Muschamp talks nine Florida injuries, bye week

No. 20/18 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference, his only media availability during the team’s first bye week of the 2013 season, and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team and Saturday’s game.

(MOSTLY MINOR) INJURIES MOUNT FOR THE GATORS

Muschamp announced or updated injuries for nine different players, though the biggest is to freshman defensive back Nick Washington, who injured his shoulder during practice on Monday and will have season-ending surgery next week.

“He had a previously injury there in high school over in Jacksonville at Trinity. We’re going to have to have surgery on Monday, so he’ll be done for the season,” Muschamp said. “He was just reaching in for the ball, a non-contact injury, knocking the ball off a guy during the skeleton period. Unfortunately that happened, he was really progressing well as a defensive back for us and on special teams, doing a good job.”

Considering Washington only appeared in two games for Florida, he would be eligible for a medical hardship waiver (redshirt) by the NCAA as long as the school applies for one and submits the necessary documentation following the 2013 season.

Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, who the program announced Monday suffered a minor knee injury in the second quarter against Miami, will be healthy enough to play against Tennessee, Muschamp reiterated. “We’re just precautionary just trying to get him off his knee a little bit. We got a long season ahead.”

He also announced that redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore, who suffered a sprained ankle late in the fourth quarter and was seen leaving the stadium Saturday on crutches with a boot on his foot, would not play if Florida had a game this week but “probably should be fine for Tennessee.”

Other players injured on Saturday but expected to be active for next week’s game include redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye (shoulder), junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (sprained knee), sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (knee) and sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. (hip contusion).

Muschamp also announced that redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) will take contact in practice for the first time on Wednesday and is still on track to play against UT. Freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson (knee) returns to contact next Monday but will likely take a redshirt this season.

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Gameday: No. 9 Florida Gators at No. 24 Miami

Location: Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL [Capacity: 76,854]
Weather: 86°F (feels like 94°F), cloudy, isolated t-storms (30%), winds ENE at 6 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Best deals on Florida Gators tickets starting at $152 on TiqIQ

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Tom Luginbill)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter (Limited)

No. 9/12 FLORIDA GATORS No. 24 MIAMI HURRICANES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Al Golden
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3.5 | O/U: 48

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Miami leads the all-time series against Florida 28-26, though the Gators actually have a 14-13 advantage going head-to-head with the Hurricanes in Miami, FL.
» Though Florida won the last meeting between the two schools in 2008, that victory snapped a six-game winning streak for Miami in the series.
» The Gators and Canes played annually from 1944-1987 but did not square off at all in the 1990s. On Saturday, they will be sharing the field for the sixth time this century.
» Florida hopes to open the season 2-0 for the ninth-straight year.
» UM has not played a team from the SEC since facing UF in 2008.
» Florida was 4-2 against ranked opponents in 2012, posting a 164-133 scoring margin in those games. Miami, on the other hand, was 0-3 against ranked teams last season and got outscored 36-126 in those contests.
» The Gators are 13-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards). Florida is also 15-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 11-2 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 13-3 when scoring first (6-5 when an opponent scores first) and 15-1 when leading at the half (4-7 when tied or trailing at the break).
» The Hurricanes are 11-2 under Golden when scoring 30+ points.
» UF still leads the nation in interceptions (97), interception return yards (1,703) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) since 2008.
» Florida had two touchdown drives of 80+ yards against Toledo, the first time that’s happened in the same game since Nov. 5, 2011.
» Miami has amassed 500+ yards of offense in three-straight games along with a combined 126 points and average margin of victory of 22.0 points.
» The Gators’ defense held the Rockets to six points last week, the sixth time the team has held an opponent without a touchdown under Muschamp.
» The Canes have gone three games without allowing an opponent to score a touchdown on their home field. In those 160:39 minutes, Miami has only given up six field goals and 18 total points.
» Florida has forced at least one turnover in 12-straight games.
» The Gators have forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (349).
» UM will be making its 74th appearance on ESPN, second-most in the history of the network (Auburn – 75).

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar (Miami, FL), redshirt junior safety Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) are all South Florida natives named captains for Saturday’s game.
» Others playing in front of their friends and family include senior linebacker Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL), junior S Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL), junior tight end Tevin Westbrook (Coconut Creek, FL), redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, FL), freshman running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) and freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson (Delray Beach, FL).

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 9 Florida Gators at No. 24 Miami

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Florida hopes to win the state, players talk Miami game, Dunbar on getting out of the south

A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media throughout the week ahead of the second game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 7.

WINNING THE STATE

For the Gators, a rare opportunity to win the state presents itself as Florida will take on both Miami (on the road) and Florida State (at home) in the same season. Numerous players mentioned that head coach Will Muschamp always stresses the importance of UF proving itself against in-state competition, more so than ever this season.

“It’s definitely a big game. It’s definitely an in-state game. Muschamp harps on winning the state so every time you have an in-state team we always want to win that game,” said redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye. “It’s a game on the schedule so we always want that ‘W’ next to that team on the schedule. It’s definitely a big game. Definitely it’s going to be a great atmosphere and stuff like that. We’re looking forward to it.”

