8/2: Muschamp speaks after first day of practice

By Adam Silverstein
August 2, 2013

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media after his team’s first day of fall practice ahead of the 2013 season.

”TYPICAL FIRST DAY”

The Gators shook the rust off on Friday during the team’s first day of fall practice, and Muschamp was not yet ready to draw any conclusions from what he saw especially because he was unable to split the team up (veterans and inexperienced players) like Florida normally does during its first week.

“You like to be able to go split-squad. Of course, we’re limited with some numbers. Having everybody out there at once, it’s a different teaching progression for young players as opposed to old players,” he said. “That’s why you like to have two to three days to be able to divide the roster up but unfortunately we couldn’t do that. We had to do what’s best for our football team and that was to get out there together tonight.”

UNTIMELY ILLNESS CREATES “UNCHARTED WATERS”

Already without his starting quarterback, junior Jeff Driskel, due to an appendectomy, the last thing Muschamp needed was for his starting running back to go down as well. Unfortunately for the Gators, that is exactly what happened when sophomore Matt Jones recently contracted a serious viral infection. Though Jones is out of the hospital, Muschamp has not received any indication from doctors as to when he may be able to return to action or what kind of shape he will be in when he does suit up again.

“Our physicians have told me we’re in a little bit of uncharted waters here exactly about him coming back and when that’s going to happen and how good of health he’s going to be in,” he said. “I don’t know any of that right now. It’s been very uncertain. It’s very frustrating, for him first of all and then for us a little bit.

“It is what it is and we’ll handle the situation. Matt’s going to be fine, I do know that. Whenever he is able to join this football team and work and do the things we want to do [will be great]. Number one, he’s healthy, and that’s the most important thing.”

Though Jones was solidified as the starter entering the fall, Muschamp said Friday that redshirt junior RB Mack Brown, his primary backup, will certainly have a legitimate chance to try and earn the gig full-time.

“Absolutely. I think Mack Brown is ready for the job, ready for his number to be called. I look forward to him having that opportunity,” Muschamp said.


INSTALLATION PLANS UNALTERED

Though Driskel missing up to two weeks is not ideal, Muschamp is not about to slow down the installation of offensive packages and wait until he returns to the field.

“We’re running our offense,” Muschamp said. “We got to install our systems offensively and defensively and special teams. Really after the first two scrimmages is when you start making decisions on where you need to go schematically. Right now we need to install our systems, so we’re installing everything right now.”

Redshirt junior QB Tyler Murphy took the reins of the offense on Friday and “did some nice things,” according to Muschamp. “I thought he made some good decisions and checks in the run game. I thought he did a nice job,” he added.

With Murphy never having taken a meaningful snap behind center in college, the extra work early in the fall should do wonders for his confidence.

“It’s huge. Any time you get a situation where you get all the turns and reps and at-bats, it helps you as a player,” Muschamp said. “There’s no question it helps him being with the first group and the first offensive line. Less mistakes, less issues and all of those things. There’s no question.”

WIDEOUT COMPETITION

Redshirt junior Quinton Dunbar has almost assuredly locked down a starting job at wide receiver, but Muschamp on Friday discussed two players that he hopes can step up in a big way and help Florida create a more formidable passing offense this season.

Having failed to earn the trust of two separate coaching staffs, redshirt senior Andre Debose is faced with his last year of college and final opportunity to prove that he is talented enough to play on the next level. Muschamp said he will have every opportunity to get as much playing time as he can handle.

“He’s competing to be a starter at wideout, and he’s a kick returner,” he said. “There’s no question he’s in the mix for [to start at receiver]. I saw him in one-on-one make some nice plays [Friday], in skeleton made some nice plays. He’s a guy that we need for him to play well, and we’re counting on him this year.”

The Gators’ most talked-about incoming freshman, four-star prospect Demarcus Robinson, did enough to impress his new coaches in the spring and should play a significant role for Florida on offense this season. How much of a role – and where he will be lined up – remains to be seen.

“He’s a guy that, athletically, certainly can help us,” Muschamp said.

“But how quickly can he continue to progress mentally with the game? Can he play multiple positions? Do you need to leave him in one spot, which is probably what we’ll end up doing? And how will he be able to retain things practice one to practice 12 to practice 16, week-to-week operation in our league?

“So far, we’ve been very pleased. But again, that’s something with a young player – you have never been through a fall before with him – it’s hard to project those things. I’ve been in situations where it’s worked tremendously for you, and I’ve been in some situations where it didn’t work as well. But I’m very pleased with where we are right now, I certainly am.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On redshirt senior defensive back Jeremy Brown, who is entering his sixth season with the team: “Guy’s been through a lot as far as injuries are concerned. He and I sat down last December. He really wanted to give it another year, and I’m all for it. He’s a guy that’s a real good football player. He’s just got to stay healthy. That’s the issue.”

» On what the freshmen can show him in the early going of practice: “Effort. Conditioning. They’re not going to know everything. You got to understand that you got to be patient with that. Really, for the mid-year guys [early enrollees], you want to see them understand about the tempo of practice, how we do things. Make sure they’re doing that, which those guys did, they were ready for that. How much did they comprehend through the summer, which I saw some positive signs there. Then the new guys, it’s really not about practice one. It’s really about practice 12 and where are they. If they’re still swimming mentally, they’re going to have a hard time. If they’re still struggling with the tempo of practice, they’re going to have a hard time. … You just have to be patient right now. What you need to be able to see is do they have learning ability, the capability to be able to learn and understanding what you’re trying to do conceptually. And then, do they have the athleticism to help you? Those are the decisions you need to make early. Don’t worry about a busted assignment, that’s going to happen. And can they play at a fast, high tempo? And I saw some of that tonight a little bit.”

» On the kickers thinking one of them will win the starting job outright: “I don’t know that I’ve ever told them that, but I’d like for one guy to go take the job, there’s no question. But we need production at the position, and I don’t view that position different than any other position from the standpoint of, if you don’t get the production, you need to look somewhere else. Certainly I would love to have one guy step forward and take control of the job.”

2 Comments

  1. gatornsc says:

    I’m not worried. Know we got a good team with awesome depth..finally. Its great to be a Florida Gator!!!!

  2. gatornsc says:

    Oh. Love matt Jones and pray that he is ok but if Mack brown can’t handle the heat—- mark my word… Taylor and Lane will be in beast mode!!!

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