Muschamp wanting more on defense

Muschamp wanting more on defense

It doesn't take long to find Florida pop up when scrolling through most Southeastern Conference defensive statistics, and yet after two straight games, Florida head coach Will Muschamp has been unhappy with his defense. He wants more. The film shows areas that need improvement, and despite the lofty statistics, Muschamp has his players wanting to improve.

The statistics are eye-popping. Florida ranks first in the SEC in scoring defense (14.7), rushing defense (55.3), total defense (212.3) and passing defense (157). Tennessee came to Gainesville with an offense struggling to find a starting quarterback and playmakers. However, the first two games against Toledo and Miami were against veteran groups that put up big numbers last year.

And Muschamp wants more.

It's the only thing he knows how to do. The film shows errors in alignment and eye control that have been overcome by the athleticism of Florida defensive players. Those mistakes are the focus of practice this week on the defensive side of the ball.

"I know in this business how easy you can travel from the penthouse to the outhouse in a second," Will Muschamp said of his high standards for the defense.

There's plenty on tape from the Tennessee game that can be corrected. That doesn't seem to be the case just looking at the box score after the Gators forced six turnovers and answered the coaching staff's challenge of getting off to a fast start. Florida forced a turnover on Tennessee's first three drives.

There were problems in the secondary, allowing Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley to throw for 149 yards and one touchdown in the second half. However, the Gators were also without starting cornerbacks Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson during that time period, and starting nickel Brian Poole was also ejected for a targeting penalty in the second half.

"It's one thing when you're getting beat physically. It's another thing when you're getting beat on something that can be correctable. That's what I always try to point out to the players -- this is a correctable mistake," Muschamp said of the eye-control and alignment issues. "If it's a talent issue or a scheme issue, that's on us. But when we give up a play because we don't have our eyes in the right spot or we're guessing on a route, those are things that we need to correct. I think that's what the players see."

INJURY REPORT: The Gators got through the Tennessee game with only the major injury to quarterback Jeff Driskel. The junior will have surgery on Wednesday and faces a four-to-six month recovery period that will include a plate inserted in his fibula.

Defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder) will return to practice on Tuesday or Wednesday. Cornerback Marcus Roberson missed Saturday's game but ran well on Sunday and will return to practice on Tuesday. Cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy (thigh) will practice this week and play on Saturday.

Running back Valdez Showers (ankle) is doubtful for Saturday's game. Offensive guard Jon Halapio will practice and play after needing three stitches in his eye. He was poked in the eye and bleeding out of it on the field Saturday.

Right tackle Tyler Moore (ankle) will practice on Tuesday. Tight end Colin Thompson showed up to the facility on Sunday with a stress fracture in his foot. He missed all of last season and took a redshirt after breaking his foot, but Muschamp said it is a different injury.

Starting nickel Brian Poole will be suspended for the first half of the game on Saturday because of his targeting hit against Tennessee. He was ejected in the second half, meaning he will be suspended for the first half on Saturday.

Wide receivers Latroy Pittman and Demarcus Robinson will return from suspensions and play in Lexington.

SPECIALISTS NEED WORK: The starting kicker and punter jobs will be reopened in practice this week. Kyle Christy was a Ray Guy Award finalist last season, but he currently ranks 12th in the SEC with 39.5 yards per punt. He also dropped a snap against Tennessee, giving the Volunteers ideal field position.

Florida took Johnny Townsend late in the recruiting process last year and planned to redshirt him. With Christy's struggles, that may not be the plan anymore.

"I'm going to open it up with Kyle. Johnny Townsend's been a guy that's probably been as consistent a punter as we've had in camp," Muschamp said. "We'll pull the redshirt off Johnny if we need to. We need to get more production at the punter position, and that's what we'll do."

Muschamp said it will be the same situation with kicker Austin Hardin. The redshirt freshman is 3-for-5 on the season but missed his second field goal of the year on Saturday. The coaches will give Brad Phillips, who lost the job in camp, some extra live reps this week in practice.

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