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Might RB Taylor Be The Star Skill Player Florida’s Been Longing For

NCAA Football: Florida-Spring PracticeReaders of this site know that we’ve been pointing to Florida’s lack of skill players since Tim Tebow left Gainesville.  It’s become a trendy topic this year, but we’ve been pointing to it in semi-defense of guys like John Brantley, Jeff Driskel and Tyler Murphy.  The problem isn’t new.  The Gators haven’t had dependable, scary, every-down playmakers on offense in several seasons.

Ah, but might they have finally found their man?  Someone to take some of the heat off of their quarterback?

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease seems to think freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has the potential to be that guy:

 

“Kelvin has improved tremendously.  I’m not sure how you guys view it, but I’m excited about Kelvin.  I think he’s really come on with the game experience.  When you go back and look at the film, there’s still spots you say, ‘Here’s what you need to do, here what you need to understand more.’  But in the same sense, he’s getting all these things.

And he’ll get better and better.  I want to see him in his third or fourth year.  He’s going to probably be outstanding.”

 

You can bet Pease would like to see him in his third or fourth year.  Most feel that Pease will be pushed overboard by Muschamp this offseason.

Taylor’s workload has increased as the season has worn on, culminating in a 96-yard effort last week at South Carolina (when everyone in Williams-Brice Stadium knew Florida had decided to run, run, run and run some more).

 

  Opponent   Attempts   Yards   Avg/Att   TDs
  Toledo   5   43   8.60   0
  Miami (FL)   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP
  Tennessee   1   3   3.00   0
  Kentucky   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP
  Arkansas   DNP   DNP   DNP   DNP
  LSU   10   52   5.20   0
  Missouri   12   74   6.17   1
  Georgia   20   76   3.80   0
  Vanderbilt   14   47   3.36   1
  S. Carolina   21   96   4.57   4

 

Look, Taylor’s numbers don’t exactly put him in the Heisman race.  But considering the fact opposing defenses know that Florida will run the vast majority of the time, Taylor’s play over the last four games has been a positive development.

In a season with very few positive developments in Gainesville.

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Florida DT Easley Done With ACL Injury?

mrsec-breaking-newsIt was reported this morning that Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley has suffered a torn ACL which would, in effect, end the senior’s UF playing career.  While Will Muschamp has said that Easley “tweaked” his knee during practice yesterday, he would not confirm reports of an ACL tear.  “We will see how it goes,” the coach said.

But a tweet from Easley suggests that he did indeed suffer a serious injury:

 

“Gatornation thank you for all 4 yrs of sticking with me but god has something else planned and have no worries.”

 

The Gators lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel to a broken leg during Saturday’s win over Tennessee.  To then also lose their brightest defensive star just four days later would be particularly cruel twist of fate.

Stay tuned.

Update: Florida confirms Easley is out for the season - tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in his right knee.

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Will Florida’s Offense Improve With New QB Murphy?

tyler-murphy-game-shotOver the weekend, Florida starting quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered a broken fibula in a 31-17 over Tennessee.  Following the game, Will Muschamp said of his starter: “I hurt for him.  I hurt for us because Jeff’s a good player.  It’s going to hurt us.”

According to Matt Hayes of The Sporting News: “I’m not buying it.”

Hayes believes that backup Tyler Murphy will come to the rescue of a long-dormant Florida offense.  Why?  His legs.

 

“When was the last time Florida was dynamic on offense?  When was the last time the Gators had a quarterbacks who pressed defenses and forced adjustments? 

When was the last time the Gators were exciting on offense: when they had a dynamic threat at the most important position on the field? 

The guy’s name was (Tim) Tebow and the year was 2009.”

 

For the Gators’ sake, here’s hoping Hayes isn’t being a little — OK, a lot — premature in his Murphy/Tebow comparison. UF’s offense has been lackluster for several seasons and to be honest, the Gators’ offense even in 2009 was almost all-Tebow.  If they could develop an offense to go with their fast/strong defense, the Gators could be scary good.

But let’s tap the brakes on the whole Murphy as Tebow thing.  One needs to keep in mind that Murphy’s numbers as a backup on Saturday (8-of-14 passing for 134 yards, one passing TD, 84 yards rushing and one TD on the ground) were similar to the numbers Driskel put up against the very same Tennessee team a year ago (14-of-20 passing for 219 yards, two passing TDs, and 81 yards rushing).  Driskel looked just as dynamic against Tennessee a year ago as Murphy did on Saturday.

This isn’t to say that Murphy didn’t come into his own during Saturday’s second half.  Nor is it impossible for him to elevate Brent Pease’s offense to another level.  But if one game against an outgunned Tennessee defense were a true measuring stick, then Driskel should have gone on to be Tebow II because he looked every bit as good and — to be frank — better than Murphy versus the Volunteers in 2012.

