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65 posts from October 2013

October 17, 2013

Tall boys

GAINESVILLE -- For the second time in as many weeks, No. 22 Florida’s deep and talented secondary will square off against a group of NFL-caliber receivers.

Last weekend, LSU wideouts Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. showcased well in limited chances versus UF’s cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy, Marcus Roberson and Vernon Hargreaves III, but No. 14 Missouri’s trio of wideouts -- Dorial Green-Beckham, L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas -- present a different challenge this Saturday in Columbia: Size.

(L’Damian Washington | courtesy zimbo.com)

“I think the first thing you look at is their stature. They're long guys. They're big guys. They run well. You know it's kind of like they've got a prototype they recruit to,” UF defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “Their staff has done a great job. They've been there a while together, so you know, they recruit to what they do, their system. Those guys are all rangy guys. They can run. They're obviously a tough matchup for anyone."

Green-Beckham, the top-rated recruit in the country two years ago, is the biggest of the bunch at 6-foot-6, 220-pounds. The sophomore is second on the Tigers in yards (399), receptions (27) and touchdowns (4) and a deadly target in the red zone.

Washington -- a 6-foot-5 playmaking senior with lightening speed -- is tied with Landry for the most touchdowns (7) in the SEC, while Lucas (6'5") leads the Tigers in receptions (30).  

In all, it’s another tall task for Florida’s secondary -- even despite facing an inexperienced quarterback, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk.

“It’s nothing we haven’t gone against,” safety Cody Riggs said.  “I remember Kentucky my sophomore year, even this year, all the Kentucky receivers are pretty big. It’s nothing we’re not used to. We’ve gone against big receivers before.”

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All together

GAINESVILLE -- At least publically, No. 22 Florida’s top-ranked defense refuses to castigate an incessantly stumbling offense.   

The Gators lead the Southeastern Conference in total defense -- and are ranked No. 3 nationally -- while their offense ranks an anemic 13th in the conference and No. 94 in the country.

Although the in-house standards for the two units do not appear equal, coach Will Muschamp refused to broach any potential discord in the locker room. 

“Our defense doesn’t need to worry about what our offense does,” he said. “They need to play well and we didn’t play very well Saturday in Baton Rouge.”

In the Muschamp era, UF has dropped four games when allowing only 17 points (including last Saturday against LSU), but coordinator D.J. Durkin said the defense doesn’t feel like it has to play a perfect game to win.

“We didn’t play well enough to win in this past game. Defensively, we focus on and talk to our guys all the time about control the controllables,” he said. “We have plenty of things in our room that we need to control that we can control. That’s what our focus is. There were plenty of things in that game that we could have done better, as coaches, as players on the defensive side of the ball that would have given us a better chance to win. We didn’t do that. That’s what our focus is, like it is every week. We hold our guys to a high standard in our room. We feel we are a great defense and we need to play that way. And we need to play that way consistently.”


Just last season, Florida was a resilient second-half team, dominating the majority of fourth quarters in route to an 11-2 year.

The Gators rallied in wins over Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU, but in 2013, UF is 0-2 when trailing at the half.

“We’re not very good playing from behind,” senior safety Jaylen Watkins said.

Muschamp, frustrated by the lack of explosive plays, admitted Florida struggles when getting behind, especially with so many negative plays too.

“We get behind we have a hard time converting in those situations,” he said.


Wideout Ahmad Fulwood and tailback Kelvin Taylor were lone bright spots for Florida's offense in the loss to LSU last weekend.

Fulwood, a rangy 6-foot-4, 200-pound receiver from Bishop Kenny, nabbed a pair of catches (two receptions for 19 yards) against the Tigers, including a 15-yard gain on 4th-and-9 late in the fourth quarter.

“He’s starting to get in there and get the feel of the game and play to the speed of the game,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “He works hard in practice. He’s starting to fit in and his opportunities are coming.”

Meanwhile, Taylor -- filling in for the injured Matt Jones -- flashed his potential (10 carries for 52 yards), reigniting all the preseason hype hoopla.

Florida force-fed Taylor on its most successful drive of the afternoon, as the freshman totaled 36 yards on six carries on UF’s second scoring possession. Taylor came to Florida as a polished runner, and he displayed that natural vision and cutback ability against LSU. 

