Notebook: Add Jones to UF injury list


Florida Gators kicker Francisco Velez (95) kicks a field goal against LSU during the second half in Baton Rouge Saturday, October 12, 2013. (Doug Finger/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 9:38 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 9:38 p.m.

BATON ROUGE, La. — Florida's season of injuries continued Saturday at Death Valley.

The latest starter to go down was tailback Matt Jones, who injured his knee in the first half against LSU and did not return. UF coach Will Muschamp said Jones will be further evaluated today.

“We do not think it's serious,” Muschamp said.

With Jones out, it gave true freshman tailback Kelvin Taylor a chance to get involved in the offense, and he responded favorably. Taylor made some crucial runs in the second half and finished the game with 52 yards rushing on 10 carries.

“Kelvin had his best week of practice,” Muschamp said.

Other than possibly Jones, Muschamp said there were no serious injuries, although starting defensive tackle Damien Jacobs missed a portion of the second quarter after talking a blow to the head on LSU's first touchdown.

Jacobs' helmet came off during the play and he took a helmet-to-head hit.

“He had a laceration on his head,” Muschamp said.

Muschamp was asked if he thought the hit on Jacobs was intentional.

“It didn't look good to me,” he said.

Jacobs said he didn't think it was.

“It wasn't intentional,” he said. “I think it was just a little incidental contact.”

Jacobs said he did not need to be tested for a possible concussion when he was taken to the locker room after the hit.

Gators settle on a kicker

UF seems to have finally decided on its place-kicker — and it's a guy who hasn't even been on the radar while Austin Hardin and Brad Phillips were struggling through the first five games.

Walk-on Francisco Velez won a wide-open competition during the week and was the starter Saturday. And it certainly was a positive start. In his first college field-goal attempts, Velez was two-for-two, hitting a 44-yarder in the first quarter and a critical 27-yarder in the fourth.

Velez found out he was the starter just before the opening kickoff.

“(On the first kick), I was not that nervous,” Velez said. “On the second I was because the stadium got a lot louder.”

Muschamp showed confidence in his new kicker by sending him out there instead of going for a fourth-and-1 from the LSU 27, and Velez rewarded that confidence.

Velez is now the guy.

“Frankie Velez will be our kicker right now,” Muschamp said. “We play the best players regardless who they are, whether it's a walk-on or whoever it is. He kicked the best this week in practice. We traveled him for the first time, and he went out and did a fantastic job.”

Phillips, who was elevated to the starting role in last week's win over Arkansas, apparently did not recover from his missed PAT against the Hogs. He didn't even make the trip to Baton Rouge.

While Muschamp is happy with his kicker now, he's not pleased with punter Kyle Christy, who knocked several punts into the end zone when he had a chance to pin the Tigers deep inside their own territory.

Muschamp said after the game that he came close to pulling the redshirt off true freshman Johnny Townsend during the game and making him the starting punter.

“The punter job, I don't know,” Muschamp said. “We had an opportunity to pin them in field position. Kyle had two opportunities and he needed to do it.

“I'll open it up. I seriously considered during the game taking the redshirt off Johnny Townsend.”

Some pass, some kick

In a clear case of role reversal, one of the Gators' biggest pass completions was made by the punter and one of the biggest punts of the day was executed by the quarterback.

Late in the first half, quarterback Tyler Murphy lined up in the shotgun for what appeared to be a fourth-down play from the LSU 37. He took the snap and made a quick kick that went 36 yards and died inside the 1-yard line that effectively prevent the LSU offense from inflicting any further damage in the half.

In the fourth quarter, Christy had the chance to play quarterback on a fake punt that saw him launch a 14-yard pass to linebacker Neiron Ball that converted a fourth-and-5 play from the UF 30.

“It was something we felt was there on the look based on what (LSU) had shown us,” Muschamp said. “We felt we needed to keep ball possession at that time.”

Tigers honor '03 team

LSU honored its 2003 national championship team with a halftime ceremony that featured 60 players from that team.

Muschamp was part of that team as a member of Nick Saban's coaching staff, but he was a little busy at halftime trying to figure things out with the Gators trailing 14-3.

Another interesting side note is the fact that that LSU team lost only one game that season — and it was at home to the Gators, 19-7.

One might think that would risk conjuring up some bad karma Saturday, but that was not the case.

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