Notebook: Gators searching for the best group

The plan is for D.J. Humphries to return this weekend and regain his left tackle position. After redshirt freshman Roderick Johnson played well at right tackle in the last two games, the coaches are trying to find the best starting group for this weekend’s game in Knoxville.

The coaching staff met together on Sunday after the bye week, and one of the topics was what to do with the offensive line. D.J. Humphries returns on Saturday at Tennessee and is expected to retake his spot at left tackle. Chaz Green moves back to right tackle, putting Roderick Johnson on the Florida bench.

It’s not ideal after Johnson played well at Alabama against a tough defensive line last week, but it does give the Gators depth at tackle if that’s the route they choose to go on Saturday.

“They all will play, but if D.J. is ready to go, we’ll put him at the left and then we’ll figure out between Chaz and Rod,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, Chaz will be a guy that would probably start if we had the game today, but we want to see how the week goes. We want to see how D.J. progresses. We’re still giving Chaz reps at the left tackle because it’s a little different from a technique standpoint in some of the sets, so he still needs to get some reps there.”

David Sharpe remains the fourth tackle off the bench, and the true freshman continues to prove he can handle reps if the Gators need him.

But with Green, Humphries and Johnson all playing at a high level, the coaches could look at playing all three on the line together. Trenton Brown’s ankle sprain should be fine and allow him to return on Saturday, and Muschamp said they like the group of interior linemen on offense.

“That is something that we've discussed, but I feel like right now we need to leave D.J., David, Rod and Chaz at tackle and keep our inside guys the same as long as we've got Trenton coming back, which we feel like he'll be fine," Muschamp said.

COMFORTABLE WITH WRs: Asked if the bye week has given any young receivers a chance to prove themselves and earn playing time, Muschamp indicated that he’s comfortable with the depth of playmakers at the receiver position.

“I think we have good enough core guys right now that we’ve repped and played that have been fine,” Muschamp said. “Quinton (Dunbar) continues to do a good job. We’ve had a couple drops, we’ve got to get out of that. Demarcus (Robinson) has had some opportunities and made a bunch of plays for us. We targeted him probably 10 times during the last game. The deep ball early in the game would’ve been a big momentum change for us. It was a catchable ball, in my opinion. Those are things we need to continue to work on.

“Latroy (Pittman) has done some nice things in the slot. Valdez (Showers) came in and did some nice things against Alabama. Wish CJ (Worton) was still with us, as far as repping and getting better. He was a guy I thought would be able to contribute for us. I think we’ve had enough plays out there to be made at that position, we just need to make some more.”

CHRISTY’S TURNAROUND: After finishing as a Ray Guy Award finalist in 2012, Kyle Christy struggled to be consistent last season, ending the year averaging 39.6 yards per punt. Through the first three games this season, Christy is averaging 50.4 yards per punt.

His rebuilt confidence has been an important part of it, and special teams coach Coleman Hutzler has helped with the mechanics.

"When he's able to flip the field the way he can, he certainly is a huge weapon for us,” Muschamp said. “I think more than anything [it's] confidence. I think the issue is his confidence got shook a little bit last year. I think Coleman Hutzler has done a really good job fundamentally with him as far as getting back to the basics as opposed to trying to tweak and change his swing every time something didn't go right. You’ve just got to get back to the basics and fundamentals when things aren't going well.”

The biggest fundamental issue for Christy last year was his drop. The timing of it was off, causing the inconsistencies he dealt with last year.

“That (drop is) what hurt him in some situations where he didn't punt the ball well, and then he pressed a little bit in some situations and he got to where you lose confidence in what you're trying to do. But I think he's got his confidence back as far as punting the ball. I think a lot of the credit goes to him number one, but also I think Coleman has done a nice job of really of spending time with him as far as fundamentals and technique and his drop and all of those things are concerned.

“But there's no question that being able to control the vertical field position and punting the ball well and covering well. I think we have, and it’s huge for us, especially on the road."

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