Split unusual but quarterbacks will get fair shot

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp has already received some criticism for his decision to play one of his two sophomore quarterbacks in the first quarter and rotate in the other in the second quarter before reevaluating the situation at halftime of the season opener on Saturday against Bowling Green.

But the way his offensive coordinator Brent Pease and signal callers all tell it, the decision is at least fair to all parties involved even if it is a not typical.

“I think it is a little bit [unusual]. I think in this circumstance, because of how they both progressed and how they’ve shown their leadership skills, I’m not really worried about it right now,” Pease said on Monday. “In some situations I’ve been in before, I’d say, ‘Yeah.’ I don’t think it is [a problem for] this team because of their maturity and how they’ve kind of come along.

“I think when the lights come on it’s going to be different for each kid. Hopefully they’re both prepared and they accept the challenge.”

Pease said Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel both deserve the opportunity to play in the first game because of how hard they have practiced throughout the offseason and the level of improvement that each has shown over the last few months.

“They have both really done a good job in how they’ve handled the situation and how they progressed,” he said. “I think it would be hard to name a starter right now because what would you be telling the other kid? If they had separated from each other, yeah, but they both have really made major progress and they both have really done good things. We got a situation in a game where we can play them. There’s been situations in college football and even in the NFL where both guys have played.”

Driskel, who of course wants the starting job all to himself just like Brissett does, explained that there is not much more he or his teammate can ask for then a fair shot to compete for the full-time job.

“I thought they were going to name a starter,” he said, “but I knew it was going to be difficult for them, and I wouldn’t want to be the guy to have to pick between us two because, like I said, we’ve both been performing so well.

“Obviously I’d like to play the first but that doesn’t matter. We’re both going to play and we’re both going to try to do the same thing. We’re on the same team, so I’ll be cheering for him and he’ll be cheering for me.”

Driskel added, “Ever since the spring, [a fair shot is] what we’ve both wanted and that’s what we’ve both got. We both took advantage of our opportunity and this Saturday is just one more chance.”

Read the rest of this story…after the break!
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8/27: Muschamp on Gators injuries, playing time

Participating in his first game week press conference of the season, Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to discuss the team’s first official depth chart and preparations heading into Saturday’s season-opener against Bowling Green on Sept. 1 at 3:30 p.m. live on ESPN.

OGGOA RELATED: QB Driskel cleared, Gators will split first-half snaps by quarter between him and Brissett

INJURY UPDATES

Redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan – strained his pectoral on Saturday, will miss the season opener

Sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders – “pulled a hamstring” on Thursday and will miss multiple games – “He has a hamstring at this time. He’ll sit the first two games for right now. But he’s got a hamstring problem, so he wouldn’t be able to go the first game at least anyways,” Muschamp said.

Redshirt junior DB Jeremy Brown – set to have his wrist reevaluated on Tuesday to see if he can return to practice, will miss the season opener

Freshman OT D.J. Humphries – outside shot he will play if doctors clear him to return to practice from an injured MCL

Redshirt freshman guard Tommy Jordan – will miss opener with a shoulder injury

PLENTY OF FRESHMEN WILL PLAY

Though only five true freshmen (two offense, three defense) are listed on the opening week depth chart, Muschamp said Monday that as many as 10 are in line to see time on the field throughout the course of the game.

Wide receiver Latroy Pittman (X), guard Jessamen Dunker (right), linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr. (Buck), LB Antonio Morrison (Will) and defensive back Brian Poole (dime cornerback) are all listed on the depth chart and will assuredly see plenty of action.

Joining them will be Humphries (if healthy enough to compete), defensive end Jonathan Bullard (“a guy that is definitely going to play Saturday, probably very early in the game”), running back Matt Jones, WR Raphael Andrades and tight end Kent Taylor.

ADJUSTING TO THE NEW KICKOFF RULES

With the kickoff tee moved forward and the ball set to be placed at the 25 yard line for touchbacks, Muschamp and special teams coordinator D.J. Durkin have spent plenty of time working with the team this offseason to help them adjust to the new rules.

