-- Florida’s field goal kicking carousel won’t stop spinning.
Will Muschamp again shuffled kickers in Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt, but the “hot
hand” approach yielded similar results with another missed kick.
-- 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.
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.
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
TALKING THE OLD BALL COACH
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
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.
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.”
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
Morrison is UF’s seventh-starter -- and 10th player overall
-- to sustain a season-ending injury.
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.
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.
GAINESVILLE -- They exited in droves. The boo-birds howled
In just a month’s time, the Gator Nation has experienced its
own five stages of grief:
Denial. Bewilderment. Fury. Apathy. And finally,
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.”
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.”
The GatorNation's mindset right now: somewhere between Stockholm syndrome and a revolution.
Some fun facts...
* Georgia Tech has more passing touchdowns than UF.
* Michigan has -69 yards rushing the past two weeks, but the
Wolverines still average just one-fourth of a yard per carry less than the
Gators. On a related note, Brent Pease and Al Borges both protect the
quarterback with the exact same (in)efficiency.
* Wake Forest has as many offensive touchdowns as Florida.
* The Gators are barely better at kicking field goals than
Purdue or Virginia Tech, while barely worse than USC, FAU or Kansas.
* Florida has two four-game losing streaks since 1990 --
both under Muschamp
* Florida’s red zone offense is less than one percent better
than the self-proclaimed schematic genius’ (Mr. Charlie Weis).
* The combined record of UF’s four wins: 15-23.
* Florida has allowed as many rushing touchdowns as Boston
College and Louisiana-Lafayette.
* UF has more penalties during its four-game losing streak
than seven teams in the country have all season.
* Florida’s meat-grinder attack has allowed 40 more tackles
for loss than Stanford’s smashmouth offense. Also, UF has more negative yardage
Yup, Amanda Bynes has a better 2013 resume. Oh, and UF still has two top-12 teams remaining on the schedule. Seriously, it’s almost impressive how bad Florida
has been this season.
GAINESVILLE -- Florida travels to South Carolina this weekend to face an eagar and revenge-minded No. 11 Gamecocks bunch.
The two teams will square off at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, the Southeastern Conference announced Sunday.
In 2012, Florida destroyed Steve Spurrier's team 44-11 despite gaining just 183 total yards.
Gators, a burning carcass of [enter any bodily fluid or function really], appear prime for a return beatdown.
Plus, South Carolina's sophomore tailback Mike Davis -- the SEC's leading rusher (1,058 yards and 10 touchdowns) -- seems quite motivated to face Florida's leaky rushing defense (or something like that).
Davis was once committed to UF before a well-documented recruiting saga ultimately led him to South Carolina.
GAINESVILLE -- Before I re-watch the tape of Florida’s first
home loss to Vanderbilt (34-17) since Harry S. Truman was president (1945), here are
some rapid reaction grades.
What’s Murphy’s Law again? UF quarterback Tyler Murphy was
essentially Vanderbilt’s MVP on Saturday afternoon, turning the ball over four
times leading to 21 points on three short fields. Yes: Murphy threw for a
career-high 305 yards, but most were in garbage time. Florida’s running game
tallied just ONE carry over eight yards (Mack Brown’s 10-yard rush), while its
injury-riddled offensive line allowed five sacks, nine tackles for loss and
four quarterback hurries to the nation’s No. 59 defense.
Even a measly 3-0 deficit is a giant chasm to this unit.
In the end, Florida South-Carolina’d Vanderbilt -- emphatically losing a
game it allows less than 200 yards on defense…
… That said, UF’s defense really wasn’t as nearly dominant as the
stats (187 total yards, 4-of-13 third down conversions) indicate. Vanderbilt’s offense was more conservative than a Grover Norquist
speech. Redshirt freshman quarterback Patton Robinette -- a backup - attempted
just 12 passes (completing six) but made several key plays with his legs to
extend drives. VU converted two key fourth downs and another couple game-altering third down conversions.
Florida’s red zone defense -- albeit positioned in tough
spots -- was woeful. The unit again lacked a sense of urgency, sleep-walking
through most of the game. When UF’s loathsome offense found a sliver of
momentum midway through the third quarter, its (seemingly) disinterested defense promptly handed the juice right back.
