In just his second season leading the Florida Gators, head coach Will Muschamp has led the team to an astounding 11-1 regular season record and added the honor of being named 2012 Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year by his peers.
Muschamp, splitting the award with Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin (who also picked up the honor from the Associated Press), led Florida to a five-game improvement from a year ago when the Gators finished the regular season 6-6. According to the school, that is the biggest improvement for the team in 32 years.
Florida completed the 2012 campaign with a 4-1 record against the top 12 teams in the final BCS standings and a 7-1 mark in conference play with its defense leading the way. The Gators finished the season ranked first in pass efficiency defense, third in scoring defense, fifth in total defense and sixth in rushing defense.
Muschamp is just the third football coach in school history to be named SEC Coach of the Year and the first in 16 years. He joins Ray Graves (coaches – 1960) and Steve Spurrier (coaches – 1991, 1994-96; AP – 1995-96) in that exclusive club.
Capping off his redshirt senior season with a big-time honor, Florida kicker Caleb Sturgis was also named 2012 SEC Special Teams Player of the Year.
Like Muschamp, Sturgis shared the award and is being honored alongside South Carolina return specialist Ace Sanders.
He was 23-of-27 on field goals in 2012 with three of his four misses caused by blocks due to protection issues at the line of scrimmage.
Sturgis is the first Gators player to win the award since Brandon James (2008) and has a chance to add to the honor as he is a finalist for the 2012 Lou Groza Award, which will be announced on Thursday.
Photo Credits: The Gainesville Sun, St. Petersburg Times
No. 2 Florida Gators football (7-0, 6-0 SEC) earned one of their most decisive wins of the season Saturday with a 44-11 victory over the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. The Gators have now surpassed their 2011 regular season win total. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.
HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS
» Florida ended a two-game losing skid against South Carolina and improved to 24-6-3 in the all-time series with a 13-1-0 advantage in Gainesville. The Gators are 18-3 against the Gamecocks since the teams began playing annually in 1992 and are now 5-3 since Steve Spurrier became head coach of USC.
» UF is 11-1 against unranked opponents and 3-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011. Florida has earned all three victories over ranked opponents this season, also defeating Tennessee on the road and LSU at home.
» After having not defeated a ranked opponent at home since Nov. 15, 2008, the Gators have done so in two of their last three games.
» Florida has started a season 7-0 for the fifth time in school history.
» The Gators have not allowed a touchdown to an SEC team in The Swamp this season.
» Florida, under Muschamp, is now 11-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 9-3 when scoring first and 11-1 when leading at the half.
» UF has started a season 7-0 for the fifth time in school history.
» The Gators out-possessed the Gamecocks by 10:56 in the game, the sixth time this season in which they won the time of possession battle.
» Florida won both halves, outscoring South Carolina 21-6 in the first half and 23-5 in the second half. The Gators are outscoring opponents 121-28 in the second half and 64-13 in the fourth quarter this season.
» UF is +11 in turnover margin thorough seven games after being -12 in 2011. Florida has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (333) since 2000.
» The Gators have registered an interception in six of seven games.
» Sophomore punter Kyle Christy averaged 54.3 yards per punt (50.4 net ypp) and hit a long of 62 during the game.
» Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel became the first signal caller since (at least) 1996 to throw for four touchdowns (a career-high) but register under 100 yards passing. He is also the first UF quarterback to score three touchdowns in consecutive games since Tim Tebow (Nov. 21 & 28, 2009) and the first to throw four touchdowns against an SEC opponent since Tebow (Oct. 20, 2007).
» Senior running back Mike Gillislee carried the ball 19 times for 37 yards, his lowest output of the season.
» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed caught two touchdowns, a career-high.
» Freshman Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., sophomore cornerback Jabari Gorman and freshman RB Matt Jones registered their first career sack, interception and touchdown, respectively.
» Sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy forced two fumbles in the game, both of which were recovered by Florida.