Muschamp said Monday that ensuring that redshirt junior wide receiver and starting kickoff returner Andre Debose brings back kicks is of paramount importance.

“We’d like for Andre to bring it out. That’s what we’d like for him to do…depending how deep it is,” he said. “We’ve kind of given him a little bit of a landmark back there of when we want him to take it out. We’ve worked really hard on that and making a good decision for those situations. That’s also affected by the hang time of the kick.”

On the more “defensive” side of the play, Muschamp is confident that redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis will be able to kick the ball out of the end zone. However, he also cautioned that Florida may try to pin teams back on occasion. He is equally confident in the Gators’ coverage teams and their ability to eliminate any potential significant returns.

Read the rest of what Will Muschamp had to say on Monday…after the break!
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Florida Gators 2012 opening week depth chart

Though things could still change over the next five days, the Florida Gators on Monday morning released the team’s first official depth chart for the 2012 season. As was noted by head coach Will Muschamp last week, sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will both play against the Bowling Green Falcons though who will take the first snap has not yet been determined.

Florida omitted players who are not participating in the season opener, therefore the below depth chart is not the “best case scenario” version. A list of those players can be found at the end along with some additional explanations.

QB: Jeff Driskel OR Jacoby Brissett
RB: Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown
FB: Hunter Joyer, Trey Burton
WR (X): Frankie Hammond, Jr., Latroy Pittman/Andre Debose
WR (Z): Quinton Dunbar, Solomon Patton
F: Trey Burton, Omarius Hines
TE: Jordan Reed, Clay Burton

LT: Xavier Nixon, Kyle Koehne
LG: James Wilson, Ian Silberman
C: Jonotthan Harrison, Sam Robey
RG: Jon Halapio, Jessamen Dunker
RT: Chaz Green, Trip Thurman

DE: Dominique Easley, Earl Okine
DT: Sharrif Floyd, Damien Jacobs
NT: Omar Hunter, Leon Orr
Buck DE: Lerentee McCray, Dante Fowler, Jr.
Sam LB: Darrin Kitchens, Neiron Ball
Mike LB: Jon Bostic, Michael Taylor
Will LB: Jelani Jenkins, Antonio Morrison

CB: Jaylen Watkins OR Louchiez Purifoy
CB: Marcus Roberson OR Cody Riggs
S: Matt Elam, Valdez Showers
S: Josh Evans, Jabari Gorman
Nickel CB: Matt Elam, Jaylen Watkins
Dime CB: Matt Elam, Brian Poole

K: Caleb Sturgis, Brad Phillips
P: Kyle Christy, Todd Fennell
H: John Crofoot, Tyler Murphy
LS: Drew Ferris, Kyle Crofoot
KR: Andre Debose, Solomon Patton
PR: Marcus Roberson, Andre Debose

OUT SATURDAY: Redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral), sophomore defensive back De’Ante Saunders (hamstring), junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell (ACL), freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot), senior defensive lineman Nick Alajajian (knee), redshirt junior DL Kedric Johnson (knee)

POSSIBLY OUT SATURDAY: Redshirt junior DB Jeremy Brown (wrist), freshman LT D.J. Humphries (MCL), freshman DB Marcus Maye (knee), redshirt freshman OL Tommy Jordan (shoulder)

NOTES
– Debose is not listed as a starting receiver.
– Koehne and Thurman are inserted as reserve tackles because Patchan is out.
– Silberman is listed as the second-string left guard because Koehne is filling in at tackle.
– Taylor is at Mike LB and Morrison at Will LB as reserves but both are interchangeable.
– All four cornerbacks are expected to see 75 percent of the snaps in a particular game.
– Phillips beat out freshman Austin Hardin for the No. 2 kicker job.
– Murphy is the back-up holder after working on that during the fall.

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The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (79-70)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

77 – Ian Silberman (Orange Park, FL)
Redshirt sophomore guard
6’5” 303 lbs.

