Gator Week – Arkansas at Florida Pre-Game Chatter


UPDATE 10/4/13

Bret Bielema speaks out on the play of Travis Swanson in this piece:

“I have not had one single complaint about anything we’ve played through these first five games. I’m not going to apologize for the way we play. I definitely encourage aggressive, tough behavior. Nothing cheap,” Bielema said. “If anybody does anything, we’ll handle that internally. They wouldn’t play, they wouldn’t start. I haven’t had one official say one thing to me. I like the way Travis plays. He’s an intense player. All of guys hopefully can play to that level, and I’m sure it’ll be an interesting matchup.”

Bielema, while defending Swanson, shrugged off the importance of the accusation.

“I’m an old defensive lineman. I always thought people were picking on me,” he said. “It’s just one of those things. We got people’s attention, I guess.”

Bielema, interestingly, indicated that players from the state of Florida “naturally talk” during games, suggesting that Arkansas players might be wise to hold their tongues and let their play speak for them.


UPDATE 10/3/13

The Florida Gators have the 2nd best defense in the country heading into the game Saturday against the Razorbacks, while the Hogs own the 31st best defense in the nation. Arkansas sports the 60th best offense and Florida is currently ranked as the 70th best offense, as an additional point of reference, making the Gators the worst offensive team the Razorbacks have faced in FBS competition with the exception of Southern Miss.

Below is a chart taking a look at the quality of offenses both teams have faced so far this season.

Florida Opponent Score Offensive Rank Arkansas Opponent Score Offensive Rank
Toledo W 24-6 74th ULL W 34-14 52nd
Miami L 21-16 38th Samford W 31-21 FCS – No Rank
Open Open Open S. Miss W 24-3 118th
Tennessee W 31-17 93rd  Rutgers L 28-24 63rd
UK W 24-7 62nd Texas A&M L 45-33 4th

UPDATE 10/2/13 3:49 a.m.

Didn’t take long for shots to be fired from Florida over this upcoming game:



h/t @bigk5570

The desk suggest the following theme song for the week for Travis “Ridin’ Dirty’ Swanson…


More details on Jacobs’ comments are emerging, including singling out Travis Swanson as a dirty player. The Orlando Sentinel reports:

“They’re real physical,” nose tackle Damien Jacobs said. “I think they’re a little chippy. They’re a little dirty. So we’re going to have to be ready for it all this week.”

Jacobs singled out preseason All-SEC center Travis Swanson as a main offender of playing to the whistle – and beyond.

“I just see, from film, a lot of stuff after the play, especially with the center, No. 64,” Jacobs said. “He’s a good athlete after the play. He makes you want to do something to him.

“We’re gonna have to try to keep our temper and keep cool on that.”

Asked how to maintain composure, sophomore defensive lineman Jon Bullard said, “You just go out and talk with your pads.”


Arkansas at Florida – the Razorbacks travel to Gainesville in hopes of doing something they have not done before, beating Florida as a member of the SEC. The Razorbacks have also never beaten Florida in Gainesville, so it’s a shot a twofer for the Hogs.

Here are a few of the things being said about the game, and we will update this post throughout the week, so check back often.

FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team continued game week preparation on Tuesday for its upcoming SEC road game against Florida.

Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Jim Chaney met with the media after practice and discussed the importance of this weeks practices.

“Our whole team better lock it in, and lock it in now,” Chaney said. “This battle won’t be fought on Saturday. This battle should be fought today, tomorrow and Thursday. It’s going to be a hard fought one for 60 minutes on Saturday and that is how both of the organizations want to play the game of football. So we are hoping we can go represent our side of that philosophy.”

Chaney talked about the progress of the offense thus far in the season.

“I think we played better offensively last Saturday,” Chaney said. “I believe we need to continue to learn to strain for 60 minutes. I feel like we have played the last couple games through three quarters well, but haven’t been able to finish those games as we would like to. So to say that we have improved, I would say yes, from the Rutgers game to Texas A&M. I felt that our energy level was higher and that we made fewer mental mistakes. Now with that said, with that same incremental jump we made last week, we are going to have to two-fold that to be able to have success this upcoming Saturday.”


FAYETTEVILLE – University of Arkansas head football coach Bret Bielema met with the media on Monday to recap last weekend’s game with Texas A&M and preview the team’s upcoming road matchup against Florida.

Bielema was impressed by the spirit of the Razorbacks and the positives that took place during last Saturday’s game against the Aggies in Fayetteville.

