Florida QB Driskel injures knee, will play after bye

Florida Gators junior quarterback Jeff Driskel was seen Monday walking around campus on crutches. Just before noon, the school announced via Twitter that Driskel was injured during Saturday’s 21-16 loss to the Miami Hurricanes but will be healthy enough to play the team’s next game.

“Jeff Driskel suffered a slight sprain in his knee in the [second] quarter of the Miami game. He is taking some weight off of it this week and will be ready for the Tennessee game next week,” said a program spokesman in a series of tweets.

Based on the timetable established by UF, Driskel’s injury likely occurred at the 9:28 mark in the second quarter when, running a read-option play from the pistol formation, he was tackled and hit in his left knee. He hobbled when he stood up.

Driskel, who went 22-for-33 and passed for a career-high 291 yards on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, scored two touchdowns on the afternoon but also committed three turnovers including two costly red zone interceptions and a fumble inside the Gators’ five-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

“It started with me. I was careless with the ball,” he said after the game.

Driskel’s first interception came three plays into the second quarter. His second pick was thrown with 9:30 remaining in the contest.

“You just got to play smart football in some situations,” said head coach Will Muschamp during his post-game press conference. “You can’t throw the ball into traffic in the red zone. In those critical situations, you’re taking points off the board, you’re creating momentum for the other team. A lot of things go on when that happens. It’s not just the fact that you had a turnover. Those are situations we got to correct.”

Depending on the severity of the injury, Driskel could rest for up to two full weeks as the Gators are currently on their bye. Florida will next take the field on Sept. 21 when it hosts the Tennessee Volunteers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

It was announced Monday that the game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

The Florida-Tennessee game aired on CBS for 16-straight seasons from 1996-2011 and was played at 3:30 p.m. consecutively from 2007-11. Last season, CBS chose to air Alabama-Arkansas instead and UF-UT was picked up by ESPN for a 6 p.m. kickoff.

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Muschamp critical of Gators’ defensive start

Anyone that watched the sloppy offensive performance put forth by the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) on Saturday was aware that the team squandered multiple opportunities to put points on the board and assist a defense that struggled early in the first quarter but was stout for the vast majority of the game.

Head coach Will Muschamp would certainly agree, but he was not about to let the defense off the hook for the way it played early in Saturday’s 21-16 loss to the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0).

“Disappointed early. I thought we gave them way too much momentum and belief early in the game. I thought we should’ve played much better early in the game. Very disappointed with the first two series,” he said.

“Alignment, communication, assignment – you name it, we didn’t do it very well in the first two series. We got very discombobulated, in my opinion, defensively.”

Florida gave up 21 points on Saturday, only the third time in the last 16 games under Muschamp that the Gators defense allowed that at least that many points in a contest.

Of those 21 points, Miami scored 14 off a pair of Florida turnovers.

UM quarterback Stephen Morris led a nine-play, 50-yard touchdown drive after UF sophomore running back Matt Jones fumbled the ball on the game’s opening series.

Canes running back Duke Johnson ran for a two-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter after Gators junior QB Jeff Driskel was sacked by linebacker Tyriq McCord and fumbled the ball at UF’s four-yard line.

Muschamp was displeased with Miami’s initial touchdown drive but even more upset that Florida gave up a long touchdown on the Hurricanes’ third offensive possession, which came right the Gators had capitalized on a timely punt block.

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Florida QB Driskel’s career day marred by miscues

Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel was not the only member of the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) that turned the ball over on Saturday. But as the leader of the team and offense, his mistakes were the most glaring – and game-changing.

And that’s why the story of Florida’s 21-16 loss to the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0) at Sun Life Stadium, at least as it pertains to Driskel, is centered on his three untimely turnovers rather than the career-high 291 yards he threw for on the afternoon.

It’s also why he took responsibility after the game – not like he had much of a choice in the matter.

“We couldn’t hold onto the ball. I think we had five turnovers. It started with me,” he said. “I was careless with the ball, a couple of interceptions, putting the ball on the ground there at the end and a couple of fumbles. They were all costly.”

The turnover parade did not start with Driskel. Sophomore running back Matt Jones, playing his first game of the season after being sidelined with a serious viral infection, fumbled the ball on his third carry of the season during the game’s opening possession.

Down 14-6, Driskel led the Gators into the red zone by completing a 46-yard pass to senior wide receiver Solomon Patton. He negated his productive bomb with his first pick of the game, a pass to Patton – who was covered by five orange jerseys – from the Canes’ 11-yard line on 3rd-and-Goal.

“When I saw the ball in the air and I saw the guy cutting it, I knew it wasn’t pretty,” he explained. “It was a dumb play. I should have just taken what the defense gave me. Instead, I tried to make the bigger play. That’s what I’ve got to move on from.”

