8/31: Florida vs. Toledo post-game report

No. 10 Florida Gators football (1-0) opened the 2013 regular season with a solid 24-6 victory over the Toledo Rockets (0-1) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL on Saturday. Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

ERRICT RHETT AS MR. TWO BITS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida improved to 15-1 in under Muschamp against unranked opponents.
» The Gators are 80-27 all-time in season openers (65-6 in Gainesville) and have won 24-straight games to begin a season, the longest streak in the SEC and second-longest streak in the nation (Nebraska, 28).
» Florida has won eight-straight games in The Swamp and has not lost at home since Nov. 26, 2011.
» UF improved to 13-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards, 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 and 15-1 when leading at the half.
» The Gators scored on their first offensive drive in a season debut for the first time since 2009 (Charleston Southern).
» Florida outgained Toledo 415 yards to 205 yards and dominated the time of possession 39:48 to 20:12.

» Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell played a college football game for the first time in 20 months. He registered a sack on the first series of the game.
» Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown registered a number of firsts and career marks on Saturday. In his first start, Brown carried the ball a career-high 25 times for a career-most 112 yards. He had a career-long 23-yard run and scored twice, including the first touchdown of his career.
» Rushers sophomore Mark Herndon and freshman Kelvin Taylor each averaged over 8.0 yards per carry. Herndon toted the rock four times for 32 yards, while Taylor entered the game late in the fourth quarter and took five carries for 43 yards.
» Redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers, a safety who ran the ball in high school, recorded his first rush and reception, finishing with six touches and 53 total yards.
» Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel went 17-for-22, the most efficient game of his career at a 77.3 percent completion rate. That percentage is the highest for a Gators signal caller since Jan. 1, 2010.
» Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III recorded his first career interception.
» Redshirt junior Gideon Ajagbe, a converted linebacker, earned his first career start at fullback and scored his first career touchdown, picking up 16 yards on two receptions.
» Freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood registered his first reception (five yards).
» Redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin started his first game and went 1-for-2 on field goals, missing a 39-yard attempt wide left.
» Eight total Florida players earned their first career start while 15 freshman played their first career game.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say after the game…

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Gators blast Rockets 24-6 behind Brown’s two TDs

It did not take long for the No. 10 Florida Gators to assert themselves on Saturday, using a touchdown on their first offensive drive and a stellar performance from redshirt junior running back Mack Brown to blast the Toledo Rockets 17-3 in the season opener for both teams at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Starting his first game at tailback for the Gators, Brown toted the rock a career-high 25 times for a career-high 112 yards, scored the first two touchdowns of his career and broke off for a career-long 23-yard rush on Florida’s first offensive drive of the game.

Toledo started the game on offense but failed to move the ball. On 3rd-and-10, UF redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell, playing his first college football game in 20 months, registered the team’s first sack of the season.

The Gators took over on their own 16 and put together an impressive 11-play, 84-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown run from Brown. Junior quarterback Jeff Driskel went 3-for-3 with two 15+ yard passes before Brown’s 23-yard run brought Florida down to the 11-yard line.

Brown’s score gave the Gators a touchdown on their first offensive drive in a season opener for the first time since 2009.

Read the rest of the Florida-Toledo game story…after the break!
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Wrapping up 2013 fall camp for the Florida Gators

It is less than 24 hours before the No. 10 Florida Gators host Toledo in the season opener for both teams at 12:21 p.m. on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With the offseason now coming to a close, it is time to empty out the notebook of saved thoughts from Florida student-athletes that did not make it into the dozens of stories written over the last few weeks. Check out links to a number of the preseason features below and the remainder of the quotes after the break.

» Florida QB Jeff Driskel learning to get down
» Gators LB Antonio Morrison apologizes but holds back details of arrests, punishments
» Gators RBs Mack Brown, Valdez Showers ready for opportunity
» Don’t forget about Gators CB Jaylen Watkins
» What the Browns can do for the Gators in 2013
» Hype train rolls on for Florida S Marcus Maye
» Emotional walk-on RB Mark Herndon earns UF scholarship
» Ronald Powell, Dante Fowler, Jr. rush Gators defense up a notch
» Mike Peterson impressed by Will Muschamp, ready to coach
» Appendix out, wound healed, Jeff Driskel ready to work
» Assistant Joker Phillips developing much-needed improvement at wide receiver
» Cody Riggs hopes to lock down a starting gig (he did)

» Senior cornerback Jaylen Watkins on how junior CB Loucheiz Purifoy looks heading into the season: “Loucheiz is very physical. He has all the things that cornerback needs. He can press you, he can off play you and he’s very, very fast. I think he has all the tools to be a great cornerback. Either you get better or you get worse during the offseason and as you progress during the year. Watching Loucheiz from his freshman year to how he is now, he’s made a really big improvement. I’m actually excited to watch him play this year, even though I’ll be on the field with him.”

» Senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley on changes he has seen from junior quarterback Jeff Driskel in the offseason: “I believe he has much more confidence in himself. He’s more confident in himself, so he’s more vocal to the team and understands what his role is.”

» Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Ronald Powell on sophomore LB Antonio Morrison and his offseason arrests: “First off, I want to say it’s very unfortunate. He’s a guy that’s really passionate about this game. He loves the game. That’s probably why he’s suspended because coach knows he loves the game so much. He has to step in and give some consequences. Once it’s all over, it’s going to be good to see a teammate that loves the sport as much as he does, and loves his teammates as much as he does, to be back out there and get the experience of running out there in The Swamp together as a team collectively, just sharing that with him. I know he’s excited for that and he’s waiting for that and this is something he’s not taking lightly.”

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Gators RBs Brown, Showers ready for opportunity

Florida Gators redshirt junior running back Mack Brown has not carried the ball more than 10 times single game since he was a starter and highly-rated prospect for Martin Luther King High School in Lithonia, GA, back in 2010.

Redshirt sophomore Valdez Showers has not even lined up in the offensive backfield since 2011, during his senior year at Madison School in Madision Heights, MI.

Nevertheless, both will be counted on Saturday to help lead the Gators’ rushing attack even though neither – nor sophomore walk-on-turned-scholarship-player Mark Herndon, for that matter – has much experience running the ball on the collegiate level.

“I’m just a humble guy, ready for my opportunity,” Brown said on Tuesday. “I learned when your opportunity comes, you got to seize it.”

A four-star recruit who wanted to play for Florida since he was five years old, Brown is listed first on the Gators’ depth chart and should receive the majority of the carries on Saturday even though offensive coordinator Brent Pease claimed Tuesday that Florida would run the ball by committee and rely on the “hot hand.”

“You can get a lot of carries, but it’s what you do with the carries,” said Brown, who also admitted that he will be a bit nervous when he starts in the backfield against Toledo.

“[I am] because usually I’m on the bench the whole game and will probably get in the fourth quarter. But now starting the game, you got a little butterflies in your stomach. But I’m ready. When Saturday comes, the butterflies are gone. It’s time to fight,” he said.

Showers understands what fighting is about. He’s been doing just that as he hoped to earn an opportunity to play in the Gators’ crowded secondary.

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8/26: Muschamp announces new Mr. Two Bits tradition, gives thoughts on upcoming season

Game Week – Monday: Opening Week Depth Chart | LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | RT Chaz Green Out for Season, RB Matt Jones Update

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the team as it heads into its first game of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31 against Toledo. The game will kick off at 12:21 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on SEC Network affiliate stations.

CELEBRITY MR. TWO BITS

Muschamp announced Monday that Florida will be honoring George Edmonson, better known as Mr. Two Bits, by continuing the tradition at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with Gators celebrities (rather than the mascot Albert) – leading the crowd in the traditional cheer – “Two Bits! Four Bits! Six Bits! A Dollar! All for the Gators, stand up and holler!” – before home games.

The first celebrity that will try to step into Edmondson’s bow tie? Former Florida running back Errict Rhett (1990-93).

“Errict Rhett will be the first guy to do that, certainly a passionate guy with a lot of energy. You talk to him on the phone he’s almost going to come through the phone on you there. He’s excited about it,” Muschamp said.

Added Rhett in a school release: “[Mr. Two Bits] always gets the crowd so excited. We’ve been down in games and all of a sudden you see him over there and he has so much enthusiasm, he gets the crowd pumped. There is not one dull moment.

“Every time he does it he puts his heart into it. I want to do the same thing, put all my enthusiasm into it. … I want to look exactly like him. I’ve been watching it and I can’t wait. I want it to be memorable.”

MAKING DUE AT TIGHT END

Two of the top tight end prospects in the country in 2012, sophomore Kent Taylor and redshirt freshman Colin Thompson, committed to the Gators but neither is in the two-deep depth chart at the start of the 2013 season. Instead, while Thompson holds on to the third-string role and Taylor is nowhere to be found, a pair of juniors have stepped up in starter Clay Burton and back-up Tevin Westbrook

Muschamp likes what Burton and Westbrook bring to the table for Florida and is positive that both will be able to contribute for the Gators this season.

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Florida RT Chaz Green (labrum) out for the season, RB Matt Jones should return next week

Game Week – Monday: Opening Week Depth Chart | LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | New Mr. Two Bits, Muschamp on Tight Ends, Opener

Head coach Will Muschamp on Monday announced that the Florida Gators have lost a second starter for the year as redshirt junior right tackle Chaz Green tore his labrum in practice last Tuesday and will undergo season-ending surgery on Wednesday.

“Really disappointing news with Chaz Green. He’s going to have to have surgery this week to repair a labrum,” Muschamp said. “It happened in last Tuesday’s practice, felt it was OK, got the MRI back Friday afternoon. Chaz was playing his best football, playing extremely well, had certainly solidified himself at the right tackle spot.”

