Last year, it was cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy that made the leap. He was a true freshman that saw time on special teams and in the secondary during games that weren't in doubt. He emerged during Gator Bowl practice as a viable option in the secondary, and he had an impressive game starting for Marcus Roberson, who was out with a neck injury.
There are plenty of young players that could make that leap this season, including running back Matt Jones. With Mike Gillislee graduating after becoming the first Florida running back to break the 1,000-yard plateau since 2004, Jones could continue to show what he can do in the backfield.
"I feel pretty confident about what Gilly's accomplished this year and I know he's going to play well in the bowl game, so Matt has gotten a lot of turns and reps," Muschamp said.
The Gators will practice Tuesday-Friday and handle it like a normal Monday-Thursday game week of practice. Friday's practice will be the final day of practice until the Gators get back in action on December 27 at the Superdome, where both teams will practice.
The time off has been good for the Gators to regroup after having their bye week during the fifth weekend of the season. That meant Florida played eight straight games to end the regular season before getting time away after the win over Florida State.
Muschamp actually instructed his players not to come in the football facility for the first week after the regular season ended. He wanted them to have a break and refresh mentally.
"They need to get away. We got them back the next week and wanted to get them lifting a little bit and had exams this past week. I think it's really important for them to get away and decompress a little bit from football. You look at bowl games with this much of a layover, it's a one-game season. That's really how you have to approach it.
"You've got to put all of your energy into it. I don't like focusing too early on bowl games because I think the players get very stale with the preparation. They get tired of watching the same film over and over and over again. It's an interesting balance of how much do you practice."
INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Jelani Jenkins suffered a foot injury against Florida State and had successful surgery earlier in December. He will miss the bowl game but is expected to be fine long term.Offensive lineman Ian Silberman (shoulder) had surgery weeks ago and will miss the Sugar Bowl.
Those are the only two players expected to miss the game.
NO DRAFT TALK: Muschamp wouldn't talk about the decisions his juniors face about the NFL. He has spoken with multiple players about making that decision, but he wasn't ready to publicize what they talked about until after the Sugar Bowl.