Quick Bio: Silberman enrolled early in January 2010 coming out of high school as a four-star recruit. He was the No. 8 player at his position nationally according to Rivals but only saw action in the season opener that year.

2011 Season: Though he bulked up some between his freshman and sophomore years, Silberman was moved to guard and only appeared in three games as a reserve.

2012 Outlook: Silberman has gained 19 lbs. since last season but has not been spoken about much other than as a third-string reserve on the offensive line. He will play plenty of special teams though, according to head coach Will Muschamp.

76 – Max Garcia (Venice, FL)
Junior offensive lineman
6’4” 307 lbs.

Quick Bio: A two-sport athlete in high school who competed in shot put and discus in addition to playing football, Garcia committed to Maryland and despite not seeing much action as a freshman started at left tackle in all 12 of the team’s games during his sophomore season.

2012 Outlook: Due to NCAA transfer rules, Garcia is being forced to redshirt and will miss the entire 2012 season. Coaches, however, have noted that he is playing quite well during practice and they are very high on his potential to be an impact player in 2013.

Check out five more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
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New Gators footballers pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers and now that Florida Gators football team is days away from returning to the practice field in preparation for the 2012 season, it was time for the team’s newest members to choose theirs. Below is the full list of additions and changes, according to the University of Florida‘s latest roster:

TRANSFERS
» No. 4 – Damien Jacobs (Scooba, MS), JUCO transfer defensive tackle
» No. 76 – Max Garcia (Norcross, GA), redshirt* junior transfer offensive lineman

FRESHMEN
» No. 6 – Dante Fowler, Jr. (St. Petersburg, FL), five-star Buck linebacker
» No. 12 – Antonio Morrison (Bolingbrook, IL), four-star linebacker
» No. 13 – Latroy Pittman (Citra, FL), four-star wide receiver
» No. 16 – Austin Hardin (Atlanta, GA), three-star kicker
» No. 17 – Skyler Mornhinweg (Philadelphia, PA), three-star quarterback
» No. 18 – Kent Taylor (Land O’Lakes, FL), four-star tight end
» No. 20 – Marcus Maye (Melbourne, FL), four-star safety
» No. 24 – Brian Poole (Bradenton, FL), four-star defensive back
» No. 24 – Matt Jones (Seffner, FL), four-star running back
» No. 27 – Willie Bailey (Hallandale, FL), three-star defensive back
» No. 28 – Jeremi Powell (Largo, FL), four-star linebacker
» No. 29 – Rhaheim Ledbetter (Shelby, NC), three-star safety
» No. 70 – D.J. Humphries (Charlotte, NC), five-star offensive tackle
» No. 74 – Jessamen Dunker (Boynton Beach, FL), four-star offensive lineman
» No. 84 – Colin Thompson (Warminster, PA), four-star tight end
» No. 86 – Raphael Andrades (Tallahassee, FL), three-star wide receiver
» No. 90 – Jonathan Bullard (Shelby, NC), five-star defensive end
» No. 94 – Bryan Cox, Jr. (Fort Lauderdale, FL), three-star defensive lineman
» No. 95 – Alex McCalister (Clemmons, NC), three-star linebacker
» No. 96 – Jafar Mann (Stone Mountain, GA), three-star defensive lineman
» No. 98 – Quinteze Williams (Tyrone, GA), three-star defensive lineman

NUMBER CHANGES
» No. 1 – Jon Bostic, senior linebacker (formerly No. 52)
» No. 1 – Quinton Dunbar, redshirt sophomore wide receiver (formerly No. 84)
» No. 6 – Jeff Driskel, sophomore quarterback (formerly No. 16)
» No. 9 – Josh Evans, senior safety (formerly No. 24)
» No. 10 – Valdez Showers, redshirt freshman defensive back (formerly No. 20)
» No. 12 – Jacoby Brissett, sophomore quarterback (formerly No. 17)
» No. 20 – Omarius Hines, redshirt senior tight end (formerly No. 82)
» No. 32 – Chris Johnson, sophomore running back (formerly No. 33)
» No. 88 – Clay Burton, sophomore tight end (formerly No. 86)

» Sophomore Tevin Westbrook remains listed as No. 97 on the latest roster despite moving from defensive end to tight end.