Muschamp also announced that sophomore starting running back Matt Jones, who is still recovering from a serious viral infection, is expected to be cleared to play the second week of the season at Miami on Sept. 7.

“Matt Jones continues to progress and do well. I certainly think he will be available next week,” he said. “He’s getting some more blood work done today as we work through it. Unless we have some sort of setback, I certainly think that’s going to happen.”

Muschamp continued: “He’s running, he’s cutting, he’s lifting. We haven’t put pads on him yet and he hasn’t gone out in the heat yet [with pads]. He’s been out in the heat as far as running is concerned. They’re just worried about a relapse from the standpoint of coming back too early. That’s what we’re waiting on the blood work to get back for him today. I’ll know more [Monday] afternoon or [Tuesday]. I saw him [Sunday]; he looks great. But again, I’m not a doctor.”

Green joins redshirt senior kick return Andre Debose (torn ACL) as starters lost for the 2013 campaign. Debose was also expected to see significant time at wide receiver.

Redshirt sophomore transfer Tyler Moore will take Green’s place in the starting lineup, just as he did during spring practice when Green was sidelined with an ankle injury. Junior transfer Trenton Brown will serve as the back-up.

Continue Reading » Florida RT Chaz Green (labrum) out for the season, RB Matt Jones should return next week

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Florida Gators 2013 opening week depth chart

Game Week – Monday: LB Antonio Morrison’s Suspension Reduced | RT Chaz Green Out for Season, RB Matt Jones Set for Miami | New Mr. Two Bits, Muschamp on Tight Ends, Season Opener

Though things could still change over the next five days, the Florida Gators on Monday morning released the team’s first official depth chart for the 2013 season.

Florida omitted players that are not participating in the season opener due to injury or suspension; therefore, the depth chart below is an “active” version rather than a “best-case scenario” version. Notations marked with (») can be found below certain positions.

OnlyGators.com will update this post shortly with additional details and thoughts from head coach Will Muschamp‘s Monday press conference.

OFFENSE

QB: 6 Jeff Driskel, 3 Tyler Murphy
RB: 33 Mack Brown, 37 Mark Herndon, 10 Valdez Showers
» 24 Matt Jones is not playing on Saturday.
FB: 43 Hunter Joyer, 25 Gideon Ajagbe
WR (X): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 11 Demarcus Robinson
WR (Z): 83 Solomon Patton, 5 Ahmad Fulwood, 85 Chris Thompson
» 13 Latroy Pittman and 4 Andre Debose (out for season) knocked out of Z.
F Position: 8 Trey Burton, 13 Latroy Pittman, 30 Mike McNeely
TE: 88 Clay Burton, 87 Tevin Westbrook, 84 Colin Thompson
» 18 Kent Taylor not on the three-deep.

LT: 70 D.J. Humphries, 76 Max Garcia
» 74 Trenton Brown no longer the back-up to Humphries.
LG: 76 Max Garcia, 63 Trip Thurman
» 77 Ian Silberman no longer the back-up to Garcia.
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne
RG: 64 Kyle Koehne, 77 Ian Silberman
» 67 Jon Halapio is not playing Saturday; Thurman moved to left guard.
RT: 73 Tyler Moore, 74 Trenton Brown
» 75 Chaz Green is out for the season; Brown moved to right tackle.

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Gators RB Jones, RG Halapio set to miss games

Two Florida Gators offensive starters – sophomore running back Matt Jones and redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio – will not be cleared to play in the team’s season opener against Toledo on Aug. 31, and in Halapio’s case, may not return until the fourth week of the 2013 season, head coach Will Muschamp announced on Friday.

Jones, who has done nothing but cardiovascular exercise during fall practice after being stricken with a serious viral infection over the summer, has long been expected to miss game action as he continues to get back into football shape. Muschamp confirmed Friday that Jones would be held out of the Toledo game and indicated that he could miss additional time if deemed unfit to return to the field by team doctors.

“He will be out for Toledo. He’s questionable from there on out, but he’s doing very well,” Muschamp said. “He’s really progressing well. They’re putting more on him each day as far as physical activity, as far as running and lifting and all of the different things. I’ve been very pleased with how he’s progressed.”

Though Jones “seems fine” and is recovered from his illness, Muschamp related that the trainers want to ensure the player’s immune system is back to 100 percent or else he could relapse if he physically exerts himself too much too early. Jones is set to undergo another round of comprehensive blood tests on Monday.

“They feel like he could have some sort of relapse if you tax him too much early, is basically what they’ve told me,” he said. I’m just doing whatever they tell me that he can do as far as our strength staff is concerned, as far as running and those things are concerned. They want to make sure his immune system is up and he can handle any of those things. Any time you have a serious viral infection, which is what he had, his immune system has battled down a little bit. So that’s what they’re handling right now.”

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