GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s porous offensive line has allowed
10 sacks during its two-game losing streak.
The Gators totaled just 391 yards in the two losses, as the
line struggled to protect quarterback Tyler Murphy or open up many holes for
While Florida lacks a full-cupboard of elite playmakers or consistent quarterback play, the
staff teased the line as a strength of the offense in the preseason.
Such has not been the case -- especially against formidable defensive fronts.
Changes are in order though, and during the idle week, the Gators coaching staff made
three noteworthy refinements they hope help the line perform better Saturday
1. Back to the basics…
“You change the protections where you just kind of, you
don’t put them in charge of guys, kind of into a gap protection and more area,”
offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “I’m not giving the whole game plan of
everything, but you’ve just got to take off some. You’ve got to change the
pocket form a little bit.”
A new different starting five…
“Tyler Moore will start at left
tackle, and Trenton Brown will start at right tackle,” coach Will Muschamp
Max Garcia (LG), Jon Harrison (C) and Jon Halapio (RG)
will play their traditional positions, but if either Brown or Moore struggles (especially
with D.J. Humphries sidelined with an MCL sprain), Garcia could slide outside
and senior Kyle Koehne would play guard.
Minimize pre-snap audibles and protection changes…
“The thing we tried to go back and focus on simplifying
is how much can we take off of them of what they really have to think and
adjust,” Pease said. “There's still some that you've got to be able to do
because defenses have changed their schemes and looks, their fronts, you've got
to make sure you have answers to them. But as much as we can take off
communication line to execute more on the run and just play fast and not be
thinking up to the immediate snap of the ball or at the snap of the ball,
that's what we've got to do.”
VIDEO: Garcia, who called Florida’s offensive failures the line’s
fault, talked about the communication issues, refocusing on fundamentals, using
Saturday’s rivalry game as a potential confidence builder and more.
GAINESVILLE -- And you thought Florida’s football team was
Coach Billy Donovan’s No. 10 men’s basketball team will
kickoff preseason play Friday night (Florida Southern, 7 p.m.) with just six
available scholarship players following two more suspensions and multiple
On Thursday, Donovan announced sophomore forward Dorian
Finney-Smith and junior center Damontre Harris -- two transfers expected to
play key roles this season -- are suspended indefinitely (games only) for an undisclosed
violation of team rules. The two transfers join senior point guard Scottie
Wilbekin on the bench -- suspended indefinitely since June 10 -- and will miss
at least Florida’s first two games -- counting tomorrow’s exhibition opener.
Donovan remained vague at the exact length of the suspensions,
saying, “We’ll make a decision. There’s some things they need to do as well.
Hopefully, they will do it, and we’ll see how that translates going forward.”
The Gators will also be without sophomore guard Michael
Frazier II, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis Tuesday and is sidelined
“He’s out, and we really don’t know when he’d be back,”
Donovan said. “I think his illness will probably go into some regular-season
Senior forward Will Yeguete is also unlikely to play
against Florida Southern, as he continues to recover from offseason knee
surgery. Yeguete has practiced this preseason, but not everyday.
“Earlier in this week, he was probably in the mindset
that he wasn’t ready to play,” Donovan said. “It’s going to be on his
terms. I’m not forcing him or telling him he can’t. We’re going to go into this
situation where he’s going to have to evaluate where he’s at. He practiced
pretty well on Tuesday. Yesterday he was out the whole entire day. … He’s back
in today. I’m going to talk to him before and see where he’s at mentally.”
Meanwhile, Rutgers transfer guard Eli Carter (fibula) will
play some Friday, but Donovan said the junior is hardly 100 percent and still
runs with a noticeable limp.
Overall, the Gators are a depleted bunch facing a brutal
non-conference schedule, including traveling to Madison to play Wisconsin in
the second game of the season (Nov. 12).
“The only constants have been Kasey Hill, DeVon Walker,
Casey Prather, Patric Young, those four guys have been the only four constants.
I would say from that point everybody has missed at least a minimum of three or
four days of practice,” Donovan said. “It is what it is. … But the thing about
it is our team needs to keep moving forward because regardless of what happens
tomorrow night or when we open up next week the season is still coming.”
Florida hosts North Florida on Nov. 8 to kickoff its 2013-14
Yesterday, I wrote a pair of season-previews for Florida’s
men and women’s basketball teams.
Florida starts the year at No. 10 in the preseason Associated Press men’s college
basketball poll -- released Thursday -- and Donovan thought his team’s ranking
was a joke. “I would say we’re not
even remotely close to being 10 in the country right now,” Donovan said,
laughing. The Gators are ranked No. 8 in the preseason USA Today poll. … Five-star forward Devin Robinson (Christchurch
High, Va.) -- the nation’s No. 20 ranked prospect in the 2014 class according to Rivals.com -- verbally
committed to the Gators on Wednesday afternoon. … Donovan was unsure of his
starting lineup against the Mocs, but it’s likely to include a walk-on (forward
Jacob Kurtz) and a shooting guard (DeVon Walker) destined for a redshirt season
just 10 days ago.
VIDEO: WALKER TALKS IMPORTANT CONVO
WITH DONOVAN & OFFSEAON GROWTH
GAINESVILLE -- Michael Taylor leads the Gators with 41 tackles, but the redshirt junior is also the team's top talker.
On Wednesday, the linebacker dished on Florida's disheartening loss to Missouri and the defense's poor performance against the Tigers, his motivation for beating Georgia and on why Bulldogs tailback Todd Gurley will definitely play this weekend.