“…AND OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD”
At halftime of the game, Muschamp voiced his displeasure at the officiating with the officials but was then stopped by Brady Ackerman of the Gator Radio Network for an interview. While providing his answer, Muschamp saw an official walking by and made sure to make it be known how upset he was at some of the calls in the first half. “Well, we just gotta continue to capitalize on what we’re doing and OVERCOME THE ADVERSITY ON THE FIELD!” Listen for yourself:
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.
Need to catch up on what has been going on with the Gators over the last week? No problem. OGGOA has been here the whole time posting a ton of information so you can do your homework on the team before its next exam on Saturday.
Florida will be featured on College GameDay for a nation-leading 35th time in school history. The Gators will be hosting the program for the 12th time but first since Nov. 28, 2009. UF has already appeared on College GameDay twice this season (2-0) as the visiting team at Texas A&M and Tennessee. Florida is 7-4 overall as hosts in Gainesville and 23-11 all-time when featured on the program.
» Florida leads South Carolina 23-6-3 in the all-time series and boasts a 12-1-0 advantage in Gainesville with its first and only loss coming in the last meeting (2010). The two teams have played consecutively every year since 1992; the Gators are 17-3 in those games but have lost the last two marking their first time falling in consecutive games to the Gamecocks since the 1930s.
» UF is 4-3 against USC over the last seven years since Spurrier took over.
» Florida is 11-1 against unranked opponents and 2-5 against ranked teams since Muschamp took over the program in 2011. The Gators earned both victories over ranked opponents this season, defeating Tennessee on the road and LSU at home.
» This is the highest-ranked South Carolina team that Florida has ever faced.
» The Gators have started the season 6-0 for the first time since 2009 and the eighth time overall in school history.
» Florida defeated a ranked opponent at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2008 and beat an SEC West team in Gainesville for the first time since Oct. 17, 2009.
» The Gators were 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but have started the 2012 season 3-0 in that category with all three victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» Florida is 9-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 0-4 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 10-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 8-3 when scoring first and 10-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators have scored on 19-of-20 red zone trips (95 percent) but have only converted 11 of those possessions (55 percent) into touchdowns.
» Florida has converted 32-of-83 of its third-down attempts (38.6 percent) this season.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 26-of-92 on third down conversions (28.3 percent), which is good for seventh-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is out-possessing opponents by an average of 7:48 through six games, a margin that ranks fourth nationally.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 98-23 in the second half and 57-10 in the fourth quarter. UF was the only team in the nation that had not allowed a fourth-quarter point until giving up 10 last week.
» Florida had a stretch of not allowing a touchdown in nine-straight quarters and is sixth in scoring defense nationally (12.3 points per game).
» The Gators are +7 in turnover margin through six games after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (329) since 2000.
» Florida has grabbed seven interceptions so far in 2012 (three games with two each) and is already closing in on its 2011 total of eight picks. UF has registered at least one pick in five games.
» The Gators are sixth nationally in pass efficiency defense.
» Florida has at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered one in 2012.
» South Carolina is facing its third top-10 opponent in as many weeks.
» Before losing last week, the Gamecocks had a school-record 10-game win streak.
» Spurrier is four wins away from holding sole possession of the school’s all-time wins record for a head football coach.
» South Carolina is the least penalized team in the SEC, losing an average of 34.3 yards per game via penalty.
» The Gamecocks are 12th nationally in total defense (296.3 yards per game).
1 » Earlier this week, ESPN‘s Kirk Herbstreit broke down Saturday’s game between the No. 2 Florida Gators and No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks on the network.
2 » After releasing a star-filled injury report earlier in the week, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said Thursday that it looks like almost all of his big-name players will be in action on Saturday against Florida. The one exception, of course, is defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who has an injured shoulder but will also be suspended for punching a player during last week’s game against LSU. Running back Marcus Lattimore (hip) is still not slated to start but is expected to play after going through a full practice on Thursday. Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney (foot) is also good to go, as are a number of players who were hit with a flu bug over the course of the week, Spurrier said.