“I think he showed us something,” Pease said. “The kid is a physical runner. He put it north and south. We missed a couple guys. Just his speed, how he hit the holes, he made them miss.”

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ICYMI: Lunchtime buffet of hot links

Several reads from the last two days...

* Gators vow to fix offensive breakdowns. Drink every team you read (or hear) the word "communication."

BONUS VIDEOS!!! Murphy and Humphries talk the LSU debacle, Kelvin Taylor's "spark" and more...



* Florida moving forward with walk-on kicker Francisco Velez -- for now

* Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin expects Missouri's offense to remain the same despite the change at quarterback

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October 16, 2013

Muschamp previews Mizzou

GAINESVILLE -- No. 22 Florida coach Will Muschamp offers an overarching glimpse at undefeated Missouri. The Gators (4-2, 3-1 SEC) tackle the Tigers (6-0, 2-0 SEC) this Saturday (12 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Columbia. 

Take a look...


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"I've played ball for 16 years and never seen nothing like this before"

GAINESVILLE -- Redshirt junior Mack Brown always hoped to become Florida's featured tailback, but after idling on the bench for much of three seasons he never envisioned his opportunity would come at the hands of a fallen teammate. 

But after Matt Jones' season-ending knee injury against LSU, Brown, a former 4-star prospect from Georgia, is slated as UF's starter against Missouri this Saturday in Columbia (12 p.m. ET, ESPN). 

Brown actually leads No. 22 Florida in rushing yards (340), carries (91) and touchdowns (3), but he's averaging just 3.74 yards per carry. 

Although Brown will receive the early load, Florida is likely to move forward with a by-committee-approach, rotating Brown, freshman Kelvin Taylor and hybrid scat-back Valdez Showers. 

Brown dished on his opportunity, the Gators' crowded training table, UF's "hard season," pass protection woes and more.


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HOOPS: Gators pegged as No. 2 team in SEC

GAINESVILLE -- The Florida’s men’s basketball team enters the 2013-14 season as banged up as its football counterparts, but despite the plethora of injuries, the Gators were still picked to finish second in the Southeastern Conference, in a preseason media vote.

Billy Donovan’s team -- fresh off three consecutive Elite Eight appearances -- must replace its top three scorers from last season too, yet Florida received five first place votes -- to Kentucky’s 21 votes -- and a pair of UF players were tabbed as preseason all-conference performers.

Seniors Patric Young (center) and Scottie Wilbekin (guard) were both named to the All-SEC second team. Last year, Young and Wilbekin, who is suspended to start the 2013 season, earned honorable mention all-conference honors.

Preseason Poll

1. Kentucky

2. Florida

3. Tennessee

4. LSU

5. Missouri

6. Alabama

7. Ole Miss

8. Arkansas

9. Texas A&M

10. Vanderbilt

11. Georgia

12. South Carolina

13. Mississippi State

14. Auburn 

First Team All-SEC

(G) Trevor Releford – Alabama, SR

(F) Julius Randle – Kentucky, FR

(F) Johnny O’Bryant III – LSU, JR

(G) Marshall Henderson – Ole Miss, SR

(G) Jordan McRae – Tennessee, SR

Second Team All-SEC

(G) Scottie Wilbekin – Florida, SR

(C) Patric Young – Florida, SR

(F) Willie Cauley-Stein – Kentucky, SO

(G) Andrew Harrison – Kentucky, FR

(C) Dakari Johnson – Kentucky, FR

(G) Jabari Brown – Missouri, JR

(F) Jeronne Maymon – Tennessee, SR

(F) Jarnell Stokes – Tennessee, JR

SEC Player of the Year

Julius Randle – Kentucky


The league announced Nashville, TN will host the men’s basketball tournament nine times between 2015 and 2025. The tournament will be played at Bridgestone Arena.


Donovan said his son -- walk-on guard Billy Jr. -- has a torn labrum he suffered in August but will play with the injury this season, postponing surgery. … Junior center Damontre Harris -- a transfer from South Carolina -- is out with a hamstring injury, while sophomore guard Michael Frazier has missed practice battling a virus.

