8/5: Muschamp on injuries, standouts, tight ends

By Adam Silverstein
August 5, 2013

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

ILLNESS / INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore running back Matt Jones, who is now over his serious viral infection and recovering but did lose 8-10 pounds while ill, may be able to get reactivated at some point next week if he continues to make progress. “Matt Jones is in the building and moving around a little bit and hopefully, maybe try to see maybe next week if we can try and get him active,” Muschamp said. “He looks good. He’s moving around a little bit. He was on the bike the other day. We’re just trying to get him back in the swing of things.”

Though junior quarterback Jeff Driskel is still limited from his appendectomy and has not done anything physically as of press time, Muschamp is confident that the prognosis will be positive when Driskel meets with the doctor on Wednesday or Thursday. He also said that redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio (pectoral) is “doing very well” and will be evaluated on Friday, and redshirt junior left guard Max Garcia (back) will meet with a doctor Tuesday.

Two new injuries are to freshman offensive lineman Roderick Johnson and redshirt junior defensive tackle Leon Orr. Johnson had a high school knee injury flare up but should return to practice Monday or Tuesday, while Orr sprained his thumb over the weekend but should be in action on Monday.


EARLY STANDOUTS

» On the safety position and redshirt junior Cody Riggs, who is stepping up after missing the 2012 season due to injury: “We got to be more consistent. Cody Riggs has done a good job, Cody has. He’s distanced himself, but past that, we’ve got to get better. We got to get more consistent communication, playmaking ability, leveraging the ball in the run game, directing some traffic on the back end.”

» On third-string quarterback and whether freshman Max Staver or redshirt freshman Skyler Mornhinweg has taken the lead for the job: “Max has got a live arm. I think he’s done some really nice things. Brent [Pease] and I were talking this morning, and [we’ve] been pleased with him. Skyler’s been a guy that’s progressed well, but you see some of the big throws that Max can make, and it’s something that jumped out at camp. He’s swimming right now but because of the situation has been able to get more reps maybe than he would have before.”

» On redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell’s first few practices and ensuring he does not push too hard before the games start: “I think he’s playing fast and physical and at the point and strong. Last night was the first night on contact for him in a long time, so it was good to see him get out there and mix it up. He’s just a very willing guy, a guy we have to monitor just from the standpoint of he’s [coming off an injury]. I told him last night, I said, ‘You got to be honest with me now. I don’t ever question your toughness. So let’s be smart [with how much you work] because whenever you come off [an injury] like this, the wear and tear of training camp can wear you down.’ We need a fast, physical player on Aug. 31 that’s ready to play. So there’s a fine line there and you got to make sure you monitor him through the process because he’s a guy that’s going to take every rep he can.”

TIGHT END STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

One of four positions Muschamp has said all offseason that he is concerned about, tight end remains a point of contention for the Gators in camp as Muschamp does not believe that he has one player in the group that can do everything required by the position – pass protect, run block, catch passes, make athletic plays. However, he did share some positive thoughts about Florida’s tight ends on Monday.

“I think Colin Thompson has done some nice things for us, blocking at the point in the passing game. Tevin Westbrook had a really good first day, continues to come on and progress. Clay Burton has been a very dependable guy for us, has done some nice things for us in the first three days that I’ve seen. Kent Taylor has improved,” he said.

“We have improved where we were from spring – and that’s what you want to do – take a step forward from where we were. I certainly believe we have taken some positive steps from spring at this point.”

He also discussed his early impressions of freshman Trevon Young, a late addition to UF’s 2013 signing class who hoped to play basketball on the next level but will instead try his hand at football with the Gators.

“Trevon Young is a guy that we’re mixing in there; athletically for 270 pounds at the tight end position, he moves well. I don’t know how much he’ll help us and all that right now, but you like his athleticism. He fits,” Muschamp said.

“You always believe you add size, speed late. You want to add girth and guys that are good athletes. You don’t add little guys late. You look at Tevin Westbrook our first year. You always have guys like that. Trevon saw himself as being a Division I basketball player and could have gone to some smaller schools and play basketball. But here’s a really good athlete, very flexible, can bend, change direction. He’s 265 pounds at the time [he committed]; he’s a little over 270 now and he’s 6’4” or 6’5”, something like that. But he’s a guy that’s got length and girth. Those guys can do something for your football team. We want to be a big, fast, physical team.”

As for Taylor, who enters his sophomore season not having done much as a freshman, Muschamp believes he is trending upward. “He’s gotten bigger. He’s doing a better job blocking at the point. We just got to ask him to do things he can do. He can catch the ball and play in space, and we got to continue to try and get him involved in those ways,” Muschamp said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» When it comes to nose tackle, senior Dominique Easley will play on pass rush downs, while Orr and senior Damien Jacobs will rotate on run down situations, Muschamp said.

» Muschamp noted that former Florida defensive linemen Willie Rodgers and Henry McMillian visited practice over the weekend. “It’s been good to see a couple of former Gators out at practice and have those guys as a part of what we’re trying to do.”

» On what offensive graduate assistant Chris Leak brings to the table as a coach: “He’s still learning offensively what we do, but I think Chris has got a great feel as a coach and he does a really good job with the players. Obviously understanding the potion and sitting in the chair of being the quarterback at the University of Florida he understands very well. That experience will help us.”

» On if pass protection is the biggest issue for freshman RB Kelvin Taylor: “It’s not necessarily that. It’s a lot of the ins and outs in the run game. It’s not just taking over with natural ability. Obviously you’re playing with better people, so as far as where you need to press the inside zone and press the outside zone, and be consistent with those things, ball security, protection is always an issue for young backs. Any time you’re dealing with a young player, the issue is consistency of day-in, day-out, practice-in, practice-out, rep after rep, period after period of going in and understanding the tempo you got to do it with. … But I’ve been very pleased with where Kelvin is. We’re in three days, obviously we went through spring, and I thought he progressed very well through spring. He’s a very talented runner, we just got to make sure systematically he’s able to handle everything we do.”

» Muschamp said the coaching staff is trying to get the team acclimated to the NCAA’s new targeting rules. In an effort to educate the staff and players, SEC coordinator of officials Steve Shaw will meet with the coaches and team on Monday and discuss what referees will be looking for during games. Muschamp also said he showed the team a video on Sunday night. “You got to be able to see it as opposed to explain it,” he said. “They’re going to err on throwing the flag.”

5 Comments

  1. fg says:

    You err on the flags take the kickoff out, ruining the game.

  2. Timmy T says:

    Just clean up the nonsense penalties and we have a great shot at winning every game we play this season. Put ourselves in a 1st and 20 hole every 3rd drive with a motion penalty…not so much. Form tackle and don’t head hunt, we got a shot. Play smart, play fast, and show heart when the chips are down. Go Gators!!!!

  3. Michael Jones says:

    I’m glad that Max Staver has a big arm but there’s a lot more to playing QB than that. It’s not a punt pass and kick competition. There a lot of “big armed” QB’s that never made it. And there are some Hall of Famers who had average arms. It will always come down to how you play the game, and so much of it is mental at the QB position.

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