1/6: Donovan on Florida’s ranking, entering SEC

No. 10 Florida Gators (11-2) head coach Billy Donovan met with the media on Monday, two days before his team opens up Southeastern Conference play against the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-6) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Gainesville, FL.

BACK IN THE TOP 10

When Donovan spoke before the season began and was asked about Florida being ranked in the top 10 nationally, he laughed at praise, noting that the Gators were a long way from being that caliber of team. And he was right. Not only was UF banged up and missing a number of players due to suspension, the players were still learning how to mesh together following the departure of Florida’s three leading scorers from a year ago.

On a five-game winning streak with two victories over top 25 opponents, the Gators checked in at No. 10 in the Associated Press poll on Monday. Subsequently, Donovan was asked if Florida is more deserving of the praise 13 games into its season.

“I think we’re a better team than we were in November and December. I think we’ve gotten better. I still think we can improve from that point. Where we should be ranked, it’s hard for me to say,” he explained. “I think I said this before: in a lot of ways you can move up in the rankings based on what teams do in front of you, and if a team doesn’t lose games, you are never going to move up. I don’t pay maybe a whole lot of attention to that part of it. … The rankings are going to be what they are going to be and sometimes you don’t have really a lot of control over where you are ranked. But if you keep winning, you probably are going to improve in that area.”

READY FOR THE SEC

Donovan made it a point to test the Gators with a difficult non-conference slate, but don’t get it twisted, he’s pleased to see SEC play begin on Wednesday.

“I think the non-conference schedule, you are going game-by-game, and you do that the entire year but now you are playing for something,” he said. “So for us going into this, now you are actually playing for something. … I think our guys understand, as everybody does, it’s almost like OK, now the season is starting.”

As far as he is concerned, Florida is in great shape entering the most important part of its schedule. Though improvements can certainly be made, the Gators are doing many of the little things correctly.

“I think we have a group of guys that have some experience, one. I do think we have a group of guys who are very, very coachable. They’ve accepted their roles. They want to play their roles to the best of their abilities. I think we’re an unselfish team. I think they care about one another. I think we have chemistry inside of our team. I think those things are healthy, they’re good right now,” Donovan said.

“I still think we can make some strides and get better. I think Kasey Hill can play better. I think Scottie Wilbekin of late can play better. I think we can complement each other better than what we maybe have been doing over the last several weeks. There’s still improvement to be made in those areas, but I think the things that make up a good team in terms of the unselfishness and the chemistry, guys getting along, guys playing for each other, wanting to win, a lot of those intangibles that you have a hard time measuring, I feel like our team has those things.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Donovan on the benefits of having four seniors on the roster: “They understand the league and what league play is all about. … We still have some younger guys who are going to have to step up and contribute with those guys and we’re going to need leadership from those four guys. We’re going to need those four guys to set the stage for our team going forward.”

» Donovan on South Carolina: “They have a lot of new faces, a lot of new personnel. I think they have some very good young players that, like anything else, when you’re playing a lot of freshmen and younger guys there are going to be some growing pains and some ups and downs. That’s going to be a part of their development and growth. I think the team that people remember from South Carolina last year is totally different than this year’s team, and the number one difference is maybe not style of play but it’s their personnel.”

» Donovan on the team potentially tying a record Wednesday for most consecutive wins at home: “I know we’ve won quite a few here at home, but to me right now, I look at it like this is a new game and what has happened behind us is really over and done with. Forget the fact there’s been so many in a row. That has no bearing on the fact we have to get ready to play South Carolina on Wednesday.”

» Donovan on whether freshman forward Chris Walker is any closer to playing: “I have not heard anything yet. As I said earlier, it’s totally out of my hands. Our school, our administration is dealing with the situation with the NCAA. The NCAA has allowed him to … practice. He has been admitted to school and started class [Monday]. All of that stuff is fine. Really, it’s more than anything else, for me personally, I’m totally out of the situation. I’d like to get an answer as much as anybody would.”

» Senior F Will Yeguete on how angry Walker is about not being cleared: “He’s getting frustrated because he really wants to play. You can see it in his eyes that he wants to get on the court and run around a little bit and just be out there, but he understands that it’s a process. We try to tell him every day to keep on working and pray for the best and hopefully he will be out there with us soon. … He’s really athletic. He can rebound the ball and he runs the floor really hard. He has a lot of energy, and I think when he can be out there, he’ll help us a lot. He just wants to play. He just being out there, I think he really plays 110 percent. It doesn’t matter how much he plays, so hopefully I think he’ll get a chance to play soon.”

