9/12: Will Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp meets with the media each Monday to wrap-up the previous Saturday’s game and look ahead to the Florida Gators next opponent. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from this week’s availability.

OPENING STATEMENT AND PLAYER AWARDS

Muschamp began the press conference by noting that Florida had 16 explosive plays on offense and only gave up three, resulting in a great ratio of +13. In change of possession plays, the Gators were +3 due to the one turnover and two fourth down stops.

“The defense got a shutout – a lot of that is attributed to our offense possessing the ball in the second half,” he said, noting that Florida was also 91 percent on third down and did a great job running the ball for more than 300 yards.

However, he was very unhappy about the team’s nine penalties including the “six undisciplined penalties” that were caused due to alignment issues like jumping offsides on defense. “Some things that we just need to get cleared up and that’s something we just can’t tolerate,” he said.

Offensive Players of the Game: Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey
Scrap Iron Award (best offensive lineman): Redshirt senior transfer guard Dan Wenger
Big Play Award: Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose
Extra Effort Award: Junior RB Mike Gillislee
Defensive Player of the Game: Redshirt junior linebacker Lerentee McCray
Ball Hawk Award: Sophomore safety Matt Elam
(also credited were Jabari Gorman and Marcus Roberson)
Special Teams Player of the Week: Sophomore LB Darrin Kitchens
Scout Team Players of the Week: Offense-Jason Traylor (fr.); Defense-Tim Clark (redshirt soph.); Special Teams-Louchiez Purifoy (fr.)

INJURY AND ABSENCE UPDATES

Redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) has been trying to give it a go each week, but Muschamp noted that the “injury [was] obviously much more severe than we had first thought.” Nevertheless, he said Brown practiced well last week and had good movement straight-ahead just struggled laterally. “He worked extremely hard through the week and we feel like he can give it a go this weekend.”

He added that senior RB Jeff Demps (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) are fine and the team will be a full-go otherwise. He also expects freshman TE A.C. Leonard (torn meniscus) to get back to practice and work a little bit.

Muschamp also discussed why redshirt sophomore WR Stephen Alli and redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail did not dress for the game on Saturday. He said Alli “has a little bit of a hamstring. He went to the hotel and wasn’t going to participate,” while “Lynden just needs to play better.”

A TAKE ON TENNESSEE

Muschamp provided his perspective on Saturday’s opponent, Tennessee, from all three facets of the game.

“Tyler Bray has played really good football, is completing close to 80 percent of his passes. They went to him latter part of last year, really turned around their offense as far as production is concerned. Both explosive playmakers outside – Justin Hunter and Da’Rick Rogers – both guys who can stretch the field vertically, very good with the ball after the catch, both guys you got to account for. They’re going to run the football. They’re going to be balanced in what they do – the play actions and things.

“Defensively I’ve got a lot of respect for Justin Wilcox and what he’s done defensively. The guy’s a really good football coach and he’s got his guys playing hard, playing fast, playing physical. They’re in the right spots as far as what they’re doing defensively. Derek [Dooley]’s background is in special teams and offense, but special teams are very good.”

EASLEY CAN DANCE IF HE WANTS TO

Anyone watching the game on television (or with a good look from the stands) has undoubtedly noticed that sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley like to dance – throughout the entire game. Whether waiting for the ball to be placed on the field or waiting to get on the field while the offense is playing, Easley appears to be light on his toes and has a big smile on his face while doing so. Muschamp said Monday that he had no problem with his player’s antics.

“I think every player is different. Obviously as long as it’s within the rules and our officiating crew does an outstanding job. As long as he’s not doing anything to taunt the opponent, I’m fine with that. I want guys to be who they are,” he said.

Redshirt junior DT Omar Hunter, one of Easley’s linemates, enjoys the show. “That’s just him. That’s Dominique Easley. He always wants to have fun while he’s playing and we enjoy that,” he explained earlier on Monday. “He brings a lot of excitement to our team, a lot of energy, and we definitely use that and it motivates us. I think the dancing helps him focus even more.”

WEIS RUNS THE SHOW OFFENSIVELY

Asked how much input he has on the team’s offense, Muschamp explained Monday that he does have plenty of control from a philosophical standpoint but makes sure that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis handles most of that unit’s operations because, simply, it is not his specialty.

“As far as the personnel is concerned and philosophically what I want to be offensively – 100 percent. As far as what we’re doing, as far as what Charlie’s calling the plays and what he feels we need to do to be successful – he’s running it,” Muschamp said. “The worst thing you can do in a leadership position is be something you’re not. I’ve never called plays before and I haven’t coached quarterbacks either. I hired those guys with the idea that they were going to run the offense.”

He also discussed how the team has transitioned from a spread to pro-style offense under Weis. “You see some elements here and there that they’re very familiar with in the run game – especially last Saturday,” he said. “That’s one thing that Charlie and our offensive staff have done a really nice job of – identifying what we do well and make sure we accentuate the things we do well as opposed to plugging them into our system and saying, ‘This is what we are,’ and running it. I think that’s Charlie’s experience. He understands the playmakers – to get those guys the ball in the situations we need to do that.”

NOTES & QUOTES

» On sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell needing to improve: “We’d like to have some more production. As far as affecting the quarterback, he had a couple nice hits the other night pressuring the quarterback. It was more of a timing passing game; they got the ball out pretty quick. I think he’s playing well at the point of attack in the run game, but we need a little more production. I talked to him about it yesterday as far as being a more productive player as far as some of those things – sacks, hits and those things need to be a little bit more.”

» On if he’s excited to coach his first SEC game (sarcastic reply): “Yeah. That was a heck of a question. I’m really, really, really excited.”