“I told our guys after the game, ‘We’re not there yet, but this climb to the top of the mountain has been a lot of fun,'” Bielema said. “‘When we get to the top, it’s going to be really fun to know what you did.'”

What also impressed Bielema was the poise and composure of Brandon Allen in his return at quarterback for Arkansas last Saturday.

“The thing that I was really engaged about was I saw a feisty, aggressive, angry, competitive young man Saturday night that can win a lot of football games,” Bielema said.

Heading back out onto the road this week and facing another tough conference opponent in the Gators, Bielema said the Razorbacks already have their minds focused on the next challenge ahead.

“It’s a big week this week,” Bielema said. “It’s the second week in the SEC and we play Florida at their home turf. We haven’t beat Florida in SEC play, so it’s an opportunity to do something that’s never been done here. It’s exciting for our guys and I think they got some mojo out of last week.”

Kickoff for Saturday’s SEC road contest against Florida at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., is scheduled for 6 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.


From Florida, Will Muschamp and his Gator are focused on the Razorbacks.

The Razorbacks have lost two straight, including an ugly 28-24 defeat at Rutgers two weeks ago, but they played that one without starting quarterback Brandon Allen, who returned Saturday and helped give Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M a handful before losing 45-33 at home.

The Hogs will have the Gators’ completed attention, especially for the first night game in the “Swamp” in nearly two years.

“They have a well-rounded football team,” Coach Will Muschamp said Monday. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

Despite those back-to-back defeats, Arkansas figures to represent the toughest opponent the Gators have faced to date. It also will mark the first home start for fourth-year junior quarterback Tyler Murphy, who has been both productive and also a calming influence on the UF offense since his battlefield promotion two games ago when quarterback Jeff Driskel was lost for the season with a broken leg against Tennessee.

“I’m going to keep doing what I’m comfortable with, and that’s just prepare and watch a lot of film and just keep pushing guys to do well,” said Murphy, who through nearly two games has completed 72 percent of his passes for 290 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. “I don’t feel like I need to add any more stress on myself. I’ve got a lot of good playmakers around me. My offensive line has done a great job. I just feel like I have to maintain focus on managing the game and getting first downs.”

UF has stopped teams on 37 of 45 third-down opportunities because the Gators have defensive linemen who get pressure with four-man rushes and defensive backs who play outstanding man-to-man coverage. That allows options as far as blitzes and varying zone packages to confuse the quarterback.

“I think our defensive staff does a really good job of mixing those as far as our rush, our pressure package, our man concepts and our zone concepts, so you keep the offense off balance,” Muschamp said. ““That’s the one thing we changed. There’s a little subtle change on first-and-10 and second down for us. But third down can be very drastic depending on the team we’re facing and what we carry into a game. We’re trying to make the offense adjust in those situations each game based on what they do.”

In the wins over the Volunteers and Wildcats, the Gators held those two teams to a combined 6-for-21 on third down. Tennessee, though, is ranked last in the league in total offense; Kentucky is 11th.

The Razorbacks check in at No. 10, but they’re averaging 237 yards per game on the ground, thanks to rookie tailback Alex Collins, who leads the SEC with 597 yards through five games and became the first freshman in league history to rush for 100 yards in the first three games of his career. If that’s not impressive then consider he’s the true freshman anywhere to do so since (get this) Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson in 2004.

The Hogs’ ground attack doesn’t stop there. Sophomore Jonathan Williams has another 471 rushing yards and averages 6.5 per pop.

Arkansas’ players pride themselves in their physical play, having stated they want opponents still feeling the after-effects of a game with the Hogs three and four days later.

That was pointed out to Fowler.

“We’re a physical team, too,” he said.


Key Defensive Stats and Ranks for the Florida Gators

Defensive Category Stat NCAA Rank SEC Rank
Total Defense 202.5 ypg 2nd 1st
Rushing Defense 53.5 ypg 1st 1st
Pass Defense 149 ypg 6th 1st
First Downs 11.5/game 2nd 1st


From Will Muschamp’s weekly press conference:

“On to Arkansas, I’ve got a lot of respect for Bret Bielema, their head football coach. They’re a very physical football team. I don’t think defensively that we have seen a team like this. As far as the two back run team is concerned, the play actions, very big upfront, talented upfront, two talented runners in Williams and Collins. Brandon Allen, the quarterback already shorted against Southern Miss, missed the Rutger’s game, which obviously affected their play in that game, but Travis Swanson, the center, is probably as good a center as we’ll face this year, he’s very athletic. They use him a lot on perimeter plays and pulling him and getting out in front. He does an outstanding job. He’s had 44 starts there. The guy has got a lot of respect. Watching the tape, Javontee Herndan is a tough matchup outside. He’s got four touchdown catches this year. They will create a bunch of one-on-ones, because you’re going to have to put some folks in a box in order to stop the runs. So we’ve got a great challenge in front of us, defensively.

