10/12: Quinn focuses attention on defensive line

As the Florida Gators prepare for their second-straight road game on Oct. 15 against the No. 24 Auburn Tigers, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss last week’s game and the team’s upcoming contest.

DEFENSIVE LINE NEEDS TO STEP UP, BIG TIME

If this headline looks the familiar, it should, because it is unchanged from Quinn’s meeting last week. Speaking Wednesday about the area in which the defense must show the greatest improvement going forward, Quinn admitted he was disappointed with the defensive line and how it has performed over the last two weeks. “Us and our staff take a lot of pride in the way we play run defense. Certainly when one of the things that you really are counting on to be a backbone of your core, and you don’t play the technique quite as well as you want, certainly there was some frustration there,” he said.

One player in particular – sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd – earned some praise from Quinn, though he did not offer up much for the rest of the unit. “Floyd would have been one that stood out and had a better performance than the week before. Overall one of the things we’re really emphasizing is getting our hands and getting knock backs and separation – really moving back the line of scrimmage. It’s such an important part of playing defensive line. It’s something we’ve emphasized from the time we’ve gotten here,” he said.

“As as whole unit, there may be certain guys here and there that shined to us, but it was a tough performance for all of us and not a lot to pull from to be honest with you. We didn’t single anybody out necessarily that stood out to us one way or another.”

PICKING UP POWELL

One man who was expected to be a big playmaker for Florida’s defense, sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell, has been relatively quiet the last three weeks after helping force two interceptions with his pass rush against Tennessee. Quinn on Wednesday expressed his disappointment with Powell’s production lately.

“At that position we certainly want the production to be higher,” he said. “When the rush opportunities are there, converting faster into your rush. [The] technique of edge setting when we’re playing that way. I wouldn’t say it’s one thing. It’s something we’re working on daily in practice with him. In pass rush, it’s all about our get-off with him. In the run game, the outside guy has to set the edge. It’s a daily thing with he and a lot of the guys to say how are we going to play our brand of football better.”

Quinn was quick to note that changing Powell’s position to less of a hybrid role was not under consideration at this time. “He’s in the right spot for the system. What we’re looking for at that spot is a guy who has speed and length and he certainly has those two,” he said. “For him, like a lot of our guys, it’s just a function of us playing better. The evaluation on him, like a lot of the guys, is nowhere near complete. At that position, along with others, we really need to play better.”

STOPPING OFFENSES AND CREATING TURNOVERS

The main area in which the Gators have struggled over the last two weeks has been stopping the run. Florida’s opponents put up season-high numbers against them, which is not exactly the goal going into the game. Quinn, though he praised Alabama and LSU, did not want to make excuses for the line. “We’ve faced some talented backs and some talented offensive lines. Really it says we’ve got to play a certain way. When you face a good team – whether it’s a good offensive line or a good running back – you really have to be on your technique,” he explained. “It told us, ‘This is where we are today. This is where we have to get to.’ That’s the message I gave to the club. I told them, “These are the errors we made. This is how we’re going to play.’ And we’re working hard to getting back to the style we want to play.”

Quinn also spoke about the team’s inability to get off the field on third downs and how the Gators have been unable to secure a single takeaway in their consecutive losses. “It’s our job to stop them. Some of the times for the long drives we missed a critical third down where maybe we could have got off the field,” he said. “We’re firefighters and let’s go put out the fire. If it’s third down, we got to get off the field. If we didn’t stop it, we had to go another series, then it’s on us to get it stopped and really get the ball. That’s one of the things we’ve been most disappointed about the last few weeks – not creating opportunities for the offense. Zero takeaways for us is really hard to swallow. It’s something we’re working hard at.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Quinn said that an eight-man rotation on the defensive line is optimal.

» On how the linebacker rotation will change with Dee Finley transferring: “Certainly Mike Taylor is the top backup inside behind Jon [Bostic] and Jelani [Jenkins]. We’re kind of working in as we have been the last few weeks Graham Stewart and Juice Johnson.“

» On Finley transferring: “I wish him the best.”

» On preparing for an up-tempo offense like Auburn’s: “It’s not uncommon at times, when you have to prepare for a team that could do some tempo to use two huddles. When a group of five guys go out, maybe the offensive line stays the same and maybe a different set of running backs and receivers comes in. That’s one way to simulate the speed. Certainly our offense has the ability to go in and out of that system as well. For us, being able to go against our offense or try to simulate it in practice was really a critical part of our preparation this week.”

» On how the team has prepared for Auburn’s offense: “The scout guys had a really critical role in this to watch tape together and see how fast the action went. How fast you have to get back to the line of scrimmage. That was really an important part of it.”

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10/11: Gillislee’s increased role, leadership void, quarterback battle, discipline issues

With the Florida Gators preparing for their second-straight road test in the middle of the 2011 season, four prominent players were made available to the media early in the week to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the No. 24 Auburn Tigers on Oct. 15 at 7:00 p.m. in Auburn, AL.

GILLISLEE HAS EARNED HIS SHOT

For a team that had so much success running the football over its first four games of the season, it is a bit of a surprise that Florida will have to rely on a third running back to give the offense a bit of a spark going forward. Nevertheless, Gators junior RB Mike Gillislee – who has been stuck in a reserve role for the last three years – is expected to see an increased role on Saturday. “I feel like I earned it. I’ve been waiting of this time in my life to stand up and to be productive and for this offense to do what I can,” Gillislee said on Tuesday. “Every time I run the ball, I never know when I’m going to get it again, so I try to run it as hard as I can while I got it.”

He said he understands why he has not had the chance to get a large number of carries before (“I got two great running backs in front of me.”) and that has never been a concern for him. “I’m pretty much a team player. I put the team first,” Gillislee said. He also believes that, at 205 lbs. (up 30 lbs. from his freshman year), he gives the team a little extra power when running up the middle.

Even though he’s a bit stronger than senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey, Gillislee says he also has some speed and can hit the holes well. “I got pretty good vision,” he said. “When I see something, I try to hit it as quick as I can.” Rainey agrees. “He brings a lot to the table. I love when he runs the ball. I guess he’s probably going to be playing a lot more now, so I can’t wait to see that,” he said Monday.

Redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison said he has always known Gillislee could contribute. “He’s a hard runner, hard worker. He’s bringing this extra little “umph” we need in the backfield,” Harrison explained. “He’s getting more reps at practice and everything, and he’s going to see a little more playing time, coach was saying.”

FINDING SOME LEADERS

One thing head coach Will Muschamp has been adamant about is that he needs players of any age to step up and prove they can lead game-in and game-out. With consecutive losses serving as extra weight on their shoulders and another road game ahead, Rainey said it is time to put up or shut up. “This is a time when leaders step up, talk to the team, tell people it’s all right that we still control our destiny and stuff,” he said. “I just try to do everything right, stay positive.”

Redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter said that three sophomores – DT Dominique Easley, defensive end Sharrif Floyd and Buck linebacker Ronald Powell – have stepped up on his side of the ball. With redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley injured, it will be curious to find out who joins Rainey as an offensive leader.

SATURDAY’S STARTING QB STILL TO BE DETERMINED

As of practice on Tuesday, freshmen quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were both playing and splitting reps 50/50. Harrison confirmed this fact Tuesday but said he did not know who would wind up winning the job and the start on Saturday.

However, both Rainey and Harrison spoke about Brissett’s performance as of late, offering a bit of praise for how he handled himself. “During the week he was taking more snaps than everyone else, so that’s when I figured out he was playing,” Rainey said about last week’s practice. “I trust him at practice. It all starts at practice. It looked like he was more ready. He was ready to step up.” Harrison said Brissett had a good demeanor and was poised with an up-tempo attitude on Saturday. “He actually, his first game and everything, he performed well. He was confident in the huddle and he can only build off that last game and get better throughout the season.”

That is, if Brissett wins the starting job over a healthy Driskel.

FIXING DISCIPLINE ISSUES

Unlike in years past, the discipline issues facing Florida in 2011 are not off-the-field but rather on-the-field. The Gators have been committing nearly double-digit penalties in every game on average, and it is costing them in numerous ways. Rainey said Monday that the miscues are simply unacceptable. “We did get a lot of penalties – people doing dumb mistakes or people ain’t focused or stuff like that,” he said. “It’s called ‘selfish’ when people do dumb mistakes like that.”

Harrison said the offensive line in particular is doing what it can to correct them. “[They are] unnecessary penalties and mental [mistakes on] assignments,” he explained. “[It’s] maybe a little bit more discipline, practice a little harder, practice with some more game-like situations.” Redshirt sophomore tackle Kyle Koehne said the unit needs to “stay more focused and keep our minds right” in order to avoid making those mistakes. “The undisciplined penalties are just false starts are lining up wrong,” he said. “They’re unacceptable right now how many we’re getting per game. They’re not being tolerated.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Rainey on the team losing back-to-back games: “We just don’t need to lose at all. We lost two so we don’t need to lose no more because we control our destiny.”

» Rainey on Alabama and LSU: “They’re two pretty good teams, but I felt that we was better than them. They just out-physicaled us, they was out-tough than us at the time. We just got to get together and regroup this week.”

» Rainey on redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose becoming a playmaker: “I’ve been waiting for him to step up for a while. He’s doing what I’ve been seeing since high school, so it’s nice to have him up there.”

» Harrison on if changes are needed: “Maybe just work harder throughout the week, which we’re doing. We’re just going to change up our schedule, work a little bit harder to make sure we are successful.”

» Harrison on why Alabama and LSU’s defenses had so much success: “Alabama planned to stop the outside run, which was our strength. That was their advantage. LSU just certain plays we weren’t completely meshed as an offense.”

» Koehne on if he had jitters during the Alabama game: “It was our first big game and we all – on the offensive line – were pretty young. Personally, I had some jitters. I can’t speak for everybody. Personally it was my first big game and I was a little nervous. Everybody gets nervous. You kind of get hype dup with the whole mood of the night and you’re playing Alabama in a Florida-Alabama game. I grew up watching this game. You just want to come out and perform your best. You feel a lot of pressure and you want to perform at your best.”

» Koehne on if junior left tackle Xavier Nixon didn’t play due to a performance issue: “Yes, I believe so.”

» Koehne on if this is a defining week in the season: “This is a huge week. Every week is a huge week. One game at a time. We really have to come together as a team. Defense and offense have to come together and play as a group. We’re really being put to the test this week.”

» Koehne on why Alabama and LSU outperformed them: “Alabama and LSU recruits the top athletes in the nation, too. They’re coached well and they play well and they stepped up for the occasion.”

» Hunter on the team moving on from consecutive losses: “Right now the team has moved on pretty quickly from the last two weeks. All of our focus is on Auburn right now. Everybody has a clear head right now and everybody is just focusing on Auburn.”

» Hunter on getting up for Auburn: “We treat every game the same. This is as big as it was last week and the week before. Auburn is a great team. We’re really looking forward to going and playing them at their stadium. It’s a wild stadium and we’re going to enjoy the moment.“

» Hunter on what the defensive line can do to improve: “We can hold double teams a little bit better. I know I can hold a double team a little bit better. We’re doing a pretty good job at contact, but just letting the guard or center or whoever it is run off to the second level, we have to do a better job at that.”

» Hunter on an statement he heard a teammate make:Lerentee MccCray said something good the other day. We’re five or six games into the season. No one is a freshman anymore. We’ve all played six games; everyone should be ready to play right now.”

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10/8: Florida at LSU post-game notes, quotes

The No. 17/18 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) fell on the road on Saturday, dropping a 41-11 decision to the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC). OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game with notes and quotes from both head coach Will Muschamp and the players.

MUSCHAMP’s GAME RECAP

Early in his post-game media availability, Muschamp provides his own quick recap of the game as he sees it from offense, defense and special teams.

