Muschamp, Pease discuss Florida Gators offense

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2013 spring practice on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the team’s offense.

RELATED: Spring depth chart released | Muschamp, Durkin on defense, team

IMPROVING PRODUCTION AT QUARTERBACK

Junior Jeff Driskel returns as the entrenched starter at quarterback and has the full backing of both Muschamp and Pease going forward. Both coaches reiterated that they expect him to take a big step forward in 2013 now that he has a year of action under his belt and can spend the entire offseason continuing to educate himself with the offense and opposing defenses in order to become a better overall player.

» Muschamp on what Driskel has been doing in the offseason: “I think Jeff has really attacked the offseason from a mental standpoint as far as film is concerned, really studying what he can do to be a better quarterback. That’s part of the maturation process in becoming a better player is understandings what you go to do to be successful. […] I think the game continues to slow down for you. First year as a full-time starter, first year in a scheme in a system with new terminology and now you’re not splitting reps 50-50. He’s going to get all the turns and all the reps with the same people, which I think obviously will help us with some throwing game issues.

» Muschamp on what Driskel can specifically improve on: “As a player and as a competitor, knowing Jeff and talking to Jeff, he wants to go back and improve everything. But I think you take things in segments. ‘I need to improve here; I need to improve there.’ Within saying that, year two in the system, the game slows down a little bit. A better understanding of protection, a better understanding of where the ball needs to go, where you’re protected and where you’re not protected. I think those are the things that, as much as anything, that are going to help him to understand that. The passing game concepts versus middle field versus split safety, where to take the ball. I think all of those things, again, that’s easy to talk about but when it’s happening in front of 90,000 people against some of the people we play against, it’s a fast, fast game. Those are things, to me, as far as just the mental intensity of where we need to go with the football in situations. That will slow down for him in his second year. And he’s also not splitting reps. And he’ll be working with the first-team receivers all the time. I think you couple that with a lot of things and I think Brent does a really great job developing the quarterback position and recognizing things he needs to improve on.”

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Florida Gators 2013 spring practice depth chart

Readers may be excited to take a first look at the Florida Gators 2013 spring practice depth chart (see below). Don’t be. As he explained in each of his first two springs with the program, head coach Will Muschamp repeated Wednesday that he does not put a lot of stock in the spring’s first depth chart. In fact, back in 2011, he said it is “not worth the paper it is printed on.” In other words, the depth chart below is just a starting-off point for 2013 and plenty can change between now and the start of the season. Nevertheless, below is the depth chart as it was presented on March 12.

“Obviously we gave you a depth chart. I know it’s just the most critical thing that’s going to happen in the next 12 months of your year,” Muschamp said Tuesday.

RELATED: Muschamp, Pease on offense | Muschamp, Durkin on defense, team

Florida omitted players who are injured and not participating at all in spring practice. A list of those players can be found at the end of this post.

OFFENSE

QB: 6 Jeff Driskel, 10 Tyler Murphy, 17 Skyler Mornhinweg
RB: 24 Matt Jones, 33 Mack Brown, 21 Kelvin Taylor
FB: 43 Hunter Joyer, 29 Rhaheim Ledbetter* OR 25 Gideon Ajagbe*
WR (X): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 4 Andre Debose, 11 Demarcus Robinson
WR (Z): 15 Loucheiz Purifoy*, 88 Solomon Patton^, Raphael Andrades
F Position: 8 Trey Burton, 13 Latroy Pittman, 30 Michael McNeely
TE: 88 Clay Burton, 87 Tevin Westbrook, 18 Kent Taylor, 84 Colin Thompson

LT: 70 D.J. Humphries, 63 Trip Thurman
LG: 76 Max Garcia, 64 Kyle Koehne
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne
RG: 67 Jon Halapio^, 64 Kyle Koehne
RT: 73 Tyler Moore, 98 Quinteze Williams*

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Gators 2013 Spring Football Preview: Defense

Spring practice for the Florida Gators football program begins on Wednesday, March 13 and lasts for 15 practices concluding with the 2013 Orange & Blue Debut spring game on Saturday, April 6 at 1 p.m. Below is the second half of OGGOA‘s new two-part series that takes a look at the team on a position-by-position basis.

PART ONE: Offense

DEFENSIVE TACKLES
Returning starters (0/2): None
Fresh faces: Junior Darious Cummings, redshirt freshman Quinteze Williams

The Gators have plenty of holes to fill on the defensive side of the ball and it will be up to new defensive line coach Brad Lawing and assistant defensive line coach Bryant Young to figure out how to plug up the middle. With Sharrif Floyd set to become a top-five pick in the 2013 NFL Draft and Omar Hunter finally graduating after five years at the school, Florida will be looking to replace both of its starters. Senior Damien Jacobs, a junior college transfer who played in 12 games during his first season with the Gators, likely has the edge for one of the jobs but will still go up against Cummings (a 2013 JUCO transfer from the same school as Jacobs), Williams and redshirt junior Leon Orr, all of whom will compete for the two positions.

