Gators Kick Off First Spring Under Muschamp

The injuries that kept some players out of offseason workouts magically healed before the Gators hit the field for their first spring practice under head coach Will Muschamp. The first-year head coach has seen it everywhere he has been. Whenever the offseason workouts are over and it's time for football activity to begin, every player who can finds a way on the field.

"When we get into fall camp, the injury report will be two pages long," Will Muschamp said. "But that day before the first week (of practice), 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."

The depth chart released on Monday had multiple injured players off it. The injuries are a part of the game, but if they force a player to miss a large part of the offseason workouts, it's unlikely to see them on any of the depth charts.

The players listed as limited in practice included Omar Hunter, Jaye Howard, Kedric Johnson, Jaylen Watkins, Matt Patchan, David Young and James Wilson. Muschamp did note that Hunter and Howard got some reps on the field.

"Guys who don't go through the full offseason, they don't deserve to be in the two-deep, in my opinion," Muschamp said. "Injuries are part of the game, but it's also part of our evaluation. We want durable, dependable players. Practice is important to me. If you've got an injury or a surgical situation, then I understand that.

"I want the guys who like ball and want to be out there all the time. They've got to understand that."

It comes from a love of practicing. Muschamp enjoys hitting the practice field and working with his players. He just wants them to love it as much as he does.

"The really good players I've been around, they've practiced," Muschamp said. "Zack Thomas, Junior Seau, Jason Taylor, Kevin Carter… they practiced every day hard. Sergio Kindle, Brian Orakpo… that's what they did."

THOUGHTS ON FIRST DAY: Muschamp seemed happy to just have the first spring practice over with. He mentioned on Monday that the first 11 practices were already planned and that the anticipation was tough.

The first two practices are in shorts and no helmets because of NCAA rules.

"With all the installation, it was a lot of teaching," Muschamp said. "It's the best for us right now to go out at a teaching tempo and go through a lot of installation. We had a pressure period, a 1st-and-10 run period, a team-move-the-ball period, some skeleton work, some underneath pattern match work. It was an awful lot of teaching and individual work."

The spring might be overwhelming for some players, but it's a part of the process that allows the Florida staff to learn about the players. Muschamp wants to present them with a lot of information to see who can remember it and learn the schemes the best early.

"We do believe in the theory of throwing a lot at them and figuring out who can learn and who can adjust," Muschamp said. "Who can make adjustments on the run? We're able to see who's able to retain and handle the information, but we're exposing them to as much as we can, because when you get into the season, the hardest for a defensive coach is now preparing for what you're going to face (from the opposing offense)."

Spring practice will be focused on putting in the new offensive and defensive schemes, but Muschamp and the coaches will also have the chance to work with the players. It's the easiest time of year for the coaches to focus on fundamentals, and in the first true chance to be around the players during football related activities, there is plenty of opportunity for growth.

"I love the offseason program. It's one of my favorite times of the year to see your team develop in that time. It's good to see your guys push through when there's no light at the end of the tunnel. I like spring because you're really able to develop and teach. You don't have the pressure of getting ready for a game."

There was plenty of excitement and energy from the Florida players on the practice field on Wednesday, but that didn't surprise Muschamp. He would've been disappointed without it. The real challenge comes in the future.

"Everybody was going to be enthusiastic because today was easy (to be)," Muschamp said. "Let's talk about practice 12. Let's get to August 21 into practice 18, 19 and 20, to see who is grinding then."

JUDGING THE QUARTERBACKS: John Brantley, Tyler Murphy and Jeff Driskel all took multiple reps during the first practice without much focus on what other players were on the field.

"We're really rolling a lot of players," Muschamp said. "We don't have first group and second group. There are a bunch of guys who are rolling through, and all guys have repped with all groups. It's a lot about continuity of the positions and getting guys set up."

There is a lot of hype around freshman Jeff Driskel this spring, but Muschamp and the offensive coaches won't view him any differently. They don't see the stars or the All-American rankings out of high school anymore. He is now a Gator, and the past achievements mean nothing.

"The guy is absolutely no different to me, other than he's got a red jersey on because he's a quarterback," Muschamp said. "That's it. What you've accomplished in high school does not mean you've accomplished anything in college. It's a different game and a different level. I always tell them, "You can take all those stars and…" well, you can fill in that sentence. They do nothing for me. If you live in yesterday, you'll never see tomorrow."

Fightin Gators Top Stories