Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp recapped spring practice on Tuesday during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference. Below are some of his insights on the team as it heads into the summer.
QUARTERBACK NOT THE ONLY BATTLE UNSETTLED
After spring practice concluded, Muschamp and the coaching staff sat down to attempt to hammer out as much of a depth chart as possible heading into the summer and fall. A number of starting positions remain undetermined as battles will recommence once the pads come back on when practice begins.
“We’ve kind of finalized [the depth chart]. We met as a staff there three or four days after spring after we met with our players to kind of see where we are. Obviously we still have some unsettled things such as a quarterback position,” he said. “I know that’s critical to see who’s listed first for everybody but right now we’ve got some battles there that will be decided in fall camp. I have a pretty good idea of the guys we’re counting on that’s going to really contribute for our team next year along with getting a really good evaluation in those first 12-14 practices with freshmen coming in.”
Quarterback is indeed the position on everyone’s mind and Muschamp said he is not anywhere close to making a decision between sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, noting that “both of those guys will continue to battle through the fall and we’ll make a decision on that when the time is right. However, he did point out a few things that either or both players can do to raise their respective stock in his eyes.
“As far as just managing our football team: both guys can create plays off rhythm with their legs, both are very accurate throwers and I think they’re both talented players. I think we can win with both of them; I’ve said that before,” he said. “I think as we work through it will all be about managing our team. And I don’t mean that in a conservative manner, I just mean from the standpoint of the guys converting third downs, making vertical plays down the field, getting us in and out of the right runs and taking the ball to the right spots and not turning the ball over. As we continue to work through, it’s very close right now as far as those factors we’re looking at. They’re very close.”
“100 PERCENT HEALTHY” ASIDE FROM POWELL
“Disappointed in Ronald Powell’s injury; [he] had surgery [Monday] – [I’m told] it went very well. We’ll see what the timetable is on that. Again, like I’ve said before, anybody that can come back it would be Ronald; he’s a very determined young man for his rehab. Thoughts are with him right now. I thought we had a very solid spring,” he said.
“Other than Ronald Powell we will be 100 percent going into fall camp as far as guys whether they may have had a surgery postseason and missed spring. Right now everybody is on track to be full-go when we report in August.”
One player who surprised some by missing the spring game was junior safety Matt Elam (groin). Muschamp provided a bit of insight on that decision but was sure to point out that he is expected to be healthy and ready to go when practice resumes.
“He missed probably the last four practices of spring. Probably he could have gone in the spring game, but I really wanted to take a good look at Jabari Gorman and Valdez Showers at the safety position,” he said. “Matt’s a good football player for us. He’s played a lot of football for us. There was no sense in risking any further injury to the groin. He had a postseason surgery with that. It has come along well. He just twinged it there in spring practice. He’s fine. He’s working out and, as far as I know, he’s fine.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on Florida’s biggest offseason improvement: “We improved in the area we needed to improve on and that’s really our physicality. We’re a much more physical football team than we were in any time last season, so that’s the most pleasing thing.”
» On if there have been or will be any transfers upcoming: “I think [my comments last week were] a little blown out of proportion. As I always say, when you’re in your evaluation meetings with your players – which I’m about through with – there’s always things that come up as far as homesick, depth chart, different things. At this point we don’t have any but again you never say never on these situations.”
» On whether or not he thinks Florida’s running game has improved: “I think we’re better and I think that’s all relative. We didn’t have Dominique Easley and a couple other guys inside playing on defense during the spring either. Very similar to what we’re going to face in the fall, so we’ll find out in the fall. But there’s no question you look at playing on the first level, getting to the second level, securing blocks, running more of a downhill running style – which because of our backs has changed obviously – there is no question that we’re better. How much better we are we’ll find out in the fall when it’s live bullets and we’re going against some of the teams we have to face in our league.”
» On adding transfer offensive tackle Max Garcia from Maryland: “Our numbers last year were what they were. I always feel like you need to have 15-17 offensive linemen on scholarship. It’s a developmental position. We’ve got 14 now and we’re probably going to lose four guys next year. Adding Max is a guy that’s played before, a good football player, an outstanding student. [I’m] very pleased to have him in the mix with our offensive line.”
» On Texas A&M joining the conference: “They’ve got a great tradition out there in College Station and Kevin Sumlin is a really good football coach. They have a really good staff and great tradition there, so we’re really looking forward to them coming into the SEC. Obviously that draws a lot of TV sets for us in Houston and the East Texas area.”
» On Missouri’s offense being added to the SEC: “It’s a different animal there as far as some of the tackle-over stuff. They’re in four- and five-wides and what we call quads with four guys on the side. From a formation adjustment standpoint, it is going to be an adjustment for our league. […] You got to make some plays in space versus these guys, got to be able to rush the quarterback with four guys because you get in situations where you pressure a bunch and you create some one-on-ones. They’ve done a nice job recruiting skill people but they make you declare because of spreading the field. They very rarely have two backs back there and most of the time they don’t have one, but they’re going to motion him back.”