DEFENSIVE ENDS
Returning starters (1/2): Senior Dominique Easley
Fresh faces: Redshirt freshman Bryan Cox, Jr., redshirt freshman Alex McCalister, freshman Joey Ivie

Easley started all 12 regular season games at defensive tackle in 2011 and will be used inside some in 2013 despite starting 11 games at defensive end last season. His flexibility leaves the door open for a number of other players to make an impact. Sophomore Jonathan Bullard earned a pair of starts in 2012 and got rave reviews from the coaching staff; he is next in line to start and/or see major field time as a pure defensive end. McCalister, who won three Scout Team Player of the Week awards and was named Most Valuable Defensive Scout Team Member at the team banquet in Dec. 2012, was praised by head coach Will Muschamp at the end of the season.

Florida’s defense also features a Buck, which can line up with his hand in the dirt as a defensive end or upright as a linebacker. (For the purpose of this feature, Buck has been included in this position group.) Redshirt junior Ronald Powell was praised as much as any member of the team in the 2012 offseason but wound up missing the entire campaign with consecutive ACL tears. Lerentee McCray started in his place but graduated after his redshirt senior season. Though Powell will not participate in spring practice, he will retake his role as starter in the summer assuming he is medically cleared. He will be joined by sophomore Dante Fowler, Jr. – Powell’s heir apparent – and McCalister.

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1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Friday to wrap up the 2012 season, look ahead to the upcoming spring practice and discuss some of the recent changes and issues within the program.

PUNISHMENT HANDED DOWN

Muschamp announced Friday that freshman offensive lineman Jessamen Dunker has been suspended indefinitely from all team activities pending the outcome of his legal affairs. Dunker was arrested Monday on a third-degree felony charge of grand theft of a motor vehicle as well as a second-degree misdemeanor charge of driving with a suspended license. He was released on his own recognizance on Thursday and claims that he paid $600 for the scooter not knowing it had been reported stolen.

“I met with Jessamen Dunker [Friday] morning. I have suspended him from all team activities until we get more information,” he said. “I just met to him face-to-face [Friday] morning for the first time for 15 minutes. Once we get a little bit more information, then we’ll move forward, but he’s suspended from the team at this time. We’ll address that further when I know more.”

THREE MORE GATORS LEAVING PROGRAM

It was also announced Friday by Muschamp that redshirt juniors wide receiver Stephen Alli and defensive lineman Kedric Johnson will both be graduating in the spring and moving on from the Florida football program.

Muschamp said that Alli plans to go to graduate school; should he remain at UF, he will have the opportunity to join the team as a graduate assistant. Johnson “may play somewhere [else] next fall,” Muschamp said, and the two are planning to discuss it.

Furthermore, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tommy Jordan, who never stepped on the field for the Gators due to nagging shoulder problems, has applied for a medical exception to remain on scholarship but no longer play football.

CLEANING UP SOME INJURIES

Muschamp once again noted that redshirt junior right guard Jon Halapio (knee), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) and redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) all had scopes on their various injuries this month.

“We expect all three of those [players] to participate at some point in spring. I don’t know when that will happen, how much contact there will be. I’ll know more as we move forward,” he said.

Junior WR Solomon Patton (broken arm) is “doing really well,” according to Muschamp. He has already been cleared for non-contact work during the spring.

Additionally, sophomore punter Kyle Christy had minor shoulder surgery and will be fine for spring football. “He played pretty well with it. I don’t know why we did surgery, but they felt like he needed it,” Muschamp said.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » 1/18: Dunker suspended, more Gators leave, injury updates, Sugar Bowl review, 2013 preview

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10/22: Muschamp on injuries, awards, turnovers

No. 2 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s big 44-11 win over the then-No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Georgia Bulldogs.

INJURY UPDATES

Muschamp said that junior cornerback Cody Riggs (foot) and redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan (pectoral) are once again out for Saturday’s game. Freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman (ankle) will return to practice Monday before being evaluated again, and junior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (hamstring) will sit on Monday but return to practice on Tuesday (probable for Saturday).

PLAYER AWARDS

Offensive Player of the Game: junior running back Trey Burton
“Trey does a lot of things for our football team offensively, special teams, really a lot of things go through him. We have a package for him in every game, and we certainly were able to use it Saturday and it was very efficient.”

Big Plays: redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed, redshirt sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar, junior WR Solomon Patton

Scrap Iron: redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green

Defensive Player of the Game: junior defensive end Dominique Easley

Ball Hawks: Burton (two), Patton, sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy (two), redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray, junior DT Sharrif Floyd, sophomore CB Jabari Gorman, sophomore RB Chris Johnson

Special Teams Player of the Game: Purifoy and sophomore punter Kyle Christy
* Christy was also named SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Big Plays: Burton, Patton and Johnson

Scout Team Players of the Week: Special Teams – freshman LB Jeremi Powell, Defense – freshmen DL Alex McCalister and Quinteze Williams, Offense – freshman walk-on RB Mark Herndon

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…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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Will Muschamp on Florida’s 2012 recruiting class

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp held a press conference after his coaching staff received 23 National Letters of Intent on National Signing Day.

