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Gators' 309-pound defensive tackle Darious Cummings was on his way to a touchdown until a nudge sent him falling.

Monday September 23, 2013Gators Notebook: Driskel Set for Surgery, Fantastic Fowler, a 'Bear' Sighting, More Tidbits

Gators' 309-pound defensive tackle Darious Cummings was on his way to a touchdown until a nudge sent him falling.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel’s season ended Saturday when Tennessee defensive end Marlon Walls fell on Driskel’s lower right leg.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Driskel will undergo surgery Wednesday to have a metal plate inserted into his broken fibula and that Driskel is looking at a four- to six-month recovery process.

“Very disappointed for Jeff,’’ Muschamp said. “That’s part of the game, but it’s very difficult to deal with. I’m really hurt for him and his family and for us as a football team.”

Driskel was injured when Walls pressured him on a third-and-3 pass and no score midway into the first quarter. Tennessee’s Devaun Swafford picked off the pass and returned it 62 yards to give the Vols an early 7-0 lead.

Walls told reporters in Knoxville on Monday that he had no intention to hurt Driskel and felt bad about the outcome of the play.

“I’ve reached out to him,’’ Walls said.

A true junior, Driskel has two years of eligibility remaining and can apply to the SEC for a medical hardship waiver in December. Since he will have played in less than 30 percent of the Gators’ games by season’s end – and his last game played was in the first half of the season -- Driskel is eligible for a redshirt per NCAA rules.

Meanwhile, redshirt junior Tyler Murphy replaced Driskel and finished 8 of 14 for 134 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown. Murphy will make his first career start Saturday at Kentucky.

While excited about the opportunity, Murphy spoke of his concern for Driskel on Monday.

“It was tough to see him go down,’’ Murphy said. “It's just tough because we kind of built a good little relationship. I texted him and told him I wish him the best, hopefully he can get healthy and get back out as soon as possible. He said ‘it's your time now.’ He was very encouraging.”

In retrospect of Driskel’s injury, this tweet summarizes how tough Driskel is based on what we know now:

INJURY REPORT

While Driskel’s injury is a blow to UF, several other Gators are nursing injuries heading into the SEC road opener at Kentucky.

Muschamp said Monday that cornerback Marcus Roberson (knee) and right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) are expected to return to practice Tuesday and play Saturday. Both players missed the Tennessee game. Muschamp is optimistic that defensive tackle Leon Orr, who left Saturday’s win over the Vols with a shoulder injury, will return to practice Tuesday or Wednesday.

Muschamp added that cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (thigh) and starting right guard Jon Halapio (eye contusion) are fine after leaving Saturday’s game. Halapio later returned. Finally, Muschamp said running back Valdez Showers (ankle) is doubtful and redshirt freshman tight end Colin Thompson is out with a stress fracture in his foot. Foot problems have plagued Thompson since he arrived at UF.

FANTASTIC FOWLER

Dante Fowler Jr. had perhaps his finest game in a Gators uniform Saturday. He certainly made a quick impression in front of a national TV audience on CBS.

Fowler was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week after registering three tackles-for-loss, two forced fumbles, one sack and a fumble recovery against Tennessee.

Dante Fowler Jr.

On Tennessee’s first drive, Fowler blew up a Vols running play in the backfield, forcing Raijon Neal to fumble. Fowler recovered and then jumped up and spiked the ball.

“It was a play that I was supposed to chase, so when I saw that the tackle blocked down, I just saw [an opportunity] and I was like, ‘Oh snap. I’m gonna blow it up,’ and he had fumbled the ball and I picked it up and a lot of things was running through my head,’’ Fowler said. “I actually spiked the ball down and then I thought about it like, ‘Oh snap, I’m gonna get a personal foul.

“So yeah, but it was fun.”

Fowler was so hyped during the game he didn’t even notice when Tennessee changed quarterbacks, going from starter Nathan Peterman to Justin Worley.

“I couldn’t really tell the difference. I really don’t care, when the quarterback is in the game I just want to hit him,’’ Fowler said.

When asked if Fowler’s assertion that he didn’t know the Vols changed quarterbacks was part of Florida’s “nameless and faceless” opponent mantra, Muschamp said not really.

“I’d like him to know who the quarterback is,” Muschamp said. “But they do look alike.”

NO WORRIES ABOUT JONES

Sophomore running back Matt Jones has yet to show the form he did late last season when he came on strong to put himself in position to be this year’s starting tailback.

