Notebook: Driskel knocking off the rust

The first four days after practice have brought high and low moments for quarterback Jeff Driskel. Coming back from a broken leg he suffered in Florida's third game of the 2013 season, the start of spring practice was pushed back a week to make sure the redshirt junior quarterback was ready. He's fighting some mechanical issues but feels healthy so far.

Driskel's arm strength looks back to where it was last season, and he's moving around as if he was never injured. Quarterback movement, whether running the football or simply moving the pocket, is an important part of what Kurt Roper's offense calls for, and Driskel looks ready and prepared to make that happen.

During the first days of spring practice, Driskel struggled with his weight transfer, causing a few overthrows. It wasn't a concern for the Florida coaches, noting that it simply came with the rust and time he missed from injury.

"Early on he was over-striding a little bit which created a sail to the ball a little bit, but we'll work on those things," Will Muschamp said. "He just feels much more comfortable—confident and comfortable in what we're doing. I think it fits his skillset better, and I've been very pleased with his maturity and handling it. He's running well, he's moving it around well. The ankle is not bothering him as far as those things are concerned."

There's no one Muschamp would rather have Driskel working with than Roper. His reputation for quarterback development is well known through college football and played a big role in Muschamp hiring him.

Former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews was at practice on Monday and raved to Muschamp about the offensive coordinator's quarterback expertise.

"(Matthews) commented to me about how well he felt like Kurt deals with the quarterback, and (Matthews is) a guy that's obviously had a great career here and in the National Football League," Muschamp said.

WIDE RECEIVERS EMERGING: Through four practices, the Florida staff met on Tuesday morning and felt comfortable with six receivers that are standing out Quinton Dunbar, Ahmad Fulwood, Latroy Pittman, Demarcus Robinson, Valdez Showers and Chris Thompson. Muschamp said that Pittman and Showers are the two that have taken a big leap forward during spring practices.

"All of those guys have shown some flashes and done some nice things through four days and had good offseasons as well," Muschamp said.

The Florida coach also said that he believes this is the most talented receiver group he has put on the field at Florida since he took over. With Dunbar as the senior leader of the group with younger talent in Fulwood, Robinson and Thompson, there's a blend of ability throughout the roster.

"We've got six guys right there that have repped pretty well for us at the position that you can roll in and out," Muschamp said. "Our base personnel grouping will be some form of three wides, whether it's two backs and three wides or one back and a tight end."

PIECING TOGETHER THE OFFENSIVE LINE: The added depth this spring has given the Gators some question marks on the offensive line. They're trying different lineups to find the best five, including some guys in new positions.

Max Garcia was moved to center for the spring, and the early returns are positive despite some normal snapping issues he is battling in his first few practices at the position.

The coaches are confident with a three-tackle rotation of Trenton Brown, Chaz Green and D.J. Humphries. That allows them to slide redshirt freshman Rod Johnson to the guard position, where Muschamp has high hopes for him.

"Rod is a guy that we liked his length on the edge in the fall, but we really feel like he can be a starter at guard," the coach said.

Along with Johnson, the others battling for two guard positions are Tyler Moore and Trip Thurman.

HARRIS FINALLY HEALTHY: Marcell Harris tore his MCL during his senior year of high school but expected to be ready to play during the 2013 season. His timeframe to return continued to be pushed back, and the decision was ultimately made for him to take a redshirt during the 2013 season.

This spring is the first time Muschamp has seen him healthy since he participated in Florida's camp before Harris' senior year in high school.

"He wasn't able to practice as much (in the fall) and be able to do some of the things," Muschamp said. "And then when you get involved with scout team, you don't get the fast game day reps that you need to have to develop yourself as a player. But that's part of it. But I'm pleased so far with where he is, we've just got to continue to progress and get better."

Learning the Florida defense from the safety position is never easy. It's the position Muschamp works mostly with during practice, and he puts a lot of expectations on the safeties in the defense.

"We put a lot on our safeties in this defense in making calls, formation recognitions, splits, backfield sets, pressures and coverages," Muschamp said. "(Harris is) going through that process right now of understanding how much we put on a safety here. He just needs more turns and reps."

GORMAN LEADING: Even with the loss of experienced players from the safety position, Muschamp said earlier this spring that he believes the safety talent on this year's team is on par with any team he has had at Florida. The most important veteran is Jabari Gorman, and the senior is having an impressive spring so far.

"Jabari's very smart, he's a guy that gets it," Muschamp said. "He understands and learns well. He's seen the game. It has slowed down tremendously for him over the years. He's played a lot of football for us, played well for us last year. I've been very pleased with his spring to his point through four days and the offseason program."

The safety position is stacked with size and athleticism from players like Marcell Harris, Marcus Maye and Keanu Neal. And while it's Gorman that is the smallest of the group, he makes up for it with his knowledge of the Florida defense and ability to communicate.

That's the problem for the younger safeties with less experience. They haven't been through the fire of an SEC Saturday where they're depended on to make calls and change coverages. Gorman has that experience.

"He understands the importance of those, the communication of the back end," Muschamp said. "We just gotta do a better job at understanding that a mistake there is normally not good for the Gators. That's where we've gotta tie some things up."

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