Opening statement:

“I’m real pleased with how recruiting went. Any time you get to this day, it’s a combination of a lot of hard work and effort by our staff. I think our staff did an outstanding job. You got to improve your program where you know you need to improve your program. Of the 23 players that joined our program today, 14 are line of scrimmage players – mid-skill and big-skill guys. We saw very easily in our season this year we struggled on both lines of scrimmage consistently being able to run the ball and stop the run. I certainly feel like we’ve addressed our most pressing need on both lines of scrimmage. We’ll develop playmakers and depth on both lines of scrimmage.

“I’m really excited about the guys we’ve got in that group and also eight skill guys, which includes a quarterback. We’d like to sign a quarterback every year. I think that’s important. A kicker, Austin Hardin, a guy that came in and did an outstanding job for us. We’re real pleased about him.

“We’ll know about this class in two or three years. I’ll tell you the same thing I did last year: Football is a developmental game, and you got to develop he players. I’m really excited about Jeff Dillman and Jesse Ackerman and our strength staff, our coaching staff – the job that they do in getting our players in here and doing a nice job with them. We’ll know a lot more about this class in two or three years. At the end of the day, this is a developmental game. We’ll be able to address that. It’s not about winning in February. It’s about winning in the fall and developing your football team and addressing your needs, and I think we’ve done that.”

» On Florida recruiting so well in the state of North Carolina:D.J. Durkin, first of all, is our area recruiter for that area. He does a really nice job of recruiting, period. It was a full team effort. […] We honed in on the guys we want and the guys we feel like can come and make a difference in our program, and we go after those guys.”

» On three/four-star defensive end Alex McCalister: “Alex McCalister is a guy that came to our camp, he broad jumped over 10 feet, close to a 40” vertical leap. A guy that is 6’6” and 220 lbs., his best football is ahead of him. That’s a very, very explosive athlete and a guy that hasn’t played a whole lot of football.”

» On flipping five-star DE Dante Fowler: “You recruit through this process and sometimes when you get there on signing day, you’re leaving it up to the young man and his family to make a decision. I think Dante had a good fit here at Florida as far as his position was concerned, his opportunity was concerned. We’re excited to add another good pass rusher to our program.”

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Florida Gators 2012 National Signing Day bios

Courtesy of the University of Florida‘s University Athletic Association:

EARLY ENROLLEES

Willie Bailey • Safety
6-1 • 167
Hallandale, FL • Hallandale H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January of 2012… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Three-star recruit…Attended Hallandale High School…Rated the No. 24 cornerback in the country by ESPN…Selected as the No. 77 high school player in the state of Florida by Rivals.com…Selected to the AP Class 5A All-State Second Team as a defensive back…Talented defensive back with good size…Led Hallandale to a 6-4 record as a senior…Chose Florida over Miami, North Carolina and USF…Coached by Dameon Jones.

Jessamen Dunker • Offensive Line
6-4 • 320
Boynton Beach, FL • Boynton Beach Community H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January 2012… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: Consensus four-star recruit…Selected as the No. 46 recruit in the ESPN 150…Ranked the No. 4 offensive guard in the country by ESPN…Listed as the No. 20 recruit in the state of Florida by Rivals.com…Named a PARADE High School All-American and 2011 Under Armour All-American…Named to the Press-Register’s 120 List…Selected to play in the 2011 FACA All-State Game…Selected to the AP Class 5A All-State First Team…Transferred to Boynton Beach High School as a junior after moving to Florida from Georgia…Did not play football until his junior year of high school…Began playing football as a high school junior…Chose Florida over Auburn, LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, South Carolina, Baylor, Florida State and Notre Dame…Coached by Rick Swain.

D.J. Humphries • Offensive Line
6-6 • 271
Charlotte, NC • Mallard Creek H.S.

Enrolled at UF in January 2012… PRIOR TO FLORIDA: A consensus five-star and top-20 recruit…Rated as the No. 2 prospect by Rivals.com, the No. 7 prospect by ESPN and the No. 11 prospect by Scout.com…The No. 1 recruit out of the state of North Carolina according to Rivals.com…Named a first-team high school All-American by USA Today, ESPN, Rivals.com, MaxPreps and Sports Illustrated…Has started since his freshman season and hasn’t allowed a sack since his freshman season…Led Mallard Creek to a 13-1 record and berth in the NCHSAA Class 4AA State Semifinals…Mallard Creek finished No. 47 in the nation in the final POWERADE FAB 50 rankings…An AP All-State first team selection…Selected to participate in the 2012 U.S. Army All-America Bowl…Coached by Michael Palmieri…Father, D.J., played football at Presbyterian College and in the Arena Football League.

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