SPECIAL TEAMS D
A muffed punt (recovered by UF, but still), another missed
field goal (DRINK), three holding penalties and an offsides flag on an onside
kick, yup, UF was bad across the board Saturday. Solomon Patton again had some
nice returns (nearly breaking a squib kick for a touchdown), but otherwise it
was a shaky performance by a regularly inconsistent group.
GAINESVILLE -- Florida (4-4, 3-3 Southeastern Conference)
hosts Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4 SEC) Saturday afternoon (noon, FSN) on homecoming
with two significant streaks at stake, and yet a 22-game series winning streak
and bowl eligibility -- the nation’s second-longest active mark -- is not what
concerns the Gators most this weekend.
Florida just wants to start fast, as asteroid-sized holes
have plagued the Gators during their current three-game losing streak.
"It's certainly impacted the games as far as how we
have relied on our defense in some obvious situations,” coach Will Muschamp
said. “You don't put your finger on one thing and say it's this.”
Florida has been outscored 62-29 in the first quarter this
season, including 41-12 in its four losses. Miami jumped out to a 14-6 lead; UF
spotted LSU an 11-point advantage and UGA a 20-point head start.
The dangerous Molotov cocktail of a suddenly porous first
half defense coupled with a consistently listless offense has burned UF
repeatedly in recent weeks.
“We've just got to go back and put our guys in better
situations to play. And that's on us as coaches,” Muschamp said. “We've got to
put our guys in better situations to feel more comfortable and react as opposed
to think in some situations. That's the best way I can summarize it because in
every game it's been a little something different. …We just need to coach
The Saturday Selections...
6-0 LAST WEEK, PLAYAS!!!
Scoreboard: 35-20-2 ATS, 4-4 selecting Florida games
This week's six-pack:
Auburn (-7) at Tennessee
Missouri (-13.5) at Kentucky
Texas A&M (-18.5) vs. Mississippi State
LSU (+12) at Alabama
Wisconsin (-7) vs BYU
... Vandy (+10.5) vs. Florida. The Gators should -- and I believe will -- win this game, as Vandy is really banged up too. But I've watched Gators up close every weekend too, do y'all think they should ever be favored by more than a touchdown?
GAINESVILLE -- No. 10 Florida dispatched North Florida 77-69
on Saturday afternoon in the O’Connell Center to kickoff its 2013-14 campaign.
The Gators -- down three suspended upperclassmen (Dorian-Finney
Smith, Scottie Wilbekin, Damontre Harris) and playing with several hobbled players (Eli Carter, Will Yeguete, Michael Frazier II) -- hardly resembled a top 10
team, but nonetheless, the shorthanded bunch started the year with an ugly win.
Foul Fest, engage. During the offseason, the NCAA Basketball
Rules Committee instituted several rule changes -- no more hand-checks and a
reevaluation of the block-charge call -- in an effort to maximize scoring and
cut down the meat-grinder-like contests. Good try again, NCAA. The new rules
had an instant but hardly positive impact. The two teams combined for 36 fouls,
as Florida’s first win of 2013 was marred by whistles, poor defense and a total
lack of flow.
Florida shot 19 free throws in the first half -- making 17
straight to open the game, second all-time in school history -- on 13 UNF
fouls. The Gators didn’t escape foul trouble either, as freshman point guard
Kasey Hill (7 minutes) and senior center Patric Young (8 minutes) mostly sat
the bench in the first half. With no true second point guard available (Wilbekin
suspension), UF’s offense struggled for much of the first half without Hill’s playmaking presence. The Gators blew a 19-point lead, as UNF actually ended the period on
a 13-2 run to cut the deficit to six (37-31). The Gators settled down after halftime, toying with the Ospreys’ leaky zone (UF shot 51 percent), but an
inability to get consistent stops, rebounds or defend basic inbounds plays resulted in “a disappointing”
and too-close-for-comfort victory.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Senior Casey Prather had a career-night, scoring 28
points on 10-of-15 shooting. The senior forward chipped in eight rebounds, two
blocks and a steal too. Prather doubled his previous career-high (14 points)
from the Virginia game in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. While UF’s other post
players struggled (Young and Yegutete combined for four points, seven rebounds
and five fouls), Prather relentlessly and aggressively attacked the rim. He scored 17 points in
the first half on six made field goals (6-of-9), while the rest of UF’s team combined
to shoot 4-for-18.
