Muschamp Liking the Trenches

If we have heard it once, we have heard it a thousand times from Will Muschamp. The SEC is a ‘line of scrimmage' league. If you want to win in the SEC, you better be good on both lines of scrimmage. To hear Muschamp talk these days, he is feeling pretty good about the 2013 season and may have everything to do about winning in the trenches in the hardest league in America.

When asked Tuesday at a gathering for the Polk County Gator Club about what units Will Muschamp felt best about on each side of the ball, he mentioned his group of big time cornerbacks first. But, the next two units out of his mouth were the men manning both lines of scrimmage.

"The corner position you like to feel good about," Muschamp said. "You look at the amount of bats they have had and the high level they have played. That would be a comfort level. I am comfortable up front defensively. I think I am comfortable up front offensively…I feel good about the running back position and the quarterback position. All of those across the board from an experience stand point and a quality position stand point, those are positions I feel good about."

On offense, Florida will bring in a couple of transfers in 2013 that have bolstered the quality of play on the line quite a bit.

"Up front I think we made some positive strides," Muschamp said. "There are two big additions for us. Max Garcia is a transfer from Maryland and will probably start at left guard for us. Tyler Moore is a transfer from Nebraska and has been a huge addition. They are two guys that have started at division one programs. They are experienced and seasoned guys and are ready to play. They play at a championship level and Tyler can play all five positions."

The two most experienced returnees happen to be guys that Muschamp puts complete faith in on and off the field. Senior center Jonotthan Harrison and senior guard Jon Halapio have started for two years or more already and been successful in their play on the field.

"I would consider Jonotthan Harrison and Jon Halapio both as tremendous people and great players," Muschamp said. "They both graduate in December. They both have represented us in a first class manner. When I need things within the team they are two of the guys I go to and lean on tremendously. They played a lot of football for us and put in their time with some tough years and were awarded last year with a good season. I have a huge amount of confidence as far as what they do for our program".

The head coach is also upbeat about his promising left tackle, while he still knows there are things to monitor.

"Left tackle D.J. Humphries came in at about 265 pounds," he said. "I gave him one assignment in the off-season and that is to get fat. I want him at 290 pounds when he walks in the door come fall. He has great athletic ability and great flexibility. He played a bunch of ball for us last year. He's a very intelligent guy and football is very important to him."


Chaz Green missed all of spring recuperating for surgery and will be in the mix to start at right tackle. He has a lot of experience as well. Senior Kyle Koehne is the back up at center and has played some and is a guy they like. Sophomore Trip Thurman is another one they like and can play guard and tackle.

"We have more depth than we've had and more quality depth than we've had," Muschamp intimated as another reason he likes the strength of this unit. "They are going to be able to block and do some of the things we want to do."

The Gators lost Sharrif Floyd to the first round of the NFL draft. They lost Omar Hunter and Lerentee McCray as undrafted free agents to NFL teams. There is a lot of experience gone from the lineup along the defensive line, yet there is still a great deal of experience and even more upside.

"Defensively I think it all starts up front. There are some guys inside we can count on. Leon OrrDominique Easley can play inside or outside. Damien Jacobs had an outstanding spring and came in from East Mississippi Junior College last year. Darious Cummings will certainly give us some snaps."

Muschamp talked about Easley being a real leader up front, but he really loves his defensive ends and thinks the two sophomores in Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard are going to provide a great deal more rush than we saw a year ago. There is still some question about what they will get from Ronald Powell after missing last year with injury, but Muschamp believes the junior hybrid player will be someone to deal with in a big way.

"On the edges, Dante Fowler had a fabulous freshman season and will be a really good player for us," he said. "Ronald Powell is a guy that has come back and has been through as much hardship as any player I have been associated with. He's a much more mature guy from a year or two ago because of the situations he has been put in. he will start at SAM linebacker for us. We will probably be a little more 3-4, odd-front, because of our personnel. We will get him back on the field and get four rushing, he will certainly be one of them.

"Dante has a unique style from the standpoint of being as big an athlete as he is. He's explosive. He's a heavy handed guy and can hold the point of attack against anybody. You would be shocked at how well Jonathan runs and plays in space for a 270-plus pounder. He's a guy that can sink inside and rush, can play on the edge and athletic enough to play on the edge against Zone Read teams and contain the quarterbacks in our league.

"We feel very good about the mix up front."


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