GAINESVILLE -- For the first time since his unit was
shredded for over 500 yards in a 36-17 loss to Missouri, the assembled media
met with Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Wednesday afternoon.
Florida’s first-year coordinator rehashed the loss, dished
on Cody Riggs’ ejection, the importance of winning first down, confusing Aaron
Murray and more.
The major takeaways from Durkin’s press conference…
* Missouri punched
Florida in the mouth and exposed some its defensive deficiencies, but Durkin’s
unit is a prideful group (that practices hard) and won’t just lay down moving
“I think there were
obviously things we could have done much better in that game. They hit us on
some plays. They are a talented team and they've got some guys outside that can
do that. I think we just need to handle it, if that happens to us, to bounce
back quicker. We're going to get hit on a play here or there, especially if
you're playing receivers like they've got. Credit to them, a lot of 50-50 balls
they went up and made the play. We've just got to line back up and go play. And
I think at some point we didn't react the way we needed to on defense. That's
something that hasn't happened with our group, and obviously we hope it doesn't
happen again. … I just think it was something our guys are not used to. Quite
frankly, we don't want to be used to it, so I think, we got some young guys and
guys that maybe haven't been there before, haven't seen that experience before,
I don't know. But it was obviously something we've addressed and talked about.
I think our guys are resilient. They work hard, and they're confident in what
we're doing. I think you'll see it. "
* The Gators rank second
nationally in third down defense (27.38 percent conversion rate), but during their
recent two-game losing they are giving up way to many yards on first and second
down for the stat to matter -- especially against the run.
“Part of it is winning
on first down. We talk a lot about winning on third down, which is obviously is
critical, that’s how you get off the field. To better your chances on third
down, you’ve got to win on first down. So, stopping the run becomes a big thing
for us. Obviously, this week, these guys run the ball well. With [UGA tailback
Todd] Gurley being back, he’s a dangerous back. He presents an issue that way.
We have to do a good job of it.”
* With depth issues
up front, freshmen defensive linemen Jay-nard Bostwick and Joey Ivie want to
play -- and have been recently praised by coach Will Muschamp -- but is it too
late to burn a redshirt(s)?
“I think all our guys
want to play. They come here with the intent of playing, we recruit those types
of guys that want to play as freshmen. So obviously for various reasons, some
guys do, some don't. It's never all positive or negative. It just it what it
is. So [Bostwick] is continuing to prepare in practice and he's getting better
and better. And I think his time will come."
* True freshman
linebacker Jarrad Davis -- a special teams ace and captain against Missouri --
has emerged as a potential rotational player in an underwhelming linebacker
“Jarrad’s done a great
job with the snaps he’s had on special teams. He hasn’t had a ton on defense
leading up to that point, but on specials teams he’s been an elite performer
for us playing in all phases. He’s got a great career, a bright future ahead of
him. He’s learning the defense better and better and doing better in practice.
He’ll continue to play more on defense.”
* Gators safety Cody
Riggs was ejected for targeting on the game’s first play in the loss to
Missouri, and Durkin -- like Muschamp -- is no fan of the rule (or severe
“It’s one of those
things where I understand where everyone’s coming from in the movement of
safety. That’s a smart decision by everyone involved. I want safety of our
players to be first and foremost. In terms of that, the officials when it’s a
close call they’re going to call it. That’s what they’re told to do and if I
was one of them I’d call it close too, you can’t let one of those slide.
Looking back on it and we have more time to look back on it and see it in
slow-mo I don’t think Cody lowered his head and targeted, he did end up hitting
helmet-to-helmet but he led with his hands. So it was a close call it could
have went either way. … You go
into every game being prepared for whether it’s by injury or -- obviously you
usually don’t do it by a guy being ejected but you plan on contingencies in
case something happens. We said it before the year even started that ‘it’s
going to be hard for safeties to make it through the season without things
happening’ and we’ve seen that first hand as well as a lot of other teams have
and those are the guys that get in those positions the most and it’s hard.
Football’s a fast game and things happen fast even if a guy’s not intending to
do that and Cody wasn’t but you just get yourself out of position and it
happens fast. It’s two moving parts going together so ya it is something we’re
prepared for and talk about.”
* Despite Florida
forcing Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray into multiple poor decisions (7 total INTS
vs. UF) over the past three seasons, Durkin believes the senior signal caller
is really, really good (and smart).
“He's a very talented
passer. That's pretty clear to anyone. He can also beat you running the ball,
too. He runs better than people give him credit for. He makes a lot of plays in
terms of converting on third down, whether it's designed or not. He's got great
command of that offense. He's been playing there for four years with the same staff,
same everything. So, I think he knows that offense probably as well as the
coaching staff does and it shows when you watch it on tape. He's very
comfortable in what they're doing, and they check him out on a lot of things
and I think put a lot on him in terms of protections and checking the play, and
he handles it well. He presents a lot of issues that way, and he's a guy we
have faced many times. We know what his ability is."
GAINESVILLE -- On the eve of Halloween, Florida’s beleaguered offensive line just got even scarier.
Struggling, but talented left tackle D.J. Humphries sprained
his right medial collateral ligament in Monday’s practice and will be sidelined
up to four weeks.
According to coach Will Muschamp, the sophomore is “a quick
recovery guy” but the 6-foot-5, 285-pound tackle will definitely miss
Saturday’s game against Georgia, forcing another reshuffling up front.