» On not getting any sacks last week: “We need to get pressure with four guys rushing. That’s the best pass defense in America. You need to be able to rush four guys and we need to do a better job of that.”

» On if he sees a difference between facing UAB and SEC teams unlike his players: “From an approach standpoint, I don’t like to treat any other game more important than another one. It’s the next one, that’s why it’s the most important one. It’s a great rivalry and it’s in the SEC East and it’s a game we need to play well and win. From that standpoint, sure, it’s a really important game and I don’t think you need to tell our players that. They come to a place like Florida to play in a game like this. We don’t treat other teams more important than other teams. I think that’s when you start to get an ebb-and-flow of play and how you approach the game. So that’s why we approach it that way.”

» On Rainey’s mindset each day being a catalyst for the team: “When you walk on the practice field there are certain guys every single day that you see football is really important to them. Football is really important to Chris. You see how he competes, how he handles himself, how he approaches the meetings and how he goes on the field and works at practice. You could walk out and not know anything and not know any names and pick out certain guys and pick them by number and understand, ‘Hey, football is important to this guy.’ It’s a day-in, day-out deal. It’s not just a one-day deal. He works extremely hard every day.”

» On if Rainey going what he went through made football more of a priority: “I think so. I think anytime you have something taken away from you that’s important to you, you find out a lot about yourself and about how important it is to you. There’s no question.”

» On not asking too much of his young players: “You’re always mindful about the situations you’re going to put your players in. that certainly affects how you call the game, how you prepare in the game and understanding the situations that some of these young men are going to be in for the first time in a big-time atmosphere.”

» On not installing stuff late in the week: “The hay is in the barn after Thursday. We’re not adding stuff on Friday. Especially [not] with a young team. You can certainly do that with a veteran group.”

» On if he minds playing a friend in Dooley: “You’d rather not but, bottom line on Saturday, he’s going to do the best job he can for his team and I am for mine.” Does he still speak to him a lot? “Not much now.” What if they coached in different conferences? “Maybe.”

» On if he is impressed of the top-flight LSU coaching staff he was a part of (including himself, Dooley, Jimbo Fisher, etc.): “We had a really good staff. We had some really good coaches. Credit Nick [Saban] in the interview process in hiring the right guys and hiring the right fit. We were very fortunate. We had some really good players – that’s a huge part of it. We recruited well and coached well.”

» On sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd returning from suspension: “Looking forward to seeing him play. First of all, he’s a good young man, and second of all he’s a good football player. We’re excited to have him back.”

» On telling the team to stop running its mouths during the game: “You see some things obviously that you don’t like and then the official comes and says, ‘We’ve got a lot of chatter going on.’ So that’s my job to handle that. I walked in at halftime and told them, ‘Do the talking with your helmet. Shut up and play the game.’ That’s really all it is. Guys who want to run their mouth all the time generally aren’t playing very good in my opinion.”

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9/10: Florida vs. UAB post-game notes, quotes

With the No. 18 Florida Gators‘ early non-conference schedule now wrapped up and a 39-0 victory over the UAB Blazers in the books, OGGOA takes a look at some of the notable occurrences before, during and after Saturday’s game with notes and quotes from head coach Will Muschamp and some of Florida’s players.

ABSENCES AND INJURIES

Sophomore defensive lineman Sharrif Floyd missed his second-straight game due to suspension (he will return for Tennessee), but two other notable players did not dress on Saturday. Neither redshirt sophomore wide receiver Stephen Alli nor redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail donned a uniform and Muschamp did not provide reasons.

Additionally, redshirt junior cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee) and sophomore WR Robert Clark (hamstring) continued to sit out due to injury. During the contest, senior running back Jeff Demps (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) got dinged up but Muschamp implied after the contest that neither injury was serious.

MUSCHAMP’s GAME RECAP

Before he answered questions about Saturday’s victory, Muschamp gave an opening statement about the game touching on some positives and negatives that he noticed.

“Obviously any time you win it’s a positive and to win 39-0, it’s very difficult nowadays in college football or in any level of football to get a shutout. I’m very proud of our defense but really you got to attribute a lot of that to our offense in the second half. The ability to be able to run the football – that was kind of the plan to win at halftime when we were presented those circumstances. Very pleased with the victory, but I think the red zone offense is disappointing, the defense created one turnover had an opportunity on two other situations.

“I thought we had a chance to get there. We had some miscommunications defensively; I don’t know if we played as well as we would have wanted to play against this football team defensively. Procedural issues are very frustrating – had to take two time outs in the first half – we can’t afford to do that as we move forward in the SEC.”

RAINEY RACKING UP THE YARDS, POINTS, PRAISE

Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey’s 162-yard effort on Saturday once again showed that he is turning into a one-man gang for the Gators’ offense. With four touchdowns in two games, he has accounted for nearly half of the team’s end zone trips and approximately one-third of their offensive yardage. Muschamp was, once again, impressed with Rainey’s output but said it is not coming as much of a surprise to him.

“Since I’ve been at the University of Florida, I’ve watched a guy who is extremely competitive; he’s a great practice player. You ought to come watch a practice – you know, if we ever open it up. It may not happen and he’s a senior,” he joked. “He is extremely electric with the ball in his hands and a lot of fun to watch. You watch him compete in practice – he blocks hard in practice – he does everything that you want a good football player to do to contribute to your football team.

“He brings a certain energy to the football player. He’s done everything we’ve asked. He’s worked hard. He’s competitive, he’s tough and God’s blessed him with an awful lot of ability. […] You see certain guys that have a certain bounce about themselves every day in practice. Chris has that. He positively affects everybody in the organization. A guy that’s really passionate about what he does. He likes football, really enjoys playing football, and I’m glad he’s a Gator.”

