Friday Final: Florida Gators prepare for emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (5-4) as they prepare to play their second-to-last game under head coach Will Muschamp against the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-2) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Story: Will Muschamp earns praise, talks dismissal with class
Story: Dante Fowler Jr. declares for NFL Draft on Twitter
Story/Notebook: Gators lose two linebackers for season; two defensive backs return for Saturday’s game
Story: Florida coordinators talk Muschamp firing, EKU, future
The Silver Lining: Answering reader questions about the Gators’ future

SENIOR DAY IN THE SWAMP

Lost among the firing of a head coach and subsequent start of a search for a new one are two simple facts: the Gators are one victory away from bowl game eligibility, and Muschamp will not be the only one who spending his last Saturday on Florida Field.

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11/10: Muschamp wants to take back The Swamp

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team looks to continue its hot streak when it hosts the South Carolina Gamecocks (4-5, 2-5 SEC) on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, Florida.

GAME TIME ANNOUNCED

Florida will play its second-straight game at noon in the friendly confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium when it takes on Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 22. The contest will air live on the SEC Network, which will make it Gators football’s seventh – and most likely last – game played on the new channel this season.

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Florida-Vanderbilt post-game and Twitter Chatter: Gators take in a dominant road win

Looking to win consecutive league games for the first time in a year, the Florida Gators (5-3, 4-3 SEC) rolled into Nashville, Tennessee, and proved to be the dominant team from the third series onward, upending the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-7, 0-6 SEC) on Saturday night at Vanderbilt Stadium.

Muschamp met with the media after Florida’s 34-10 win to discuss his team’s latest victory. A number of former Gators also took to social media before, during and after the contest to provide there thoughts on the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is now 36-10-2 all-time against Vanderbilt; the series between UF and VU dates back to 1945 with games being played annually since 1992. The Gators are 17-7-1 when playing the Commodores in Nashville with 12-straight road wins since 1990.
» The Gators are now 22-6 against unranked opponents under Muschamp and 13-4 against unranked SEC teams during his tenure after losing to LSU and Missouri – at home – in consecutive weeks this season.
» UF is still just 5-10 since Oct. 6, 2013, sporting the worst win-loss record in the SEC during that period.
» The Gators are second nationally and first in the SEC in red zone scoring, converting 29-of-31 chances. However, only 62.1 percent of those scores are touchdowns (18).
» Florida is now +4 in turnover margin this season after being even entering the Vanderbilt game. The Gators are now +11 in their six wins and -7 in three losses. UF has a 23-4 record under Muschamp when winning the turnover battle in a game.
» Freshman quarterback Treon Harris averaged 16.5 yards per completion, third-most under Muschamp and the highest for Florida since Nov. 19, 2011 (vs. Furman).

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11/3: Two Florida starters out for Vanderbilt, Muschamp provides other updates on Gators

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (4-3, 3-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team looks to rebound from a signature win while preparing for the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-6, 0-5 SEC) on Saturday evening in Nashville, Tennessee.

HOUSEKEEPING

» The Southeastern Conference announced Monday that the Florida-South Carolina game on Saturday, Nov. 15 will be played at noon and air live nationally on the SEC Network. The game is already the Gators’ sixth of 10 scheduled contests to be broadcast by the network this season, and UF will likely have a seventh before the year is out as it hosts Eastern Kentucky the next weekend.

» Redshirt seniors center Max Garcia and wide receiver Michael McNeely were both honored with league awards on Monday. Garcia was named the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, and McNeely earned SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for his fake field goal touchdown against Georgia.

INJURY UPDATES

Florida will be without two starters this week at Vanderbilt as sophomore safety Keanu Neal (high-ankle sprain) and senior right guard Trenton Brown (knee) have already been ruled out for the game.

Neal and Brown, who was diagnosed with a bone bruise, will both be reevaluated next Monday after a full week of rest. The former will be replaced by a combination of players led by redshirt sophomore Marcus Maye, while the latter will see redshirt junior Tyler Moore take his place.

Also potentially out Saturday is freshman defensive lineman Gerald Willis, who suffered a high-ankle sprain in practice and did not make the trip to Jacksonville, Florida. Willis is currently questionable to play but will be reevaluated by the trainers on Wednesday.

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9/24: Muschamp hopeful off week will help Gators; changes in secondary but not at quarterback

Updated at 2:45 p.m.

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) met with the media for the first time this week on Wednesday with his team currently in the middle of its first off week of the 2014 season. He discussed issues on both sides of the ball and updated Florida’s injury list 10 days ahead of the program’s next game on Oct. 4 at Tennessee.

INJURY UPDATES

The Gators could be without two starting defensive front seven players next week as redshirt seniors defensive tackle Leon Orr (meniscus) and linebacker Michael Taylor (knee swelling) were both listed as questionable by Muschamp on Wednesday. Orr had a knee scope on Monday and has a minor tear in his meniscus (along with a bone bruise), though Muschamp said he was walking around on Tuesday and looked to be recovering well. Taylor is dealing with a bothersome bone bruise as well.

