Decisions on playing time

After the Gators finish their second scrimmage of fall camp on Friday afternoon, it'll be time for the Florida coaching staff to make tough decisions. The season opener against Toledo on August 31 continues to inch closer, meaning the Gators have to decide which players will help them this year and deserve more practice reps. Those decisions are starting to be made.

"I told the team the last two days that (Friday's scrimmage) is going to be moving day for a lot of guys," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "We've got to start narrowing reps. We cannot continue to rep everybody. So as far as the guys preparing as we move forward in the season, this will be a D-day so to speak for a lot of guys."

It was easy to see what Muschamp was talking about at Thursday's open practice. The coaches are trying to balance reps to allow the veteran players to get into game shape for the season, but they also want to continue developing a freshman class that has shown its talent in the first two weeks of camp.

Friday's scrimmage will give everyone a fair shot. The goal is to get the freshmen on the field and into situations that they could face during games in the fall. Some have shown up on the practice field more often than others so far this fall, but this is the period of fall camp when they usually hit a wall. That's why Friday is so important. If they can push throw it and make an impact, they'll have a role on the team this fall.

The Florida coaches will watch the film after the scrimmage and continue making those decisions.

"I told the young players -- the older players know -- we can't continue to give some guys reps at positions where we're wasting our time," Muschamp said. "We've got to move forward with the guys we need to go into the season with and really concentrate and develop the young players on the football team. That's critical."

The team starts school on Wednesday, and that's when things start to change. Florida won't practice on Wednesday or next Saturday or Sunday, trying to build in a period to let the players get their legs back after a difficult training camp. Friday afternoon is the big day.

"Who do you count on? Not necessarily on August 31 but in game three, four, five," Muschamp said of his message to the team before the scrimmage. "Who's going to be the best player for the University of Florida in those games? Let's take our growing pains if we have to, but let's get those guys ready. Who's going to be ready for that opener? We've got to narrow it down."

INJURY REPORT: Running back Matt Jones (viral infection) continues to improve but there's no timetable for when he will get back on the practice field. He is exercising and being more active, but the medical staff doesn't believe he's ready for the heat and full pads yet.

Offensive guard Jon Halapio (pec) has an appointment with a doctor on August 23 and is hoping to be cleared for game week.

Defensive tackle Damien Jacobs has a patella injury and should be cleared to practice in game week. Defensive back Jaylen Watkins (foot) should return to practice on Monday. Fullback Hunter Joyer (hamstring) should be back in the next 5-7 days.

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (shoulder sprain) should be cleared for contact in 5-7 days. Offensive lineman Octavius Jackson (shoulder) is day-to-day. Defensive lineman Alex McCalister (shoulder) is day-to-day.

KICKER BATTLE: Kicker Brad Philips (groin) has returned to camp, resuming the battle at the kicker position between him and Austin Hardin. Phillips has the advantage of game experience but Hardin has the bigger leg.

"We haven't made a decision," Muschamp said. "Brad had a little bit of groin there early in camp so we obviously want to give everybody a fair shake at that. Brad's kicked in live situations before in game. He has that experience.

"I've been pleased with Austin's progress through camp. And Brad, when healthy, has kicked the ball well."

ROBINSON CONSISTENT: The passing game needs an impact newcomer, and if Thursday's open practice was any indication, Demarcus Robinson could be that guy. He made multiple highlight catches, including a one-handed grab after beating Marcus Roberson and a grab over freshman defensive back Nick Washington.

Muschamp, who usually tries to downplay some of the hype around the freshmen, thinks he will be an addition to the group.

"He's been pretty consistently making some vertical plays for us down the field," Muschamp said. "He's got really good ball skills. He's got natural instincts in running routes and doing those sort of things. It's been a very positive thing for our offense."

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