Friday Final: Players ready for Florida-Georgia

In this week’s edition of Florida Football Friday Final, OnlyGators.com takes a look at the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) as they prepare to lay it all on the line against the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game will kick off at 3:30 p.m. and air live on CBS.

THIS WEEK ON ONLYGATORS.COM

Notebook: Will Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks starting Treon Harris, fixing Florida’s numerous offensive issues during bye
Story: Gators adopt “bunker mentality” as players support coach
Story: Tim Tebow on Treon Harris: We’ll see what he’s made of
Notebok: Kurt Roper talks Harris starting, Florida’s progress on offense
Notebook: Gators defense ready to stop Bulldogs rush, more from D.J. Durkin
The Silver Lining: Florida players exuding confidence entering Georgia game

WORLD’S LARGEST OUTDOOR COCKTAIL PARTY

Every player on the Florida roster always has and always will get geared up for Georgia game, no matter how either team is playing entering the contest.

Head coach Will Muschamp announced Thursday that four redshirt senior Peach State natives – linebacker Neiron Ball, running back Mack Brown, center Max Garcia and LB Michael Taylor – will be captains for the game. Two of them, along with a couple other players, spoke with the media this week about what the UF-UGA game means to them.

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The Silver Lining for Thursday, October 30, 2014: Gators confident, debunking Foley-Meyer myths

Yes, The Silver Lining is once again out on Thursday. It will return to its regular Wednesday afternoon slot…eventually.

Gators won’t stop believin’

This time last year, Florida was down in the dumps, sporting a 4-3 record after consecutive road losses to LSU (17-6) and Missouri (36-17). The Gators have one fewer win (due to the canceled Idaho game) but those same losses to the two groups of Tigers (30-27 and 42-13, respectively), despite the fact that UF was supposed to be improved in 2014 and played both of those contests at home.

Nevertheless, facing it’s last possible chance to salvage the season and somehow remain in the SEC East race, Florida is putting on a strong, confident face entering its rivalry game against the No. 11 Georgia Bulldogs.

Numerous Gators expressed pure determination while meeting with the media this week. While they obviously chose not to guarantee a win against a program that has beat them three-straight years and proved to be the better team at the season’s halfway point, there were no heads down or shoulders slouched.

Here’s what a number of players had to say about the team’s current mindset…

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10/28: Roper on fixing Florida’s offense, QB Harris starting for the Gators on Saturday

Florida Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media on Tuesday to provide some thoughts on Florida’s recent struggles and the Gators’ upcoming contest against the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs, which is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.

FIXING AN OFFENSIVE OFFENSE

When Roper was hired to take over after Brent Pease’s ouster, it was expected that he would inject some life into the Gators’ offense. Florida would supposedly spread the ball out, throw it down the field and take chances that it had not in the past.

However, after posting 101 points in its first two games, UF has combined for just 72 in its last four contests. For Roper, it all comes down to a pair of major issues – the downfield passing game and turnovers.

“Right now, turnovers. Sometimes it’s a different theme, week-to-week. We obviously haven’t been as good in the passing game all season long. But specifically, in the last game, it’s turning the football over,” he explained.

“If you look at it, it’s kind of the trend. We were good in the first game, second game we were pretty good in, I think we had one. It’s been a theme of three until we doubled the three. We’re an offense that has to take care of the football better right now. It’s the primary goal going into this next opportunity.”

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Muschamp, Gators adopting ‘bunker mentality’ as Florida players support embattled coach

Shielding themselves from falling bombs of criticism and ear-piercing chants for the ouster of a starting quarterback and head coach, Will Muschamp said Monday that he hand the Florida Gators have adopted a “bunker mentality” that he hopes will serve the team well through the remainder of the season.

With redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel benched for freshman Treon Harris after Driskel turned the ball over 12 times in his last four games, one part of the call from Florida fans has been answered.

However, Muschamp still remains coach of the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) after their devastating 42-13 blowout loss to Missouri on homecoming, and fans continue to let it be known that they want athletic director Jeremy Foley to make a change and fast.

