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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Big 3: Gators have overcome injuries

By Michael DiRocco

GAINESVILE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp took to the SEC's weekly teleconference on Wednesday morning to talk about the Gators’ game home game against Jacksonville State on Saturday. In addition to talking about QB Jeff Driskel being out with an ankle injury, Muschamp talked about how the Gators have overcome injuries.

Jeff Driskel
Florida's starting quarterback Jeff Driskel suffered an ankle injury against Louisiana-Lafayette and was unable to return.
1. Man down, man up

Florida has been banged up in the second half of the season, especially along the offensive line. Yet the Gators (with one exception) keep winning because they’ve been able to overcome those injuries. They’ve completely adopted Muschamp’s “Man down, man up” mantra.

"I think what you emphasize is what's important to them. I've emphasized all along knowing how our season went a year ago, and we had injuries [and] I felt like at times we used that as an excuse. I went into this season with the mentality of our football team that is not going to be an excuse, and injuries are a part of the game. And in the SEC, as physical of a league as it is, you are going to have injuries. That's part of the game. When a guy goes down the other guy has to step up and play at a high level, and we're not going to use that as an excuse to say we had an injury. That's part of the game and you have to move on. It's something I came up with. Just said, ‘Man down, man up.’ You need to man up in this league and when you have an injury somebody else needs to step forward and play well for you."

2. Steady improvement

Freshman DE Dante Fowler has come on in the second half of the season (12 of his 23 tackles and two sacks in last four games) and Muschamp has been impressed with the way he has handled himself.

"Dante is a guy that is a very talented guy, that's blessed with a lot of ability. But he came in here a very humble young man. He came in here and he's worked, he's put the time in, he's done an outstanding job for us academically, he's done an outstanding job for us socially. He's been a guy that's been a very, very productive player. He learns well and he works at it. He's always up in the office. He's always in [defensive coordinator Dan Quinn’s] office trying to learn, trying to watch more film and a guy that listens. That's a talent. A lot of young guys have a hard time listening to someone else tell them, whether it's a coach or an older player. That's the one thing that Dante really has a strong talent for is listening to what other people [say], taking the input and understanding and learning from each experience."

2. Senior leadership

Seniors Jon Bostic and Omar Hunter have been instrumental on the field in this season’s turnaround from 7-6 in 2011 to 9-1. But they also were invaluable during the transition from Urban Meyer’s staff to Will Muschamp and the current staff.

"They were outstanding. … Understanding the expectation, understanding philosophically what I believe and what this program stands for. Omar and Jon are two that you said. A lot of them have done a great job, but those two jump out as well that have been exactly what we wanted in this program as far as the type of player they are, they type of young man student-athlete and certainly it helped my transition here. Those guys are guys I count on as far as their input with our football team, how our locker room is doing, and I think they have done an outstanding job."