Muschamp Understands Spurrier's Legacy

Will Muschamp is well schooled in what Steve Spurrier means to the University of Florida. Growing up in Gainesville and trying to walk on at Florida had Muschamp glued to the television watching the early days of Spurrier's coaching career at Florida. He'll face off against Spurrier for the first time this weekend.

"We have great respect for Coach Spurrier, first of all as a player winning the Heisman Trophy here in 1966, and then the job he did as the head coach here for his 12 years is outstanding," Will Muschamp said. "You look at the championships he won and really establishing the tradition of what Florida football is – especially when it comes to winning championships."

In Muschamp's eyes, Spurrier didn't just put the University of Florida on the college football map. He changed the way the game was played in the Southeastern Conference.

Before Spurrier came to Gainesville, Muschamp remembers watching run-heavy offenses that only stretched the field when they were forced to. Then, Spurrier came to Florida from Duke and turned the league upside down with his offensive scheme.

"I think he's changed the SEC, as far as the passing game is concerned," Muschamp said. "If you look back to when he took over here at Florida, the SEC was a running league – it was a ground and pound league. He came to Florida and did a great job with the throwing game and changing the perception of the SEC to an offensive league, but still remain balanced in everything that he did.

"If you look at the break downs there, they were close to 60-40, 50-50 as far as running-passing is concerned. The run that he had in 12 years at Florida was very impressive."

INJURY REPORT: Jeremy Brown is the only player ruled out for this weekend's game. Chris Rainey, Dan Wenger and Chaz Green are expected to return to practice Tuesday while Lerentee McCray and Jelani Jenkins were expected back on Monday.

John Brantley will be held out of Monday's practice after hurting his arm when he took a shot from a Vanderbilt defender. He is expected to return on Tuesday.

"He's fine. He had a funny hit on his arm," Muschamp said. "He probably could have gone back in, but I just told him to sit down and let Jacoby finish it. It was just a funny injury, nothing serious at all. He could possibly get back under center this week. We'll continue to progress through it with the week."

Muschamp also confirmed that Tommy Jordan and Trip Thurman have both had shoulder surgeries and will redshirt this season.

WEEKLY AWARDS: Jeff Demps was the offensive player of the game. The Scrap Iron award for the best offensive lineman went to Matt Patchan. The big play of the game went to Jeff Demps on the long touchdown run near the end of the game. Muschamp singled out tight end A.C. Leonard for his block on the play.

The Hart Hat award went to Dominique Easley. The special teams award went to Caleb Sturgis for his 55-yard field goal.

PISTOL OFFENSE: To compensate for Brantley's ankle injury, the Gators went with a pistol formation on offense. With the running back lined up behind the quarterback in a shotgun set, it allowed Florida to bring the run game back after seeing it struggle in recent weeks.

The pistol formation simulated a downhill running game that was gone when Brantley couldn't go under center because of his ankle.

"You get out of the lateral run game and you're able to run the off-tackle power if the lead's inside," Muschamp said. "As opposed to sitting east and west, it's a downhill north and south. We're a different offense when we're able to run the play-actions off of that.

Muschamp said that there are offenses, such as Nevada, that use the pistol formation as a base offense. For Florida, it doesn't change the offense. They are still running the same type of run plays, but the only difference is the location of the quarterback when he takes the snap.

"We ran a set to get a downhill running game," Muschamp said. "We're running our regular plays, but with a different set, to enable John to run a downhill running game."

SECONDARY IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: The defensive problems in the second half came in the secondary. Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers moved the pocket and got into position to throw, and his receivers made plays over the Florida secondary. Youth is still an issue, but the defensive backs still need to make plays.

Muschamp thinks the defensive backs have been in position, but they haven't been able to cash in with an interception.

"It's easy for you and I to have a conversation about it, but when you're sitting there and you're covering a guy that runs really well, and the ball is thrown at a good spot, you have to be able to get the ball off of the guy. It's a lot easier said than done, but the more times and the more opportunities that you get, the better you should play.

The most consistent player on the defense this season might be safety Matt Elam. It hasn't just been with his play, either.

Throughout the spring, Muschamp talked about the need for Elam to increase his vocal leadership on the field. Whether it's changing defensive looks or moving players into position, the coaches wanted Elam to be more outgoing. Getting into position for himself was never an issue, but he needed to take charge of the secondary. Now near the end of the season, Elam has done just that.

"He communicates very well," Muschamp said. "He's not a very vocal player. When I came in here, from the standpoint of communicating, we were more worried about getting him lined up and with what he's doing. I think that he has a better understanding of what we're doing schematically to understand what the other safety needs to do or what the nickel needs to do. He has very good play making skills and ability – he has natural instincts and play-making skills as a football player.

"A lot of the time, he sees a play before it happens. He anticipates the route breaking off, where the runner is going to break and where the ball is going. All of those concepts he gets, he understands, where as some other guys it takes a few more repetitions to do that. He's a guy that has played safety for us, and has played nickel for us. Each week, we put him in situations where we feel he can affect the game the best. He has played consistently well all year. That is what we expect of him, and what he expects of himself. He's a competitive young man.

LOOKING AT South Carolina: The questions about South Carolina's quarterback will be up in the air all week. Connor Shaw suffered a concussion against Arkansas, and his status doesn't look like it will be decided until later in the week.

Regardless of who takes snaps under center, the Gators have to locate wide receiver Alshon Jeffery on every play.

"Alshon Jeffery is an outstanding wide receiver," Muschamp said. "He's 6'4"-6'5", has great ball skills down on the field, tremendous match-up issue in all situations."

The Gamecocks defensive line presents plenty of issues on film. They're active and have been a terror for opponents all season. Muschamp credited defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson for that.

"The play-making ability up front-- (Melvin) Ingram is a guy who flashes and makes a lot of big plays. He gets the ball off of people, sacks the quarterback and is very disruptive in the run game. They play very well in the back end with guys like (Stephon) Gilmore. They have guys like that who mix in coverage and pressure, and who have played very well for them. When you look at special teams and defense scoring seven touchdowns, that's the difference in winning some games."


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