Now a week into 2013 spring football practice, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to discuss some of the latest developments surrounding the team and provide updates on specific players.
Freshman linebacker Alex Anzalone, who got knocked out of spring practice on Saturday after colliding with sophomore tight end Kent Taylor, had surgery on his shoulder Sunday and will be out for the remainder of the spring. Muschamp said on Tuesday that Anzalone should return for fall practice after a four-month recovery.
“It was his labrum, right shoulder, I believe. It’s a freak deal. It was in a tackling drill and he got hit on it the wrong way. I’m disappointed for him, but he’s going to be a really good player, so we’re going to be fine,” he explained.
Muschamp also announced that sophomore defensive end Jonathan Bullard and redshirt junior cornerback Cody Riggs tweaked their hamstrings. Bullard is expected to return Monday while Riggs is technically listed “day-to-day.”
Additionally, redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio, who will be limited throughout spring practice while recovering from a knee injury, was able to get on the Sunday but only for individual work. He is not yet ready for 11-on-11 drills but “looked good.”
THREE-WAY PLAYER, YES, BUT DEFENSE COMES FIRST
Though junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy has been spending spring practice playing offense and special teams exclusively up to this point in time, Muschamp made it clear on Tuesday that he expects him to primarily be a presence on the defensive side of the ball but hopes his work on offense allows the Gators to be more multiple in the ways that offensive coordinator Brent Pease uses him during the season.
“I think [he’s progressed] very well. We’re trying to introduce concepts to him. So whether it’s playing outside, he’s played some in the slot, to be able to expand his role mid-season,” he explained. “[If he only has] three plays when he’s in the game, once you run those three plays in the first quarter [opponents] are kind of on to what’s going on. We want to be able to expand what he can do at receiver.”
“I don’t think its diminishing his skill at all as a corner,” Muschamp continued. “He’s done nothing with the defense so far. All he’s worked on is special teams and receiver. And after the seventh practice, he’s going to come back to defense and we will decide then how much we will expand his role offensively through the rest of spring. He’s going to have a role on offense in the fall. That’s why I wanted to do this right now. He’s still going to have a role offensively, but he needs to get back and rep some on defense.”
Though Florida will not have a set number of plays for Purifoy, Muschamp does expect to use him plenty in games. He will likely start (or see a large amount of time on the field) at cornerback, be in some offensive plays and continue serving as a gunner and occasional returner on special teams. “He needs to be in really, really good shape.”
» On which specific strides have been made by junior quarterback Jeff Driskel: “To me just the mental edge of the game, understanding where he’s protected, where he’s got to get rid of it, understanding a little bit more about the route concepts that we’re repping through and knowing where to take the football. The mental quickness is faster. The process is faster, to be able to see it and get rid of the football. More than anything, understand where you’re protected and where you’re not. That, to me, is critical. There were some times last year – from the simple standpoint of first year in the system, first year quarterback – all of those things that are real easy for you and I to sit here and talk about and very, very easy for someone to be critical about but a little different when you’re standing back there pulling the pin.”
» On the talent possessed by sophomore LB Antonio Morrison: “Antonio is a very passionate guy, plays the game hard and with great physicality. He continues to improve as a communicator within the front seven and that’s going to be a key deal for him handling a lot of the directing traffic. He had Jon [Bostic] and Jelani [Jenkins] helping him last year and now he’s got to be that guy. We put a lot on our linebackers as far as communication is concerned. I’m very pleased. [He’s a] very instinctive, tough player. He’s certainly improved his short-area quickness. He’s much, much stronger than he was a year ago, obviously a guy that truly benefitted from being here midyear and took advantage of it. He was here last spring. Here’s a guy that took all the reps and took advantage of all the situations that he’s been in.”
» On how freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has performed thus far: “Kelvin’s done some nice things. Like all of the freshmen, he’s swimming right now as far as assignments are concerned and things. [He] made some really nice cuts in the run game. I’m pleased with his progress. He’s at Florida so we’re excited about him being here. He’s a guy that can stick his foot in the ground, he can go north-south, he’s got some physicality. Again, the game has got to slow down for him a little bit right now. There’s a lot going on. In the individual drills, when he doesn’t have as much thinking to do, you can see the athleticism.”