“I’m obviously disappointed in the game. Defensively [there were] too many big plays. Penalties killed us in the game. We’ve got to get better on the line of scrimmage. We wore out as the game wore on. No forced turnovers for us and we committed two. We just got to play better on the line of scrimmage and big plays. We gave up some big plays trying to load the box in the run game. We gave up some big plays. [I’m] disappointed in the game. We’ve got to get better.”

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

In addition to redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg) and freshman QB Jeff Driskel (ankle) not dressing for the game, two notable absences from the field were junior left tackle Xavier Nixon and redshirt freshman wide receiver Quinton Dunbar During the game, sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (neck) and junior safety Josh Evans (arm) were injured, and senior running back Jeff Demps (ankle) came in for a play or two but quickly exited and was unable to continue.

Muschamp explained after the game that freshman Jacoby Brissett got the start at quarterback because Driskel’s health prevented him from taking the reigns of the team. “He practiced this week,” Muschamp said of Driskel. “We came to the conclusion Wednesday night that we just didn’t feel like he was healthy enough to go and play in that environment. We tried to rep him throughout the week and it wasn’t fair to him. It wasn’t fair to us.”

He continued, “[Driskel]’s more experienced and he’s played. So as far as the packages, you look at the number of reps that Jeff’s gotten through spring and into fall camp, obviously he’s gotten a lot more turns. That’s part of the game. You’re not going to hear me talk about youth or injuries. That’s pretty obvious with our teams.”

Muschamp said the staff with “reevaluate where Jeff is” before the Auburn game because Driskel may be able to return but said Brantley will “be out for the game more than likely.” He did not give a timetable for Brantley’s return (Georgia game would be the earliest) but said the coaching staff needed to “evaluate where we are on the offensive side of the ball and what we need to do to be successful” going forward.

DOOMED BY A LACK OF DISCIPLINE

Florida committed 12 penalties for 90 yards on Saturday, their second-highest total of the year. And that’s not counting lost yardage on plays that were called back. It was also the fourth time in 2011 that the Gators had nine or more penalties called against them in a single game. Florida kept two (in particular) LSU drives alive due to their penalties and even had consecutive offside calls on a possession that ended in a touchdown for the Tigers. The Gators also had a great run by senior running back Chris Rainey negated due to a holding call well behind the play.

“There’s aggressive penalties that are judgment situations and then there are penalties that shouldn’t happen. We got a 30-yard run in the first quarter and we’re blocking 20 yards behind the ball. That’s not very smart,” Muschamp said. “It’s something that’s been talked about 100 times and it needs to be talked about 200. We’re going to talk about it 200 times this week because that’s not very smart. We’re going to talk about it 205-12-15, something like that, to see if we can do a little better.”

Another area that UF proved to be undisciplined was in tackling. For the second straight game, Florida had the opportunity to wrap up runs and short passes on the first level but failed by taking bad angles and using their arms instead of their bodies and legs. Muschamp was obviously none-too-pleased with that fact after the game.

“Tackling is ‘want to’ to me,” he said. “You either want to do it or you don’t. I’ll find guys who want to tackle.”

BRISSETT PROVES HE CAN HANG

It is a rough situation to start a freshman QB against a SEC opponent, especially when that opponent is LSU, the game is at Tiger Stadium, and the signal caller has never taken a collegiate snap before. With all that being said, Brissett performed admirably on Saturday, finishing 8/14 for 94 yards with a 65-yard touchdown pass to Andre Debose. He also threw two interceptions in the game – one down the middle of the field that should not have been thrown and another to Debose in the end zone that Tigers cornerback Tyrann Mathieu made a great play on.

Brissett worked well off the play action, had decent vision down field, stepped up in the pocket on occasion, showed he could be mobile and proved that he indeed has a big arm. “I thought he was solid under the circumstances against a good football team defensively,” Muschamp said. “I think he’s going to be a really good football player for us. We’ve got to play better around him in some spots and create some more situations in the run game.”

The Gators tried to do that by giving sophomore Trey Burton multiple snaps at the quarterback position. Burton mostly handed the ball off and was used more than anything because Brissett had a limited package of plays that he was prepared for heading into the game.

“[We did that] just to take the pressure off of Jacoby. We felt like we had a package for him that we could execute and execute well,” Muschamp said. “I thought, for the most part, [Burton] did a nice job. I was very pleased with that. Trey’s package, we got the ball moving in the second half with that package and it was effective for us.”

THE DEFENSE IS OFFENSIVE

With a questionable offense heading into the season and a defense that was one of the best in the country against the run heading into last week’s game against Alabama, Florida looked to have at least one area of their team completely figured out. Wrong.

The Gators have allowed their last two opponents to rush for 226 and 238 yards, respectively, which equates to an average of 5.04 yards per carry. Muschamp is obviously aware of this and continues to say it will be a point of emphasis in practice this week.

“I thought we would play better than we did in the last two ball games. Again, we’ve got to come up with some ways to stop the run game better than we’re doing at this point, and that’s been disappointing because I did think we would play the fronts better,” he said. “We’re not tackling well when we’ve got the ball on the perimeter in some spots. It’s just a collective effort. It’s not one area.”

One reason he gave for why UF may be failing in this area is its lack of depth up front. “We’re really playing three or four guys inside and three guys at end,” Muschamp said. “We just got to do a better job of getting off the field earlier in the game in those situations.”

PLAYMAKERS PROVE THEY SHOULD GET MORE LOOKS

Debose was put on the spot this week to replicate his performance from last Saturday and he did just that with a mirror image 65-yard touchdown reception. He did not catch another ball in this week’s game but was open on occasion and had an early jump on Mathieu on a ball that was eventually intercepted.

Seeing increased playing time for the injured Demps, junior RB Mike Gillislee again proved that he can be effective with the ball in his hands. Gillislee carried the rock nine times for a team-high 56 yards and was integral on Florida’s sole scoring drive in the first half. “Mike was very effective in the game,” Muschamp said afterward. “He runs hard; he runs with his pads down. He does a nice job in the run game. He’s done a better job with protections. He’s got to continue working on catching the ball out of the backfield.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Florida has been outscored 79-21 over their last two games. The Gators’ 41-11 loss Saturday was their worst since the 1996 Fiesta Bowl (62-24 to Nebraska), and the team has not fallen so badly in consecutive games since dropping back-to-back decisions to Auburn (40-7) and Georgia (49-7) in 1971.

