Muschamp Pushing Fundamentals for Bowl Prep

Florida coach Will Muschamp and his Gators will have some extra practice time for his squad thanks to earning a Gator Bowl bid. The fiery coach told the media Monday that they will use the time to get more fundamentally ready for the game and can already see improvement coming as his depleted roster takes on each other in practice. Muschamp knows they will have their hands full with Ohio State.

The prep for Ohio State actually started Monday as Muschamp's Florida team had a full weekend of workouts.

"We practiced two days last week – Friday and Saturday – we're just trying to get back into it," Muschamp told the Florida media Monday. "Our coaches have all been on the road recruiting, which is going extremely well. We came back Friday and really worked fundamentals Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was very similar to spring practice as far as fundamentals and technique – things that we needed to do to get back and improve our team. We'll continue that Monday through Thursday morning, along with starting on Monday with Ohio State, which we started this morning."

Muschamp understands the importance of the extra bowl practices, especially with a young team like his that only has nine seniors and a big sophomore class that has done a lot for this team.

"There is no question," he said of the benefit of the extra practices because of being bowl eligible. "You have to take the time to fundamentally work on your guys. Obviously, we're very thin on both lines of scrimmage, and really in the last three or four weeks of the season. Now, servicing each other, we really don't have enough numbers for scout teams. We get good work. Our guys are really getting coached and developed as well as starting to work on Ohio State. There is no question, the extra turns and reps that those guys get are really priceless for a young player to continue to develop and for our older players as well."

With the Buckeyes, he understands they are going to bring that Big-10 physical style of play to Florida to take on his Gators.

"They're a good football team," Muschamp said of the Buckeyes. "[Interim head coach] Luke Fickell is a guy that I have a lot of respect for. He took over the program in a tough situation there at Ohio State with what they've been through and did a good job. Jim Heacock, their defensive coordinator, is a guy that I have tremendous respect for. He's an outstanding football coach. When I was at Texas we played them in the Fiesta Bowl, and I got to know Luke and Jim a little better out there. They do a really nice job defensively, and they always have.

"Offensively they're a power, two-back running team. Braxton Miller is a guy that is a tremendous athlete. He's a true freshman that has come in and taken over the reigns as a quarterback. He keeps plays alive, is an outstanding athlete, can get out on the edges and run. He is a guy that you have to account on for every down. [Dan] "Boom" Herron is a guy that was suspended for the first part of the season, but he's an outstanding back. We played him as a freshman back in the Fiesta Bowl. He's a one-cut vertical guy; a really good back. He plays a lot. He's an outstanding athlete. DeVier Posey came back in their last two games, and is a guy that is certainly a threat at wide-out. They do a nice job at getting the ball to the tight end. They're physical upfront. Their left tackle Mike Adams is a very good player. They do a nice job.

"Defensively, they are very sound in what they do. John Simon is a guy that you have to account for every snap. He plays with a great motor; he's really a tough guy that does a nice job."

There has been a bit of intrigue with this game because of the announced hiring of former Florida head coach Urban Meyer as the new head coach of the Buckeyes. While Meyer won't be coaching the team in the bowl game, some wonder how much his knowledge of Florida will help OSU in the game.

"I don't think it's an upper hand for Ohio State," Muschamp said. "I don't know how much Urban would be involved, but I'm sure he's out working, recruiting and trying to get ready for next season at this time. As far as the preparation is concerned, instead of maybe just knowing talent level of our football team, I don't know how much of an advantage it would be."

Injuries… While the Gators had a rash of injuries that kept a few offensive players out of some middle of the season big games, the overall health of Muschamp's squad is pretty good heading into the bowl game.

"Injury wise, I announced earlier, Dominique Easley tore his ACL," Muschamp said. "That surgery went very well, and he is rehabbing as we speak. He will probably miss spring, but will certainly be cleared for this summer. He'll be ready to get back. Other than that, we're really anticipating mostly everybody back at that point."

However, it is still an ongoing issue with junior cornerback Jeremy Brown and his knee injury.

"We're evaluating him right now," Muschamp said. "There's a possibility that he will have surgery to repair his knee. We have exhausted every measure as far as not having surgery at this point, and we're in that process at this time. He won't be ready for the bowl game obviously, but depending on the severity of the injury, we hope to see him back for spring ball, certainly for next season. It's a medical issue, and I'll let our medical staff to handle it."

As of the media session Monday, grades had not been posted, but Muschamp said he was not anticipating anyone missing the bowl game due to grade issues.

"Not to my knowledge at this point," he replied when asked about these issues. "Our academic staff does an outstanding job, but our final grades have not been posted yet."

Muschamp made it a point to praise 14 football players that graduated and walked the stage of the O'Connell Center for their diploma on Saturday.

"I'm really proud of our guys, 14 of them graduated on Saturday: Phillip Bellino, John Brantley, William Green, Jaye Howard, Moses Jenkins, David Lerner, Eugene Minchin, Chris Rainey, Solomon Schoonover, William Steinman, Deonte Thompson, James Wilson and then T.J. Pridemore and Stephen Wilks, who were both medical-hardship guys," Muschamp said. "I'm really proud of those 14 young men that came in here and got their diploma from the University of Florida. That speaks volumes of Dr. Keith Carodine, our academic staff and the job that they do. Our guys did an outstanding job."

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