1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to wrap up the 2012 season, look ahead to the upcoming spring practice and discuss some of the recent changes and issues within the program.

PUNISHMENT HANDED DOWN

Muschamp announced Friday that freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities pending the outcome of his legal affairs. Dunker was arrested Monday on a third-degree felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released on his own recognizance on Thursday and claims that he paid $600 for the scooter not knowing it had been reported stolen.

“I met with Jessamen Dunker [Friday] morning. I have suspended him from all team activities until we get more information,” he said. “I just met to him face-to-face [Friday] morning for the first time for 15 minutes. Once we get a little bit more information, then we’ll move forward, but he’s suspended from the team at this time. We’ll address that further when I know more.”

THREE MORE GATORS LEAVING PROGRAM

It was also announced Friday by Muschamp that redshirt juniors wide receiver Stephen Alli and defensive lineman Kedric Johnson will both be graduating in the spring and moving on from the Florida football program.

Muschamp said that Alli plans to go to graduate school; should he remain at UF, he will have the opportunity to join the team as a graduate assistant. Johnson “may play somewhere [else] next fall,” Muschamp said, and the two are planning to discuss it.

Furthermore, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tommy Jordan, who never stepped on the field for the Gators due to nagging shoulder problems, has applied for a medical exception to remain on scholarship but no longer play football.

CLEANING UP SOME INJURIES

Muschamp once again noted that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all had scopes on their various injuries this month.

“We expect all three of those [players] to participate at some point in spring. I don’t know when that will happen, how much contact there will be. I’ll know more as we move forward,” he said.

Junior WR Solomon Patton (broken arm) is “doing really well,” according to Muschamp. He has already been cleared for non-contact work during the spring.

Additionally, sophomore punter Kyle Christy had minor shoulder surgery and will be fine for spring football. “He played pretty well with it. I don’t know why we did surgery, but they felt like he needed it,” Muschamp said.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

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10/30: Pease on first down, passing game

With the team preparing for its ninth game of the season, a noon game at home in Gainesville, FL against the Missouri Tigers, No. 7 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss his the team’s first loss of the season and how his unit can improve on the field.

GETTING BACK ON TRACK

Head coach Will Muschamp mandated that Florida was going to be a tough, physical, run-first team. Though that was successful for the Gators early in the season, Florida’s run game has been shut down over the last two contests. Part of the reason for that is how predictable UF has been with the Gators running the ball on 78 percent of all first-down plays this season.

Pease admitted Tuesday that Florida’s first-down calls have “probably [been] a little predictable” but noted that a number of factors go into choosing first-down plays.

“We’re never going to get it back to balanced because the numbers are so skewed at this time in the season. You go on a game-to-game basis,” he said. “It’s something that we really want to do but based off of game situations, sometimes when defenses sting us a little bit, we put it on the guys up front to see if we can be more efficient on first down and get ourselves ahead of the chains if the previous sequence wasn’t that good for us. We just got to be better earlier on in the game.”

Florida also continues to lack an effective vertical passing game and now has for three-straight years. Though Pease is not responsible for what happened in 2010 or 2011, he said that getting big plays down field for the Gators is a top priority.

“We have opportunities. We got to be better for certain reasons, either blocking, either catching it, even making the throw. There’s all kinds of things involved in it,” he said. “Sometimes protection is good. Sometimes the call is bad based off a blitz. It’s a situational thing. It’s not like we don’t have it in. We have it in. We just got to take advantage of it when it’s there. Sometimes it’s called but coverages dictate to you that it’s too risky of a throw and to throw down, throw to your check-downs.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Pease on if Florida has a big-time wide receiver: “I don’t’ know if I’d say that, but I feel confident with some of the kids we have. Do we have to get better? Yeah. We got to get better everywhere.”