REMEMBERING 9/11

Florida honored America during the game by commemorating September 11th with a pre-game video, halftime band tribute, ribbons painted on the orange stadium walls and in-game announcements but nothing was more stirring than watching cheerleaders and players run onto the field with American flags before the game began. Muschamp said that everyone who carried a flag has/had a relative in the military.

Those players included sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley, Brown, redshirt junior linebacker Lerentee McCray, sophomore safety Matt Elam, junior left tackle Xavier Nixon, freshman CB Loucheiz Purifoy and freshman S Jabari Gorman. Additionally, sophomore fullback Jesse Schmitt (who got a carry in the game), will be a commissioned second lieutenant upon graduation.

“9/11 affected us all in different ways. Certainly a very irrational occurrence that happened – very difficult to deal with – so I wanted to pay our respect to those people,” Muschamp said. Nixon also spoke about what it was like to carry the flag out of the tunnel. Flag: “It feels great and prideful. I felt good,” he said. “I saw my mom’s face and it almost brought tears to my eyes because I’m very proud of my parents.”

PENALTIES A MAJOR CONCERN

Through two games, the Gators have accounted for 18 penalties for 120 yards (not counting yardage lost due to plays being called back). Muschamp was aggravated with the fact that the team committed nine penalties for 65 lost yards on Saturday and let it be known that would be a point of education this week.

“We had a miscommunication one series on a call on third down – it’s not what we wanted to be in. We had some penalties that put us behind. I believe we finished the game with nine penalties – too many penalties,” he said. “We had offsides defensively in critical situations, especially third down – disappointing. Discipline issue – penalties, and you can’t afford to have those. You can’t put yourself behind the sticks offensively, especially in the red zone when the pass zone is condensed and it’s tougher to run the football and then people outnumber you in the box. We’re going to go back and look at it and make the corrections we need to make.”

BURTON SEES THE FIELD, SUCCEEDS AS A RUNNER

Having left the season opener early due to a bruise, sophomore RB Trey Burton came on strong in Florida’s second contest, rushing for 46 yards on just a handful of carries and accounting for a touchdown as well. Burton came in as a power back and also took some Wildcat snaps, including one he ran in for a score. “Most importantly it gives Rainey and Demps a break,” he said of his performance on Saturday. “They don’t have to be in every single play. Thankfully Coach [Charlie] Weis is giving me the opportunity to play running back and I really enjoy it.”

Muschamp said he was pleased with what Burton is able to accomplish with his versatility. “I think you see him line up in the slot, you see him line up at fullback, you see him line up at halfback. He’s really good in protection. He’s an outstanding receiver,” he said. “You saw him tonight running the football, getting his pads downhill. It provides for us to get a bigger back in the game with the same personnel grouping on the field with taking a Chris or a Jeff and putting them in the slot with some of our one-back stuff. He’s just a really good player. Football comes very easy to him – he gets it, he understands it. Really happy he’s a Gator.”

RED ZONE EFFICIENCY STILL A CONCERN

The Gators may have scored every time they entered the red zone on Saturday, but Weis was visibly upset on the sideline because Florida failed to convert each trip into a touchdown. Not only did some penalties push UF back, miscommunications and badly executed plays forced the Gators to kick more field goals than they want. Considering Weis believes kicking a field goal in the red zone is a failure, Florida’s offense has a long way to go to be successful in his eyes.

“We moved the ball the whole first half, we just got in the red zone and you just can’t have those critical errors in those situations. It’s demoralizing for an offense to kick field goals in the red zone,” Muschamp explained. “You want to leave with points regardless, that’s the first thing, but when you get down there, you got to put seven on the scoreboard, especially with where we’re heading.

“That’s something we got to get corrected. And it’s disappointing. If they make a good play defensively, we can live with that. We don’t like it, but we can live with it. But when you shoot yourself in the foot, that’s what you can’t [have]. And that’s what we did tonight.”

TURNOVER FOUND, PASS RUSH NOT SO MUCH

Elam ripping the ball out for the first fumble recovery of his career also resulted in the Gators’ first turnover of the year – more than six quarters into the 2011 season. Junior LB Jon Bostic said after the game that it was nice to get the monkey off the unit’s back, but he agreed with Muschamp, who said that one is not nearly enough. “We want to get three. Your chances of winning a game go to 90 percent when you get three turnovers,” Muschamp said. “We just preach over and over again – the game is called ‘football’ for a reason. It’s all about the possession of the ball.”

Florida failed to register a sack on Saturday and the front seven continue to struggle getting consistent pressure on the opposting quarterback. UAB did have a veteran offensive line in the game, but UF must improve in that area overall if they want to win SEC games. Muschamp said he was not so much concerned about the sacks as he is about players hitting the quarterback.

“The sacks are going to come hard when you play an offense like that. The ball is out. It’s a quick passing game; it’s a controlled passing game. There’s not a vertical passing game down the field so it’s going to be difficult to get sacks,” he said. “I don’t look at sacks as much as I look at hits on the quarterback. That’s really important because you’re hitting the guy every snap. I think we got good pressure at times, but the turnovers we need to pick up. We need to do a better job of that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp on controlling the ball and running the clock: “I’m very proud of being able to line up and run it when they know we’re going to run it and we’re still able to run it and take possession of the ball because we’re going to have some games where we’re going to have to do that. Where we’re going to have to slow the tempo down offensively and help our defense play good team football. That was what we wanted to do at halftime.”