No. 2 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier made appearances Wednesday on the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding their respective teams and the game on Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
The Gators wound up playing without three starting offensive lineman on Saturday, but the good news is that all three look to be in the mix to take on the Gamecocks. Muschamp said that redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (eye) practiced on Tuesday and that both redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (elbow) and senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (concussion) were returning to the field Wednesday.
He also noted that junior defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and redshirt junior Will linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) returned to action on Tuesday though freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle) remains questionable.
Spurrier said that a number of South Carolina’s players have been bit by a flu bug over the last 2-3 days and that some of his defensive linemen have been dealing with ankle sprains. One player in particular, defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, has a bad shoulder injury and is doubtful. He may not play even if healthy as Spurrier noted that the player will probably face team discipline for throwing a punch in last week’s game against LSU.
In his post-practice press conference on Wednesday, Spurrier added that star running back Marcus Lattimore did not practice with a bruised hip. “I don’t know how to list him. We’re not sure he is going to be able to play,” he said. Spurrier mentioned that Lattimore will not start the game (that job will go to Kenny Miles) but could be used as a reserve depending how he is feeling.
He then went on to list big-time defensive end Jadeveon Clowney as limited with a foot injury, another major surprise. Spurrier maintained that both of his defensive tackles have sprained ankles, which makes them questionable, and then rattled off the names of a handful of players who have missed significant practice time with the flu.
Muschamp was asked about Spurrier’s impact on the Southeastern Conference and college football in general. He delivered some hefty praise to the first coach ever to win a national title at Florida.
“Honestly, if you really – being an SEC guy and growing up in this part of the country and being a huge fan of Southeastern Conference – there’s really two coaches that come to the forefront of your mind as far as what they’ve done for this league. That would be Bear Bryant and Steve Spurrier. For winning, bringing championships to the University of Florida and understanding what that’s about. Those would be the two guys that jump out in my mind. That’s just personally my opinion. You look at what he did. When he came to our league, it was more of three yards and a cloud of dust league. He came in and spread the ball out a little bit. He was credited with throwing a bunch but heck, they were 50-50. They ran the ball extremely well when he was here. It became a little bit more of a throwing league and things changed defensively. It helped advance this league from an offensive mindset, in my opinion. Again, that’s my opinion. Those would be the two guys that would jump out to me as coaches in this league that for a long period of time had tremendous success.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Spurrier on if him coaching against Florida is still a story: “I don’t think it’s much of a story now that it’s eight years that we’ve gone and played each other, the fourth time I’ve been down there coaching. I guess it is a little unusual to be on the other team when you come into the ballpark and your name is on the wall up there. I think everybody handles it pretty well.”
» Muschamp on the atmosphere in The Swamp: “Our fans are outstanding, the best in the country. I’ve been in a lot of arenas and none like this one as far as I’ve been in pro and college. It’s an electric atmosphere. You can feel it on campus already.”
» Muschamp on not throwing the ball vertically: “We’ve identified who we are and Brent [Pease] has done a fantastic job. You know, Brent is not a stat guy. Most of these offensive guys are all stat guys, that’s all they care about. He cares about winning football games and doing what we need to do to win the game. That’s a credit to him.”
In his weekly press conference, South Carolina Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier was asked a number of questions about his former team, the Florida Gators. A starting quarterback, Heisman Trophy winner and national championship-winning coach for the Gators, Spurrier still has love for Florida that he has never hidden since rejoining the college ranks. Below is what Spurrier said on Tuesday.