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October 15, 2013

Total Freedom

GAINESVILLE -- Will Muschamp is Florida’s head coach, but Brent Pease remains adamant the team’s conservative, meat-grinder offense isn’t handcuffed by Muschamp’s defensive minded philosophy.

“How much does he exert control on me?” UF’s offensive coordinator said rhetorically. “Like any coach, and like all our coaches, we all have ideas we share. He's very open about what we do. He allows us to do our job, do what we want to do to be successful, and like he says, 'Do what we gotta do to win a football game.'”

Florida’s offense ranks 13th in the SEC (367.8 yards per game) and No. 88 nationally in yards per play (5.29). In Saturday’s 17-6 loss to LSU, UF failed to score a touchdown for the first time since the defeat to Georgia in 2012 (12 games) and didn’t reach the red zone until the fourth quarter.

After Pease experienced success as Boise State’s coordinator in 2011, some have questioned if his playcalling has been limited with the Gators. He dismissed that notion.

“I think [Muschamp] has got his philosophy on what the makeup of our team is,” Pease said. “Everybody is good with that, including myself."

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Sometimes the road less travelled is less travelled for a reason, but...

The bumpy road to Atlanta (technically) runs through Gainesville. 

Florida's silver lining courtesy of redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor... 

"You know when you can control your own destiny you don't have to hope and pray for somebody else to lose. Knowing that if you win every game that you can reach all your goals that's always a good thing."


"You know we were in this position last year. We were in this position the year before that. We've blown it two years in a row, so like we've all been saying, we're not going to blow it this year. We're going to take advantage of the opportunities that we have this year and not blow them like we did in the past."

Discuss away...

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Florida-LSU Rewind: Serenity now. Insanity later.

GAINESVILLE -- By the time the sun found its home in the western sky, the Gator tail was fried and burned.

It was hardly Saturday night in Death Valley -- early kickoff, poor alumni attendance, a blistering sun -- but with LSU’s theme song blaring on a loop and its favorite provocative chant also on repeat, Florida still left Tiger Stadium battered and bruised in a score (17-6) barely indicative of the actual game.

The Gators were outclassed -- especially on offense.  Much has been written about Florida’s struggles on both lines of scrimmage, so I’ll try not to rehash those too much, but this piece easily could’ve been titled: When Murderball shoots blanks -- or runs out of hammers.

Ultimately, Florida is a flawed football team, yet so is Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri (without quarterback James Franklin). The East remains wide open, but the Atlanta carrot might be a false door for Florida fans. Changes won’t (and can’t) happen overnight and the schedule doesn’t help either. 

To the bullet points…

* No offense Les, but Miles’ Tigers were quite hammer-ish on Saturday.

* Penalties killed LSU’s opening drive, but Florida once again struggled with tempo out of the gate. The Gators looked confused (see: a 12-yard completion to wideout Jarvis Landry) on multiple plays, substituting at the last second several times.

* LSU averaged 5.8 yards per play. The most of any opposing offense since… Furman (2011). Really.

* Marcus Roberson was toasted on his very first play returning from a knee injury that cost him three games. Fortunately for the junior though, LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger airmailed his intended target. The Tigers senior QB was not particularly sharp throughout the game.

* As for UF’s signal caller, Tyler Murphy was erratically inaccurate and oblivious of the blitz for much of the afternoon. Of course, his receivers (especially the freshmen) did him little favors. Ditto for the offensive line. I counted two dropped pick-sixes (Lamin Barrow, on Demarcus Robinson’s wrong route; T. White, on a throw under siege) and another three (including a pair of batted balls at the LOS) potential interceptions also dropped.

* Best combination throw + protection of the day: Murphy’s 15-yard completion (on fourth down) to freshman Ahamd Fulwood on a deep square-in late in the fourth quarter.

* The official stat sheet credited the Tigers with 10 sacks + hurries. I counted 14. Yowzers. This too from a LSU defensive front that hit Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray ZERO times.

(Courtesy cdn.fansided.com)

* Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease loves him some sprint rollouts and five-wide empty sets. I didn’t chart every rollout, but Florida ran seven empty set snaps -- despite an inability to pass block or identify the patented John Chavis special (the mystical 5+-man rush is commonly called a zone blitz). The results of the five-wide plays: A Trey Burton 14-yard reception, a batted down screen pass, a sack on a safety blitz, a 19-yard completion to Solomon Patton (a hurry credited with a nice escape by Murphy), an incomplete pass, a Fulwood 4-yard completion (zone blitz), 4-yard completion to Patton (another zone blitz). 

