdown for the seventh-straight game but were held without a rushing score for the first time since Nov. 10, 2012.
» Florida gave up 275 yards of total offense to Arkansas, the most allowed by UF’s defense in a single game this season.
» The Gators have now yielded eight red zone trips through five games. In those eight appearances, opponents began two of drives already in the red zone.
» UF has held 12-straight SEC opponents to 20 points or less.
» Florida did not commit a penalty in the first half, the first time that has happened in a single half under Muschamp during his three seasons with the team. UF was flagged eight times for 84 yards in the second half, however.

» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 72.7 percent of his passes (16-of-22) for 240 yards and three touchdowns, all career-best marks.
» The Gators have not failed to score in the red zone since Murphy took over as the primary signal caller. UF is a perfect 9-for-9 on scoring opportunities inside the 20.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton also set career marks with 124 yards, two touchdowns and six receptions (tying a career-high) on Saturday. He is the first wideout since Riley Cooper to catch two touchdowns in a single game and register two 100+ yard games in a single season (2009).
» Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy grabbed his first career interception and celebrated by returning it 42 yards for a touchdown. He also forced a fumble on a sack.

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10/2: Durkin on Hargreaves, Bullard, Arkansas

Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday ahead of the fifth game of the season against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Oct. 5.

FRESHMAN SENSATION EARNING RESPECT

It only took four games, but freshman Vernon Hargreaves III appears to have become the most feared cornerback on Florida’s roster.

“Well, he was the SEC Freshman of the Week for a reason,” Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said on Wednesday. “He’s very talented. I remember recruiting him out of high school, at least watching him on film. He’s everything that you want at the position. He’s very, very confident. He’s very aggressive. I think there’s probably some people that went after him and maybe they regretted that decision afterward. … I know this: he’s impressed me on film.”

Asked later in the day about Bielema’s comments, Durkin agreed with his opponent this Saturday.

“Vernon, obviously on the field talent-wise and ability-wise, that’s a pretty clear thing to see whether it was evaluation from high school up to here or now when we’ve seen him playing college ball. But I think the most amazing thing is off the field, how he handles himself and carries himself,” Durkin said. “He’s a veteran player, upperclassman, but he’s only a freshman. That’s the way he carries himself, he acts, the way he handles himself in meetings, the way he prepares for games and so I think you have something special there when you mix all that together.”

Though Durkin said he never felt as if teams were attacking Hargreaves because he is a freshman, he did say that the opportunity for that to happen has been there because Hargreaves has spent so much time on the field already.

“I know this: we’ve put him in a lot of situations where he’s out there without help and he’s responded. We play a lot of press man. He’s out there and…it’s not him alone – there’s other guys playing the same way – he’s out there alone quite a bit and he’s done a good job responding to it. We try to mix our coverages and help at times, but he’s out there quite a bit.”

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9/30: Muschamp on Easley to NFL, injuries, Hogs

No. 18/19 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 24-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and his team’s upcoming home game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 5. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

HEADING TO THE NFL

Asked about senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley future and whether he would consider applying for a medical redshirt and playing a fifth season, Muschamp announced that there was no question Easley would be moving on with his career.

“Dominque’s definitely going to go to the NFL,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s had two ACLs. I think that’s the best move for him right now is go and prepare himself for April and getting ready for that. He and I talked briefly about it. That’s what he wants to do, and I support it 100 percent.”

Muschamp said he is not concerned about teams being worried in regards to Easley’s injury history. He thinks what Easley has been able to do on the field will be more than enough to convince teams to draft him.

“He’ll have plenty of interest. He’s going to be a productive guy on the next level. He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s extremely intelligent. He gets the game. His tape speaks for itself in how he plays the game, how he approaches the game. He’ll be fine. There will be a lot of organizations that want him in their organization.”

Muschamp also noted that he has not spoken at length with redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose regarding his future though the two did touch base. Debose would have to apply for a second medical hardship waiver but would likely have it granted considering he did not play a single down in 2013.

