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4 posts from March 2013

March 26, 2013

UF Football Notes - Spring game in for change due to lack of depth on offensive line; Kelvin Taylor, Marcus Roberson updates; Injuries

With Florida nearing the end of spring practice, injuries are starting to take a toll on the offensive line and the Gators’ annual spring game could look more like a glorified practice as a result.

The depth up front has been an issue since Will Muschamp took over for Urban Meyer as UF’s coach. Practices in spring and fall have had to be adjusted, and that helped lead to what Muschamp called a “soft” football team following the 2011 season.

The number of scholarship players along the offensive line has increased to 11, but the problem has returned this spring because of a litany of injuries. Returning starters Chaz Green (ankle) and Jon Halapio (knee) are still recovering from offseason surgeries, as is backup Ian Silberman (shoulder). Sophomore Trip Thurman just went down last week with a shoulder injury that Muschamp said “doesn’t look good,” transfer Max Garcia has been limited with a back issue and fellow sophomore Jessamen Dunker remains suspended due to multiple run-ins with the law.

“What’s really hurt us is on the offensive line,” Muschamp said Tuesday. “Really right now we’ve got six healthy guys.”

The lack of depth has prevented Florida from running many full-squad, 11-on-11 snaps in practice, something that Muschamp said could carryover into the team’s scrimmage this Saturday and the spring game on Apr. 6.

“It’s tough right now on those guys and now it’s even harder to get scrimmage snaps because of the lack of numbers at those positions,” he said. “We’re adjusting as we go as far as this coming Saturday and even with the spring game, it may be more of a practice-like atmosphere for what we’re going to do.”

Muschamp said there will be more work on fundamentals with individual players, as well as 1-on-1s and 7-on-7 drills. In Saturday’s scrimmage, Florida ran between 30 and 40 snaps of live football with full squads. That number is closer to what fans should expect during the spring game, not the 120-130 the Gators ran last year during scrimmages and the spring game.

“What’s hard for the offensive line is just taking 60 straight snaps,” Muschamp said. “That’s kind of difficult for just five guys to take that. I think if we’re incorporating within the scrimmage some 7-on-7, some special teams periods, where we just concentrate and let those guys get a break. … Last spring, we’d go 120-130 snaps in a scrimmage. You can’t do that with five offensive linemen. That won’t be good.”

Taylor still ‘swimming’

During Saturday’s scrimmage, freshman running back Kelvin Taylor (Glades Day) caught a short screen pass, made one move and took it 40 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.

The score showed exactly why Taylor racked up record after record in high school and was one of the most coveted backs in the 2013 recruiting class. Muschamp called it a “really nice play” and a display of Taylor’s “natural running instincts.”

Still, expecting Taylor to see the field early and often this fall might be a bit optimistic. Taylor, like many other early enrollee freshmen, is still struggling to pick up the offense at this point, Muschamp said.

“Kelvin Taylor has really nice, natural running instincts – he just has to learn what to do and where to go,” Muschamp said. “The tempo of practice, the speed of the practice, the installation, it’s all a mess right now. … All of those guys right now are swimming. … They’re drinking water out of a fire hose right now.”

Taylor is currently battling for carries with junior Mack Brown, as sophomore Matt Jones appears to be the frontrunner for Florida’s starting running back job in 2013. And, according to Muschamp, he will have to earn those carries.

“Any freshman and any player that hasn't played a lot, you're challenging them all,” he said. “I always tell the guys, 'You've got to earn your stripes around here.' That's kind of my process, but it's not just one guy, there's a bunch of guys that need to do that.”

Roberson earns praise

Asked to identify players that have caught his eye this spring, Muschamp mentioned cornerback Marcus Roberson, which was somewhat surprising considering Roberson has started 14 games in two seasons at Florida.

But Muschamp said he was impressed with the growth Roberson has made in the offseason. A lean player coming out of Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, Roberson has now bulked up to around 195 pounds.

“He's changed his upper body,” Muschamp said. “It's gotten stronger. He's better on the line of scrimmage in press. He's more disruptive on receivers and routes. I think he's made some strides.” 

Injury updates

Freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson suffered a high ankle sprain last week in practice. He is currently in a walking boot to stabilize the injury, and Muschamp said he is unsure when Robinson will return to practice.

Sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard is still considered day-to-day with a hamstring injury, and Muschamp said he hopes that Bullard will be able to return for Saturday’s scrimmage.

Linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and cornerback/safety Cody Riggs (hamstring) are both considered day-to-day as well.

March 12, 2013

Suspended Florida OL Jessamen Dunker again in legal trouble

Florida sophomore offensive lineman and Boynton Beach High alum Jessamen Dunker was cited last week by Gainesville police for speeding and unknowingly driving with a license that is suspended or revoked, according to Alachua County Court records.

Already indefinitely suspended from all team activities because of a Jan. 16 arrest on charges of grand theft of a motor vehicle and driving with a suspended license, Dunker's offenses from last week appear to violate the terms of his release from jail following the January arrest. According to court records, Dunker was released under the provision that he would not drive a motor vehicle without a valid driver's license, among other conditions.