* Garcia is ineligible for the 2012-13 season due to NCAA transfer rules; he can practice with Florida and will be allowed to play beginning in 2013-14.

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Muschamp gathers Gators in West Palm Beach

Florida Gators fans in Palm Beach County were visited by a head football coach for the first time since 2008 and came away both enthusiastic and impressed on Thursday when Will Muschamp dropped by the Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds to discuss his first season at the helm and his expectations for 2012.

After a 20-minute opening statement, Muschamp took questions for another half hour and stuck around to sign autographs for all of he nearly 200 fans in attendance. Below is a recap of some of the more newsworthy and interesting topics that Muschamp covered (and were not included in stories here and here):

» The competition between sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel has not slowed down at all. “I have the utmost confidence in both guys. They’re working extremely hard here in the offseason. It’s going to be critical – it’s got to become their football team. And their competition will make each other better which will make our offense better and is going to make our football team better,” he said. “Jacoby and Jeff are both guys we can win a championship with. I do know that. [...] We can win with both. I’d like to name a starter. If we have to play both, we will play both. We’re going to do what it takes to win games at the end of the day. If one guy will distance himself then certainly we will name him the starter.”

» Muschamp said Florida had a legitimate opportunity to match-up against and win every game but two in 2011. “There’s a fine line between winning and losing,” he said. “Last year we played two football teams that were better than us in Alabama and LSU. The rest of the games we had our opportunities. Whether it was maturity or coaching or whatever you want to say it was, at the end of the day we didn’t get the job done. 7-6 is not acceptable at Florida; neither is 15-11 – that’s what we’ve been the last two years.”

» Junior safety Matt Elam’s groin continues to be an issue for the Gators but Muscahmp is confident it will be all healed by the time summer rolls around. “He twinged it in the latter part of spring. We really needed to look at the young safeties Valdez Showers and Jabari Gorman – get those guys a lot of reps. Matt’s a good football player. I know what he can do,” he said. “I pulled him the last three practices before the spring game. I just felt like it was another opportunity for someone else to get the reps. I saw him in the weight room [Wednesday]. He looks great and is working hard. He’s a guy that is very instinctive, has great ball skills, toughness. He can cover; he can play in man and zone. He does a lot of things for our football team.”

» His pair of freshman offensive linemen are impressing him: “Jessamen Dunker from here in Boynton Beach and D.J. Humprhies from Charlotte, North Carolina are two really good players. I’d recruit them again. Glad they’re on our football team.”

» Muschamp said he learned plenty of lessons after his first season as a head coach but in the end you cannot change what happened, you can only move forward. “There’s a lot to be learned through last season. You can’t go back and re-do and press the reset button and start over. That’s not what you do. You learn from it, you move forward, and I think our guys have learned from it,” he said.

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2012 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

Event: 2012 Orange & Blue Debut
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 1:00 p.m. (EST)
Reference: Roster | Schedule

TV: Sun Sports (in Florida, some other national cable outlets) SiriusXM: 91
Online Video: FOXSportsFlorida.com (nationally outside of the state of Florida)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators
OGGOA Live Coverage: Live Chat from 12:45-3:30 p.m.

