11/25: More Florida injuries; Muschamp on coaching changes, fixing the Gators in 2014

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 26-20 loss to the Georgia Southern Eagles and upcoming season finale at home against the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles on Saturday, Nov. 30. The game will kick off at 12:00 p.m. and air live on ESPN.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators will be without at least two more players on Saturday as redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor (sprained MCL) and freshman LB Alex Anzalone (dislocated shoulder) have already been ruled out for the game. Taylor will avoid surgery, but Anzalone will be forced to go under the knife.

Muschamp also called redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) questionable and listed sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) as doubtful.

Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) has already been cleared to play, and sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard (knee) is probable to see the field.

COACHING CHANGES COMING?

Muschamp refused to address the recent reports that it has already been decided that adjustments will be made to Florida’s offensive staff.

“There’s no changes that have been made at this time,” he said. “I’m not ready to make any statement on that at this point. We’re still playing out the season and those guys are going to coach their butts off. I’ll make that decision when I think it’s ready.”

In a similar vein, Muschamp was adamant that he was not at all concerned about his future with the Gators.

“Absolutely not,” he said when asked if he was worried about his job. After being questioned about his confidence in returning next season, Muschamp similarly answered, “Absolutely.”

He also once again put the blame on his shoulders – “It’s on me. We’ll get it fixed. I can assure you of that” – but admitted that it was nice to have the support of the players in addition to that of the administration.

“I think it’s important. Obviously I think that they understand where we are and where we’re headed with the program.” Muschamp said. “They have total confidence, in my opinion, of where we’re headed. I think they understand the plan and what we need to do … as we move forward.”

Continue Reading » 11/25: More Florida injuries; Muschamp on coaching changes, fixing the Gators in 2014

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11/23: Florida vs. Georgia Southern post-game report; Muschamp places blame on Gators offense

The Florida Gators (4-7) lost their sixth-straight on Saturday, dropping their first game to an FCS opponent in program history and guaranteeing a losing season for the first time since going winless in 1979. The Georgia Southern Eagles (7-4) upended the Gators 26-20 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, dominating both sides of the ball on the way to their first-ever victory against an FBS program.

Following his team’s loss, the worst in program history, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.

DEFLECTING BLAME

Though Muschamp has made a habit in the past of taking accountability and putting pressure on his own shoulders following a loss, he did exactly opposite on Saturday – even if there were times in which he squeezed in similar phrasing.

After the game, Muschamp criticized Florida’s offense, which was led by a third-string quarterback in redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg but nevertheless only generated 279 total yards and 20 points on the afternoon.

“You got to change the scoreboard offensively. You got to be able to change the scoreboard. We’ve just struggled scoring points offensively. It’s been a week-in, week-out occurrence. My job to get it fixed and it will get fixed,” he said.

“Very disappointed for our program, an embarrassment in this situation. We had our opportunities there, the kids kept playing hard. It’s very difficult for us to create explosive plays to get anything down the field. Just don’t ever do it.”

Asked to pinpoint the Gators’ offensive struggles, Muschamp explained that there was no one thing wrong with it but rather the entire side of the ball was failing as a whole. Should he somehow remain Florida’s coach after this season, Muschamp has certainly set up his offensive staff to take the fall.

“Where do you start? From a protection standpoint, the run game, being able to consistently run the ball, move the front. It’s been an occurrence really for us all season for the most part,” he said. “We just have a hard time in protection. We hit the play-action pass where the quarterback got his chin splattered when he threw the ball, too.

“It’s a combination of things. It’s just hard right now. It’s hard, as many moving parts as we’ve had, it’s difficult. It becomes infectious. It’s hard. When you give up 17 points, you hope you can score 17. So it’s hard right now. You can look at where we’ve rolled since about middle of the season to this point. That’s what’s happened to us.”

Nevermind that UF offense, indeed with a third-string signal caller and an incredibly banged up offensive line, managed to generate 20 points while the team’s defense coughed up 26 to Georgia Southern via 429 yards of total offense.

Continue Reading » 11/23: Florida vs. Georgia Southern post-game report; Muschamp places blame on Gators offense

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Friday Final: Florida focused on defending triple option, Gators desperate for a win, fan support

Florida Gators coaches and players spoke this week ahead of Saturday’s contest against the Georgia Southern Eagles, which is scheduled to kick off at 2:00 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on pay-per-view.

