Muschamp Won't Preach Bowl Eligibility

There are plenty of problems that could derail the focus of the Florida players. To make sure that doesn't happen, Will Muschamp hasn't once mentioned the Gators being one win away from securing a bowl bid. The head coach would rather his team focusing on improving in practice instead of a game that will happen over a month from now.

"For me, it's about playing and coaching better," Will Muschamp said Monday morning. "If you do that, then things will take care of themselves. We've had our opportunities to do that the last four weeks, and we haven't exactly closed it out. I don't know if bowl eligibility should be a motivating factor for you as a competitor. When you step on the field, you compete. You do it every day at practice, you do it every day in meetings and you do it every game day – regardless of who is lined up on the other side.

"That is the mental aptitude you want to have as a competitor – to go out and compete."

Muschamp compared it to motivating his players by talking about their NFL prospects. He wouldn't bring up draft stock to an individual player because Muschamp wants the players focusing more on what is happening at Florida.

If each player and coach focuses more on his individual responsibilities, then the goals the team is targeting will still fall into place.

"You don't want to be motivated by external factors," Muschamp said. "We don't want to get motivated by all the wrong stuff. Let's worry about being a good Florida Gator and being a good football player. That in turn will help us be a good football team. When you worry about the wrong stuff, that's what happens. Remove all the clutter in your mind, and just worry about doing your job and playing well. Too many guys worry about the wrong things."

While Muschamp won't lecture bowl eligibility as a motivating factor, he knows the values of gaining the extra practices before a bowl game. For a team that is lacking experience, those practices would go a long way in determining the type of season Florida has in 2012.

"You have a great opportunity to scrimmage your young players – our young players have been scrimmaging all year," Muschamp said. "It's an opportunity to go out there, rep and get better. It lets you familiarize your scheme a little more, get guys turns and reps with what they're doing. You try to get four or five fundamental practices, then four or five on your opponent, break for Christmas and then come back at the bowl site and get four or five more practices. In essence, it's another spring ball. It's no question that it's very beneficial for your program."

INJURY UPDATE: Florida freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson will miss the rest of the season after suffering a strained neck at South Carolina. The starting cornerback is expected to return for spring ball.

Behind the freshman, Muschamp is looking at other players to emerge.

"Cody Riggs and Jaylen Watkins have played a lot this season," Muschamp said. "Loucheiz Purifoy is a young man that will get an opportunity and Moses Jenkins. Those would be the four guys that we can use. In an emergency situation, De'Ante Saunders could go back to corner if he needed to. We'll move forward that way."

Chaz Green (ankle) and Lerentee McCray (shoulder) both warmed up and tried to play at South Carolina, but the injuries didn't respond well enough for them to play. Both are expected back this weekend against Furman. Dominique Easley will sit out of practice on Monday and return to practice on Tuesday.

RECRUITING NOT AFFECTED: Despite Florida's struggle since the start of October, Muschamp said the Gators haven't been slowed on the recruiting trail. The players know him better than they did at the end of last year's recruiting period, helping him to feel better about the way this class is going.

Muschamp has mentioned all season the struggles of the team because of their depth. There isn't a time frame on how long it will take, but the head coach is optimistic.

"It's not going to take long," Muschamp said. "We're going to be fine. We need to press forward with where we are, understand that, and understand where we're going. We need to recruit well and continue to coach the guys on campus because we have good enough players on campus to be fine."

STILL SEARCHING FOR PLAYMAKERS: After ten games this season, the Gators are still looking for more playmakers on offense. Until some emerge, Muschamp doesn't expect many changes to be made.

"If you give them the opportunity, eventually there will be some guys that will continue to step up and make plays," Muschamp said. "We have some guys that make plays. We're not totally deficient. I know that we all look at the result at the end of the game and feel like nothing good is happening, but that is not the case."

In the preseason, the hype from players and coaches centered on the play of wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. He was talked about as a play that would provide a deep threat for the Gators offense. Instead, Dunbar has caught eight passes for 116 yards with a 40-yard reception on a long that came on a flea flicker to start Florida's second game of the season against UAB.

"I think that given his opportunities he has played well, also Andre Debose has played really well for us," Muschamp said. "Andre has made a few more vertical plays down the field. We're very pleased with Quinton. He was recognized this morning [in the team meeting] for his effort and his downfield blocking in the game this last weekend. I look for him to continue to get some opportunities."


Fightin Gators Top Stories