Asked Tuesday about Dunker's status with the team, Florida coach Will Muschamp said: "He’s been suspended. I haven’t had any communication with him."

A team spokesman confirmed Muschamp was aware of the most recent incident.

Dunker is represented by attorney Huntley S. Johnson, who entered a plea of not guilty on Dunker's behalf in response to the January charges. According to Johnson, Dunker maintains he bought the scooter legitimately for $600 and did not know the scooter was stolen.

More information coming soon.

Gators Spring Football Update: Muschamp provides early depth chart; Purifoy at WR; Riggs, Gorman starting

Florida football coach Will Muschamp met with the media Tuesday on the eve of spring practice, providing a preliminary depth chart and addressing several issues as the Gators head into their first practice of 2013 on Wednesday.
The full depth chart is below, but one of the big highlights is the listing of cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy as a starting wide receiver. Purifoy is not listed at all on the defensive side of the ball.
According to Muschamp, Purifoy will remain a cornerback but he will also spend the first week of spring practice working exclusively with the offense in order to further develop his skills at a position of weakness for Florida.
“He (Purifoy) will still be a corner on our football team,” Muschamp said. “Y'all know me. Spring is about experimenting and looking at different things.”
While the Gators have plenty of depth at cornerback to allow Purifoy to experiment on the offensive side of the ball, there is uncertainty at the safety position, where both spots are wide open after the departures of Josh Evans and Matt Elam. The competition will be considerable.
As of now, two area players appear to be the frontrunners for starting spots.
Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas alum Cody Riggs is listed as a starter at safety alongside Monsignor Pace alum Jabari Gorman. Depending on packages, cornerback Jaylen Watkins can also be used at safety.
Riggs redshirted last season after breaking a bone in his foot in Week 2 against Texas A&M, but he has the most experience at the position and will be the man to beat in spring.
Right tackle Chaz Green, the starter at the position last season, will miss all of spring after ankle surgery. Buck defensive end Ronald Powell will also miss the spring as he is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered during last year’s spring game. Freshman linebacker Matt Rolin (knee) and offensive lineman Ian Silberman (shoulder) will also miss spring.
Right guard Jon Halapio (knee), wide receiver Solomon Patton (arm) and linebacker Neiron Ball will be limited.

OFFENSE

QB – Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy, Skyler Mornhinweg
RB – Matt Jones, Mack Brown, Kelvin Taylor
FB – Hunter Joyer, Rhaheim Ledbetter OR Gideon Ajagbe
WR (X) – Quinton Dunbar, Andre Debose, Demarcus Robinson
WR (Z) – Loucheiz Purifoy, Solomon Patton, Raphael Andrades
F Position – Trey Burton, Latroy Pittman, Mike McNeely
TE – Clay Burton, Tevin Westbrook, Kent Taylor, Colin Thompson

LT – D.J. Humphries, Trip Thurman
LG – Max Garcia, Kyle Koehne
C – Jonotthan Harrison, Kyle Koehne
RG – Jon Halapio, Kyle Koehne
RT – Tyler Moore, Quinteze Williams

DEFENSE

DE – Dominique Easley, Jonathan Bullard, Bryan Cox, Jr.
NT – Leon Orr, Darious Cummings
DT – Damien Jacobs, Joey Ivie
Buck DE – Dante Fowler, Jr., Alex McCalister
SLB – Darren Kitchens, Neiron Ball, Jeremi Powell
MLB – Antonio Morrison, Alex Anzalone
WLB – Michael Taylor, Daniel McMillian

CB – Marcus Roberson, Jeremy Brown
CB – Jaylen Watkins, Brian Poole
Nickel CB – Brian Poole, Cody Riggs, Jaylen Watkins
Dime CB – Marcus Maye, Valdez Showers
S – Cody Riggs, Marcus Maye
S – Jabari Gorman, Valdez Showers

SPECIAL TEAMS

K – Brad Phillips OR Austin Hardin
P – Kyle Christy, Todd Fennell
H – Trey Burton, Tyler Murphy
LS – Drew Ferris, Kyle Crofoot
KR – Andre Debose OR Loucheiz Purifoy
PR – Marcus Roberson, Trey Burton

Donovan named SEC Coach of the Year; Boynton, Gators rack up awards

For the second time in his career, Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan was named Tuesday the Southeastern Conference Coach of the Year.

Donovan led the No. 10 Gators (24-6) to an undefeated 15-0 mark at home this season with a 14-4 record in conference play. Florida cut down the nets Wednesday following its win against Vanderbilt that clinched the SEC regular season championship, the fourth under Donovan and fifth in UF history.

The All-SEC teams were also announced Wednesday with Gators senior forward Erik Murphy earning First-Team honors. Pompano Beach native and senior guard Kenny Boynton was named to the Second Team alongside senior guard Mike Rosario and junior center Patric Young.

Young also took home the SEC's Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award for the second straight year. Majoring in telecommunication, Young holds a 3.38 GPA and is averaging 10.5 points and 6.2 rebounds this season.


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