Notebook: Gators support their teammate

Florida's Darious Cummings (55) celebrates intercepting a pass with defensive line mates Damien Jacobs (4) and Dominique Easley (2) during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Sept. 21. Florida defeated Tennessee 31-17.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 4:15 p.m.

Injured defensive tackle Dominique Easley addressed the team before it departed for Kentucky last Friday, telling the players to appreciate everything they have, especially their playing careers.

“He just told us just never take anything for granted. Because he never thought that on the Tuesday of practice that would be his last play in college,” said senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, Easley's roommate. “He just wanted to tell us to take advantage of every opportunity.”

Easley, a senior, sustained a season-ending knee injury in a non-contact situation in last Tuesday's practice. His UF career came to a sudden and unexpected end.

“He was just in shock. Just mostly in shock,” Jacobs said. “He can believe it now, but at first he couldn't believe it, it was like a dream.”

Jacobs said Easley's spirits have improved over the past week.

“He's doing pretty good,” he said. “He's staying positive, and I'm trying to keep him positive, so everything is going good.

“I'm just trying to put him back in that joking mode that he's always usually in. He's a big prankster and a big joker, so I try to keep him going that way.”

Jacobs said Easley's injury was a shock to the entire team, especially the defensive linemen.

“It was a heartbreaker,” Jacobs said. “It was probably one of the worst things I've been through, just losing him and losing that presence.”

Through three games, Easley had emerged as UF's most dominant defensive player, a disruptive inside force who spent a great deal of time in opposing backfields.

“Everybody knows he was the most dominant player we have on defense,” defensive end/tackle Jonathan Bullard said. “Hearing that you're losing not only that, but your team leader, it's just going to be a downfall for us. But you know, we've got to have players step up. We've got other great players on the team also and upperclassmen that can be good leaders. We've just got to go out and play like he did.”

Pease pleased with Murphy

Count offensive coordinator Brent Pease among the many who were impressed with quarterback Tyler Murphy's starting debut in the win over Kentucky.

Pease was asked Tuesday what Murphy needed to fix in his game.

“I don't want him to fix anything, just keep playing,” Pease said. “What I've said to him is, 'Keep just being yourself. Don't all of a sudden change on me that you've got to be this guy that's carrying the team, because right now everybody's doing their job. Just go out, execute and have a scope of what you're controlling. Be good at that.'

“I think he's doing that. He's accurate with the ball, he's tough when he runs it, he's smart, he gets down. He's making good decisions, you know, run/pass checks. He's been high percentage throwing it. He's just got to continue to get more comfortable and understand that you're going to continue to face faster people and coverages are probably going to get a little bit tighter.”

Garcia getting it done

It's pretty rare to see an offensive lineman named the offensive player of the game at Florida, but it's an honor that was bestowed on guard Max Garcia for his performance at Kentucky. The Maryland transfer shared the honor with tailback Matt Jones.

“He just graded out high. He's blocking his guy. Missed zero assignments,” Pease said. “We had no protection issues with him. I've seen him finishing on guys. Guys are down on the ground. He's downfield on runs. He's very consistent, this guy is, at making plays."

Robinson finally in the books

Speaking of making plays, true freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson made the first catch of his career Saturday night, hauling in a 10-yard pass to convert a third down.

Pease said the catch will boost Robinson's confidence.

“Yeah, I hope a lot,” Pease said. “He did a nice job on it because we had pressure. He had urgency, made a nice catch. Tyler had to take a hit on it. And he knew where the sticks were.”

Pease said Robinson has lots of playmaking ability.

“One of his strengths is being able to run after the catch,” he said. “He's elusive, he's quick, he's strong, he's not afraid to run guys over, make them miss.”

Jones not mad at Dunbar

Tailback Matt Jones said he has forgiven wide receiver Quinton Dunbar for accidentally tackling him and preventing him from scoring a TD on his 67-yard run in the UK game.

“I wasn't really mad at him,” Jones said. “I know he was trying to make a good effort and make a block. I thought a Kentucky Wildcat had tackled me. When I saw the replay on the big screen, I was like, 'Oh.' But we're good now. It was just fun.”

Dunbar has told Jones he owes him one.

“If we're in the red zone and Murph drops back and throws him the ball (and he) catches it (for a touchdown), we have to celebrate together,” Jones said. “He's going to celebrate and give me the ball like I scored.”

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