Florida-EKU post-game report: Durkin to coach bowl, Muschamp’s final lesson, Bullard’s decision

The Florida Gators (6-4) took care of business, routing the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (9-3) on Senior Day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.

Florida’s 52-3 victory on Saturday got the Gators bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012 and also marked the second-largest win margin in any game under head coach Will Muschamp, who was able to leave The Swamp with his head held high.

BOWL GAME COACH CHOSEN

Moments after Florida’s win was finalized, the school announced that defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin would serve as interim head coach for the Gators’ bowl game this year. Durkin, the second-longest tenured member of the staff (five years) behind running backs coach Brian White (six years), will take the reigns of the program once Muschamp’s dismissal is finalized next Saturday, Nov. 29.

FINAL LESSON: A TOUGH WEEK, ROAD AHEAD

There should be no doubt that the entire Florida football team took Muschamp’s dismissal hard. Gators players spoke of him fondly on Monday after his press conference and were obviously playing with an extra gear on Saturday. Junior defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard even went so far as to write his coach’s last name on his eyeblack.

“I’ve just been through a lot and he’s been there for me,” Bullard said. “When I lost my grandmother, he was a big supporter; he let me go home as long as I needed. Just little things he did helping me through that whole situation, he’s just been a real good person to me. I respect him a lot, and actually, I love him. I just wanted to show some respect for him, everything he’s done for me, and show him that I appreciate it.”

Muschamp admitted Saturday that it took a while for Florida to get back in the swing of things this week. Monday’s practice was thwarted due to the weather; Tuesday the team looked “just OK” and did not show “great effort” on the field; and Wednesday was just “a little bit better.”

So Muschamp spent the Gators’ regularly-scheduled Thursday meeting speaking about much more than just the upcoming game but rather how Florida’s players need to deal with his dismissal and their futures going forward.

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Gameday: Florida Gators vs. Eastern Kentucky

Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 69°F (feels like 71°F), showers (50%), winds ENE at 12 mph
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

TV: SEC Network – alternate channel (Allen Bestwick, Chris Doering, Kayce Smith)

Streaming Video: SEC Network via WatchESPN.com | Mobile Video: WatchESPN app

SiriusXM: 112/192 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]

Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

FLORIDA GATORS EKU COLONELS
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Dean Hood
Record: 5-4 Record: 9-2
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Ohio Valley

Odds: NONE

SENIOR DAY

Friday Final: Preparing for an emotional Senior Day in The Swamp

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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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The Silver Lining for Thursday, November 20: Gators coaching search candidates, mailbag

Florida Gators coaching search

Ah, a coaching search. So much fun. Such little stress. Not taxing whatsoever on my time, energy or sleep patterns, which are already way too out-of-whack. The simple fact is that this will likely be a long and tedious search and no one will experience that as much first-hand as athletic director Jeremy Foley, who not only has to go through the entire process but is also tasked with making the all-important decision.

As this process unfolds, you are going to see such a wide variety of lists and reports posted by different media outlets that your head may spin. My hope with the candidate list that OnlyGators.com posted on Sunday was that you would understand it to be a pros-and-cons breakdown of some of the most talked-about names for the job that also provided you with a comprehensive list of names that could fit what the Gators are looking for in their next coach.

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Roper, Durkin focus on EKU, discuss Muschamp

One thing Will Muschamp made very clear at his press conference on Monday was that it would be business as usual for the Florida Gators this week as they prepare to host the Eastern Kentucky Colonels on Saturday.

The message has obviously been delivered to his coordinators, as both Kurt Roper (offensive) and D.J. Durkin (defensive) explained this week that they are focused on the game and the game alone.

Continue Reading » Roper, Durkin focus on EKU, discuss Muschamp

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Snell’s Slant: Upset yet excited for Florida’s future

By Shannon Snell – OnlyGators.com Featured Columnist

So after four long years, the Will Muschamp experiment has reached a conclusion. Most of us saw this coming, some thought/hoped it would be sooner, others believed it could be avoided but felt deep down that it would eventually happen. No matter, at the end of the 2014 season, Muschamp will no longer be the head coach of the Florida Gators.

But this is not about beating Muschamp while he is down; that is unnecessary as he came to the Gators, his hometown team, to do his best. At the end of the day, Muschamp wanted to win and create excitement for Gator Nation; he was just never able to put all the pieces together, especially on the offensive side of the ball. What is truly unfortunate about this situation is that Muschamp, as a man, is well-respected and well-liked by most that encounter him. Do not get it twisted: the Florida players love him, and his assistant coaches admired his work ethic even if they did not always agree with his decisions. But those things can only matter so much when you are making $3 million per season and not winning games, especially important ones – at home – against SEC opponents.

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Florida LBs Neiron Ball, Jarrad Davis out for the season; Gators get two back for EKU

Saturday’s loss to South Carolina not only marked the end of the road for Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp but also the end of the season for two of his linebackers as redshirt senior Neiron Ball and sophomore Jarrad Davis have been ruled out for the rest of 2014 with knee injuries.

Ball and Davis each underwent surgery Monday for a torn meniscus suffered in last weekend’s game, though Ball also required microfracture surgery. Both players will be out for approximately four months with the first six weeks of Ball’s recovery requiring him not to put any weight on his knee.

“I’m extremely disappointed for both of those guys and both were having great years,” said Muschamp on Monday. “Certainly get those guys rehabbed as quickly as possible.”

Continue Reading » Florida LBs Neiron Ball, Jarrad Davis out for the season; Gators get two back for EKU

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Gators DE Dante Fowler Jr. tweets that he will leave for the NFL, other juniors could follow

Updated on Thursday at 11:30 a.m.

Florida Gators junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. announced Tuesday on Twitter that he will forgo his final season of college football and declare for the 2015 NFL Draft.

“I came in with champ. I’m leaving with Him,” Fowler wrote, referring to ousted Florida head coach Will Muschamp. “Simple as that.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Fowler met with the media and said that Muschamp would absolutely have an influence on his decision to leave school, though it appeared he meant that in more of an advisory role after the season.

“I’m going to approach that at the appropriate time. Definitely me and him are going to sit down and [he will] talk with me and my family,” Fowler said.

The Gators’ leader in sacks (4.5), tackles for loss (10.0) and quarterback hurries (15) this season, Fowler is also tied for second in total tackles with 49. He also has a team-high two forced fumbles.

Fowler flashed as a freshman and improved as a sophomore and was expected to have a breakout season in 2014, which came to fruition and led to this decision.

Continue Reading » Gators DE Dante Fowler Jr. tweets that he will leave for the NFL, other juniors could follow

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