The challenge for the players is to keep that level of intensity high.
“Everybody’s fired up day one,” Will Muschamp said late Monday night, over 14 hours after the first practice started. “Let’s find out how they are day 12. That’s the way I look at it.”
The veterans practiced at 6 a.m. on Monday with cornerback Duke Dawson, offensive tackle David Sharpe and cornerback Jalen Tabor the only three freshmen that were on the field with the older players. Muschamp cautioned not to take much from that since two of the players were practicing at that time because they had class at night that prevented them from practicing with the newcomers.
There’s only so much that can come out of the first day of practice. Muschamp joked about that as he walked into his press conference just over 30 hours after meeting with the press at media day. The Gators practiced only in helmets on Monday. They’ll go to shells on Wednesday and full pads on Friday.
Because of that, the first day includes mostly installation of the schemes on both sides of the ball. It’s tough for the coaches to judge who played well and who didn’t because the day is mostly about making sure the players remember what the team is doing on their side of the ball.
Monday was especially important for the offense. The coaches wanted to see how much retention there was from the installation during the spring, and it brought positive reviews.
Muschamp called the spring a ‘get-to-know-you’ period for the coaches and players while trying to draw up what the team did best on offense. They were able to shorten and expand different packages, putting the Florida playmakers in better places to succeed.
“They’ve been able to be with those guys and do 15 practices (in spring) and feel comfortable with what we call in certain situations based on the player,” Muschamp said. “Now, as we’re working into (fall) we’ve refined some packages for certain guys to make sure we’re able to take advantage of those guys. We’ll take the first five or six days to really ingrain our installation.”
The offseason condition program was geared towards preparing the players for an offense that is going to use tempo to its advantage. Through one day of fall camp, it seems like the conditioning is holding up for the offensive players, but the coaches won’t truly know until they have to run through it multiple days in a row.
“I think we're in pretty good condition,” Muschamp said. “There was obviously a drastic difference between the young group and the old group out there today as far as the tempo of practice, number of bodies. It was tough on the older group, too, because we only have two units going at one time. I feel like we're in pretty good condition."
CORNERBACKS IMPRESS: Muschamp was happy with the play of his young secondary during the first day, especially the young cornerbacks. Dawson and Tabor “did some nice things” with the veterans, and Muschamp noted that Dawson can play the nickel if needed.
“He gives you a different skill set as far as a bigger guy that’s a good blitzer,” Muschamp said. “He’s got good run instincts, could possibly get some looks at safety. Smart guy.”
“He played mostly offense in (high school), so it’s a transition for him but he’s a very good athlete, please with what we see so far,” Muschamp said. “Some very positive things.”