Former right tackle Tyler Moore, publically benched Tuesday
following two straight poor performances, will now start in Humphries’ place at
left tackle, and junior-college transfer Trenton Brown will make his first
career FBS start at right tackle.
While Florida has been hamstrung by injuries all season, the
offensive line has mostly avoided the ruthless injury bug.
Georgia’s defense, ranked No. 9 in the SEC, has labored for
much of the season, but the Bulldogs are a quality pass rushing team with 19
sacks on the year (third in the SEC).
-- During Florida’s idle week, coach Will Muschamp promised changes on offense
and several moves are starting to take shape before Saturday’s border-war with
Kelvin Taylor appears poised to start at tailback, and on Tuesday, offensive
coordinator Brent Pease not-so-subtly hinted at a reshuffled offensive line,
suggesting mammoth junior-college transfer Trenton Brown (6-foot-8, 361 pounds)
is in position to make his first-career start at right tackle.
in line to play quite a bit,” Pease said. “He’s got to continue through
practice and see where he’s at. I don’t think you can just say hey, you’re
starting. He still has to accountable to his performance in practice. He was
taking first-team reps last week, he’s taking first-team reps this week. We’ll
go from there.”
sophomore Tyler Moore has started all seven games at right tackle, but the
former Nebraska transfer was benched late in the loss to Missouri following two
straight poor performances.
Tyler Murphy (AC shoulder sprain) did not throw during Florida’s bye week, but
the fourth-year junior resumed his normal throwing schedule for the first time
since UF’s 36-17 loss to Missouri.
not bothering me,” Murphy said, regarding his sprained shoulder. “I didn't practice last week much. It's
been fatigued a little but other than that it's fine.”
said Murphy’s passes weren’t particularly precise during Monday’s practice, but
said the quarterback should be ready for Saturday’s game.
really been about two weeks where he hasn’t [thrown much]. He’s thrown about 30
balls up till yesterday,” Pease said. So his arm -- his accuracy -- was off a
little bit and he was just kind of getting back into the rhythm and the timing
of everything and still kind of having to zip [the bal]. He’s fine that way
that he can throw, it’s just kind of getting back into that flow after you
haven’t done anything for 14 days.”
tight end Kent Taylor will be redshirted this season, according to Pease.
Taylor -- the nation’s No. 1 recruit at the position in 2012 -- played very
sparingly as a freshman but did catch a 5-yard touchdown pass in Florida’s loss
in the Sugar Bowl and appeared poised to enter preseason camp as a potential
replacement for Jordan Reed.
a nagging ankle injury (Taylor missed the first four games this season) and a lack
of development caused the staff to reevaluate the tight end’s role in 2013.
had looked back on it and determined if he was ready or not and he wasn't ready
at the time,” Pease said. “You got to be able to block in that position and run
routes and we gotta see that you can perform and your performance has to show
up. I don't know if his development is totally there.”
now healthy, has been working as the scout team tight end.
every kid's going to be an immediate guy. He's a kid that's got to maintain
weight to play in that position. He can't be too light. And sometimes I think
in this sport, and at this level, you've got to give kids a chance to develop.
It's not going to be just because he catches a touchdown pass in a game. It's
gonna be one, two, sometimes three years. You look at the good teams and the
good players, they really start showing up their junior year.”
excited. This has always been my favorite game of the year. This should be
another good one. I [love] the atmosphere, how it's split half and half, coming
over the bridge and seeing all the fans out there. It's always really competitive."
Senior wideout Trey Burton on his last game in the Florida-Georgia series
GAINESVILLE -- In last season’s turnover-laden loss to
Georgia, Florida fumbled away its unblemished record and an opportunity to bury
its bitter rival.
It was a demoralizing defeat for the Gators, but their
season didn’t end on a dreary afternoon in Jacksonville.
Solomon Patton’s season did, however, and he hasn’t forgotten it.
“I've definitely been waiting on this game,” UF’s senior
wide receiver said. “I had circled it since last year. This is like the main
game that I've been waiting on all year.”
Patton -- then a jet-specialist but now Florida’s go-to
playmaker -- broke his arm on a failed fourth-down conversion midway through
the first quarter of last year’s rivalry game in Jacksonville. The wideout took a quick handoff
towards UF’s sideline before UGA safety Shawn Williams awkwardly slung the
diminutive speedster just short of the first down yard-marker, breaking
Patton’s arm in the process.
The brutal blow ended Patton’s 2012 campaign, as he finished
the year with just a single reception and 140 yards rushing on 14 carries.
“He was just starting to come on and that particular play, I
mean, it was kind of such a weird hit that he didn’t get hit directly,”
offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “He didn’t fall on his arm. And that
was kind of a play we put in figuring he could get around the edge. I felt
bad about it because he meant a lot to us of what we could do at that time.”
While the wideout didn’t grow a bionic arm in the offseason,
Patton’s overall game has transformed in the year since the injury. No longer Pease’s gimmicky toy, the
5-foot-9, 168-pound slippery speedster has emerged as Florida’s offensive MVP
“Obviously he’s come through it full circle,” Pease said.
“The season he’s having now, good for him, because we need him.”
Ever since Percy Harvin bolted for the NFL in 2008, the
Gators have desperately searched for their next electric and explosive
playmaker, and as it turns out, he may have been under their noses all along.
After entering the year with just 79 career receiving yards,
Patton tops Florida in yards (426), yards per reception (15.21) and touchdowns
(4), while also averaging 6.22 yards per carry and ranking second in the SEC in
kickoff return average (28.92 y/r).
