Florida Gators: Matt Patchan

Dalvin CookTom Hauck for Student SportsFlorida went into Miami's backyard to get a commitment from ESPN 300 RB Dalvin Cook, but the Hurricanes aren't exactly ready to concede him to the Gators.
Florida and Miami face off this weekend in what could be the last match up between these two in-state teams for the foreseeable future. The Hurricanes and Gators have had some memorable games on the field, but also some fierce recruiting battles off it. Here's a closer look at 10 recent recruiting battles -- five that Florida won and five that Miami won.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp talks about maturity, better depth, and more experience as big reasons why the Gators are better in 2012 than they were after four games in 2011.

But there’s another reason: UF is able to overcome the bad things that happen during games.

Especially on offense. Penalties, plays that don’t work, turnovers and injuries were all things that pretty much derailed the Gators (4-0, 3-0 SEC) last season.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Trey Burton gets all the publicity for playing multiple positions on offense, but he’s not the only Florida player who can do that.

Kyle Koehne can play all five positions along the offensive line. He has mainly worked inside at guard since he came to Florida in 2009 but has started at right tackle in the Gators’ past two games because of Chaz Green’s ankle injury.

"My mindset is just if I can play, put me in wherever," Koehne said. "Learning each position has been a good opportunity and has helped me understand the offense as a whole and I think it’s only benefited me.

Koehne saw limited snaps at tackle and guard as a redshirt freshman in 2010. He played in every game last season and made his first career start against Furman at left guard. He has taken reps at one time or another at every spot along the line.

In the 6-foot-5, 311-pound Koehne’s two starts this season, the Gators have given up only three sacks and have run for 536 yards. He’s still not completely at ease at tackle, though.

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Gators healing during bye week

September, 24, 2012
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida’s should have most of its injured starters back for the Oct. 6 game against LSU, coach Will Muschamp said Monday.

OT tackle Chaz Green (ankle), DE Dominique Easley (knee), RB/FB Trey Burton (back) and TE Jordan Reed (head) and DT Sharrif Floyd (shoulder) missed all or parts of the Gators’ 38-0 victory over Kentucky last Saturday. Green, Easley and Burton were held out while Reed and Floyd were injured during the game.

The 11th-ranked Gators (4-0, 3-0 SEC) don’t play this week. Muschamp said he will have a better idea later in the week of whether LB Jelani Jenkins (thumb) will be able to play against LSU. Jenkins injured the thumb against Texas A&M on Sept. 8 and missed the Tennessee and Kentucky games. He is expected to have surgery to remove a pin from his thumb this week and there’s a chance he could play against the Tigers.

"I’ll know more later in the week," Muschamp said. "I think he sees the doctor Wednesday."

Muschamp said OT Matt Patchan (pectoral) could return for Vanderbilt game on Oct. 13. Patchan suffered a strained pectoral muscle and hasn’t played this season. He started seven games at right tackle last season.

“It’s a painful injury and up front you’ve got to be able to use that [pectoral muscle] to be able to block,” Muschamp said. “Rehab has gone well. He’s worked extremely hard as far as that’s concerned. We’re just hoping to get some snaps. But he will play this year.”
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida defensive end Dominique Easley remains questionable to play in the Gators' home game against Kentucky, coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday.

Easley has been using crutches after injuring his left knee in the Gators' victory over Tennessee last Saturday, but Muschamp said that's precautionary. Easley (6-foot-2, 280 pounds) has eight tackles and one sack.

"We’re just trying to stabilize," Muschamp said. "He’s still got a little swelling on the knee. He’s moving around OK, but at this time I would say questionable for the game."

Muschamp also said offensive tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) will not play against the Wildcats. Patchan has yet to play this season.

"I'm not sure when Matt'll be back," he said.

Muschamp also said linebacker Jelani Jenkins may be able to return for UF's home game against LSU on Oct. 6. Jenkins suffered a fractured thumb against Texas A&M on Sept. 8, had surgery to insert a pin to stabilize the break, and was expected to miss a month. But Muschamp said Wednesday Jenkins will start lifting and running today and have the pin removed in eight days. He is still wearing a cast on his right hand.

Jenkins (6-0, 237) has five tackles on the season, though he was hurt early in the second game.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Here are five observations from Florida's 20-17 victory over Texas A&M at Kyle Field.

1. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease called a pretty good game. He had a nice mix of run and pass, and even though QB Jeff Driskel threw only 16 times, the passing game was pretty effective. Pease used the tight end and the wildcat to get Jordan Reed and Trey Burton involved. Perhaps his best call came late in the fourth quarter when the Gators were trying to run out the clock. He called a speed sweep for Solomon Patton, which worked for 12 yards and a first down. The defense bit on the play-fake up the middle and Patton easily got around the end.

2. Driskel may be getting killed for holding onto the ball too long, but it bears repeating something that UF coach Will Muschamp said: He took care of the ball. He made one stupid decision -- trying to throw the ball while being sacked and having the ball bounce off Kyle Koehne's helmet -- but other than that, he made sure he didn't put the Gators in a bad spot with a turnover. That's something that a lot of young QBs struggle with, but he earned a lot of trust from the coaching staff for his performance.