» Pease on sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel’s progression to this point: “As I evaluate him still and work with him, he’s doing a lot better job with the pocket. He’s sitting in there now; he’s taking some hits. The kid’s got heart. The kid’s a tough kid. You can see that. He’s not gun-shy back there. He’s making his reads and making throws. There were a couple, more off scrambles, that I think he probably wish he had back. He’s gotten better. There’s some that you got to learn from.”

» Pease on if redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed has bounced back from his fumble: “He’s fine. He’s made plays like that before. He’ll understand. He’s OK. He’s a kid that took it upon himself. He looked in the mirror, and he’ll be good with it. We’ll get better at it. It’s not that play that cost us the game or anything. We had all kinds of opportunities before that where we could have helped ourselves.”

» Though the Gators will not be phasing out the jet sweep that junior wide receiver Solomon Patton had been so successful in running this season, Pease admitted that losing Patton for the season has twisted some things around in regards to Florida’s offensive plans. It is expected that redshirt junior WR Andre Debose will stand in for Patton on those plays and others.

» Redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison admitted that the offensive line had its worst game of the season on Saturday, promising that “You guys won’t see that anymore out of the offensive line.” He did say, however, that he has “been pleased with what the offensive line has been putting out this year.” Harrison continued, “I just know that we’re going to bounce back this Saturday and make sure everything is fundamentally sound on the offensive line.”

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10/29: Muchamp on loss, injuries, running game

No. 7 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s sloppy 17-9 loss to the Georgia Bulldogs and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Missouri Tigers.

OPENING STATEMENT

Muschamp had plenty to say when he stepped up to the microphone on Monday. Below is how he began his weekly press conference.

“Obviously the turnovers were the killer in the game. Self-inflicted. When you turn the ball over six times, you’re going to have a hard time beating anyone. That was disappointing really at the end of the game. Really inconsistent offensively in the run game and in the pass game. Never really got some continuity going from different issues. [...]

“I thought we were really good on third down against a good third-down defense. The inconsistencies and then the turnovers really were doomsday for us offensively. Defensively, disappointed with some of the first-half run fits. I thought we missed some things that we don’t normally miss. Got those things cleaned up. The last drive obviously we had an opportunity to win the game and don’t get it done. Red zone defense, third-down defense and really in the second half up until the last drive we played pretty solid. I thought we were solid in special teams, just nothing spectacular. We didn’t do anything to really change the game, which we have for the most part this season and we need to.

“Disappointed with the results but not the effort. Our guys played hard. It’s very evident as you watch the film, we played hard. We played extremely hard in the game. We laid a lot on the line out there on the field. Very pleased with the effort. We have a very resilient group of young men in the locker room. You turn the ball over six times, you face a lot of adversity in the game and we’re driving to win the game on the last drive of the game. That says a lot about our football team. That says a lot about the guys in the locker room, that they were able to overcome a lot of self-inflicted issues to continue to fight to win the game and have the opportunity. Six turnovers, you should have walked out of there losing by four touchdowns, honestly. That says a lot about the character on our football team and what we’ve got going on in that locker room.

“It’s not the result we wanted, and I’m disappointed, that falls on my shoulders and I’ll handle that and we’ll move forward and refocus as we go but that’s all on me. No different when we win, we need to focus on Florida, be technical in our approach. I told the staff yesterday and today again, obviously there was some things we did well in the game and there are some things we need to have corrected. That’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to focus on us and what we need to do to get better. [...]

“That’s the tough thing about football – you got to wait seven days, you know? Billy [Donovan] and them may lose on a Wednesday and they get to go back Saturday and play, or [Kevin O'Sullivan and the baseball team], they play a double-header, they play in the morning and then in the afternoon. They can get a win and get it out of their system, and we can’t. It is what it is. I’m disappointed again with the results, not the effort of our football team. I’m very proud of the resiliency, guys continuing to fight and battle in the game. It’s just unfortunate we didn’t get the results we wanted and that’s on me.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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10/27: Florida vs. Georgia post-game report