» Donovan on Florida’s negative assist-to-turnover ratio: “Outside of Kasey Hill and Scottie Wilbekin, everybody on our team has a negative assist-to-turnover ratio. And that to me is very, very disappointing, especially when you talk about having some older guys. … One thing that’s been glaring for us is although we haven’t had an enormous amount of assists, we really haven’t outside of several games here or there where we’ve had an enormous amount of differential turnover-wise. … I think with the way we’re trying to play — fast and up-tempo — that’s going to happen sometimes. But I also would like to see our scoring average improve a little bit more than it is right now, and we could do that by getting a few more assists. I think we’ve left a lot of points out there by, one, free throw shooting by our team, two, I think we’ve missed a lot of shots in around the basket. And then, I think the assist part, where you can get somebody an easier shot so to speak when we’re playing off each other, I think that’s an improvement we can make.”

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11/18: Muschamp previews Georgia Southern; Murphy improving but not yet cleared

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 19-14 loss to the No. 10/11 South Carolina Gamecocks and upcoming home game against the Georgia Southern Eagles on Saturday, Nov. 23. The game will kick off at 2:00 p.m. and air live only on pay-per-view.

RETURN IN QUESTION

It is not known whether redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) will be available to play on Saturday against Georgia Southern, and it is not expected that a decision will be made until later in the week.

Muschamp said that Murphy “threw lightly” on Sunday and felt more comfortable than he had in a while. But he has not yet been cleared to practice in full and the team currently preparing for redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg to be the starter.

Murphy called himself “day-to-day” and noted that he felt much better than last week. He estimated that he played at 60-70 percent against Missouri and was even healthier than that two weeks later when taking on Georgia. However, he reinjured the shoulder during the Vanderbilt game, which is why he was unable to play last Saturday.

“It’s getting better. After the game last week I really couldn’t move it, but now I’m able to move it and rotate and stuff like that. I got range of motion and stuff like that. It’s a lot better, getting better,” Murphy said.

Now estimating his health at 70-75 percent, Murphy hopes to get back on the field Saturday but cautioned that it will be a mutual decision between himself and the trainers.

“It’s all about if the ball’s coming out efficiently. If I can’t make the throws in practice, it’s not going to happen in the game,” he said. “Sitting out not practicing doesn’t help. It’s just kind of something we’re trying to figure out what’s best for the team and how we can be successful.”

INJURY UPDATES

Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson was suspended for the South Carolina game but would not have been cleared to play anyway due to an ankle injury he suffered against Vanderbilt. Muschamp said Roberson “ran well” on Sunday and will hopefully return to practice during the week. As long as he’s cleared medically, he can play on Saturday as his suspension as just a one-week punishment.

Additionally, Gators sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL) remains doubtful despite moving around on Sunday. The team hopes to have an update mid-week. Freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood, who took a hard hit late in the fourth quarter against the Gamecocks and looked to be shaken up, did not suffer a concussion but rather hurt his shoulder. He will be good to go this week.

Continue Reading » 11/18: Muschamp previews Georgia Southern; Murphy improving but not yet cleared

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No. 10 Gamecocks fight back to top Gators 19-14

The No. 10/11 South Carolina Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) withstood a ground-and-pound attack by the Florida Gators (4-6, 3-5 SEC) on Saturday evening at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC, shutting out and therefore outscoring the visitors 13-0 in the second half to pull out a 19-14 victory.

The outcome left the Gators having dropped five games in a row for the first time since 1979 and losing for the first time under the leadership of head coach Will Muschamp when rushing for 150 yards or more in a game (previously 15-0). Florida also lost for just the second time under Muschamp when leading at the half (previously 18-1).

Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor led the way for UF with 21 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns. USC only scored one touchdown on the evening but connected on 5-of-6 field goals to put its SEC East rivals away.

