Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the team as it heads into its first game of the season on Saturday, Aug. 31 against Toledo. The game will kick off at 12:21 p.m. from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL, and air live on SEC Network affiliate stations.
CELEBRITY MR. TWO BITS
Muschamp announced Monday that Florida will be honoring George Edmonson, better known as Mr. Two Bits, by continuing the tradition at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with Gators celebrities (rather than the mascot Albert) – leading the crowd in the traditional cheer – “Two Bits! Four Bits! Six Bits! A Dollar! All for the Gators, stand up and holler!” – before home games.
The first celebrity that will try to step into Edmondson’s bow tie? Former Florida running back Errict Rhett (1990-93).
“Errict Rhett will be the first guy to do that, certainly a passionate guy with a lot of energy. You talk to him on the phone he’s almost going to come through the phone on you there. He’s excited about it,” Muschamp said.
Added Rhett in a school release: “[Mr. Two Bits] always gets the crowd so excited. We’ve been down in games and all of a sudden you see him over there and he has so much enthusiasm, he gets the crowd pumped. There is not one dull moment.
“Every time he does it he puts his heart into it. I want to do the same thing, put all my enthusiasm into it. … I want to look exactly like him. I’ve been watching it and I can’t wait. I want it to be memorable.”
MAKING DUE AT TIGHT END
Two of the top tight end prospects in the country in 2012, sophomore Kent Taylor and redshirt freshman Colin Thompson, committed to the Gators but neither is in the two-deep depth chart at the start of the 2013 season. Instead, while Thompson holds on to the third-string role and Taylor is nowhere to be found, a pair of juniors have stepped up in starter Clay Burton and back-up Tevin Westbrook
Muschamp likes what Burton and Westbrook bring to the table for Florida and is positive that both will be able to contribute for the Gators this season.
“Clay’s just a very dependable guy that can play multiple spots as far as playing on the line and also playing what we call the move position in being able to do some different things as far as that’s concerned,” said Muschamp when explaining why Burton was named the starter. “He’s a guy that gives you a lot of variety as far as when he’s in the game how are they going to count him as far as an on the line tight end and off the line move guy.”
Westbrook’s versatility is also why he is Burton’s back-up and not Taylor (a talented receiver who needs to work on his blocking) and Thompson (a stout blocker who needs to improve his hands).
“Tevin, again, has been a guy that gives you multiple things at the position as far as blocking at the point of attack, gives you some things as far as receiving,” Muschamp said. “His length creates some things in the run game that we really like. His length creates some things in the passing game that we really like. He’s developed himself to not mind sticking his face in the fan a little bit and blocking at the point of attack, which was an issue before. His buy-in for that, he’s on special teams so he’s a contributor on multiple special teams, and he’s a guy that can do both things at the tight end position.”
THOUGHTS ON PLAYERS
» On if he plans to ease freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson into the fold: “Bottom line is that if they’re the best at their position, they’ll start. If they’re good enough at their position, they’ll play. We don’t really sit back and try to ease anybody into anything. I think we are mindful for the situations we put them in knowing the anxiety some players more than others will face in their first ball game. That’s something that we’ve talked about in the latter part of last week into today. … Demarcus is a young man I think will handle it very well.”
» On if sophomore wide receivers Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades have been lost in the shuffle with the emergence of the freshmen: “I don’t know that they’re lost in the shuffle. The guys were told before camp you need to be productive. We’ve got some good players coming in. I don’t care where you’re from or what class you are, the most productive guys will play. Those guys have been a little bit more productive.”
» On the running backs behind sophomore Matt Jones and their roles when he returns: “I have a great comfort level with Mack [Brown] and Mark Herndon and Valdez Showers. I think those guys are all quality backs. I think Matt obviously gives you a little different dimension with his size and power. Those guys, we have good packages for those guys when they’re in the game. And we certainly will continue to use that through the season.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On if he thinks heat will be a factor for the consecutive noon kickoffs: “I think we’ve prepared. We’ve been in the heat. I think it’s an advantage for us. Regardless of the time or the place – a parking lot, it don’t matter – we’ll play.”
» On how he feels about the team’s preparedness heading into the season: “Certainly I feel comfortable about the make-up of this team mentally, their approach with how they handle things and certainly handling the first ball game. I feel very comfortable about that.”
» On moving Florida away from being only a “fourth-quarter team” into one that is also effective in the first quarter: “Well, we’d like to play well in all four, if we can. We’ve started talking to our guys more about starting fast, especially on the offensive side of the ball, creating some positive opportunities for our football team. But that goes in all three phases. Kicking game and being able to pin somebody back or get a big return, create some momentum for our football team. Defensively, creating a turnover early in the game and creating some momentum for our fans, our football team. That’s a team thing. Certainly we’ve emphasized it, maybe more so than we have in the past. I know it’s a huge point of emphasis offensively.”
» On early-season injuries depleting the depth of the offensive line: “That’s why you recruit. You have injuries, especially on the offensive line. It’s a far cry from two years ago when we had about seven offensive linemen on scholarship. We’re in a situation now where it’s unfortunate that injuries are a part of the game but one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. We’ll have some guys step up that will play well.”