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

Monday: Will Muschamp previews Georgia Southern, updates injuries, more
Tuesday: Brent Pease talks offensive line, running game | Florida’s freshmen wideouts still works in progress
Wednesday: Two Gators ruled out for Saturday | QB Tyler Murphy not ruled out, but Skyler Mornhinweg in line to start

DEFEATING THE TRIPLE OPTION

Florida on Saturday will be tasked with defending Georgia Southern’s triple option. One of a dwindling number of teams that still uses the offense, GSU expertly runs it and has since Paul Johnson took over the program in 1997. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin, who along with the other defensive caches has been preparing for this since the summer, discussed UF’s defensive plan and how it has been communicated.

“It’s something different than what our guys see week to week. Usually you go from one opponent to the next you have a different game plan but you build off certain concepts that you normally carry and work on, there’s carryover. This week there’s not as much carryover. It’s kind of a whole different game plan of how you play it,” he explained.

“It’s just responsibility football; it’s everyone doing their job. Everyone has an assignment on each snap and they gotta do their job and not worry about the guy next to him and try to guess and do what he’s doing. Option football, that’s what they make you do, they’re gonna make sure everyone’s doing their job and if not they’re gonna make you pay. They’re good enough at it, they do enough of it, they can read the right way and if someone’s not where they’re supposed to be, it’ll show.”

Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor said he has experience facing the triple option in high school and noted that defending it all starts with stopping the dive.

“If you’ve never seen it, you can be like, ‘God, this is tricky.’ But most of us have seen it before. This is a pretty high-tech level of triple option,” he said. “They’re probably the best to do it; them and Georgia Tech. We have a lot to prepare for. It’s just going to be a good week of preparation and hopefully have a good Saturday.”

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Leon Orr expects the triple option to be “something of a challenge” but has confidence that the Gators will be able to defend it well.

“It’s a total technique change,” he said. “It’s all about focus, when it comes down to it. It’s something our defense [has to] hone in on and be able to focus on your role and not trying to do too much and going out there and doing your job like the coaches always preach.”

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11/16: Florida at South Carolina post-game report; frustrated Muschamp tells fans to “get a grip”

The Florida Gators (4-6, 3-5 SEC) lost their fifth-straight game on Saturday, dropping five in a row in a single season for the first time since 1979, by falling 19-14 to the No. 10/11 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) on the road at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC. Following his team’s loss, Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on the defeat.

OPENING STATEMENT

“Very proud of our guys’ effort. We followed the script of what we felt like we needed to do to win the game and that was ball possession, field position, eat the clock, play good defense – which we did for the most part through the night against a very good offensive football team. Extremely proud of our players and the way they’ve continued to fight in the game.

“A lot of negativity out there and these guys pulled together and showed you a little something what those guys are about. We need to make some plays in those situations to win the game. The bottom line is winning and we didn’t do it. We did not get the job done. So that’s on me. We’ll go back and continue to work hard and get these last two. We’re looking forward to that. …

“I’m extremely proud of our staff and our players of pulling together, trying to put ourselves in a position to win the game on the road against a very good football team. We just got to come up with a couple of those plays here and there. … We have our opportunities we got to make the plays and that’s on me. We got to keep working.”

FRUSTRATED MUSCHAMP TELLS FANS: “GET A GRIP”

Suffice to say, Muschamp was fired up at halftime Florida took a 14-6 advantage into the locker room. Asked after the game while his hand was all bloody and taped up, Muschamp explained, “I hit a chalkboard. Dumb.”


Following the loss, Muschamp was asked about his team’s grit and toughness while going up against a ranked team with a third-string quarterback and a number of other replacement players due to injuries suffered by the Gators throughout the season.

“It’s not excuses. It’s real. It really is,” he said. “You can say what you want to say and you can write whatever the hell you want to write. It’s real. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for that locker room. To hell with me. I worry about the kids. These kids have fought their butts off.

“There’s a lot of negativity out there and some of our fans need to get a grip. They really do. They got a bunch of kids in that locker room fighting their butt off. They can criticize me all you want, I’m great with that, they pay me enough money to deal with that. But those kids don’t, they really don’t. And they’ve fought their butts off. And they’ve continued to fight and play hard.

“Nobody’s ever questioned their efforts. I’m just extremely proud of them and the resolve and the fight and pulling together like Florida Gators do. Extremely proud of them. We just didn’t get it done. That’s on me, that’s my fault, nobody else’s.”

