9/3: Pease dismisses “vanilla” tag for Florida; discusses Jones, Showers, freshmen receivers

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the second game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 7.

“WE DIDN’T HAVE A ‘VANILLA’ GAME PLAN”

Asked Tuesday if the Gators purposely held back on offense in order to not put some of their new plays and vertical passing game on tape – or if Florida was simply the same old offense that could not do much other than run the ball – Pease appeared to be a bit offended by the implication that the Gators’ offense was vanilla and not creative. He responded with the following (extremely long) rant.

“First off, I don’t know what ‘vanilla’ – because I’ve heard the word ‘vanilla’ – I don’t know what ‘vanilla’ is. I’ve never made a game plan with vanilla and that’s never what I would go into a game plan with. I would feel too uncomfortable thinking we got to save all this, we got to save all that.

“I look at it, compared to what we did last year… We controlled the ball for 40 minutes, finished the game with the last 6:38 on the clock. We rushed for 262 [yards]; we passed for 77 percent. We had one turnover we need to improve on. We had nine explosives. We were 6-of-12 on third downs, which last year at this same thing, we were asking each other what we got to do on third downs. We were 3-for-3 on 3rd-and-1s, which last year that was a concern in our first [press] conference.

“OK, yeah, do we need to improve on sacks? Yeah, we had two sacks. Our protection, our scheme got us. Happy for Mack Brown, happy for Trey Burton how they kind of stepped up with their opportunity.

“We threw the ball down field seven times. Coverage takes some things away. Do you ask a quarterback not into coverage deep? Yeah, you do. We hit Trey Burton on two, we had two check downs, we got a protection issue on one. We’re stretching the field. We can stretch the field if we want to stretch the field. Did we have to stretch the field at a certain part in time? No. Did we have it in the game plan to do it? Yes. I’m not sure what everybody wants. …

“Are we going to throw the ball 75 times a game and throw vertical? No. When a team plays corners coverage like Toledo, you don’t throw the ball vertical. You throw the ball in intermediate to check-down throws. Did we try to throw the ball vertical in the red zone? Yes, we did. Well, they played coverage. So what’s Jeff [Driskel] do? He checks it down to Gideon [Ajagbe], guy bounces off Gideon, Gideon runs for 15 yards, gets a first down, we’re in good position and we continue to score.

“We didn’t have a ‘vanilla’ game plan. You saw reverses. I can’t handle what the refs don’t see but yet they call and it keeps us out of the end zone. …

“Should we have come out in the third quarter and probably had more production in the first two series instead of three-and-outs? Yes. … I think we hit a lull that we got to be able to step it up and not be able to do that, score at the end of the game. So if you’re measuring us against points, yeah, we left points out there. But we had things in control and we ran the last – I don’t even know how many plays – but I know there was 6:38 on the clock and we walked off the field with the offensive on the field. We were on the one-yard line or three-yard line, whatever we were on, trying to score.”

He later added:

“Do I want to see 300 passing yards? Absolutely. Is that going to be a reality? I don’t know. I don’t measure success totally on that. We completed 77 percent yet we have two drops, two tips and a pass that he probably should’ve hit on the end zone but he overthrew it and it got away from him. That’s what I see. The kid’s making good decisions. He’s managing the game. … He’s productive with his hands running it. He’s putting us in the right plays in the run game. That’s what I look at. Are we having a chance to win the game? Yeah, explosiveness, but I’m not measuring it on yards. That’s called you trying to get your guru card. Maybe when I was 30 years old, but I’m not 30 years old anymore.”

Continue Reading » 9/3: Pease dismisses “vanilla” tag for Florida; discusses Jones, Showers, freshmen receivers

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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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Pease talks Dunbar and Robinson, Gators offense

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday, four days before the 2013 season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31.

MAXIMIZING TALENT AT RECEIVER

With junior Quinton Dunbar and freshman Demarcus Robinson both listed as X wide receivers (Dunbar the starter and Robinson as second-string) on the first depth chart of the fall, many began wondering whether Florida would try to get both players on the field at the same time to maximize the talent at the position and give junior quarterback Jeff Driskel as many weapons as possible.

Both Pease and head coach Will Muschamp said previously that they want to bring Robinson along slow, ensuring he knows the X receiver spot perfectly before trying to move him around the field, which would mean Dunbar lining up elsewhere while Robinson has his helmet on. Pease on Tuesday addressed whether that is something that will likely happen during games.

“There will be situations like that. One thing with Quinton, you know, he’s a kid that’s been in it. Actually Quinton last year was a Z and we moved him to the X,” Pease said. “He knows the Z and will be inside for us sometimes. He’s a guy with experience. He’s learned the spots. … He’s a kid we can move around now.”

