Notebook: UF to use two kickers


Florida kicker Francisco Velez (95) celebrates making a field goal against LSU during the first half at Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:55 a.m.

It appears Florida will go into Saturday’s game at Missouri with two starting field goal kickers.

Frankie Velez will attempt any field goals of 46 yards or shorter, while former starter Austin Hardin will be the Gators’ long-range kicker, attempting any kicks of 47 yards or longer.

“Austin’s got a little stronger leg than Frankie does,” UF coach Will Muschamp said on the SEC coaches’ teleconference Wednesday. “We feel pretty comfortable from about the 30-yard line with Frankie. Anything past that, we probably would look at Austin.

“(It’s) also depending on the week going up to game time and how they’ve kicked in those situations (in practice). Both of those guys are certainly capable.”

Velez, a junior walk-on from Ocala, won the starting job in practice last week and was 2-for-2 in his playing debut at LSU, connecting on a 44-yarder and one from 27 yards.

Hardin struggled in the starter’s role in the first five games of the season, hitting only half his attempts (4-of-8) with a long of 33 yards.

Senior walk-on Brad Phillips, who replaced Hardin during the Arkansas game two weeks ago and made his only field goal attempt, will not make the trip for the second consecutive week.

Injury update

Muschamp said starting outside linebacker Ronald Powell has not practiced this week, but he was hoping Powell would be able to go Wednesday afternoon. Powell sprained his ankle in the loss to LSU last Saturday.

“Hopefully we’ll get him on the field and see how he moves around,” Muschamp said.

Muschamp also said defensive tackle Dominique Easley will undergo ACL surgery in Pensacola today. The surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews.

Defense not pointing fingers

In the Muschamp era, the Gators have lost four games where the defense gave up only 17 points, the latest being at LSU this past Saturday. So, does the defense feel it has to play a perfect game to win games?

“No,” defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “We look at it as we didn’t play well enough to win this past game. Defensively, we focus on and talk to our guys all the time about control the controllables. We have plenty of things in our room that we need to control.

“That’s what our focus is. There were plenty of things in that game that we could have done better, as coaches, as players on the defensive side of the ball that would have given us a better chance to win. We didn’t do that.

“That’s what our focus is, like it is every week. We hold our guys to a high standard in our room. We feel we are a great defense and we need to play that way. And we need to play that way consistently.”

Preparing for a new QB

With Missouri starting quarterback James Franklin out with a separated shoulder, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk will be making his first collegiate start Saturday.

The Gators don’t have much tape on Mauk, but they have a pretty good idea that the Missouri offense will not change much.

“They have a really good offensive system,” Durkin said. “Obviously, it's been proven over time it works really well. They put up a lot of points, a lot of yards. I think he's the type of quarterback that fits what they do.

“I don't know how much it will change or be different. It's a different player doing it, but I think it's kind of they have their system and this it what they do and he has great players around him.

“They have three backs they play and they can all take it the distance any time. We just mentioned the receivers. They've got talented guys to throw the ball to, so I think they'll kind of do what they do with their system."

Safety Cody Riggs said Mauk has a skill set similar to Franklin’s.

“He's not as big as James Franklin, but he's a similar athlete,” Riggs said. “He can run, he can throw. And he runs the offense just as well. It’s the same offense.”

Halapio feeling good

Senior offensive guard Jon Halapio said he’s feeling the best he has all season. His pectoral muscle, which he partially tore over the summer, is fine and he said his eye, which was poked in the Tennessee game, has completely healed.

“It's a lot better,” he said of his pectoral muscle. “I feel real good with it. I actually asked the trainers if I can start practicing without the brace, but they advised me not to. That's how confident and good I feel with my pec.”

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