APPRECIATIVE OF THE ADMINISTRATION

On Wednesday, Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley and president Bernie Machen released statements of unequivocal support for Muschamp and the job he is currently doing with the Gators football program. Given the opportunity to respond in kind, Muschamp did just that publicly.

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Gators LB Antonio Morrison (torn meniscus) is seventh Florida starter out for season

There appears to be no stopping the injury bug that has depleted the Florida Gators‘ depth chart in 2013. Head coach Will Muschamp announced Monday that the team has lost its seventh starter – and 10th overall player – for the season as sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison tore his meniscus on Saturday.

It has been a rough year for Morrison, who was arrested twice during the offseason (he was cleared of the second offense – harassing a police animal) and subsequently suspended for Florida’s season opener against Toledo.

He has also struggled mightily on the field in 2013, often missing tackles or failing to make the correct defensive plays.

Redshirt junior Michael Taylor will replace Morrison with freshman Jarrad Davis moving into Taylor’s starting role at Will linebacker.

Morrison joins junior quarterback Jeff Driskel, senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley, sophomore running back Matt Jones, redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose and offensive tackles redshirt junior Chaz Green and redshirt sophomore Tyler Moore as Florida starters lost for the season.

The Gators have lost 10 total players for the season including a trio of reserves – redshirt freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell, freshman LB Matt Rolin and freshman defensive back Nick Washington.

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11/4: Muschamp evaluates coaches, players following Florida’s third-straight loss to Georgia

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 23-20 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and upcoming home game game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday, Nov. 9. The homecoming contest will kick off at 12:08 p.m. and air live on FSN.

OPENING STATEMENT

“Very proud of our players’ effort. You dig yourself a hole there in a game like that, continuing to fight and play with intensity and effort and creating some opportunities for yourself. Extremely proud of them battling through the game. …

“Disappointed, we need to finish. We had our opportunities late in the game and didn’t get it done. That falls on my shoulders. We got to get over the hump in those situations. We’ve had opportunities in several games going back to Miami and LSU and some opportunities to cut it and have a chance to win the game. And we just didn’t get it done. That’s on me. We’ll get our players to finish these situations and get over the hump and that’s’ what we’re going to do.”

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL) remains sidelined but may return in a week or two. The Gators had no new injuries, according to Muschamp, though he did discuss how redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy‘s shoulder ailment has bothered him over the last two games.

“The Missouri game it was a big effect. I don’t think there’s no question. He missed all week. He wouldn’t say it, but he was under a lot of pain going into the game. I certainly think it’s improved from there as far as the wear and tear in the game and taking some shots, obviously. But it has affected him. He won’t say it, but it does,” he explained.

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10/30: Can Florida’s defense return to form?

Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday ahead of the eighth game of the season against the Georgia Bulldogs on Nov. 2.

OVERCOMING EMBARRASSMENT

Missouri embarrassed one of the nation’s top defenses two weeks ago, racking up 500 yards of total offense while playing with a quarterback who was making his first career start. The Tigers ran the ball down the Gators’ throats and shredded Florida’s secondary. Suffice to say, the players and coaches were sufficiently ashamed.

“There was obviously things we could’ve done much better in that game,” Durkin said. “We just need to handle [adversity], if that happens to us, bounce back quicker. We’re going to get hit on a play here and there, especially if you’re playing receivers like they got. Credit to them. A lot of 50-50 balls, they went up and made the play.

“We just gotta line back up and go play. I think at some point we didn’t react the way we need to on defense. That’s something that hasn’t happened with our group and obviously we hope it doesn’t happen again. … It was something our guys are not used to, and quite frankly, we don’t want them to be used to it.”

As disappointed as he was in UF’s performance two Saturdays ago, Durkin is confident that Florida will not put up a similar dreadful performance against Georgia this weekend.

“The way our guys practice, the way they prepare, the guys we’re coaching. I think we got guys with great character and guys that are really good football players. Their response this past two weeks with how they’re practicing and preparing tells me they’re ready to move on and they know what it takes and what they need to do,” he said.

Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor is one of those players, and he was just as adamant as his coach that things would be different this time around.

“That’s not characteristic of us. That’s not what we allow. That’s a one-time thing. I can guarantee you this: that won’t happen again,” he said. “Last week was inexcusable.”

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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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