EVENT INFORMATION

» Gator Walk: North side of stadium, exterior, 10:30 a.m. start
» Parking: The following parking locations are available first-come, first-serve for fans wishing to attend the game – O’Connell Center garage, O’Connell Center lot (disabled), Commuter Lot (Lemerand Dr.) with shuttle
» Gates/Seating: Open gates – 7, 8, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18 (west concourse closed for renovations); Open seats – general admission in open areas with gates opening at 11:30
» Former Gators in attendance: S Ahmad Black, DE Alex Brown, S Teako Brown, RB Ran Carthon, K Jeff Chandler, LB Andra Davis, WR Chris Doering, DE Carlos Dunlap, RB Ciatrick Fason, WR Jacquez Green, WR Percy Harvin, TE Aaron Hernandez, RB Terry Jackson, FB Billy Latsko, QB Terry LeCount, WR Travis McGriff, C Maurkice Pouncey, C Mike Pouncey, RB Chris Rainey, RB Errict Rhett, CB Lito Sheppard, LB Brandon Spikes, RB Fred Taylor, WR Travis Taylor, DT Gerard Warren (and more).
» 2013 Commits in attendance: WR Rodney Adams, DT Caleb Brantley, LB James Hearns, OL Roderick Johnson, RB Adam Lane, LB Dillan Lawson, LB Daniel McMillian, DB Keanu Neal, LB Quinton Powell, RB Kelvin Taylor, DB Nick Washington
» 2013 Recruits in attendance (partial list courtesy of InsideTheGators.com): WR Ahmad Fullwood, WR Reggie Davis, WR Taj Williams, WR Alvin Bailey, RB Ryan Green, DB Mackerno Alexander, DB Tre Bell, DB Leon McQuay III, DB Marcell Harris, OL Josh Cardiello, DB Adrian Baker, WR Richard Benjamin, DB Reggie Wilkerson, DE Jonathan Allen, ATH Marcus Clark, LB Keith Kelsey, Jr., QB John O’Korn, OL Joshua Outlaw, WR Carlos Burse, OL Cameron Dillard, DE Joey Bosa, DE Demarcus Walker, DB Damonte Jones, DB Jamonte Jones (and more).

Additional information including the game format, injury report, team notes and who to keep an eye on all are available…after the break!
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3/26: Muschamp discusses first spring scrimmage

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp spoke at length Monday about the first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday, how the team is coming together early into the spring practice session and how some individual players are progressing.

GILLISLEE AND POWELL STAND OUT

Two of the players that the team needs the most out of in 2012 – senior running back Mike Gillislee and junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell

“You look at the two players of the day – Mike Gillislee and Ronald Powell both had great offseasons,” he said. “They didn’t miss a day. They worked hard. They’ve done a great job in the weight room. They’ve done a great job in our offseason program. And they’ve both, in the first seven days of spring, have had really good springs. They’re in shape and they’re attentive to detail of what they have to do to be successful.”

Gillislee was one of the reasons that Florida was “able to run the ball pretty effectively throughout the scrimmage.” He has also improved his blocking immensely. “Protection he did a nice job,” Muschamp said. “One of the first series there he did a nice job [with] protection, blocking on the edge and then had a nice run for a 20-yard gain, caused two guys to miss. He’s got good vision and a good feel for the running game.”

Being named the official starter seems to be a formality at this point for Gillislee, but it is a goal he will have to continue working towards, according to Muschamp. “If he continues down the same path, there’s no question,” he said. “That’s where competition is your best motivator. I know he’s got guys behind him that are pushing him and doing a good job as well.”

Muschamp also said that Powell was the most productive player on defense; he continues to be impressed with how hard he has worked on a day-to-day basis. “Ronald had a couple good third down stops, a couple good pressures, a sack. He continues to play well. His pad level has improved and his hand placement playing blocks,” he said.

INJURY UPDATES

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Alli (groin) – day-to-day, missed scrimmage
» Junior WR Solomon Patton (groin) – “week-to-week,” missed scrimmage
» Redshirt freshman WR Ja’Juan Story (ankle) – back this week, missed scrimmage
» Redshirt senior defensive end Earl Okine (back) – out for spring
» Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder) – back Monday, missed scrimmage

Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson remains in a non-contact jersey but is still participating in one-on-ones and 7-on-7 skeleton drills. The team is trying to work him into some drills so he can continue getting all of the reactions down, but he is “not in the fray” as far as tackling and taking on blocks.