Although Florida’s offense has stagnated to near-record lows
this season, Patton has consistently stared in key moments and proven he’s no
longer a one-trick pony.
In Florida’s romp over Arkansas, he powered the offense with
two touchdowns, dashing for a pair of long scores (51-yards, 38-yards) on two
short throws. In Florida’s 36-17 loss to Missouri, the elusive playmaker jumpstarted
a potential comeback, returning the opening second half kickoff 100-yards
untouched to make it a one-score game at the time.
Patton swears the ability has always been there, but he
admitted he’s studied
harder and drastically improved his route running under the tutelage of position coach Joker Phillips during in his senior season.
The results have shown up on the field.
“Sometimes when you know your opportunity is there to be a
player your urgency picks up,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We told him he needed
to be a guy that could help us, and that’s something he has done. You got to
credit the young man and his work ethic. He’s having a special year.”
GAINESVILLE -- Cody Riggs’ momma is no fan of the NCAA’s new
targeting rule. Riggs was ejected on the first play from scrimmage in UF’s
36-17 loss to Missouri after he launched himself at the head of Tigers wideout
L’Damian Washington following a 41-yard completion.
Riggs’ mom and seven other family members traveled from his
hometown of Ft. Lauderdale and nearby St. Louis to watch the junior safety play
just a single snap on the afternoon.
“They were really upset. They don’t agree with the rule at
all, but they’re not on the field. They were really upset just because they
came all the way up from South Florida to Columbia and they spent money coming
up there to come see the game,” Riggs said.
“My mom was upset that she only got to see me play for 10
Riggs admitted his helmet-to-helmet hit was the correct
call, but Florida’s starting safety expressed frustrations with a rule he
called, “not fair.”
"It's a good rule because of concussions. I know people
that have played in the NFL with concussions. I understand the intention of the
rule, but at the same time my family came all the way up to Missouri from South
Florida to watch the game, and they saw me play for 10 seconds off of a penalty
that I really wasn't trying to hurt anybody. It has its pros and cons. It's just
one of those rules that you have to live with,” Riggs said.
Steve Shaw -- the SEC head of officials -- ardently supports
the targeting rule for players’ safety, but he announced last week he [along
with league commissioner Mike Slive] will petition the NCAA to review the exact
rule [i.e. the 15-yard penalty for an overturned ejection] after the season.
However, by the letter of the law Riggs’ penalty and
subsequent ejection was the correct call -- even if he “had no intention of
hurting the guy.” The safety was forced to watch the rest of the game on a
laptop in an empty locker room.
It was a lonely and hollow feeling for Riggs, and yet the
ejection won’t change the way he will play in the future.
“I’m not going to slow up. I’m going to keep playing hard.
I’m not going to be hesitant when it comes to hitting a receiver that’s going
across the middle,” he said. I’m just going to have to lower my target next
time. I’m not going to slow down.”
GAINESVILLE -- Late Saturday night, Gators safety Cody Riggs went wild
with newfound optimism.
No. 10 Missouri’s shocking overtime loss to 14 South
Carolina opened the door for the Gators to (technically) reenter the
Southeastern Conference Eastern Division race as a longshot to reach Atlanta.
“I went crazy. I was jumping around the house,” Riggs said.
“I actually called [teammate] Jaylen Watkins and was like, ‘We’re back in it.
We’re back. We still have a chance.’ So, thanks South Carolina, but we have to
have to handle our business first. A couple of things have to go right, but we
still have hope.”
(Cody Riggs | courtsey isportsweb.com)
Florida must win out (vs. Georgia in Jacksonville, home
against Vanderbilt and at South Carolina) and have Missouri lose two of its
remaining conference games (vs. Tennessee, at Ole Miss and vs. Texas A&M).
“We never really lost belief,” quarterback Tyler Murphy
said. “[Missouri’s loss] Worked out in our favor, but at the same time we’re
kind of just really focused on beating Georgia.
“If we win out and things play out where we can win the
East, you know, we’ll be very, very happy, but we’re just focused on beating
Coach Will Muschamp echoed Murphy’s centered approach moving
“We just need to focus on Florida in this game and what our
opponent does well and what we’re gonna try and take advantage of in this game.
Not worry about all the other stuff at this point. We just need to concentrate
on us right now.”
Murphy (AC shoulder sprain) did not throw during Florida’s
idle week, but fourth-year junior is expected to resume normal practice
activities this week and start Saturday against Georgia.
Elsewhere, redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle)
remains questionable, while senior linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) and
redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) are doubtful for this
QUOTABLE – 0-FER
as a head coach. …None of it is fun, but certainly being here at the University
of Florida and understanding the importance of this game to us and our people,
we need to get a win."
Muschamp on which is worse: Being 0-4 as a player (with Georgia) or 0-2 as a head coach in the SEC East rivalry.
THIS & THAT
For just the third time in 33 years (1980, 2010), both Florida (4-3, 3-2 SEC)
and Georgia (4-3, 3-2 SEC) are unranked entering Saturday’s showdown. …
Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was named one of 15 semifinalists --
and the lone freshman -- for the Jim Thorpe Award. … UF’s homecoming game
against Vanderbilt (Nov. 9) will kickoff at noon and will be televised on
either ESPNU or Fox Sports.
GAINESVILLE -- For 11 seasons, ex-UF star running back Fred
Taylor called EverBank Field home as a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But Saturday afternoon’s annual Florida-Georgia battle along
the St. Johns River will be a different sort of homecoming for Taylor’s son,
Kelvin, UF's freshman tailback.