3. The Gators are going to have a hard time getting KR AndreDebose involved. Texas A&M had the perfect plan for Debose -- kick the ball as deep as possible to prevent him from bringing it out. Any team that tries to sky-kick to him and pin him deep runs the risk of Debose breaking a return. Debose did not do a good job in terms of his decision-making when he was fielding punts. Several times he got too close to the ball after he decided to let it bounce. He even tried to lay his shoulder into one of the players around the ball -- a dangerous move because if he had been pushed into the ball it would have been a live ball, and could have been a turnover.

4. The coaching staff apparently also has a lot of trust in freshman OT D.J. Humphries. He was on the field late in the game, as the Gators were trying to seal the victory by pounding the ball on the ground. It may not be too long before we see Humphries challenging for a spot in the starting lineup, especially if Matt Patchan (pectoral) continues to struggle with injuries.

5. The Gators committed three penalties in the game's first 23 minutes, but none in the final 37. That's a huge improvement from last week's 14 penalties, which included 10 in the first half, and it shows the up-downs and other punishment the coaching staff inflicted upon the team last week worked.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has been cleared medically to play in Saturday’s season opener against Bowling Green, but it’s still unclear when the sophomore will get on the field.

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Rob Foldy/Icon SMIIt has not been decided if Jeff Driskel (above) or Jacoby Brissett will start against Bowling Green on Saturday.
Coach Will Muschamp has come up with at least the beginning of a plan for rotating Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. He said Monday that each sophomore quarterback would play a quarter before the staff determines the plan for the second half.

Muschamp said he and offensive coordinator Brent Pease have not yet decided which quarterback would start and whether one or both would play in the second half.

"We’ll evaluate it at halftime," Muschamp said.

Muschamp said Friday morning that neither player was able to distance himself from the other throughout preseason practices and both would play against the Falcons.

Muschamp said he knew following the Gators’ second scrimmage (Aug. 17) that he would likely play both quarterbacks in the season opener. Both sophomores handled themselves well in the situational work, such as one-minute drill, third-down conversions, and goal line work, Muschamp said, and picking one as the starter wouldn’t be fair.

Both players struggled last season in place of injured starter John Brantley. Driskel completed 47.1 percent of his passes for 148 yards and two interceptions. Brissett completed 46.2 percent of his passes for 206 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's quarterback rotation -- provided Jeff Driskel is cleared next week -- won't result in any changes in the offense.

Both players have essentially the same skill set, so it won't be a situation like 2006, when Chris Leak was the starter and Tim Tebow was brought in as a short-yardage runner or to run the spread option. Driskel and Jacoby Brissett are pretty much the same quarterback, although Driskel is a slightly better runner and Brissett is more of a pocket passer.

"From the schematic standpoint, there's not a drastic difference between the two guys as far as what we do and how we operate, which has been good for our offensive players because they're not trying to field two different styles of offense when one guy's on the field and one guy's not," UF coach Will Muschamp said.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp had the following to say about the Gators’ first scrimmage of the fall, which took place on Saturday:

The offense was productive and quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel were solid. "We had 11 explosive plays, which is great for the offense and not so good for the defense," Muschamp said. "Pleased to see that. Both quarterbacks were pretty even through those explosive plays and how they played. They're both completing, throughout camp, right at between 63 and 65 percent of their passes. They're both about dead on statistically in terms of attempts, completions, everything. I thought they managed our football team really well."

The quarterbacks, however, did throw three interceptions, although one was a tipped ball. "Disappointed with ball security," Muschamp said. "We had the ball on the ground four times. We can't afford that to happen. Three interceptions. One was a tipped ball, one was a busted route. But still those are turnovers."

Muschamp liked what he’s seen out of the pass rush, specifically inside. "We've improved our four-man pass rush with Lerentee [McCray], Neiron [Ball] and Sharrif [Floyd] and Dominique [Easley] doing some nice things inside," Muschamp said.

More notes from scrimmage:

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ESPN’s GatorNation is previewing each position leading up to the start of the season with a short video. Each Friday until the season kicks off, Michael DiRocco and Jeff Barlis will analyze a position group, tell you who is starting and why, and provide a breakdown of the depth at the position. This week it’s offensive line.

The starters: LT Xavier Nixon (Sr.), LG James Wilson (RSr.), C Jonotthan Harrison (RJr.), RG Jon Halapio (RJr.), RT Matt Patchan (RJr.)

The backups: D.J. Humphries (Fr.), Trip Thurman (RFr.), Jessamen Dunker (Fr.), Kyle Koehne (RJr.), Ian Silberman (RSo.), Sam Robey (RSr.), Tommy Jordan (RFr.), Chaz Green (RSo.)

Comment: This unit was the reason UF coach Will Muschamp called his team soft and the group responded in the spring. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and several defensive linemen said they noticed the OL was mentally and physically tougher. The biggest questions are whether Wilson and Patchan can stay healthy and if Nixon is going to play like he did as a freshman or struggle as he has the past two seasons. Green will play a lot at tackle in a rotation anyway.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- It’s no surprise that Florida’s Andre Debose is not a fan of the rule changes the NCAA made on kickoffs.

