Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spoke at length Monday about the first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, how the team is coming together early into the spring practice session and how some individual players are progressing.
GILLISLEE AND POWELL STAND OUT
Two of the players that the team needs the most out of in 2012 – senior running back Mike Gillislee and junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell
“You look at the two players of the day – Mike Gillislee and Ronald Powell both had great offseasons,” he said. “They didn’t miss a day. They worked hard. They’ve done a great job in the weight room. They’ve done a great job in our offseason program. And they’ve both, in the first seven days of spring, have had really good springs. They’re in shape and they’re attentive to detail of what they have to do to be successful.”
Gillislee was one of the reasons that Florida was “able to run the ball pretty effectively throughout the scrimmage.” He has also improved his blocking immensely. “Protection he did a nice job,” Muschamp said. “One of the first series there he did a nice job [with] protection, blocking on the edge and then had a nice run for a 20-yard gain, caused two guys to miss. He’s got good vision and a good feel for the running game.”
Being named the official starter seems to be a formality at this point for Gillislee, but it is a goal he will have to continue working towards, according to Muschamp. “If he continues down the same path, there’s no question,” he said. “That’s where competition is your best motivator. I know he’s got guys behind him that are pushing him and doing a good job as well.”
Muschamp also said that Powell was the most productive player on defense; he continues to be impressed with how hard he has worked on a day-to-day basis. “Ronald had a couple good third down stops, a couple good pressures, a sack. He continues to play well. His pad level has improved and his hand placement playing blocks,” he said.
» Redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Alli (groin) – day-to-day, missed scrimmage
» Junior WR Solomon Patton (groin) – “week-to-week,” missed scrimmage
» Redshirt freshman WR Ja’Juan Story (ankle) – back this week, missed scrimmage
» Redshirt senior defensive end Earl Okine (back) – out for spring
» Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder) – back Monday, missed scrimmage
Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson remains in a non-contact jersey but is still participating in one-on-ones and 7-on-7 skeleton drills. The team is trying to work him into some drills so he can continue getting all of the reactions down, but he is “not in the fray” as far as tackling and taking on blocks.
Freshman offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker: “[They] are both doing an outstanding job up front. Both guys are way ahead athletically than most big guys are at this time. Both guys are very talented. How quickly they will continue to pick up on what they’re doing – time will tell. I’m very pleased with both of those young men.”
Freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison: “Antonio Morrison is a physical, tough, instinctive linebacker that has done some nice things for us.”
Freshman cornerback Willie Bailey: “Willie Bailey just needs to get stronger. Willie is talented. Willie can run. He’s got length; he’s got size for the position. We just got to get stronger in the weight room. He’s got cover skills, and he’s a willing tackler. He’ll take on and play blocks. I’m real pleased with him.”
Freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman: “I’ve been very pleased with his progress to this point. Very encouraged. Latroy is another guy who came in and had a great offseason, works hard every day, gives everything he’s got. I’ve been very pleased with his attitude and his playmaking ability. He’s a stronger guy from being a freshman. [...] I don’t know where he was rated, so don’t ask me that, but we really liked him in camp. We thought he was a really good player. But he committed a long time ago, too, so that lost its luster, too. If they commit too early then they’re not as good as the other guys.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On the offense in the scrimmage: “ I thought offensively we did a nice job getting some movement up front. Did a nice job – we had a red zone period – I thought our offense did a nice job executing down there in the red zone.”
» On the defense in the scrimmage: “It’s a give-and-take. The defense didn’t stop them very well at times. It didn’t’ play as well up front as I thought we should. We weren’t as productive at the linebacker position as I’d like to be.”
» Muschamp said the starting offensive line consisted of senior left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt senior left guard James Wilson, redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio and redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan. He singled out Nixon and Halapio as standouts on the offensive line.
» He also said that redshirt senior WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. had a nice practice including taking a reverse for a touchdown and showcasing some solid blocking and catching down the field.
» Muschamp believes the defense was too inconsistent across the board during the scrimmage and noted that tackling was a constant issue, especially in the secondary where there were eight missed tackles.
» On not seeing a lot of production from the linebackers in the scrimmage: “When you’re in one of those [hard-hitting scrimmages], you’d like to have a little bit more production from the linebacker position. It was not all their fault; we need to play blocks better up front. We need to take down teams and not let them climb to the next level so quickly, which certainly happened at times.”
» Muschamp said that, after spring is over, he will sit down with both staffs, create a depth chart and figure out who can play and who cannot. “Either you get it done or we move forward and try to find somebody else who can do it,” he said.
» On if he is noticing the team becoming tougher: “We’ve made strides. I really believe that. We’ll find out in the ball. But as a coach, for the first time, I felt like there were some pads popping in practice last week.”
» On Tim Tebow going to New York: “His press conference is bigger than mine. [...] Obviously the New York Jets got better. You look at what he did in Denver, taking them to the playoffs, he did a phenomenal job. You meet Tim and you understand that he has the ‘it’ factor. He positively affects everybody around him. It’s pretty well-documented what he did for the University of Florida but not just [here] – college football. He’s had his opportunity on Denver and took them to the playoffs, and now he has a great opportunity in New York.”