* I tweeted this Monday, but Florida tailback Matt Jones appeared to actually tear his meniscus on a non-contact jump-cut -- not when an LSU player allegedly rolled up on his knee. Rewatch his final run. Jones sees the hole, cuts and starts to go down before Barrow ever touches him. The sophomore tailback remained in the game for the next play, but Jones limped through the play action fake and barely jogged his route.

* Florida has a supremely talented and deep secondary, but the aggressive man-to-man defense comes at a cost against at quarterback who can throw a back-shoulder fade (throw). Mettenberger and LSU ran multiple iso plays resulting in a 17-yard gain to tailback Terrence Magee (vs. UF linebacker Antonio Morrison), Landry’s outstanding 29-yard catch against Vernon Hargreaves III and a 15-yard pass interference penalty on Roberson. Remember, Georgia and FSU love this throw too.  

* Speaking of Morrison -- Florida’s middle linebacker -- Oy. The talented sophomore did not have a good game Saturday. Morrison’s best two snaps were a pair of vicious stuffs at the goal line, otherwise he was seen chasing the play, getting run over or being targeted on passing downs.

(Courtesy pensacolanewsjournal.com)

He busted his assignment on Jermey Hill’s 30-yard reception, allowed a TE to run free down the seam for a would-be touchdown (another throw Mettenberger missed) and got straight run over by Hill twice.

* Others who struggled Saturday: Ronald Powell, Darrin Kitchens, Neiron Ball (who played more than I thought in real time), Damien Jacobs, Cody Riggs, Dante Fowler Jr. Offensively, Clay Burton, Tyler Moore, Jon Halapio, D.J. Humphries and Mack Brown. Halapio again proved: Great as run-blocking pulling guard. Awful as a one-armed pass protector (see: Anthony Johnson sack).

* Linebacker Michael Taylor and safety Jabari Gorman continue to surprise and play consistently well. Taylor is easily Florida’s best and most productive linebacker, while Gorman has emerged as Florida’s top tackler in the secondary. Also, another solid performance from VH3. He saved a touchdown on a long Hill run (more later), had a nice pass breakup in the end zone and nearly wrestled away an interception from a future NFL wideout.

* Hill’s 26-yard scamper on LSU’s fourth-quarter field goal drive was as well a blocked run play I’ve seen all season. Florida was absolutely destroyed across the line scrimmage, with linebackers/safety Kitchens, Riggs and Morrison all pushed 10+ yards down the field too. An all-out-effort tackle by VG3 saved a touchdown.

* LSU’s right guard definitely moved early on fullback J.C. Copeland’s one-yard goal line plunge. Copeland did run to the left side though, so there’s that.

(Courtesy bleacherreport.com) 

* Florida’s frosh receivers (Fulwood and Robinson) clearly have some size and skills, but Fulwood busted a pair of run-blocks and Robinson ran the wrong route multiple times. The on-the-job learning process remains ongoing.

* LSU converted five third downs in the first half -- not including Copeland’s one-yard rush on 3rd-and-goal. The backbreaking 22-yard completion on 3rd-and-17 was a poor execution of zone bracket coverage between Taylor and nickel back Brian Poole.

* After the game, Pease (and the much-maligned offensive line coach Tim Davis) was heavily criticized for shoddy playcalling. The run/pass ratio was to be expected in a hostile environment, but the lack of shots (especially against a secondary that looked so befuddled in the loss to UGA) was bizarre. The jumbo package was the ultimate meat-grinder formation: positive yards but zero explosive plays. Pease’s option pitch call on 4th-and-1 from the 48-yard line was a great call. LSU had nine guys in the box/between the hash-marks, and the pitch to the wide side resulted in an easy, but critical, conversion.

* The Little Giants-esque fumblerooski call on 2nd-and-goal though? Even the self-proclaimed ‘Tactical Genius’ thought that was awful.

* Finally, The Kelvin Taylor experiment era. The freshman displayed solid vision, natural cutback ability, some Knowshon-esque hip sinking and a total inability to pass protect.

