With the Florida Gators fully entrenched in fall practice, head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday and provided updates on how the team is progressing going into the 2011 season, which begins on Sept. 3.
POWELL’s EMERGENCE CONTINUES
One of the team’s most impressive freshmen a year ago, sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell has already had a rebirth with a new defense and a new position. Not only has he been impressing his teammates and coaches on the field, Powell has stood out as a leader off of it as well. “I think Ronald has done a nice job. He’s a power rusher, a very physical young man, a tough player, a tough young man,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy I think has progressed well in what we’re doing. He practices hard; he practices with toughness. He plays the game the way it should be played.”
A five-star recruit and one of the top prospects coming out of high school in 2010, Powell has always been burdened with high expectations. He continues to take them in stride, and Muschamp believes his ability to do so is part of the reason why he is doing so well at such a young age. “We’ve created an interesting phenomenon with this recruiting business – these stars and all of these expectations. Some guys handle it better than others,” he said. “Ronald’s very bright, very intelligent. He’s a guy that football is very important to him. When you come in and you have all these accolades, it’s hard not to listen. You listen to some of it.
“I always tell the guys – that’s why you need to remove all the external stuff. It’s never as good as it seems, and it’s never as bad as it seems either. It’s somewhere in-between. Unfortunately, some guys listen to a lot of that stuff and all of a sudden they think they’re a little better than they really are. Transitioning from high school to college is hard – especially on the line of scrimmage. The game is a lot faster. It’s a lot bigger and a lot more complex.”
BACK-UP QUARTERBACKS IMPROVING
Redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy: Brantley’s back-up, Murphy is a year older than the other two but has taken just as many snaps – none. “Tyler Murphy has done a really nice job of managing the offense. We did a move the field today where the coaches got off the field and let the players play. Tyler took us on a nice drive down the field.”
Freshman Jeff Driskel: Muschamp said the game is slowing down for him and he is beginning to read coverages better. “Jeff Driskel, the first five days have been very solid [for him]. [There has been] a lot of carryover from spring. He’s a lot more comfortable.”
Freshman Jacoby Brissett: Enrolling in the summer, Brissett is a little behind the eight ball but is catching up quickly. “Jacoby is doing an outstanding…the guy has got a big-time arm talent and great leadership ability. He’s going to be a really football player for the Gators. Obviously not going through spring and him just coming in the summer, he’s a little further behind just from the amount of being exposed to everything. He will catch up because he’s extremely intelligent.”
ROBERSON THE NEXT GREAT FRESHMAN CORNER?
Florida has had its share of successful freshman cornerbacks in recent years and if the opinions of his teammates and coaches mean anything (they do), Roberson may very well be seeing plenty of playing time in 2011.
“Marcus comes from a great high school program – he’s been very well-coached,” Muschamp explained. “Football is very important to him. He spends an awful lot of time studying the game, spending extra time in the meeting room. He’s always early to the meting room and gives great effort on the field.
“God’s blessed him. He’s got legnth, top-end speed and great ball skills. All the critical factors you’re looking for in a defensive back, he’s got. I’ve been very pleased in five practices; he’s got to continue to do it.”
On redshirt senior transfer center Dan Wenger: “It’s been very beneficial for, especially in the summertime we can’t have any contact as far as football is concerned, so in essence he has been a coach on the field. He’s a guy who has been in this system for 3-4 years, understands it, very smart, wants to be a coach, wants to be a strength coach. His brother is a defensive coordinator at St. Thomas Aquinas. He’s got that blood in him, so that’s what he wants to do. You take all of those factors, and football is very important to Dan, and he’s been a very valuable part of what we’re trying to do in helping some of the young guys.”
On the team’s starting cornerbacks: “We’ve adjusted every day at corner so far right now. We’ve had combinations of Jeremy [Brown] and Cody Riggs, Jeremy and Moses [Jenkins], Moses and Jermey, all of those guys have repped. [De’Ante] “Pop” Saudners has repped with the first team. I’ve been very pleased with Marcus Roberson and Louchiez Purifoy and what they can do. They’re very good athletes; they’re learning our system. They did a good job studying this summer. I’m pleased with our athleticism, the experience is what concerns me, but I’ll take athleticism over that.”