» On how redshirt junior LB Gideon Ajagbe looks at fullback: “He’s done some nice things. I’m very pleased with his production so far.”
» On junior defensive tackle transfer Darious Cummings: “[I’m] very pleased. He can anchor. He’s got good short-area quickness. He can get off blocks. He can disengage. He’s got good strength. [I’m] just very pleased.”
» On the early enrollees: “I’m very pleased with all eight guys. I’m pleased with the progress and where they are.”
» On kickers redshirt sophomore Austin Hardin and senior Brad Phillips replacing Caleb Sturgis: “We need to get better. Both of them need to kick a lot better.”
» Muschamp said that redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams, who he moved from defensive line to offensive tackle, did not rep a lot at the position until Sunday. The team is “continuing to build depth on the line of scrimmage.”
» Redshirt sophomore Trip Thurman would be Florida’s third center (if ever needed) behind redshirt seniors starter Jonotthan Harrison and back-up Kyle Koehne.
» As far as the wide receivers go, Muschamp said redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar has been progressing nicely and he is pleased with what he has seen from sophomore Latroy Pittman. Redshirt senior Andre Debose needs to continue working on his consistency, while sophomore Raphael Andrades needs to improve his mental preparedness as he has missed a number of meetings due to his simultaneous participation in baseball.
» On the offensive line, specifically sophomore left tackle D.J. Humphries, redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia and redshirt sophomore right tackle Tyler Moore: “D.J.’s weight is up. He’s over 280 now. That was always an issue when we played the bigger team, to be able to set and hold the edge and get some movement in the run game. I think Max Garcia has been a really good addition. He’s a tough, physical inside player. He’s a great kid, does everything you ask. He’s a guy I’m excited about. Both of those guys are really good additions. Tyler Moore has done some nice things. Tyler is very intelligent. He can play multiple positions. He’s looked good at right tackle. He’s learning new terminology. he’s been out a year. [Considering] all the things that go into it, I’m very pleased.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On how practice has been run and what the team will concentrate on in week two: “We’re really working hard on fundamentals and technique and physicality. I’m pleased with the contact speed so far. [We] really worked a lot on third down Saturday and [Sunday], high red zone [Sunday]. We’ll practice Wednesday, Friday, Saturday this week and really go back and work on the lower red zone, short-yardage, goal line, one minute, coming out, introducing a lot of situations. We talked to our team about being a better situational football team, understanding the game in those situations.”
» On how injured players are able to improve while not participating in practice: “They’re in the meetings. They see the tempo. They hear the terminology. They’re watching the film. They’re getting coached. Mental repetition is something I talk about all the time. You can get mental reps when you’re standing on the side. They’re watching the film. They’re in the meeting rooms. They see the walkthroughs take place. More than anything, they see the tempo. You can talk to them all about it before they get here until they get here and realize how quickly they got to think and react and engage and continue to install and see the volume of things that happen. It’s very difficult until they’ve truly been through it.”
» On the new rule stipulating that the penalty of targeting a defenseless player will be ruled on (with players potentially being suspended) during the game rather than over the weekend: “I’m all for player safety so that’s first and foremost. I think our officials have a very difficult job. I think they’ve added another wrinkle to their game day operation. I think the NFL does it at the highest level. The way we did it last year – if there was questionable hit than Steve Shaw head of officials and Commissioner [Mike] Slive sat down in a very calm environment on Monday morning and they reviewed the tape and they made a decision on whether or not there needed to be a suspension or not – is the same way the National Football League does it. So now we’re going to do it on game day in front of 90,000 people. Yes, I understand we’re going to replay. To me, I think you do what the NFL does. I liked our protocol the way it was before. I didn’t see anything wrong with it. The explanation I got was we needed to make it a more harsh penalty. At the end of the day, I liked what we were doing.”
» On if the updated rule has changed the way the Gators practice: “We’re in thud tempos, which basically means we’re staying off the ground. We don’t ever want to take a shot of one of our guys going across the middle. But we have discussed with our players the new rules, the ramifications of being ejected form a game and [possibly] the next game depending on the replay.”