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9/7: Florida at Miami post-game report

Five turnovers and a sloppy performance doomed the No. 9/12 Florida Gators (1-1) on Saturday against the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes (2-0) at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, FL. After falling 21-16 to Miami, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Miami improved to 29-26 all-time against Florida with no future games scheduled.
» The Gators failed to start the season 2-0 after doing so in eight-straight years.
» Florida fell to 1-6 under Muschamp when rushing for fewer than 150 yards, 3-6 when allowing 21+ points and 4-8 when tied or trailing at halftime.
» Saturday’s win was the Canes’ first over a ranked opponent since Oct. 22, 2011.
» The Gators have forced at least one turnover in 13-straight games.
» Miami made its 74th appearance on ESPN, second-most among college programs.
» Florida had two players register 98+ receiving yards in the same game for the first time since Jan. 1, 2010. It was the first time since Nov. 3, 2007 that two wide receivers eclipsed 98+ yards.
» A Gators quarterback passed for over 219 yards for the first time since Nov. 19, 2011. That was also the last time a Florida receiver registered a 100+ yard game.
» The Canes posted 212 total yards, just seven more than Toledo a week ago. The last time Miami had fewer yards in a victory was Oct. 26, 1996.
» UF bested UM statistically in total offense (413-212), passing yards (291-162), rushing yards (122-50), first downs (22-10), third-down efficiency (.400-.090) and time of possession (38:20-21:40).
» It was the second time as many seasons that the Gators committed at least five turnovers in a single game.
» Florida’s defense gave up 21 or more points for just the third time in the last 16 games under Muschamp dating back to the bowl game following the 2011 season.
» It was just the fourth time under Muschamp (28 games) – and second time since the start of the 2012 season (15 games) – that the Gators coughed up two first-quarter touchdowns. Florida is 1-3 in those four games.

» Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell, returning after spending 20 months without playing a college football game, registered a sack for the second-straight game.
» Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III nabbed an interception for the second-straight game. He also switched his uniform from No. 16 to No. 1, becoming the first true freshman to wear No. 1 since Keiwan Ratliff in 2001.
» Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy blocked his third kick in two seasons.
» Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel threw for a career-high 291 yards.
» Wideouts senior Solomon Patton and redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar both registered career-highs in receptions and receiving yards. Patton finished with six catches for 118 yards and also picked up the first touchdown of his career. A South Florida native, Dunbar hauled in seven balls for 98 yards.

OPENING STATEMENT

“We gave them way too much momentum early in the game, defensively the first drive. We just got out of sorts with our substitutions and communications. It settled down as the game went on. Gave them a big play. You give a team belief and certainly that’s what we did defensively early. You can’t turn it over five times and go 1-for-6 in the red zone scoring touchdowns. Moving the ball, had over 400 yards, thought we mixed the run and pass well, probably did some good things at times. But the bottom line is you cannot continue to shoot yourself in the foot and give somebody else an opportunity, especially on the road, and we certainly did that. We gave them way too much momentum early in the game defensively, and you’re not going to win any games turning it over five times, especially in the red zone – just killer turnovers.

“I felt like the fourth down, going for that early, I feel like we needed to. We weren’t stopping them defensively at that time very well. I felt that we needed to spit the ball in the end zone. Disappointed with the turnovers and the red zone situation and the momentum early in the game. I thought our kids fought hard and gave themselves an opportunity there at the end with an on-side kick and see what happens. I credit our kids for that. We need to go back in the off week, go back with ball security, coming together and playing a little better in this situation.”

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say after the game…
Continue Reading » 9/7: Florida at Miami post-game report

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Florida flops in Miami as Canes top Gators 21-16

The No. 9/12 Florida Gators led the No. 24 Miami Hurricanes in nearly every major statistical category on Saturday afternoon, but Florida’s massive amount of turnovers – especially in the red zone – became the stat that really counted as Miami took an early lead and never lost it in a 21-16 victory in Sun Life Stadium.

In what was the last time the Gators and Hurricanes will square off in the regular season for the foreseeable future, Florida committed six turnovers including one on downs and four in the red zone. Miami improved to 29-26 in the all-time series.

Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel threw two interceptions – one on 3rd-and-Goal at the Miami 11-yard line early in the second quarter and another on 3rd-and-3 at the UM 17-yard line with less than seven minutes to play. He also fumbled the ball on UF’s ensuing possession when he was left unprotected and rocked for a nine-yard sack.

Sophomore running back Matt Jones, playing his first game of the season after recovering from a serious viral illness that forced him to miss multiple weeks of fall practice, fumbled on his third carry of the game during the opening possession.

The Hurricanes responded to Jones’ miscue, completing a nine-play, 50-yard drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass from QB Stephen Morris to WR Herb Waters.