PLAYER EVALUATIONS

Starting quarterback job: “Nobody really distanced themselves as far as the quarterback position. I thought both guys did play well, did some good things. There is no separation. We will continue to split reps with all three – Tyler Murphy did some nice things as well. [...] Really for a first scrimmage, with a lot of new stuff going on, I was very pleased. There was really no procedural issues. A couple times we had to get them back in the huddle to make sure we had the right things communicated. For a first scrimmage, after six practices, I was very pleased with that. There wasn’t a whole lot of lining up offsides, jumping – none of that. For a first scrimmage, I thought both guys managed the huddle very well, getting them in and out and on the play clock the whole time. We had one delay of game [out of] close to 100 snaps in the scrimmage. That was very pleasing as far as just managing our team. They can be more accurate with the ball. Both were the same as far as their completion percentages – right around 60. We’ve got to do a better job catching the football, making some plays around them and being more accurate with the ball, especially on critical downs like third down. They had a couple dropped here and there – both of them did. There wasn’t a whole lot of separation to speak of.”

Freshman offensive linemen D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker: “[They] are both doing an outstanding job up front. Both guys are way ahead athletically than most big guys are at this time. Both guys are very talented. How quickly they will continue to pick up on what they’re doing – time will tell. I’m very pleased with both of those young men.”

Freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison: “Antonio Morrison is a physical, tough, instinctive linebacker that has done some nice things for us.”

Freshman cornerback Willie Bailey: “Willie Bailey just needs to get stronger. Willie is talented. Willie can run. He’s got length; he’s got size for the position. We just got to get stronger in the weight room. He’s got cover skills, and he’s a willing tackler. He’ll take on and play blocks. I’m real pleased with him.”

Freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman: “I’ve been very pleased with his progress to this point. Very encouraged. Latroy is another guy who came in and had a great offseason, works hard every day, gives everything he’s got. I’ve been very pleased with his attitude and his playmaking ability. He’s a stronger guy from being a freshman. [...] I don’t know where he was rated, so don’t ask me that, but we really liked him in camp. We thought he was a really good player. But he committed a long time ago, too, so that lost its luster, too. If they commit too early then they’re not as good as the other guys.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On the offense in the scrimmage: “ I thought offensively we did a nice job getting some movement up front. Did a nice job – we had a red zone period – I thought our offense did a nice job executing down there in the red zone.”

» On the defense in the scrimmage: “It’s a give-and-take. The defense didn’t stop them very well at times. It didn’t’ play as well up front as I thought we should. We weren’t as productive at the linebacker position as I’d like to be.”

» Muschamp said the starting offensive line consisted of senior left tackle Xavier Nixon, redshirt senior left guard James Wilson, redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison, redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio and redshirt junior right tackle Matt Patchan. He singled out Nixon and Halapio as standouts on the offensive line.

» He also said that redshirt senior WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. had a nice practice including taking a reverse for a touchdown and showcasing some solid blocking and catching down the field.

» Muschamp believes the defense was too inconsistent across the board during the scrimmage and noted that tackling was a constant issue, especially in the secondary where there were eight missed tackles.

» On not seeing a lot of production from the linebackers in the scrimmage: “When you’re in one of those [hard-hitting scrimmages], you’d like to have a little bit more production from the linebacker position. It was not all their fault; we need to play blocks better up front. We need to take down teams and not let them climb to the next level so quickly, which certainly happened at times.”

» Muschamp said that, after spring is over, he will sit down with both staffs, create a depth chart and figure out who can play and who cannot. “Either you get it done or we move forward and try to find somebody else who can do it,” he said.

» On if he is noticing the team becoming tougher: “We’ve made strides. I really believe that. We’ll find out in the ball. But as a coach, for the first time, I felt like there were some pads popping in practice last week.”

» On Tim Tebow going to New York: “His press conference is bigger than mine. [...] Obviously the New York Jets got better. You look at what he did in Denver, taking them to the playoffs, he did a phenomenal job. You meet Tim and you understand that he has the ‘it’ factor. He positively affects everybody around him. It’s pretty well-documented what he did for the University of Florida but not just [here] – college football. He’s had his opportunity on Denver and took them to the playoffs, and now he has a great opportunity in New York.”

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