Muschamp hopes Gators handle success

Coming off the program's biggest win in three years, Florida coach Will Muschamp isn't changing a thing. Practice routine and study time will be the same for Florida coaches and players this week at practice. There's still a question of how the team will respond at Vanderbilt. The Gators are coming off an emotional win and now leave the state for the final time this regular season.

"We'll see Saturday night," Muschamp said about his team handling success. "To this point, very well as far as understanding and approaching each game the same. We're not going to put in any more hours as coaches this week than we did a week ago. We're not going to put any less, either.

"We'll prepare very similar to what we've done this far in the season, as far as what we've got to do to be successful and that's winning the football game."

Vanderbilt has always been this type of game on the Florida schedule. The Commodores don't get the respect as the rest of the Gators' October schedule—Georgia, LSU and South Carolina—and usually, it's for good reason. The talent level for the Commodores hasn't been on par with the rest of the SEC.

The talent is getting better, and this season, second-year head coach James Franklin has the Commodores playing an inspired brand of football. Vanderbilt is also riding the momentum of a road win at Missouri last week.

"They're a very similar team to what we saw last year," Muschamp said. "Eight starters returning on offense, seven on defense, all the specialists are back against a team that we had to recover an onside kick against to win the game. Zac Stacy, the running back, is a hard runner. Jordan Matthews caught nine balls against us last year, I think is leading the SEC in receptions right now. They certainly can do some things offensively.

Quarterback Jordan Rodgers is what makes the offense go. When he's throwing well and running hard, the younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers can make it difficult on the opposing defense. For a Florida unit that hasn't allowed a touchdown in over nine quarters, it's about containing him as much as possible.

That didn't happen in 2011. Rodgers threw for 297 yards and two touchdowns while adding 43 yards and a touchdown on the ground. When he's good, the Commodores can create problems.

"He's a guy that's very effective throwing it, but he'll pull it down at any spot and run the ball, so pass-rush discipline is going to be key," Muschamp said. "He hurt us with his legs last year, and he hurt us throwing the ball. We had some pass-rush issues last year, as far as discipline was concerned, up front and keeping him in the pocket, but he was also accurate with the football."

The Vanderbilt defense ranks 11th in the country in rushing defense, allowing 179 yards per game on the ground. The pass defense ranks third in the country, allowing 162.4 yards through the air.

In conference games only, the numbers aren't that impressive. The Commodores are 13th in rushing defense in conference games, allowing 219 yards per game. They rank eighth in passing defense in conference games, allowing 192.3 yards per game.

The defense is a solid unit that will test the Gators as they attempt to win their 22nd game in a row over Vanderbilt.

"They're a pressure-driven outfit," Muschamp said. "They finished in the Top 20 in the country last year, and they've got a team that runs a lot of zone pressures and overload pressures. We've got to make sure that we're on our Ps and Qs as far as protection in the run game is concerned to be able to create some opportunities for our offense. We need to stay more balanced."

INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) is probable for Saturday's game. Cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) and offensive tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) are both ruled out.

Muschamp said again on Monday that Ronald Powell had a "revision of the ACL" last Thursday. He'll continue to rehab and "nothing has changed" with the timetable.

REVIEWING LSU: Muschamp credited the red zone play as the key to the win over the Tigers on Saturday. During both trips into the red zone, Florida scored touchdowns. LSU was held to field goals on both trips inside the 20.

"We were 100-percent scoring touchdowns in the red zone, which was really the difference in the game," Muschamp said. "They had two opportunities and we were able to hold them to two field goals. To play good red-zone defense and score touchdowns in the red zone was really good."

Muschamp also said the team was "100 percent" in converting short-yardage situations. The key to that was SEC offensive player of the week and Florida offensive player of the week Mike Gillislee. The senior running back continued his impressive season, running 34 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

"Offensively, we ran the ball well," Muschamp said. "Obviously, on third down we were very efficient, especially considering we were 100 percent in short yardage situations. We've made some strides there. That's week to week."

Muschamp gave the scrap iron award, given to the best blocker, to the entire offensive line, fullbacks and tight ends for their blocking throughout the game.

"They did a really nice job of getting a hat on a hat in the run game and creating some opportunities for Mike and our runners," Muschamp said.

The defensive player of the game was Matt Elam. The junior safety had the biggest game of his career, leading the team with seven tackles, one forced fumble and one tackle for a loss.

"I thought he played outstanding," Muschamp said. "He played his best football game since I've been here. Great effort and he always does give great effort. It was a very productive game for him. Obviously the strip on the long completion was just a phenomenal play. What an extra-effort play. It wasn't his play but he came across the top and just made an outstanding effort play, sort of exemplified kind of who we are."

Despite Kyle Christy averaging 49.1 yards on seven punts, Loucheiz Purifoy earned the special teams player of the week honors for his job covering punts. He made a big hit at the beginning of the game that set the tone, but his coverage throughout the game was crucial for field position.

"I think he's a guy who is covering as well as I've ever been around," Muschamp said. "Here's a guy who starts at corner, plays upwards in upward of 50-60 snaps a game. The way Kyle is punting it right now he's covering punts for about 50 (yards). He does just a great job getting down field and disrupting returns. He's on our kickoff coverage team. The importance of special teams, he's a guy who gets it and understands it."


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