» On failing to properly cover the fake punt: “We had two guys assigned for the punt that didn’t do their job. We’ll move on with that. That’s coaching. We had two guys assigned to do their job that didn’t do it. They did what they wanted to do. And those guys aren’t going to play in our program anymore, guys that do what they want to do when they want to do it. It’s undisciplined football and that’s my fault and nobody else’s.

» On if he took any positives away from the game: “Not a whole lot. Not a whole lot.”

» On running the fake punt early in the first half: “We came here to win the game. And I felt like in that situation we were backed up. Worst thing we could do was punt again into the wind. The ball’s going to be at midfield. We had a hard time with the wind in the first quarter, so I felt like we had to get the first down. The fake punt we felt like was there. We hit it tighter than we wanted to. We felt like it was there, and I would call it again.”

» On deciding to kick the field goal in the first half: “We needed points at that time. It was a three-score game and we needed points. I didn’t want to come out without points.”

» On how he will handle consecutive losses against top -three opponents: “A loss is a loss regardless of how it looks. We just got to look at the film, evaluate where we are as a football team and that’s what we’re going to do to move forward with the guys that are willing to do the things we need to do to be successful. That’s what we plan on doing. We got a bunch of guys in that locker room who are hurting right now, as well as us, and we just need to get better.”

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No. 17 Florida Gators at No. 1 LSU Gameday

Location: Tiger Stadium – Baton Rouge, LA [Capacity: 92,542]
Weather Forecast: 85°F, mostly sunny, winds E-SE at 14 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. (ET) [3:39 p.m. kickoff]

TV: CBS/CBSHD
SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(17/18) FLORIDA GATORS (1/2) LSU TIGERS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Les Miles
Record: 4-1 (2-1) Record: 5-0 (2-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: LSU -14; O/U 42.5

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against LSU 30-24-3 and is 6-5 against the Tigers since 2000. The Gators are also 16-13 all-time in Baton Rouge (4-2 since 1999).
» Muschamp was a former defensive coordinator at LSU under now Alabama head coach Nick Saban, while Tigers passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach Billy Gonzales coached Florida’s pass catchers from 2005-09.
» Miles is 3-3 in his career against the Gators.
» Florida has half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 64-13 in the first quarter and 106-44 in the first half this season. UF has also scored on their opening drive in four of five games.
» Florida ran the ball for 15 net yards on Saturday after the Gators rushed for 405 yards the week before, the sixth-best single-game performance in team history and the most since 1989. The team had a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive games, its second-longest streak ever, before failing to accomplish that feat against Alabama.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed five sacks through five games, making them second in the SEC team and tied for 20th nationally allowing just one sack per contest.
» Though Florida is 19-for-21 (90.4 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» Florida did not acquire a single turnover against Alabama after forcing four in their previous game and seven total over the prior three weeks.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» UF’s defense is six in the nation in preventing third-down conversions, allowing just 27.7 percent of those attempted to be successful.
» Florida is No. 7 nationally and second in the SEC in total defense (258.6 yards per game). The Gators are also No. 13 nationally and third in the SEC in scoring defense (14.8 points per game).
» LSU is the only team in the nation with three victories over ranked opponents; they are looking for their second-straight 6-0 start to a season.
» The Tigers have won 13-straight games in their home stadium. LSU’s last loss in Baton Rouge was to Florida, 13-3 in 2009. They are also 4-0 against the SEC East since.
» LSU’s defense has held opponents without a touchdown in 15-of-20 quarters played.
» The Tigers have forced 12 turnovers in 2011 and have converted 75 percent of those into points (eight touchdowns, one field goal). They lead the SEC and are No. 4 nationally in turnover margin at +1.8 per game.
» LSU’s run defense has not allowed a rush of more than 17 years, and the Tigers have allowed just 13 rushing plays of 10 yards or more.
» Florida and LSU are split down the middle when it comes to the four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Crimson Tide in national averages of rushing yards 210.2-172.6 (21st-48th) and passing yards 203.6-177.0 (86th-100th), while LSU leads Florida in points scored 38.0-34.2 (18th-37th) and points against 12.8-14.8 (9th-13th). The teams both defeated Kentucky this year with UF winning 48-10 on the road and LSU earning the victory 35-7 at home.

LAST TIME OUT

Like this year, Florida started the 2010 season 4-0 before being routed by Alabama one week prior to taking on LSU. The Gators returned home to The Swamp and stuck around with the Tigers all night long, leading 29-26 with more than three minutes to play after Andre Debose returned a kick 88 yards for a touchdown and Mike Gillislee ran for a score late in the fourth quarter. LSU engineered a crazy final stand, using a fake field goal to continue their drive and end it with a three-yard passing touchdown with just six seconds remaining in the game. The Tigers accumulated 142 more yards in the game (70 more through the air and 72 additional yards on the ground) , and Jordan Jefferson scored twice on the ground while Jarrett Lee threw two touchdowns to Terrance Toliver.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators will be featured during Saturday’s broadcast from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Because the Tigers are the No. 1 team in the country and the game is at LSU, the focus will primarily be on them with video packages and discussions about the team. Andrews interviewed both Les Miles and Tyrann Mathieu this week. There will be talk about Florida’s quarterback situation and, of course, the three hosts along with a guest picker will make their selections as to who will win the game.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Inactive: Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (lower leg)
» Unknown: Freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel (ankle)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Freshman quarterbacks Jeff Driskel (#16) and Jacoby Brissett (#17)…either of whom would start their first career game in one of the most hostile environments in college football. Driskel, who has been the backup all season and has gone 7/16 for 73 yards with two interceptions, is expected to start but may be replaced by Brissett due to a bum ankle. Brissett has not seen action during the regular season and did not participate in the team’s spring game either as he was still in high school at the time.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 661 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 5.6 yards per carry and 17.6 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 8.8 yards per carry so far this year including a career-high 157 two weeks ago. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps now has 324 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (10) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose…who jumped to second on the Gators’ receiving list after posting a 65-yard touchdown last week on the first play of the game. Fans have been waiting for Debose to emerge for some time, and his 154 receiving yards are the second-best on the team through its first five games.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is third on the team in tackles (22) and created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble-INT-INT) before failing to do so last week.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (22 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 7.0 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first five games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (29) and Jenkins (26) have each excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has four tackles for a loss and two sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 2.0 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has 13 tackles on the season including two for losses.
» Redshirt junior Sam LB Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is third on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two three breakups and three QB hurries on the season.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who has returned for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is 12-for-13 in field goal attempts on the season (long: 51) and perfect with 19 extra points, leading the Gators with 55 points scored this season.