Murphy is a redshirt junior whose last action before 2013 was as a wide receiver versus South Carolina last year.  Sure, he may play Lou Gehrig to Driskel’s Wally Pipp, but three quarters of action doesn’t provide enough evidence to make that call.

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Florida Quarterback Jeff Driskel Has Broken Fibula, Done For The Season

Florida beat Tennessee Saturday but lost its quarterback for the season. The injury to Gators quarterback Jeff Driskel came in the first quarter. Hit on a pass that turned into a pick six interception for Tennessee, the initial word was that Driskel suffered a broken tibia.  Coach Will Muschamp later clarified that it was a broken fibula, the smaller bone in the lower leg.

Muschamp said the injury would require surgery and Driskel was done for the year.

Behind backup quarterback Tyler Murphy, Florida won the game 31-17.

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With Tennessee On Deck, Injured Florida QB Driskel “A Lot Better”

jeff-driskelFlorida quarterback Jeff Driskel sprained his left knee against Miami on September 7th.  After an open date this past weekend, the Gator signal-caller says he’ll be ready come Saturday when Tennessee visits in the SEC opener for both schools.

According to Driskel, his knee is “feeling a lot better” after the time off.

The Gator offense sputtered against Toledo in the Gators opener.  The next week, Brent Pease’s group rolled up 400+ yards on Miami, only to turn the ball over five times in an ugly, sloppy loss.  Now Driskel and company will need to dust off the cobwebs from an open date and fix some of their early-season mistakes:

 

“Just getting back to the basics.  That’s what you do during the bye week.  For me, cleaning up the reads, taking what’s there and not trying to force anything.  That’s what I’m going to have to do, and I really took that to hear.  Just get back to the basics, take what’s there and move on to the next play…

When we eliminate turnovers our offense has been doing really well this year.  Like we’ve said all along, when we handle us we’ll be find.  That’s what we’re going to try and do.”

 

While the Gators have been trying to handle themselves — sorry, couldn’t resist — they’ve also had time to eyeball Tennessee’s 59-14 loss to Oregon over the weekend.  Driskel’s take: “I think we have the players where we can hit some big plays.  We just have to make them when they’re there.  Oregon really took advantage of the looks when they were there and you can put up some big points when you take advantage of your opportunities.”

Driskel did just that last year in Knoxville.  He threw for 219 yards (his second best effort as a starter) and rushed for another 81 as UF notched its eighth win in a row over the Vols, 37-20.  This season, Driskel has run the ball 17 times for 38 yards, but coming off a knee injury, it will be interesting to see just how much running the Gator QB does on Saturday.

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Florida QB Driskel On Crutches With Knee Sprain

crutch 3dFlorida quarterback Jeff Driskel not only suffer the indignity of turning the ball over three times in 21-16 loss to rival Miami on Saturday.  He also suffered an injury.

The UF football program announced yesterday that Driskel — who’d been spotted using crutches on the Gainesville campus earlier in the day — was dealing with a “slight sprain to the knee.”  Luckily for Florida, the Gators have an open date before Tennessee visits The Swamp in two weeks.

The best game of Driskel’s career came last season against the Volunteers in Knoxville.  The Gator QB was 14-of-20 through the air for 219 yards, two scores and no interceptions.  He also gained 81 yards on eight carries in Florida’s 37-20 win.

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Get Ready For Florida’s Burton Package

trey-burton-p1Quarterback?  Running back?  Wide receiver?  Florida senior Trey Burton can play them all.  And according to Will Muschamp, he probably will this fall.

“He’s going to be in the slot for us and does a lot for us there,” the Gator coach said.  “We obviously will have a Trey Burton package, which was very effective for us last year.”

Burton played in 12 of the Gators’ 13 games a year ago.  As a rusher he gained 190 yards on 29 carries (a healthy 6.55 yards-per-carry average).  As a receiver he pulled in 18 passes for 172 yards.  As a passer he completed three of four passes for four yards.  He also returned three kicks for 33 yards.

All told, Burton scored three touchdowns on the season and accounted for 194 yards.  Here’s guessing most Florida fans wouldn’t ditto Muschamp’s “very effective” assessment.

An argument can certainly be made that Burton would have been more effective had he been given more touches last year.  He amassed just 51 which is a tad more than four per contest.

With quarterback Jeff Driskel and running back Matt Jones both out for now with health issues, Burton should be getting more work at practice.  For his part, he’s A-OK with offensive coordinator Brent Pease lining up in different spots.