(Courtesy newsobserver.com)

At this point, Taylor is strictly a runner -- possibly a good one -- but the true loss of Jones will be felt on obvious passing downs. Mack Brown isn’t much better at blocking either (see: LSU’s finally sack -- a bust by Brown and Humphries), but it’s clear Taylor has little idea of the assignments or protections. I’m not sure Taylor had much of a chance on the broken 3rd-and-goal play anyways, but he still crashed into Patton without ever touching anyone in purple and white.

Thoughts? Comments?


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October 14, 2013


GAINESVILLE -- In 2012, Kyle Christy was an All-American and Ray Guy Award finalist. Now he’s No. 22 Florida’s second-string punter.

Following weeks of poor production, the junior has been officially benched in favor of freshman Johnny Townsend.

“We need to make a change there,” coach Will Muschamp said, who attributed Christy’s issues to mental fatigue.

“It's very frustrating, as much for him as it is for as it is anyone,” Muschamp said. “It's not from a lack of work or a lack of trying to get things right. There's no question about that. It's just a matter of him working through this and us continuing to try and search for answers. If you continue to do the same things, you're going to get the same results."


It’s been a mystifying fall from grace for Christy, who averaged nearly 46 yards per kick with 27 punts inside opponents’ 20-yard line as the nation’s No. 5 punter last season. 

This year, the junior is 13th in the SEC in net punting at just 39.6 yards per kick. In Saturday’s loss to LSU, Christy failed to pin LSU deep twice inside its 20-yard line -- the final straw for Muschamp.

Townsend was a late edition to Florida’s 2013 recruiting class, flipping his commitment from Ohio State on National Signing Day.


“We've looked at his swing and different things and we've tried to continue to, we've looked at all those things. We've tried to make some corrections as far as his drop is concerned, as far as the placement is concerned, as far as the swing is concerned. And you know, it comes to a point where we've got to see some production, and right now we're just not getting it. I think Kyle's going to be fine. We just need to work through this time.”


Muschamp is uncertain about redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell’s (ankle) status for the Missouri game. Powell was hurt late in the loss to LSU and Muschamp said he “hopes to get him back for Wednesday’s practice.”

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Gators offense disappoints defense once again

Before Matt Jones' injury was announced Monday morning, I took Florida's offense to task for letting down a championship-caliber defense. Again.

Jones' injury makes matters even more difficult for an already anemic unit, but losing widouts Trey Burton, Solomon Patton or Quinton Dunbar would've be a more signifcant loss considering the uncertainty of the freshman receivers. But alas, losing a starting tailback (especially for pass protection) is another burden the Gators must overcome. 

ICYMI: A tease... 

BATON ROUGE, La -- Deep in the noisy bowls of Tiger Stadium, Gators linebacker Michael Taylor was in no mood to point fingers following No. 22 Florida’s 17-6 loss to No. 6 LSU.

“We didn't hold them enough,” the junior said.

“That's the bottom line.”

Is it though?

Florida’s defense -- ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense entering Saturday’s showdown -- limited a potent Tigers offense to a season-low 327 yards and 17 points. LSU gunslinger Zach Mettenberger completed just nine passes for 152 yards with zero touchdowns and one inexplicable fumble.

The Gators’ defensive line struggled to get off blocks and slow down LSU tailback Jeremy Hill (121 yards), but the unit surrendered just 17 points in a hostile environment.   

It wasn’t enough though. Again.

Despite holding a conference opponent under 20 points for the 13th consecutive game, Florida lost for the fourth time in the Will Muschamp era when its suffocating defense yielded 17 points or less.

In all four losses -- including Saturday against LSU -- the Gators have scored zero touchdowns and totaled just 33 points.

“We didn’t create enough explosives down the field and a lot of that was we couldn’t get rid of the football,” Muschamp said. “We were under duress as far as pressure is concerned. There’s no question it’s a huge concern as we move forward.”

The Gators waltzed into Death Valley with their efficiently dull offense, but their methodical attack was no match against a young, fast and aggressive LSU defense.

Florida -- especially its offensive line -- wilted facing LSU’s relentless pressure, conceding four sacks, eight tackles for loss and six registered quarterback hurries... 