LSU
» CB Tyrann Mathieu (#7)…who is one of the most feared defenders in the nation this season due to his propensity for making game-changing plays. Mathieu leads the SEC in forced fumbles (four) and fumble recoveries (three). He also nabbed an interception this season, scored two defensive touchdowns and leads his team in tackles (35).
» QB Jarrett Lee (#12)…who torched UF for two touchdowns in 2010. He has thrown for 793 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception in 2011 but is only completing 59.3 percent of his passes.
» QB Jordan Jefferson (#9)…who returned to action last week after missing the first four games due to suspension. Jefferson rushed for two scores against Florida in 2010 and is expected to be mixed into LSU’s offense this week.
» RBs Spencer Ware (#11) and Michael Ford (#42)…who have combined for 625 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. Ware is the more powerful of the two, while Ford is elusive and averaging more yards per carry on fewer touches each game.

CBS SPORTS VIDEO PREVIEW

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#12 Florida Gators vs. #2 Alabama Gameday

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather Forecast: 68°F, clear, winds N-NW at 6 mph
Time: 8:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: CBS/CBSHD
SiriusXM: 220/199
Online Video: CBSSports.com
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(12) FLORIDA GATORS (2/3) ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Nick Saban
Record: 4-0 (2-0) Record: 4-0 (1-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Alabama -4.5; O/U 44

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Alabama leads the all-time series against Florida 22-14 and is 5-2 against UF dating back to 1999. The Crimson Tide defeated the Gators in the 2009 SEC Championship game (32-13) and during the 2010 regular season (31-6).
» Florida achieved more turnovers vs. Kentucky (two interceptions, two fumbles) than they did in their first three games combined (two interceptions, one fumble).
» The Gators’ 405 rushing yards last week was the sixth-best single-game performance in team history and the most the team has accounted for since 1989.
» Muschamp, Saban and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart all worked together when Saban was head coach of LSU from 2001-04. Muschamp, Saban, Smart, Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and UA tight ends/special teams coach Bobby Williams all worked under Saban with the Miami Dolphins during his short tenure (2005-06). Muschamp and Smart previously worked together at Valdosta State in 2000.
» Saban is 4-4 in his career against UF.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida’s offense has been impressive early this season with only six three-and-outs in 52 total offensive drives and only 11 punts in four games.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed two sacks this year, making them the only SEC team to give up two or fewer sacks and one of seven teams nationally to average fewer than 0.5 sacks per game.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (311) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (72) since 2008.
» Florida is fifth nationally and third in the SEC in rushing defense, allowing just 56.5 yards per game. Alabama is third nationally and first in the SEC in the same category, allowing just 45.75 yards per game.
» Conversely, the Gators and Crimson Tide are 1-2 in the SEC and 9-19 nationally in rushing offense with 259.0 and 230.75 yards per game, respectively.
» Florida has had a 100-yard rusher in four consecutive games, the team’s second-longest streak ever. One more game of 100+ rushing yards would tie the school record streak of five games first set in 1999.
» Though the Gators are 18-for-19 (94.7 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on 11 of those opportunities.
» UF’s defense has only allowed three first-quarter points through our games.
» Florida is No. 4 nationally in scoring defense (9.0 points per game) and No. 5 in total defense (231.8 yards per game); however, Alabama is No. 2 nationally in both scoring defense (8.0 points per game) and total defense (184.0 yards per game).
» The Gators have blocked a total of two punts in four games so far this season.
» Florida has made 16-straight field goals dating back to the 2010 season, which is the third-longest streak in school history and the longest active streak in the nation. Two more made field goals will give the team its second-longest streak ever behind 28-straight makes from 1984-85.
» The Crimson Tide have the second-most wins (40) since 2008, two more than the Gators (38) in that same period of time.
» Alabama is returning 19 starters and 51 lettermen from its 2010 team.
» The Crimson Tide’s defense has surrendered just 47 first downs through four games while holding opponents to 30.43 percent (21-of-69) on third-down conversion attempts.
» Florida and Alabama are split down the middle when it comes to the four major statistical categories. The Gators top the Crimson Tide in national averages of rushing yards 259.0-230.8 (9th-19th) and points scored 40.3-38.5 (15th-21st), while Alabama leads Florida in passing 225.3-202.8 (64th-79th) and points against 8.0-9.0 (2nd-4th). The teams have not played a common opponent this season.

