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Gator Report

Antonya English

Max Garcia: Gators O-line injuries no excuse for loss to Alabama

During Florida's 42-21 loss to Alabama, Florida LT Chaz Green missed part of the game due to injury and Trenton Brown suffered a high ankle sprain.

Senior center Max Garcia said with the line already stretched thin, injuries are a problem, but said it's no excuse for the Gators' loss.

More from Garcia on the problems Florida had in the game:

 

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Jeff Driskel: Gators a big part of the problem in Alabama loss

Florida QB Jeff Driskel said give No. 3 Alabama plenty of credit for its 42-21 victory over the Gators.

But just as big of a factor, according to Driskel, was Florida's own miscues.

"It has nothing to do with schemes we haven’t seen, we didn’t make the plays when they were there and they did," Driskel said.

More on his thoughts on what went wrong for the Gators:

 

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Will Muschamp: "Lack of execution" ends Gators upset bid over Alabama

After Florida's 42-21 loss to Alabama Saturday afternoon, Florida coach Will Muschamp said the Gators will go back to the drawing board during this week's bye.

The Gators gave up a school-record 645 yards and again struggled on offense.

Here is some of what Muschamp had to say following the game:

 

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Gators Kurt Roper has not so fond memories of facing Alabama

When No. 3 Alabama hosts Florida Saturday afternoon, it won't be the first time Gators offensive coordinator Kurt Roper has had to square off against a Nick Saban coached team.

The two meet as recently as 2010 when Roper was offensive coordinator at Duke.

The outcome?

Let's just say Roper is hoping for something much different for the Gators this weekend.

“We were actually in Durham against Alabama," he said. "That was a long day. 13, I think we had."

Then-reigning Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram ngram rushed for 151 yards and two touchdowns in his season debut, leading No. 1 Alabama to a 62-13 win. At the time, iw as the Tide's highest-scoring game in 19 years.

“That was an interesting ballgame," Roper said. "If I’m remembering 100 percent correctly, Mark Ingram it was his first game back from a knee or something like that. So he had actually sat out a couple of games. And it was Marcell Darius’ first game back. He had sat out a couple of games. So early in that game they give it to Mark Ingram and he scores. Next thing Julio Jones scores. You’re talking about first-rounders here. He scored and then we kick off, golly, who is the guy with the Green Bay Packers right now? (Eddie Lacy) …

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Amari Cooper vs. Vernon Hatgreaves a key matchup in Alabama-Florida game

One of the most highly-anticipated matchups in Saturday's game between No. 3 Alabama and Florida is that of Gators CB Vernon Hargreaves and Alabama WR Amari Cooper.

Hargreaves leads the SEC  and is tied for No. 1 nationally in passes defended. Cooper leads the nation in receptions per game (11.0).

The two are expected to see a lot of each other on Saturday, and you know the potential matchup is good when even coaches are looking forward to it.

"I mean obviously those are two great players," Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. "So I think, you know, it'll be a fun one to watch. I'm sure they're both probably excited to face each other, and that's what it's all about."

Hargreaves said he and Cooper are friendly and have spoken with each other via Twitter about the matchup.

"Coop he’s a great player, we talked a little bit, we both knew this was coming," Hargreaves said. "He’s excited. I’m excited. We both know the magnitude of the game, and it’s going to be a great matchup on Saturday.”

Cooper described Hargreaves as "Fast, quick, he plays smart.” But in fact, he's looking forward to playign against two Gator defenders. …

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Keeping up with the Tide

As the Gators prepare to play No. 3 Alabama on Saturday afternoon, here are some links from writers who cover Alabama to give you more insight on the Tide.

Tidesports.com Senior Writer Aaron Suttles writes about the expanded role for freshman CB Tony Brown in the Gators' game.

ESPN.com writer Alex Scarborough writes about how Alabama's secondary is thin for the game against Florida.

Michael Casagrande of al.com writes about how the Tide changed its practice schedule this week  due to extreme heat to ensure players are fresh for Saturday's game. The temperature is expected to about 90 degrees in Tuscaloosa Saturday afternoon.

And while one of the most highly anticipated matchups on Saturday is between Tide WR Amari Cooper and Florida CB Vernon Hargreaves, Scarborough writes the Tide needs more than Cooper to win.

And Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star says fans should savor the Alabama-Florida game because the two don't get together nearly enough.

Marq Burnett of the Anniston Star writes about Alabama's improved ability to affect the passer, according to Saban.

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Dante Fowler confident young Gators can handle first road test

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Dante Fowler remembers the first time he went on the road as a Florida Gator.

It was Texas A&M and he was a true freshman.

"There was a TV timeout before I went in the game, so I got to like just look around and see what was going on" Fowler said. "It can have you like, 'Wow, this is for real.'"

Fowler is now a junior, and on Saturday he'll be among the veteran players who will be leading a lot of young players into Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa for the Gators' first road trip of the season.

No. 3 Alabama has won three consecutive games in this series and Fowler knows it'll be a challenge - particularly for young players.

"There's some tough parts, now," Fowler said. "You're not used to different environments. Sometimes it's players' first time out of state or on a plane, just being in different states. Just the environment. As long as you have your composure, you'll be fine."

More from Fowler on Alabama and what the Gators' learned from their triple overtime win over Kentucky.

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Gators say Blake Sims poses a serious threat at QB for Alabama

Although Alabama has used both quarterbacks Blake Sims and Jake Coker this season, Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said it appears the Tide has settled on Sims, for now, and for good reason.