A good portion of the Gators’ roster is from South Florida, which makes Saturday’s contest even more special than a normal in-state game. Redshirt junior S Cody Riggs said the game truly feels like a rivalry because he has been waiting so long to play the Canes, and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar added that he is extremely excited to play on his home turf.

Dunbar will have approximately 20 tickets for the game so family and friends can come out to Sun Life Stadium watch him play. The Booker T. Washington High School graduate was once committed to Miami but flipped to Florida for a number of reasons, including putting himself into a better situation.

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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.

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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

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8/31: Florida vs. Toledo post-game report

No. 10 Florida Gators football (1-0) opened the 2013 regular season with a solid 24-6 victory over the Toledo Rockets (0-1) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

ERRICT RHETT AS MR. TWO BITS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida improved to 15-1 in under Muschamp against unranked opponents.
» The Gators are 80-27 all-time in season openers (65-6 in Gainesville) and have won 24-straight games to begin a season, the longest streak in the SEC and second-longest streak in the nation (Nebraska, 28).
» Florida has won eight-straight games in The Swamp and has not lost at home since Nov. 26, 2011.
» UF improved to 13-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards, 15-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 11-2 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 13-3 when scoring first and 15-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators scored on their first offensive drive in a season debut for the first time since 2009 (Charleston Southern).
» Florida outgained Toledo 415 yards to 205 yards and dominated the time of possession 39:48 to 20:12.

» Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell played a college football game for the first time in 20 months. He registered a sack on the first series of the game.
» Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown registered a number of firsts and career marks on Saturday. In his first start, Brown carried the ball a career-high 25 times for a career-most 112 yards. He had a career-long 23-yard run and scored twice, including the first touchdown of his career.
» Rushers sophomore Mark Herndon and freshman Kelvin Taylor each averaged over 8.0 yards per carry. Herndon toted the rock four times for 32 yards, while Taylor entered the game late in the fourth quarter and took five carries for 43 yards.
» Redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers, a safety who ran the ball in high school, recorded his first rush and reception, finishing with six touches and 53 total yards.
» Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel went 17-for-22, the most efficient game of his career at a 77.3 percent completion rate. That percentage is the highest for a Gators signal caller since Jan. 1, 2010.
» Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III recorded his first career interception.
» Redshirt junior Gideon Ajagbe, a converted linebacker, earned his first career start at fullback and scored his first career touchdown, picking up 16 yards on two receptions.
» Freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood registered his first reception (five yards).
» Redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin started his first game and went 1-for-2 on field goals, missing a 39-yard attempt wide left.
» Eight total Florida players earned their first career start while 15 freshman played their first career game.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say after the game…

Continue Reading » 8/31: Florida vs. Toledo post-game report

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Gators blast Rockets 24-6 behind Brown’s two TDs

It did not take long for the No. 10 Florida Gators to assert themselves on Saturday, using a touchdown on their first offensive drive and a stellar performance from redshirt junior running back Mack Brown to blast the Toledo Rockets 17-3 in the season opener for both teams at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Starting his first game at tailback for the Gators, Brown toted the rock a career-high 25 times for a career-high 112 yards, scored the first two touchdowns of his career and broke off for a career-long 23-yard rush on Florida’s first offensive drive of the game.

Toledo started the game on offense but failed to move the ball. On 3rd-and-10, UF redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell, playing his first college football game in 20 months, registered the team’s first sack of the season.

The Gators took over on their own 16 and put together an impressive 11-play, 84-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run from Brown. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel went 3-for-3 with two 15+ yard passes before Brown’s 23-yard run brought Florida down to the 11-yard line.

Brown’s score gave the Gators a touchdown on their first offensive drive in a season opener for the first time since 2009.

Read the rest of the Florida-Toledo game story…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gators blast Rockets 24-6 behind Brown’s two TDs

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Don’t forget about Gators CB Jaylen Watkins

The Florida Gators will start a pair of potential first-round picks at cornerback in 2013, neither of whom led their position in interceptions last season. That distinction belongs to senior Jaylen Watkins, arguably the least-hyped playmaker on Florida’s defense.

Watkins, who started 11 games for the Gators in 2012, does not need the spotlight and attention. Instead of hearing his name on television or reading it online in stories about prospects for the 2014 NFL Draft, he has kept his head in his playbook and his eyes glued to game film in order to improve on the 39 tackles (26 solo), three interceptions and eight pass breakups he registered last season.

“Just personally, I focused on the small things that I didn’t do well last year – eye control, finishing plays down the field, tackling,” he said.

The rest of the offseason, Watkins has served as a veteran mentor for the underclassmen, working as a coach on the field in between reps, when he was healthy enough to take them, of course.

“We have a lot of young guys that haven’t seen the field. They don’t know what to expect. But I kind of take them under my wing and help them and guide them through the offseason and through camp even though I was injured,” he explained.

Continue Reading » Don’t forget about Gators CB Jaylen Watkins

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