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NCAAF Team Report - Florida - INSIDE SLANT
After a disappointing loss at rival Miami, Florida has plenty to work on before its SEC opener Sept. 21 against Tennessee.
So the bye week comes at a good time for the Gators. Florida (1-1) needs to get healthy and refocused after committing five turnovers in a 21-16 loss to the Hurricanes.
For Florida coach Will Muschamp, the blame for the Miami loss didn't just fall on the offense. Muschamp was disappointed that Florida's defense allowed two early touchdowns, which allowed the Hurricanes to jump to a 14-6 lead. The Gators were forced to play catch-up the rest of the way.
"Disappointed with the way we started the game (defensively) from the standpoint you give somebody some belief," Muschamp said on his coach's show. "We did that early in the game. We just can't allow that to happen.
"We started slow in the game for whatever reason. We're researching that as a staff as far as defensively not playing better. We came back and played extremely well as the second half rolled in."
Turnovers are another big problem. Last season, Florida finished with a turnover margin of plus-15, a big reason why the Gators finished 11-2. Through two games this season, Florida's turnover margin is at minus-4 (six committed, two forced).
"We need to go back in the off week and work on ball security and playing better in those situations," Muschamp said.
Starting Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has accounted for four of Florida's six turnovers with two interceptions and two lost fumbles.
"It starts with me being careless with the ball," Driskel said. "(The turnovers) were costly. We're going to have to recover from this and not hang our heads."
Tennessee could provide just the tonic the Gators need to get back on track. Florida has won eight straight in the series between SEC East rivals. Tennessee's last win over Florida came in 2004, when the Vols beat the Gators 30-28 on a last-second 50-yard field goal from James Wilhoit.
Muschamp believes his team is capable of bouncing back from the Miami loss.
"We've got a good group in there," Muschamp said. "We've got good character in that locker room. They're hurt right now, they're disappointed. You lose as a team, you win as a team. We gave them way too much momentum and belief early in the game and that's what they needed."
NCAAF Team Report - Florida - NOTES, QUOTES
BYE WEEK MISSION: The Gators intend to make ball security and fundamentals a priority after turning the ball over five times (three fumbles, two interceptions) against Miami. Florida coach Will Muschamp said the Gators will spend Monday and Tuesday of the bye week working on their own issues. Florida will take Wednesday off before starting on the game-plan for its SEC opener vs. Tennessee on Thursday.
--QB Jeff Driskel took a step back in his development in the 21-16 loss to rival Miami. Driskel accounted for three of Florida's five turnovers, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble on a strip sack. The interceptions proved costly, because both were in the red zone. On one interception, Driskel rolled to his right before trying to throw the ball across his body toward the middle of the end zone. Driskel also overthrew wide open Gator receiver Quinton Dunbar in the end zone. For the Miami game, Driskel finished with a career high 291 yards passing and had a 9-yard TD run. But the bad decisions outweighed the good plays.
--WR Solomon Patton was one of the few bright spots for the Gators against Miami. Patton atoned for a drop the week before against Toledo, finishing with 118 yards receiving on six catches and a TD. Patton made a diving 46-yard reception from QB Jeff Driskel, the longest play from scrimmage for the Gators this season and the longest in Patton's career. He later caught a 21-yard TD pass in the fourth quarter. Patton's 118 receiving yards was the most for a Gator receiver since Andre Debose had three catches for 151 yards against Furman on Nov. 19, 2011.
-- LB/DE Ronald Powell is coming back nicely after a pair of torn ACL injuries sidelined him for the entire 2012 season. Powell recorded his second sack of the season against Miami and had three tackles for loss. Overall, Florida's defense had eight tackles for loss against Miami.
-- CB Loucheiz Purifoy made an impact on special teams in his first game of the season. After sitting out the season opener against Toledo due to a disciplinary suspension, Purifoy blocked a punt against Miami, setting up UF's first touchown. It was Purifoy's third blocked kick of his career.
--CB Vernon Hargreaves III recorded his second interception in as many weeks against Miami. The true freshman from Tampa is proving to be adept in pass coverage in nickel and dime formations.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "If you point one finger, you've got three fingers pointing right back at you. So before you point fingers at somebody else, you've got to point fingers at yourself. We're a team. We don't play as individuals." -- Florida linebacker Michael Taylor, on whether the defense was frustrated with the turnovers on offense in Miami's 21-16 win over the Gators.
NCAAF Team Report - Florida - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Scouting the offense: Florida coach Will Muschamp stressed he wanted more balance when the season began. Through two games, Florida has achieved that balance with 444 yards passing and 384 yards rushing. But turnovers (six in two games) have killed promising drives throughout the first two weeks of the season. Florida has been inefficient in the red zone, scoring just four TDs in 12 trips inside the 20-yard line. Injuries to RT Chaz Green and RG Jon Halapio have caught up to UF's offensive line. RT Tyler Moore was beaten badly in pass protection throughout the Miami game.
Scouting the defense: The good news? Florida's front seven looks strong. The Gators have managed to get consistent push up front in the first two games of the season with 14 tackles for loss and three sacks. The Gators have allowed just 100 yards rushing in two games on 2.3 yards per carry. But UF's secondary had some lapses against Miami. Redshirt freshman SS Marcus Maye blew a coverage deep, which led to a 52-yard TD pass from Miami quarterback Stephen Morris to receiver Phillip Dorsett.
Scouting the special teams: P Kyle Christy was a little better against Miami (42.5 yards per punt, two downed inside the 20). But Christy is still not punting to the level he was at last season, when he was a Ray Guy Award finalist. PK Austin Hardin had made two of three field attempts this season and all four of his extra point attempts. CB Loucheiz Purifoy's blocked punt against Miami was Florida's 13th blocked punt or kick in two-plus seasons under head coach Will Muschamp.
-- QB Jeff Driskel is dealing with a knee sprain he suffered against Miami. Driskel was seen on campus on crutches on Monday, but in a statement, Florida said Driskel is expected to recover in time for UF's Sept. 21 matchup vs. Tennessee.
--RT Tyler Moore left the Miami game with an apparent ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Moore was seen leaving the game on crutches with an ice pack around his left ankle.
-- LT D.J. Humphries re-aggravated a knee sprain against Miami and sat out the entire second half. "He was very sore at halftime and didn't feel like he could go," Muschamp said.
-- CB Marcus Roberson left the Miami game in the third quarter with a strained knee. Muschamp doesn't expect the injury to be serious. "He'll be fine," Muschamp said.
--WR Latroy Pittman sat out the second of three straight games due to a disciplinary suspension.