Continue Reading » No. 10 Gamecocks fight back to top Gators 19-14

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Gameday: Florida Gators at No. 11 South Carolina

Location: Williams-Brice Stadium – Columbia, SC [Capacity: 80,250]
Weather: 74°F (feels like 74°F), partly cloudy, winds ENE at 10 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

TV: ESPN2 (Joe Tessitore, Matt Millen, Maria Taylor)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS No. 11/12 USC GAMECOCKS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Steve Spurrier
Record: 4-5 (3-4 SEC) Record: 7-2 (5-2 SEC)
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Southeastern
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +13.5 | O/U: 42.5

PLAYER UPDATES

The Gators officially announced just an hour before the game that redshirt freshman quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg would be starting (and making his first career in-game appearance) in place of redshirt junior Tyler Murphy (shoulder). Mornhinweg becomes just the second freshman signal caller in school history to take his first snap as a starter (Jacoby Brissett, 2011).

Florida also made it known before the game that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson was suspended and would not participate due to a violation of team rules.

KEEP UP WITH THE GATORS

Busy during the week? Miss a feature, story or post on OnlyGators.com? No worries. Catch up on what you missed via the links below!

Story: LB Antonio Morrison (torn meniscus) out for the season | Notebook: Will Muschamp talks about fixing the Gators | Notebook: Brent Pease talks about his quarterbacks, job security | Notebook: Muschamp and Steve Spurrier respect each other | Statement: Jeremy Foley backs Muschamp | Story: LB Jarrad Davis next man up for Florida | Story: QB Skyler Mornhinweg likely to start

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida holds a 24-6-3 advantage in the all-time series against South Carolina having won 19 of the last 22 meetings between the programs. Under Spurrier, the Gamecocks are 3-5 against the Gators and have won two of the last three showdowns.
» UF dropped its second game this season to an unranked opponent last week and is now 18-3 against unranked teams under Muschamp after losing two in a row.
» Florida is 15-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (7-13 when rushing for fewer than 150 yards). The Gators are also 18-4 when holding opponents to 21 points or less, 13-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 14-4 when scoring first (8-9 when an opponent scores first) and 18-1 when leading at the half (4-12 when tied or trailing at the break).
» UF has registered 105 interceptions since 2008, second-most nationally. Florida is also first in interceptions returned for touchdowns (17) and interception return yards (1,860).
» The Gators have forced the most turnovers among SEC teams this century (363).
» Florida had forced at least one turnover in 19-straight games before failing to do so last week against Vanderbilt.
» Despite struggling for the last few weeks, the Gators are still ranked in the top-10 nationally in pass efficiency defense (98.2), total defense (278.8 yards), passing defense (169.1 yards), first downs allowed (15.7 per game), third down conversion defense (.311) and yards allowed per play (4.74).

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: Florida Gators at No. 11 South Carolina

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Track the Florida Gators en route to Columbia

The Florida Gators are on their way to Columbia, SC, to take on the No. 10 South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Nov. 16 at 7:00 p.m. As a long-time special OnlyGators.com feature, the following is the flight information for the Gators, which are flying over on an American Airlines Boeing 757-200 twin-jet.

You can also track the flight live while it is in the air!

ORIGIN: Gainesville Regional Airport (KGNV)
DESTINATION: Columbia Metropolitan Airport (KCAE)

DURATION: 44 minutes

DEPARTURE: 4:14 p.m. EST [scheduled 4:00 p.m. EST]
ARRIVAL: 4:59 p.m. EST [scheduled 4:48 p.m. EST]

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11/13: Muschamp and Spurrier talk Florida-South Carolina, mutual respect; Murphy injury update

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 game against the South Carolina Gamecocks and head coach Steve Spurrier.

INJURY UPDATES

While sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (sprained MCL) has already been ruled out of Saturday’s game, Muschamp said redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) and junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) remain day-to-day. Neither Murphy nor Roberson has practice this week as of press time.

Asked if Murphy’s shoulder was more seriously injured than it had been, Muschamp explained that nothing is torn but the player did experience some swelling and discomfort coming out of the last game. Florida did not think Murphy would start against Missouri, but he felt good enough at the start of the game and wound up playing. The same may happen this week, but he will have to see some practice time first.

Muschamp also said linebacker sophomore Antonio Morrison (torn meniscus) and freshman Jeremi Powell (torn ACL) were going under the knife Wednesday with Morrison’s surgery already completed. He will likely be out 2-3 months and back in time for spring practice.

MUTUAL RESPECT

Squaring off against Spurrier for the third time as coach of the Gators, Muschamp once again reiterated how much he respects the guy who helped build Florida football.

