9/23: Muschamp talks injuries, rushers, Kentucky

No. 19/20 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss Saturday’s 31-17 victory over the Tennessee Volunteers and his team’s upcoming road game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday, Sept. 28. The contest will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPNU.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp announced that junior quarterback Jeff Driskel’s surgery, originally scheduled for Sunday, will instead be performed on Wednesday. Driskel broke his right fibula during Saturday’s game and will have a plate inserted in the leg. “Again, very disappointed for Jeff. It’s part of the game, but it’s very difficult to deal with. Really hurt for him and his family and for us as a football team,” he said.

One other serious injury occurred as redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson, who missed all of 2012 due to injury, was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his foot and will probably miss 1-2 weeks. “I’m disappointed for Colin. He was starting to really progress and do well for us,” Muschamp said. “He’s had some issues with his foot; this is a different issue with his foot. It’s something that has not happened before.”

Three other Gators were injured Saturday but each is expected to be active for Saturday’s game. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Leon Orr hurt his shoulder and will miss practice on Monday but should be back Tuesday or Wednesday. Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, who sat out the first two games of the season with a torn pectoral, got poked in the eye early Saturday and had three stitches after the game. “He’s going to be fine for this week. I’ll tell you, a tough young man he is to play through that,” Muschamp said. Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy was also knocked from the game after being hit hard on a kickoff return; he was later diagnosed with a thigh contusion and was back at practice running on Sunday.

As for the three Florida players that missed the Tennessee game, Muschamp believes two will be healthy enough to play at Kentucky. Junior CB Marcus Roberson (knee) ran well Sunday and will be back at practice Tuesday, and redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) will also be back in action Tuesday. Redshirt sophomore running back Valdez Showers, who injured his ankle during practice on Wednesday, was listed as “doubtful” and will likely be out at least one if not two weeks.

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9/21: Florida vs. Tennessee post-game report

Six forced turnovers and a surprisingly poised performance by redshirt junior back-up quarterback Tyler Murphy led the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (2-1, 1-0 SEC) past the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After topping the visitors 31-17, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media and provided some of his thoughts after the game.

DANNY WUERFFEL AS MR. TWO BITS

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is extended its winning streak against Tennessee to nine games (2005-13).
» UF also won its ninth-straight SEC opener (eight against UT).
» The Vols fell to 1-24 against top 25 teams since 2008 and have now lost 18-straight games when squaring off against ranked opponents.
» The Gators are 14-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards (6-9 when rushing for fewer than 150 yards). Florida is also 16-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 12-3 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 7-6 when an opponent scores first and 16-1 when leading at the half.
» UF is 16-2 against unranked opponents under Muschamp.
» UT did not score an offensive touchdown until there was 10:10 left in the game.
» The Gators have now possessed the ball for 38:20 or longer in each of their three games this season. Florida out-possessed Tennessee 39:37-20:23 on Saturday.
» UF has forced at least one turnover in 14-straight games.
» The Gators have forced the most interceptions among SEC teams this century (354).
» Florida’s six turnovers were the most the team has forced in a single game since Aug. 30, 2008 against Hawaii and the most UF has registered against an SEC opponent since doing the same to UT on Sept. 21, 1996.

» Senior wide receiver Solomon Patton registered 100 receiving yards and no receiving touchdowns combined in the first 32 games of his career. Over the last two games, Patton has totaled 192 yards receiving and two touchdowns. He had three receptions for 73 yards, including a career-long 52-yard catch, and a score on Saturday.
» Murphy threw a completion and a touchdown pass for the first time in his college career. He finished 8-of-14 for 134 yards and a score but also picked up 84 yards and a rushing touchdown on 10 carries.
» Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown led Florida in rushing with 86 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
» Five different Gators forced turnovers including sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., who created two forced fumbles – the first and second of his career.
» Sophomore defensive back Brian Poole, redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye and junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings each caught the first interception of their respective careers.

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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.

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9/3: Pease dismisses “vanilla” tag for Florida; discusses Jones, Showers, freshmen receivers

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media on Tuesday ahead of the second game of the season against the Miami Hurricanes on Sept. 7.

“WE DIDN’T HAVE A ‘VANILLA’ GAME PLAN”

Asked Tuesday if the Gators purposely held back on offense in order to not put some of their new plays and vertical passing game on tape – or if Florida was simply the same old offense that could not do much other than run the ball – Pease appeared to be a bit offended by the implication that the Gators’ offense was vanilla and not creative. He responded with the following (extremely long) rant.

