Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Wednesday primarily to discuss the new recruiting class on National Signing Day, but he also touched on a number of issues concerning the team with six weeks to go until the start of spring practice on March 19 ahead of the 2014 season.
INJURED STARTERS STILL ON THE MEND
The Gators’ rash of season-ending injuries last season was highlighted by two big losses on the offensive side of the ball – redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel (fibula) and junior Matt Jones (knee).
While Driskel is slowly but surely working his way back – Muschamp noted that he has resumed jogging and is expected to be cleared for the start of spring practice – Jones on Wednesday went under the knife for the second of potentially three surgeries to repair a complete radial tear of his meniscus.
Doctors have told Muschamp that Jones’s meniscus was already “90 percent healed,” which puts him “further along” than the initial projection for his return, but he will not be able to suit up in March and remains on target to get back to work in the summer.
Redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose (torn ACL) and offensive tackles redshirt senior Chaz Green (shoulder) and redshirt junior Tyler Moore (elbow) are all expected to participate in spring practice.
The only players that will be completely held out are second-year linebackers Alex Anzalone (shoulder), Jeremi Powell (torn ACL) and Matt Rolin (torn ACL).
“Guys are working hard in the offseason program. Very pleased with how that is going at this time,” he said. “Some other guys will be limited in spring, but no one is going to be totally out other than those three at this time that I know of.”
MIKE PETERSON – STAFF MEMBER
Serving as an undergraduate student assistant while completing his degree in the fall, former Florida LB Mike Peterson‘s future with the team was a bit up in the air. Muschamp announced Wednesday that Peterson has accepted a full-time job in the Gators’ weight room and will begin his duties on Feb. 24.
“[He] played 14 years, I believe, in the National Football League and came back, and Jeremy [Foley] has been great to all of our former players to be able to come back, finish school,” said Muschamp, “and he’s one of those guys, got his degree in December. We looked around in the coaching ranks, and we had an opportunity in the weight room. To be able to hire a guy like that – former Gator, knows how it’s going to be done the right way – that’s invaluable for our players. So, great to have him on staff.”
A UF spokesman confirmed to OnlyGators.com that Peterson’s official role with Florida’s weight staff will be strength and conditioning coordinator.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On why he is confident Florida can turn things around offensively considering many areas are in need of improvement: “I feel very comfortable about our starting five [offensive linemen] right now, just looking at what you would say your five or six best players on the offensive line, I think [they] are very good football players when we’re healthy. And I feel very comfortable at our quarterback position. I feel very comfortable at receiver position, all those guys being a year older. Quinton Dunbar had a great season; [we] get Andre off the injury. He continues to progress like he was going into last season. We didn’t get a chance to see that. You know, the tight end position, those guys need to step forward, probably have some young guys help us out there to be able to take the next step. … But I think Kelvin Taylor is a good back. I think Matt Jones is a good back. I think Mack Brown is a good back. I think that, again, we get those guys back, we’ll be ready to go.”
» On filling in the voids in the secondary with the departure of four starters: “I think at the safety position, Keanu Neal and Marcus Maye – Marcus started some games for us last year. Keanu Neal continues to improve. Marcell Harris is coming back off his knee. I think he moves around well. Jabari Gorman has been a guy that’s played a bunch of football for us and played well for us. Nick Washington is a guy that really can line up at safety, corner, nickel. He’s very intelligent, very smart, a lot like Jaylen [Watkins], can do a lot of different things for us, can be a cover corner outside, can also line up inside and play very intelligent. Brian Poole is a guy that can play multiple positions and played very well for us at the nickel position last year, going back and watching the tape and the cutups of him.”
» On once again having to replace starters at defensive tackle: “Really excited about Leon Orr and Darious Cummings, two seniors coming back, and the three young guys – Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley and Antonio Riles are all three guys that have all the athleticism and the girth to play the position and be fine.”
» On recruiting rankings: “I was watching ESPN this morning and somebody said [analyst] Tom Luginbill was the number one-ranked junior college player when he came out. I intercepted Tom Luginbill [laughing], so that’ll tell you how important those rankings are – and I texted him this morning just to remind him of that.”
@onlygators Ha!! We texted each other about that this morning. I told him not to brag & respect I was kind enough to give him his only pick
— Tom Luginbill (@TomLuginbill) February 5, 2014