» On how special it will be to go back and play at Florida again: “Florida is always going to be my school. I love Florida and my wife and my daughters and even Steve Jr. got a graduate degree from there. Did you know that? [...] So, we’re Gators, but we’re Gamecocks now. We’re Gamecocks now. And when my coaching days are over, I’ll be more of a Gator then. But I’m a Gamecock now, and this is our team. I certainly hope the Gators finish second in the [SEC] East this year. That would be a good finish for them and hopefully we finish first, certainly. But they’re having a very good year. I like Will Muschamp and obviously Jeremy Foley and the guys down there. We’re still good friends. It’s, I think, healthy competition.”
» On the Gators winning without throwing the ball much: “There’s all kind of ways to win the game and the best one is to play outstanding defense, special teams and run the ball. There’s been a lot of champions that ran the ball.”
» On his love for all of the teams he coached, when he was specifically asked to qualify his statement of being “more of a Gator” when he retires: “Well, that’s because I went to school there. [...] When I get through coaching, I’m going to be Duke, Florida and South Carolina. I’ll have feelings for all three schools and I still have feelings for Duke, a lot of feelings. I wouldn’t be coaching today if it wasn’t for Duke University. They hired me twice when I didn’t have a job and I certainly wasn’t in demand, I guess, for a job. So I owe basically my entire coaching career to Duke University and the people up there. So I always pull for those guys. But I hope when my coaching days are over to keep a condo here that I have at Carolina Walk over here. So I hope to do that in four or five years, something like that. Keep some connections up here. Certainly hope to.
» On if he has seen his statue outside of The Swamp: “Yeah, it’s been there a couple of years. [...] I drove by it once, I think. Once or twice. I’ve been down there about one day a year. [...] I thought the guy did a super job who did the statues.”
» On why Florida has been successful this season: “They’ve won all their close games. [...] Florida has had a knack of winning close games, which you got to do to be [6-0] going into their [seventh] game. They’ve won some good close ones and won in the fourth quarter. [...] They’ve played extremely well at the end. That’s how you go [6-0].”
» On his evaluation of the Gators: They’re a physical team, play solid, fundamentally sound all the way around. Their offensive coordinator is different, so they’re not getting in the shotgun and trying to throw it all over the place. The quarterback can run, obviously. He ran for 177 last week and set a school record. They’re definitely a running team, pretty much like we are, but we didn’t do it very well last game. They’re playing real smart, and that’s how you win a lot of games, playing real smart.”
Three Florida Gators players – sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, redshirt senior defensive lineman Omar Hunter and senior Mike linebacker Jon Bostic – met with the media on Monday to discuss No. 2 Florida’s victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores and the upcoming game against the No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks.
A PATCHWORK OFFENSIVE LINE?
Florida was without the entire left side of its offensive line on Saturday as redshirt senior left guard James Wilson (eye) did not make the trip to Nashville, TN, senior left tackle Xavier Nixon (concussion) got knocked out of the game and even redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison (elbow) went down with an injury. Filling in for the trio, respectively, were redshirt sophomore Ian Silberman, freshman D.J. Humphries and redshirt senior Sam Robey. Those three still managed to open up holes and hold blocks to the tune of 326 rushing yards for the Gators.
“We had three guys go down. Whenever you have three starters go down, that’s huge, especially if they’re O-linemen. We had three guys that stepped up and that’s what we’ve been doing all year long. When a guy goes down, the next guy is going to have to go up. We have great depth and that really helped it out on Saturday,” Driskel said.
Though head coach Will Muschamp said Monday that all three should be healthy enough to play Saturday against South Carolina, there is a prevailing doubt that one or more will be unable to suit up by game time with Wilson being the most likely to fall into that category. Hunter, who has practiced against the reserves for months, believes Florida will not lose a step with reserves in the game.
“I don’t think there’s a drop-off. Those guys come out each and every day in practice and they go just as hard as our starters,” he said. “Robey is a very experienced guy, being a senior. Ian, he’s been around a long time too, and he works hard during practice. [Humphries is] young and aggressive. He doesn’t let too many things get to him. He never gets too high or too low or anything. It’s going to be a great match-up.”
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