Debose is one of the nation’s top kick returners, but his impact on the game will be minimized by kickoffs moving up to the 35-yard line from the 30-yard line. Those extra five yards likely mean more touchbacks, which means Debose won’t have as many opportunities to make a play.

[+] EnlargeAndre Debose
Kim Klement/US PresswireFlorida redshirt junior Andre Debose has a school-record three career kickoff returns for touchdowns.
"I do not like the new kickoff rule," Debose said Thursday during UF’s annual media day at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. "I had thoughts in my head about (a reduced role), but I feel like I still will get a couple opportunities. Maybe not as many as previous years."

Debose averaged 26.1 yards on 19 kickoff returns last season and took one back for a touchdown against Ohio State in the Gator Bowl. The 5-foot-11, 186-pound redshirt junior already has a school-record three career kickoff returns for touchdowns.

UF coach Will Muschamp is also not a fan of the new rule -- which also states that touchbacks on kickoffs will come out to the 25-yard line -- and said he and special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin have already begun adjusting their plans for kickoff returns.

"We need to get on the field and rep through it and see how it works," Muschamp said. "He (Debose) is a guy that's certainly been a game-changer for us and needs to continue to be, so we need to continue to find ways for that to happen.

"D.J. and I have talked about that, and we are going to look in camp early to figure out how we can get the ball in his hands and gain some returns."

Uneventful offseason

No news was good news this summer for the football program. The Gators didn’t have a single player arrested or get into trouble since defensive tackle Leon Orr was cited on May 14 for knowingly driving with a suspended license.

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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. -- Florida is one of only five SEC programs to make the top 25 in ESPN’s team recruiting rankings in each of the past five seasons.

In fact, the Gators finished in the top five in four of those five years. But somehow that hasn’t translated to consistent on-field success.

Florida lost just two games combined in 2008 and 2009, but very few of the members of those signing classes contributed significantly -- which shows how good UF’s roster was in those two seasons. Since then, however, the Gators are a combined 15-11, and while some of those highly touted signees have turned into very good players, UF has slipped from its spot among the national elite.

But things are looking brighter entering 2012. The core of this year’s team is comprised of members of the 2009 and 2010 classes, and several members of the 2011 class appear to be ready to become significant contributors or are on the verge of being elite players.

Here’s a look at those signing classes (see chart below):

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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 South Carolina (Oct. 20 in Gainesville).

Steve Spurrier and Connor Shaw
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackIn Connor Shaw, Steve Spurrier may have his best fit at quarterback since he's been at South Carolina.
SOUTH CAROLINA

2011 record: 11-2 (6-2 SEC), beat Nebraska 30-13 in Capital One Bowl.

Coach: Steve Spurrier, eighth season (55-35); 23rd season overall (197-75-2).

Series record: Florida leads 23-6-3.

Top returners: QB Connor Shaw (123-188-6, 1,448 yards, 14 TDs; 525 yards, 8 TDs rushing); RB Marcus Lattimore (818 yards, 10 TDs); DE Jadeveon Clowney (36 tackles, 8 sacks); FS D.J. Swearinger (80 tackles, 3 INTs).

Did you know? The Gamecocks are 8-0 over the past two seasons against rivals Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and Clemson.

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Gators game preview: LSU

June, 22, 2012
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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 LSU (Oct. 6 in Gainesville).

[+] EnlargeLSU's Brad Wing
AP Photo/Steve FranzLSU punter Brad Wing was just one source of embarrassment for the Gators last season.
LSU

2011 record: 13-1 (8-0 SEC), lost to Alabama 21-0 in AllState BCS National Championship Game.

Coach: Les Miles, eighth season (75-18); 12th season overall (103-39).

Series record: Florida leads 30-25-3.

Top returners: RB Spencer Ware (707 yards, 8 TDs); WR Odell Beckham (41 catches, 475 yards, 2 TDs); DE Sam Montgomery (49 tackles, 9 sacks); CB Tyrann Mathieu (76 tackles, 2 INTs).

Did you know? The Tigers have three players -- Montgomery, DT Bennie Logan and DE Barkevious Mingo -- who are projected to be among the top 15 picks in the 2013 NFL draft should all three decide to come out early.

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PLANT CITY, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay area has been very good to Florida recruiting. Since 2010 the Florida Gators have signed eight players from either Hillsborough, Pinellas or Pasco counties and that number will likely increase when the 2013 recruiting class is completed.

In the 2012 recruiting class, Florida landed Land O'Lakes tight end Kent Taylor (Pasco), Lakewood defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (Pinellas), Pinellas Park linebacker Jeremi Powell (Pinellas) and Armwood running back Matt Jones (Hillsborough).

Including Jones, Armwood head coach Sean Callahan has sent four of his players -- Torrey Davis, Matt Jones, Mike Pearson and Matt Patchan -- to Florida. Callahan says he believes it's because of how well Florida has recruited and also because of the tradition and history of the program.

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