As for some stats and tidbits that weren't included in the story...

* Before Saturday's game, LSU's defense allowed 5.40 yards per play  -- including consecutive games of 7+ yards per play. Florida averaged just 3.53 y/p in the loss. 

* The Tigers' young secondary had surrendered 29 passing plays of at least 15+ yards. The Gators attempted just A SINGLE pass of more than 15 yards in the air all game. 

* Florida didn't reach the redzone until the fourth quarter. 

* The Gators ran the ball on 17-of-24 first down snaps. They averaged 4.5 yards a rush on first down, but just 2.5 yards a pass on seven first down throws. 

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The Walking Wounded: Jones out for the year

This is getting ridiculous. Cue Queen...


GAINESVILLE -- No. 22 Florida continues to be decimated by injuries. UF’s latest causality is starting tailback Matt Jones -- who tore the meniscus in his left knee in the loss to LSU and is out for the season after undergoing surgery Monday morning.

“We thought it was a sprain in the knee, it turns out it was a torn meniscus,” coach Will Muschamp said. “I hate it for Matt. He's a great young man, to go through what he's been through this fall, missing all of, most of, fall camp. Working his way back in shape and starting to feel good about himself, as far as how he felt physically, mentally and then to have this setback is just disheartening for all of us.”

(Courtesy Columbiadailyherald.com)

The preseason all-conference tailback rushed for 339 yards and two touchdowns in five starts after missing UF’s season-opener battling a serious viral infection.  

Jones tallied four carries on Florida’s opening drive against LSU -- the final run his last of the year after getting rolled up on close to Florida’s sideline.

The sophomore is unlikely to be cleared for a medical redshirt, but Muschamp was unsure of the specifics.

Redshirt junior Mack Brown (340 yards, 3 touchdowns) and highly-regarded freshman Kelvin Taylor (98 yards on 16 carries) will spilt carries moving forward.

In all, it’s another setback for the Gators, as Jones is the fifth starter -- and seventh player overall -- lost to a season-ending injury: Jones, quarterback Jeff Driskel (fibula), defensive tackle Dominique Easley (knee), right tackle Chaz Green (shoulder) and kick returner/wideout Andre Debose (knee).

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Poll Position: A terrible tumble

GAINESVILLE -- For the first time all season, Florida is no longer considered one of the 20 best teams in the country. 

The Gators (4-2, 3-1 SEC) slid five spots in both the Associated Press top 25 and USA Today coaches poll, falling to No. 22 nationally after their 17-6 loss to LSU on Saturday in Tiger Stadium.   

The road doesn't get any easier this weekend, as Florida travels to Columbia for a pivotal SEC Eastern Division showdown with No. 14 (and undefeated) Missouri (12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN). The Gators finish the season with four of their final six games against teams currently ranked inside the top 15. 

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October 13, 2013

ICYMI: A slow death

Links from last night...

* Murphy, bewhildered Gators overwhemled by LSU's constant attack

(Courtesy Naplesnews.com)

* The Tigers dominated both lines of scrimmage, sending the Gators home limping from another Bayou beatdown with notes on freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor, Florida's newest kicker, Kyle Christy's continued mysterious downward spiral and more. 

* Gator Grades

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Miles hammers reporter

Les Miles hates Home Depot. Or maybe Lowes. Just don't ask him about hammer and nails -- especially following an LSU victory no less. 

Once again, Miles said Miles things and went on a hilarious postgame rant following LSU's 17-6 win over Florida on Saturday afternoon in Death Valley. 

Please enjoy responsibly. 


(YouTube | ESPN)

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October 12, 2013

They Said It – Florida-LSU

BATON ROUGE, La -- Postgame soundbites following Florida's 17-6 loss to LSU. 

First, Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy on LSU's pressure, the offense "shooting themselves in the foot" and a little more.


Right guard Jon Halapio

On the playcalling…

“I mean, Tyler didn’t have enough time. You know, he can’t pass the ball if we can’t protect, and that’s all on our shoulders.”

On the team’s 4-2 record and moving forward…

“Yeah, the East is still wide open. But right now we got to focus on us. We got to fix what we got – we got issues ourselves, so we got to fix our issues, or all those goals don’t mean anything.

