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3 posts from October 3, 2013

October 03, 2013

ICYMI: Bullard's move inside, Collins impressing Muschamp

A teaser to a feature on Gators sophomore Jon Bullard and his transition to defensive tackle in place of the injuried Dominique Easley

GAINESVILLE -- In 2012, Jon Bullard came to UF as the nation’s top defensive end prospect and the sixth-ranked player in the country.

In Saturday’s 24-7 win over Kentucky, the sophomore recorded his first sacks of the season, and coach Will Muschamp called it “the best game Bullard has played at Florida.”

It happened to be Bullard’s most challenging game, too.

After star defensive tackle Dominique Ealsey was lost for the season with a torn ACL last Tuesday, the coaching staff moved Bullard -- a 6-foot-3, 270-pound lineman -- inside.

It’s not a permanent move but one that suits Florida’s impenetrable defense best for now.

“I'm not going to say I enjoy it, but it's what I've gotta do,” Bullard said who had 1 ½ sacks against Kentucky. “At the time being, it's what we need, so I've got to step in and do it the best I can.”

Also: a notebook on Arkansas freshman running back Alex Collins -- a South Plantation High star -- and Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease calling UF's nation-leading average time of possession "an overrated statistic."

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Riggs talks Razorbacks (& more)

Gators safety Cody Riggs is buddies with Wisconsin tailback James White -- a former St. Thomas Aquinas High teammate -- so Riggs said he's plenty familiar with Bret Bielema -- Arkansas' new coach -- and his physical style of offense.

Riggs also spoke of his chemistry and rapport with senior safety Jaylen Watkins, Jabari Gorman's emergence, Vernon Hargreaves III and a comical moment when he confused who Alex Collins -- the Hogs' prolific freshman tailback -- was.


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Notebook: Halapio alters workout approach

GAINESVILLE -- Gators right guard Jon Halapio -- a preseason all-conference selection -- is playing with an “80 percent tear” in his pectoral, he said Wednesday.

Halapio missed Florida’s first two games after injuring himself during a weightlifting session right before training camp in August.

The senior started against Tennessee and Kentucky, while also battling back, shoulder and eye injuries.

Although teammates -- especially center Jon Harrison -- ‘Wow’ at Halapio’s weightroom wonders, the right guard has altered his ‘star’ workouts due to his significant injury.

“I've backed off a lot upper body wise as far as pressing, bench pressing, dumbbells, anything that has to do with pressing,” he said. “I do a lot of band work, back activation workouts. A lot of shoulder mobility stuff, things like that. I just pretty much stay away from all the pressing."

Halapio said it’s unlikely he will lift traditional weights again until after the season for fear of re-tearing the muscle.


Coach Will Muschamp has mixed feelings about No. 18 Florida’s unassuming group of tight ends.

On the one hand, UF’s tight ends -- a unit comprised of Clay Burton, Tevin Westbrook and Colin Thompson -- have blocked reasonably well. On the other, the group has tallied just a single catch in four games.

“I think we’ve been very good as far as the blocking and things are concerned. Clay Burton had his best game as far as that’s concerned up at Kentucky last week,” Muschamp said. “Tevin Westbrook has done a nice job. … But a little frustrated to be honest with you as far as the production in the passing game. We would like to get more out of it. But again, I think that Trey [Burton] has assumed that role and done a really nice job in the slot. Very similar to how we used Jordan [Reed] last year by design to be our leading receiver.”

(Courtesy Alligator.org)

Burton, a hybrid slot wideout, leads the Gators in receptions (20) this season -- alleviating the loss of Reed despite negligible production from the “actual” tight end group.

Instead, Burton has assumed the role of UF’s go-to tight end receiver -- especially on third down.

“[Reed] was a very good weapon for us in the passing game. Trey has been, too, and really has been a guy we have counted on in the passing game as opposed to the running game this year,” Muschamp said. “We’ve gotten the production from the position, just with a different type of body doing it, maybe a different type of label as far as the position is concerned.”


Gators kicker Austin Hardin was green with envy last Saturday night.

Hardin, a redshirt freshman, could only dream when he watched Kentucky kicker Joe Monsour scamper 25 yards for a touchdown on a fake field goal in the first quarter of UF’s 24-7 win in Lexington.

“I was pretty jealous of him, I’m not gonna lie. Every kicker wants to go run a touchdown,” he said. “We actually, it was funny, I think it was during halftime or after the game all the kickers went up to him and congratulated him and were like ‘Man, you just lived out our dream’. I thought that they caught us in something, I thought they executed pretty well and it was cool to see a kicker score a touchdown.”

With the score, the Wildcats actually tied the game at 7-all, but Hardin was still amused.   

“We were just joking around with him and were like, ‘That’s awesome that you got to score a touchdown.’”

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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