Friday Final: Florida preparing for Maty Mauk, Alex McCalister stepping up for Gators

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) as they prepare to host the Missouri Tigers (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday evening at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. The game will kick off at 7 p.m. and air live on ESPN2.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Missouri prep begins with Florida playing two quarterbacks
Notebook: Kurt Roper talks Gators’ offense and rushing attack
Story: Jeff Driskel will start as Florida readies Treon Harris
Notebook: Will Muschamp updates team injuries, quarterback situation

GATORS LOOK TO AVOID BEING MAUK-ED UP

One year ago, while making his first career start against a reeling Florida team, Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk looked like a seasoned veteran, throwing for 295 yards and a touchdown and hitting the ground for another score. Sixty-one of those 295 yards came on two passes within the first 22 seconds of the game, as Mauk completed a 41-yard toss and then a 20-yard touchdown throw on consecutive plays. Suffice to say, the Gators have no plans to underestimate him this time around.

“I think he’s a very good player. He’s a guy that can make all the throws. He’s got extreme arm talent. He’s got good touch; he can zip it when he needs to. He’s got great legs,” said Florida head coach Will Muschamp. “He’s a guy that throws it extremely well. He has great command of their offense and what they do and how they’re doing it. I think he needs to get a little more help around him.”

Mauk threw four interceptions this week, though like many committed by the Gators this season, his Tigers playmakers have been partly responsible for some of his miscues by either running wrong routes or tipping decently-to-well-thrown passes. Prior to that game, he had a 14-to-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

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10/13: Muschamp says Gators will play two quarterbacks – Driskel and Harris – on Saturday

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-2 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from its latest loss while preparing for the Missouri Tigers (4-2, 1-1 SEC) on Saturday evening. Florida will host Mizzou at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida; kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., and the agme will air live nationally on ESPN2.

INTRODUCING THE TWO-QUARTERBACK SYSTEM

In what was likely to be the original plan last week against LSU, Muschamp confirmed Monday that Florida will employ a two-quarterback system this week against Missouri with redshirt junior Jeff Driskel likely to take the first snaps in the contest.

“They both will play this week. We’ll work through the week and see how things go. We’ll see how it goes there,” he said. “Right now, Jeff would probably start, but they’re both going to play.”

Driskel, who learned of his demotion to part-time player when Muschamp made the announcement, said he has no qualms with the decision because he knows he needs to pick up his play going forward. Freshman Treon Harris, of course, will be the other signal caller taking reps with Driskel.

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10/11: Florida-LSU post-game report

A soul-crushing 50-yard game-winning field goal pushed the LSU Tigers (5-2, 1-2 SEC) ahead of the Florida Gators (3-2, 2-1 SEC) on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, as LSU took advantage of multiple Florida miscues to pull off a 30-27 come-from-behind victory in The Swamp.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media after the close loss, and OnlyGators.com takes a look at a number of key moments in the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» After the win, LSU is now 27-31-3 all-time against Florida, trailing the Gainesville portion of the series 12-15-3. The Tigers have won four of their last five meetings with the Gators.
» Saturday was the 44th consecutive year, dating back to 1979, that UF and LSU squared off on the gridiron.
» The Gators are now 21-5 against unranked opponents under Muschamp and 12-3 against unranked SEC teams during his tenure.
» Florida has converted 19-of-20 red zone trips into points this season but have only scored 11 red zone touchdowns through five games.
» The Gators scored more than 21 points in regulation for the first time in nine SEC games.
» UF’s offensive line once again did not allow a sack; the Gators have only given up five through five games, including none against Eastern Michigan, Alabama and LSU.
» Florida entered Saturday with a +8 turnover margin but lost three turnovers in the game and did not gain any back; the Gators are now +5 for the season. UF gained 15 turnovers in its first four games.
» Florida’s run defense had only allowed 11 double-digit runs on the year entering Saturday’s game but gave up nine more over the course of the LSU contest.
» Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar entered Saturday having caught a pass in 32-straight games. He dropped his only target of the evening and came three games away from tying a school record for most consecutive contests with a reception.

