With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2011 season on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp met the media afterward to discuss a variety of topics including the offseason program, injuries and happenings on the field. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his availability.
CLEARING UP MISCONCEPTIONS
Contrary to conjecture elsewhere, Muschamp confirmed that the only reason senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins is sitting out spring practice strictly due to his offseason shoulder surgery – not his run-in with the law earlier this year. “He had reconstructive shoulder surgery from the season, so there’s no contact,” he said. “A lot of his situation coming back was not being able to go through the combine or any type of offseason workout. No testing for any scouts. He felt like he could help the situation by coming back and getting his shoulder healthy. He just got out of the sling two weeks ago, I think.”
Muschamp also divulged that redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who got some playing time late in the season, is officially back on scholarship after having it pulled by former head coach Urban Meyer due to a DUI arrest.
DAY ONE ACTIVITIES
Though he was excited to get on the field Wednesday and see his players work, Muschamp cautioned that not much can be taken away from the day’s events – especially considering the players were without helmets and still trying to find their groove. “Day one, we’re out there in shorts, pajamas running around. You don’t play football in that; you play football in pads,” he said. “Everybody was going to be enthusiastic. Today was easy.”
He also stressed the importance he put on practice in general. “I want the guys that guys that like ball, want to be out there all the time,” Muschamp said. “Practice is a huge part of the game; preparation is a huge part of the game. The really good players I’ve been around, they’ve practiced.”
Muschamp certainly does not have plans to aggravate injuries or cause old ones to flare up, but he did divulge a policy on practicing, noting that he expects maximum effort at all times even if players are not 100 percent. He also commented that the unfinished depth chart will not show the names of players who are not participating in full.
“Guys that don’t go through the full offseason, they don’t deserve to be in the two-deep [depth chart], in my opinion. Injuries are part of the game, but it’s also a part of our evaluation,” he said. “We want durable, dependable players. If you’re not going to practice, you’re not going to play. Practice is important to me; it’s preparation. Those things are critical to me.
“Now if you’ve got an injury, a surgical situation, then I understand that. I understand that injuries are a part of the game. We also have to move on and prepare somebody else, and that’s why we cross-train guys at a lot of positions, so they’re able to get out and prepare for game seven when somebody goes down. So we’re able to get the best 11 on the field instead of putting a guy out there that’s maybe not as good as somebody else sitting on the sideline.”
Jokingly, Muschamp was amazed at how healthy players suddenly get when it is time to step out of the weight room and onto the field.
“When we get into fall camp, the injury report will be two pages long. And the day before the first week, the injury report will have two names on it. In the offseason program we’ve got a two-page-long injury report; we had three names on it today,” he said. “My point being, when they get close to football and playing, they all get well. It’s never changed no matter if it’s Florida or anywhere else I’ve been. It’s amazing how that happens. The trainer rides in on his white horse and all of a sudden gets them well. It’s phenomenal.”
On how the first day felt to him: “I love the offseason program. It’s one of my favorite times of the year to see your team develop and develop your football team in that time. To really see guys push through a tough time when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. To get on the grass and coach – that’s my most fun thing to do. And I like spring because you’re able to really develop and teach [without] the pressure of getting ready for a game.”
On how quarterback reps are being distributed: “All three guys are repping through practice right now. All of those are getting turns and reps. We’re really right now rolling a lot of players regardless. We don’t necessarily have first group, second group. All guys have repped with all groups, so it’s not like one guy is getting all the reps with one group.”
On how to keep five-star QB Jeff Driskel level-headed with all of the hype coming in: “Treat him like everybody else. The guy’s absolutely no different to me other than the fact that he’s got a red jersey on the field because he’s a quarterback. That’s it.”
On recruiting rankings: “What you’ve accomplished in high school does not mean you’ve accomplished anything in college. It’s a different game; it’s a different level. I always tell them, ‘You can take all the stars and…’ You can fill in the sentence. If you live in yesterday, you’ll never see tomorrow.”
On what buck defensive end Ronald Powell brings to the table: “Ronald’s an explosive, strong, tough, hard-nosed football player. He’s a guy that we feel like we can create some one-on-ones and some mismatches for an offense. He’s a guy I think you’re going to need to account for based on what I’ve seen so far in the offseason program, his film from last year. I think he’s a good player and a guy we’re looking forward to seeing how productive he can be over the long haul.”