UF's Muschamp has issue with rule


Florida Gators wide receiver Trey Burton (8), head coach Will Muschamp and wide receiver Quinton Dunbar (1) look onto the field after scoring a touchdown during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday Sept. 21, 2013 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated Tennessee 31-17. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 9:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 21, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.

Florida coach Will Muschamp didn’t take issue with an official’s call that ejected cornerback Brian Poole in the fourth quarter.

But Muschamp has a problem with the rule, which is part of the NCAA’s crackdown on preventing head injuries in college football. Poole was ejected early in the fourth quarter after making helmet-to-helmet contact with Tennessee receiver Brendan Downs following an incomplete pass from Vols quarterback Justin Worley. The targeting call was confirmed following replay review.

The NCAA instituted the rule to protect defenseless players from hits above the shoulders.

“Right call,” Muschamp said. “I don’t have any problem with the call. I have a problem with the rule. Brian Poole is not trying to flagrantly hurt anyone. It’s a bang-bang play. He’s trying to go up, the ball comes in, he goes in hard and it’s just a bang-bang play. It was the correct call.”

At the time, Poole’s ejection threw Florida’s makeshift secondary into further flux. Starting cornerback Marcus Roberson sat out the game with a knee injury and starting cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy suffered a thigh contusion in the third quarter following a kickoff return. Several busted coverages following Poole’s ejection resulted in Tennessee’s lone offensive touchdown drive, capped by an 18-yard TD pass from Worley to receiver Pig Howard.

But Florida regrouped on its next defensive series. Jabari Gorman came up with an interception, helping UF preserve its two-touchdown lead. Redshirt freshman safety Marcus Maye ended the game with his first career interception on a Tennessee Hail Mary attempt.

Under NCAA rules, Poole could sit out the first half of UF’s next game against Kentucky, pending review by the SEC office. Poole had recorded his first career interception earlier in the game.

Florida defensive lineman Dominique Easley was not happy with Poole’s ejection.

“I don’t like it,” Easley said. “It’s football. Let ’em play. He didn’t mean to do it. But they have to do what they have to do.”

Injury update

Florida entered its first conference game against the Vols more banged up than originally anticipated. Right tackle Tyler Moore sat out the game with an ankle injury, with Kyle Koehne starting in his place. True freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III made his first career start, replacing Roberson.

“It was a game-time decision,” Muschamp said of Roberson. “We didn’t feel like his knee was good enough to go. He should be fine for next week.”

Muschamp said Moore’s ankle “wasn’t stable enough” and that he will do some running next week. Backup running back Valdez Showers also missed the game with an ankle injury he suffered in Wednesday’s practice.

“That may be a week or two (injury),” Muschamp said.

Muschamp said he thinks Purifoy will be fine for Kentucky after sitting out most of the second half with his thigh injury. Purifoy started the game with his first play of the season on offense, a 15-yard carry on an option pitch from Jeff Driskel.

Jon Halapio returned to the starting lineup at right guard after missing UF’s first two games with a torn pectoral injury. Halapio was taken back to the locker room in the first quarter after getting poked in the eye but returned to finish the game.

Robinson suspended

True freshman Florida wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was suspended for the game for an unspecified violation of team rules.

Robinson was impressive for the Gators during open practices, but had not recorded a catch for UF in two games prior to his suspension. Muschamp said Robinson and receiver Latroy Pittman, who sat out the third game of a disciplinary suspension, will return next week for UF’s game at Kentucky.

Wuerffel celebrity ‘Mr Two Bits’

Former Florida standout quarterback Danny Wuerffel showed strong enthusiasm serving as the celebrity “Mr. Two Bits” before the game. The former Heisman Trophy winner initially dropped the “Two Bits” sign, but mustered some strong gestures to get UF’s sellout crowd energized.

Later in the first quarter, Wuerffel was honored by the College Football Foundation for his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame. Flanked by his family, Wuerffel was presented with a framed picture of himself at the 20-yard line.

Vol QB shuffle

Tennessee turned to a quarterback change before the game, starting redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman ahead of Worley. But the move backfired. Peterman lost two fumbles and finished just 4 of 11 for 5 yards before being replaced by Worley late in the first half.

Longtime Knoxville News-Sentinel columnist John Adams tweeted that Peterman’s performance “was the worst first-half of quarterbacking in Tennessee history. Nathan Peterman wasn’t ready for this.”

After the game, Tennessee coach Butch Jones defended his decision to start Peterman.

“He had a great week of preparation,” Jones said. “A lot of it, to the naked eye, everyone wants to point to the quarterback, but I didn’t think we did a good job in the first half, the first quarter, protecting the quarterback.”

Etc.

Florida’s announced crowd of 90,074 was its first sellout of the season. The stadium was about 90-percent full, with some open seats in the upper deck of the student section. … For the second game in a row, Florida had a quarterback run and throw for a touchdown in the same game. Two weeks ago in Miami, Driskel had a 9-yard TD run and a 21-yard TD pass. Against Tennessee, Tyler Murphy had a 52-yard TD pass and 7-yard TD run … In his homecoming game, Tennessee defensive lineman and former Gainesville High standout Jordan Williams finished with two tackles and no sacks.

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