Notebook: Turnover margin a focus

There’s no confusion in the statistics. When the Gators take care of the football under Will Muschamp, they win. When they’re careless and turn the ball over under Muschamp, they lose.

The offseason study by Will Muschamp proved it, and it will become the emphasis of fall camp when things get started on Monday.

When Florida wins the turnover margin, it is 19-3 under Muschamp. When they loses the turnover margin, the Gators are 3-13 under Muschamp. There are obviously other aspects that go into winning and losing, but in the first three years under Muschamp, the turnover margin has made a big impact.

"That's a team stat,” Muschamp said. “Not just about offense, taking care of the ball. Defensively getting the ball off people. We haven't been explosive enough offensively to overcome turnovers, and I think we will be this year.

The 2012 defense experienced success because of its ability to take the ball away. The Gators were aggressive and played that way with strong play at most positions on the field. The offense rarely put itself in positions that could result in a turnover, and defense and special teams were what led the Gators that season.

The offense should be more open and explosive this season, but that doesn’t mean it can be careless with the ball.

“We've got to take care of the ball,” Muschamp said. “That's the number one thing as far as our team goals are concerned.”

SHARPE TURNING HEADS: Freshman offensive tackle David Sharpe has barely been enrolled at Florida for one month, and he has already become one of the most talked about players of the newcomers.

The 6-6.5, 336-pounder was the first freshman mentioned when Muschamp spoke about depth needed on the offensive line, noting that he “moves extremely well.” It’s that athleticism that has the coaches believing he can get on the field early during his freshman season.

The team’s conditioning test was when Sharpe’s showcase became the most obvious. Florida players had to run 16 110-yard sprints with designated times for each position group. Sharpe, despite his massive frame, had no issues doing it in the prescribed time for the offensive linemen.

“I've been other places and that didn't come close to making that sort of time,” Muschamp said.

Even though he excelled as a basketball player in high school, Sharpe’s love for football has been easy to see on the field this summer.

“I think his commitment level has been outstanding,” Muschamp said. “He's worked extremely hard in the weight room. He's done everything we've asked for him in the weight room, in the classroom, and I've been very pleased to this point with his buy in factor of playing football. There is no question athletically he's extremely talented, extremely smart. He's a guy that we're counting on to give us some help this year.”

PRACTICE SCHEDULE CHANGES: After fall camp produced an unusually high number of injuries last season, the Gators took time to assess what they were doing and what needed to be different. Aside from the physical aspects of practice, they’ve also found changes to the actual practice schedule.

Practice times were altered, keeping the Gators off the practice field during the hottest part of the day as much as possible. There will be morning practices, night practices or sometimes even both. Florida hits the practice field just three times during the middle of the day this fall.

“My biggest concern is being able to have guys hydrated here in this heat, and sometimes I think going in the morning and eliminating the midday practice will help us,” Muschamp said.

The first 15 practices are already planned out and ready to go. After those are over, the coaches will sit down and figure out where the team is in all aspects and what needs to more time for repetition on the practice field. The physicality of practices won’t be changed, even with the new offense being installed.

“I feel good about the physicality we've got planned in our first 15 days,” Muschamp said.

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