8/4: Muschamp after Florida’s first practice on passing game, defensive backs, social media

By Adam Silverstein
August 4, 2014

The Florida Gators will take the field for the first time since April on Monday morning at 6 a.m. for the official start of fall practice ahead of the 2014 season.

Head coach Will Muschamp, heading into his fourth year at the helm of the program, held a press conference during Florida’s annual media day on Sunday to discuss the make-up of the Gators heading into the fall.

GOOD START FOR THE PASSING GAME

Slinging the ball down the field will be key to the revitalization of Florida’s offense this season and very early returns are positive with Muschamp noting that redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel “looked really good” on day one.

Also impressing was redshirt senior wide receiver Andre Debose, who “looked really good [Monday] morning” and “looked fast on the field,” according to Muschamp.

“I think he handled the rehab very well. At first, he was very frustrated. As time moved forward, he was very focused on getting back and having a great sixth year,” he said.

“So as far as his level of focus, to be where he is right now [is great]. Really, it takes a full year, in my opinion, on an ACL for a skill athlete to come back totally from a confidence standpoint, from a soreness standpoint, to be able to battle through. … I’ve been nothing but pleased with his rehab coming back from where he was.”

Debose will have his repetitions monitored throughout camp but “will not be held out of any of the contact situations” due to his rehabilitated knee.


YOUNG DEFENSIVE BACKS BEGIN COMPETING

The Gators’ secondary was ravaged by graduations and defections in the offseason. Muschamp is looking to fill a number of holes at cornerback and safety, and Florida will likely end up relying on some of its youngest players to win those roles outright.

Muschamp broke down how some of those freshmen defensive backs looked during their first fall practice.

“Athletic. Those guys, good carry over [from spring practice],” he said.

Jalen Tabor did some nice things. Duke [Dawson] did some nice things. Duke’s a guy we played at the nickel a little in the spring, can play a different position. He gives you a different skill set as far as a bigger guy that’s a good blitzer; he’s got good run instincts, could possibly get some looks at safety. Smart guy.

Quincy Wilson [playing cornerback] had an interception tonight. DeAndre Porter continues…he played mostly offense in college, so it’s a transition for him but he’s a very good athlete, pleased with what we see so far. Some very positive things.”

SOCIAL MEDIA IMPACTING RECRUITING

Muschamp admitted Monday that he does consider what recruits put out to the public on social media when doing his evaluations on whether to extend scholarship offers. He also explained how a small slip-up could cost a prospect dearly both when transitioning from high school to college or even from college to the professional level.

“It’s so different than when we were growing up. But when they press send, it’s out there. There has been some situations that we’ve communicated with the perspective student-athlete and said, ‘Where exactly are we, what road are we headed down here?’ We may have talked to the high school coach, the principal and people within the school to find out more about exactly what messages are trying to be sent here. There’s no question there’s a lot of issues that can be made from the messages on a public social media.

“I’ve told our players this story all the time. I had a player one time that was going for a visit to a pro team coming out of college and jokingly made a tweet that was not viewed very humorously by the organization. The general manager called me and said, ‘What’s the deal with this guy?’ It ended up, he was a defensive tackle that got drafted in the second round as opposed to end of the first round, which the team that called me took a [different] defensive tackle. … It cost him about $3.5 million based on where he was picked.

“I tell our guys all the time that I don’t ban them from Twitter, but we try to monitor those things as best we can. … I try to explain to them that when you put something out there, you’re being followed by so many people, they assume you’re talking about Florida football immediately. That’s the first instinct, then what’s going on, and we’re in the information gathering business and trying to find what’s going on. There’s no question that’s part of the evaluation for us, and I’m sure it is for all other schools as well.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Florida split its Monday practices up by age group, running the veterans in the morning and youngsters in the evening. Muschamp explained that the main reason some freshmen got the opportunity to play earlier in the day was due to school conflicts and that “not a whole lot [should be] read into it.”

» After praising the specialists in the spring, Muschamp did not change his tone after seeing redshirt sophomore kicker Austin Hardin and punters senior Kyle Christy and sophomore Johnny Townsend on Monday. “I think that over a period of time you continue to build your confidence back, and I think both of those guys have done that and it started in the spring,’ he said.

» The Gators will don pads for the first time on Wednesday night during the third practice. After two days only wearing shells, Florida will be able to get fully geared up for practice.

» On Florida being healthy entering camp and the contrast from a year ago: “Drastically different.”