“For us offensively, they’ve got six seniors back on defense. Smith and Flowers are two defensive ends of the guys that jump out at you. Two really good pass rushers. I think Smith was in the top five in sacks in the country, a guy that has a really good initial quickness in first step, but they are physical and tough. Hines and Mitchell are two very talented corners and Hocker, the place kicker, is probably the best in the country. So they have a well-rounded football team. They had a tough deal up in Rutgers. They didn’t have the quarterback and that situation; obviously Texas A&M has a really good football team and Johnny Manziel made a bunch of plays and some off-rhythm plays against them in a well-played game the other night. So we have our work cut out for us. It’s going to be a great night in the Swamp. Seven o’clock kickoff. We’re looking forward to it. Our players, getting back last time we were in our stadium against Tennessee, was an unbelievable environment and that’s what we are certainly going to expect again. Injury-wise, Valdez Showers, I’m hoping to get back Tuesday or Wednesday, definitely Wednesday. I don’t know about Tuesday right now, but we feel like he will be back. Colin Thompson is out. Other than that, we should be good to go for the game.”

On asking running backs to help slow Arkansas’ pass rush:

“Well, we’ll have different protections and whether it’s a six or seven man protection, utilizing our tight ends and our backs to chip on [Chris] Smith and [Trey] Flowers. They’re really good rushers, they have two big guys inside that do a really good job of pushing the pocket; but there’s no question we need to account for them on the edges, and that will be something we address as the week goes on.”

On relationship with Bret Bielema:

“Not really, I’ve met Bret [Bielema] obviously at some of the meetings and he did a great job at Wisconsin through the years. He’s a defensive background coach, so I’ve got a lot of respect for the job he does. It’s hard just being in a meeting with a bunch of guys in a room, but again, from a football standpoint, his resume is pretty good and what he did at Wisconsin was outstanding. I think it was three straight Rose Bowls. He did an outstanding job up there at Wisconsin, and I think you see his imprint on this football team from a physicality standpoint. They play good defense, they do a good job on the offensive line as far as moving people and things, and I think he does an outstanding job.”

On being pumped up preparing for a smash-mouth football team:

 “I’m pumped up at every practice. I’ll be excited at every game. I love playing spread offenses too… look at the results.”

On preparing for a team that dominates time of possession:

“It’s more of winning or losing football games. Certainly you got to find ways to get off the field on third downs. With a lot of two back teams that run the ball very effectively, it’s hard to give them negative plays. So you’re going to be managing a lot of third and threes, third and fours, and a lot of third and fives, which are an easier conversion for an offense to go on third down. So I think that’s where it changes, you’ve got to be patient in the game with something like that, you can’t get impatient as far as how you’re calling the game defensively. I think those are things I’ve always kind of looked at. It’s good from the standpoint of their offense isn’t on the field, but I don’t know that there is any direct relation of winning football games on ball possession.”

On facing teams with a first-year coach and dealing with the scheme changes:

“You know, when Bobby Petrino was there, I don’t know offensively that they’re different, but they’re not totally far. Bobby was going to get in the two back and run the ball, and they ran the ball very effectively. They were able to spread the field, and they still do. Jim Chaney, who is now their coordinator at Arkansas was at Tennessee last year and did a fantastic job there, they were very good the past few years. They are, philosophically, very pro style, that’s who Jim is and that’s what they were before, and that’s what Bret wants offensively. So I don’t know that there’s been that much of a change, there’s not been a drastic change in what they’re trying to do, so I think there’s been pretty good carryover for their players probably.”

On Alex Collins:

“He’s a good football player and a guy that we recruited obviously. He’s a really good football player. He’s done an outstanding job. He’s averaged 120 yards rushing a game so he’s a very good football player. Both backs are outstanding, Williams and Collins.


The only time Arkansas beat Florida in football was the 1982 Blue Bonnet Bowl.

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