LAST TIME OUT

After starting out the 2010 season with a 4-0 record, Florida was brought back down to earth when Alabama trounced them 31-6 in Tuscaloosa, AL. The Gators turned the ball over four times in the contest but otherwise held even with their opponent in yards gained and time of possession, snapping their 24-game regular season winning streak as the Crimson Tide rushed for 170 yards including 63 from Trent Richardson and 47 along with two touchdowns from Mark Ingram. Florida’s John Brantley threw two interceptions in the game and fumbled the ball on Alabama’s one-yard-line in the third quarter, negating any chance of a late UF comeback.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

Aside from the first hour of GameDay being hosted by Florida alum and ESPN reporter Erin Andrews, the Gators will be prominently featured during Saturday’s broadcast. There will be a live interview with Muschamp, and former head coach Urban Meyer will also be live on the program speaking about the Florida-Alabama match-up. The three hosts and guest picker Jerry Ferrara (Turtle from Entourage) will make their selections as to who will win the game, and there will also be an entire segment about the game.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

FLORIDA
» Active: Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (lower body), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee)
» To be determined: Redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail (performance)

ALABAMA
» Inactive: Starting LB C.J. Mosely (elbow)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 64.0 percent of his passes (55-of-86) this season for 752 yards and four touchdowns but also threw two interceptions in the season opener against Florida Atlantic. Brantley turned the ball over three time in last year’s loss against Alabama.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 625 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 6.5 yards per carry and 19.5 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally. He has also rushed for 100 yards or more in three-straight games, the first UF player to do so since Fred Taylor last accomplished that feat 14 years ago.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 9.4 yards per carry so far this year including a career-high 157 last week. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps now has 320 yards and four touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (nine) and fifth-most receiving yards (70) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Sophomore “RB” Trey Burton (#8)…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver. He has already scored four touchdowns this season and has totaled 135 yards on 22 total touches.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary in only his second year. He is tied for second on the Gators in tackles (17) and has created turnovers in three-straight games (fumble, interception, interception).
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (21 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) through the first four games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who are 1-2 on the team in tackles. Bostic (26) and Jenkins (17) have eached excelled in different areas for Florida. The former has three tackles for a loss and two sacks while the latter has one sack and four pass breakups on the year.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 2.0 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has nine tackles on the season including two for losses.
» Redshirt junior Sam LB Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is second on the team in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two pass breakups and eight total tackles.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on 11 field goal attempts (long: 51) and 18 extra points, leading the nation in both categories while leading the Gators with 51 points scored this season.

ALABAMA
» RB Trent Richardson (#3)…who is one of the best players at his position in the nation and is averaging 6.6 yards per carry this season. Richardson has rushed for at least 111 yards in three-straight games and started the season with eight rushing touchdowns through three contests.
» RB Eddie Lacy (#42)…who is Richardon’s back-up but is playing just as well this year. Lacy is averaging 8.9 yards per rush and has four touchdowns on the ground this year. He has only carried the ball 41 times but has amassed 365 yards already this year.
» QB A.J. McCarron (#10)…who (like Brantley) has thrown four touchdowns this season but posted two interception in Alabama’s season opener against Kent State. McCarron is completing 66.3 percent of his passes and threw for two touchdowns last week against Arkansas in his best performance of the young season.
» WR Marquis Maze (#4)…who is the Crimson Tide’s leading receiver but has fallen relatively silent over the last few weeks. Maze posted 118 yards and a touchdown on eight receptions in the season opener but has caught 12 balls for just 108 yards since. He is also the team’s punt returner and already brought back one for a score this year.
» LB Dont’a Hightower (#30)…who is one of the most feared defenders in college football this year. He is his team’s leading tackler with 25 on the season (4.5 for loss) and will be charged with ensuring Florida’s running backs do not reach the second level.

CBS SPORTS VIDEO PREVIEW

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No. 15 Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Gameday

Location: Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, KY [Capacity: 67,942]
Weather Forecast: 67°F, partly cloudy, winds 5 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. (ET)

TV: ESPN/ESPNHD
SiriusXM: 217/200
Online Video: ESPN3
Live Updates: @OnlyGators

(15) FLORIDA GATORS KENTUCKY WILDCATS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Joker Phillips
Record: 3-0 (1-0) Record: 2-1 (0-0)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -20; O/U 44

HOMEWORK

Need to catch up on the Gators before week four action? No problem. OGGOA has been here all week compiling a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam Saturday evening at 7:00 p.m. on the road.

Muschamp’s presser | Weis comments on offense | Quinn comments on defense

HISTORY and STREAKS

» Florida leads the all-time series against Kentucky 44-17 and has won 24-straight contests including 11-in-a-row in games played in Lexington dating back to 1988. UF is also 30-1 against UK since 1980.
» The Gators achieved more turnovers (two interceptions) against Tennessee than they did in their first two games combined (one fumble).
» Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis (of Florida) and co-defensive coordinator Rick Minter (of Kentucky) served on the same staff when Weis was head coach of Notre Dame.
» The Gators’ have half as many upperclassmen (17 seniors, 17 juniors) as they do underclassmen (36 sophomores, 35 freshmen) on the roster heading into the season.
» Florida’s offense has been impressive early this season with only three three-and-outs in 35 total offensive drives and only six punts in three games.
» UF’s offensive line has only allowed one sack this year, making them the only SEC team and one of six nationally to accomplish that feat through two three.
» The Gators defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (307) since 2000. Florida also has the most interceptions in the nation (70) since 2008.
» Though Florida is 15-for-16 (93.8 percent) in red zone conversions, the Gators have only scored touchdowns on nine of those opportunities.
» Teams are averaging just 1.2 yards per carry against Florida’s defense this season. The Gators are first in the country, allowing just 30.7 rushing yards per game, and are one of six teams in the nation that have not allowed a rushing score in 2011.
» Florida is No. 6 nationally in scoring defense (8.67 points per game) and No. 7 in total defense (209.33 yards per game).
» The Gators’ defense has only allowed 7-of-25 (20 percent) third-down conversion attempts to be achieved against them over the first three games.
» UF has blocked a total of two punts in three games so far this season.
» Saturday’s game is Kentucky’s SEC opener for 2011.
» The Wildcats upset then-No. 10 South Carolina last season at home.
» Kentucky is 5-0 under Phillips in games that they win the turnover margin.
» The Wildcats are 11th nationally in net punting, allowing 42.1 net yards per punt.
» UK has forced six turnovers in their first three games – all interceptions.
» Though it is early in the season, Florida is head and shoulders above Kentucky in national averages heading into Saturday’s contest. The Gators top the Wildcats in passing average 232.0-155.3 (58th-108th), rushing average 210.3-119.3 (30th-91st), points scored 37.7-19.3 (27th-100th) and points against 8.7-13.3 (6th-18th). The teams have not played a common opponent this season.