Jones then got sick and missed fall camp with a viral infection. Since returning, Jones has rushed for 96 yards on 30 careers (3.2 yards per rush). That’s about 2 yards fewer per run than Jones averaged last season. He has also fumbled twice, on a run at Miami and after a reception against Tennessee.

Matt Jones

He carried 12 times for 49 yards and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run against the Vols. Mack Brown led the Gators with 86 yards on 24 carries.

Muschamp isn’t concerned about Jones’ running in his first two games back since his illness.

“We all knew this going in; this was nothing shocking to us,’’ Muschamp said. “He’s gonna get in the rhythm. He's a bigger back, and sometimes it takes those guys a little bit longer to get into their rhythm of playing. He's not playing bad.

“You can't switch the hands coming across the middle off of a catch; he knows that. That was a basic fundamental of ball security that you can't violate, and he did. But it's not that he's not running well. It's just that he's got to be sharper in some of his cut and taking his eyes to the right spots.”

QUOTE OF NOTE I

“We need to eliminate ours. It will be tough, hard-pressed to have another game with six turnovers.” – Muschamp on Gators’ plus-3 turnover margin against the Vols (six forced turnovers, three committed)

QUOTE OF NOTE II

“I asked him if he got his account back, and he said, ‘no.’ I said, ‘well, you got a fake account out there already.” – Gators defensive back Jaylen Watkins on a fake Twitter account -- @TylerMurphy10 -- someone created during Saturday’s game ( Murphy deleted his account before the season)

QUOTE OF NOTE III

“It feels good. There’s a lot of great players in the SEC, especially defensive players, so being able to stand out and come out on top and be SEC Player of the Week is an honor.” – Fowler on being named SEC Defensive Player of the Week

QUOTE OF NOTE IV

“He’s like an old man. He’s always been like that. I told him to get some swag about himself. He’s been like that since I met him.” – Brown on Murphy’s calm demeanor after coming in and leading the Gators to a win

RUMBLING AND STUMBLING

Two days later and Gators defensive tackle Darious Cummings’ interception in Saturday’s win over the Vols is still fun to watch.

The only thing that slowed Cummings on his way to the end zone was teammate Dominique Easley, whose slight nudge in the back caused the 6-foot-1, 309-pound Cummings – who goes by the nickname “Bear” – to fall at Tennessee’s 40 after a 30-yard return.

Cummings had tweeted Friday that he had always dreamed of having CBS play-by-man Vern Lundquist call his name.

“I don’t know exactly what he said, but I’m sure he said it,’’ Cummings told reporters after the game.

As soon as Lundquist said Cummings’ name, his partner, analyst Gary Danielson, chimed in with ‘oh, he got knocked down by his own guy.”

The Gators cashed in on the turnover when Mack Brown scored on a 3-yard run to cap Florida’s seven-play, 40-yard drive. So they could joke about Easley’s “tackle” afterward.

“I was trying to slow up and block the quarterback, but he [Cummings] was too slow,’’ Easley said.

“I told him in the locker room after the game, I don't know who looks worse: me jogging on campus or Darious returning that interception,” Muschamp quipped. “Darious looked better than I did, and I was a lot happier to watch him than watch me running.”

TOPICAL TWEETS

Peterman’s first career start ended early Saturday and on Monday, Vols coach Butch Jones announced Peterman will miss at least a month following hand surgery. A Florida native, Peterman does have a fond memory of visiting the Gators and UF icon Tim Tebow

 

NOTES AND NUGGETS

How good has the Gators’ defense been in the first three games? Florida leads the SEC in total defense (212.3 yards per game), scoring defense (14.7 points per game), rushing defense (55.3 ypg) and pass defense (157 ypg) … Freshman receiver Demarcus Robinson, who missed Saturday’s game due to a violation of team rules, is expected to return for the Kentucky game … Muschamp did not address the status of sophomore receiver Latroy Pittman on Monday, who was suspended for the first three games … The ESPNU crew calling Saturday’s game at Kentucky is Clay Matvick (play-by-play), Matt Stinbchcom (analyst) and Dawn Davenport (sideline) … Florida’s 26-game win streak over Kentucky is currently the nation’s longest streak between major opponents in an annual series; Gators receivers coach Joker Phillips was head coach at Kentucky when the Wildcats snapped a 26-game losing streak to Tennessee in 2010.

FINAL THOUGHT

Twenty years ago the fact Florida’s ‘Big 3’ – Florida (Murphy), Florida State (Jameis Winston) and Miami (Stephen Morris) – currently all have black starting quarterbacks would have been a big news story. It’s more like an afterthought today, which is a good thing.

 

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