The former five-star prospect is most-likely slated to make his first-career collegiate
start in the very same stadium where his dad became a household name.
According to coach Will Muschamp, the running back has
earned and deserves an increased role in UF’s downtrodden offense.
“[Kelvin] has continued to improve throughout the season week to
week He's always been a very instinctive, natural runner. It's very obvious.
Again, with assignments and different things, I think he's done a nice job and
deserves the opportunity,” Muschamp said.
For the season, Taylor has rushed for 172 yards on just 28
carries (6.14 y/c), but his breakout performance in the loss to Missouri (74
yards and a touchdown) coupled with Matt Jones’ season-ending knee injury prompted
the staff to reevaluate Talyor’s potential as an offensive spark-plug.
“He’s shown that he can do a lot of good things with the
ball in his hands. The coaches and myself have to find ways to get him the ball
so he can create big plays for us,” Muschamp said. “We’re gonna need some
explosive plays and he’s shown that he has the ability to do that. We’re gonna
have to find ways to get him the ball and eventually he's going to break. He's
very talented, very elusive player.”
Junior fullback Hunter Joyer praised Taylor's natural talents, but also said the freshman recognizes his new-found opportunity.
"He looks more focused than he did early in the year," Joyer said. "He understands that we’re kinda relying on him now and he has to grow up and produce for us."
After Missouri's heart-breaking loss to South Carolina on Saturday night, Florida fans be like...
Technically, the Gators [and this week's opponent Georgia] can still win the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.
There's tons of (potentially) wild scenarios but basically, UF must win out (vs. UGA in Jacksonville, home vs. Vanderbilt, at South Carolina) and have Mizzou lose (at least) twice (vs. Tennessee, at Ole Miss, vs. Texas A&M).
GAINESVILLE -- It’s the bye week, so what better time to
rank Florida’s top 10 players to date…
1. WR/KR Solomon Patton – 28 catches for 426 yards, 5 total
touchdowns: Florida’s most explosive and reliable playmaker. Think how inept
UF’s offense would be if the senior were still a jet-sweep specialist?
(Solomon Patton | courtesy rantsports.com)
2. CB Vernon Hargreaves III – 19 tackles, 3 interceptions, 7
passes broken up: ‘Nuff said.
3. LB Michael Taylor – team-leading 41 tackles, 3.5 TFL:
Florida’s top linebacker on a unit that’s struggled all season. It’s strange to
live in a world where Taylor is a better linebacker than Antonio Morrison, but
alas, that’s where we are and it’s a major reason why Florida suddenly cannot
stop the run.
4. UT QB Nathan Peterman DL Dante Fowler Jr. – 27
tackles, 3.0 sacks, 8.5 TFL, 7 quarterback hurries, 3 FF: The sophomore is
still learning how to set the edge in the run game, but the baby-faced pass
rusher remains Florida’s most menacing defensive line presence.
(Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 6), Jon Bullard (No. 90) | courtesy zimbo.com)
5. WR Trey
Burton – team-leading 29 receptions for 336 yards, 1 touchdown: The sheriff of
Checkdown Central. With minimal zero tight end production, the senior is
quarterback Tyler Murphy’s favorite target, especially on third down.
6. ARK QB Brandon Allen DL Jon Bullard – 20 tackles,
1.5 sacks, 3 quarterback hurries: Not as heralded or dynamic as Fowler Jr., but
Bullard has been one of Florida’s most consistent (despite playing out of
position inside) linemen in Dominique Easley’s absence.
7. CB Loucheiz Purifoy – 14 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception,
1 FF, 1 blocked punt: Borrowing ESPN Bill Simmons’ 90-10 theory, 90 percent of
what Purifoy brings to the table is still better than almost any cornerback in
(Loucheiz Purifoy | courtesy cbssports.com)
8. Kentucky’s whole team K Francisco Velez – 3-for-3
on field goals, long of 44 yards: The walk-on hasn’t missed since leapfrogging
Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips on the depth chart.
9. S Jabari Gorman – 30 tackles, 1 interception: The unsung junior
is the team’s best tackler in the secondary and is better in coverage than Cody
10. LG Max
Garcia – At tackle it’s a different story, but when at guard (his natural
position) Garcia has been UF’s most consistent and productive offensive linemen
-- hands down.
GAINESVILLE -- The Gators -- unranked and unraveling -- will
have no mid-season coaching changes, Will Muschamp emphatically announced
Florida, crippled by injuries and a stale and inept offense,
is reeling following consecutive drubbings against LSU and Missouri, but
Muschamp endorsed his staff -- specifically offensive coordinator Brent Pease
-- 100 percent.
“This is the same staff that came a game away from playing
for [the] national championship, OK?” he said. “Obviously we’re not where we
want to be right now, and nobody knows that more than our staff. So we need to
go back and re-evaluate what we’re doing and continue to improve our football
team over the next five weeks.”
The Gators’ (4-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) have continued
to regress on offense, as they rank No. 106 in total offense (336.9 y/g) --
this following consecutive seasons finishing in the bottom 20 nationally of
With no identity and few playmakers, it’s been agonizing for
Florida to even gain first downs in recent weeks.
UF’s floundering offensive line has allowed 10 sacks in last
the two games, while it’s rushing attack has averaged a conference-worst 3.70
yards per carry.
Changes are afoot though, including the coaching staff’s normal
bye week schedule.
Muschamp pulled several assistant coaches off the recruiting
trail Sunday, cancelling a two-day tour for an emergency meeting to address
Florida’s endless offensive woes. ..."
