Notebook: Getting quarterbacks comfortable

The first day in a new offensive scheme had its high and low moments for the Florida quarterbacks. For starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, it wasn't only about what he learned. It was about getting back on the field for the first time since breaking his leg against Tennessee during the 2013 season.

Will Muschamp didn't make a big deal about Jeff Driskel's return to the field once he was cleared. After he was cleared, they mentioned the injury once. It came on Wednesday before the team got back on the field and was straight to the point. The Florida coach asked Driskel if he was ready to return to action, and a simple ‘let's go' was the only reply he needed from the starting quarterback.

"We're out there in shorts," Muschamp said. "It's not like we're throwing fastballs at him right now. He's a tough guy and has got the respect of his teammates and his staff. We're just excited to get him back in a situation where I think he'll be much more apt to be comfortable."

A lot of that comes with his legs. Driskel has always had a strong arm and showcased it throughout Wednesday's practice, but it wasn't his best day throwing the football. As practice wore on with the quick tempo, his throws had more air under them. Coming back from the broken leg and in the first practice under an up-tempo offense, that's to be expected.

But he moved well on the leg when asked to run. Driskel, just like all the quarterbacks, will remain in a red non-contact jersey throughout the spring, but they'll also continue to implement plays that use Driskel's legs this spring, building the offense around what his best attributes are on the field.

"That's where I think his athleticism and toughness lends to our offense and playing to his strengths," Muschamp said. "We've kind of put him in a situation where he feels much more comfortable at the position and taking advantage of his strengths."

Driskel hit the practice field for the first practice on Wednesday with freshman Will Grier attached at his hip. The North Carolina native had an impressive first day on the practice field and appears to be a natural for the offense that Roper wants to run.

"Will was a gun quarterback up there in Charlotte," Muschamp said. "I think first day, did very well. We'll watch the film and evaluate the decisions he made, where he took the ball and was he making the right decision?"

WORKING WITH ROPER: Muschamp knew what he was getting in offensive coordinator Kurt Roper from the extensive interviews and time spent together before he was given the job. However, Wednesday did present the first chance for the two to work together on the field.

Muschamp didn't have much to say about the two working together since most of the head coach's time came on the defensive side of the ball, but he was happy the first practice for Roper was in the books.

"Just a really good teacher," Muschamp said. "Very fundamental in his approach. Philosophically on the same page with me and what we want to do, and that's be balanced. We're not going to get away from running the football. (There are) different ways to run the football, but I think just a really good teacher and more than anything just a positive guy. His positive energy is very contagious in the building. I just enjoy working with him. He's a very good fundamental football coach."

FINDING SAFETIES: After losing starting safeties for the second straight season, the Gators are spending the spring trying to find new ones. Keanu Neal was limited after he tweaked a hamstring on Wednesday, an issue that Muschamp said has been a reoccurring one because he is a "tightly wound guy."

On one field, Neal and Marcell Harris worked as the starting safeties. On another, it was Jabari Gorman and Marcus Maye. Nick Washington will play corner, safety and nickel.

"There's no questions we need to feel really good about three or four guys coming out of spring that we can line up and play with," Muschamp said.

The Florida coach also said on Wednesday that he doesn't expect any of the incoming freshmen to project as safeties in college.

"We need to play well at that position, play better than we did a year ago," Muschamp said.

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