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Loucheiz Purifoy (No. 15) blocks the punt that changed Florida's fortunes on Saturday.

Monday November 12, 2012Gators Notebook: Purifoy the Playmaker, Muschamp Challenges Team, Plus More

Loucheiz Purifoy (No. 15) blocks the punt that changed Florida's fortunes on Saturday.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The Gators work on the play in practice and executed it to perfection at the end of Saturday's 27-20 win over Louisiana.

But still, a blocked punt return for a touchdown to win a game with two seconds left?

"This is a first I believe,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said when asked if he had even been involved in such a finish.

As he walked off the field with a wide grin and look of amazement on his face, Florida special-teams coach D.J. Durkin needed to be pinched.

"No, I can't believe it actually,'' Durkin said. "It was a great play."

As the clock ticked toward certain overtime, Muschamp decided to use one of the Gators' two remaining timeouts with 13 seconds left and Louisiana facing a fourth-and-3 from its 34-yard line.

Ragin' Cajuns punter Brett Baer took the snap, swung his right leg at the ball, and had the kick blocked by Loucheiz Purifoy's extended right hand. The ball fluttered in the air and actually went two yards beyond the line of scrimmage.

Gators linebacker Jelani Jenkins, whose assignment on the play was to drop back in coverage in case Louisiana decided to fake the punt, caught the ball on the fly and raced 36 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

"Usually when the ball is blocked and across the line, we try to get away from it because we touch it [and fumble] and they get it, itís their ball,'' Jenkins said. "But the game was on the line."

As for the rest of those involved, Jenkins won't forget the play any time soon.

"Thatís pretty big. Itís probably number one [on my list],'' he said.

When Jenkins scored, Muschamp resisted the urge to get swept up in the emotion of the dramatic ending. Television replays showed that Muschamp immediately began trying to make sure the players stayed on the sideline to avoid an excessive penalty situation.

"Right when I saw it pop up I looked at the clock to see how much time was left,'' he said. "We still had a timeout left. I was thinking just get on it, weíre within range, letís donít miss this thing up. I was going to bleed the clock down to three [seconds] and then kick it.

"I watched the touchdown on the scoreboard.Ē

While the Gators are coached to stay away from blocks that cross the line of scrimmage -- defensive end Earl Okine got an earful from Muschamp earlier this season when he touched a blocked field goal that pinned the Gators deep into their own territory -- he didn't mind this time.

"[Jelani] is a smart guy,'' Muschamp said. "He makes good decisions on the field. Heís a really good football player. It seemed like we had a little bit of a convoy there to the end zone. It was a very intelligent play. I wished he would have ate those two seconds off so we wouldnít have had to kick off."

PURIFOY THE PLAYMAKER

Purifoy struck again with his blocked punt on Saturday, a week after he blocked a field goal in a win over Missouri.

The sophomore from Pensacola has emerged as one of the Gators' most dangerous players this season. Muschamp calls him Florida's most physical cornerback and Purifoy has excelled as the gunner on the punt team.

"He is a fantastic player and a guy who has really developed himself his sophomore year,'' Muschamp said. "We saw it coming his freshman year. He is fantastic. Heís got great ball skills and he just has a knack for blocking kicks and playing the ball down the field.

"We always try to put him in a situation where he can try to block the kick.Ē

SEARCHING FOR IMPROVEMENT

The Gators once again won ugly.

That theme has played out consistently in the second half of the season and while Muschamp will take the wins, he wants to see improvement in the final two regular-season games: Saturday at home against Jacksonville State and on Nov. 24 at Florida State.

He challenged the Gators, who committed 10 penalties against Louisiana and continued to make some of the same undisciplined mistakes that drive Muschamp mad, to clean up their play.

"You get a 13-yard run, we get called back for holding," Muschamp said. "We line up in a bunch set for a touchdown -- a touchdown pass -- we don't have a guy on the line of scrimmage. That's a play we've repped 100 times,'' he said. "We need to rep it 105.

"Eventually the players need to understand that they need to take some responsibility to know what to do and have a little bit more urgency about what to do. And that's what I told them in the locker room. We've got to get over this. We've got to get over jumping offsides on third-and-10. Eventually as a player you've got to look in the mirror and realize, 'I need to play smarter than that.' "

INJURY REPORT

The Gators' biggest injury on Saturday was to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, who left the game midway through the third quarter with what Muschamp called a sprained ankle.

Trainers heavily taped Driskel's right ankle and he tried to test it on the sideline but never returned. He was re-evaluated Sunday and Muschamp is expected to provide an update on Monday at his regularly scheduled news conference.

Meanwhile, Muschamp said defensive tackle Leon Orr is likely to miss the rest of the regular season with a kidney infection. Orr has missed the past two games.

Reserve offensive lineman Ian Silberman (shoulder), linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) and safety Valdez Showers (shoulder) all sustained injuries against Louisiana. Muschamp was unaware of their severity. Finally, starting offensive linemen Xavier Nixon and James Wilson were not able to return from their knee injuries. Nixon has missed the past two games with true freshman D.J. Humphries starting in his place at left tackle.

QUOTE OF NOTE

ďSometimes our decision-making can be questioned, but I think our guys have continued to believe in what weíre doing. They have a strong belief in that. It hasnít been one time this year – itís been a bunch." -- Muschamp on the teamís resolve.

QUOTE OF NOTE II

"You have to practice and play like that, knowing youíre one snap away. I had to make sure when I got my chance that I didnít make a fool of myself. The motivation part is hard. But the one snap away is really real." -- Quarterback Jacoby Brissett on coming in to replace Driskel

EXTRA POINTS

The Gators are now 5-0 all-time against Louisiana and 65-22-2 all-time on Homecoming ... Purifoy's blocked punt was the Gators' 10th blocked kick under Muschamp in 23 games ... Receiver Quinton Dunbar now has a catch in 13 consecutive games ... Walk-on receiver Michael McNeely, who offensive coordinator Brent Pease praised in camp before McNeely suffered a broken foot, played for the first time this season. McNeely was on special teams and lined up at receiver on multiple plays ... Defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd forced his first fumble of the season on the first drive of the game by Louisiana ... Louisiana kicker/punter Brett Baer connected on both of his field-goal attempts Saturday to become the most accurate placekicker in FBS history. Coincidentally, Baer (40 of 45 in his career, 88.9 percent) passed Florida's Bobby Raymond (1983-84), who made 43 of 49 kicks (87.8 percent) in his career ... Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis made two field goals and is now 17 of 20 on the season and 63 of 80 (78.8 percent) in his career.

 

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