Searching to Improve Practice Effort

The story has been the same for Andre Debose since he showed up in Gainesville. His speed and elusiveness could make him into one of the best playmakers on the team, but his inconsistent effort on the practice field has earned him time on the bench this year. A preseason second team All-SEC member as a return specialist, Debose has even seen his special teams touches decrease this year.

"Generally, your practice habits carry over to the game," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "I'm young but I'm old-fashioned. Guys that don't go out and consistently perform well in practice, it generally carries over to the game. As coaches, we want guys that consistently do it well and do it right. We promote that within our program. We're going to practice what we preach around here to our football team."?

And that's the reason Debose's impact has been minimal on the field this year. He has rushed the ball twice for one yard. The redshirt junior wide receiver hasn't made one catch all year. Just as it did in 2011, his biggest impact has come on special teams. However, the impact hasn't been much.

Debose has returned seven punts for 67 yards for a 9.6-yard average. He has returned six kickoffs for 145 yards and an average of 24.2 yards per return with a long of 38. The Florida coaches have tried to add the punt return duties to his list this year, but Debose has been shaky while attempting to catch punts.

His role is still in flux because of the inconsistent effort.

"Effort as much as anything," Muschamp said about what needs to improve for Andre Debose to get on the field. "Just consistently doing it the right way. It's consistently doing it the right way. Consistent effort.

"There's a key to every kid, and we've got to find that key to motivate any young man, not just Andre. Day in, day out, to consistently perform well, to consistently do it the right way."

The struggles for Debose aren't unique to him. It's something that players go through when they get to campus because of their talent. After dominating in high school, players aren't used to working hard when they get to college. Their talent doesn't allow them to get by and be productive in college without that.

"When young guys come in, it's very difficult," Muschamp said. "Most times, in most situations, they have not been asked to work hard because they have not had to. They've been so much better. They've been the big fish in the little pond and did not have to work very hard. Their raw athleticism was so much better than the other guy that it didn't really matter.

"Well now all of a sudden they're swimming in a big lake. They have to figure out the other guy is running well, too. The little things matter— how you run the route, how you cover the guy, your hand placement, your pad level. All those things do matter. And working hard all the time does matter. You can't have a mental lapse as far as your work ethic, concentration and focus."

The problem for Debose is that he isn't the young player anymore. He's in his fourth season on campus and his third while playing. However, the connection still hasn't been made for the redshirt junior to work hard on the practice field.

As long as that stays the same, his role on offense won't increase.

"The good players I've been around ... Jason Taylor, one of the best practice players I've ever been around. Junior Seau, one of the best practice players I've ever been around," Muschamp said. "They're going to be in Canton, Ohio for a reason. God blessed them with a lot of ability, but they took advantage of their ability. They took it to another level."

DUNBAR REWARDED: The hype around Debose has been growing in recent years, and the same can be said about wide receiver Quinton Dunbar. The Florida coaches like Dunbar because of his unselfishness and willingness to block on the perimeter.

"He's a guy that's been a very unselfish guy this year," Muschamp said. "He really worked hard in the blocking aspect of it and being a total receiver. All of the run game, a lot of our receivers have finally figured out—the better we're able to run the ball, the more opportunities it creates for them vertically down the field."

On Saturday against Kentucky, Dunbar's unselfishness was rewarded. He caught three passes for 36 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown.

"It was a good catch, and it was a catch over the middle, which was something he needed to do. He needs to go across the middle and understand that ball is in the air, and to go make that play. I was very happy for him."

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