STAT OF INTEREST
Hill, in his collegiate debut, flashed his finishing prowess
in the second half, scoring 13 points (15 for the game) on several athletic
layups and contested jumpers. The O’Dome -- quiet most of the afternoon -- was
rocking on the freshman’s spin-cycle finish midway through the second half.
STAT OF INTEREST PART
UF didn’t make a field goal outside the paint until Hill’s
15-foot jump shot with 17:01 remaining in the second half. Eli Carter’s
3-pointer (11:32 in the second half) was UF’s first trey of the season. For the
game, the Gators shot a measly 20 percent (2-of-10) from behind the arc.
STAT OF INTEREST PART
Florida tallied 13 offensive rebounds resulting in 12
second-chance points, but Florida was actually outrebounded for the game:
“We didn’t play as good as we should’ve played. Tomorrow’s
practice will be hard.”
QUOTABLE PART DEUX
“We are light years away from being even a remotely good
defensive team right now. And light years away from being a ranked team.”
The Gators (1-0) travel to Madison to play No. 20 Wisconsin
on Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. (ESPN2).
GAINESVILLE -- Trenton Brown -- UF's first-year transfer offensive tackle from Georgia Military College -- exceeded expectations in his first-career start in the loss to Georgia last weekend.
While Brown, a mammoth offensive lineman at 6-foot-8, 364 pounds, made a couple mistakes (holding call, illegal procedure), the redshirt-junior played well overall against the SEC's second-best pass rushing team.
"I thought Trenton did some nice things. He's a big man. He's a large body. It's hard to get on the edges on him," coach Will Muschamp said.
"First start, going in that environment, I thought he played well."
VIDEO: Brown dished on his play, the frustrations of waiting his turn, emotions of playing against a team he was once committed to and more.
TB Fun Facts: He wears size 17 shoes, gained over 100 pounds at GMC eating a large chicken finger plate from Zaxby's twice-a-day, may not be done growing ("X-rays on my knees before the season, and they said my growth plates are still open."), played basketball like Charles Barkley in high school and once upon a time could windmill dunk.
GAINESVILLE -- As the Jonathan Martin-Richie Incognito
bullying story has mushroomed into a national conversion, several UF players
dished on the Miami Dolphins harassment story, locker room
hazing and more…
On first impressions
of the story…
"Yeah, I've seen it. … For Richie Incognito, there's no
excuse to do what he's doing. There's hazing and stuff, but some of the things
he said, there's no excuse."
-- Tyler Moore, offensive
“Yeah, I’ve seen that, I seen what he said too.”
-- Michael Taylor,
“Yeah I have. Don’t really pay it much mind.”
-- Trenton Brown,
On balancing locker
room fodder versus going too far…
"I'll say good-natured hazing, if you can even say
good-natured hazing, but just little things like what they used to do. You tape
them to goal post, just little fun stuff. Smack them with some baby powder or
something like that. But once you start using some terms that should not be
said by certain people, you've gone way too far. … We'll make fun of guys
if they do certain things, did something stupid or said something a little fun
or something like that. But we don't go that far, not even close to that far.”
“You gotta know who you can push and who you can mess with
like that. I’m a guy people can say pretty much almost anything to as long as
it’s not really disrespectful. I’m all for the jokes, all for playing you’ve
just gotta know the personality of a player and you’ve just gotta know what you
can do what you can say to a person and treat everybody with respect.
Everybody’s got a different level of comfort-ability about what you can say
about them and how to approach them, you’ve just gotta know your teammates.
That’s my main thing with me, just respecting your teammates and knowing what
you can do and what you can say to who.”
“I mean, we play, but I think everybody knows there’s a fine
line. … [What that is,] I don’t know, but I guess you know when you cross it.”
On handling problems “internally…”
“Yeah, I mean usually if you’ve got a problem like that it’s
usually handled or solved in the locker room through verbally or physically.
