10/16: Muschamp on Florida’s injuries, kicking

No. 22/22 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made his scheduled appearance Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team heading into Saturday’s road contest against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp updated the status of redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle), noting that he did not participate in practice on Monday or Tuesday but should be cleared to return to the field on Wednesday.

He also said that sophomore running back Matt Jones (torn meniscus) had successful surgery on Monday. “We feel like he came out of that surgery well, and we’ll see how that progresses,” he said.

Gators senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee) tweeted Tuesday that he was headed to Pensacola, FL on Wednesday for surgery. Muschamp confirmed that Easley would be going under the knife with Dr. James Andrews performing the procedure. Easley will have surgery at Andrews’ Gulf Breeze, FL, facility.

FIELD GOAL KICKING

Clarifying the situation regarding Florida’s kickers, Muschamp confirmed that redshirt junior walk-on Frankie Velez would continue getting most field goal attempts, trying every kick from 47 yards out or closer.

Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin does have a stronger leg, he noted, so he would likely be called on for any exceptionally long field goals. Hardin will also continue handling kickoffs.

The competition remains open on a week-to-week basis.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On if the defense needs help from Florida’s offense: “We just need to play well defensively. Our defense doesn’t need to worry about what our offense does. They need to play well, and we didn’t play well Saturday in Baton Rouge.”

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10/14: Muschamp recaps Florida’s loss, updates Powell, Taylor, changes at kicker and punter

No. 22/22 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 17-6 defeat at the hands of the No. 6/8 LSU Tigers and his team’s upcoming road contest against the No. 14/14 Missouri Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 19. The contest will kick off at 12:21 p.m. and air live on SEC Network affiliates.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We got beat on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Any time that happens, it makes it difficult to win football games. Didn’t run it consistently enough. … Against a defense like that, you got to be balanced. You can’t get in situations that are obvious passing situations. … We got to improve in the run game. Obviously protection was not as good as we’ve been. We gave up four sacks and that falls on the offensive line, the running backs, tight ends, the quarterback. As far as the protection is concerned, too many negative plays offensively. We got to create more explosives on the road in that situation to create more positive momentum for our football team. We had them against Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, had 11 against Miami and didn’t take care of the football. But we’ve got to create more explosive plays offensively both running and throwing the ball.

“Defensively, we lost it on the line of scrimmage. When you get behind the down and distance against a team like that, especially on first and 10, it becomes difficult to call the game from the standpoint of they’re able to create balance eon you running and throwing it. … Overall, I thought our effort was good. Physicality was just not what it needs to be.”

(OTHER) INJURY UPDATES

In addition to the season-ending torn meniscus suffered by sophomore running back Matt Jones, Muschamp announced Monday that redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell injured his ankle during the game. Though he did provide specifics on the injury, it appears that Powell sprained his ankle.

Muschamp said the Gators will know more about his status for Saturday at in the “next 72 hours” depending on how much the swelling goes down. “I hope to get him back on Wednesday,” he added.

Continue Reading » 10/14: Muschamp recaps Florida’s loss, updates Powell, Taylor, changes at kicker and punter

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Payback on the mind of Gators LB Ronald Powell

Redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell did not get to celebrate the Florida Gators‘ dominant – though the score indicates a close game – 14-6 victory over the LSU Tigers in 2012. The last taste of Tiger this Gator has in his mouth is a sour one in the form of a 41-11 whooping handed to UF two seasons ago.

Powell was unable to finish that contest and explained Tuesday how he has been seething for an opportunity to run with Florida as it tries to earn a measure of revenge for that embarrassing 2011 defeat.

“I had been getting like really, really bad stingers going into that game, and I ended up getting one during that game. So I ended up not playing the rest of the game,” he explained. “Not being able to help my team and not being able to go out there and perform, it still bothers me today. Getting a chance to go back there and perform with the guys I’ve got now, it’s going to be special for me.”

Powell has performed well while still finding his way back into form during his first five games this season. He’s amassed four tackles for loss (third-most on the team) and two sacks (second-most) but blown by his fellow defenders with a team-high seven quarterback hurries, at least two of which directly resulted in interceptions.

He is one major reason why the Gators boast the best defense in the SEC and arguably the best in the nation, too.

Continue Reading » Payback on the mind of Gators LB Ronald Powell

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10/5: Florida vs. Arkansas post-game report

The No. 18/19 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) prepared all week for a hard-nosed, physical contest and got just that from the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After winning the game 30-10, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to provide some of his thoughts on his team and its latest victory.