LAST TIME OUT

Florida may have started the 2010 season slow, but they still took it to Kentucky with a dominant 48-14 victory at home in Gainesville, FL. Quarterback Trey Burton scored a school record six-touchdowns as Florida helped Urban Meyer become the sixth-fastest head coach in NCAA history to reach 100 career victories. The Gators also had a 52-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jeremy Brown in the second quarter and saw starting QB John Brantley throw for a career-high 248 yards on 24-of-35 passing.

ESPN COLLEGE GAMEDAY

The Gators will not be featured on Saturday morning’s edition of ESPN‘s College GameDay, though former dazzler and current reporter Erin Andrews will host the 9 a.m. version and make an appearance on the primary program beginning at 10 a.m. Florida is one of two sites (the other being Madison, WI) expected to be in contention to host next week’s College GameDay. The Gators will take on Alabama on Oct. 1.

INJURIES / ABSENCES

» Active: Redshirt sophomore linebacker Dee Finley (suspension)
» Inactive: Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee), redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (lower body), redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose (unknown), redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail (performance)

PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON

FLORIDA
» Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (#12)…who has completed 65.3 percent of his passes (47-of-72) this season for 637 yards and three touchdowns but also threw two interceptions in the opener. Brantley had a career-high 248 yards last year vs. Kentucky.
» Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey (#1)…who has 520 yards of total offense this season with five touchdowns (including a punt block return). Rainey is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and 19.5 yards per reception and leads Florida in rushing and receiving this season. He became the first player in school history to have a rushing, receiving and return touchdown in the same game, achieved the school and SEC record for career punt blocks (five), and is the active leader in that category nationally.
» Senior RB Jeff Demps (#28)…who has averaged 6.8 yards per carry so far this year including 105 in the season opener. After sitting out most of the team’s second game, Demps returned Saturday against Tennessee and now has 163 yards and two touchdowns on the ground this season. He also has the second-most receptions (eight) and fourth-most receiving yards (68) on the team this year. Demps eclipsed the 2,000-yard career rushing mark against Florida Atlantic.
» Sophomore “RB” Trey Burton (#8)…who is the team’s most versatile player and proved that fact last year, scoring 12 touchdowns as a true freshman including 11 on the ground. Burton will line up all over the field for the Gators and could be found as a running back, fullback, H-back, tight end or wide receiver. He has already scored three touchdowns this season and has totaled 98 yards on 15 total touches.
» Sophomore safety Matt Elam (#22)…who is the most valuable member of Florida’s secondary and moved into a starting role. He has the second-most tackles on the team with 13 including a career-high seven and his first forced fumble against UAB.
» Defensive tackles sophomore Dominique Easley (#2) and redshirt senior Jaye Howard (#6)…who have solidified the interior of one of the Gators’ strongest units. Howard is the team’s most experienced player on defense (20 starts), while Easley may be its most dynamic off the snap, with a first-step raved about by teammates and coaches alike. Howard and Easley have combined for 5.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks (Howard) throught he first three games.
» Linebackers junior Jon Bostic (#52) and redshirt sophomore will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (#3)…who have combined for 29 tackles. Bostic, the leading tackler on the team, has already registered three for a loss, and Jenkins has accounted for four pass breakups already this season. Each player also has a sack.
» Sophomore Buck LB Ronald Powell (#7)…who is tied for a team-high with 1.5 sacks and forced two interceptions via quarterback pressures against Tennessee. Powell has seven tackles on the season including 1.5 for losses.
» Redshirt junior defensive end Lerentee McCray (#34)…who is starting for the first time in his career and is the team leader in tackles for loss with 3.5. He also has two pass breakups and seven total tackles.
» Redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs (#19)…who returns for Florida after missing the final eight games of the 2010 season with an injured back. He is perfect this year on nine field goal attempts (long: 51) and 12 extra points, leading the nation in both categories while leading the Gators with 39 points scored this season.

KENTUCKY
» WR La’Rod King (#16)…who leads the team with 226 yards and three touchdowns and achieved the first 100-yard game of his career this year against Central Michigan.
» QB Morgan Newton (#12)…who set career-highs against Louisville by going 27-of-41 for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He has completed 55.8 percent of his passes for 466 yards with four touchdowns and four interceptions over the first three games.
» S Winston Guy, Jr. (#21)…who is the second-leading tackler on the team with 30 (four for losses) but leads the Wildcats with two interceptions and a sack on the year.
» RB Josh Clemons (#20)…who is a freshman leading rusher with 193 yards and two touchdowns on 37 carries. He posted a career-high 128 yards against Central Michigan and combined for just 67 yards on 23 carries in the other two contests.

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9/21: Quinn talks defense, evaluates players

With the Florida Gators preparing for their first road game of 2011 on Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, KY, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn spoke about the Gators defense and also evaluated some of Florida’s standout players.

DEALING WITH PASS INTERFERENCES AND DROPPED PICKS

For any coordinator, committing penalties and not taking advantage of turnover opportunities is a sore subject, but Quinn said Wednesday evening that he is not too concerned with either at this juncture. “We’re going to play physical and we’re going to coach aggressive and play aggressive. For us, some of those penalties, if they’re bang-bang plays, are going to happen,” he said about the pass interference calls on Saturday. “We’re certainly going to work our technique hard just like we do every week, but for us we’re going to stay to our style of play. […] For [the secondary] to play on guys and challenge, that’s exactly the style that we’re looking to do.”

He also believes that the dropped interception problem – especially with redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins – is a correctable one going forward. “We’re trying to coach all the time, whether that’s ball drills in practice, we’re constantly talking about getting our hands on the ball in practice,” he said. “The more opportunities that you do that, even in practice when you’re getting in the ball, those will now transfer to the game. If you’re not getting hands on it and picking it in practice, for the first time for something to happen in the game, we would not like for that to happen. We would like for them to get their hands on it in practice, too.”