Muschamp accepts the fervor and heavy criticism because it comes with the position of head coach, explaining that he is singularly focused on Florida’s next opponent – the SEC East-leading, No. 9-ranked Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) – and not what fans think about his job status.

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10/27: Muschamp previews Florida-Georgia, talks Harris starting, Gators offensive issues

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) met with the media on Monday as his team continues to recover from consecutive losses while preparing for the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1 SEC) on Saturday afternoon. Florida-Georgia will play in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. with the game once again airing live on CBS.

MOVING ON

Set to be the first freshman to start at quarterback for the Gators in the Florida-Georgia game since Chris Leak in 2003, Treon Harris took nearly all the first-team reps with the offense during the bye week and will get the majority of them this week as UF prepares to take on UGA in Jacksonville.

Muschamp, to this point, has been impressed with what he’s seen from the signal caller.

“Treon will be getting his first start, excited for him and what he’s going to be able to do,” he said. “[Harris is] a guy that has a knack for making plays, certainly has got a calm, cool, collected [way] about himself and how he carries himself. I think we’ll play well. Identify some things he feels comfortable with as well as we continue to move forward offensively. As much as anything, we’ve struggled with an identity because of the turnovers. That’s been a major issue.”

He also believes Harris will be able to carry a full workload, without a limited playbook, considering all of the extra action he’s seen through the bye week.

“I think in the open week our offensive staff did a pretty good job of identifying some things that Treon does extremely well, so we won’t pare things down as much as you might think with a freshman quarterback,” he said. “He’s an extremely bright young man. He’s able to handle a lot of things on his plate. I think the [extra] repetition … will help him moving forward.”

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Billy Donovan offers support for Florida’s football coach, again: ‘I am a huge Will Muschamp fan’

For the second time in 10 days, Florida Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan went out of his way to openly praise Will Muschamp, standing behind Florida’s embattled football coach as Muschamp faces a likely dismissal following his team’s poor start to the 2014 season.

Last Wednesday, Donovan said he had an “enormous amount of respect” for Muschamp, noting that he took over a challenging situation in 2011 and dealt with an insane number of injuries in 2013. Donovan even revealed that he had Muschamp speak with the basketball team this past summer in order to enlighten players on how quickly success can turn into struggle.

During an appearance on an ESPN.com college basketball podcast that was published on Friday, Donovan went even further in his support of Muschamp.

“I will tell you this: I am a huge Will Muschamp fan,” he said.

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Florida Gators lose Baker and Thomas, two top-rated 2015 linebacker commits

For the second time this week, a highly-rated 2015 linebacker commitment has decided to part ways with the Florida Gators.

On Thursday, two days after four-star Jerome Baker (Cleveland, OH) decommitted from the program, four-star Adonis Thomas (Lawrenceville, GA) followed suit.

Baker and Thomas are the highest-ranked players in the Gators’ 2015 recruiting class according to Rivals and ESPN, respectively.

Baker is ranked as the No. 36 overall player in the country by Rivals (No. 68 by ESPN), while Thomas is rated as the No. 68 overall player by ESPN (unranked by Rivals).

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Florida QB Treon Harris will start vs. Georgia

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp announced Wednesday that freshman quarterback Treon Harris will start for the team when it takes on the Georgia Bulldogs in Jacksonville, Florida, on Nov. 1.

“Treon, you saw what he did late in the game [against Missouri]. He has a knack for making plays and making some good things happen for our football team,” Muschamp said. “We’ve struggled with production at the quarterback position and that’s been an issue for us – along with some other [positions] – but that’s been a huge issue for us. He’s a guy that has a knack for making plays.”

Harris will have two weeks getting first-team repetitions ahead of the Gators’ showdown with the Bulldogs.

“He has a much better understanding [of the offense] as we continue to move forward,” Muschamp added. “We got an open week now where he’s getting a bunch of reps.”

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