Gators taking extra steps to build team unity
With a new coaching staff and 17 incoming freshmen, Florida coach Will Muschamp and his staff have spent a great deal of time trying to ensure the Gators have solid team chemistry, including constructing a new team lounge for players to get to know each other on a more personal basis.
"We took the locker room and we didn't really do it by position or by class,'' Muschamp said. "We kind of separated it. We put old, young, offense, defense - guys that would never interact with each other unless they had to. And we put their lockers towards each other. We've gone back and put a players' lounge back in the locker room. We built that and we think that's important. Terry Jackson, our Life Skills and Spiritual Development Director, he's going to have a lounge upstairs for when the players are upstairs, so they've got two different places where they can go and relax.''
NCAA rules prohibit athlete-only dormitories. Muschamp said that makes it more difficult to build chemistry among teams. The Gators participated in team-building activities during the offseason, created by strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti.
"When the NCAA did away with athletic dormitories it hurt because generally the class you know is the class you came in with,'' he said. "You don't get to know the other guys as well, especially if they are on the other side of the ball. So we've tried to create some leadership groups this summer that were made up of teams. There is kind of a competition that Mickey created for them. It was guys that you would never think would have to interact with each other, or would never have to call and make sure they are at workouts, or whatever the cases were as far as what we did. So those are different exercises we've tried to do to make sure they know each other, they understand each other, they know a little background about each other.''