Muschamp gathers Gators in Fort Lauderdale

By Adam Silverstein
April 27, 2011

Flying into Fort Lauderdale, FL for a Gator Gathering with the Broward Gator Club on Tuesday evening, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp appeared anything but tired after a long day’s work. He gave a confident and passionate speech to nearly a thousand orange-and-blue-clad fans in attendance before energetically answering questions until it was time to depart. Below is a recap of some of the more newsworthy and interesting topics that Muschamp covered during the event:

» Muschamp made his feelings on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley very clear once again: He believes in him. “I didn’t really watch tapes from last year with John. It’s hard to evaluate because you don’t know what somebody’s being asked. You don’t know what decisions are being made with the ball. I looked at our spring, and I thought John managed our football team well. I saw improve practice-to-practice through 15 [practices] as far as how he managed our offense.”

» Throughout the course of the event, the mentioning of certain names drew applause from the crowd. Those receiving such praise included offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, sophomore athlete Trey Burton, redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey and sophomore safety Matt Elam.

» Speaking about his coaching staff, Muschamp relayed a few tidbits about each. Most notable were the comments he made about running backs coach Brian White (he was not “retained” but rather “re-hired”), defensive line coach Bryant Young (who is in charge of all discipline for the team and scares the players to death) and linebackers/special teams coach D.J. Durkin (who once stole a recruit from Muschamp out of Atlanta, GA).

» Freshman tight end A.C. Leonard received special praise: “You’re talking about seeing a guy grow and mature. He came in here, was homesick, wanted to go home. We had a bunch of heart-to-hearts in my office. […] He’s falling in and is going to be a really good player for the Gators.”

» Other offensive players getting shoutouts included Burton (“Trey just gets it. He understands football. It comes easy to him.”) and Rainey, who Muschamp said he always jokes with that he’s not as fast as senior RB Jeff Demps.

» With the dismissal of senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins making waves Tuesday, Muschamp praised redshirt junior Jeremy Brown as “very consistent” during spring, also noting that sophomore Cody Riggs “had a great spring playing both corner and nickel.”

» Senior kicker Caleb Sturgis hit a 52-yard field goal on his first attempt inside the stadium this spring. “He’s back healthy, which is good. Makes me sleep better at night.”

» Muschamp also spoke highly of freshman punter Kyle Christy, saying he’s “a real talented guy” with “a real good leg.” He also poked fun at him a bit, saying that he was nervous when spring practice started and had a bit of trouble hanging onto the ball. “I’m going to be here most games. You need to get used to that feeling,” Muschamp said he told him. “I’m going to be further away [during games], but I’m going to stand by you in every practice when you punt.”

» Gators graduating in the spring: Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Riley Cooper, defensive tackle Terron Sanders, defensive end Justin Trattou, linebacker Brandon Antwine and WR Justin Williams.

» Asked about his excitement level about being the coach of Floirda, he said, “There aren’t many professions that you can say you get out of bed every single day, your feet hit the floor, and you’re excited about going to work. I am. I love my job. I’m glad I’m at the University of Florida.”

» Asked about how he stays so energetic all the time, he said, “I do drink a lot of coffee in the morning. I’m a victim of that. My wife won’t let me drink Red Bulls anymore, or whatever those things are called, I got a little angry.”

» Muschamp gave a candid response when the topic of a playoff for college football was brought up: “I’m young, but I’m old-fashioned. I like what we’ve got or a plus-one. I don’t want to go to a playoff, and I don’t think that’s good for college athletics. We all talk about how important academics are and then we’re going to go play a 20-game season? I like the bowl system the way it’s set-up. It’s a great reward for the players. Some of these young men never get to go stay in a nice hotel for a week and eat good meals, and they deserve it. Look at the money they earn for the university, in my opinion. The coaches’ wives that sacrifice an awful lot, they deserve it too as much time as we spend away from them. I wouldn’t mind a plus-one game, but I would say that I like what we have. And I’m not for a playoff; I don’t think that’s good for college athletics, in my opinion.”

