Alajajian out for Rest of the Spring

The spring injury toll continued on Friday as the offensive line lost another player. Nick Alajajian will miss the spring with a torn meniscus, shrinking the total of available offensive linemen on the Florida roster to seven. It has been mixing and matching for the Florida staff on the offensive line, and now they're just trying to exit the spring without any more injuries.

"That (seven) is total bodies and it's about all we've got," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said after Friday's practice. "One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity. Somebody has to step up, and through these situations, you find a lot more out about your football team."

The procedure for Alajajian will take three months to heal. Muschamp also said that running back Mack Brown's surgery went well to repair a broken fibula.

Offenive tackle Xavier Nixon sprained his ankle, but he is expected back early next week. Muschamp said Nixon is in a boot, but the injury is minor.

The positive from the offensive line has been Jonotthan Harrison, who recently moved to center. He is getting plenty of first team reps and starting to emerge.

"Jon Harrison at center has done a nice job," Muschamp said. "There's a lot on a center as far as snapping the ball, but I've been pleased with his progress."

Without many linemen to work with, Muschamp has been impressed by the work of offensive line coach Frank Verducci.

"Frank is a great teacher," Muschamp said. "He's not a screamer. Most of these offensive linemen just want to hear themselves talk. Frank does a great job of teaching and is very professional. He communicates with players what to do and how to do it.

"I really enjoy the working relationship that he and Charlie (Weis) have to listen to them on the field talk about what they're thinking and what they want in run game and protections. That's really important for the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator to be on the same page."

RECEIVERS NEED TO STEP UP: The wide receiver spoke to the media on Thursday and openly admitted the need to be more consistent. Muschamp's comments were in agreement.

The head coach singled out Frankie Hammond and Omarius Hines as the most consistent. Quinton Dunbar was the next receiver he named, and the redshirt freshman is become a downfield threat for the Florida offense.

"Quinton is making a lot of plays vertically down the field," Muschamp said. "He's a guy that is a weapon outside because of his size and his speed down the field. he catches the ball extremely well down the field."

Muschamp named Deonte Thompson as another vertical threat who brings speed and a veteran presence to the receiver position, but the unit needs playmakers to emerge this spring.

"We need guys to continue stepping up at the position," Muschamp said.

He isn't a receiver, but Jordan Reed has turned into the top tight end on the roster this spring. He isn't working at quarterback anymore, instead pouring all his time into working at tight end.

"Jordan Reed is having a really good spring at tight end, and he's a matchup issue," Muschamp said. "He can stretch the field vertically and block. We're very pleased with him."

QUARTERBACKS LEARNING TO MANAGE: With the expectation of learning a new offense, the quarterbacks have also been forced to help the other players with the offense. John Brantley continues to earn praise from the coaching staff for his ability to fit into the offense.

"He's managing our team real well," Muschamp said. "It's obviously a quarterback system. We're very pleased with what we're getting out of him up to this point."

Jacoby Brissett will be on the team this summer, but he is already getting on the practice field and preparing for the fall. He spent "three or four days of his spring break" in Gainesville to work with the coaching staff and become more familiar with the offense so that his transition isn't as tough when he shows up on campus in the summer.

"Jacoby sat in our meetings and was out there at practice to learn," Muschamp said. "He'll spend more time when summer comes up. We have a video playbook that we put together for our players on both sides of the ball that's more teaching terminology, formations, sets, routes and run game. It's a video you can learn from so when you get here, you're familiar with it."

The expectation for the Florida players, not only the quarterbacks, now becomes understanding the in-depth parts of the offense. The coaches don't just want the players to memorize the plays and regurgitate the information on the field. Instead, the players are expected to know the nuances of the offense to benefit them during games.

"It's not just learning what we do, but it is to also learn why we do it," Muschamp said. "If we call a play on 3rd-and-8, anticipate what call Charlie or Dan will call. Play the game. That's what we need to do. It's not just what to do, now it becomes why we're doing it that way. Part of being a small football team is that."

SPRING GAME APPROACHING: The Gators will scrimmage on Saturday, and the Orange and Blue game will take place exactly a week later in The Swamp. Muschamp isn't sure if his team will be able to have a true spring game because of the depth issues, but they will do their best to have a productive day.

"We need to have a good, functional day," Muschamp said. "We're too thin to divide up (into two teams). We met as a staff (Friday) morning to talk as a staff about the spring game and our procedure.

"It's an opportunity to get better. You only get 15 chances to get better, and out of our ten, I feel good about ten of them. There was one I don't really know if we got better. I have been pleased with our progress, and we look forward to get in front of The Gator Nation."

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