» Muschamp on opening up the offense with some wildcat/direct snaps: “We install for the season. We game plan each week to win the game and do what it’s going to take to win the game. Each week we pull a package offensively, defensively and special teams what we’ve got to do to win the football game. We wanted to use some of those things this week. We felt like it gave us a good advantage to win the game.”

» Muschamp on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley’s performance: “I thought John again played very well, did what we asked him to do within the offense. Again with some of the communication issues, when we had a couple guys go down, we have to iron out. The first person I’m going to blame is me. As a staff we have to get those things communicated better on the field. We’ll get together as an offensive staff tomorrow morning and find out what we got to do.”

» Muschamp on Floyd: “I support Sharrif Floyd. My issue – I stand by it 100 percent – that’s how I feel about the situation. I’m going to move on with it and we’re going to move on with it as the University of Florida.”

» Muschamp on junior RB Mike Gillissle’s touches: “Mike certainly brings some value to our team because he’s different than what we have. You look at Jeff and you look at Chris and they’re both speed backs, they’re both perimeter backs. We do run them inside purposely at times. Mike certainly is a guy that can give us some tough yards in the middle. We run a little different path with him as far as the inside power, the inside zones. He’s a downhill runner. Very pleased with Mike’s progress to this point.”

» Muschamp said he is very pleased with the effort from redshirt junior kicker Caleb Sturigs up to this point. He noted that Sturgis has hit from as far as 56 yards in practice but the team’s goal is always to get to the 35 because he is very solid from 52 yards out.

» Brantley on the heavy amount of running the offense did: “The running game was working. Our line did a great job opening up those holes for the running backs. If it’s working, stay with it. That’s Coach Weis’s mentality and that’s what we did.”

» Brantley on the game-opening flea-flicker: “We were working on it all week. We were hoping to get the right look and we did. I got hit on the play, so I really didn’t see much of it, but I heard the crowd cheering so I knew it was good.”

» Brantley on Floyd’s absence: “One of our brothers was down, and we just had to step up. The other defensive linemen, the offense had to step up to make up for that and we definitely missed him.”

» Rainey on his exciting performances: “I’m just doing my job and trying to score the touchdown for the team. I give a lot of credit to the O-line and the receivers because they’re doing a good job blocking out there.”

» Rainey on his quick moves: “I’ve been working on it a lot more – trying to cut fast and not slow down when I cut.”

» Rainey on taking direct snaps: “It was fun – the first time I was doing it so I liked it. I hope we keep doing it. You can see everything – you see like five different holes and you just got to choose one.”

» Rainey on how Muschamp relies on his mindset in practice: “When I’m happy, the team happy. They tell me if I’m down, they down.”

» Nixon on the offense’s ability: “It’s potential is limitless. We’re as good as we want to be any day. The only way we do bad is if we play bad against ourselves – if we mess our own game up with penalties, mental errors and things like that.”

» Burton on getting ready for SEC play: “These first two games help prepare the young guys for the SEC games because they get to get in, play, get a lot of reps. I know as a team we’re really excited to start SEC football. It’s going to be fun.”

» Burton on what he’s told freshmen about playing in the SEC: “I tell them it’s no joke. Every mistake you do they’ll capitalize on it. It’s a little faster. The guys are a little better. Just overall a lot more fun.”

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (89-80)

With the 2010-11 athletic season now in the books and the 2011-12 season about to begin, the focus has shifted from some of the school’s smaller sports to, of course, Florida Gators football. In this new series, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, until the season begins.

89 – Stephen Alli (Toronto, ON)
Redshirt sophomore wide receiver
6’5” 220 lbs.

Quick Bio: A social & behavioral sciences major, Alli is a SEC Freshman Academic Honor Roll member who did not see the field in 2009 but played in all 13 games last season. He is also the only Canadian on the team.

Career Stats/2010 Season: Played in all 13 games, registering three receptions for 17 yards. He spent most of his time on the kickoff return and punt block teams.

2011 Outlook: Singled out as a leader by head coach Will Muschamp during spring practice, Alli was listed as the second X-receiver on the depth chart behind redshirt junior Frankie Hammond, Jr.. He is one of nine scholarship receivers on the roster entering the 2011 season.

86 – Clay Burton (Venice, FL)
Freshman defensive end/linebacker
6’4” 234 lbs.

Quick Bio: The younger brother of Florida standout sophomore Trey Burton, Clay is an early enrollee who was a three-star defensive end coming out of high school.

2011 Outlook: Previously penciled in as a third-string defensive end behind senior William Green and redshirt freshman Chris Martin, Burton will likely move up into the back-up role unless the Gators move another defensive lineman into the position.

86 – Josh Postell (Atlanta, GA)
Redshirt junior tight end
6’4” 218 lbs.

Quick Bio: Originally enrolled to compete with the track & field team while studying health education and behavior, Postell walked on to the Florida football team in the fall of 2009. He participated on the scout team that year before finally seeing game action in 2010.

Career Stats (two games): Two receptions for 16 yards

2010 Season: Postell caught a pair of balls against Vanderbilt and stepped on the field against Appalachian State but did not play the rest of the year.

2011 Outlook: Listed on offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’s early depth chart as a back-up at the F-12 position (when the team features one halfback and two tight ends), Postell saw his other competition for the job (redshirt freshman Michael McFarland) transfer in early July. If he does see the field, his work will mostly be limited to blocking duties, though he could haul in a ball or two.

85 – Frankie Hammond, Jr. (Hollywood, FL)
Redshirt junior wide receiver
6’1” 176 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star wideout, Hammond is a dual-sport athlete who is also a jumper with the track team. He majors in social & behavioral sciences and earned his way back on scholarship this year after being arrested for driving under the influence in June 2010.