» He also confirmed that starters will indeed play on special teams under his watch. “I believe in it 100 percent. A guy named Bill Parcells told his football team and tells his scouts, ‘If a guy is not a quarterback or an offensive lineman and he’s not on special teams, he is a selfish football player.’ We tell all of our players, ‘You’re going to enhance your opportunities as a player [by] playing special teams.’ We’re going to put our best players on special teams. I think it’s critical.”

» Muschamp talked about his general stance on accepting transfers from junior college players. “It’s [an option] for a position of need. Most guys, when they go to junior college, there are some obvious reasons why they go. You’ve got to do a great job making sure it’s the type of young man you want within your program. That’s the first thing you’ve got to ask yourself. And then, ‘Can they come in and contribute?’ Generally, if a junior college guy comes in and if he doesn’t play, he’s unhappy because he’s already spent two years of his career at a junior college. He needs to come in with a position of opportunity to play.”

» Fall practice, if it is open at all to fans, will only be for small windows or for a short period of time. Muschamp has yet to decide.

» Discussing team discipline, he first talked about keeping players off of the police blotter before discussing how the team can become cohesive while it is still in transition.

“It’s something that we work hard on from a character standpoint with our football team. It goes back to recruiting and getting the right type guys in the program. Guys got to make good decisions and choices. That goes back to leadership on your football team. By NCAA rules, there’s only so many times a year I can be around the players. We have to have the ownership of the team take over to run our football team. That’s what we need to have happen, and I think a lot of that is happening.”

“I told those guys that there is no option. If you want to be here and be a part of what we’re trying to do on our football team, fine. If you don’t, there’s the door. We’ve built well together so far. There’s a lot of team building things going on in our football team, in our organization. I do think things get blown out of proportion a little bit. I don’t think things are nearly as bad as they seem to be from a perception standpoint. That’s just my personal opinion.”

» Overall, he believes team discipline is improving. “Those are some isolated situations. We work on that a lot, and I think we’re making some positive strides.”

» One of the last questions Muschamp was asked is what fans can do to help him and the team succeed. “Just be positive about our football team. Be positive about the Gators. Let’s worry about the Gators. We get so caught up in what somebody else does or what somebody else says or how somebody else practices or, ‘They signed this guy.’ You know what? Who cares! Let’s worry about the ones we sign. I got to worry about them 365 days [a year]. I got to worry about them other ones one day out of the year. More than anything: Be a positive member of our team. If you’ve got an issue or a problem, don’t boo. Boo me if you want to; wait until after the game is over and let me know. Our guys need positive reinforcement in what we do and how we do it. I understand, ‘We pay our ticket; we deserve [the right] to be critical.’ Be critical of me. Be critical of our staff. We deserve that; our players don’t. Be a positive team member, that’s what I ask.”

4 Comments

  1. Tractorr says:

    Ha, Terron Sanders graduated. A friend of mine had Terron in an intro writing class and one day she had the class doing an in-class writing assignment. She notices that Terron is not doing the assignment and she asks him why he isn’t doing it.
    He replies that he doesn’t want to.
    So she says, “Don’t you want to be a good writer? Writing is a skill you will be able to use your whole life.”
    He replies, “No, I will just get a lawyer to do it for me.”

  2. Timmy T says:

    Tractorr,
    Thanks for that little glimpse in to Terron’s life. Me, I’ll just give the kid kudos and say congratulations young man, on a job well done. Not everybody graduates from college, and not everybody carries a degree from the University of Florida. As far as the rest of the article, once again I come away impressed with CWM. This guy seems to truly get it.

    • Tractorr says:

      I would love to agree with you, but when people with that sort of attitude are given degrees from UF it lessens the value of all of our degrees. It also contributes to the notion athletes (especially football players) are permitted to just float through school.

      When I was an instructor at UF I only had one football player in any of the classes I taught. I will not give his name because he is still with the team and a rather high profile player. He worked as hard as anyone in the class, and I am proud of him and will be very proud of him (as I will be of everyone who works for their degree) the day he graduates.

      • Tractorr says:

        I should add I have no idea how Terron’s academic life proceeded after my friend’s class, and I hope he changed his attitude and got something out of his education.

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