Muschamp pleased with Saturday scrimmage

The Gators held their final scrimmage of spring over the weekend before the Orange and Blue Debut on Saturday. There were positives and negatives for each side of the ball, but with now less than a week until the spring game, Florida coach Will Muschamp is happy about the progress his team has shown. The scrimmage only made that more obvious to him.

The key point of optimism came on the offense side of the ball. The Florida offense produced 10 explosive plays with five coming from the passing game and five coming from the running game. Muschamp said the offensive was efficient on third downs, keeping drives alive. The running game averaged over five yards per carry.

The quarterbacks remained in non-contact jerseys, but the early returns on the quarterback run game are positive.

"You could see where it creates a lot of issues for a defense," Will Muschamp said.

There were four procedure penalties on the offense after there were none in the previous scrimmage. There were two fumbles, but the offense recovered both. The quarterbacks threw one interception, a dig route that bounced off the receiver's hands and was intercepted by freshman cornerback Jalen Tabor.

The frustration came as the offense wore down, especially the offensive line. Each group took about 50 snaps, totaling over 100 plays for the scrimmage without including special teams.

"If we're going to be a tempo team, that needs to be part of our advantage," Muschamp said. "We're not used to being on the ball as quickly as we were. We had a lot of tempo snaps where we were going fast and some that we weren't, but I think some of that wore on us a bit."

The receivers continued their strong play this spring. Sophomore Ahmad Fulwood caught a 52-yard touchdown pass, and Muschamp referred to him as "a guy who continues to improve." Quiton Dunbar and Demarcus Robinson also had strong scrimmages, with Robinson catching a touchdown pass off a third-down conversion where he made multiple defenders miss.

With every practice and scrimmage, the optimism about the offense continues to grow.

"Offensively, we're further ahead than where I thought we would be at this point as far as from an execution standpoint," Muschamp said. "There's still some things that we've got to get better and clean up, but I'm pleased with where we are."

The Florida defense had its strong moments on Saturday. It handled some situations better than others, particularly during red zone work. Muschamp was pleased with the effort of most position groups, "minus a couple defensive linemen."

The negatives came with the explosive plays allowed. The defense also missed 22 tackles on the day with "a lot of those" coming from players in the secondary. Tackling will be a focus of the team's final week of spring practices.

There were 18 eye-control issues in the secondary, where secondary members had their eyes on the wrong part of the field.

"When you're dealing with young players that's what happens," Muschamp said. "They lose their eyes when they get into scrimmage situations, game situations, and that's what we really need to work on. It's one thing when you're going in seven-on-seven, it's another thing when you're in a third-down period, a slowed-down environment. When a young player gets out on his own, and he's got to play on his own, he's got to keep his eyes on the right spots. We had a lot of big plays because of those eye issues. And we only got one turnover."

The Gators head into their final week of the spring with no starting jobs won in the secondary besides Vernon Hargreaves at one of the cornerback positions. The nickel job is also up for grabs. Safety Marcus Maye, who pulled his hamstring on Saturday, will begin to take reps at nickel when he gets healthy.

On special teams, Kyle Christy continued his strong spring punting the football. The most positive note for the Gators came from the kickers. Austin Hardin was 7-9 on field goals, missing from 41 and 47 yards. Frankie Velez was 7-8 on field goals, missing his only kicks from 46 yards.

"We've made some improvement as far as being more accurate in kicking the football," Muschamp said. "I was pleased with that."

INJURY REPORT: Running back Mark Herndon has a high ankle sprain and will likely miss the rest of the spring. Linebacker Daniel McMillian has an ankle injury and missed the scrimmage but should return on Monday or Thursday. Offensive lineman Rod Johnson (head injury) still hasn't been cleared to practice.


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