No. 2 Florida Gators football (7-1, 6-1 SEC) dropped a sloppy game 17-6 to the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1 SEC) at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL. Georgia is now in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East while Florida is looking to regroup and still make something out of the 2012 season. Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» The victory gave Georgia consecutive wins over Florida for the first time since the 1980s when the Bulldogs won three-straight over the Gators from 1987-89.
» Muschamp is now 0-6 all-time in the Florida-Georgia series, going 0-4 as a Bulldogs player and 0-2 as head coach of the Gators. He is the first UF head coach since Galen Hall to lose more than one game to UGA in his career.
» Florida lost for the first time this season when trailing at the half (3-1).
» The Gators are now 1-5 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 100 yards.
» Saturday was the first time in 2012 that UF was outscored in the second half (10-3).
» After starting the year +11 in turnover margin, Florida’s season-long number fell to +8 as the Gators coughed up six turnovers in the game, three more than the Bulldogs.
» Florida has registered at least one interception in seven-of-eight games and picked up three on Saturday alone. It is the second time this season that UF registered three interceptions in a single game.
» The Gators lost their third game under Muschamp when holding an opponent to under 21 points and are now 2-6 under Muschamp when being out-rushed by an opponent.
» Florida was held without a touchdown in a game for the first time since Oct. 15, 2011 (at Auburn) and for the first time against the Bulldogs since 1988.
» The Gators were more efficient on third down (7-of-16 vs. 1-of-10), held the ball longer (33:41-26:19) and passed for more yards (185-150) than the Bulldogs. Florida, however, was outrushed 81-123 and coughed up three more turnovers
» UF entered UGA’s red zone four times on Saturday but amassed just six points by kicking two field goals and giving up a pair of turnovers.

PLAYER NOTES

» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis scored nine points on three field goals Saturday, making him one of three players in school history to register more than 300 career points. His 302 points are third behind Jeff Chandler (368) and Tim Tebow (342).
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel fumbled the ball thrice (lost two) and tossed two interceptions. He had only one interception on the season entering the game.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed tied a career-high with five receptions and set a career-best with 74 receiving yards, though his fumble late in the fourth quarter was a black eye on his performance.

OPENING STATEMENT

Below is what Muschamp had to say at the beginning of the post-game press conference marking his first loss since Nov. 26, 2011.

“I’ve said all season long that we’re not a team that has a lot of margin of error. Six turnovers leads to 10 points – critical plays in the game. You got to rise up and those opportunities you have, you got to make those plays. You got to give [Georgia] credit; they did and we didn’t. Six turnovers. Wow. That’s tough to overcome.

“The turnover before half, we got to get points in that situation. We had a hard time establishing some things in the run game, and they’ve got some good players defensively. We’re just not quite there explosive enough-wise offensively to overcome…or any team…six turnovers, at the end of the day. That’s the end of the game, in my opinion, six turnovers. We got, I think, two field goals off two interceptions. We just can’t turn the ball over like that. That’s unfortunate.

“I felt like we did a nice job on the last drive. Jeff made some really outstanding throws and plays and gave us an opportunity to win the game. No one play loses a game. Great effort on Jordan’s part trying to get the ball in the end zone. We just got to do a better job with ball security. That’s really it. Ball security’s it.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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No. 10 Georgia outsts No. 2 Florida 17-9 in hard-hitting, turnover-filled rivalry game

With an opportunity to clinch the Southeastern Conference East division for the first time since 2009, the No. 2 Florida Gators put together their worst game of the season, turning the ball over six times and failing to score a single touchdown as the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs outplayed them and completed a 17-9 upset victory.

Georgia (7-1, 5-1 SEC) now controls its SEC East destiny after taking down Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC) in consecutive years for the first time since 1987-89. The Gators were held without a touchdown for the first time since Oct. 15, 2011 (at Auburn) and the first time against the Bulldogs since 1988.