Robinson, despite being supremely talented, does not have the in-game experience just yet. Nevertheless, Pease noted this week that he is ahead of schedule for a player his age and should be an important contributor for the Gators this season.

“Oh yeah. Yeah, that guy is really developed for a young kid. Physically, he’s developed. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s got great hands,” Pease said. “You always want to see consistency, how you’re going to perform … and understand your routine and develop your trade and your professionalism, how you’re going to approach it. … With him, I think he’s getting to that point. He’s comfortable with things. He’s playing on his instincts. Now, let’s see you do it in the game because that’s what it’s going to come down to. …

“Is the kid going to make mistakes? Yes, because he’s a freshman. Does he have the ability to be fun to watch? Absolutely. Is he fun to be around and coach? Absolutely.”

PLAYER THOUGHTS AND EVALUATIONS

Continue Reading » Pease talks Dunbar and Robinson, Gators offense

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Florida Gators 2013 opening week depth chart

Game Week – Monday: LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | RT Chaz Green Out for Season, RB Matt Jones Set for Miami | New Mr. Two Bits, Muschamp on Tight Ends, Season Opener

Though things could still change over the next five days, the Florida Gators on Monday morning released the team’s first official depth chart for the 2013 season.

Florida omitted players that are not participating in the season opener due to injury or suspension; therefore, the depth chart below is an “active” version rather than a “best-case scenario” version. Notations marked with (») can be found below certain positions.

OnlyGators.com will update this post shortly with additional details and thoughts from head coach Will Muschamp‘s Monday press conference.

OFFENSE

QB: 6 Jeff Driskel, 3 Tyler Murphy
RB: 33 Mack Brown, 37 Mark Herndon, 10 Valdez Showers
» 24 Matt Jones is not playing on Saturday.
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
» 13 Latroy Pittman and 4 Andre Debose (out for season) knocked out of Z.
F Position: 8 Trey Burton, 13 Latroy Pittman, 30 Mike McNeely
TE: 88 Clay Burton, 87 Tevin Westbrook, 84 Colin Thompson
» 18 Kent Taylor not on the three-deep.

LT: 70 D.J. Humphries, 76 Max Garcia
» 74 Trenton Brown no longer the back-up to Humphries.
LG: 76 Max Garcia, 63 Trip Thurman
» 77 Ian Silberman no longer the back-up to Garcia.
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne
RG: 64 Kyle Koehne, 77 Ian Silberman
» 67 Jon Halapio is not playing Saturday; Thurman moved to left guard.
RT: 73 Tyler Moore, 74 Trenton Brown
» 75 Chaz Green is out for the season; Brown moved to right tackle.

Continue Reading » Florida Gators 2013 opening week depth chart

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8/21: Pease talks Gators receivers and rushers

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media 10 days before the team’s first game of the 2013 season on Aug. 31 against Toledo.

PLAYMAKERS: FOUND?

Outside of running backs and tight ends, the Gators have been searching for a set of reliable playmaking wide receivers for the last few seasons. Though he still wants to see what will happen when these players on the field, Pease said Wednesday that Florida should be able to spread the ball out more in 2013 thanks to the talent of the pass catchers on its roster.

“I feel pretty good [about them]. It’s really more centered [on] the kids that are playing wide receiver now,” he said. “Obviously we took a big loss when Jordan [Reed left for the NFL] – because he was our leading pass reception guy last year – so I think things got to become more balanced out in throwing to the wide receivers.”

Leading the pack, of course, is freshman Demarcus Robinson. Considered the most important commitment in the Gators’ 2013 recruiting class, Robinson (6-foot-2, 201 pounds) has the size, speed and athleticism to make a difference for Florida.

“I think he’s got great hands. Size-wise, he’s really what you want. And his strength that he’s got in his body. For a young kid to face as much man coverage and have to get off of that but have the body to do it, you don’t see that a lot,” Pease explained.

“Every repetition you can see him get better. The one thing he does have is, he can get knocked off at times on a reroute, but he has the ability to explode to go get a ball. So he’s got a lot of range. … I’m not pointing him out as the greatest thing on Earth yet, because he’s got to play a game, but he’s worked on his skill and understanding what his opportunity and job is on each play.”

Robinson, who Pease called “a phenomenal athlete,” is not the only wide receiver performing well during fall practice. Senior Solomon Patton, redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar and freshman Ahmad Fulwood are names that have been on the tips of the coaches’ tongues over the last two weeks.

Continue Reading » 8/21: Pease talks Gators receivers and rushers

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8/12: Muschamp on Joyer’s injury, Jones missing games, standouts from Florida’s scrimmage

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media during his team’s second full week of fall practice ahead of the 2013 season.