“I admire the job that he’s done as a head coach, period,” he said. “What he’s did and accomplished here at Florida in his 12 years and then the job he did at South Carolina and then the job he did at Duke and the Tampa Bay Bandits and the list goes on. He’s done it the right way, too. He does things the right way, does things first-class. He handles things the right way and I just have a lot of respect for the man.”

Spurrier shared a similar sentiment about Muschamp, saying the two have a good relationship and he very much respects how Muschamp is running the Gators.

Continue Reading » 11/13: Muschamp and Spurrier talk Florida-South Carolina, mutual respect; Murphy injury update

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11/12: Pease calls Murphy game-time decision, talks Mornhinweg and job security

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the 10th game of the season against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Nov. 16. The game is set to kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

QUARTERBACK A GAME-TIME DECISION

Redshirt junior starting quarterback Tyler Murphy announced Monday that trainers considered him day-to-day as he rehabilitated from a sore shoulder that has been ailing him over the last few weeks. Though rumors ran rampant that Murphy was actually out for the season, OnlyGators.com confirmed with a source close to the player that he is indeed day-to-day and trying to get back for the South Carolina game.

Pease said the exact same thing on Tuesday, noting that it would be up to the trainers to determine whether or not Murphy goes on Saturday.

“I think it’s probably a game-time decision. … He’s got to get in some practice time at some point in time and at least go out. … It’s about his comfort, ability of how to throw and spin it,” Pease said.

Murphy being a game-time decision means redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg has taken all of the repetitions in practice and may very well be starting against the Gamecocks and their, at times, extremely talented defense.

Mornhinweg has never stepped on the field for the Gators, but Pease noted that he has received a fair share of first-team reps in recent weeks.

“We were in it a couple of weeks ago when Skyler was taking all the reps going into the Missouri game. It’s not something that is a new situation or us, but you got to plan and make sure the things we do with Skyler – Murphy will be able to perform – fit things around both of them in a game plan that is really going to benefit our team,” he said.

“He’s ready to go. The thing that’s tough on a kid in his situation is just experience. You hope you never really have to play with a redshirt freshman, and nothing against him, because he’s a smart kid, he works hard. In a developmental situation, you hope you get into your sophomore or junior year before you get into that situation whether you’re competing for the job or in a back-up role ready to play.”

Should Murphy be ruled out and Mornhinweg start, redshirt junior walk-on Christian Provancha would serve as the back-up quarterback as UF is trying to preserve freshman Max Staver’s redshirt.

Continue Reading » 11/12: Pease calls Murphy game-time decision, talks Mornhinweg and job security

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11/11: Muschamp on Murphy’s injury, fixing Gators

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 34-17 loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores and upcoming road contest against the South Carolina Gamecocks on Saturday, Nov. 16. The homecoming contest will kick off at 7:00 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

BIG NAME LEADS LIST OF INJURED GATORS

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy has been dealing with a shoulder injury since the LSU game but has yet to miss a start. Muschamp announced Monday that Murphy will not practice Monday or Tuesday but should be back out on the field Wednesday.

The player admitted later Monday that he would not be able to play if the game was that day, noting that the injury was aggravated – and potentially worsened – by getting hit in and falling on his shoulder multiple times against Vanderbilt.

“I’m missing Monday and possibly Tuesday,” Murphy said. “I need all the practice I can get. It’s just frustrating, being banged up a little bit, I have to sit out and try to get healthy. I’m just going to live in the training room and get healthy and try to get out there as soon as possible.”

There are rumors circulating that Murphy’s injury is worse than is being let on by the coaching staff, but to put that chatter in proper perspective, what exactly would Florida – a two-touchdown underdog to South Carolina – have to gain by lying about a season-ending injury the same day one is announced for another starter.

“It’s more of a day-to-day thing,” Murphy said about his ailment. “I’m just trying to get healthy so I can get back out there and try to contribute to helping this team.”

Muschamp also announced Monday that junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) will miss two days of practice but should return Wednesday. Freshman linebacker Jeremi Powell (knee) is scheduled for surgery this week, and sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL) is doubtful for Saturday.

“He’ll be back this season, just based on the injury report this morning he’s doubtful for this weekend,” Muschamp said. “He can get into a stance and move and stuff, he just can’t press off of it right now. He’ll play [again] before the year is out.”

Continue Reading » 11/11: Muschamp on Murphy’s injury, fixing Gators

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