INJURY UPDATES

Aside from season-ending injuries, the Gators appear to be relatively healthy heading into their next game. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers (ankle), who has missed the last two games, should be back in practice by Tuesday but will definitely see the field by Wednesday at the latest. Muschamp also noted that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) could have played against the Wildcats if needed but was held out as a precaution considering he was a game-time decision.

Redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) will remain out for this week, but sophomore TE Kent Taylor (ankle) should be back in uniform for the game. Muschamp had not previously announced Taylor’s injury but noted Monday that he has missed 2-3 weeks of action.

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9/28: Florida at Kentucky post-game report

A poised performance by redshirt junior back-up quarterback Tyler Murphy coupled with a breakthough game for sophomore running back Matt Jones and superb defensive effort led the No. 19/20 Florida Gators (3-1, 2-0 SEC) past the Kentucky Wildcats (1-3, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, KY. After winning the game 24-7, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

NEXT GAME TIME ANNOUNCED

Florida will face Arkansas next Saturday on Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. in a game that will air live on ESPN2. It will be the first night game the Gators will play in that emanates from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since Nov. 26, 2011.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida extended its winning streak against Kentucky to 27 games dating back to 1987. It is the longest active streak against an annual opponent but the sixth-longest such streak all time.
» The Gators are 47-17 all-time against the Wildcats with a 19-10 edge in Lexington. UF is also 33-1 against UK since 1980.
» Florida beat Kentucky by fewer than 34 points for the first time since 2007 (45-37). UF has outscored UK 262-43 over the last six games (2008-13) and shutout its SEC East rival last year (38-0) for the first time since 1996.
» The Gators are 15-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards. Florida is also 17-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 13-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 14-3 when scoring first and 17-1 when leading at half.
» UF is 17-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» Florida has forced at least one turnover in 15-straight games and nabbed at least one interception in seven consecutive contests.
» The Gators have forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (355).
» Florida has registered a nation-leading 103 interceptions since 2008. UF is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) and interception return yards (1,788).
» The Gators had their longest offensive scoring drive of the season in terms of time (7:47), yardage (93) and plays (13).
» Florida has not allowed Kentucky to score an offensive touchdown in 10-straight quarters dating back to 2011. The Wildcats’ sole score Saturday came on a fake field goal on their first drive of the game.
» The Gators were 4-for-4 in the red zone, 8-for-13 on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down, but their defense held the Wildcats to 0-of-1, 1-of-8 and 2-of-4 in those categories.
» Florida never punted the ball and scored five times in eight drives. The other three included two end-of-halfs and one interception.
» UF outgained UK 402-173 overall and 246-48 on the ground. The Gators also dominated time of possession 38:09-21:51, though it was the least total time they possessed the ball in a game all season.

» Murphy started the game 11-of-11 for 120 yards and a touchdown, adding four carries for 20 yards and a rushing score in the first half. He eventually completed 13-straight passes before finishing his first career start 15-for-18 for 156 yards and added an interception in the second half.
» Jones registered career-highs in carries (28) and rushing yards (176), adding a touchdown to his total while averaging 6.3 yards per touch. It was the first 100-yard game of his career and second by a Florida rusher this season (Mack Brown).
» Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III registered his third career interception in four career games.
» Senior wide receiver Trey Burton scored his first touchdown of the season and matched a career-high with six receptions. His 66 receiving yards were a game-high. Burton has now scored eight of his 20 career touchdowns against Kentucky.
» Freshman WR Demarcus Robinson earned his first career reception and took it 10 yards on a third-down conversion.

OPENING STATEMENT

“I’m very proud of our football team. It has been a long week for us, psychologically and mentally as much as anything. When you go through Jeff [Driskel]’s situation and Dominique [Easley]’s situation, which happened Tuesday night, very frustrating but you can’t always control your circumstances in life. You can control your vision.

“I told our players, ‘No excuses and no regrets.’ That’s just who we are. We have an expectation level here at the University of Florida on what we’re going to do and where we’re headed with our program. Very pleased with how our guys pulled together and the Gator Nation pulled together and came up here and did what we did. …

“Very proud of our football team. Showed a lot of resolve. They continue to come together in what we’re doing. Very proud of Tyler Murphy and his play.”

Read everything else Muschamp had to say about the game…after the break!
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