The tide appeared to turn in favor of the Gators late in the first quarter when junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, returning to the field from a one-game suspension, blocked a punt that Florida recovered at Miami’s nine-yard line. Driskel ran in untouched for a touchdown two plays later, but a failed two-point conversion attempt by redshirt junior back-up QB Tyler Murphy left Florida trailing 7-6.

Unfortunately for UF (1-1), its defense remained unglued on UM’s next possession, giving up positive yardage on five of the next six snaps including a 52-yard touchdown pass from Morris to WR Phillip Dorsett.

Driskel moved the Gators down the field, hitting senior WR Solomon Patton for 46 yards, but threw his first interception of the game in the red zone. Following a three-and-out, Florida found itself in the red zone again, faced with a 4th-and-1 on Miami’s 16-yard line after three-straight runs by Jones. A keeper was called for Driskel, who was stuffed at the line of scrimmage for no gain.

The Gators returned to the red zone for a third-straight possession as Driskel hit Patton on receptions of 17 and 18 yards during the 12-play drive. However, Florida coughed up the ball once again as senior WR Trey Burton fumbled after a short reception.

Continue Reading » Florida flops in Miami as Canes top Gators 21-16

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Gameday: No. 9 Florida Gators at No. 24 Miami

Location: Sun Life Stadium – Miami Gardens, FL [Capacity: 76,854]
Weather: 86°F (feels like 94°F), cloudy, isolated t-storms (30%), winds ENE at 6 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Best deals on Florida Gators tickets starting at $152 on TiqIQ

TV: ESPN (Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Tom Luginbill)
SiriusXM: 91 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Online Video: WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter (Limited)

No. 9/12 FLORIDA GATORS No. 24 MIAMI HURRICANES
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Al Golden
Record: 1-0 Record: 1-0
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida -3.5 | O/U: 48

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Miami leads the all-time series against Florida 28-26, though the Gators actually have a 14-13 advantage going head-to-head with the Hurricanes in Miami, FL.
» Though Florida won the last meeting between the two schools in 2008, that victory snapped a six-game winning streak for Miami in the series.
» The Gators and Canes played annually from 1944-1987 but did not square off at all in the 1990s. On Saturday, they will be sharing the field for the sixth time this century.
» Florida hopes to open the season 2-0 for the ninth-straight year.
» UM has not played a team from the SEC since facing UF in 2008.
» Florida was 4-2 against ranked opponents in 2012, posting a 164-133 scoring margin in those games. Miami, on the other hand, was 0-3 against ranked teams last season and got outscored 36-126 in those contests.
» The Gators are 13-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards). Florida is also 15-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 11-2 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 13-3 when scoring first (6-5 when an opponent scores first) and 15-1 when leading at the half (4-7 when tied or trailing at the break).
» The Hurricanes are 11-2 under Golden when scoring 30+ points.
» UF still leads the nation in interceptions (97), interception return yards (1,703) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (16) since 2008.
» Florida had two touchdown drives of 80+ yards against Toledo, the first time that’s happened in the same game since Nov. 5, 2011.
» Miami has amassed 500+ yards of offense in three-straight games along with a combined 126 points and average margin of victory of 22.0 points.
» The Gators’ defense held the Rockets to six points last week, the sixth time the team has held an opponent without a touchdown under Muschamp.
» The Canes have gone three games without allowing an opponent to score a touchdown on their home field. In those 160:39 minutes, Miami has only given up six field goals and 18 total points.
» Florida has forced at least one turnover in 12-straight games.
» The Gators have forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (349).
» UM will be making its 74th appearance on ESPN, second-most in the history of the network (Auburn – 75).

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar (Miami, FL), redshirt junior safety Cody Riggs (Fort Lauderdale, FL) and junior cornerback Marcus Roberson (Fort Lauderdale, FL) are all South Florida natives named captains for Saturday’s game.
» Others playing in front of their friends and family include senior linebacker Darrin Kitchens (Homestead, FL), junior S Jabari Gorman (Miami, FL), junior tight end Tevin Westbrook (Coconut Creek, FL), redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, FL), freshman running back Kelvin Taylor (Belle Glade, FL) and freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson (Delray Beach, FL).

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gameday: No. 9 Florida Gators at No. 24 Miami

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Florida hopes to win the state, players talk Miami game, Dunbar on getting out of the south

A number of Florida Gators players spoke to the media throughout the week ahead of the second game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 7.

WINNING THE STATE

For the Gators, a rare opportunity to win the state presents itself as Florida will take on both Miami (on the road) and Florida State (at home) in the same season. Numerous players mentioned that head coach Will Muschamp always stresses the importance of UF proving itself against in-state competition, more so than ever this season.

“It’s definitely a big game. It’s definitely an in-state game. Muschamp harps on winning the state so every time you have an in-state team we always want to win that game,” said redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye. “It’s a game on the schedule so we always want that ‘W’ next to that team on the schedule. It’s definitely a big game. Definitely it’s going to be a great atmosphere and stuff like that. We’re looking forward to it.”