PLAYER EVALUATIONS

Sophomore buck LB Ronald Powell: “I thought that he got off the ball a lot quicker. I really thought some of the hesitant, the waiting and the thinking that we saw in the first two ball games, we didn’t see that quite as much in the [third game]. I was pleased with the progress that he made, it was more in line with what the position entails, and I thought he did a good job in the game.” On why there was a big improvement for him: “We went back through the first couple ballgames and watched the technique. We kind of talked about what we were looking for moving forward. I thought it was a little bit of that light coming on and telling somebody exactly what you want and then have him go out and do it. I think that was a good step for him, a really good step. For the position, it’s a unique one, and I think early on he was thinking maybe too much. We saw less of that in the ballgame.”

Junior LB Jon Bostic: “Just the level of preparation, that’s one of the things I’ve noticed with him. He gets football easy, so now it’s talking about the game plan. […] He’s really progressing nicely.”

Senior defensive end William Green: “He’s one of the guys that you really trust. He’s been that way ever since I met him. He’s a guy who does extra. I thought coming out of training camp, he might have been our most improved player from the spring.”

Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley: “He brings a lot of energy to the team. He plays a style that we like – he plays fast and physical and gets his hands on you. I think he’s a disruptive player inside. The more he’s playing and gaining the experience, six games from now, nine games from now, he’s going to be that much better.”

Cornerbacks sophomore Cody Riggs and freshman Marcus Roberson: “Outside at corner, I think we play an aggressive style. We coach aggressive and those guys play aggressive. That’s how we are built on defense. Both of them are really competitive. That’s one thing that jumped out to me with Cody early on is how competitive of a guy he is. He’ll challenge people and play on them. I’m pleased with the style that those two guys are playing [with]. Whether they’re taller guys or shorter guys, I think they really rise to it and play.”

Safeties sophomore Matt Elam and freshman De’Ante Saunders: “I’ve been impressed with Elam from early on. I really thought he was a guy who can get his hands on the ball. I thought he did a good job communicating. He was fast. He was a good enough safety that he can play down and play nickel. Usually you don’t see that. That’s not as common for a safety, usually you see a corner that can go in and play nickel. You don’t see it the other way around that often. That’s one of the cool things about both he and Saunders, is that they’re safeties with cover ability. That’s one of the things that jump out to you about the two safeties, is that not only can they play the deep part of the field but they can also come down and cover. As a defense that really gives you more options, and we’re glad that they can do that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On what he’s seen from Kentucky’s offense: “The first thing that jumps out at you is it’s a mobile quarterback – a guy that can move the pocket, play outside and make some plays with his feet. Outside No. 16 is a tall target that can really go and attack the ball. They use a number of different runners both inside-the-tackle runners and runners who are good screen and cut-back guys. Up front they have a better offensive line coming back. Usually when you have those guys that played some ball together, the communication and their technique is usually further along than most.”

» On communication between Bostic and Jenkins: “That’s true with really good defenses that you see – there’s a lot of good communication from position to position. […] I’m really encouraged, as we’re getting into our fourth ball game and moving forward, those are the kinds of things you expect.”

» On if sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd will see some more time at tackle: “It really depends just by the game. There are some games where we’re going to put him outside. Sometimes based on match-up, sometimes based on run-pass, and then there’s other times we’ll move him inside as a pass rusher there. He’s getting more comfortable with it. I think it’s just taking him some reps to do it.”

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9/20: Gators LB Powell stepping up at buck

With the Florida Gators in the middle of preparing for their first road game of the 2011 season, two prominent players were made available to the media on Tuesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the Kentucky Wildcats on Sept. 24 at 7:00 p.m. in Lexington, KY.

THE BUCK STOPS HERE FOR POWELL

A player that head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn singled out in the spring to be their primary disrupter on defense, sophomore Ronald Powell found himself at the unique buck linebacker position, a hybrid spot held by such players as Jason Taylor and Sergio Kindle in previous versions of Muschamp’s defense.

Though he played well enough in the first two games of the season, Powell was not living up to the expectations Muschamp and Quinn had set for him long ago. They both said as much last week, perhaps partially as a motivational ploy to help Powell improve his game.

On Tuesday, Powell explained that he understood what the coaches wanted and explained why it took him a little bit to get going. “Just the position that I play, they want to see more coming from that position – playing faster, playing more physical,” he said. “[I was] just thinking, doing a lot of things, thinking before I react to things and stuff like that. It was just taking it from the classroom to the field and just going without thinking.”

That’s exactly what he did Saturday. Powell’s pass rushes on Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray forced two key interceptions for Florida. He hit the signal caller twice and also shared a sack with redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard. Now all he has to do is carry what he has learned forward throughout the rest of the season.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Powell on if sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd’s return helped him: “It’s always good to have my boy back. We all are close, and we was missing him.”

» Powell on Muschamp’s excitable nature during games: “Muschamp is a real good coach, a lot of juice he brings to the table, and we expect that from him. That’s just the kind of guy he is.”

» Powell on if sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley talks trash when he dances: “Easley’s a special character. Easley – you don’t know what he’s doing out there. He’s dancing, he’s talking, that’s just the kind of player he is. I don’t even know if he’s talking trash, I don’t know what he’s doing, honestly.”

» Powell on his on-field personality: “It varies. I’m real focused, and I like to joke around and talk to my teammates and have fun.”

» Powell on his first impression of junior LB Jon Bostic: “When I first got here, he was real big and real fast and athletic. He was doing things that I never seen a dude like him do as far as size and stuff, the type of moments he can do.”

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Omarius Hines on his blocking ability: “I’ve improved a lot. That’s what I work on every day. I knew that was one of my weaknesses, so I had to improve that to help my team.”

» Hines on the running backs catching more passes than the receivers: “They’re two explosive guys. They’re open – give them the ball and let them work.”

» Hines on the touchdown pass he missed in the end zone: “[A.C. Leonard] tipped it and I lost track of it.”

» Hines on how much tight end he’s playing in practice: “I’ve been playing since camp started, and it’s starting to get more comfortable to me. I usually just stay straight tight end for a while and then go to run routes with the receivers and stuff.”

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