Notebook: Not worried about national respect

While the country turns its focus to conference championship games and the BCS standings over the final weeks of the college football season, the Gators aren't talked about as much. Florida coach Will Muschamp doesn't want to get caught up in changing that. Despite the Gators being 9-1 with three wins over top ten teams in the BCS, they aren't getting much attention.

"I don't really worry about the perception of what might be out there," Will Muschamp said. "I don't apologize for being 3-1 and the only team in the BCS top ten that has that record and has a tougher schedule than anyone else in the country. I don't know what else you need to do."

It hasn't been pretty in recent weeks for Florida. Three weekends ago, the Gators suffered a six-turnover loss to Georgia. The past two weeks have provided ugly wins over less talented teams like Missouri and Louisiana. The Tigers were driving to tie the game in the final seconds while Florida needed a blocked punt returned for a touchdown in the final seconds to beat Louisiana.

It's not the most stimulating type of football to watch, and although there are still plenty of mistakes on both sides of the field, Muschamp sees the wins as the most important product.

"You look at our record, you look at our schedule and what we've accomplished this year, we've had a hell of a year," Muschamp said.

This is the time of year when coaches start to blast the bowl system and lobby for their teams to move up in rankings for a shot at the BCS title game. Muschamp didn't do that on Monday. He wants to make sure his players and everyone in the football facilities is focused on taking care of the next game.

"I don't really worry about it," Muschamp said. "You control the things you can control. That's one thing I learned last year. Some things you can't control, so don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about them. Figure out what you can handle, what you can deal with and move forward.

"As far as our players are concerned, we continue to focus on Florida and what we need to do to be successful. That's preparation for Jacksonville State this weekend.

YEAR TWO IMPROVEMENT POSSIBLE: The Florida defense has taken a massive leap forward in the second year under scheme Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn wanted to run. The hope from the coaching staff is that the Florida offense will take a similar leap next season in the second year under offensive coordinator Brent Pease.

"Any time you go through a transition, you're going to go through your growing pains and you're going to go through times where, communication really as much as anything, there is a lot more thinking going on than there is reacting," Muschamp said.

The lack of communication caused the Florida defense to play slow at times in 2011. They were good in most statistical categories, but the lack of turnovers was an issue for the Florida defense. That changed this year when they played faster because of a better understanding and more comfort in the scheme.

The hope for coaches and players is that the offense will do the same next year. Players have talked about the offense being slowed by a lack of the little things, and with another year in the system, that is expected to change in 2013.

"Whenever you're (thinking too much), it slows you down a little bit as a player," Muschamp said. "That's where you get to the fine line as a coach: Are you doing enough to be unpredictable or are you doing too much to where your kids are thinking too much? I think our staff has done a really good job this year of managing that with both sides of the ball and special teams.

"I certainly would see a jump in the second year. I have been through those transitions of a first year to a second year. It's a much smoother transition when players understand what is expected of them in situations. I think that any time you go through that it is easier."

HUMPHRIES IMPROVING: Freshman left tackle D.J. Humphries earned his second straight start on Saturday against Louisiana with Xavier Nixon (knee) still out. The freshman enrolled early and went through spring practice in the offseason to help put himself in a position to contribute this year.

Nixon is expected back at practice this week, and Muschamp said the starter will be determined by how they practice.

"He's practiced well this week," Muschamp said. "He's done some nice things. He's really done some good things as far as protection is concerned."

The next step for Humphries comes in adding weight. He's listed at 275 pounds on the official roster, but the coaches want him to bulk up this offseason.

"Obviously, he's a guy we need to put on a little weight," Muschamp said. "We've talked to him about that and we're working hard at that and developing him. Quarterback would be No. 1, but you start talking about difficult positions to play as a freshman, left tackle is 1A as far as that's concerned."

Fightin Gators Top Stories