Florida’s injury report continues to read longer than a
Reserve linebacker and special teams ace Jeremi Powell will
miss the remainder of the year with a torn ACL. It’s UF’s eighth season-ending
injury in 2013.
“It’s just one of those years,” coach Will Muschamp said.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s part of the game. You’ve got to coach through it
and you’ve got to play through it. We don’t make excuses around here. We need
to play better than we did the last two weeks.”
Powell was hurt on a punt block in the 36-17 loss to
Missouri last weekend, but the injury was caused in a non-contact situation.
“He was just planting and got caught in the turf,” Muschamp
said. “Unfortunate for him. He’s a guy who was really emerging, special
teams-wise. He did a great job on kickoff for us.”
Meanwhile, linebacker/defensive end Ronald Powell remains
out with an ankle injury, but Muschamp is hopeful the junior will return
against Georgia following the bye week.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy (shoulder) isn’t throwing in
practice this week, but he too is expected to start versus the Bulldogs next
weekend, as is defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (head injury).
Senior linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) and redshirt
freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) remain sidelined and their return
dates are unknown.
GAINESVILLE -- News and notes from the last couple days...
Changes are coming for Florida’s hopeless and "inept" offense.
The Gators (4-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) enter their
second bye week this year coming off another miserable road defeat, and
following Saturday’s 36-17 loss to Missouri, coach Will Muschamp vented his
frustrations with the struggling unit.
“We’re inept offensively right now, and we need to make some
changes as we move forward,” he said Saturday in Columbia.
The Gators rank dead last in the conference in total offense
(336.9 y/g), yards per play (4.94) and explosive plays from scrimmage (defined
as 20-plus yards).
“If you continue to do the same things, you're going to get the same
results,” Muschamp said. “We have an awful lot to work on in the open week. We
need to work on Florida, get better, do some things offensively where we feel
like we can consistently move the ball, find out what our kids can do, regain
our confidence on defense and continue to improve on special teams.”
Florida -- unranked for the first time since October 2011 -- was
without three key defensive contributors against the Tigers and the players’
return dates are uncertain.
Strong-side linebacker Ronald Powell (ankle), defensive tackle Damien
Jacobs (head) and linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) all missed Saturday’s
game, while reserve linebacker Jeremi Powell (knee) and starting safety Jaylen
Watkins (hand) were banged up in the loss.
TAYLOR BREAKS OUT
As unranked Florida -- hamstrung by injuries and
inconsistencies -- searches for answers during its second bye week of the 2013
season, a rare bright spot did emerge in the two humiliating losses: freshman
tailback Kelvin Taylor.
Taylor rushed for a career-high 74 yards on 12 carries in
UF’s 36-17 loss to Missouri, displaying solid vision and sublime cutback
“Kelvin’s a natural, instinctive runner,” Muschamp said Saturday.
The freshman’s 20-yard touchdown sprint late in the third
quarter capped a 70-yard drive and made it a one-score game (23-17) -- with
Taylor accounting for 52 yards on the ground.
Puzzlingly, Taylor tallied just a single carry the rest of
In the loss to LSU on Oct. 12, the freshman rushed for 52
yards on 10 carries. With starting tailback Matt Jones sidelined for the season
with a knee-injury, Taylor’s role should continue to expand as the Gators are
in desperate need for playmaking talent.
MUSCHAMP STILL MIFFED
BY TARGETING RULES
The NCAA’s new ejection penalty for targeting was a popular
and controversial topic across the college football landscape last weekend.
Three Southeastern Conference players were ejected in the
first half of three different league games, including Gators safety Cody Riggs,
who was dismissed on the first play against Missouri for leading with his
helmet on a sideline tackle against Tigers wideout L’Damian Washington.
Muschamp, who has voiced his displeasure with the new rule
several times this season, called Riggs’ ejection “ridiculous.”
“I don't disagree with the call,” Muschamp said Saturday. “I
disagree with kicking a kid out of the game in that situation. He wasn't
maliciously trying to hurt anybody.”
GAINESVILLE -- I’m pretty sure this is not what Tom Petty meant...
But make no mistake, the Gators -- now unranked (and probably a week too late) --
are in a dizzying tailspin with few solutions in sight.
The rabid ramblers -- across message boards, Twitter and
local radio programs -- have their pitchforks ready and want blood following
UF’s 36-17 trashing at Missouri on Saturday.
The 2013 season is lost for the (once) mighty Gators. There
will be no trip to Atlanta -- but if you’d like to make plans for Shreveport
I’ve heard it’s absolutely lovely around late December -- no BCS bowl game, no
winning the state.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the program, the future
and what Will Muschamp could possibly be eating for breakfast Monday morning, here are some
muddled thoughts as the Gators enter a much-needed bye week.
* The dreaded vote of confidence. Muschamp isn’t going
anywhere -- for now.
Jeremy Foley, UF’s athletic director, handpicked Muschamp
back in 2011 and the two reportedly have a close and open relationship. The hot seat scuttlebutt
may be Speakerboxxx-loud everywhere outside of the Heavener Complex, but
Muschamp would be owed upwards of $8 million is he were fired at season’s end. Also, the Gators don't want to get into any sort of potential bidding war for coaches with Texas (possibly) and USC.
* And yet Foley is in the unenviable position of juggling the
past with the present and future. The track record of elite successful SEC
coaches reaching (or not) Atlanta by their third season is well-documented, but does Foley err on the side of prudence and the big picture or history? Either
way, no (drastic) changes are coming now even if the Gators are regressing.