Career Stats (26 games): 26 receptions for 333 yards, three touchdowns; five punt returns for 16 yards; one kick return for 23 yards

2010 Season: Catching just four balls during his redshirt freshman year in 2009, Hammond missed the first two games of 2010 due to suspension but played in the 11 remaining contests. He posted career highs in receptions (five) and yards (69) against Mississippi State and was Florida’s leading receiver that game.

2011 Outlook: Hammond steps into a starting role this season and will likely see time as X-receiver during most offensive possessions. Possessing impressive speed and soft hands, he will be catching passes from redshirt senior John Brantley for the second-straight season and should provide a bit of familiarity for the quarterback.

84 – Quinton Dunbar (Miami, FL)
Sophomore wide receiver
6’1” 170 lbs.

Quick Bio: Teammates with redshirt freshman defensive end Lynden Trail at Booker T. Washington in Miami, Dunbar was also a four-star recruit who, like his teammate, majors in social and behavioral sciences.

2010 Season: Saw action against Miami and LSU.

2011 Outlook: Poised to be one of the Gators’ breakout players this season, Dunbar received high praise from Muschamp and Weis during the spring. He dropped a gift of a pass in the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut but really opened the eyes of his coaches and teammates during practice. “You can’t take away from what Quinton Dunbar has done vertically down the field through the entire body of work of spring,” Muschamp said after the scrimmage. “Dunbar has made more big plays than anybody else.”

83 – Solomon Patton (Mobile, AL)
Sophomore wide receiver
5’9” 175 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star prospect coming out of high school, Patton badly wanted to play for UF and chose Florida over his hometown team of Alabama during the recruiting process. A social & behavioral sciences major, Patton was one of a handful of freshman to see meaningful time on the field one year ago.

Career Stats/2010 Season: Patton reeled in four balls for 27 yards and returned seven kickoffs for 196 yards last season. He appeared in 10 games and was a special teams standout who not only brought the ball back on occasion but also blocked one punt and returned another block punt for a touchdown. His 48-yard kickoff return and blocked punt in the Outback Bowl were two of the most memorable plays of the season.

2011 Outlook: Though the Gators have plenty of speedsters, Weis plans to utilize Patton at F-11 during one halfback and one tight end sets. He looked good running the reverse during the Orange & Blue Debut and is excited about the direction of the team. “The coaching staff that we have this year, I’m really enjoying it,” he said. “I just feel like our swag is back. This coaching staff is so laid back, but at the same time they’re coaching us hard. They’re letting us play how we’ve been recruited to play. I’m really excited.”

82 – Omarius Hines (Corsicana, TX)
Redshirt junior wide receiver
6’2” 211 lbs.

Quick Bio: A four-star wide receiver, Hines majors in social & behavioral sciences like many of his teammates and has been moved around a lot during his collegiate career. He used his redshirt in 2008 after dressing but not playing in four games.

Career Stats (17 games): 34 receptions for 453 yards, two touchdowns; 12 carries for 152 yards, two touchdowns

2010 Season: After seeing the field in small bursts one year earlier, Hines started seven contests in 2010 and played in every game. He ended the year with 20 receptions for 281 yards but was moved around a lot due based on others’ injuries and suspensions. He went into the year slotted to play tight end but saw time at receiver and running back. Hines caught a career-high four balls against Georgia and led the team in rushing against Mississippi State (six carries for 58 yards and a TD). He also converted a 36-yard fake punt run against Tennessee.

2011 Outlook: A do-everything player who has soft enough hands to play wideout, Hines will fall back into that role as he is slated to be the team’s starting Z-receiver this season. Muschamp called him the most versatile and consistent pass catcher on the team, noting that he can play in the backfield in the F position and also line up at X-receiver.

81 – A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL)
Freshman tight end
6’4” 245 lbs.

Quick Bio: Considered a top-five player at his position nationally coming out of high school, Leonard was a four-star prospect who was part of both the Rivals100 and ESPNU 150. He enrolled early for 2011 and was a bit homesick but eventually got over it and quickly impressed his teammates and coaches on the field.

2011 Outlook: Listed as the back-up to redshirt sophomore Jordan Reed, Leonard made some nice catches during the Orange & Blue Debut. Muschamp spent some one-on-one time with him in the spring and has a good handle on what he can do for the team in the future. “As he ended the offseason program, he really started to mature and grow up,” the coach said. “I’m very proud of where he is right now. He’s doing a nice job academically. He’s a guy that can really help us in the fall as he continues to mature. Another guy that this time of the year is very important for.”

THE COUNTDOWN: 99-90 | 89-80 | 79-70 | 69-60 | 59-50 | 49-40 |
39-30 | 29-20 | 19-10 | 9-1

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Florida Gators WRs Dunkley, McRoy transferring

A pair of Florida Gators wide receivers have decided to transfer, the University of Florida announced on Friday. Redshirt freshman Chris Dunkley and freshman Javares McRoy will both continue their college careers at other institutions.

Dunkley, who was suspended from team activities this spring for academic reasons, has not announced where he will play.

“It’s been a great learning experience being here at the University of Florida,” he said in a release, “but I feel like it’s in my best interest to get a fresh start somewhere else.“

McRoy, who sat out the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut with what head coach Will Muschamp called a “medical procedure with his lung,” will join his brother on the Texas Tech Red Raiders, a school he initially committed to before switching to Florida.

“I enjoyed my time at Florida, but I really want the chance to play with my brother Ben, who is at Texas Tech,” he said in the release. “Florida has been very understanding and is giving me that opportunity.”