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10/4: Florida-Tennessee post-game report

A come-from-behind victory fueled by a first-year signal caller led the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) to a hard-fought 10-9 win over the Tennessee Volunteers (3-2, 1-2 SEC) at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Saturday afternoon.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media after the close win, and OnlyGators.com takes a look at a number of key moments in the game.

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida has now won 10-straight games against Tennessee, a winning streak that dates back to 2005. The Gators are 25-19 all-time against the Volunteers and now 12-11 when playing in Knoxville. UF is 23-6 against UT since 1976 and 9-2 in Knoxville since 1994.
» Overcoming a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter, Florida pulled off its biggest come-from-behind victory in the last period since 2003. It is also the second-best road comeback for the Gators since 1966, per UF.
» Tennessee shutout Florida in the first half for the first time since 1955. It was the Vols first such shutout against any opponent since 2007.
» The Gators’ 10 points were the fewest in a win for the program since 1968 (nine, Florida State), per ESPN Stats & Information.
» It was the seventh time in the last 16 games that the Gators were held without a touchdown in the first half. UF is now 2-5 in such games after the victory, per ESPNSI.
» The Gators are now 21-4 against unranked opponents under Muschamp and 12-2 against unranked SEC teams during his tenure.
» Tennessee entered Saturday’s game ranked No. 1 nationally in third down defense (.208), while Florida was ranked No. 106 in the country in third down offense (.340). The Gators converted 35.0 percent of their third downs, the Vols just 29.4 percent.
» UF is still +8 in turnover margin on the season after finishing even (3-3) with UT.
» Redshirt senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar has now caught a pass in 32-straight games. He is three games away from tying a school record for most consecutive contests with a reception.
» Redshirt sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. exploded on Saturday with five solo tackles, three sacks, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery. It is the first three-sack game for a Florida player since 2009 (Carlos Dunlap).
» The Gators’ six total sacks against the Vols were second-most in series history (seven, 1999).

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Florida Gators edge Tennessee 10-9 in Knoxville

Despite trailing early in the fourth quarter on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee, the Florida Gators (3-1, 2-1 SEC) rallied behind a quarterback change and scored 10 unanswered points to pull off a 10-9 victory against the rival Tennessee Volunteers (2-3, 0-2 SEC).

Florida has now won 10-straight games against Tennessee dating back to 2005 with Saturday’s 10-9 win tying the 2006 game (21-20) for the closest victory in that span.

The Volunteers led 3-0 at the end of the first half, shutting out the Gators in that period for the first time since 1955, but were unable to score in the last quarter of the game as Florida made a key substitution.

With redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel struggling (11-for-23, 59 yards, three interceptions), freshman Treon Harris entered in the fourth quarter and led the Gators to a pair of scoring drives. Though Harris completed just 2-of-4 passes for 17 yards and carried four times for 24 yards, the team’s change in energy was palpable with him in the game.

Florida also benefited from a tremendous rushing effort from junior running back Matt Jones (27 touches for 133 total yards, touchdown) as well as a stout defensive effort including six sacks, 10 tackles for loss, two interceptions (one to seal the game) and a forced fumble.

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Friday Final: Florida confident, prepared for UT

In this week’s Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com tackles the team’s confidence entering its third Southeastern Conference game, the emergence of a young offensive lineman and a look at the unofficial depth chart ahead of the contest.

The Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1 SEC) hit the road for the second time this season when they face the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1 SEC) on Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tennessee. The game kicks off at noon and will air live on the SEC Network.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Tennessee, talks injuries and support
Notebook: Kurt Roper keeping Florida offense calm, focused
Story: With support, QB Jeff Driskel focused on improvement not criticism
The Silver Lining: QB Treon Harris not ready for prime time
Notebook: Muschamp, D.J. Durkin looking to fix Gators secondary

GOOD TIMING

According to players on both sides of the ball, Florida’s off week came at an opportune time for the program, just as it was coming off a devastating loss on the road to Alabama. It’s not that the Crimson Tide simply defeated the Gators while hosting them in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, but rather that the victory was a dominant one which appeared to show that UF still has a long way to go to truly be competitive this season.

Simply put, not all of Florida’s players saw the gap as that wide.

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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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