Coach Will Muschamp 

On quarterback Tyler Murphy’s performance…

“I think we’ve gotta protect better. We had too many free runners at the quarterback. They did a nice job of pressuring us. We had too many times that he had too many guys in his face. We’ve gotta get him more time. I want to watch the film, but my initial thought is there was too much pressure.”

On kicker Frankie Velez…

“Frankie’s been a guy that-- We just open competition. We play the best players, regardless of who they are, if they’re a walk-on or whoever it is. He kicked the best this past week in practice. We traveled him for the first time for an away game and he did a fantastic job.”

On his post-game message to the team…

“Still everything’s sitting on the table as far as Atlanta is concerned. We need to take care of the SEC East. It’s wide open. It’s all in our hands. We just need to watch the tape and improve from this Saturday.”

Linebacker Michael Taylor

On the loss…

“Like after we lost to Miami, we said all of our goals was in front of us. This is an SEC team, a rivalry team, a team that we damn sure wanted to beat. But they’re not in the East, luckily. We’ve got all our East opponents ahead of us. I know we’re capable to beat all of them, so that’s what we’ll have to do.”

On Jeremy Hills’ 121 yards rushing… 

“We got beat in the front seven. They beat us at the line of scrimmage, at the point of attack, and that’s how you run the ball. Getting leverage on the other team, beating them at the point of attack, that’s what they did on a lot of plays.”

Quarterback Tyler Murphy

On so many short throws…

“They were kind of forcing us to go there because they were pressuring and then when they didn’t pressure, they tried to keep everything in front of them. We tried to nickel and dime them.”

On the defense’s performance…

“The defense did a great job. To only give up 17 points to an explosive offense like that and there were a few calls here and there where they might have even held them to less points. As an offense, we just need to get better and find ways to get the ball in the end zone.”

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger

On LSU’s offense…

We were so dominant up front running the ball. … Our offensive line is pretty outstanding.”

On the win…

“There was a lot of talking leading up to this game. We just wanted to remind Florida who we were, and I think the offensive line really played great. If we can keep playing like this week in and week out and execute a little better in the passing game, we’re going to be very tough to beat.”

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Gator Grades: Beatdown in the Bayou

BATON ROUGE, La -- Before I re-watch the tape (later in the week) of No. 17 Florida’s 17-6 defeat to No. 10 LSU, here are some rapid reaction grades.


Woof. That was ugly. Brent Pease, UF’s offensive coordinator, didn’t have a great day, but the unit’s demise was mainly due to porous offensive line play. Quarterback Tyler Murphy was inaccurate and sluggish in his decision-making, but really, the redshirt junior never had a chance. The Tigers’ ferocious front-seven beat Florida at its own game in a reverse déjà vu performance from UF’s 14-6 win in The Swamp last season. 

Anthony Johnson and the rest of LSU’s relentless front harassed UF’s leaky offensive line to the tune of four sacks and eight tackles for loss. UF had 60 yards on its opening drive, but totaled just 34 yards the rest of the first half and struggled to run with ball with any real effectiveness (111 yards on 40 carries) all afternoon. Murphy is not the miracle man, as the Gators proved they still have plenty of issues on murderball offense.


Florida’s defense didn’t play that poorly -- all things considered. The nation’s No. 2 ranked unit held LSU’s excellent attack under 400 yards, while Zach Mettenberger was a pedestrian 9-of-17 for 152 yards and zero touchdowns. But key penalties (roughing the passer, pass interference, offsides) and inconsistent rush defense plagued the Gators all afternoon.

LSU had just four first downs after halftime, but it was another little-to-late adjustments by Muschamp’s defense. Jeremy Hill gashed UF for 121 yards on 19 carries -- the first 100+ yard rushing performance since Todd Gurley of Georgia in 2012.


Why hey there, Frankie Valdez. Florida just may have found its newest kicker in the most unlikely of people. The redshirt junior walk-on was a perfect 2-for-2 and displayed none of the jitters of his predessors (Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips). Coverage: both punt and kick were solid, and the fake-punt pass was well designed and executed. All-American punter Kyle Christy continues to be an enigma bad though. Seriously, what is wrong with the former Ray Guy Award runner-up?