» On how excited he was to get the Gators back out on the field and waking up after less than four hours of sleep: “I didn’t sleep a whole lot last night. [I was] excited about getting back on the field and coaching. That’s what you get hired to do. That’s what I enjoy doing. All of the other stuff, not so much, but the coaching part of it I really enjoy. And I really enjoy you guys.”

» On the energy level of the team during the first practice: “Everybody’s fired up on day one. Let’s find out how they are on day 12. That’s the way I look at it. I told them the other night. They’re all excited on day one. Let’s make sure we have that same energy on day 12.”

9 Comments

  1. Gator Miami says:

    25 days!

  2. UFGATORFAN100 says:

    NOT impressed YET on Driskel and Debose comments. NOT the first time GATOR NATION has heard Positive Comments on these 2 Guys only to be disappointed during Year.

    P.S. Talk is Cheap let”s see results from Driskel and Debose on field

    • Michael Jones says:

      It’s not like Driskel or Debose have not done great things in the past, like there’s no evidence of them being able to do great things. They have had great plays, great performances, great games, great moments. They are both plenty capable and have already proven that.

      Driskel was the QB who led us to an 11-2 season and Debose is the all-time Gator return man and tied for all time in the SEC in kick returns.

      Please.

      • Dave Massey says:

        I agree 100%. DeBose hasn’t seemed to put full effort forth all the time though. They both need to do it more consistently though.

      • Michael J. says:

        Driskel has never led the gators to anything. Even Muschamp characterized Driskel as more of a “caretaker” than a leader of the offense in 2012. He said that Driskel wasn’t called upon to do anything since the Gators had a great defense and strong special teams. So, no, Driskel hasn’t led the Gators to anything. As for Debose, he’s been a record setting kick returner. He’s sucked at receiver. Going into his 6th year, he has 29 catches, I believe. That’s not one season, that’s his career total.
        Driskel has never lacked for confidence, when it comes to talking. But it will take more than being a “caretaker’ at quarterback this year if the Gators are going to be cdontenders to go to Atlanta. Muschamp has also said the defense this year is not as strong as it was in 2012, so he knows Driskel is going to have to produce like a “real” quarterback. We probably won’t know if he’s capable of that until UF travels to Tuscaloosa. But I will be interested to see how he acts when someone gets near or touches him, if it happens in an earlier game. Will he again lose his poise, which is is normal reaction? If you think I’m too hard on him, just watch his first fumble against Toledo, and then explain why anyone should have confidence about this guy?

        • Michael Jones says:

          You’re way too hard on Driskel and Debose.

          Debose’s lack of catches have as much to do with the system and other issues we don’t know the whole truth about as anything. Did you see him blow by the vaunted Bama secondary like their feet were stuck in concrete for a long touchdown pass in Gainesville a few years back? Did that look like a receiver who sucks?

          Your problems with Driskel (and probably the Gators overall since I still suspect that you are a troll) are clearly personal. Making him out to be a talker, for example, is laughable. I can’t imagine a humbler kid than Driskel. Watch the Vandy game at Vandy, or the Tennessee game at UT, or the second half of the LSU game the year we went 11-2 and explain to me again how Driskel sucks or is not a leader.

          I think there’s definitely some sucking going on around here, but it’s not from Driskel or Debose.

          Driskel and Debose have been victims of ridiculous playcalling, offensive system (or the lack thereof), and maybe some weird coaching/personality dynamics. I don’t know this for sure, but the deal with Debose early on and Kent Taylor and some other players makes me wonder sometimes if a player can get into Muschamp’s doghouse maybe too easily and then have too hard of a time finding their way out. Like I said, NOT SURE about that, but I’ve seen/read enough to wonder. . . only time will tell.

          • Michael J. says:

            It’s about a little thing called consistency. Neither Driskel or Debose have shown that. If you ask a coach what he wants most out of his team or a player, it is consistency. You’re not someone I cn trust if you can make a great play one minute and a boneheaded one the next. That’s the major reason that Tim Tebow can’t get a job in the NFL, you can’t count on him to be an accurate passer. Maybe both players can be relied upon this season, but based on their track record, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    • mjGator says:

      Driskel is a real talent. He was thrown into the fire without much support and has made the most of BAD coaching. If given the right opportunity, reasonable play calling, and some support around him, I think we will all be happy that he is our QB. He’s big, mobile, and has a big-time arm.

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