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Walk-on kicker Frankie Velez moved up the depth chart and kicked two field goals Saturday.

Sunday October 13, 2013Gators Notebook: Velez Climbs Depth Chart; Focus is Winning SEC East, More Tidbits

Walk-on kicker Frankie Velez moved up the depth chart and kicked two field goals Saturday.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The thought had crossed his mind.

Gators redshirt junior kicker Frankie Velez, who walked onto the team in the summer of 2010, considered the possibility that he might finish his career without ever attempting a kick for the Gators.

Caleb Sturgis held down the job most of Velez's first three years in the program, and he was buried on the depth chart behind Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips through the first five games this season.

Normally, Velez gathers with his family and girlfriend in Ocala to watch the Gators play when they go on the road.

But not Saturday at LSU.

Velez made the trip and accounted for all of Florida's points with a pair of field goals. His 44-yard kick in the first quarter gave the Gators an early lead and stands as the Gators' longest field goal of the season. He added a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter of the Gators' 17-6 loss.

"I’ve been waiting four years,'' Velez said. "I was starting to doubt myself. I just kept thinking positively and finally got my chance."

Prior to Saturday, Velez said the last time he made a field goal was in the spring game two years ago. The last one that counted for real came his final season at Ocala Trinity Catholic in 2009.

Velez's form and his execution looked good on both kicks Saturday.

"I was more nervous for the second one, but the first one felt so good,'' Velez said.

Gators coach Will Muschamp said he decided to go with Velez after watching him at practice last week.

"Frankie Velez would be our kicker right now,'' Muschamp said. "I have a lot of confidence in Frankie."

SEC EAST WIDE OPEN

Muschamp

The Gators were disappointed in their performance Saturday, losing at LSU for the second straight time and failing to seize an opportunity to take sole possession of first place in the SEC East after Missouri upset Georgia.

The Gators (4-2, 3-1) travel to SEC East leader Missouri (6-0, 2-0) Saturday for what now shapes up as one of the season's most important games.

Florida can still earn a trip to Atlanta by winning the rest of its conference games.

"All the chips are on the table for us,'' Muschamp said.

"This is an SEC team, a rivalry team we damn sure wanted to beat,'' linebacker Michael Taylor said following Saturday's loss. "But they're not in the East, luckily, and we have all our East opponents in front of us. I know we’re capable of beating all of them. That’s what we have to do."

The Gators have not won the East outright since 2009.

JONES UPDATE

Sophomore running back Matt Jones' day was cut short Saturday due to a left leg injury. After rushing four times for 17 yards in the first quarter, Jones left and did not return.

He watched the second half in his warm-up suit from the sidelines.

"We do not think it's serious,'' Muschamp said.

Muschamp reiterated that thought on his Sunday morning TV show and said he will know more later this week following additional treatment.

DEFENSIVE STANCE

LSU made 5 of 9 third-down conversions on Saturday against a Florida defense that is limiting opponents to 27.1 percent on third down, good for eighth in the country.

One that particularly stung was a third-and-17 in the second quarter. LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger hit Odell Beckham Jr. for a 22-yard gain to UF's 25. Three plays later, the Tigers took a 14-3 lead on Anthony Jennings' 1-yard touchdown run.

"That was very frustrating. Third down is our money down,'' Gators safety Cody Riggs said. "We take pride in getting off the field in those situations."

QUOTE OF NOTE I

“They were kind of forcing us to go there because they were pressuring and then when they didn’t pressure, they tried to keep everything in front of them. We tried to nickel and dime them.” -- Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy on Florida's high ratio of short passes

QUOTE OF NOTE II

"We moved the ball but we gave up too many negative plays that set us back in down-and-distance. We have a hard time converting in some of those situations. We didn't create enough explosives down the field. There is no question that it's a huge concern as we move forward." -- Muschamp on offense not producing on early downs Saturday

QUOTE OF NOTE III

"That was a nice scrum. Really, it was the day of the big men. It was a close-quarters scrum at the end, running the ball for first downs. That's what we were supposed to do." -- LSU coach Les Miles on Saturday's physical contest

NOTES AND NUGGETS

The Gators' streak of limiting SEC opponents to 20 or less points is now at 13 games ... Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs left the game in the first half when he lost his helmet and was hit on the head by an LSU player. Jacobs returned and said afterward the injury was "nothing major." ... Mettenberger's fumble in the first half was recovered by defensive tackle Leon Orr, marking the 17th consecutive game UF has forced a turnover ... The Gators have not committed a turnover in back-to-back games ... Florida gave up five first downs to the Tigers because of penalties ... Sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison led the Gators with 12 tackles ... Punter Kyle Christy had a 14-yard pass to Neiron Ball on a fake punt in the fourth quarter to keep a Florida drive alive ... The first punt of Murphy's career -- a 36-yard pooch punt in the second quarter -- pinned LSU at its 1-yard line.

 

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