Muschamp Hoping for a Productive Scrimmage

Will Muschamp knows it won't be easy to pull off a two-team format in Saturday's spring game, but the team is going to do its best for it to work. There are only seven healthy offensive linemen to work with, meaning the Gators will have to use some players with the first and second team units. After Tuesday's practice, Muschamp proposed that he might even see some time on the field.

"I may line up at left tackle," Muschamp joked. "I wouldn't want to be on the blind side there."

The injuries on the offensive line have been a problem all spring, and Nick Alajajian tearing his meniscus last week was the final blow.

"We've got who we've got," Muschamp said. "We'll be fine. The kids will work through it, and we'll manage it. We'll do the best we can with what we have, and it'll be fine."

Will Muschamp continues to be impressed with Jonotthan Harrison, who moved to center earlier in the spring.

"We've been real pleased with his move inside," Muschamp said, "especially against some real quality players like Omar Hunter, Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley."

Chaz Green has worked at right tackle and left tackle. Ian Silberman was moved to guard weeks ago, and it's a move that looks to stick.

"We're going to leave him in there," Muschamp said. "He is a guy that can get inside and have some movement. He has power in gap schemes where he is pulling. He's a good athlete."

The scrimmage will still provide opportunities for many players, not only offensive linemen, to see time on the field.

"We want a very functional scrimmage on both sides of the ball," Muschamp said. "We want to see how guys perform in front of people, and I think that's very important. It's the first time for a lot of kids in front of that many people in the stadium."

SECONDARY INCONSISTENT: The theme of the spring has been highs and lows for all position groups, but that doesn't surprise the head coach as they've been forced to learn a new system and get accustomed to new coaches.

"We put a lot on our secondary as far as formation checks at the line of scrimmage," Muschamp said. "I've been pleased at times, but the consistency is not what we need."

That hasn't kept players from stepping up, though. The first member of the secondary that Muschamp singled out was safety Matt Elam. The sophomore has gotten better since the first practice of the spring, and he also provides leadership to the back end of the secondary.

"Matt Elam has really made a lot of plays and had a solid spring in leadership ability," Muschamp said. "He can bring that to our football team. He has made nice plays on the ball in coverage and nice ones in run support."

Muschamp also said Josh Evans and Joshua Shaw have made plays at the safety position. Jaylen Watkins has also seen time at safety, and Muschamp is "pleased with his progress."

With Janoris Jenkins out all spring, Jeremy Brown has put together a solid spring at cornerback. Cody Riggs has played cornerback, nickel back and safety in practice. Muschamp said that Moses Jenkins has made some plays but that the senior has struggled with consistency and wish he would improve "at the point of attack at the line of scrimmage."

The biggest surprise at cornerback might be freshman Pop Saunders. The Deland High School product strained his hamstring "the other day," but that doesn't erase the positive impression he made on Muschamp before the injury.

"Before (the injury), he was having a really nice spring," Muschamp said. "He's going to be a really good player for the Gators. He has a lot of ability, and for a guy that hasn't played a lot of corner in his life, he's got some natural ability. He has critical factors to be a good defensive back in toughness, he can play the ball down the field, play with man and has zone instincts. He has all the attributes you want in that position."

DUNKLEY SUSPENDED: Muschamp announced on Tuesday that Chris Dunkley has been suspended from the team because of academics. He has missed some parts of spring practice already.

"Chris has been suspended from the team at this point," Muschamp said. "He just academically needs to handle some things. That's where we are right now."

CHANGING PHILOSOPHY: Implementing a new defense is made tougher after the Gators have had a revolving door at defensive coordinator in recent years. They learned the terminology for Teryl Austin's defense last year after Charlie Strong left for Louisville, and now the defense is learning new terminology for Muschamp and Dan Quinn's defense.

"We have to be careful about the installation," Muschamp said. "There is a lot of crossover terms with how things used to be called. I've tried to bend some of the termination with how we teach things so they're comfortable with it. There has been a lot of learning for the players, and we've taken that in mind."

Muschamp has made sure to cross train players at all positions. It helps with potential injuries during the season, but the other part of it gives the players a better understanding of the defense when they understand other positions.

We have cross trained guys because of injuries to make sure that guys have repped at all positions so they're not brand new to them. We want to put a guy in a situation to figure out if he can play the position, because until you do that, you really don't know.


Fightin Gators Top Stories