INJURIES CONTINUE TO MOUNT

There appears to be no slowing down Florida’s rash of fall injuries. Though junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (appendectomy) returned to practice over the weekend and both redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia (back) and redshirt sophomore G Trip Thurman (shoulder) were cleared – as expected – on Monday, the Gators added another player their long injury list over the weekend.

Junior fullback Hunter Joyer pulled his hamstring Sunday and will miss a 7-10 days.

He joins sophomore running back Matt Jones (viral infection – out indefinitely), redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral – 7-10 days), senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (sprained patella – one week), senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot – one week) and freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson (meniscus surgery – 3-4 weeks) on the sidelines.

Jones began participating in cardiovascular activities last week but is not close to returning to practice. Muschamp said team doctors want to avoid a “relapse of the situation” and ensure that he makes a full recovery before returning to the field. He also indicated that Jones’s absence could stretch into the 2013 campaign.

“Beginning of the season, at some point, whether it’s the first week or the second week or as you head into the open week, he’s going to play for us this year,” he said. “It’s totally up to [the doctors] as far as the things they’re telling me right now. That’s why I said we’re a little bit in uncharted waters coming into having the type of infection he had and then you’re talking about the heat we’re in and that sort of thing. I think we just need to be really careful right now.”

Muschamp then reiterated what one of Jones’s doctors told him about his recovery. “When you’re dealing with the human body, you never know. You don’t know how he’s going to respond and how quickly. The great thing is he’s young, he’s in great shape and it knocked him down a little bit, but he’s a guy that’s going to respond very quickly.”

Halapio was reevaluated on Friday when Muschamp said he expected him to be cleared for action by Monday. Instead, he will miss at least another week of action.

Continue Reading » 8/12: Muschamp on Joyer’s injury, Jones missing games, standouts from Florida’s scrimmage

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8/9: Muschamp on injuries, Morrison, team issues

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media after his team’s first full week of fall practice ahead of the 2013 season.

ILLNESS / INJURY UPDATES

The bad news: In addition to announcing the re-torn anterior cruciate ligament for freshman linebacker Matt Rolin and expressing his hope redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose returns for a sixth year of eligibility (see “Notes & Quotes” below), Muschamp discussed three new injuries on Friday.

Seniors defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (sprained knee) and defensive back Jaylen Watkins (sprained foot) will each miss approximately 10 days with their ailments.

Additionally, freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson, who enrolled in the fall and entered camp with a pre-existing injury to his meniscus, will have knee surgery on Friday and sit out the next 3-4 weeks. It was unlikely that Johnson saw the field for the Gators this season anyway, but the surgery certainly puts him further behind and makes a redshirt season appear all but guaranteed.

The good news: Redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia (back) has been cleared for non-contact individual work, according to Muschamp. Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (torn pectoral) is meeting with doctors Friday and hoping to be cleared to return to action by Monday at the latest. Redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman (shoulder) remains on track to return Monday as well.

While there is not a full update on sophomore running back Matt Jones (viral infection), Muschamp said he should know more next week. Jones has been able to participate in cardiovascular exercise this week but has not practiced with the team.

Continue Reading » 8/9: Muschamp on injuries, Morrison, team issues

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Florida assistant Joker Phillips developing much-needed improvement at wide receiver

It’s not every day that a respected offensive mind and experienced head coach will join a program as an assistant, but the Florida Gators and Will Muschamp certainly lucked out in December when ousted Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips agreed to take over UF’s much-maligned wide receivers.

At 49 years of age and entering his 26th year as a coach, Phillips is a former wideout who played in the NFL and CFL before deciding to get into coaching.

He had been in charge of Kentucky’s offense since 2005 and developed some major NFL-caliber stars while in Lexington, KY, and elsewhere including Randall Cobb, Stevie Johnson, Jacob Tamme and Troy Williamson.

Now at Florida, Phillips gets to take a bit of pressure off the shoulders of offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who had graduate assistant Bush Hamdan coaching up his pass catchers last season after the departure of Aubrey Hill.

“It’s been good. He’s a very experienced person at that position and has good ideas. He knows kind of what we run as far as our system. He fits into that. He’s willing to do it, obviously. I think he’s good in the fact that he’s challenged the kids at the wide receiver position,” Pease said of Phillips on Wednesday.

“You bring in a guy that’s got that much experience and you just look at his reputation and it provides the fact that I think he gives you the authority figure that knows what’s going on.”

Continue Reading » Florida assistant Joker Phillips developing much-needed improvement at wide receiver

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