Junior left tackle D.J. Humphries (ankle) remains on track to return to practice on Monday and play next week after missing two games, Muschamp said, though he is not the only banged-up offensive lineman the trainers are keeping track of during the off week. Redshirt senior Chaz Green and senior Trenton Brown, who both suffered ankle injuries against Alabama, are “going to be fine” and were listed as probable for next Saturday.

The Gators are also dealing with injuries to two of their running backs. Junior Mark Herndon tore his ACL during a kickoff on Saturday and will be out for the season. Freshman Brandon Powell tweaked his hamstring during an unspecified practice and will likely be sidelined for a couple more days.

Muschamp also clarified Wednesday what injury sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was dealing with on Saturday, noting that Hargreaves was dealing with a bruised Achilles that swelled up on him after it had been kicked previously.

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9/20: Florida-Alabama post-game report

A turnover-filled yet nevertheless tied game in the third quarter turned into a 42-21 blowout victory for the No. 3 Alabama Crimson Tide (4-0, 1-0 SEC), which dominated the third quarter and stomped on the visiting Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media after the devastating defeat.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Alabama improved to 24-14 all-time against Florida and now holds an 8-5 edge in games played in Tuscaloosa. UA has won four-straight games against UF, outscoring it 143-50 in those contests.
» The Gators are now 4-13 against ranked opponents under Muschamp.
» Florida is now 4-14 under Muschamp when tied or trailing at the half and 5-12 when an opponent scores 21 points or more in a game.
» The Gators’ defense gave up a school-record 645 total yards on Saturday.
» Florida forced four turnovers on Saturday and is now +8 on the season after coughing up three of its own.
» The Gators allowed the Crimson Tide to convert seven-straight third-down attempts including all six they tried in the third quarter of the game. Alabama finished 12-for-16 on third downs, while Florida was a paltry 2-of-13.
» All 21 of UF’s points on Saturday came off turnovers.
» The Gators did not call a single timeout on Saturday.
» The Crimson Tide completely dominated the third quarter, outgaining the visitors 160-41, out-possessing them 12:02-2:58 and converting six third downs (two for touchdowns).
» Sophomore safety Keanu Neal’s fumble return touchdown was Florida’s first since 2011 and the sixth-longest in school history (49 yards).
» Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar has now caught a pass in 31-straight games. He is four games away from tying a school record for most consecutive contests with a reception.
» Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel completed just 32.1 percent of his passes on Saturday, the lowest mark in his career for a game he started and did not leave due to injury. His 57.5 quarterback rating was the lowest of his career for a game he started.

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Instant Replay: Florida flashes new-look offense in 65-0 rout of Eastern Michigan

One week later than initially scheduled, the Florida Gators (1-0) kicked off their 2014 season on Saturday with a 65-0 trouncing of the Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-1) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida extended its winning streak in season-opening contests to 25 games while starting the campaign with the exact type of blowout victory that fans hoped for all offseason. OnlyGators.com breaks it all down with eight quick-hitters:

Deciding drive: Starting on its own 23-yard line after receiving an Eagles punt late in the first quarter, the Gators traveled 77 yards in 10 plays to take a 24-0 lead and put the game out of reach early for Eastern Michigan. Florida entered the red zone on a 42-yard deep vertical throw from redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel to redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar and crossed the goal line two plays later when freshman running back Brandon Powell rumbled into the end zone from 12 yards out. Driskel went 31-for-45 for 248 yards with a touchdown on the afternoon, while Dunbar hauled in five receptions for 81 yards. Powell had three catches for 24 yards including his score.

Important injuries: Midway through the second quarter, redshirt senior tight end Jake McGee got his left leg rolled up on by senior right guard Trenton Brown. McGee had his left ankle placed in an air cast before a stretcher cart was brought out to drive him off the field. Earlier in the first quarter, junior left tackle D.J. Humphries was brought to the locker room after injuring his ankle following UF’s first touchdown of the game. He did not return. In a post-game interview on SEC Network, head coach Will Muschamp noted that the team has lost McGee “probably for the season.”

Check out the second half of The Quick Slant…after the break.
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Florida football preview: 54 facts, stats and tidbits

In an attempt to preview the 108th season of Florida Gators football, OnlyGators.com decided to find 108 interesting facts, important statistics and relevant historical tidbits about the team. The process proved to be more daunting than initially expected.

Below you will find 54 different notes to prime you for the 2014 campaign, which kicks off against the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, Aug. 30 live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, at 7 p.m.

1. Florida finished 2013 with a 4-8 record, putting together its first losing season since it went winless (0-10-1) in 1979. UF rebounded to finish 8-4 in 1980, setting an NCAA record for best turnaround in major college football history at the time. The Gators were also the first team ever to play in a bowl game after failing to win a game the season prior.

2. Will Muschamp (43) is the second-youngest coach in the SEC behind Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (42).

3. Muschamp’s 22-16 record through three seasons (2011-13) is the worst for a Florida head coach in that span since Charley Pell went 15-19-1 from 1979-81.

4. Kurt Roper is Muschamp’s third offensive coordinator in four seasons and UF’s fifth in the last seven years, while Mike Summers is Muschamp’s third offensive line coach in four seasons.

5…starters played in all 12 games for Florida in 2013.

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