However you gotta handle it’s handled it and it’s nipped in the bud quick. I’m
surprised to see it’s gotten this far, I thought it would be handled by now, I
didn’t know anything about it until it came out big. … I mean usually we can
talk most of our problems out. We’re old enough where we don’t have to fight
all the time. Sometimes there are issues, you handle ‘em, that’s how it is with
a team that’s how it is with a family. Every team has issues, you handle ‘em
and you move on ‘cause you have to see these people every day you can’t be
beefin’ with ‘em every day.”
-- Florida’s M.A.S.H. unit is running out of space.
tackle Tyler Moore is the latest UF player sidelined for the season after the
sophomore Nebraska-transfer fractured his right elbow in a scooter accident
unfortunate, but somebody else needs to step up and play productive football,”
coach Will Muschamp said. “In all these situations, I feel for the player.”
-- UF’s ninth player and sixth starter to suffer a season-ending injury in 2013
-- had surgery to repair a gruesome compound fracture Wednesday morning.
was riding home on a scooter, and he came around a curve there and the back
tire came out from underneath him,” Muschamp said.
who started six games this season, struggled mightily in a dismal performance
against Missouri and the right tackle was actually benched early last week. But
after starting left tackle D.J. Humphries sprained his left MCL in practice,
Moore reentered the starting lineup and rebounded with his best performance of
the season against Georgia.
(Tyler Moore | Courtsey media.247sports.com)
felt pretty good, especially playing a new position I haven’t played in I don’t
know how long,” Moore said Tuesday before practice. “I havent played that in a
long time. In a new position and only having a few days to get ready, I felt
said starting left guard Max Garcia -- UF’s most consistent linemen all season
-- would shift to tackle, while veteran reserve Kyle Koehne (a senior) would
play left guard.
GAINESVILLE -- As Florida’s anemic offense desperately seeks any explosive playmaking ability, one of the more interesting developments this season has been the Houdini-act played by freshman
wideout Demarcus Robinson.
A legitimate star during spring and summer training camp, the hotshot
recruit has all but disappeared during the regular season.
It’s simple, according to offensive coordinator Brent Pease.
“Demarcus has to be more consistent with what he does,”
Robinson has just three catches for 11 yards this season,
leaving many confused as to how the freshman could dominate practice -- beating
highly-regarded cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Robinson -- yet see
minimal live action.
Pease, who said Robinson was "ready to pop” just a month
ago, admitted he’s surprised at the freshman's slow start.
"I mean, I am a little bit because I think he's got up
and downs in practice,” he said. “But you can't get them all on the field at
once, so it's got to be the two, three or four most consistent guys depending
on what you're using. And right now, he's a good kid and he's got a lot of
ability, but you've got to continue to compete."
Robinson has actually been leapfrogged on the depth chart by
fellow freshman Ahmad Fulwood -- a former four-star prospect from Bishop Kenny.
(Ahmad Fulwood | courtsey orlandosentinel.com)
Fulwood -- who has moved into the X receiver position --
caught two passes for 22 yards in the loss to Georgia and played a career-high “28-30
“He's going to be a good football player,” coach Will
Muschamp said. “He's got to continue to play fast and block well on the
perimeter. Did a nice job for us. He's going to be a really good player. … He’s
continuing to get more snaps as we move forward.”
Asked about Fulwood’s emergence, Pease said, “Ahmad has just
been more consistent. He has been in the flow. By him being more consistent, he’s
put in that spot in the X position more when he go to four wides.”
GAINESVILLE -- Florida’s offense has scored just 14
touchdowns on 31 red zone attempts -- good for No. 118 in the country (45.16
percent) and 20 percentage points lower than the national average (65 percent).
For a team struggling to generate explosive plays, red zone
efficiency is key, and yet the Gators are one of the worst offenses in the
country inside opponents’ 20-yard line.
“I think we’ve been good about getting in there. Our
percentages show that,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “But we’re not
getting there enough. We do need more touchdowns. We get in situations where we
Or come away with nothing.
Thanks to weekly kicking woes and inconsistent playcalling,
the Gators rank last in the SEC -- scoring on just 70.97 percent of trips
inside opponents’ 20-yard line.
Florida tallied points on 3-of-4 red zone opportunities in
the loss to Georgia last Saturday.
