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Gators linebacker Michael Taylor, No. 51, wants defense to tighten up against the run Saturday at Missouri.

Tuesday October 15, 2013Notebook: Gators Refuse to Use Injuries as Excuse; Run Defense to be Tested, More Tidbits

Gators linebacker Michael Taylor, No. 51, wants defense to tighten up against the run Saturday at Missouri.

Scott Carter
By SCOTT CARTER
GatorZone.com Senior Writer

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The first one happened the first week of fall camp when freshman linebacker Matt Rolin, expected to contend for playing time and play on special teams, suffered a season-ending knee injury.

Since Rolin’s torn ACL Florida’s injury list has grown considerably.

Andre Debose (knee), Chaz Green (shoulder), Jeff Driskel (knee), Dominique Easley (knee), Nick Washington (shoulder) and Matt Jones (knee) have joined Rolin with season-ending injuries.

The loss of Jones at LSU on Saturday prompted Gators head coach Will Muschamp to once again pull his “man down, man up” mantra from his pocket.

Will Muschamp

Muschamp could only mumble an affirmative when a reporter asked if this was the most injury plagued season of his coaching career.

“It's unfortunate," Muschamp said. “More than anything, I hate it for the young men. They put a lot of time and effort into playing in this game. That's what hurts the most, to see guys go through the struggle and having to make that phone call and tell them what's going on or having to walk them in the training room to tell them what's happening.”

The offense has been the hardest hit with five of the seven season-ending injuries coming on that side of the ball.

With Jones out, redshirt junior Mack Brown and freshman Kelvin Taylor will get most of the carries.

The Gators don’t have time to feel pity with the SEC East lead on the line at Missouri.

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said Tuesday that while his unit has been hit hardest, others have stepped up.

“I think a lot of guys have been the glue,” Pease said. “I don't think there's one specific person. I think it’s good leadership by kids, and the fact, you know, whoever has to step in, they've done just as much work in the offseason, stepped into the huddle with each other, and I think they got a camaraderie, respect for each other.”

ROBERSON’S RETURN

Junior cornerback Marcus Roberson was finally healthy enough to return to the lineup at LSU.

Roberson missed three games after hurting his knee last month at Miami.

Marcus Roberson

“On a freak play, I made a pass break-up and fell on me knee,’’ he said Tuesday. “It was frustrating, but I was just trying to do what was best for me and the team and get healthy and get back out there.”

Roberson had a pass break-up at LSU in his first game back and is ready to contribute more this week at Missouri. In his absence, true freshman Vernon Hargreaves III picked up the slack.

Hargreaves has three interceptions in his first six college game.

“I like him as a player,” Roberson said. “He makes plays. You could see his work ethic and all the intangibles he has that make him a better play. You can’t take nothing from him. He is going to continue to get better.”

MURPHY’S POOCH

Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy used his foot instead of his arm on a pooch punt Saturday.

With Florida facing a fourth-and-5 at LSU’s 37 late in the second quarter, Murphy used a pooch punt to pin LSU at its 1-yard line. The Tigers ran four plays before time expired in the first half.

Murphy’s punt was Florida’s best of the day.

“It’s something we work on within the special-teams phase, and Coach Muschamp decides when to use it,’’ Pease said. “He did a great job. We wouldn’t do that if we didn’t know he had the ability to kick the ball a little bit.”

READY TO STOP RUN

Missouri is second in the SEC in rushing, averaging 239.3 yards per game. The Tigers have four players who have rushed for 290 yards or more but will be without dual-threat starting quarterback James Franklin.

Missouri’s leading rusher is Russell Hansbrough, who is averaging 65.2 yards per game and 7.5 per carry. Meanwhile, the Gators lead the SEC in run defense, limiting opponents to 83.3 yards per game. In Florida’s 14-7 win at home last season, the Gators outrushed Missouri 170-99.

Michael Taylor

Florida’s inability to slow down LSU’s Jeremy Hill (19 carries, 121) Saturday played a huge factor in the Gators’ 17-6 loss.

