Muschamp, Gators adopting ‘bunker mentality’ as Florida players support embattled coach

Shielding themselves from falling bombs of criticism and ear-piercing chants for the ouster of a starting quarterback and head coach, Will Muschamp said Monday that he hand the Florida Gators have adopted a “bunker mentality” that he hopes will serve the team well through the remainder of the season.

With redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel benched for freshman Treon Harris after Driskel turned the ball over 12 times in his last four games, one part of the call from Florida fans has been answered.

However, Muschamp still remains coach of the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) after their devastating 42-13 blowout loss to Missouri on homecoming, and fans continue to let it be known that they want athletic director Jeremy Foley to make a change and fast.

Muschamp accepts the fervor and heavy criticism because it comes with the position of head coach, explaining that he is singularly focused on Florida’s next opponent – the SEC East-leading, No. 9-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) – and not what fans think about his job status.

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Friday Final: Florida preparing for Maty Mauk, Alex McCalister stepping up for Gators

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) as they prepare to host the Missouri Tigers (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Missouri prep begins with Florida playing two quarterbacks
Notebook: Kurt Roper talks Gators’ offense and rushing attack
Story: Jeff Driskel will start as Florida readies Treon Harris
Notebook: Will Muschamp updates team injuries, quarterback situation

GATORS LOOK TO AVOID BEING MAUK-ED UP

One year ago, while making his first career start against a reeling Florida team, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk looked like a seasoned veteran, throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown and hitting the ground for another score. Sixty-one of those 295 yards came on two passes within the first 22 seconds of the game, as Mauk completed a 41-yard toss and then a 20-yard touchdown throw on consecutive plays. Suffice to say, the Gators have no plans to underestimate him this time around.

“I think he’s a very good player. He’s a guy that can make all the throws. He’s got extreme arm talent. He’s got good touch; he can zip it when he needs to. He’s got great legs,” said Florida head coach Will Muschamp. “He’s a guy that throws it extremely well. He has great command of their offense and what they do and how they’re doing it. I think he needs to get a little more help around him.”

Mauk threw four interceptions this week, though like many committed by the Gators this season, his Tigers playmakers have been partly responsible for some of his miscues by either running wrong routes or tipping decently-to-well-thrown passes. Prior to that game, he had a 14-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

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10/8: Will Muschamp addresses recent incidents, Florida’s preparations for LSU

Updated/completed at 1:35 p.m.

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) met with the media twice on Wednesday as his team continues its preparations for the LSU Tigers (4-2, 0-2 SEC). Florida is looking to defeat LSU for just the second time since 2010 as the Gators host the Tigers on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air live nationally on the SEC Network.

Muschamp’s regularly-scheduled media appearance on Monday was postponed as freshman quarterback Treon Harris is currently under investigation for alleged sexual battery. He addressed that and a variety of other topics on Wednesday.

TREON HARRIS SITUATION

With his second-string quarterback, freshman Treon Harris, suspended indefinitely while under investigation for sexual battery, Muschamp declined to comment further on the situation. In fact, he indicated that he preferred to not even have a press conference this week but understood that he needed to in order to help the media do their jobs.

“The statement that the university released Monday, I think, was pretty self-explanatory. It is a very serious charge, and there has been no change in his status,” he said.

“You handle things in life and you move forward and that’s what we’re going to do [as a team]. I feel very comfortable with how we’ve approached this situation.”

Muschamp declined comment on any questions related to Harris.

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Muschamp, Durkin looking to fix UF’s secondary

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday to provide some additional thoughts on Florida’s first loss (on the road at Alabama) and the Gators’ upcoming road contest against the Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday at noon.

INJURY UPDATES

Two days after initially listing him as questionable, Muschamp ruled freshman running back Brandon Powell (hamstring) as out for his second-straight game. Redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (kneee) was previously listed as inactive by Muschamp, and redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor (knee) may join him if he is unable to put together a full practice before the team leaves for Knoxville, Tennessee.

While the Gators may be without two defensive starters on Saturday, they will be getting back a starting offensive lineman in junior left tackle D.J. Humphries. Muschamp said Humphries “looked great” in practice on Tuesday and should be full-go for Saturday.

REPAIRING A DAMAGED SECONDARY

Florida’s secondary has been bad through its first three games of 2014. How bad? The Gators are ranked 110th nationally in passing yards allowed per game (287.7)…and that’s with the team giving up just 45 yards through the air to Eastern Michigan.

