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4 posts from October 8, 2013

October 08, 2013

Garcia talks OL & LSU

In recent weeks, Gators left guard Max Garcia has been singled out as Florida's most consistent offensive lineman by coach Will Muschamp. 

After sitting out a season due to NCAA transfer rules, the former Maryland guard had an up-and-down first two games before really settling in the win over Tennessee. 

The junior spoke about how the game has slowed down for him, the offensive line's performance against Arkansas, the team's recent offensive continuity and the looming trip to LSU.


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Purifoy's paydirt: Anatomy of a play

Each week, I’ll breakdown (in a simplified manner, hopefully) a pivotal play in Florida’s game. I decided against lots of arrows and pointers so as not to distract from the overall picture, but if you’d prefer that in the future, let me know.

Today's play is Loucheiz Purifoy’s pick-six early in the second quarter of Florida’s 30-10 victory over Arkansas. It was a long time coming for the playmaker with tons of tantalizing talent and gall to wear No. 15 for the Gators. Purifoy recorded his first-career interception -- the eighth consecutive game for the Gators with at least one pick. Overall, the dynamic junior -- riddled by inconsistencies and murmurs of criticisms in recent weeks -- delivered the most complete and dominating performance of his career: an interception-turned-touchdown, a sack-fumble, four tackles, three pass breakups and a quarterback hurry. The pick-six highlighted UF’s win over Arkansas, giving UF an early 10-7 lead it never relinquished. Here’s how it unfolded.    


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On a 3rd-and-6 close to midfield, Florida is aligned in its base nickel (4-2-5) defense with a one-high safety (Cody Riggs, No. 31) look. Jaylen Watkins (No. 14) is on an island at the top of the screen -- responsible for either Arkansas’ tailback or tight end. 


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Off the snap, Dante Fowler Jr. (No. 6, the right defensive end) performs a rush-stunt with Gators defensive tackle Jon Bullard (No. 90). Bullard engages two offensive linemen, while Razorbacks all-conference center Travis Swanson is focused on blocking UF’s other defensive tackle -- Leon Orr (No. 44) -- who is also performing a stunt-rush with left bookend Ronald Powell (No. 7).


  Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 11.01.26 AM

Florida’s designed rush immediately flushes the pocket (and quarterback Brandon Allen) right -- exactly towards UF’s bracket coverage inside. Fowler Jr. has a free release, as Arkansas’ offensive line is totally confused and tailback Jonathan Williams (No. 32) doesn’t block anyone and accidently runs into his own teammate.


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The pass rushes forces Allen to throw the ball too soon and into double bracket coverage (Purfioy and Antonio Morrison, No. 3). Arkansas wideout Keon Hatcher wasn’t ready for the pass and was just completing his break when the poor throw was already in the air. 


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Here’s another angle. Hatcher is just now looking for the ball, but it’s already floating towards the eager hands of Purifoy.


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42-yards to paydirt. Purifoy “took it to the crib” (Quote: courtesy of junior linebacker Michael Taylor), escorted by a convoy led by Orr and Fowler Jr. Purifoy likely didn’t need the block, but UF’s two defensive linemen shoved Allen into the ground for good measure to totally clear the path into the end zone. 

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“I’m just a big, goofy, teddy bear guy"

GAINESVILLE -- “I’m just nice to everybody. It’s crazy though, because on the football field, I probably say some things and people will be looking at me like, ‘What?’ And I’m like, ‘Sorry, bro. It’s football.’”

Dante Fowler Jr., ladies and gentlemen. Florida’s menacing pass rusher -- a team-leading 3.0 sacks and two forced fumbles -- is really just a big kid at heart with an infectious personality. 

Don't let Dominique Easley's infamous Chucky doll -- something Fowler Jr. lugs around in memory of his injured teammate -- fool you. 

“Look at me, I’m smiling right now,” Florida's sophomore defensive end said. “I like to play around and stuff like that. I just turned 19, so I just try to love life. I’m still a kid I’m not 21 yet. My mom still washes my clothes.”

Even while at school?

“When I go home. Now [at Florida] I have to. It sucks.”

Fowler Jr., a former five-star recruit, had a solid freshman campaign, but has exploded as a playmaking sophomore. Coach Will Muschamp praised the pass rusher's acceptance to coaching -- something the defensive end attributed to tough love from his dad, Dante Fowler Sr.

“Dante has a great personality. He’s a lot of fun to be around and coach. He’s a joy to coach,” Muschamp said. “He’s always got a smile on his face. You can coach Dante hard. Guys of his caliber sometimes are not approachable in that situation. He’s a guy that take coaching. He wants to be coached. He wants to be coached hard. When he makes a mistake he wants to know what he can do to get better. He’s just a very coachable player. That’s what makes him a really good player. God has blessed him with a lot of ability. But the flip side of that is the guys I’ve been around who are really, really good you can coach those guys. They’re willing to listen. They don’t think they have all the answers. They understand they have improvements to be made. He watches the film. He understands that good plays take care of themselves and negative plays are the ones he need to correct. He’ll correct them himself.”

In the clip, Fowler Jr. talks LSU’s shootouts, his Dad’s influence as a “coach,” “breaking his opponents” and more. 


Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton


GAINESVILLE -- In three conference games, No. 10 LSU has scored 35, 41 and 59 points. The Tigers -- No. 23 nationally in total offense (488.8 y/g) -- also dropped 37 points in their season opener against TCU -- the nation’s No. 32 ranked defense.

The Tigers can score -- a lot. So are the No. 17 Gators -- as currently constituted -- prepared for a potential shootout?

“Honestly, I got real caught up in all that stuff when I was a coordinator,” coach Will Muschamp said. “When I’m a head coach, I wanna win. If it take 51-50, lets go. … As long as we win I don’t care.”

First-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has transformed LSU's attack, aided by the development and maturity of senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

A year after throwing just 12 touchdowns all season, LSU’s signal caller has 15 touchdowns to just two interceptions -- tops in the SEC. Mettenberger struggled mightily in the 14-6 loss to UF last season, completing just 11 passes for 158 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.

"Where they've taken the next step has been in the throwing game," Muschamp said. Mettenberger is playing at a very high level. What strikes you is he's completing [68.2] percent of his passes, and he's so efficient and effective throwing the vertical balls down the field."

But in an era of offensive expositions -- especially for the SEC -- Florida continues to zig while everyone else zags.

The Gators have held 12 consecutive conference opponents to 20 points or less. Alabama has the next longest streak at one game: An astounding statistic.

Meanwhile, UF’s offense has topped 30 points just a single time all season, but quarterback Tyler Murphy thinks Florida is “capable” of winning a shootout, if necessary.

However, the redshirt junior aslo said, “With the defense we have, I think it's just important that we take care of the ball, try to stay on the field as much as possible. If we do that, if we keep their offense off the field, I think we can be successful.”

Gators safety Jaylen Watkins broke down the matchup, including LSU’s offensive strengths, Mettenberger’s maturity and the Tigers’ talented wide receiver duo (Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry) and their propensity for winning jump balls. 


Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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