Pease acknowledged the offense’s fear of getting stuck
behind the sticks influences his playcalling close to the end zone.
“Sometimes you want the big play. You want to immediately
score the touchdown instead of OK, we’ve got to get four yards on this play and
keep grinding on them, set up a pass off it,” he said. “Probably trying to hit
a big play, but if we don’t get it executed we’re in a bad second down or third
Florida has won the coin toss four times this season,
deferring possession until the second half every time -- including its current three-game losing streak.
Despite a defense constantly surrendering early leads, coach
Will Muschamp detailed his coin flip thought process.
"It's game-to-game first of all. It's not something we
always try to do,” said Muschamp on deferring. “Sometimes we don't win the toss
and they defer or they take the ball. But it's, the other situation Saturday
and the last ballgame [Missouri] I believe there's a wind factor. We wanted the
win in the fourth quarter. And sometimes the wind comes through the stadium
from the north side back through the south end zone, and we wanted to make sure
we had the wind in the fourth quarter Saturday. It's a game-to-game
“No because in the heat of the game a lot of stuff can
happen. It’s all a matter of keeping our composure. A lot of the times we will
get 15-yard penalties and like I said before, if it’s for a personal foul, like
[Jon] Bostic’s hit last year in the Sugar Bowl, I mean that’s a perfect [hit],
but that’s a penalty. You can’t take that away from him because I wouldn’t have
held up either. I mean, like, or a facemask or something like that, it’s just,
in the heat of the moment and you’re going to make a tackle, no telling where
you can grab. But if it’s something like shoving after the play or, you know,
something extracurricular, that’s stuff that we don’t need. That’s stuff that’s
detrimental to the team, you know, but we just gotta play through it and keep
-- Junior linebacker Michael Taylor on perception Florida is
an undisciplined team
GAINESVILLE -- Two days removed from lobbing a
conspiracy-filled grenade at Southeastern Conference officiating, Florida coach
Will Muschamp reneged on his vague criticism of league referees and shouldered much
of the blame for his team’s steady undisciplined play.
“It’s something we coach it every day, obviously we’re not
doing a very good job,” he said. “It’s something we emphasize, something we
talk about. We talked about this is an emotional game. There’s gonna be some
things that we gotta learn to walk away from in those situations, and it’s
something I’m going to address with the team again today.”
The Gators were penalized seven times for 70 yards in their
23-20 loss to archrival Georgia last Saturday and following the game Muschamp hinted at some
ulterior agenda, citing how Florida has finished first or second in the
conference in penalties 20 out of the last 24 years.
UF currently leads the conference in penalty yardage per
game for the third consecutive season, averaging 62.1 y/g in 2013.
Senior safety Jaylen Wakins admitted too many players lost
their composure at key moments against the Bulldogs.
“The emotions were high, we were coming back,” Watkins
explained. “I think a few guys kinda let their emotions get too high and it
really defeated the goal of winning the game, but that comes with, like I said,
the atmosphere. We have to be more disciplined in that point, especially when
we're making a good comeback and everything. Every moment is critical. It's a
combination of not being disciplined and the high emotions of the game."
Florida was flagged for seven personal fouls in the loss.
GAINESVILLE -- In the midst of a tumultuous year, Florida
coach Will Muschamp is dealing with midseason staff turnover as well.
Jon Haskins, UF’s director of player personnel since January
2012, resigned 10 days ago, according to Muschamp.
“We have an opening right now,” Muschamp said. “But I’m busy
coaching the team. I don’t have a while lot of time [to worry about filling it
Florida has no timetable hiring a replacement for Haskins,
whose primary responsibilities included coordinating official visits and other
administrative recruiting duties.
Muschamp said the vacancy would have no impact on UF’s
prospective recruiting efforts the rest of the season.
“We’ll be fine. He was in an administrative role. You can’t
evaluate tape and those sorts of things,” Muschamp said.
