Florida starts early on Friday

The Gators hit the practice field at 5:45 on Friday morning. The goal is to give players extra time off their feet before Saturday's scrimmage, but it also gives the Florida coaches a chance to see how the players respond to that scenario. It's early in the morning and cold on the practice field. Despite the elements Florida head coach Will Muschamp was happy with his team's attitude on Friday.

"Good tempo this morning," Will Muschamp said on Friday morning. "Pleased with that. We were complacent in some spots on Wednesday, so we met yesterday and addressed it. We came out today and competed."

The Gators will practice in the afternoon on Saturday and go through their first scrimmage of the spring. Hitting the practice field early on Friday gives the players more time to get their legs back and rest before the scrimmage, but it also gives the coaches a chance to review the film from practice and go through meetings with players.

The players are actually for it, too. Florida did this during last spring, and Muschamp got positive reviews from the upperclassmen about it, so the coaching staff decided to implement the same strategy this year.

It also gives the coaches a look at how players respond to that environment. The players are tired and cold, but it provides a barometer for the team's energy level.

"It's cold. Not a whole lot of people stretch at 5:45 in the morning," Muschamp said. "We immediately started with an up tempo drill to get them going, and they responded the right way. Very pleased with attitude, effort and competitive edge."

While the main reason for the early practice was the recovery of the players' bodies, it also kept the team focused on improving by changing the routine.

"Complacency kills your program," Muschamp said. "When you get complacent and feel good about where you are -- that's not good. You've got to be very comfortable feeling uncomfortable in this building."

INJURY REPORT: Left guard Max Garcia missed Friday with a back injury but is expected to return to practice for Saturday's scrimmage.

NO KICKER EMERGING: The battle between Brad Phillips and Austin Hardin for the starting kicker job hasn't produced any answers early in camp. Losing Caleb Sturgis, who Muschamp referred to as "the best kicker I've ever been around," leaves a hole on the roster without much experience.

"Brad has kicked in big games before," Muschamp said. "Austin is very talented. I think we're going to be fine. We've just got to get more consistent. You leave a guy you had such confidence in, and now you're in the unknown. The unknown, for a coach, is never good. The ability is certainly there. They've just got to do it and be more consistent."

The loss of Sturgis does change play calling. It was even notice on Friday morning. The Gators closed practice with an 11-on-11 drill where the offense was trailing by three points and had to drive the field in one minute.

The plays called by offensive coordinator Brent Pease were much different than his calls in that scenario last year. He had to take more shots down the field without a proven kicker to lean on.

"It changes your approach and calls," Muschamp said. "We had to get the ball to the 37-yard line with Sturgis walking on the sideline. Now, we need to get a lot closer. Your confidence factor is different. It changes everything."

POOLE TURNING HEADS: Brian Poole came to Florida as a cornerback, but his size could allow him to play multiple positions this season. Listed at 203 pounds, Poole is the second heaviest defensive back on the Florida roster behind Rhaheim Ledbetter, who moved to fullback before the start of the spring.

Poole worked as safety near the end of the 2012 season and got reps with the starting defense during the Sugar Bowl loss to Louisville. He is now playing cornerback, safety and nickel. Muschamp said there are some similarities between Poole and safety Matt Elam's role last season.

Poole is a physical player

Elam played in the box and was capable of making plays at the line of scrimmage because of his size. Poole has characteristics that should translate to playing in the same spot if he needs to.

"You've got to be able to play the run," Muschamp said. "You need to have a guy with more girth, and you've got to be a good run player and coverage ability. Brian has both. He has good potential for the position, and he has had six strong days so far."

The need for Poole is the same that it is with most young players. He has to prove he can consistently make plays and be in the right position. He showed that at the end of the 2012 season, but he needs to continue proving it this spring.

"Young player with consistency in his performance all the way through," Muschamp said. "That's what my challenge for him is -- day-in, day-out performing."

NO PROGRESS FOR DUNKER: Muschamp said there is still no update on redshirt freshman guard Jessamen Dunker. He was arrested for allegedly stealing a scooter in mid-January. Muschamp is waiting before he makes a decision.

"We're going to let the legal process take its course," Muschamp said. "Once that decision is made, then I'll make a decision."


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