Muschamp turns to Townsend

The punter job seemed to be locked down for the next two seasons. Kyle Christy returned to Florida as a Ray Guy Award finalist and a preseason All-American by numerous publications. On Monday, he lost his job. The junior punter struggled through the first six games of Florida's season, and freshman punter Johnny Townsend will take the starting job this Saturday at Missouri.

The numbers aren't kind to Christy. He averaged 45.8 yards per punt last season but is down to 39.6 yards per punt this season. Last year, Christy totaled 27 punts of at least 50 yards and has only two this year.

He was given two opportunities to pin the LSU offense deep in its own territory on Saturday but knocked both into the end zone, pushing the ball out to the 20-yard line for the Tigers.

Because of that, Johnny Townsend takes over as the team's starter.

"We need to make a change there," Will Muschamp said. "We've been very inconsistent punting the ball throughout the season."

The Florida coaching staff has looked at Christy's mechanics on film and made some chances to his drop, placement and his leg swing. They've tried multiple changes to get him back to the production he showed last season, but they haven't proven to work on the field.

That's why the change was made. Christy hasn't been close to the production he showed last season, and with the mechanical changes they've made to attempt to fix it, Muschamp thinks it's a mental issue.

"It comes to a point where we've got to see some production, and right now we're just not getting it," Muschamp said. "I think Kyle's going to be fine. We just need to work through this time. It's very frustrating, as much for him as it is for as it is anyone. It's not from a lack of work or a lack of trying to get things right. There's no question about that.

"It's just a matter of him working through this and us continuing to try and search for answers. If you continue to do the same things, you're going to get the same results."

INJURY REPORT: Running back Matt Jones tore his meniscus against LSU and will miss the rest of the season. The injury was originally believed to be a knee sprain but tests showed it was much more serious.

Linebacker Ronald Powell suffered an ankle injury, and the coaches hope to get him back to practice on Wednesday.

TAYLOR'S OPPORTUNITY: With Jones being lost for the season, freshman Kelvin Taylor will have his chance to shine. He carried the ball 10 times for 52 yards and has averaged 6.1 yards per carry this season. Mack Brown will take over the lead back role against Missouri, but Taylor will have a role in the backfield.

The plan was for him to get on the field Saturday before Jones got injured because Taylor had his best week of practice. The injury forced him onto the field faster.

He does still have things to improve.

"Assignment-wise and ball security," Muschamp said about where Taylor has improved. "When you're able to do those two things, you give us more confidence in situationally playing you in the game. I thought he did a good job of that. He deserved the opportunity."

WINNING THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE: The issue on Saturday came on both lines of scrimmage. The Gators couldn't get to the quarterback or stop LSU from running the ball, while the Tigers were able to shut down the Florida run game and turn up the pass rush on Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy.

The defense allowed 175 rushing yards for the Tigers, led by 121 yards on 19 carries for Jeremy Hill. Muschamp said on Saturday that the Gators struggled to get off blocks to make plays in the run defense, and that's exactly what the film showed, too.

"When you play a team like that, you've got to get off blocks," Muschamp said. "You've got to disengage and get off blocks. We got logged on blockers too much, didn't disengage enough getting off blocks and making plays. You can't put a free helmet in the box every time as far as against a team like that that throws as well as they do."

The pass blocking struggled to give Murphy a clean pocket. After throwing for 240 yards against Arkansas, the Gators didn't throw down the field much because the junior quarterback didn't have the time to find receivers down the field.

"We need to communicate a little bit better on some things," Muschamp said. "Everybody wants to blame the offensive line, but just communicate a little better, set a little better, hold the pocket, be more firm in the pocket, not as much push in the pocket. There's multiple things that we can improve on from last Saturday."


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