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Gator Football: Back To Business

Only two weeks into the offseason, Gator football isn’t taking any time off as they begin gearing up for the Orange and Blue game.

Head coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media today for the first time since Florida’s embarrassing performance in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The Gators lost the game 33-23 to a Louisville team led by former Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. Muschamp says his team’s performance against the Cardinals was the result of straying away from their winning formula.

After returning from New Orleans the program has taken a different shape, with both players and coaches moving on.

One key loss to Florida’s coaching staff was the departure of defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who accepted an offer to return to the NFL as the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. Quinn took the job only hours after Gus Bradley left the Seahawks to fill the head coaching vacancy with the Jaguars. Muschamp says new defensive coordinator DJ Durkin will continue in Quinn’s direction, with a focus on having a high energy defense that forces turnovers.

Muschamp adds Durkin didn’t get the promotion because he was already on the coaching staff – he was the best man for the job.

But coaches aren’t the only ones who have been making moves since the Sugar Bowl. Redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Alli and redshirt junior defensive end Kedric Johnson will graduate and leave the team after doing so. Muschamp says both guys have plans for after football.

One more player who’s been making moves, but in the wrong direction, is offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker. Dunker, who redshirted as a freshman last season, was arrested earlier this week for allegedly stealing a scooter. In wake of his arrest, Muschamp says he has suspended Dunker from all team activities.

More personnel changes could be on the horizon for the Gators. Before they begin spring practices, the Gators will need to hire a new special teams coordinator to succeed DJ Durkin. Some of the names floating around include Vernon Hargreaves II, the father of consensus 5-star 2013 commit Vernon Hargreaves III. Hargreaves II was the special teams coordinator at USF last season under Skip Holtz.

The Orange and Blue game is set for April 6th. Spring practices will likely begin in mid-March.

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Nov 14, 2015; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks running back Brandon Wilds (22) drops a pass as Florida Gators defensive back Isaac O'Neal (37) defends in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

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