“If I played nothing but running back, I’d be behind Mike Gillislee and I probably wouldn’t have played one game last year,” Burton told The Gainesville Sun.  “If I played nothing but wide receiver, I probably wouldn’t have played at all either.  So I’m just going to do whatever I possibly can to get on the field.”

That’s a great attitude to have and here’s hoping he will be able to make the most of a few added touches this fall.  But the fact of the matter remains… Burton appears to be more versatile than effective.

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SEC Headlines 8/2/2013

headlines-friSEC Football

1. Junior cornerback Nick Brasell is not academically eligible at Ole Miss.  Coach Hugh Freeze: “We are very disappointed that Nick is no longer a part of our program.”

2. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn turns down the chance to vote in the coaches poll.  ”You can’t blame him. You really should applaud him.”

3. What to think of LSU at No. 13 in the Coaches Poll? “A healthy amount of respect for LSU.” Texas A&M a ranked team apt to flop? “I’m not sure Johnny Football cares about football.”

4. LSU the most likely target of an Arkansas upset?

5. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin has a “chip” on his shoulder.  No, really he does. Defensive end Walker May:  ”We’re still disrespected in the SEC.”

6. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel says he’s on an accelerated recovery from appendectomy surgery.  “I want to be back as soon as possible.”

7. Expect Gator cornerback Lucheiz Purifoy “to have a full package of plays in the offense.”

8. It’s Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall at running back for Georgia. Forget “Gurshall”… “I don’t like it at all. I just don’t.” Marshall practiced with his left knee wrapped.

9. Georgia freshman wideout  Tramel Terry is coming off a torn ACL  but looked healthy and active in practice. Health is a big question in the Bulldogs receiving corps.

10. The hydrotherapy room is the centerpiece of Alabama’s expanded football facilities.

11. At preseason camp at Alabama, here are five position battles worth watching.

12. In the position battles at Auburn, it’s more than just the quarterback position.

13. Will it be Mike Davis or Brandon Wilds to replace Marcus Lattimore in the South Carolina backfield?

14. Dan Mullen’s message at Mississippi State’s first practice? “Raise the process of getting ready.”

15. A big focus at Missouri - a healthy offensive line. Their secret weapon?  A 12-man offense.

16. Want to be optimistic about Tennessee’s chances this fall?  Here are some reasons why you should.

17. Even if the SEC expands the conference schedule to nine games, don’t expect the Kentucky-Louisville series to end anytime soon.

SEC/College News

18. The U.S. Congress trying to guarantee some four-year scholarships?

19. Collegiate Licensing Company wants to remove four of five current college athletes from the Ed O’Bannon lawsuit.

20. Here are five teams that could break in to the Top 25 by November.

21. Debating the impact of position switches in college football - it can help a player or set him back.

22. Former Auburn running back Michael Dyer is headed to Louisville.

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Florida QB Driskel Undergoes Appendectomy; Should Be Ready By Fall Camp

mrsec-breaking-newsFlorida quarterback Jeff Driskel had his appendix removed today according to head coach Will Muschamp.  “Jeff had acute appendicits and fortunately the medical staff caught it very quickly,” the coach said.

The junior-to-be led the Gators to 10 of their 11 wins last season, passing and rushing for more than 2,000 yards combined.

“His surgery went well and how long he is out will be determined by how his body respond, which could be two weeks,” Muschamp said.

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SEC Media Days: Day 1 Wrap

media-days-bigFlorida

1. Even though he’s signed a baseball contract, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel’s focus is football.”I want to be a football player when I grow up. I haven’t hit a baseball in two years.”

2. Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley could have left early last year for the NFL but was projected as a third or fourth-round pick.  “I believe I can go higher.”

Missouri

3. Gary Pinkel’s message Tuesday:  ”I counted no fewer than 10 references to various versions of the same quote: “We’re used to winning.”

4. “Put Mizzou down for 7-5, and flip a coin for the bowl outcome. Don James will be right again.”

Ole Miss

5. Rehab for Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace will be over in two weeks. “He’s throwing that thing with a lot of heat on it.”

6. Ole Miss defensive back Nick Brassell may not be academically eligible this fall.

South Carolina

7. South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney on Tennessee offensive tackle Antonio Richardson: “He is the best at holding and getting away with it.” Also says Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray are scared of him.

8. Clowney on the idea of playing offense for South Carolina (an idea quickly shot down by his coach): “That would be fun.”

9. Steve Spurrier for SEC Commissioner? ”The college football world is a far more interesting place when South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier thinks he has a good football team.”

Media Notes

10. Florida-Toledo game at 12;21? There were a lot of “well, that’s a game I won’t attend” responses

11. Top quotes from Tuesday’s session.

 

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