The Gators will enter the 2011 season with only nine scholarship receivers on the roster: redshirt senior Deonte Thompson; redshirt juniors Frankie Hammond, Jr. and Omarius Hines; redshirt sophomores Andre Debose and Stephen Alli; sophomores Robert Clark, Quinton Dunbar and Solomon Patton; and freshman Ja’Juan Story.

The departures of Dunkley and McRoy open up two additional scholarships Florida can use for the 2012 recruiting cycle.

“We wish both of these guys the best of luck in their future endeavors, both on and off the field,” Muschamp said.

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3/31: Brantley, Rainey discuss offense, leadership

With the Florida Gators 2011 spring practice now in full swing, the school made a number of the team’s players available to the media to conclude the third week of action on Thursday. There was a noticeable excitement in the air about the possibilities in Florida’s new offense under offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, as evidenced by some of the notable news and quotes provided during the press sessions.

BRANTLEY FINDING HIS GROOVE

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley, as expected, is much more comfortable under Weis’s pro-style offense. His confidence was noticeable during his press availability on Thursday, when he was eager to answer questions and discuss his comfort level with the brand new coordinator. “He’s a great guy. I respect Coach Weis a bunch,” Brantley said. “I really appreciate him and what he’s doing for us right now. He’s a great guy, great coach. I’ll listen to everything he says […] He knows how to develop quarterbacks.”

Brantley also spoke about the competition for the starting quarterback job and if it is weird for him to be starting from scratch with both redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and true freshman Jeff Driskel. “[By] helping each other out, you learn even more,” he said. “If someone needs help, teaching them also helps you out, helps them out. We’re working as team; we’re a team. We’re fighting for a position, but we’re all buddies.”

Now that he is getting the playbook down, Brantley is anxious to compete in more scrimmages like the one held last Saturday and the upcoming 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on April 9. “The scrimmage aspect, that’s more game-like reps. Everything moves a little bit faster and that definitely helps you out,” he said. “With learning this new offense, the only way you get better is with more reps.”

RAINEY SEEKING REDEMPTION

Going into the 2010 season looking to make an impact, now-redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey took a while to reach his goal. Switched to wide receiver due to the need for someone to fill the “Percy Position” in the spread offense, Rainey never seemed completely comfortable early on. Then all hell broke loose and he was indefinitely suspended from the team until the Georgia game, when he came back primarily as a rusher and hit the ground hard for 89 yards and a touchdown.

With former head coach Urban Meyer out the door, Rainey has been moved back to a rushing role and is beaming about the opportunity he has in front of him for 2011. “I love it. I’m comfortable in the system. All the other years, it’s just been quarterback runs and stuff like that,” he said Thursday. “[I like lining up in the backfield] way better. When you see high school [games of] me, it’s just like that. […] I’m glad I’m just a running back.” He also explained why the new role makes him more dangerous. “When I get the ball [now], I can just read the whole field,” he said. “That gives me a chance to read the field, do whatever I want. [It’s] more freedom.”

Rainey added that Brantley is “made for this offense” and is noticeably “more comfortable,” feeling good and “doing everything right” behind center. Overall, he thinks fans will be very pleased with what the offense has in store for next season. “[It will have] a lot of excitement, a lot of big plays [and] a lot more people involved. Just a lot of fun. Fans are going to be happy again,” he said.

He also spoke briefly about turning his life around after last season’s off -the-field incident. “I grew up a lot, did a lot of thinking. I just look past it to look at the future,” he said. “I’m more focused, doing everything right, looking forward to being a leader.”

QUOTES

Brantley on how the wide receivers have played: “They’ve all done a great job. The young guys are stepping up. Quinton Dunbar and Omarius [Hines] and Deonte [Thompson] – they’ve always been the great players they are. Quinton Dunbar and [Stephen] Alli – they’ve been doing a great job this spring.”

Brantley on how Dunbar is doing: “He’s just making plays. Whenever his number’s called, he’s able to step in there and do his job.”

Brantley on the first scrimmage: “It felt pretty good. It wasn’t perfect. It’s tough to be perfect, especially learning a new offense, but it was really good. Everyone went out there and was very competitive. Everyone’s ready to get going.”

Brantley on if the offense is overly complicated: “No. Not once you get it down. Not once you get into it and get into the playbook and study it. It gets easier and easier every day.”

Rainey on Weis being at Florida: “He loves it. The first thing he said when he got here was that this was the most athletes he’s ever been around. So we felt good about that one.”

Rainey on working with track star and senior RB Jeff Demps: “We meet up sometimes, talk about motions. It’s basically easy – most of the plays are the same thing but different formations.”

Rainey on carrying the load during spring practice: “It’s hard, but I’m an athlete. I’m in shape. So I’m good.”

Rainey on what has changed: “New team. New me. New system.”

Rainey on losing Meyer, with whom he was close: “Anything can happen any given day, so you just got to be prepared and just ready for it.”

Rainey on Weis’s humor: “He’s a big joker, but he can be very serious, too. What he says goes.”

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Muschamp provides pre-spring practice thoughts

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2011 spring practice on Wednesday, new head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Monday to discuss a variety of topics including why practice is closed, who has stepped up as leaders, which players have changed positions and what he expects from redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley.

FIVE-WEEK OFFSEASON PROGRAM

Florida’s student-athletes participated four days each week in a five-week-long offseason program with spring break serving as a nice ending to the activities. Muschamp believes that the time is now to get the Gators in the proper mindset for the upcoming year.