Florida got off to a rough start on its first possession as sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel fumbled on the first play of the game when handing the ball off to senior running back Mike Gillislee. Driskel would recover his fumble but coughed the ball up again just two plays later, handing it over to Georgia on the 20-yard line. A pair of 10-yard gains resulted in a touchdown for Bulldogs freshman RB Todd Gurley and a 7-0 lead.

Things did not get any better for the Gators when they got the ball back as Florida converted a first down before turning it over on downs at the Georgia 36. Junior wide receiver Solomon Patton tried to convert a 4th-and-1 on a jet sweep but was taken down by his neck and seriously injured his arm on the play.

UF redshirt junior WR Andre Debose fumbled the ensuing punt return though redshirt senior WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. was able to recover it. The Gators then forced their first turnover of the game as redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball intercepted QB Aaron Murray but coughed the ball up again when Driskel fumbled three plays later.

With UGA on the nine-yard line and about to score, Florida senior safety Josh Evans intercepted Murray to begin UF’s best possession of the first half. The Gators used 15 plays to drive 70 yards and reduced their deficit to 7-3 after redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis connected on a 38-yard field goal.

Read the rest of this Florida-Georgia game story…after the break!
Continue Reading » No. 10 Georgia outsts No. 2 Florida 17-9 in hard-hitting, turnover-filled rivalry game

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10/22: Muschamp on injuries, awards, turnovers

No. 2 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s big 44-11 win over the then-No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp said that junior cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) and redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) are once again out for Saturday’s game. Freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle) will return to practice Monday before being evaluated again, and junior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (hamstring) will sit on Monday but return to practice on Tuesday (probable for Saturday).

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Game: junior running back Trey Burton
“Trey does a lot of things for our football team offensively, special teams, really a lot of things go through him. We have a package for him in every game, and we certainly were able to use it Saturday and it was very efficient.”

Big Plays: redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed, redshirt sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar, junior WR Solomon Patton

Scrap Iron: redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green

Defensive Player of the Game: junior defensive end Dominique Easley

Ball Hawks: Burton (two), Patton, sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy (two), redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray, junior DT Sharrif Floyd, sophomore CB Jabari Gorman, sophomore RB Chris Johnson

Special Teams Player of the Game: Purifoy and sophomore punter Kyle Christy
* Christy was also named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Big Plays: Burton, Patton and Johnson

Scout Team Players of the Week: Special Teams – freshman LB Jeremi Powell, Defense – freshmen DL Alex McCalister and Quinteze Williams, Offense – freshman walk-on RB Mark Herndon

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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No. 2 Florida chomps No. 7 South Carolina 44-11

A hard-fought Southeastern Conference battled turned into a one-sided blowout on Saturday when the No. 2 Florida Gators, led by a career-high four touchdown pass performance by sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, trampled the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks 44-11 in Gainesville, FL.

On a day in which ESPN’s College GameDay emanated live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Florida (7-0, 6-0 SEC) proved that it is a new team in year two under head coach Will Muschamp, preventing head coach Steve Spurrier and South Carolina (6-2, 4-2 SEC) from winning a third-straight game in the annual series.

The Gators turned three fumble recoveries into 21 first-half points and went five-for-five in the red zone, scoring a touchdown on every trip as they put the SEC East crown within their grasp pending the outcome of next week’s game against Georgia.

Florida started the game on fire as sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy forced a fumble that was recovered on the South Carolina two-yard line by redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray on the first play from scrimmage. Faced with a third down, Driskel hit redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed for a short touchdown to give UF a 7-0 lead less than a minute into the game.

Read the rest of the game story and watch video highlights…after the break!
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10/16: Pease looks at Florida’s passing game

With the team preparing for its seventh game of the season, a 3:30 p.m. home game against the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks, No. 2 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss his unit’s passing game and players that have stepped up recently.

…BUT CAN THEY THROW IT?

The Gators have run all over opponents this season, but Florida has not been very productive throwing the ball last two weeks. Part of that is due to how well the Gators have run the ball but there is also some concern that Florida’s passing game may not be up to par as sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is rarely (if ever) throwing the ball vertically down the field.

