Florida Gators: Mark Hudspeth

SEC Friday mailbag: Week 7

October, 11, 2013
Brandon Joyce (@BrandonJoyce_1) writes: What are the Gators’ keys to victory against LSU on Saturday?

Greg Ostendorf: It starts with the defense. Florida is ranked No. 2 in the country in total defense, giving up only 217 yards per game. In a season that has been dominated by the offenses in the SEC, the Gators are winning with defense. If anybody can stop or slow down LSU wide receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry this season, it’s Florida. They have two NFL-caliber cornerbacks in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, and maybe the conference’s best freshman, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III. On offense, the Gators need to establish the run early and often. LSU ranks in the bottom half of the SEC in rushing defense, allowing 160 yards per game on the ground. That could mean a big day for running back Matt Jones.

Kevin Paul (@KevinJPaul) writes: Does LSU have the best offense in the conference?

Greg Ostendorf: As good as Florida’s defense has been this season, it’s going to be nearly impossible to stop this LSU offense. Sure, Georgia outscored LSU when they met in Athens. And Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel has been the most explosive player in the SEC. But how can you argue against the Tigers’ offense? Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has turned the page and is looking like a first-round draft pick. They have the top wide receiver tandem in the conference. And if you try to shut down the passing game, they can just hand the ball off to Jeremy Hill. There’s not a more balanced offense in the league. LSU is averaging 291 yards per game through the air, and since the return of Hill they’re rushed for more than 200 yards in three of the last four games.

Jerrod Piker (@d1nonlyhogfan) writes: With or without Clowney, does South Carolina struggle in Fayetteville this weekend? Could this be Bielema’s signature win in season No. 1?

Greg Ostendorf: Jadeveon Clowney is expected to pay for South Carolina this weekend, per his defensive coordinator. However, even with the star defensive end on the field, I think the Gamecocks will get all they can handle from Arkansas. Freshman running back Alex Collins is leading the SEC in rushing with 651 yards through the first half of the season, and he’s averaging 5.8 yards per carry. Meanwhile, South Carolina has struggled in recent weeks against the likes of Vanderbilt, Central Florida and Kentucky. There's no doubt this would be a signature win for Brett Bielema and put them one step closer to making a bowl game.

Adam Hathcock (@adam_hath) writes: Does Tennessee's bye week help or hurt them?

Greg Ostendorf: It all depends on how the Volunteers respond after a gut-wrenching loss to Georgia. You could argue the bye week would be helpful because the team is still devastated after Saturday’s game and might have come out flat this weekend. However, the overtime loss to the Dawgs seemed to re-energize the program and the fans. Butch Jones & Co. could use the game as a springboard for the rest of the season. Ultimately, I think the off week will be helpful. It gives the players a chance to rest up and get healthy, and they will have extra time to prepare for South Carolina. The Gamecocks come to Neyland Stadium a week from Saturday.

Daniel Badger (@badger_daniel) writes: Is Dan Mullen on the hot seat? If so, who are some possible candidates to replace him after the season?

Greg Ostendorf: It’s hard to argue with what Mullen has done for the Mississippi State program. He has taken the Bulldogs to three consecutive bowl games, which is no easy task. But they have seemed to hit a ceiling of sorts and are in danger of missing the postseason this year. I think it’s too early to fire Mullen, but in this day and age in college football, nothing is out of the question. If he were let go, Mississippi State might look at Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris or Louisiana-Lafayette head coach Mark Hudspeth, who was born in in Mississippi and coached in Starkville once before. It wouldn’t surprise me if Bobby Petrino’s name came up as well.

Top 5 moments: Block party

December, 11, 2012
Editor’s note: GatorNation is counting down the top five moments of Florida’s 2012 season this week. They could be plays, drives, quarters or decisions, but regardless of what they are, they are the significant moments that shaped the season.

We continue with No. 4: Block party

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Was Florida’s shot at possibly playing for a national championship going to be squashed?

Not by an SEC opponent, but by Louisiana-Lafayette?

At Florida Field?

Loucheiz Purifoy
Rob Foldy/Icon SMILoucheiz Purifoy's blocked punt, which Jelani Jenkins returned for a touchdown, kept Florida's national championship hopes alive.
That was possible on Nov. 10. The game was tied at 20 with 1:42 remaining and the Ragin’ Cajuns taking over at their own 27-yard line. They needed only to get into position for a field goal to give Brett Baer, a Lou Groza Award semifinalist, a chance to hand the Gators perhaps the worst upset in school history. Instead, coach Mark Hudspeth decided to play for overtime.

That decision, plus three UF timeouts and Loucheiz Purifoy’s long right arm, kept the Gators alive.

After gaining only 7 yards in three plays, ULL lined up to punt with 13 seconds remaining. Purifoy came off the left side of the formation unblocked, got his hand on Baer’s punt, and Jelani Jenkins caught the ball and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown with just two seconds remaining.

"We certainly make it interesting," UF coach Will Muschamp said after the game. "It’s a football team that’s finding ways to win games."

The Gators shouldn’t have even been in that position though. UF had outscored ULL 206-35 in four previous meetings with the Ragin’ Cajuns, including a pair of shutouts. Even with backup QB Jacoby Brissett playing in the fourth quarter because of an ankle injury to starter Jeff Driskel, the Gators should have had an easy victory.

Instead, the offense managed just 162 yards passing and 311 total yards against a ULL defense that was giving up 294.6 yards per game passing and 433.2 yards per game in total offense, stats which ranked 114th and 89th in the nation, respectively.

ULL rallied from a 10-point deficit to take a 20-13 lead -- one touchdown came on a blocked punt return -- before Brissett led the Gators on a game-tying drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar with less than two minutes to play.

Then came Purifoy’s block, which turned out to be one of the biggest plays of the season. The Gators beat Jacksonville State the following week and then went on the road and beat Florida State to stay alive in the national championship race until Notre Dame's victory over USC hours after UF’s victory over FSU.

It also was instrumental in UF earning an at-large bid to the Allstate Sugar Bowl instead of spending New Year’s Day in the Capital One or Outback bowls.
ESPN’s GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. For 30 weekdays we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- GatorNation is previewing each of Florida’s 2012 opponents. Today is Louisiana Lafayette (Nov. 10 in Gainesville).


Blaine Gautier
Chuck Cook/US PresswireLouisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns quarterback Blaine Gautier led an offense that averaged 269.5 yards per game passing last year.
2011 record: 9-4 (6-2 Sun Belt), beat San Diego State 32-30 in R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl.

Coach: Mark Hudspeth, second season (9-4); ninth season overall (75-25).

Series record: Florida leads 4-0.

Top returners: QB Blaine Gautier (216-344-6, 2,958 yards, 23 TDs; 486 yards, 3 TDs rushing); WR Javone Lawson (63 catches, 1,092 yards, 8 TDs); DB Jemarlous Moten (80 tackles, 3 INTs); DB Le’Marcus Gibson (45 tackles).

Did you know? The Ragin’ Cajuns made their first-ever bowl game last season.

(Read full post)


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