Notebook: Developing the B position

Nearing the end of spring football, the Gators continue to search for an offensive player that will fill the "B" position in the offense for first-year coordinator Kurt Roper. It's a hybrid position, similar to an H-back or tight end role in other offenses. The versatility of the position allows the Gators to use different players, but they don't have any answers for it yet.

With the Florida offense going to a mostly shotgun scheme, they won't have the need for a true fullback as much as the offense did during the previous three years. Hunter Joyer will still be heavily involved in the offense, specifically in the passing game where he has become a target for many passes during the open practices this spring.

The position also allows tight ends to get involved. Will Muschamp mentioned Clay Burton and Tevin Westbrook, who has looked more comfortable this spring, as possibilities to fill the position. The coaches would like a dynamic pass catching tight end, but without one of those on the roster, the options are limited.

They've experimented with Latroy Pittman or Valdez Showers at the B position, but it gives away too much in the pass protection for Muschamp to feel comfortable with that look.

"You kind of give the defense a little bit of an advantage when they know you can't create a three-man blocking surface or six-man or seven-man protection when they don't have a tight end body in there," Muschamp said.

Gideon Ajagbe will also feature into the role after seeing increased reps at the fullback spot last season.

It's still a work in progress for the Gators, but they'll have options at the position. The role will likely switch through multiple players depending on down, distance and the play Roper dials up.

"We're kinda still searching a little bit there," Muschamp said. "That's a position we need to have a guy to be able to seal the edges. We're not asking him to be dominating blocker, but we need to be able to have a guy that can match up on a linebacker or safety and win in coverage. That's something we need to continue to improve."

Even though he's out this spring, Matt Jones will learn the B position when he is cleared to practice in the fall. Muschamp said one of the offense's best formations this spring has featured three receivers and two running backs, so Jones could fill the B position and use his above average hands as a receiver to help the offense.

"That'll be something we told him before spring that we felt like that fit well," Muschamp said. "Matt's got great hands. He's a guy that can do some of those things. Our primary run will be an inside zone team and he runs the inside zone extremely well. Matt is extremely bright so he will be able to play both positions, but one of our best personnel groupings is three wides and two backs.

"Because of our backfield, we feel like we've got some talented guys, so let's get both of those guys in at the same time and try and create multiple formations and motions from there. I think that's certainly something we'll look at in the fall."

COMFORTABLE AT RECEIVER: The Gators have struggled to find consistent receiver play since Muschamp took over before the 2011 season. He feels much better about the group this spring than he did last season. A big part of that has to do with a sophomore class of receivers that are more comfortable and maturing, as well as an unexpected improvement from Latroy Pittman.

"Latroy Pittman made a big catch in one minute (drill), really made a nice play there," Muschamp said. "Chris Thompson made two really nice plays on deep balls. Demarcus Robinson made a nice play on a deep ball. Valdez Showers made a nice play on a seven cut down there in an overtime situation. I think a lot of those guys have stepped up and really have come on. Ahmad Fulwood continues to come on.

"I feel much more comfortable, and then you get Andre (Debose) back. There's some things we'll do with him when he gets back as far as some speed sweep things that we've done in the past that I think can create some misdirection for our offense."

BRYAN TURNING HEADS: A little known, three-star addition to the 2014 recruiting class, defensive lineman Taven Bryan is starting to prove that he can be a factor this fall. The 6-5, 260-pound defensive end is proving he is physically mature enough to handle the trenches in the SEC. He's still learning the defense, but the freshman looks as good as the coaches could hope at this point of his career.

"Taven Bryan's a guy that continues to come on and get better and better," Muschamp said. "And he's only going to continue to improve. But we feel comfortable with him, not assignment-wise right now, but as far as technique and fundamentals and effort, and that's really what we're looking for."

The Casper, Wyoming native moved to a completely different part of the country but continues to get used to college football in another part of the country.

"I think he's adjusted extremely well, he's really smart," Muschamp said. "He knew he wanted to come here when he came and visited the campus a summer ago. He committed to us immediately and never blinked, so we're extremely pleased to have him."

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