CHRIS DIMARCO AS MR. TWO BITS

HIGHLIGHTS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida extended its winning streak against Arkansas to nine games dating back to 1995 and hold a 9-1 record in the all-time series. The Gators have won nine-straight contests against the Razorbacks. UF has yet to lose a game to UA since the latter program joined the SEC in 1992.
» The victory pushes Florida to 3-0 in SEC play, marking the second-straight season it has begun the conference slate undefeated through three games.
» UF’s 20-point margin of victory is its largest so far in 2013.
» The Gators improved to 7-9 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 18-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-6 when an opponent scores first and 18-1 when leading at the half.
» The Hogs have not defeated a ranked opponent since 2011.
» Florida improved to 18-1 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» The Gators won the time of possession battle once again and have done so in every game this season. But the 32:22-27:38 margin was the smallest of the 2013 campaign.
» Florida registered two sacks on Arkansas, more than three times the average number of sacks the team was allowing per game entering the contest (0.60).
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 16-straight games.
» UF has forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (358).
» Florida has registered a nation-leading 104 interceptions since 2008. UF is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (17) and interception return yards (1,832).
» The Gators registered at least one passing touchdown for the seventh-straight game but were held without a rushing score for the first time since Nov. 10, 2012.
» Florida gave up 275 yards of total offense to Arkansas, the most allowed by UF’s defense in a single game this season.
» The Gators have now yielded eight red zone trips through five games. In those eight appearances, opponents began two of drives already in the red zone.
» UF has held 12-straight SEC opponents to 20 points or less.
» Florida did not commit a penalty in the first half, the first time that has happened in a single half under Muschamp during his three seasons with the team. UF was flagged eight times for 84 yards in the second half, however.

» Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy completed 72.7 percent of his passes (16-of-22) for 240 yards and three touchdowns, all career-best marks.
» The Gators have not failed to score in the red zone since Murphy took over as the primary signal caller. UF is a perfect 9-for-9 on scoring opportunities inside the 20.
» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton also set career marks with 124 yards, two touchdowns and six receptions (tying a career-high) on Saturday. He is the first wideout since Riley Cooper to catch two touchdowns in a single game and register two 100+ yard games in a single season (2009).
» Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy grabbed his first career interception and celebrated by returning it 42 yards for a touchdown. He also forced a fumble on a sack.

Continue Reading » 10/5: Florida vs. Arkansas post-game report

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Gators hogtie Razorbacks 30-10 in Gainesville

Despite looking shaky early, the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (4-1, 3-0 SEC) stood strong defensively and used some big plays on both sides of the ball to complete a 30-10 victory over the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

The Gators gave up more rushing yards in the first quarter than it did in any full game in 2013 but tightened the reigns over the final three quarters, holding the visitors to three points over the last 47:09 of the game.

Meanwhile, Florida redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy continued to flash improvement as a signal caller, completing 16-of-22 passes for career-highs of 240 yards and three touchdowns.

Improving to 9-1 all-time against the Razorbacks, the Gators have won nine-straight games in the series dating back to 1995.

Arkansas opened the contest by gashing Florida in the running game, picking up 48 yards on the ground in its first two series, the same amount UF gave up in four quarters to Kentucky last week. One play after Hogs running back Alex Collins exploded for a 28-yard run, the Gators made their first huge defensive play of the game.

Florida junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy rushed in on a blitz, strip-sacking QB Brandon Allen and forcing a fumble that was recovered by redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor. UF was unable to capitalize, however, as redshirt freshman Austin Hardin kicked a 48-yard field goal attempt into the line of scrimmage for a block.

Continue Reading » Gators hogtie Razorbacks 30-10 in Gainesville

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9/30: Muschamp on Easley to NFL, injuries, Hogs

No. 18/19 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 24-7 victory over the Kentucky Wildcats and his team’s upcoming home game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, Oct. 5. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

HEADING TO THE NFL

Asked about senior defensive tackle Dominique Easley future and whether he would consider applying for a medical redshirt and playing a fifth season, Muschamp announced that there was no question Easley would be moving on with his career.

“Dominque’s definitely going to go to the NFL,” he said. “He’s a guy that’s had two ACLs. I think that’s the best move for him right now is go and prepare himself for April and getting ready for that. He and I talked briefly about it. That’s what he wants to do, and I support it 100 percent.”

