Muschamp Pleased With Saturday Scrimmage

Saturday morning's scrimmage meant the end of fall camp for the Gators. With lettermen and their families totaling over 600 people on hand, the team went through multiple game situations inside the Swamp. The camp part of the preseason is now over, and the players will be given some time off in the next few days to allow their bodies to recover.

The scrimmage focused on red zone and third down situations in the early parts. When the scrimmage was near the end, the coaches wanted to see how the team would handle late game situations. Will Muschamp said they put 5:18 on the clock and let the team play.

They also did kickoff coverage, field goal, punt and PAT situations live. The lettermen weren't the only ones on hand, as Muschamp also had the Florida band in attendance to create a game day environment.

"We're making good judgment in those situations for how we're playing those. The coaches were off (the field) and it was full game day operation."

INJURY UPDATE: The Gators managed to get through fall camp with the only serious injury coming in the torn meniscus to freshman tight end A.C. Leonard.

Jeremy Brown injured his knee and has missed some time, but Muschamp said he expects the cornerback to return to practice on Wednesday or Thursday.

John Brantley was held out of Saturday's scrimmage because of a sore back, but Muschamp reiterated multiple times that it was purely a move to get the backup quarterbacks some practice time.

HILL IS SAFE: Muschamp made only one comment on the situation with the report of alleged violations at Miami. The report referenced Florida wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill, who was then the same position coach at Miami. Muschamp said there is nothing to worry about anymore, and Hill's job is not in jeopardy.

"I've talked to Aubrey," Muschamp said. "After the article came out, I feel comfortable with he and I's conversation. I support Aubrey 100%. I'm glad he's here at Florida."

WALK-ONS GET SCHOLARSHIPS: As a former walk-on safety at Georgia, Friday was a special day for Muschamp. He gathered the team together in the locker room to announce that four walk-ons for the Gators will earn scholarships this season.

Tim Clark, David Lerner, Scott Peek and Billy Steinmann have all been awarded scholarships.

"I told our scholarship guys that sometimes they take things for granted," Muschamp said. "To complain and moan about some things when we have these guys paying for it."

CONSISTENCY NEEDED AT SAFETY: Muschamp was unhappy with the consistency of tackling when he spoke with the media earlier in the week. Some moves were made to address that.

There are no problems with sophomore Matt Elam, who has put together a strong camp and is morphing into one of the leaders on the defense. Past him, there are questions.

Muschamp said that Josh Evans, Pop Saunders and Josh Shaw have all done a nice job at safety, but it seems like he is still waiting for one to step up.

Jaylen Watkins has seen plenty of time at safety in camp, and the coaches elected to play him at cornerback during the past few days of practice.

"The last two days he's actually repped at corner," Muschamp said. "He can play both positions and has had an outstanding camp."

With Saunders and Watkins spending time at cornerback and safety, Muschamp knows there needs to be a decision made with those two soon.

"We'll get in the film room tonight and figure out where we're going at that position," Muschamp said.

TALENTED, BUT NOT DEEP ON DL: There isn't a lack of playmakers on the defensive line. The players the Gators have for that position have been all over the field in camp. There just aren't many chances to find quality backups.

Muschamp does like the group he has, not only for their performance on the field.

"I was in the meeting room with them last night watching film," Muschamp said. "They've got good interaction with each other. They understand it's not just about them—it's about the football team. They understand all that.

"Those guys have built a bond. We have a very close-knit unit up there. Jaye and Omar have played a little more than the rest of them, but the guys are coming along."

Muschamp also said that Leon Orr continues to play with improved pad level and is "coming on."

CREATING TURNOVERS: While the pass rush has been a big emphasis for Muschamp, he's also teaching players to become better at creating turnovers. He wants the back seven to have ball skills and be able to record the interception when the ball is thrown their way.

The coaches have created shirts to give to the players as an incentive for turnovers in practice.

"What you emphasize is what's important to them," Muschamp said. "The game is football—it's all about the ball. Getting possession of the ball is the most important thing. I think we've done a nice job of creating some turnovers."

In his career as a defensive coordinator, Muschamp can't recall a time he wasn't thrilled with turnovers. His mindset now in camp is different as a head coach.

"It's good and bad in my spot now," Muschamp said. "I used to think it was really, really good. Now I've got to look at the other way, too."

GROWTH OF Jordan Reed: After missing three or four days a week ago with a strained hamstring, Jordan Reed has continued right where he left off. The tight end has become a vital part of the Florida passing game.

"He has continued to progress with a better sense of the offense," Muschamp said. "We've centered some things around him to get him the football. That's our whole theme is to get the ball in playmakers' hands, and he's certainly one of them."

Reed made his presence felt on Saturday morning. In the late-game situations, he made a play to help the team get the ball near the goal line.

"He made a really nice catch at the end of game situation today to get us down close and have a shot at the end zone," Muschamp said. "He went up over two guys. We're very excited about his prospects for this season. I think he's a real good tight end."

RECEIVERS MAKING A MOVE: The standard trio of wide receivers that have been praised by Muschamp this fall are Quinton Dunbar, Frankie Hammond and Deonte Thompson. On Saturday, two young players gave him different guys to talk about.

Andre Debose finally seems to be coming into his own.

"Andre made a nice catch on a deep ball today," Muschamp said. "Andre, the last couple days, has really taken a step forward. He continues to show the consistency in his performance."

Muschamp also had good things to say about Solomon Patton's role on special teams and the offense. The head coach said Patton has impressed in the "reverse game and quick pass game."

CLOSED PRACTICES: With camp closed and game planning set to begin soon, Muschamp reiterated on Saturday the benefit that closing practices gives the team. Heading into the Florida Atlantic game to open the season, opponents don't have any idea what the Florida offense or defense will look like.

"That's why we've closed everything," Muschamp said. "It's an advantage for us this season. What is Charlie doing? Is he doing what he's doing at Notre Dame, Kansas City or New England? We put a wild rumor out there about wildcat.

"Defensively, are we doing 3-4 or 4-3? That's why we've closed things."

OL SWITCHING UP REPS: The three staples in the first team offensive line so far are center Jonotthan Harrison, left tackle Xavier Nixon and right guard Jon Halapio. Muschamp also said that Matt Patchan is currently the starting right tackle.

Kyle Koehne spent most of the fall at left tackle, but he was moved to left guard in recent days. He opened some eyes with his play after taking reps with the first team.

"Kyle Koehne is also repping at the left guard position," Muschamp said. "He played really well at left tackle, and our whole position is to get the best five out there. Three days ago we made a decision to move him into right guard."

PLAN FOR THIS WEEK: The team will have meetings and team pictures on Sunday before Muschamp gives them Monday off. On Tuesday, they will return to the practice field to work on things that could happen during a game on both sides of the ball that weren't addressed during camp.

There will be another scrimmage on Wednesday before Florida Atlantic game preparation begins Thursday and Friday.

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