After solid first win, Gators shift focus to Miami
Published: Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 7:37 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 7:37 p.m.
After putting together a solid team performance in an opening-day victory over Toledo, the Florida Gators should be back close to full strength heading into Saturday's game against Miami.
Who: No. 10 Florida (1-0) vs. Miami (1-0)
When: Noon Saturday
Where: Sun Life Stadium, Coral Gables
No. 1 tailback Matt Jones, starting middle linebacker Antonio Morrison and starting cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy are scheduled to return this week.
Jones, who has been recovering from a viral infection, dressed out Saturday and went through pre-game warm-ups with the team before UF's 24-6 victory. He's expected to be full-go for the UM game.
Morrison and Purifoy are returning from one-game suspensions, along with defensive tackle Darious Cummings and offensive tackle Quinteze Williams. Wide receiver Latroy Pittman remains under suspension for the next two games for a violation of team rules.
Even with Jones, Morrison and Purifoy sitting out Saturday's game, the Gators put together what Muschamp described Sunday as “a true team effort” in the win over the Rockets.
“Very pleased with our balance offensively,” Muschamp said on his Sunday television show. “Defensively, I thought we played extremely well. (Toledo) had only 54 snaps. They're a team that came in averaging about 80 snaps a game last year.
“That was a true team effort. Special teams created some field position for us. It was a good team win.”
Redshirt junior Mack Brown had a breakout game at tailback in place of Jones, rushing for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Overall, the Gators rushed for 262 yards and controlled the ball for much of the game, especially in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Jeff Driskel completed 17 of 22 passes for 153 yards and one touchdown.
“I thought Jeff played really well,” Muschamp said. “If not necessarily from a statistical standpoint, but the command he has with our offensive football team right now. I'm very pleased with where he is.”
Muschamp said he was disappointed the Gators didn't hit more pass plays down the field, but that those plays will be converted in future games.
“Those are going to come,” he said. “When you run the ball that well, you're going to create some explosive plays for yourself.”
Defensively, the Gators were on for most of the day, preventing Toledo's up-tempo offense from ever getting into any kind of rhythm. UF held the Rockets to 205 total yards, and Toledo converted only one of 13 third-down plays.
“When you play a tempo team, you've got to get off the field,” Muschamp said. “That's a huge point of emphasis going into the week. When you have opportunities on third down, you've got to get off the field.”
Due to illness, injury and suspensions, the Gators needed to rely on many of their young players Saturday, including nine true freshmen who played. Muschamp said the freshmen made an impact.
“I thought they performed very well under the circumstance of coming in and playing in The Swamp for the first time,” Muschamp said. “You never know how a young man is going to respond or react.”
Muschamp singled out cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, who had a big second-half interception, wide receivers Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson, linebackers Alex Anzalone and Jarrad Davis and tailback Kelvin Taylor, who rushed for 43 yards on the game's final drive.
“Kelvin's done a really nice job,” Muschamp said. “As the season continues to go, his role will continue to grow.”
Muschamp said another positive Saturday is the fact the Gators had zero problems with cramps in the heat and came out of the game with no serious injuries.
“Jeff Dillman and our strength staff do the best job in the country,” Muschamp said. “The last two years going into early-season games, we've had no issues with cramps. Our football team is in shape and ready to play.”
Starting offensive tackle D.J. Humphries injured his knee in Saturday's game, but it's not serious, Muschamp said.
“We think he's going to be fine (this week),” he said. “We've had enough injuries. We don't need any more.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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