GAME TIME DELAYED
CBS elected to use its six-day window for several Nov. 16
games, including Florida at South Carolina. The network will wait until after
this weekend to decide between Georgia-Auburn or the Gators and Gamecocks for
the premier 3:30 p.m. slot. The Gators could also play at either 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
or 7:45 p.m. (ESPN).
more difficult for me because I'm a senior and 2011 I was a sophomore,"
safety Jaylen Watkins said. "And to come off an 11-2 season last season,
we went to a Sugar Bowl and we were winning, and then you come back this year
and you're not winning as much as you were. It's definitely tougher for me, and
as a team in general, because everyone comes here to win."
Safety Jaylen Watkins on this season compared to 2011 when the Gators were 6-6
in the regular season.
While battered and bruised for much of the season, Florida
exited the Georgia game totally healthy, Muschamp said.
Only left tackle D.J. Humphries (MCL sprain) -- who did not
play against the Bulldogs after spraining his knee in practice last week --
will miss Saturday’s game against the Commodores.
GAINESVILLE -- Friendly reminder: Offensive coordinator
Brent Pease received a $100,000 raise, a one-year extension (to 2015) and a
future longevity bonus ($100,000 if he is still at Florida in January 2016)
Florida finished No. 104 nationally (334.0 y/g) a year ago. The Gators currently
rank 111th in the country in total offense.
2013 Gators offensive rankings in the Southeastern
* Scoring – No. 13 (21.0 p/g)
* Total – No. 14 (334.6 y/g)
* Rushing – No. 13 (159.4 y/g)
* Passing – No. 13 (175.2 y/g)
* Yards per play – No. 14 (4.89 y/p)
* Sacks allowed – No. 13 (21 total)
* Long scrimmage plays (10+ yards) – No. 14 (91 total)
* Time of possession – No. 1 (35.39 m/g)
* Red zone conversions – No. 14 (70.97 scoring percentage)
* Third down conversions – No. 8 (42.62 percent conversion
To recap: The Gators rank last or next to last in 8-of-10
offensive categories. They lead the conference in time of possession and rank in the middle of the pack converting third downs.
Florida is the only team in the league averaging less than
five yards per play (next closest: Tennessee at 5.34 y/p). Texas A&M has
more than than twice as many long scrimmage plays as UF (191 vs. 91).
"GAINESVILLE -- After weeks of questionable bluster and
bravado, the Gators have officially resigned to reality.
Following Saturday’s 23-20 loss to Georgia, Florida finally
stopped talking about its long-shot Southeastern Conference Championship
There will be no trip to Atlanta. No snapping a two-game
losing to a division archrival and -- with a date looming with No. 2 Florida
State -- likely no winning any state bragging rights.
The 2013 season is lost for the once-mighty Gators, and a proud
program is now in the desperate position of having to beat Vanderbilt on homecoming
to probably reach bowl eligibility.
Just a year removed from an 11-1 regular season and BCS
berth, coach Will Muschamp’s team is reeling and simply playing for pride now.
"We're going to fight until the last game of the
season,” redshirt junior tailback Mack Brown said. “No quit."
The Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) -- on a three-game losing streak
for the second time in three seasons -- must win twice in their remaining four
games just to reach bowl eligibility.
Florida hosts Vanderbilt on Saturday (noon, ESPN2) before
travelling to No. 12 South Carolina. The Gators finish the season in The Swamp with
FCS Georgia Southern (Nov. 19) and the suddenly unstoppable Seminoles (Nov.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy said the season “stinks” and that
he never imagined the year unraveling so quickly.
“We’ll do our best and try and knock everybody else off,”
Murphy said dejectedly Saturday. ..."
In a season marred by injuries, offensive ineptitude, placekicking woes and defensive inconsistencies, Florida coach Will Muschamp is now pointing fingers at Southeastern Conference officials.
The Gators -- penalized seven times for 75 yards in the 23-20 loss to UGA -- rank last in conference in penalties for the third straight season, and Muschamp is not happy about it.
Despite the Gators consistently lacking discipline or composure at key moments, Muschamp lobbed some sort of pseudo-conspiracy at the league office following UF's third-straight loss to UGA.
"Whatever the call, they call," he said. "In the last 24 years, the University of Florida, we've led the SEC in penalties 20 out of 24 [years], either first or second. That was long before I got here. So it's interesting. But it is what it is."
Muschamp could be fined for his comments.