"He's very dangerous on his feet,” Durkin said Wednesday. “He creates plays on the ground when the pocket breaks down. There are some design runs to him, but I think sometimes when it’s not designed plays, they do a good job of moving the pocket with him. And I think he throws it well and delivers the ball well for them, too. He’s a dangerous guy and we’ve got to be really conscious of where he’s at and containing him and keeping him in front of us because he can beat you either way, throwing it or running it.”

Durkin said the Gators will prepare for both quarterbacks in the event coach Nick Saban decides to go back to the two-QB system on Saturday.

"We understand there’s a possibility of seeing either-or," Durkin said. "I think Blake is kind of the guy they’ve deemed as their No. 1, but we’re ready for either one of them. We have game plans and certain calls that we would like versus either one of them, but again I think he’s moving the offense well for them.” …

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For Alabama's Nick Saban, facing Will Muschamp not personal

The relationship between Florida coach Will Muschamp and his former employer and mentor Nick Saban is well-documented. Muschamp credits Saban for a big part of his success as a coach.

 

But when Florida and No. 3 Alabama meet Saturday afternoon, the personal relationship will have to be put aside. 

 

"There's two things that I look at this as, my responsibility is to Alabama football and what we have to do to try to be successful here," Saban said. "But it's never personal with me when it comes to the opponent. I never try to make it personal. We compete against each other and we're still friends, and that's the way it's going to be."

 

After leading the Gators to a 4-8 season last year, and needing triple overtime to defeat Alabama last week, many members of the national media still consider Muschamp a coach on the hot seat.

 

Saban has a different opinion on the job Muschamp is doing - and his role in his friend's job security.

  …

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Gators Max Garcia on Alabama: :"We'll be ready for this test"

Florida center Max Garcia is well aware the Gators are a 14 point underdog heading into Saturday's game at No. 3 Alabama.

That's just fine, Garcia said. The Gators don't need anyone to believe in them, but themselves, he said.

And make no mistake, the Gators will be ready on Saturday, he said.

Listen to more from Garcia about the upcoming game against Alabama:

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Brothers Landon Collins, Gerald Willis meet on the field in Alabama vs. Florida

Saturday afternoon's SEC showdown between No. 3 Alabama and Florida will feature a little sibling rivalry.

Alabama's Landon Collins and Florida's Gerald Willis are half-brothers who are eager to meet on the field.

Collins said he'd like an opportunity to hit his brother.

More on the story from TideSports.com senior writer Aaron Suttles

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After miserable 2013 season, Kyle Christy happy to be back on track

VIDEO BELOW:

One year after losing his starting job midway through the season as he struggled with his kicking duities, Florida punter Kyle Christy appears to be making a strong comeback.

Christy had a stellar performance in Saturday night's triple overtime win over Kentucky, and was named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

He had six punts for 292 yards with a net punting average of 45.5, including four inside the 20-yard line. One of those punts was a season-high 61-yarder in the fourth quarter, falling just six yards shy of matching his career best.

"Kyle Christy punted the ball extremely well," coach Will Muschamp said. "I think his net was right at 45. He really flipped the field and early in the game."

Five of Christy's nine punts this season have been for 50 yards or more. He ranks first in the SEC with a
48.6-yard season punting average through the third week of the season.

Two years ago, Christy, now a senior, was one of three finalists for the prestigious Ray Guy Award.

Listen to Christy talk about Saturday night's performance and why he believes he's regained his form.

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Alabama's Nick Saban impressed with Gators' Kurt Roper, improved offense

Alabama may be a double-digit favorite over Florida right now, but count Alabama coach Nick Saban among those who believe the Gators are a much improved team from last season.

Saban, a former boss and mentor to Florida coach Will Muschamp, said Monday he's impressed by what he's seen from new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper so far.

"The new offensive coordinator has definitely done a really good job with them in terms of what they're doing offensively," Saban said. "They have some significant impact players back that were injured a year ago. The quarterback has played really well. The two runnig backs have played very, very well. No. 11 (Demarcus) Robinson, the receiver, is one of the top guys in the country. This is a much, much, much improved, very good offensive football team. Their offensive line is big and playing much better because they've got some continuity back there as well."

No. 3 Alabama will host Florida Saturday, at 3:30 p.m. EST. The game will be televised on CBS.

  …

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Gators Kyle Christy named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week

One year after losing his starting job midway through the season as he struggled with his kicking duities, Florida punter Kyle Christy appears to be making a strong comeback.

Christy has a stellar performance in Saturday night's triple overtime win over Kentucky, and has been named the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

He had six punts for 292 yards with a net punting average of 45.5, including four inside the 20-yard line. One of those punts was a season-high 61-yarder in the fourth quarter, falling just six yards shy of matching his career best.

"Kyle Christy punted the ball extremely well," coach Will Muschamp said. "I think his net was right at 45. He really flipped the field and early in the game."

Five of Christy's nine punts this season have been for 50 yards or more. He ranks first in the SEC with a
48.6-yard season punting average through the third week of the season.

Two years ago, Christy, now a senior, was one of three finalists for the prestigious Ray Guy Award.

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Alabama hoping to spread offense around vs. Gators

It's only Monday, but there has already been a ton of talk about Alabama WR Amari Cooper vs. the Gators.

And with good reason. And the Gators try to shore up their young secondary, Cooper is leading the SEC in receptions per game (11) and is second behind Florida's Demarcus Robinson in receiving yards per game (454). Cooper has 33 receptions so far this season.

But Alabama coach Nick Saban said Monday he wants to spread the offense around so teams can't just key on Cooper.

Here is more on what Saban hopes to accomplish against the Gators from AP writer John Zenor.

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