* “Lost time is never found again,” 2013 is full of
what-ifs for the Gators. The Cocktail Party in two weeks will be more like a
funeral for all the fallen comrades on both Georgia and Florida. But while the
two teams have been decimated by injuries and their collective failures have
been coupled together nationally, the situations are much different. The
Bulldogs -- at their peak in mid-September -- showcased as one of the nation’s
most dynamic offenses with a young (and shoddy) defense and one of the worst
special teams in the country. But overall, the Bulldogs were a good team, and the college
football world knew who Georgia was at (mostly) full strength.
Florida??? We still don’t know, and that’s Foley’s scariest
food for thought moving forward. The Gators, winners of 11 games in 2012, were ravaged by injuries before
Boom even tried out a new whistle on the first day of training camp this summer. Jeff
Driskel’s preseason appendectomy was like a bad omen from The Ring. From there,
the injury situation only snowballed, as the Gators eventually lost five starters to
season-ending injuries while another half dozen contributors (some starters)
have missed a number games due to ailment(s) X. But did the injuries cripple a potentially solid team or was
Florida -- with its yearly dumpster fire offense -- destined for a major regression and similar
results anyways? We don’t know. We’ll never know. And that probably terrifies Mr.
* About that offense… Following the Missouri disaster,
Muschamp told reporters, “I want to spread it out like everyone else does. But
we can’t block anybody.”
Shrewd, Muschamp. But no. I’ll let the brilliant (or something like that) Spencer Hall
of Every Day Should Be Saturday sum up Florida’s offensive philosophy during
“The recipe for what Florida wants to do in total leaves so
little room for error that missing just one or two ingredients destroys the
whole dish, since smashmouth manball assumes the ability to dominate at the
line of scrimmage, and does not treat it as a luxury on just one side of the
ball, much less both. It likes points, but it likes them in the context of
control, not as pressure applied throughout the game on the opposing defense.
It is SEC football from the 1980s--the kind Steve Spurrier all but ended for
good, and that Nick Saban explicitly schemed against when assembling his LSU
… At this point Florida is Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer:
an outstanding defense, good special teams, and indifferent by design to the
notion of offense.”
For 2+ seasons, Muschamp has spit incessant fire of "THE SEC IS A LINE OF SCRIMMAGE LEAGUE,” and his Gators -- with a meat-grinder
approach -- pummeling those pansy spread offenses. No doubt, Muschamp wants to
score more, but only in homage to Herman Boone.
The GatorNation probably needs another shot immediately. And six plays? There's no need for a joke here.
* As Bryan Holt, of Rivals.com's Inside the Gators, correctly
pointed out every offensive coach aside from Joker Phillips is likely on
notice. Florida’s offensive ineptitude yesterday was best illustrated in its
drive (yards) chart: 18, 6, 12, 6, -2, 9, 6, -2, 70, -1, -10, 3, 19. Guess
which drive freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor piloted for 53 rushing yards on one
series only to tally just a single carry the rest of the game? Offensive
coordinator Brent Pease has been much-maligned, and now (offensive line coach)
Tim Davis has joined the public's (wrath) party too.
* Florida’s problems run deeper than a rash of injuries.
UF’s losses (on the lines of scrimmage) the last two weeks highlight Florida’s
failure to recruit (just a total of six OL in ’10, ’11, ’12) and develop
top-flight offensive linemen over the past several seasons. The Gators can’t
run, can’t block, can’t pass, but damn they are consistent:
Total offense: 105th
Total defense: 8th
Total offense: 104th
Total defense: 5th
Total offense: 106th
Total defense: 4th
* Florida -- despite three top-five recruiting classes in
the last four years -- is the fourth best team in the state. Fun fact: Florida
State, Miami and UCF have all developed a quarterback.
* UF’s defense really, really misses defensive tackle
Dominique Easley. The Gators miss Easley’s energy, infectious personality, constant motor, but most importantly, his sheer dominance inside. Easley best embodied Muschamp’s persona: tough, nasty and a
little crazy. Without him though, UF’s run defense has been gashed for
consecutive 100-yard rushers, as the Gators don't have anyone else who can consistently hold the point of attack. Florida allowed just a single tailback (UGA’s
Todd Gurley) to go over the century mark in its previous 17 games before the
LSU and Mizzou contests.
I'm sure I glossed over some things, but it's late.
The signs were there. Presented (mostly) without comment… for now.
Snippets from a preseason back-and-forth I wrote with
another Florida writer just before the 2013 season kicked off...
“As for Florida -- the consensus No. 10 team in the country
-- I'm skeptical. I joked in a separate season preview the team reminds me of
Jim Carrey's insane character (The Riddler) in "Batman
Forever"." There's too many questions. There's too many
Every team has uncertainties to start the season, but it just
seems like the Gators have a helluva a lot right now to seriously compete for
an SEC title. I am in no way prophesying some doomsday season (WHOOPS). With a pulverizing ground game
and a still-scary defense, Florida could reach Atlanta. But with so many
questions, it might not be until 2014.
