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3 posts from November 11, 2013

November 11, 2013

Notebook: Kickers, Spurrier & more

GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s field goal kicking carousel won’t stop spinning.

Coach Will Muschamp again shuffled kickers in Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt, but the “hot hand” approach yielded similar results with another missed kick.

Muschamp -- frustrated by the lack of consistency -- said the competition remains open this week and the staff will reevaluate who practiced best before the team travels to South Carolina.   

Redshirt freshman Austin Hardin (4-of-10) and walk-ons Brad Phillips (2-of-2) and Frankie Velez (4-of-5) have all taken shots as the starter, as Florida ranks No. 104 nationally in field goal percentage (58.8 percent) and are tied for the fourth-most misses (10-of-17) in the country.

Muschamp said the team has scratched the long- and short-kicker philosophy, saying, “Right now we just need to have the one guy that’s hitting the ball the best and most consistent.”

QUOTABLE – TALKING THE OLD BALL COACH

"Well, he's got a statute in front of the stadium. I've got great respect for him because he's won, and he's done it the right way. And everywhere he's been, he's been successful. And he's an outstanding football coach, but he does things the right way. He handles things the right way. And I just have a lot of respect for him as a player, coming up and playing against him, and now as a coach that's coached against him multiple times. Just a guy that I've got tremendous respect for."

-- Muschamp on why it was important for him to reach out to South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier when he was first hired by Florida in 2011.

THIS & THAT

Andre Debose -- sidelined for the season with a torn ACL -- will return for a sixth season in 2014, according to Muschamp. Debose must petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibly, but the wide receiver/kick returner should qualify due to multiple season-ending injuries over his career. The fifth-year senior has eight career touchdowns -- four as a returner and four as a wideout. … Since the Missouri game, running backs coach Brian White has moved from the coach’s box to the sidelines. “Just with the youth at running back, we felt like he needed to be on the field to make sure we’re getting the communication with those guys,” Muschamp said.

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Morrison sidelined for the season, Murphy banged up

GAINESVILLE -- Antonio Morrison -- Florida’s starting middle linebacker and team-leading tackler with 56 stops -- will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury, coach Will Muschamp announced Monday.

“He tore his meniscus. It’s a radial tear, the same thing [tailback] Matt Jones did,” Muschamp said. “Just very disappointed for him.”

Usatoday.com
(Courtesy usatoday.com)

UF’s sophomore linebacker was suspended to start the season, missing the opener against Toledo before starting Florida’s next eight games.  Morrison entered the year with lofty expectations, but the linebacker struggled for much of the season, plagued by missed tackles and blown coverages.

According to the school, Morrison actually tore his meniscus early in the loss to Vanderbilt but never left the game due to injury, recording a team-high 10 tackles.

Freshman linebacker Jarrad Davis, a special teams ace, will enter the starting lineup at the weak-side linebacker position, while redshirt junior Michael Taylor will shift to his natural position and play middle linebacker.

Morrison is UF’s seventh-starter -- and 10th player overall -- to sustain a season-ending injury. 

MURPHY UPDATE

Quarterback Tyler Murphy (AC shoulder sprain) will miss Monday and Tuesday’s practice, but the team is hopeful the redshirt junior can still start Saturday at South Carolina. Murphy, who tossed for a career-high 305 yards but also three interceptions in the homecoming loss to Vanderbilt, admitted if the game were today he would be unable to play.

“It’s very difficult just because after these last few losses and not playing well on Saturday, I need all the practice I can get,” he said. “It’s just frustrating being banged up a little bit and having to sit out and try to get healthy. I’m just gonna live in the training room and get healthy and try to get back out there as soon as possible.”



Murphy added that his shoulder sprain hasn’t completely affected his gameday performances. 

“Going into the practices and stuff like that, I've been fighting a little bit of pain, but nothing too crazy. But when I get to the game, adrenaline takes over, and I'm usually good to go."

VIDEO: Murphy talks Saturday's performance, the mental state of the team and dealing with so many season-ending injuries.

  

REMAINING INJURY REPORT

Starting cornerback Marcus Roberson (ankle) is questionable for Saturday’s game and will miss the first two days of practice this week. Left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL sprain) is doubtful, but wideout Solomon Patton’s knee “is fine” and the senior should start this weekend. 

Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton

Muschamp's mea culpa

ICYMI: Florida coach Will Muschamp on the homecoming boo-birds, potential staff changes and expections

GAINESVILLE -- They exited in droves. The boo-birds howled all afternoon.

In just a month’s time, the Gator Nation has experienced its own five stages of grief:

Denial. Bewilderment. Fury. Apathy. And finally, bloodthirsty. 

Florida -- in the midst of an embarrassing four-game losing steak -- suffered a catastrophic homecoming loss to Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon and a dejected coach Will Muschamp seemed resigned to knowing his seat is hotter than a Red Savina habanero.     

“I’m a competitor. I don’t like losing. I certainly don’t like the product we are putting on the field, and that’s my responsibility,” Muschamp said regarding fan unrest and the general hopeless surrounding Florida’s football team. “I take full credit for that. When it’s good, it’s good. When it’s not good, it’s not good, and it hasn’t been good. And that’s on me. We’ll make the decisions to move forward that we need to do to help this football team in the latter part of the season as we move forward. That’s my plan. I’m not asking for anybody to be happy. I’m not asking anybody to give a pass. This is the real deal. This is the University of Florida. My expectation, I’ll guarantee is as high or higher than anyone sitting in those stands. There’s nobody more let down or hurt or competitive edge dented a little bit by this. So it’s one me. We’ll get it turned. I can assure you that.”

Usatoday.com
(Courtesy usatoday.com)

Although Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley has reportedly voiced his support for Muschamp privately, he’s yet to do so publically, and a humiliating loss to Vanderbilt has only further swelled speculation of the entire staff’s job security.

UF’s 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt -- a team that was injury-riddled like Florida and also playing without its starting quarterback -- was worse than any defeat during the grisly Ron Zook era.

The Gators have now had two four-game losing streaks in the last three seasons -- their only such skids since 1990.

“I’m a lot harder on myself than y’all are or anyone else is going to be or anyone else in this Gator Nation,” Muschamp said. “You know, again, I’m very critical of myself and what I need to do to be better and I don’t need to hear any fan from the outside telling me what we need to do with this football team. I can assure you that.”

But they never stopped trying Saturday, until they simply decided to leave.

Muschamp admitted to hearing lots of loud boos and actually apologized for confronting an enraged Florida fan following the loss to archival Georgia two weeks ago.

“That doesn’t bother me,” Muschamp said of the booing. “You know, I made a mistake last week, I made a real mistake over a very passionate, passionate Florida fan was telling me his opinion of me. You know what, that’s fine, that’s fine. They pay their ticket, they can boo all they want. That’s good. Now it doesn’t help our program, but that’s fine.”

While Muschamp remains likely to retain his job, several staff members might not be so lucky.

Three weeks ago -- with the “arrows flying” -- Muschamp empathically voiced a vote of confidence for offensive coordinator Brent Pease and the rest of his staff. He highlighted their 11 wins a season ago and dismissed the notion to make changes. But with the arrows now flaming and rapidly burning a blazed wagon, his tune changed.

“We’ll find a way. We’ve got to keep going at it. What we’re doing so far is not working. Keep doing the same stuff, you’re going to get the same results,” he said.

“You evaluate everything at the end of the season. That’s what I certainly will do. I’ve done that my first two years, and I’ll do that again this year. I’m not worried about it.”

Follow me on Twitter@JesseReSimonton


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