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Gator Report

Antonya English

Gators OC Kurt Roper has fond memories of Knoxville

When Kurt Roper travels to Knoxville this weekend, the Gators offensive coordinator will be all about businesss.

But Roper took a moment today to talk about his fond memories of his time coaching for former Tennessee coach Phil Fulmer during the start of his career.

Knoxville is also the place where Roper met his wife.

You can hear more from Roper on his Knoxville days here:

 

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Butch Jones expects Vols to bounce back and be ready for Gators

Because he's dealing with such a young team, Tennessee coach Butch Jones doesn't know exactly what to expect from the Vols when they host the Gators Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium.

The Vols have played 22 true freshmen this season - the most of any Division I program in the nation - and are coming off a 35-32 loss to Georgia.

"Half of our football team wasn't here, so they don't have that experience to rely on (after a loss)," Jones said. "All I know about this football team is we have great competitive character. It's very important to them. Now, it's all new to them. How do we bounce back after an extremely (physical) football game? That was two football teams laying it on the line Saturday afternoon. I was exceptionally proud of our effort. We still need to continue to get better with that though. Our kids fought to the bitter end and you can see the resiliency, you can see the perseverance. Again, every week is a new season in and of itself."

But Jones is feeling pretty confident the Vols will be ready to play on Saturday.

"It's a new week, it's a new opportunity," he said. "I expect them to bounce back. I expect them to be ready to go both mentally and physically." …

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Will Muschamp: Vols' success begins with QB Justin Worley and the offense

The Gators are going to Tennessee this week, which means lots and lots of Rocky Top.

Or maybe not.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said he's hoping the Gators play well enough that he won't have to hear the band playing the Vols' fight song all day long at Neyland Stadium.

He's been hearing it in Gainesville already.

"Hopefully not very long, that means they're not playing it very much," Muschamp said Monday when asked about hearing the song on Saturday. "We hear in in practice every day. We've got to listen to that. Humming it walking in, I can tell you that."

Hear more from Muschamp as he previews this weekend's game with praise for Vols QB Justin Worley and the offense:

 

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Gators secondary still a work in progress

Florida will get a chance to see very quickly whether its struggling secondary has improved with extra work during the bye week.

The Gators are ranked next to the bottom in pass defense in the SEC, giving up an average of 287.7 through the air and eight passing touchdowns. Florida worked extensively on those areas last week, but coach Will Muschamp said it remains a work in progress, including whether there will be personnel changes.

"We're still working through that right now," he said.  "Brian (Poole) is repping some in the nickel. Duke Dawson's repping some at the safety position. You know, between Jalen (Tabor) and Quincy (Wilson) at corner, trying to find the right combination there and continuing to rep Marcus (Maye) in the nickel and at safety as well. Keanu Neal has done a nice job with some things and Jabari (Gorman). We're just continuing to find the right combination. We've got a whole week of practice this week, so we'll make those decisions probably the latter part of the week, probably Friday or Saturday."

In games against Kentucky and Alabama, the Gators gave up TD's of 60, 33 87, and 79 yards.

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Vols fans plan to "checker" Neyland Stadium when Gators come to town

Tennessee coach Butch Jones is asking Vols fans to do something extra special to give their team more of  home field advantage when Florida comes to town on Saturday.

Jones sent the following Tweet out to Vols fans about Saturday SEC East showdown:

#VolNation you asked for it, now make it a reality!!! Go to http://CheckerNeyland.com  to find out what color to wear on Sat! #CheckerNeyland

The idea is for fans to wear orange and white to make the stadium look checkered. But it requires some prep work.

More on the story here from Mary Scott of WBIR in Knoxville.

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Jeremy Foley says Will Muschamp to be evaluated on entire season

Florida coach Will Muschamp's job status won't be determined by one or two games, but by his entire body of work this season, Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley said.

Florida has a bye this week after losing 41-21 to No. 3 Alabama on the road last week.

"You never judge or evaluate a program based on one game or one season, Foley said on "Open Mike" on 790 The Game in Orlando, reported by ESPN.com "That's just not how we do things here. We're going to evaluate where we're headed, where the players are, how is recrutiing going, what type of staff do we have, are we better?"

"That's going to be plain for all of us to see, but it's also going to be played out over the course of 11 games, and we'll see where we are when we get to the end of the season."

Florida finished last season 4-8 and is 1-6 in SEC games dating back to last season. The Gators will play at Tennessee on Oct. 4 at noon on the SEC Network.

Muschamp said on Wednesday that he is sticking with struggling QB Jeff Driskel, but that no one in the secondary is promised a starting job or playing time unless they improve.

"That's what I've told the players," Muschamp said. 

