Muschamp Sees Need for Secondary Improvement

Saturday's win over Tennessee wasn't a banner day for the young Florida secondary. Against one of the best passing quarterbacks the Gators will face this season in Tyler Bray, they gave up three passing touchdowns and had multiple pass interference penalties. Florida head coach Will Muschamp knew it would be a work in progress with the youth on the backend this season.

The pass interference penalties were a result of the secondary playing aggressive, but the coaching staff realizes it has to be fixed. There were also five dropped interceptions by the Florida defense on Saturday, meaning the defenders were in position but didn't execute.

After watching the tape, the pass interference penalties didn't look like they would be tough for Muschamp and secondary coach Travaris Robinson to fix.

"You coach off the tape," Will Muschamp said Monday morning. "You look at it technically – you're in position here, you could have done this, you could have done that. That's a bang-bang play. You're in good position, make the play on the ball. We're going to continue playing aggressively."

Freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson had his share of pass interference penalties and dropped interceptions, but Muschamp remained positive about his first-year starter. He has tackled well and made a positive impression in his first season.

"I thought he played extremely well," Muschamp said. "He kept receivers cut off down the field and was very disruptive on the line of scrimmage. He had some good opportunities throughout the game. I'm pleased with his progress. He has good retention day-in and day-out."

Loucheiz Purifoy could be getting a shot in the Florida secondary soon. The freshman cornerback has made an impact on special teams, recording four tackles in kickoff coverage on Saturday.

"Loucheiz has played well and practiced well," Muschamp said. "I've been pretty pleased with the secondary. It's a series of one game seasons so whatever you did the last time out really doesn't matter. Understand that the preparation for the week is a one-game season, and the one-game season we have this week is Kentucky."

INJURY UPDATE: Muschamp said that cornerback Jeremy Brown will miss a few more weeks with a knee injury that hasn't responded like they hoped. Tight end Jordan Reed was held out of the Tennessee game because of what Muschamp referred to last week as a hamstring injury. Reed is listed as questionable for this weekend's game against Tennessee.

Freshman offensive lineman Trip Thurman had shoulder surgery Monday morning and will miss the rest of the season.

"He's a guy that we felt could help us this season," Muschamp said.

Dee Finley sat out against Tennessee because of his arrest early last week, but Muschamp confirmed that he will return to action against Kentucky this weekend.

TENNESSEE GAME AWARDS AND WRAPUP: Chris Rainey was chosen as the offensive player of the game. Center Jonotthan Harrison was given the Scrap Iron Award, going to the top performing offensive lineman. The extra effort award went to Andre Debose and Gerald Christian for their blocks downfield.

Dominique Easley was named the defensive player of the game. The ball hawk awards went to Matt Elam, Josh Evans and Ronald Powell. Chris Johnson got the hard hat award for his job on the kickoff coverage teams.

Caleb Sturgis and Loucheiz Purifoy were named special teams players of the week. The big play of the game was on special teams, as Muschamp credited Rainey and Dominique Easley for the job they did on the punt block.

As Muschamp looked at the film from the Tennessee game, he still saw plenty of teaching points. The Gators were able to get a double-digit win against a rival, but it shouldn't leave the team overconfident as they head to Kentucky this weekend.

"As we looked at it again, there are a lot of things that we have to clean up from the game. A lot of things to learn from the game to continue to progress forward, but it is nice after a win to be able to sit down and go through those things and our players understand that as other teams watch our tape they're going to look at the negative things. The good plays take care of themselves."

Muschamp said last week that they needed more production out of BUCK linebacker Ronald Powell. The sophomore produced against the Volunteers. Powell recorded just two tackles, but he split a sack with Jaye Howard and recorded two quarterback hurries.

The biggest hurry came at the start of the second half, when Powell forced Bray outside the pocket, where he threw an interception to safety Josh Evans.

"He played well," Muschamp said. "He played his best game of the first three. He got some really good pressure and got a half sack to give us a shot of knocking them off the goal line. He played fast and physical, which is certainly what we need."

HITTING THE ROAD: The Gators will head out on the road for the first time this season as they take on Kentucky at 7 p.m. For a routine-based coach like Muschamp, he wants to do everything on the road as similar as possible to the way Florida has prepared for games at home.

He mentioned that the team has gone to a move on Fridays before a game, as long as kickoff Saturday takes place at night. They'll try to reinvent that plan again this Friday on the road.

"We do our same routine through practice schedule," Muschamp said. "Then on Friday, we'll have our normal walk-through and meetings here. All of our game day stuff is the same – it's just different hotel and different stadium. We try to approach everything very methodical. We don't try to change what we do, just the surroundings are just a little different."

The Gators also maintain a 24-game winning streak over Kentucky. Muschamp hasn't brought it up to the team and he doesn't plan on it before kickoff.

"I think it has zero factor in what is going to happen Saturday night," Muschamp said.

Fightin Gators Top Stories