“In the offseason, that’s where you build your football team,” he said. “You build the mental toughness it’s going to take to be successful. You find out a lot about individual players at this time – what they’re willing to push through. You find out a lot about where your leadership is on the football team. You start to develop your identity in the offseason. I’m really pleased with where we are. We still have a ways to go, but I’m excited about what those guys accomplished in our offseason program.”

NO SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT CLOSING PRACTICE

Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer shut fans and media out of fall practice last year, but spring practice was open throughout his entire tenure at UF. Muschamp, who announced last week that practiced would be closed, said that he had no second thoughts about the decision even though some fans are peeved by the choice.

“We’re a new staff. It’s important – on both sides of the ball and special teams – for our guys to focus on what we need to do to be successful. We need to do that in closed quarters,” he said. “I understand that our fans love the Gators and want to be a part of that. On April 9th, we want a full packed house at The Swamp. We need to concentrate on us right now. We need to get better and continue to develop the identity of what we want to be as a football team on both sides of the ball on special teams.”

He continued, “I’ve got to make a decision that I think is best for the program and about winning football games and doing it the right way. That’s something that will be evaluated in the fall by me and in the spring by me. If I think it’s best for the practices to be closed, they’ll be closed.”

CREATING AND ESTABLISHING LEADERS

Muschamp has a number of goals that he has set out to accomplish before spring practice concludes. One of those is finding a set of leaders who prove their worth by displaying a positive attitude, being productive and establishing themselves as both dependable and durable.

“Develop the leadership. Come together for that common purpose. I know we’ll all be excited on Wednesday; I want to see how we are [at] practice 12. That’s really where you find out what kind of team you’ve got,” he said. “We want to be a blue-collar, overachieving unit. We’ve got some good football players; we got a good football team on campus. We’ve got to come together as a cohesive unit, build for a common purpose and develop that workman-like attitude.”

Singling out a handful of players as early leaders, Muschamp pointed to Brantley, senior defensive end William Green, redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., redshirt sophomore WR Stephen Alli, sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs, redshirt sophomore safety Tim Clark, sophomore QB Chandler Carr and freshman QB Jeff Driskel as guys who have already stood out among their peers.

“They came out and played to a championship standard as far as their competition is concerned in the weight room and off the field,” he said of the players. “You’ve got to develop leadership; it’s not just something that happens. We’ve got to develop that within our organization. We’re implementing leadership, character development, mental conditioning for our football team.”

EXPECTATIONS FOR BRANTLEY

Brantley is the Gators’ No. 1 quarterback, and it is going to take a huge effort from either Driskel or redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy to unseat him. Not only does Brantley have the age factor going for him, Muschamp (and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis) both believe he is capable of doing the job that is necessary behind center. To his credit, Brantley has put the pedal to the metal so far this spring and is doing whatever he can to learn the position to the best of his ability.

“John’s worked hard in the offseason. He’s a talented player,” Muschamp said. “John needs to worry about John’s expectations, mine, Charlie Weis’s and nobody else’s. That’s what I think about expectations. Ours are high – really high; we expect a lot. John himself expects a lot of himself, and we’re expecting him to have an outstanding year.”

Asked what his specific expectations are for Brantley, Muschamp instead discussed what he expects from any quarterback running his team. “From the quarterback position, and I don’t mean this in a conservative manner, it’s [about] managing the game,” he said. “Peyton Manning manages the game. Tom Brady manages the game. They don’t turn the ball over; they take care of they ball. They provide great leadership for their offense and their football team. They convert on third down. That’s managing the game; that’s what we want to see. He’s got the ability to do all of those things.”

POSITION CHANGES AND ADJUSTMENTS

As OGGOA covered yesterday in our depth chart post, there is plenty of movement going on throughout Florida’s roster. Here are some of the moves that have been made and what Muschamp had to say about the player involved.

Redshirt freshman Leon Orr from offensive line to defensive tackle: “He’s a bigger body guy that can hold the point inside.”

Redshirt freshman Gerald Christian from tight end to linebacker: “He’s got good lower body explosion [and is] a guy who is certainly bright enough to play two positions.” Christian will also see offensive work at tight end and fullback.

Redshirt sophomore Jordan Reed from QB/TE to tight end: “Jordan Reed will be a full-time tight end. [He] can stretch the field vertically and be a match-up issue for defenses with his athleticism. [I’m] excited about him.”

Sophomore Trey Burton from QB to “F” position: “We’re excited about the versatility Trey will play for us at the F and at the H position in some third-down work.” Learn more about the F position.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Martin from DE/LB to DE: “He’s got good pass rush skills, good pass rush ability. He can move his hands and feet in the rush, which is a natural talent. That’s not something that’s easily coached.”

Muschamp was also asked about sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who had some behavioral issues last season. “That was last season. This is this year,” he said. “I [told him], ‘You’re going to do it our way.’ Change is inevitable, growth is optional. You either do it our way or leave.”

Finally, he discussed where the Gators are weakest position-wise. “We are thin on both lines of scrimmage at this point. I like the quality of players; I don’t like the quantity of players. The SEC is a line of scrimmage league. We’re going in a little bit thin,” he said.

QUOTES

Muschamp on the depth chart: “I don’t know if that depth chart is worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Muschamp on the depth chart (II): “It’s not about where you start – it’s where you finish.”

Muschamp on the defensive philosophy: “We want to be multiple. We’ll be more of an over team, a 4-3 team, a one-gap team at this point. We will commingle some 3-4. We’ve got an outstanding defensive staff, and I’m really excited about what those guys are bringing to the table.”

Muschamp on Weis: “Part of buying in is instant credibility, and he brings instant credibility as a football coach because of what he’s accomplished.”

