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August 31, 2013
Five players - including previously suspended Antonio Morrison - sat out Saturday's season opener against Toledo because of a violation of team rules. The end result was not damning, a 24-6 victory, and UF coach Will Muschamp said his team knew it would be without the four additional suspended players since a team meeting last Thursday.
Loucheiz Purifoy, Latroy Pittman, Quinteze Williams and Darious Cummings, all watched from the sidelines wearing street clothes Saturday. They did not travel to the stadium with the team and were not part of the pre-game Gator Walk. Muschamp was asked Wednesday if there would be any additional players suspended for disciplinary reasons in the opening game. "No," he said. "Not at this time."
"We were going to announce it before the game," Muschamp said. "That's my prerogative as the head coach at Florida. It's our football team, right? That's what we were going to do."
Three media outlets -- GatorCountry.com, The Gainesville Sun and The Palm Beach Post -- reported Friday night that freshman defensive tackle Jay-nard Bostwick was suspended as well. The reports were inaccurate, and Bostwick was with the team for the Gator Walk. Muschamp said he planned to play Bostwick in Saturday's game but couldn't find the right situation.
After addressing the game and Toledo in his opening statement, Muschamp turned his attention toward the inaccurate reports and laid out a more than two-minute rant that is sure to go viral.
"When you take a shot at a kid and it's inaccurate and it's written inaccurately, I've got a problem. I can be accused of a lot of things, being over-protective of our players for accurate information. I am really pissed off and it's wrong," Muschamp said. "Your opinion is fine. Take a shot at me. I'll take shots all day. But to take a shot at a freshman that's done everything we've asked him to do since he's been here? He is a great young man. He should have played today if we would have gotten in some situations where we could play him. He's done everything we asked him to do. He's a great teammate. He's great in that locker room. To take that shot is wrong. It's damn wrong."
"You need to apologize to his parents and you need to apologize to that kid. You want to put your name behind something? Why don't you come up here and tell me who your source was? That's what I'd like to know. Who was your source? Church mice in here. If you want to write something, stand up and stand behind it. That's what I'm going to tell you. You took a shot at a kid and a family that's done nothing wrong. It's really bad. I'm going to meet with (Jeremy) Foley to see if y'all are even going to be allowed to come in here again. I'll be honest with you. It was a low blow for me."
Muschamp said Pittman will be suspended for the next two games, but all other players will return next week against Miami.
Hargreaves stars: Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said during fall camp the Gators expected to receive an immediate impact from Vernon Hargreaves III. One game in, one interception.
The freshman from Tampa played extensively at cornerback and seldom saw a pass come his way. When he did, he made the most of it. Hargreaves broke on a pass thrown behind his receiver by Terrance Owens and made his first career interception. Five plays later, the Gators had a touchdown and a 24-6 lead.
"Vernon's a really good player. He missed some time in camp with a shoulder or he's a guy that possibly would have been our starting nickel," Muschamp said. "It's easy to play guys like him."
Hargreaves was one of nine true freshmen to play for the Gators Saturday.
A new face: Valdez Showers, who switched to running back from safety during fall camp, had a surprisingly big day - at least to bystanders. Showers had two carries for 31 yards and four catches for 23 yards.
"I saw it coming," Showers said. "Truthfully, they told me that they had a big role for me and it was all up to me to be able to take on the role. I just had to prepare myself and get in that playbook."
This and that: Sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries left the game in the fourth quarter. Muschamp said he has a sprained MCL and should be fine. ... Kicker Austin Hardin was 1 for 2 on field goals in his first game as a starter. He made a 24-yard field goal and missed a 39-yarder. ... Marcus Roberson drew praise from Muschamp for his punt return work. Roberson gained 72 yards on four returns.