Remove that EMU game and UF has allowed 409.0 yards passing yards per game and 17.4 yards per completion over its last two contests. Stunning, huh?

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9/29: Muschamp talks injuries, support, secondary

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team begins preparations for the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC). Florida will look to extend its nine-game winning streak against Tennessee on Saturday at noon when the Vols will host the Gators at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee.

INJURY UPDATES

While Florida’s injury issues are nowhere near as bad as they were in 2013, the team is certainly dealing with some injured Gators one-quarter of the way through the season.

Redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (meniscus) will be sidelined for Saturday’s game as expected, though Muschamp hopes he will be able to return against LSU. Junior Jonathan Bullard will take many of his snaps on the interior.

Florida’s defense may also be without redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor (knee swelling), who is listed as “questionable-to-doubtful” this week. Freshman running back Brandon Powell (hamstring), who has not played since the opener against Eastern Michigan, received a similar designation from Muschamp on Monday.

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9/24: Muschamp hopeful off week will help Gators; changes in secondary but not at quarterback

Updated at 2:45 p.m.

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) met with the media for the first time this week on Wednesday with his team currently in the middle of its first off week of the 2014 season. He discussed issues on both sides of the ball and updated Florida’s injury list 10 days ahead of the program’s next game on Oct. 4 at Tennessee.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators could be without two starting defensive front seven players next week as redshirt seniors defensive tackle Leon Orr (meniscus) and linebacker Michael Taylor (knee swelling) were both listed as questionable by Muschamp on Wednesday. Orr had a knee scope on Monday and has a minor tear in his meniscus (along with a bone bruise), though Muschamp said he was walking around on Tuesday and looked to be recovering well. Taylor is dealing with a bothersome bone bruise as well.

Junior left tackle D.J. Humphries (ankle) remains on track to return to practice on Monday and play next week after missing two games, Muschamp said, though he is not the only banged-up offensive lineman the trainers are keeping track of during the off week. Redshirt senior Chaz Green and senior Trenton Brown, who both suffered ankle injuries against Alabama, are “going to be fine” and were listed as probable for next Saturday.

The Gators are also dealing with injuries to two of their running backs. Junior Mark Herndon tore his ACL during a kickoff on Saturday and will be out for the season. Freshman Brandon Powell tweaked his hamstring during an unspecified practice and will likely be sidelined for a couple more days.

Muschamp also clarified Wednesday what injury sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was dealing with on Saturday, noting that Hargreaves was dealing with a bruised Achilles that swelled up on him after it had been kicked previously.

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TWO BITS: Florida grades, Gators recruiting

1 » The folks over at Pro Football Focus chose to evaluate the Florida Gators vs. No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide contest on Saturday as their College Game of the Week. As such, PFF described the Gators’ performance as “simply a putrid defensive effort that saw Florida miss 30 tackles.” Three different UF players – redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor, senior safety Jabari Gorman and redshirt sophomore defensive back Brian Poole missed four tackles each, while junior DB Marcus Maye was “the only Florida starter not charged with an official missed tackle.”

Gorman and junior LB Antonio Morrison – due to their pass coverage and run defense, respectively – graded out as the worst of the Gators’ defenders on Saturday, rated lower than any offensive player. Redshirt senior tackle Chaz Green and redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel were given the lowest grades on the offensive side of the ball for their pass blocking and passing, respectively. All-in-all, it was a terrible day for Florida football, and PFF‘s detailed statistics break it down quite nicely.

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Florida LB Taylor, DE Fowler ready to lead…and hit; Gators see Muschamp as tough but fair

A pair of defenders are ready to lead the way for the Florida Gators both on and off the field, while players disagree with some critics labeling head coach Will Muschamp as soft in light of his decision to reinstate three suspended players for the Eastern Michigan Eagles game on Saturday.

THE MAN FOR THE JOB

Losing Dominique Easley and Ronald Powell last year – plus Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd and Lerentee McCray the season before – the Gators spent a portion of the offseason searching for veteran leaders to unite the program and take it to another level in 2014.

In stepped redshirt senior linebacker Michael Taylor, a 10-game starter in 2013 who is as confident off the field as he is aggressive on it. Not only have his Florida teammates fallen in line behind him, the coaching staff also views him as a trustworthy extension of their teachings on the gridiron.

“Mike, really his entire career, has been about all the right things and what we stand for as a program. He’s never an issue off-the-field. He’s a very tough, physical, hard-working guy. He loves football. He’s really into it. He’s already graduated from here,” explained defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin.

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