Muschamp on potentially butting heads with Weis: “You hire guys that you have tremendous confidence that you know their abilities. You hire the best coaches available. We’ve been allowed to do that here because of the support of our administration. You want to hire the best in the business. I don’t want a bunch of “yes” guys. I don’t want a bunch of guys who are going to agree with everything I say. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I don’t have all the answers – especially on the offensive side of the ball. I want guys that want to disagree.”

Muschamp on what excites him about the team: “There’s been a willingness and an eagerness to learn. We’ve got a bunch of prideful guys in that locker room that want to have a lot of success.”

Muschamp on it being “his” team: “It’s Florida’s program, not mine. I’m the steward and I’m driving the ship. Florida won a bunch of games before any of us showed up, and they’re going to win a bunch of games after we’re all gone.”

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9/23: Florda Gators week four practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s fourth game Saturday against the Kentucky Wildcats. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

DEBOSE GROWS

With Florida’s offense putting forth less than stellar performances over the first three games of the season, one of the most heavily discussed topics by fans and the media has been the development of redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. Though he did not play in the team’s opener against Miami (OH), Debose did see limited time against South Florida and Tennessee but has yet to record a reception on the season. That is a fact that might change this week.

“Andre Debose has had a great week of practice,” Meyer said Thursday, noting he had a “really good practice” on Wednesday. “[He hadn’t been practicing well] not because he’s not trying, just [because of] the complication of the offense. Really good day yesterday. That was really encouraging. But that was normal growth. Everybody wants them to be something they’re not. He didn’t play a snap last year.”

Meyer also noted that he is developing at a normal pace, citing that the limited time he has been able to practice at full speed is what hindered him the most. Debose completely tore his hamstring off the bone last season and, while he has been perfectly healthy this year, did miss a lot while being out of commission.

TIGHT ENDS DEVELOPING

The Gators have been using six offensive linemen at times this season instead of putting a tight end in the game; this was most notable last week against Tennessee when sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon played one more spot out wide. The reason for this? Florida has a very young group of players at the position with Meyer’s preferable starter still coming along from a training camp injury.

Jordan Reed’s getting close to full speed. A guy named Gerald Christian is getting a little better,” Meyer said. “At the end of the day, you gotta block SEC defensive ends to play tight end at Florida. We’re getting better. We need that position. If you put an offensive lineman there, there’s no threat of pass.”

QUOTES

On the offense’s execution this week: “The pitch-and-catch has been much better. The receivers are starting to get healthy and their legs back. I think they were blown out a little bit during training camp. We’re getting a little bit of depth. You’re seeing Stephen Alli, you’re seeing Andre Debose starting to get going.”

On who shined this week: “Our receivers had their best day Wednesday, which is real encouraging.”

On redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey’s status: “He’s not part of the team. That’s all I got to say. […] Nowhere near the team. […] I’m not even thinking about that. I’m letting everything will be handled and at some point we’ll have to address it and that point’s not now.”

On freshman quarterback Trey Burton switching numbers (from 13 to 8): “Switching numbers? Is that right? I have no idea, I’m not the numbers coach. I delegated that.”

On offense starting slow each September: “When’s that? Every year? September won-loss record is OK though.”

On redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan‘s health: “I love Patchan’s intensity, emotion – we need him in the lineup. [..] He’s doing all condition and he’s still two [games] away.”

On eventually winning 200 games: “I hope we can tackle Randall Cobb, man.”

On coaching until Bobby Bowden’s age: “I don’t think I can do that.”

On not scoring a point in the first quarter yet: “A lot of urgency to get that corrected. Because we certainly have the scheming and players to do it.”

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9/2: Florida Gators 2010 fall practice notes

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s first game Saturday against the Miami (OH) RedHawks. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details.

HAMMOND OUT INDEFINITELY

Meyer announced that redshirt sophomore wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who was arrested earlier in the summer for driving under the influence and possession of alcohol by a minor, would not be active for Saturday’s game. In OGGOA‘s opinion, there is a good chance he is also out next week against South Florida. Hammond was indefinitely suspended from the team upon his arrest and had his scholarship pulled by Meyer; he has earned his way back onto the team but will not be eligible for a scholarship until spring or summer (at the earliest).

“It’s week-to-week. I said that months ago,” Meyer said. “He’s being evaluated the same way on the scholarship. The reason why I let you know that is because it was a public deal and a very serious deal. The good news about Frankie is he’s doing everything we ask, which you’d imagine he would.”

ELAM, PATTON, ALLI AVAILABLE

Unlike Hammond, freshmen safety Matt Elam and WR Solomon Patton are not being held out for Saturday. Each player was arrested in July and August, respectively, for underage drinking. The matters were handled internally and they’ll be able to play.

Redshirt freshman WR Stephen Alli, who has been limited all fall with a groin injury, will be playing on special teams Saturday, according to Meyer. “We have to get him on the field,” Meyer said. “He’s a talented guy, but he’s been limited so much.” He was initially listed as probable and is hoping to earn a role in the pass catching rotation now that he is getting healthier. That could come sooner than later.

BOSTIC TO START IN THE MIDDLE…”PROBABLY”

At this point, everyone just wants Meyer to name a starting middle linebacker, and the closest he came to doing so was Thursday when he said that sophomore Jon Bostic would “probably” be the starter (at least for the first defensive snap of the game). Then, he qualified it: “I think [he’ll start]. … Don’t be shocked if he’s not.”

QUOTES

Meyer on the Nike Pro Combat uniforms: “I love Nike. I don’t like new uniforms, but I’m a team player so I understand the value of it.”

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