GAINESVILLE — The Will Muschamp era of Florida football officially begins today. With eight new staff members, the allotted 15 spring practices will be critical. "I can't sit here and tell you what we are going to be because we are not sure," Muschamp said. Here are five goals for Florida this spring.
1 IMPLEMENT A NEW OFFENSE: The Gators are moving away from Urban Meyer's spread offense and into a pro-style offense led by new offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. He has 15 days to see how many players fit into what he wants to do — and whether they have the ability to do it.
2 REBUILD THE OFFENSIVE LINE: Florida lost OLs Mike Pouncey, Maurice Hurt, Carl Johnson and Marcus Gilbert and will return just two — Jon Halapio, top right, and Xavier Nixon, bottom right — who saw significant playing time.
3 GROOM A BACKUP QUARTERBACK: Returning starter John Brantley, right, is battling for his job, but Weis noted he has one advantage over the others: experience. Florida needs Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy and Jacoby Brissett to learn the offense as quickly as Brantley and be able to run it effectively. Because as it stands, Brantley is the only QB who can say he has been in the fire in the SEC. Assuming he's the starter, Florida needs someone in a similar role to the one Tim Tebow played behind Chris Leak in 2006. With Florida's schedule, which includes Tennessee, Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Florida State, the Gators want more than one QB who can successfully run the offense.
4 ADJUST TO A NEW DEFENSE COORDINATOR: Dan Quinn is the Gators' second defensive coordinator in as many years. And if you think that change doesn't take time to adjust to, go back and look at some film from last season after the Gators lost Charlie Strong.
5 CREATE SOME CHEMISTRY: The Gators struggled with chemistry issues last season and friction between veterans and underachieving young players looking for stardom too soon. In navigating their way through new coaches and schemes, the players also need to find the bond that championship-caliber teams possess.
SCHEDULE: All practices are closed to the public. The Orange and Blue spring game will be held April 9 at noon. For ticket information, call toll-free 1-800-344-2867.
Antonya English, Times staff writer