A good portion of the Gators’ roster is from South Florida, which makes Saturday’s contest even more special than a normal in-state game. Redshirt junior S Cody Riggs said the game truly feels like a rivalry because he has been waiting so long to play the Canes, and redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar added that he is extremely excited to play on his home turf.

Dunbar will have approximately 20 tickets for the game so family and friends can come out to Sun Life Stadium watch him play. The Booker T. Washington High School graduate was once committed to Miami but flipped to Florida for a number of reasons, including putting himself into a better situation.

Continue Reading » Florida hopes to win the state, players talk Miami game, Dunbar on getting out of the south

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FOUR BITS: Meyer, Merklein, Harvin, Miami

1 » Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer sat down for a question-and-answer session with CBSSports.com’s Jeremy Fowler (believe it or not) that was published on Friday. In the piece, he mentions the Florida Gators on a few occasions, the highlights of which are below. Check out the other topics by clicking here.

On why ‘no question’ he would still be at Florida if health issues never surfaced
“I realized not too long after [around February 2011]. I called Jeremy [Foley] and said, ‘I made a mistake.’ Once I felt like everything was under control, it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do?’ I just told Jeremy as a friend in conversation. The talk was more about one day getting back into it. He was very supportive. Then I started at ESPN and had a ball with that, but is that enough? Is that what I was called to do? I planned to take more than a year [off] though.”

On regrets for the way his Florida tenure ended
“I didn’t at first. I thought we did a good job. We did our best. I look back now, the way it ended was certainly a regret. Does that mean it haunts me? Not at all. I’ve always felt our job is to do a good job and do it the right way, do it ethically and for the best interest of the student-athlete — check, check, check. I’ll always be associated with the school, and my great friends are there and all that. Absolutely none with that. It just wasn’t a normal way to move on. There would have been if I would have stayed out. I was worried about survival for a little bit.”

2 » Florida brought back a huge name in Gators tennis on Friday when the school announced that Mark Merklein has returned to the program as an assistant coach with the men’s team. Merklein, a two-time national champion (doubles in 1993, singles in 1994) and the 1994 SEC Player of the Year, earned four All-American nominations and three All-SEC nods while at Florida and was inducted into the UF Athletic Hall of Fame in 2005. Considered by many to be the best men’s tennis player in school history, Merklein wound up competing as a professional for 12 years and even serving as a volunteer assistant for the Gators from 1998-2002 while he was on the tour. He was the head coach of the USTA Player Development Center for six seasons (2006-11) before being hired by Michigan as an assistant coach for the past two years (2012-13). “When I left I even said to everyone, including Mr. [Jeremy] Foley, that it was a goal of mine to one day come back and coach and win national championships,” Merklein said in a school release. “I’ve said it so much now, it’s time to actually do it and put the work in. I’m excited to do that alongside [head coach Bryan Shelton].”

3 » Wide receiver Percy Harvin has only been employed by the Seattle Seahawks for a few weeks now, but he is already turning heads at the team’s facility. According to The Seattle Times, Harvin’s teammates and coaches have already begun taking notice, and second-year quarterback Russell Wilson is ecstatic about the potential of Seattle’s offense this season. “His talent level is unbelievable, off the charts,” said Wilson of Harvin. “He brings an explosive mentality to the game, which a lot of our guys already have. But to have him is truly tremendous. He’s a guy that’s been one of the best football players in the National Football League for the past several years.” Harvin also told the paper that he expect to play some running back on occasion and will likely be back for kickoff returns.

4 » ESPN’s decision to kick-off Florida second football game of the season, on the road against the Miami Hurricanes, at noon has caused quite a stir amongst fans over the past 24 hours. The Gators and Hurricanes will square off on Sept. 7 in Miami Gardens, FL at Sun Life Stadium in a game which everyone involved assumed would be played at night, likely at 8 p.m. Instead, Florida-Miami will take place under the extreme heat of the South Florida sun with kickoff just after noon, earlier than any UF-UM game has been played since at least 1987. The Miami Herald’s Manny Navarro did some digging to learn why ESPN chose that time slot.

According to the network, ABC will be airing a NASCAR race at 8 p.m. while ESPN is broadcasting Notre Dame-Michigan. The 3:30 p.m. slot on ABC will be used for regional games (those in Florida will see Oregon at Virginia). Hurricanes AD Blake James apparently tweeted that Miami “requested and lobbied” for the 8 p.m. slot, while ESPN spokesman Mike Humes pointed out that the network values its noon window. “We average probably around three million viewers for that time slot. So it wasn’t like, ‘Let’s put the worst game on at noon.’ The noon window does really well with fans,” he said. “We view this as a great matchup. Scheduling games is like putting together different puzzles with different time zones and commitments, and this was the best window.”

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