The annual Cocktail Party was chippy and full of skirmishes -- as always -- with a combined 13 personal fouls -- seven committed by UF.
JACKSONVILLE -- Before
I re-watch the tape (later in the week) of Florida’s 23-20 defeat to divisionGeorgia, here are some rapid reaction grades.
It took Florida 9+ quarters
-- spanning three games and all losses -- for the Gators to score an offensive
touchdown against Georgia. Aside from Tyler Murphy's 83-yard pass to Quinton
Dunbar (which somehow the wideout did not score on), the Gators totaled just 43
the rest of the first half.
Freshman tailback Kelvin
Taylor showed brief flashes, but the offensive line -- albeit steady in pass
protection -- failed to open up any gaping holes for UF's tailback. Murphy was
again inaccurate and sluggish in his decision-making, but he played pretty
well after halftime (capitalizing on short fields) and made some key plays with
While not totally
"inept," UF's offense was hardly the "explosive, confident
bunch" coach Will Muschamp teased earlier in the week.
For a defense (suddenly)
accustomed to slow starts: Todd Gurley -- injured and all -- tallied 121 yards
and two touchdowns on his first five touches of the game.
The sophomore tailback
finished with 100 yards on the ground (his second game against the Gators
eclipsing the century mark) on 17 carries. Once again, Florida's linebackers
But Gurley eventually ran
out steam (and was slowed by his high-ankle sprain), and it allowed Florida's
defense to catch their breath. The third quarter was a dominating effort: five
plays, a fumble recovery, a safety (blind-side sack) and two total yards
The 4th-down stop early in the fourth quarter was
another huge play, and yet, when Florida needed its defense (allegedly a
suffocating third down unit) to give the ball back to the offense, it couldn't. The Bulldogs' eight-minute drive, a repeat of their game-sealing drive over South Carolina, was demoralizing for defense built on toughness and swagger.
SPECIAL TEAMS D+
Georgia -- who has the
SEC's worst special teams -- outplayed Florida's unit Saturday afternoon. The
Gators left six points on the field with a pair of missed field goals, while
UGA's Marshall Morgan was a perfect 3-for-3. Frankie Valdez was 1-of-2,
while Austin Hardin -- Florida's long kicker -- short-changed a 47-yard attempt
by a good 3-5 yards short. Oey.
Johnny Townsend pinned the
Dawgs deep twice (including setting up the safety). Brian Poole was flagged for
a blatent block in the back on one return and the Gators got away with another
obvious holding call on Solomon Patton's long run back.
JACKSONVILLE -- The Gators -- in a game marred by skirmishes, momentum swings and generally ugly football -- lost a third-straight rivalry game to Georgia (23-20) on Saturday afternoon in EverBank Field.
Will Muschamp's team was predictably inconsistent. Again.
The Gators were flat from the start, as UF's "inept" offense showed minimal improvements from the bye week, while its once-prideful defense was gashed for two quick scores before it found its footing in the second half.
It was disappointed bunch afterwards -- especially considering the wild momentum shifts capped a demoralizing game-sealing drive by the Bulldogs.
Here's some postgame soundbites...
RB Mack Brown
On motivations for the rest of the season...
"We're going to fight until the last game of the season. No quit."
WR Solomon Patton
On so many post-play scuffles between the two teams...
"A lot of guys were talking trash. But it's just part of the game. We can let it affect us."
LB Michael Taylor
On second-half comeback falling short...
"We knew that we could play a lot better than how we were playing in the first half. We just came out and played how we knew we could play. We started executing our calls. But it's a disappointment we just couldn't pull it out."
On keying in on UGA tailback Todd Gurley in the second half...
"We knew that they didn't have the weapons they had to start the year, so we knew that he was their main weapon."
QB Tyler Murphy
On UF's offensive line playing better...
"They stepped up today. They took it upon themselves to do better and they did a good job. They gave me a lot of time in the pocket."
On attitude moving forward...
"There's no team out there I'd rather be a part of than this one."
On postgame message to his team...
"They're upset. Hurt. We'll rebound. We'll be fine. ... "You rally around the fact that you play at the University of Florida."
"GAINESVILLE -- The forecasted weather for Saturday’s
Georgia-Florida matchup in Jacksonville is particularly apropos for two
struggling, depleted and disappointed teams.
The Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) and Bulldogs (4-3, 3-2) meet at
EverBank Field at 3:30 p.m. (CBS) on a likely gloomy, windy and rainy
Only a monsoon could make this usually-storied game --
dubbed this season as “The World’s Largest Infirmary” -- any uglier.
Both bitter rivals are mired in two-game losing streaks and
have been ravaged by a combined 14 key season-ending injuries.
Although South Carolina’s overtime win over Missouri gave
the two schools long shot hopes to still reach Atlanta, the SEC East carrot is
more like a Tolkien fantasy at this point.
“The reason this game means so much is because it means so
little,” CBS analyst Gary Danielson said.
Georgia and Florida opened the season in the top 10, but now
both are unranked and meet with major question marks moving forward.
The Bulldogs, who lost at Vanderbilt for the first time in
22 years, have been slowed by a decimated offense and a young, inexperienced
defense yet to play a complete game.
Meanwhile, Florida’s woeful offense continues to scramble to
find any positive momentum, while its once-dominant defense suddenly cannot
stop the run without star tackle Dominique Easley."
The Saturday Selections...
Scoreboard: 29-20-2 ATS, 3-4 selecting Florida games
This week's six-pack:
South Carolina (-12) vs. Mississippi State
Auburn (-7.5) at Arkansas
Florida State (-21.5) vs. Miami
Michigan State (-4) vs. Michigan
Wisconsin (-9) at Iowa
I'll update the blog later this afternoon with my Cocktail Party pick and lots of pregame news and notes. For now, enjoy the early games y'all.
... Georgia (-2) vs. Florida. The Dawgs have Todd Gurley. The Gators don't. It should be a close, meat-grinder ballgame (although the weather is better than anticipated), but I'm going with the team with the game's best player. If he hurts his ankle again though...
***** UPDATE *****
* Junior linebacker/defensive end Ronald Powell (ankle) was working out under the watchful eye of defensive coordiator D.J. Durkin in pregame. On Wednesday, Muschamp said he expected Powell, who missed the Missouri game, to play.
* UF field goal kickers -- backup Austin Hardin, mostly -- struggled during pregame.
* Sugar Bowl reps are in the house... I don't know why either. Also Chick-fil-A, Gator bowl guys here too.
GAINESVILLE -- For six weeks, Florida’s defensive front
controlled the line of scrimmage, but following consecutive sobering performances
against LSU and Missouri, a once proud unit is searching for answers.
The Gators -- minus dominant defensive tackle Dominique
Easley -- can no longer stop the run. After surrendering just a single 100-yard
rusher all last season (ironically this week’s foe: Georgia tailback Todd
Gurley), Florida has allowed two different tailbacks (LSU’s Jeremy Hill and Missouri’s
Henry Josey) to clip the century mark during its recent two-game losing streak.
In Missouri’s 36-17 win, the Tigers rushed for 205 yards and
two touchdowns -- the most yardage in 22 games against a Will Muschamp defense.
“Very safe to say (that won’t happen again). That’s not
characteristic of us,” junior linebacker Michael Taylor said. “That’s not what
we allow and that’s a one-time thing. I can guarantee you that won’t happen
The Gators still rank first in the conference in total defense
(273.1 y/g), rushing defense (100.71 y/g), passing defense (172.4 y/g) and
third down defense (27 percent), but following multiple shaky performances --
especially stopping the run -- their confidence is admittedly wavering.
“It’s shocking,” cornerback Marcus Roberson said. “But we
can only move forward and focus on the next game and just try and keep the
total yards [down].”
Said sophomore defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.: “I feel like
our defense is still a great defense. But once you lose a game or two you kind
of lose your confidence. And all we've got to do is just get our swagger back.
I feel like once we get our swagger back, and get our confidence back up, we're
going to be back to how we were at the beginning of the season.”
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.
GAINESVILLE -- For the second time in as many weeks, No. 22
Florida’s deep and talented secondary will square off against a group of
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.”
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
Meanwhile, Taylor -- filling in for the injured Matt Jones
-- flashed his potential (10 carries for 52 yards), reigniting all the preseason
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.”
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.
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.