"We're still very unsettled on the offensive line and in the secondary," Will Muschamp said Monday morning. "The bottom line with me is you have to earn the right to start. If a guy isn't going to practice, he's not going to start. He's got to get out there and compete in order to start the game."
The question in the secondary is more focused around the safety position. Matt Elam is the clear frontrunner to start at one of the safety spots, but the other is up in the air. Josh Evans and Josh Shaw were battling it out for the spot in the early part of camp, but after Pop Saunders was moved from cornerback to safety two weeks ago, the freshman has made a run at the starting position.
"He would be the front runner today," Muschamp said. "It's consistency in performance. It's hard for young players, but I'm very pleased with Pop. He's got all the intangibles with the instincts to play in the deep part of the field, tackling ability, coverage ability and playing the ball. (He is) a guy that I'm excited about playing for the Gators."
Consistency isn't just an issue for the freshman. Evans and Shaw have been up and down at the position, but the errors in communication might be the biggest deficiency.
"The safety position is not there," Muschamp said. "We need to probably reduce what we're doing and making sure they're in the right spots and making the right checks. At the corner position, we've had solid production, but it all goes back to the safety position. In our defense, (the safeties) have to get everyone in position. The communication has not always been there to my satisfaction."
The cornerback position isn't settled, and Muschamp even went as far as to say the cornerbacks as "interchangeable." Jeremy Brown is questionable for Saturday's season opener against Florida Atlantic, leaving the Gators with four healthy cornerbacks in Moses Jenkins, Cody Riggs, Marcus Roberson and Jaylen Watkins.
On the offensive line, it's more about finding just a few players to step up and win stating jobs. The tackle positions are in good hands with Chaz Green, Xavier Nixon and Matt Patchan, as Muschamp said all three are good enough to be considered starters.
Left guard is still "up in the air." Kyle Koehne, who also serves as the team's fourth offensive tackle, moved to left guard over a week ago and looks to be the favorite to start. Ian Silberman isn't far behind.
"We've been able to stay injury free up front, other than the bumps and bruises," Muschamp said. "We need to be more consistent with what we're doing."
The talent is there in the secondary and on the line, but the experience isn't. Muschamp and his staff will continue to make evaluations this week on who should start, but it could down to having players they can trust.
"Generally in those two groups, when you have a breakdown, it isn't good," Muschamp said. "You've got to be on top of your game all the time."
INJURY UPDATE: Tight end A.C. Leonard is the only Florida player ruled out for Saturday after tearing the meniscus in his left knee. Cornerback Jeremy Brown is questionable with a knee injury, while wide receiver Omarius Hines (hamstring) and Dee Finley (shoulder) are also questionable.
COORDINATOR PLACEMENT: Muschamp made it clear that he will have both coordinators on the sideline during games. During the first year of a new scheme on both sides of the ball, he wants the coordinators on the field to deal first hand with any problems that may come out.
"It's important to have Charlie on the field from the standpoint of the first year in the offense," Muschamp said. "John is a senior, but the first year of going through the adjustments. It's the growing pains of something happening on game day that you're not prepared for. It's important to have both guys on the field."
Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn will call plays, but Muschamp said he will also be on the headsets to "make suggestions" when they are needed.
"I've been very pleased with where we've progressed and we've narrowed down that our players do best," Muschamp said. "As we work through this week, we'll continue through that process."
"Brian White does an outstanding job of being in the box and communicating what's happening with the other team's defense," Muschamp said. "Travaris Robinson is the same with knowing where his eyes need to be."
PREVIEWING FAU: While the Gators have scheme changes on both sides of the ball, the Owls will be potentially using a new defensive look.
"Defensively, they've been more of a four-down (lineman) team, but they're changed their personnel to a possible three-down," Muschamp said. "We'll prepare for both as we work through the week."
On offense, they don't try to trick anyone. It's a pro-style format that will feature redshirt junior quarterback Graham Wilbert. He played in only two games for the Owls last season.
"They're a pro-style attack with multiple formations," Muschamp said. "Coach Schnellenberger has done an outstanding job of teaching the quarterback in what they want to do offensively."