The Gators obviously have talent
-- three top-five recruiting classes in the last four years will that do for ya
-- but their success last season was particularly predicated on three things:
turnover margin, rush-defense -- both No. 4 nationally -- and Caleb Freakin'
Sturgis. Are any of those things not going to regress in 2013? The offense
isn't ready to shoulder the load. "Murderball" -- as the esteemed
Bill Connelly calls UF's attack -- is effectively ugly, but can Florida
duplicate last season's success with the same formula, only with worse
I'm actually pretty bullish on LSU and just the opposite on
South Carolina. The East is a tricky pickle, but the annual Cocktail Party
should decide the division again (OOPS, AGAIN). The Aggies, Tigers (purple, not
navy), Dawgs and 'Cocks all have question marks too, but to me the Gators are
the league's hardest team to handicap -- and I’m around this team everyday! Is
the offensive line actually better? Will the losses of Jon Bostic, Matt Elam
and Josh Evans be more significant than many anticipate? Can (a potentially
blossoming) Driskel stay healthy? Is Demarcus Robinson more Amari Cooper or
George Farmer? Florida absolutely has some studs -- head nods to Matt
Jones, Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson, D.J. Humphries, Fowler Jr. -- but as a whole I see it as a good, but
not great team.
... Last season, I
said Rome wasn't built in a day, but hey, Muschamp damn near built the Coliseum
in 20 minutes. Florida -- winning with an ugly-duckling blueprint -- quickly
reestablished itself among the nation's elite, so a 10-win season is a decent bet. But an 8-4 year might be too, so, I'll hedge at 9-3.
When motivated, the Gators (talent-rich despite so many question marks) can
compete with anybody. They can absolutely split the fearsome foursome
(UGA-USC-FSU-LSU). And yet, Florida, forcibly playing with such a small margin
for error, could totally get knocked off or upset or stunned, whatever by Miami
or Vanderbilt or Missouri. By season's end, this group could actually be a more
complete team than the 2012 boys (WRONG), but right now I just have a bunch of
And coach Will Muschamp during UF Media Days in August...
"You have to build and develop your team for a long season. There are going to be injuries. So to me, I've always sat down and asked the question to our staff, who can we count on? It's not about who is starting. I don't worry about that. Who can we count on? This many guys at this position, this many guys at this position. Tell me who six, seven, eight and nine are. That's what I want to know.
Because I know we're going to have injuries and that's part of playing in our league. You look at last year, as banged up as we got on the offensive line. Later in the year that contributed to us struggling as much as anything late in the year was the injuries we had. So, I think again, training camp is developing your roster as much as anything, especially young players. It's not going to be pretty early with a lot of them.
My whole thing is you've got to project, Game 4, where are we? Game 5, where are we? Are we investing time in a guy that he may know what to do, but athletically we're going to be better with this guy in Game 3, Game 4, Game 5. You invest your time with a better athlete."
Scoreboard: 24-16-1 ATS, 2-4 selecting Florida games
This week's six-pack:
(7.5) vs. TCU
(-16) vs. Iowa
Alabama (-28) vs.
LSU (-7) at
Clemson (+3.5) vs.
And finally… Mizzou
(+3.5) vs. Florida. Earlier in the week I was pretty sure I’d pick the
Gators with the Tigers starting a redshirt freshman quarterback against a vulturous (yea I made up a word) UF secondary. Remember Nathan Peterman? But then I woke up and remembered
Florida’s own offensive issues.
This is UF’s biggest game of the season -- and not just
because it’s the next game. If the Gators -- even with brutal injury luck --
fall in Columbia, the ship will start sinking faster than the Titanic in Gainesville. Only an
upset win over Georgia (possible) or FSU (unlikely) could “salvage” a season
with so many lofty preseason expectations.
Florida will be without defensive tackle Damien Jacobs
(injury unknown) and starting strong-side linebacker/end Ronald Powell (ankle)
today, so an already beleaguered front must overcome even more adversity.
It’s chilly up in Columbia -- with a game-high temperature
of 44 degrees.
With Florida’s offense already frozen though, I’m not so sure the
weather actually matters.
Meanwhile, the Tigers are without star cornerback E.J.
GAINESVILLE -- Florida and Kentucky -- the Southeastern
Conference’s top two men's basketball programs over the past several seasons -- have alternated
league championships since 2010.
Most expect the 2013-14 campaign to be another tightly
contested race between the Gators and Wildcats.
While Florida bolsters an experienced and (potentially) deep
squad, Kentucky is again built on the talents of six McDonald’s All-American
The Wildcats are the preseason top-ranked team in the
country, the league favorite and posses the media’s pick for the conference
player of the year (freshman forward Julius Randle).
But Florida's senior center Patric Young -- speaking to
reporters at the SEC’s annual Media Days in Birmingham, Al. -- isn’t amused
with all the early hype surrounding Kentucky’s talented freshmen.
(Patric Young | media.miamiherald.com)
“I hope they think they can just walk on the court and
they’re going to beat everybody,” said Young, according to the Associated
Press. “I hope that’s what they think. As soon as they play a real top team,
they’re going to see it’s not just a walk in the park. One-and-done is not for
Florida received some positive news Thursday when transfer guard
Eli Carter (fibula) and senior forward Will Yeguete (knee) were cleared for limited
practice, according to Gatorzone.com.
Meanwhile, sophomore guard Michael Frazier was tested for mononucleosis,
but the results came back negative.
Also, transfer center Damontre Harris continues to battle a
hamstring injury, while sophomore guard Dillon Graham left Thursday’s practice
after rolling his ankle.
THIS & THAT
Florida opens the 2013-14 season ranked No. 8 in the
preseason USA Today Coaches’ Poll,
released Thursday. … Young, a two-time SEC scholar athlete of the year, told
the Gainesville Sun he is eying a
three-peat. UF’s senior center is a telecommunications major.