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Gators' Muschamp blocks out critics

Will Muschamp has a 24-17 record in four seasons at Florida. [Getty Images]
Will Muschamp has a 24-17 record in four seasons at Florida. [Getty Images]
Published Sep. 29, 2014

GAINESVILLE — As Florida prepares to venture into the heart of its SEC football schedule, coach Will Muschamp said he's focused on Saturday's noon game at Tennessee and making sure the Gators are improving, and remains unfazed by the growing outside criticism.

Last week, athletic director Jeremy Foley said during a radio interview that Muschamp will be judged on his full body of work when the season is over. "You never judge or evaluate a program based on one game or one season,'' Foley said. "That's just not how we do things here."

Muschamp, whose UF record is 24-17 in his fourth season, said Monday he appreciates the support.

"Well certainly, it's positive," he said. "I appreciate that. I'm really concerned with what happens in the building. Those are the things that concern me the most, as our football team and what we need to do to continue to improve and get better.

"All the goals are still there. We've got a lot of football to play. Everything's out in front of us, let's go get it."

driskel it is: Muschamp reiterated that he's sticking with QB Jeff Driskel, despite his struggles. Freshman Treon Harris remains the No. 2 backup, but whether he'll play against the Vols remains to be seen.

"We go into every game considering some situational things, especially the red zone, to put him in the game," Muschamp said. "If that opportunity presents itself — in the Kentucky game and the Alabama game it never did — we would do that."

Third-string QB Will Grier missed all of last week with back spasms and is not expected to practice this week. Harris has gotten very limited reps with the No. 1s in practice and there won't be a two-quarterback system anytime soon. Muschamp said there are no immediate plans to play two QBs.

Driskel said of his critics: "You've just got to be even-keeled and keep moving forward. I'm grown. I can handle it.''

injury updates: Gators DL Leon Orr (ankle) will miss the Vols game. Orr, a New Port Richey Gulf alum, had surgery to repair a torn meniscus last week, and has a bone bruise in his knee. The Gators had held out hope last week he might play this week. Freshman WR C.J. Worton (hand) is also out. LB Mike Taylor (knee) and RB Brandon Powell (hamstring) are both questionable to doubtful. OL D.J. Humphries was expected to practice on Monday and will return after missing two games. "He got some good work in last week," Muschamp said. "He'll be ready to go."

lsu on hold: CBS will use its six-day option for game selections for Oct. 11, so kickoff for the Gators' game against LSU won't be announced until Sunday. Games under consideration are: LSU at Florida, Auburn at Mississippi State, Ole Miss at Texas A&M, Alabama at Arkansas and Georgia at Missouri.

CBS will televise a doubleheader, at noon and 3:30 p.m. ESPN will televise games, at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. CBS has the first selection for its 3:30 p.m. game and ESPN has the next two selections, then CBS will select its noon game. The SEC Network has the final selection.

inside the numbers: The Vols lead the nation in defensive third down percentage, limiting opponents to only 11 of 53 on third downs, a 20.8 percent rate. Tennessee has also forced opponents to go three-and-out on 29.8 percent of possessions, the fifth-best total in the SEC and the 23rd-best nationally. The Gators are 13th in the league on third down conversions — 17 of 50 for 34 percent.

Contact Antonya English at aenglish@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3389. Follow @TB Times_Gators.