 

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James Bates, Louis Oliver to be inducted into Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame

Former Florida All-American safety Louis Oliver (1984-1988) and LB James Bates (1993-1996) will be inducted into the Georgia-Florida Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Oct. 31 at EverBank Field. They will be joined by Georgia legends Pat Dye and Ben Zambiasi who will also be inducted.

Oliver went to Florida in 1984 as a walk-on, then earned a scholarship in 1985. He became a starter in 1986, and was named a first-team All-American in 1987 and 1988. He was one of three finalists for the Thorpe Defensive Back of the Year Award in 1988.

Oliver played seven seasons in the NFL with the Miami Dolphins (1989 - 1993, 1995-1996) and the Cincinnati Bengals (1994).

Bates started 20 games in his career and had 166 total tackles at middle linebacker. He played 45 games in his career and was Florida's leading tackler during that span. He is now a college football analyst for Fox Sports and its college football show, "The NEW College Football Show." …

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Gators plan to stick with QB Jeff Driskel

In the fallout from Florida's 42-21 loss to Alabama last weekend, coach Will Muschamp said he has no plans to replace Jeff Driskel as the Gators' starting QB, despite Driskel's struggles.

The reality is at this point Driskel is what's best for the Gators, Muschamp said.

"Jeff needs to play better and I think he'd be the first person to tell you that," Muschamp said.  "I thought he forced four to five balls where in some situations you check the ball down or you take the ball somewhere else. He had four drops that I thought were all critical downs, especially the second or third series of the game, you know, you got a third-down conversion, the ball’s on the money and you've got to catch the ball. The wheel route to Andre (Debose), you got to catch the ball. The seam ball to Latroy (Pittman) - we got four drops. That’s hard. …

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Urban and Shelley Meyer surprised by Aaron Hernandez murder charges

As part of their interview with HBO's REAL SPORTS, former Florida coach Urban Meyer and his wife Shelley say they never could have imagined former Gator TE Aaron Hernandez would be facing a murder charge.

The Meyers said Hernandez was like a member of their family, and although they knew he had problems, they didn't expect anything this severe.

Hernandez, a former Gators All-American and member of the New England Patriots, is currently in jail awaiting trial after being charged with the murder of Odin Lloy - the boyfriend of his girlfriend's sister.

Listen to what Urban and Shelley Meyer have to say about Hernandez and the number of Florida player arrests when Meyer was head coach at Florida.

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Emmitt Smith apologizes to Will Muschamp, Gators for negative Tweets

Former Florida All-American and NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith reached out the Florida coach Will Muschamp to offer an apology after Tweeting a negative comment about QB Jeff Driskel during Saturday's 42-21 loss to Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

Smith Tweeted: "Put Driskel on the bench please, I've seen enough."

Muschamp said today Smith later offered an apology.

“Emmitt called to apologize - to me, to Jeff Driskel and our football team," Muschamp said. "He was frustrated. He wants us to win. He wants us to be successful. He’s a great Gator. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, and I appreciate Emmitt calling and saying the things he said, I really do. He’s a class individual, and he’s about all the right things.”

Driskel was 9-of-28 for 93 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.


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Mark Herndon, Leon Orr among injuries affecting Gators heading into Tennessee game

Florida DL Leon Orr (New Port Richey Gulf) underwent surgery earlier this week and could miss the Gators' game at Tennessee on Oct. 4.

RB Mark Herndon suffered an ACL injury and is out for the remainder of the season.

"Leon Orr had a scope on Monday," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "It was just a small tear in the meniscus. Cleaned that up. He had a bone bruise as well. He will be questionable for Tennessee. He was walking (Tuesday), so we'll see how he continues to progress."

Herndon, a former walkon who earned a scholarship last season, was a huge contributor on special teams.

"Disappointed for Mark Herndon," Muschamp said. "Lost him for the year, had an ACL. Was covering a kick there, got his foot caught and got hit on it and turned funny, so disappointed for Mark."

OL D.J. Humphries (ankle) expected to return for the game against the Vols after missing two games. LB Mike Taylor has a bone bruise that is causing swelling on his knee and is questionable for the UT game.

"We'll see how he continues to progress," Muschamp said. "He would be questionable at this time for Tennessee, but those things over the weekend, he may come around. So we'll see how he does."

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Urban Meyer is talking about his stressful time at Florida - again

Most Florida fans are simply over talking about former coach Urban Meyer, but apparently Meyer isn't over talking about his time at Florida.

The Ohiio State University coach is again publicly talking about his extremely stressful time during his six-year tenure at Florida - where he won two national championships.

HBO's REAL SPORTS correspondent Andrea Kremer sat down with Meyer to discuss his departure from Florida, his new position at Ohio State, and his intention to maintain the balance between work and family.

Here is an excerpt from that interview.

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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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