 “It was disappointing that we couldn’t stop what we knew they wanted to do,’’ Gators linebacker Michael Taylor said Tuesday. “They came in and established the run and that pretty much controlled most of the game for them.”

Muschamp said Hill’s success was attributable to multiple factors.

“I think as much as anything, gap control and when you play a team like that, you’ve got to get off blocks,’’ Muschamp said. “We got logged on blockers too much, didn’t disengage enough getting off blocks and making plays. You can’t put a free helmet in the box every time as far as against a team like that that throws as well as they do.”

While Arkansas rushed for 81 yards in the first quarter of Florida’s 30-10 win Oct. 5, the Gators held the Razorbacks to only 30 yards on the ground the rest of the game.

Until Hill’s success, the Gators had played well up front since losing Easley, the defense’s best player in the first three games.

“I don’t feel that all hope is lost just because we lost Dom,’’ Taylor said. “He played a very important role for our defense but other guys just have to step up and bring what he brought to the table.”

BY THE NUMBERS

36 – Consecutive games Missouri has forced a turnover, the longest active streak among FBS schools

17 – Consecutive games Florida has forced a turnover

13 – SEC-best interceptions for Missouri’s defense

13 – Points per game allowed by Florida’s defense, second in the SEC behind Alabama (11.3)

QUOTE OF NOTE I

“The whole game was really just a motivator for next week and let us know we weren’t really where we thought we were and that we need to bang more.” – Gators offensive lineman D.J. Humphries on what offensive line took from physical LSU loss

QUOTE OF NOTE II

“I don't want to ever have a crutch for anything. We expect our guys to play well. We prepare them for crowd noise and playing in a different situation.” – Muschamp on if crowd noise at LSU was factor in communication for offense

Brent Pease

QUOTE OF NOTE III

“Like any coach, and like all our coaches, we all have ideas we share. He's very open about what we do. He allows us to do our job, do what we want to do to be successful, and like he says, 'do what we gotta do to when a football game.' That's what we've got to do. I think he's got his philosophy on what the makeup of our team is. Everybody is good with that, including myself." – Pease when asked about Muschamp’s influence on offense

OPPONENT SPOTLIGHT

The Tigers host the Gators coming off a 41-26 win over Georgia. While it was a huge win for Missouri, the Tigers lost starting quarterback Franklin for an extended period due to a shoulder injury. Meet redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, set to start Saturday against the Gators …

 


TOPICAL TWEET

Easley is scheduled to undergo surgery later this week to repair his injured right knee …

 

WHAT THEY’RE WRITING

--Athlon Sports offers its SEC midseason review and ranks Gators freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III as the league’s newcomer of the year.

--ESPN.com’s Edward Aschoff filed this midseason report on the Gators.

--Columbia (Mo.) Daily Tribune writer David Morrison files his Snap Decisions: Backfield in motion, Mauk calls and more from Missouri’s win over Georgia.

--Why CBS passed on SEC East leader Missouri and its pivotal games writes Jon Solomon of The Birmingham (Ala.) News

--Tigers have full faith in Mauk writes Vahe Gregorian of The Kansas City Star.

NOTES AND NUGGETS

Muschamp said defensive lineman/linebacker Ronald Powell hopes to return to practice Wednesday; Powell suffered an ankle sprain Saturday at LSU … Florida and Missouri have a common opponent in Toledo. The Mid-American Conference Rockets opened the season with a 24-6 loss at The Swamp, and then lost 38-23 the following week at Missouri … In the national statistical rankings, the Gators’ high mark is second in pass defense efficiency (85.52); their low mark is 114th in red-zone offense (.680) … Missouri receivers coach Pat Washington was Kentucky’s receivers coach last season under former Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips, now Florida’s receivers coach … Solomon Patton is averaging 17.3 yards per catch on his 22 receptions, fourth in the SEC among receivers with 20-plus catches.

 

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