“First off, I don’t know what ‘vanilla’ – because I’ve heard the word ‘vanilla’ – I don’t know what ‘vanilla’ is. I’ve never made a game plan with vanilla and that’s never what I would go into a game plan with. I would feel too uncomfortable thinking we got to save all this, we got to save all that.

“I look at it, compared to what we did last year… We controlled the ball for 40 minutes, finished the game with the last 6:38 on the clock. We rushed for 262 [yards]; we passed for 77 percent. We had one turnover we need to improve on. We had nine explosives. We were 6-of-12 on third downs, which last year at this same thing, we were asking each other what we got to do on third downs. We were 3-for-3 on 3rd-and-1s, which last year that was a concern in our first [press] conference.

“OK, yeah, do we need to improve on sacks? Yeah, we had two sacks. Our protection, our scheme got us. Happy for Mack Brown, happy for Trey Burton how they kind of stepped up with their opportunity.

“We threw the ball down field seven times. Coverage takes some things away. Do you ask a quarterback not into coverage deep? Yeah, you do. We hit Trey Burton on two, we had two check downs, we got a protection issue on one. We’re stretching the field. We can stretch the field if we want to stretch the field. Did we have to stretch the field at a certain part in time? No. Did we have it in the game plan to do it? Yes. I’m not sure what everybody wants. …

“Are we going to throw the ball 75 times a game and throw vertical? No. When a team plays corners coverage like Toledo, you don’t throw the ball vertical. You throw the ball in intermediate to check-down throws. Did we try to throw the ball vertical in the red zone? Yes, we did. Well, they played coverage. So what’s Jeff [Driskel] do? He checks it down to Gideon [Ajagbe], guy bounces off Gideon, Gideon runs for 15 yards, gets a first down, we’re in good position and we continue to score.

“We didn’t have a ‘vanilla’ game plan. You saw reverses. I can’t handle what the refs don’t see but yet they call and it keeps us out of the end zone. …

“Should we have come out in the third quarter and probably had more production in the first two series instead of three-and-outs? Yes. … I think we hit a lull that we got to be able to step it up and not be able to do that, score at the end of the game. So if you’re measuring us against points, yeah, we left points out there. But we had things in control and we ran the last – I don’t even know how many plays – but I know there was 6:38 on the clock and we walked off the field with the offensive on the field. We were on the one-yard line or three-yard line, whatever we were on, trying to score.”

He later added:

“Do I want to see 300 passing yards? Absolutely. Is that going to be a reality? I don’t know. I don’t measure success totally on that. We completed 77 percent yet we have two drops, two tips and a pass that he probably should’ve hit on the end zone but he overthrew it and it got away from him. That’s what I see. The kid’s making good decisions. He’s managing the game. … He’s productive with his hands running it. He’s putting us in the right plays in the run game. That’s what I look at. Are we having a chance to win the game? Yeah, explosiveness, but I’m not measuring it on yards. That’s called you trying to get your guru card. Maybe when I was 30 years old, but I’m not 30 years old anymore.”

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9/1: Muschamp updates injuries, previews Miami

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss some leftovers from the team’s 24-6 victory over Toledo while looking ahead to Saturday’s game on the road against the Miami Hurricanes. The contest will kick off at 12 p.m. from Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL, and air live on ESPN.

WEEKLY AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Week: Redshirt junior running back Mack Brown
“Mack ran extremely hard in the game and certainly a guy that really played well.”

Scrap Iron: Redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia, redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore
“I thought all three of those guys played really well, really built some continuity with those guys up front. Tyler and Max have been two really good additions for us.”

Big Plays (Offense): Brown, senior wide receiver Trey Burton, redshirt sophomore RB Valdez Showers
“Really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp, competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so. He’s a guy that adds some dimension to us.”

Defensive Player(s) of the Week: Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard, redshirt freshman defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr., senior DL Dominique Easley, sophomore Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, redshirt senior nose tackle Leon Orr, redshirt junior Sam LB Ronald Powell
“All of those guys played well to contain [the quarterback] in the pocket, be able to rush four effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run.”

Ball Hawks: Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (for the interception) and Easley, Powell, Orr and redshirt junior Mike LB Michael Taylor (for the pressure)

Hard Hat: Redshirt junior LB Neiron Ball
“A guy that’s really helped [take] a huge step forward defensively for us was for him to be able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done. Shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker. He’s been a huge addition for us.”

Special Team Player of the Week: Sophomore RB Mark Herndon
“He continues to be productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us.”

Big Play (Special Teams): Junior CB Marcus Roberson
“A guy that flipped the field a couple times with a couple big punt returns.”

Scout Team Players of the Week: Redshirt junior WR Ryan Parrish, redshirt freshman LB Jeremi Powell, freshman WR Chris Thompson

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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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