Muschamp said he is not concerned about teams being worried in regards to Easley’s injury history. He thinks what Easley has been able to do on the field will be more than enough to convince teams to draft him.

“He’ll have plenty of interest. He’s going to be a productive guy on the next level. He’s a really good football player,” Muschamp said. “He’s extremely intelligent. He gets the game. His tape speaks for itself in how he plays the game, how he approaches the game. He’ll be fine. There will be a lot of organizations that want him in their organization.”

Muschamp also noted that he has not spoken at length with redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose regarding his future though the two did touch base. Debose would have to apply for a second medical hardship waiver but would likely have it granted considering he did not play a single down in 2013.

INJURY UPDATES

Aside from season-ending injuries, the Gators appear to be relatively healthy heading into their next game. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers (ankle), who has missed the last two games, should be back in practice by Tuesday but will definitely see the field by Wednesday at the latest. Muschamp also noted that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) could have played against the Wildcats if needed but was held out as a precaution considering he was a game-time decision.

Redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) will remain out for this week, but sophomore TE Kent Taylor (ankle) should be back in uniform for the game. Muschamp had not previously announced Taylor’s injury but noted Monday that he has missed 2-3 weeks of action.

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After breakout performance, Gators need Buck LB Dante Fowler, Jr. to continue dominating

Florida Gators sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. has received his fair share of praise this week – and for good reason.

Athlon Sports and the Southeastern Conference both named Fowler their Defensive Player of the Week on Monday, two days after a breakout performance that garnered some national attention but no respect on the highlight shows. Late Thursday, ESPN awarded him its All-America of the Week honor.

“It feels good. It’s a blessing being able to be named SEC Player of the Week. There’s a lot of great players in the SEC, especially defensive players, to being able to stand out and come on top and be SEC Player of the Week is an honor,” he said on Monday.

Last Saturday in Florida’s 31-17 victory over Tennessee, Fowler forced two fumbles (recovering the first in arguably the Gators’ highlight defensive play of the season) and registered three tackles for loss including the only sack of the game.

Fowler’s first forced fumble came early in the first quarter with the Vols down on the Gators’ 13-yard line following a muffed punt by junior Kyle Christy. On 2nd-and-8, he steamed past the right tackle, saw daylight and ruined a handoff to UT running back Rajion Neal. Then he admittedly did something stupid.

“It was a play that I was supposed to chase,” Fowler explained. “So when I saw that the tackle blocked down … I was like, ‘Oh snap, I’m gonna blow it up.’

“He fumbled the ball and I picked it up. A lot of things were running through my head. It was the second play of the game. It was a sold out crowd.

“I actually like spiked the ball down and then I thought about it like, ‘Oh snap, I’m gonna get a personal foul.’ It was fun. I actually sat down on the bench and I was like, ‘Dang, did that just happen?’ My first forced fumble, but it was all good.”

Continue Reading » After breakout performance, Gators need Buck LB Dante Fowler, Jr. to continue dominating

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Florida CB Hargreaves already making an impact

Since the Florida Gators started keeping statistical records in 1996, only one player in school history has registered an interception in the first two games of his career. Unsurprisingly, he is the latest in a trend of exceedingly talented freshmen cornerbacks that have made names for themselves with the Gators.

Vernon Hargreaves III has busted onto the scene at Florida quicker and arguably with more of an immediate impact than players like Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins, both high draft selections and current NFL starters.

That fact has not been overlooked by his coaches and teammates.

“Hargreaves is an outstanding player, man. I see him as a young guy and all I can remember is coming in here as a freshman and watching some of the other guys that I was around. Seeing him is just different. He’s a different dude. He’s a great player,” said redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell.

According to a tweet from 247Sports.com’s Thomas Goldkamp, receivers covered by Hargreaves have been targeted just 13 times through three games despite his being on the field for starters’ minutes in the first two games and actually starting at nickel during last week’s 31-17 victory over Tennessee.

In those 13 pass attempts, Hargreaves has registered two interceptions and three pass breakups while allowing just three receptions for a total of 19 yards.

“He’s just a ball hawk. He’s just a player,” said sophomore Buck LB Dante Fowler, Jr., the Gators’ standout freshman from 2012. “I remember when Vernon was a junior and we were on the 7-on-7 teams and stuff like that, and he was like very, very quiet. Just to see him out there doing good things, that’s kind of funny. But he’s a ball hawk. He’s broken into it now.”

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