Muschamp Monday: Coach talks Tennessee, Kentucky, awards and more

The loss to Miami left Florida’s head coach Will Muschamp and his football team with a bitter taste in their mouths but with two weeks to correct the mistakes from the ‘Debacle in Dade’, the Gators were able to make corrections that were obvious in their 31-17 win over Tennessee this past Saturday. Monday, Muschamp met with the media, talked about getting his team on track against Tennessee and to preview the upcoming game against Kentucky.



Injury Update

  • Jeff Driskel will have surgery to attach a metal plate to his fibula on Wednesday.

Quotable: “It’s a four-to-six month recovery from the surgery. He’ll have a plate inserted in his fibula, which is the non-weight-bearing bone in the lower leg. So, again, very disappointed for Jeff. That’s part of the game, but it’s very difficult to deal with. It really hurt for him and his family and for us as a football team.”

  • Leon Orr hurt his left shoulder against Tennessee but is expected to be back at practice on Tuesday or Wednesday.
  • Marcus Roberson reportedly ran well yesterday on his injured knee and will run in The Pit today at practice. Muschamp hopes to get him back this week.
  • Valdez Showers is doubtful for the game Saturday with a knee injury.
  • Jon Halapio needed three stitches under his eye but he will be fine and is expected to play this week.
  • Loucheiz Purifoy has a thigh contusion but is expected back this week.
  • Tyler Moore will not practice Monday but is expected to be back Tuesday.
  • Colin Thompson has a stress fracture in his foot. It’s the same foot that he had surgery on last season but a different injury. He’s expected to miss one or two weeks.

Quotable: “I’m disappointed for Colin. He was really starting to progress and do well for us. He’s had some issues with his foot. This is a different issue with his foot, something that hasn’t happened before.”


Awards handed out

  • Scrap Iron: Max Garcia, Jon Harrison and Jon Halapio
  • Offensive player of the game: Tyler Murphy
  • Defensive player of the game: Dante Fowler Jr.
  • Ball Hawk: Darious Cummings, Dominique Easley, Dante Fowler Jabari Gorman, Damien Jacobs, Marcus Maye, Antonio Morrison, Brian Poole and Mike Taylor

Muschamp on how players are awarded the “Ball Hawk” award: “Anybody that affected a turnover whether it’s from a caused interception, a caused fumble, or a recovered fumble.”

  • The Big Play Award: Loucheiz Purifoy, Trey Burton, Solomon Patton, Quinton Dunbar and Tyler Murphy.
  • Special teams player of the week: Jarrad Davis
  • Scout Team player of the week:
    • Offense – Adam Lane
    • Defense – Jarrad Davis


On Tennessee

  • Muschamp said it was “a good team win” last Saturday and credited the team for overcoming the adversity of some injuries and other negatives that happened during the game.
  • The  turnover margin (+3) was good but Muschamp reiterated that the Gators have to eliminate turning the ball over.

Quotable: “Turnovers we were +3 which is good, but we need to eliminate ours. It will be tough, hard-pressed have another game with six turnovers in a game again.”

  • The offensive line was praised for not giving up any sacks and the entire offensive unit was singled out for averaging more than 15-yards per pass completion.


On Tyler Murphy

  • Muschamp said that he and the team have a lot of confidence in Murphy, that Murphy hasn’t just done things the right way; he’s done things perfectly as far as handling this situation.
  • The offense will not change much with Murphy as the signal caller.
  • Driskel and Murphy are comfortable with different types of throws but you might see some change in the type of passes Murphy attempts.
  • Murphy handled the opportunity on Saturday the best he could have handled it.

Quotable: “I can’t compliment enough about how he came in and responded and handled the situation. We have a lot of confidence in him. He’s really taken a step forward. I thought he had a solid spring and obviously he had a great summer, but when you get thrust into the spotlight at the beginning of training camp and how he responded in that time and the confidence began to grow with us with how he handled the job.”


On the kicking game

  • Muschamp is very unhappy with the way Kyle Christy and Austin Hardin have performed.
  • Freshman punter Johnny Townsend has practiced well and they will not hesitate to pull his redshirt if Christy does not start punting better.

Quotable: Johnny Townsend’s been a guy that’s probably been as consistent a punter as we’ve had in camp. We’ll pull the redshirt off Johnny if we need to.

  • Brad Phillips will also get some live looks in practice to see how he handles them.
  • Both the placekicking and punting jobs should be considered up for grabs right now.


On Kentucky

  • Muschamp said that Florida will need to prepare for multiple quarterbacks for the second straight week as Kentucky has two quarterbacks (Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow) who will play this week.
  • Kentucky tries to spread defenses out and that Florida will need to tackle well on Saturday to prevent the Wildcats from hitting on big plays.
  • Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops and defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot are very good at scheming on defense and the Gators have their work cut out for them offensively.

Quotable: “Mark Stoops is a guy I have a lot of respect for;  he’s been a defensive coordinator until this year but does an outstanding job.”


On his defense

  • Muschamp said that the time to appreciate the defense is after the season. Right now he says he doesn’t think he will be truly happy with the defense after any game and that there are always things to correct.

Quotable: “I don’t know that we’ve been truly tested in a two-back sense in terms of teams with a two-back running game. Miami gave us a little bit of it, but those guys have got to continue to play well. You’re only as good as your next game. That’s our mentality and we’ve got to understand that whatever we’ve done to this point really doesn’t matter.”

  • The defense began the game well but Muschamp was disappointed with the way hey started the second half.
  • Jaylen Watkins drew praise. His versatility has helped to make up for the injuries in the secondary.
  • Cody Riggs also drew praise for his versatility. Riggs was the starting safety and backup at both corner and nickel. He played all three positions on Saturday which helped make up for losing Purifoy and Poole during the game and not having Roberson as well.
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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC