Hope for a turnaround begins Monday

The Gators reported for fall camp on Sunday and went through their Media Day obligations. The event started with an optimistic Will Muschamp making his way to the microphone. It’s the same tone the Florida coach has maintained throughout the offseason, whether at SEC Media Days, the ESPN campus or in Gainesville.

The Florida coach fully believes his team is ready and built for a big season. He knows what happened last year, he knows his team has a first-year offensive coordinator and he knows it’s a brand new scheme. But Will Muschamp has no doubt that this year will show the type of players and coaches in the Florida program.

“Their work ethic, their buy in,” Will Muschamp said when asked why he likes this team so much. “We always talk in terms of ‘you’re either renting it or you’re owning it.’ You take ownership in your team, and I see a lot of that.”

The media day script went over the usual topics, including a run through of the roster, a list of positions where the Gators feel food and a list of positions where they need more depth and impact players. None of it was a surprise or different from the way Muschamp handles himself at large media gatherings.

It’s his confidence this fall that is different. That isn’t to say that he wasn’t confident in recent years, but this fall, the Florida coach is more vocal about it. It’s not difficult to see that he really likes this team -- its talent and leadership.

“The key ingredients offensively, we’re better than we’ve been,” Muschamp said. “Defensively, we’re not as talented as we were in 2012, but I think we have the key ingredients. All of the components are there. We need to go do it now.”

The Gators will go with split practices early this fall, throwing the veterans on the fields for the early practices with the younger players going at night for the first two days. It helps acclimate the freshmen, especially the ones that enrolled at Florida during the summer, without the speed of the practices that include veterans that have been around the program for years.

The optimism is built around the offense. Muschamp saw Kurt Roper install his up-tempo scheme during the spring, and the results surprised the head coach. They put more plays in than he expected, and they were better versed in those plays than he expected.

The next test comes Monday. It’ll be a chance for the Florida coaches to get the players on the field for a full practice and see how much retention their truly was from the spring. However, from the limited time with players during the summer, Muschamp likes what his offensive group can do this fall.

“Schematically, we’ll be drastically different,” Muschamp said. “The tempo will be much different. We’ve got different mechanisms to go fast, look back and change the play based on the defensive look. There are things built in that will be much different to the fan sitting in the stands.

“In the passing game, we’ve really simplified things and dialed things down to let our players play faster. That’s what we’re looking to. Get the ball to playmakers in space, and let them make plays. When you play us, you’re going to have to make plays. If we stay healthy at the quarterback position, we’re going to win a bunch of games.”

INJURY REPORT: Defensive back J.C. Jackson had shoulder surgery in the spring but has recovered quicker than the Florida coaches expected. He will start practice avoiding the contact drills but should be fully cleared in 7-10 days.

Receiver Andre Debose and linebacker Matt Rolin, both recovering from ACL tears, are fully cleared for practices. Muschamp did say they might hold them out from some drills just to make sure both are fully healthy.


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