Thoughts? Comments?

Have at it.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Saturday Selections: Florida-LSU thread

Greetings from Bayou Country. 

How's ya momma and dem?


The Gators and Tigers square off in a pivitoal SEC showdown later this afternoon (3:30 p.m, ET; CBS)

ICYMI: The No. 17 Gators motivated for revenge after getting destroyed here two years ago.

A tease...

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s last visit to Death Valley became the ultimate Judgment Day on the team’s 2011 season.

Two years ago, the Gators — fresh off a 38-10 beatdown by Alabama in The Swamp — limped into Baton Rouge, La., without their starting quarterback and were humiliated 41-11 by top-ranked LSU.

It was Florida’s worst loss in 16 seasons.

“It was definitely a low point in most of our careers here,” senior safety Jaylen Watkins said. “It was definitely a bad taste in our mouth.”

But the No. 17 Gators (4-1, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) believe Saturday’s trip to Tiger Stadium at 3:30 p.m. will be different this time around.

“It’s a very tough place to play. We have a bad taste in there from the loss and just how rowdy their fans are,” Watkins continued. “But that’s the game of football. We get a chance to go back and try to redeem ourselves, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Many Florida players — and coach Will Muschamp — are using the 30-point loss as motivation — despite actually upsetting LSU 14-6 at home just last season.


3-3 last week. Pedestrian, again. I'm sorry. 

Scoreboard: 20-14-1 ATS, 1-4 selecting Florida games

This week's six-pack:

Okalahoma (-13.5) vs. Texas

Baylor (-17) at Kansas State

Michigan (-3) at Penn State

Alabama (-22) at Kentucky

Ole Miss (+9.5) vs. Texas A&M

I'll have more tidbits closer to kickoff, but for now, enjoy the early games. 
Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

October 11, 2013

Notebook: Depth at tailback presents challenge for Gators

GAINESVILLE -- LSU is just ninth in the Southeastern Conference in rushing (197.33 y/g), but Jeremy Hill -- the Tigers’ physical load at tailback -- trails only South Carolina’s Mike Davis in total yards in the conference.

LSU’s four-headed monster in the backfield includes Hill, Kenny Hilliard, Alfred Blue and Terrence Magee -- with Hill as the lead workhorse.

(Jeremy Hill | Courtesy SI.com)

The 6-foot-2, 238-pound sophomore tailback is averaging 7.52 yards per carry and nearly 120 yards per game.
Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin called it a “real challenge” to stop any of the Tigers’ backs.

“They’re all talented, all those guys do a great job. When you watch the cut-ups from the tape, it’s not like the offense is changing much when [a different guy is] in there,” Durkin said. “They’re running their offense because all those guys can do it. They can all put a foot in the ground, they can break tackles, they can hit the big ones, and they’ve all had big plays. And they can all catch out of the backfield. The challenge is you’ve got a fresh guy in there running the ball and you’ve got to wrap him up and tackle.”


Durkin said freshman defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick would be the first player off the bench if the Gators run into depth issues at tackle this weekend.

Bostwick has yet to play this season and remains a likely redshirt candidate if he’s not needed over the next several weeks.

“Jay-nard is doing well. He’s continued to progress like a normal freshman would,” Durkin said. “He hasn’t had a lot of game time thus far, but he is ready if needed and if he has to go in there and do it. He’s practicing really well. He has made great improvements since day one until now, like most of our freshmen have. We’re going to keep prepping him and getting him ready every week and see what happens.”


Florida’s all-conference cornerback Marcus Roberson -- sidelined for three games -- is expected to return from a knee injury this weekend at LSU, but Durkin wouldn’t tip his hand if the junior defensive back would regain his starting job.

““We’ll see. We always determine that stuff at the end of the week,” Durkin said. “We keep our practices competitive at all spots, not just there. We play the guys or start the guys that practice the best and are playing the best.”

Freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III has played terrific in Roberson’s absence and has rapidly developed into one of the nation’s top underclassmen.

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton 

October 10, 2013

ICYMI: More shootout talk, agression vs. discipline & Pease on Leak

A pair of pieces some may have missed on the sister page...

* Florida's defense set to clash with LSU's potent offense

* UF's defense shows agression 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

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