Pease addressed that issue Tuesday, noting that being last in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense is concerning but winning is the most important thing.

“I care because you don’t want to be last and we talk about balance,” he said, “but you’ve got to understand something. There’s always give-and-take. We got a game plan every game. There’s a situation where, especially in my spot, I’m probably going to have to rely on that more. In this game, knowing how the game flows and what you can do, all of a sudden we find a couple plays that we can hit on that they can’t adjust to, so we stay with that and see if they can find answers to them. And they didn’t find some answers to a few plays. Whether [Driskel] ends up throwing for 300 or rushing for a record like he does, I don’t really care how it gets done as long as we’re productive with what we do and score points.”

Pease then expanded on his give-and-take philosophy.

“Once you get into a game, depending on the flow of the game and how the game is going, some things are going to have give-and-take,” he said. “LSU it had a give-and-take based on we were running the ball well so we are taking it and putting it in the O-line’s hands, so to speak. In this last game, all of a sudden we found those plays.

“Come on guys, when you hit 10 plays for explosive plays, the bottom line is: Run them again. Run them again. Let’s not get greedy here as a coach and say, ‘I don’t like that. I’m throwing the ball because that’s what we all love to do.’

“If Jeff Driskel can carry the ball 70 yards and out-run everybody, he’s getting the ball. If Mike Gillislee can carry the ball and out-run everybody, he’s getting the ball. And if our O-line blocks like they block, we’re giving them the ball. I’m not going to be stubborn as far as playing off numbers every week. I’m going to do what’s best for this team and what they create for us to be productive and score points and win football games.”

Adding more passing plays into the game will help Florida achieve the balance that Pease wants and many Gators fans feel the offense needs. More talented defenses like South Carolina will be able to put another guy in the box and still be efficient in the secondary, which is something UF will have to avoid to keep the running game going while also adding in some effective and game-breaking passes going forward.

Pease also noted that getting the passing game going is not all on Driskel shoulders as the players around him also have to do better in order to make that happen.

“We threw the ball 20 times [on Saturday]; we completed 11 of them. What’s going on in those? Some of those guys made catches; they got to make people miss. Some of them, we had drops. Some of them, we got to make better reads. Some of them, we got to have better protection. You can still be productive because it’s all self-evaluation. Some of them could maybe be better calls by me. All of that comes into account. It’s not like it can’t be done. It is being done, it’s just you got to continue to get better at it,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the reserve offensive linemen stepping up against Vanderbilt: “Yeah, how about it? We go down three guys… It’s impressive. Three guys come in that probably don’t take as many reps during the week with [Sam [Robey and D.J. [Humphries] and Ian [Silberman] replacing all those guys and still kind of have the continuity. There’s still a lot of communication. There was a lot of communication from what Vanderbilt was doing defensively with the zone blitz. Those guys communicated and [were] productive in the run game. It’s a credit to Coach [Tim] Davis and those guys in the room and getting it done like they did. It’s good to have depth like that. It’s good that those guys can play other positions if they have to move around. Robey can go to guard, sometimes he’s played tackle. He’ll get out there and get better this week and same with the other guys. Hopefully we get some guys back.”

» On if he always knows when fake punts and field goals are being called: “I am because I sit in staff meetings. Do I know when they’re coming sometimes? I didn’t know the other one was coming [Saturday] until I saw the formation because I was about to get up and go to the bathroom. And then soon as I saw Solo[mon Patton] go in motion, I thought, ‘Oh goodness, they’re hitting it.’ Great call by him. Great call by Will [Muschamp].”

» On how Florida can fix the numerous drops the team had against Vanderbilt: “It is really probably more hitting the Jugs machine and creating the situation of having people around them. You really got to create the balls that are off their frame as far as catches – low below the waist, high above their shoulders or back – create a better range of their catch radius.”

» On Driskel’s mobility: “Jeff, come on, you out-run those DBs like that and you got something gifted in you.”

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