Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp sees progress from spring practice

GAINESVILLE — Florida concludes its 15th and final practice of the spring football season today with the annual Orange and Blue game, and coach Will Muschamp expects fans to see a vastly improved group of players but, overall, a team that remains a work in progress.

What has developed over the past three weeks, the Gators said, is an improving offensive line, players making a serious run at filling the hole left by the departure of running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, and defensive players who have a better understanding of the scheme and what is expected of them.

"Last spring ball everything was new to us," linebacker Jelani Jenkins said. "We were thinking, we were trying to figure out how to play in the 3-4 defense. Now it was just like three months ago we were playing in the Swamp and going full speed with it. So I think that we're all able to play faster, we're not thinking so much and now we're able to work on the little things and just tighten some things up. We've got some new guys, and we're trying to help them come along. It definitely helps having one year under our belt."

What fans won't see is an exact replica of the offense. Because no matter what happens in today's game, the Gators will spend the next four months with this lingering question: "Who's the starting quarterback?"

"We will go into fall camp (still undecided)," Muschamp said of the competition between sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. "Both guys are guys we can win with. That's the bottom line. And that's good for us. Both guys are competing at a high level, in my opinion. They both have done outstanding things throughout the spring, I'm very pleased with their progress — just managing our football team, getting in and out of the huddle, taking a command of the offense. And both of them are working extremely hard off the field. They are always in the building watching film and doing things you've got to do to be successful."

But they have yet to separate themselves, which is what new offensive coordinator Brent Pease said he was hoping for.

And while Mike Gillislee is the likely starting running back, several others are still vying for time, including Omarius Hines, who has moved over from receiver, another position that has serious question marks.

But unlike last year, depth has allowed the Gators to have what Muschamp termed a more successful spring, complete with increased competition, the development of a more physical defense and the rebuilding of an offensive line under a new coach who will try to get more out of this veteran group.

"We've had a lot more contact, a lot more working on good fundamentals and those sort of things," Muschamp said. "We've been able to because of our numbers. … I think competition at positions helps. When you've got some depth and you've got some guys, and you've got a guy that knows somebody can take his position, that's the best motivator there is, competition. So obviously with better depth, that's helped us. That's been the No. 1 motivating factor."

For those still battling for jobs, even an outstanding afternoon today won't automatically secure the position. After all, Muschamp said, it's just one of 15 practices. But can players help themselves? Without a doubt.

"Sure it does (help), in the long run of winning the job," he said. "But it's not going to be D-day either, to say this guy had one good day compared to the other 14 days of competing."

Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp sees progress from spring practice 04/06/12 [Last modified: Friday, April 6, 2012 11:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Volkov hopes to prove his surprise selection right


    RW Alexander Volkov was not a particularly talked-about player in the lead up to the NHL entry draft.

  2. Competition and uncertainty keep New Port Richey's Steve Miklos hooked on power boat racing


    HOLIDAY — If Steve Miklos could have it his way, every power boat race would take place in rough water. He finds the turbulent conditions calming, an attitude he's developed during a professional power boat racing career that spans hundreds of races dating back to 1991.

    Steve Miklos, the throttle man and owner of the No. 51 Sun Print Racing boat, poses at his shop in Holiday. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Did a Cubs player give Trump the middle finger during a White House visit?


    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on …

    President Donald Trump welcomed former Rays manager Joe Maddon and the World Series champion Chicago Cubs into the Oval Office. But it was a photo that surfaced later that got much of the attention on social media.
The photo, taken by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times, purportedly shows outfielder Albert Almora Jr. flipping a bird while standing just feet from Trump as the other players were gathered around his desk. [Gordon Wittenmyer via Twitter]
  4. Jeff Vinik contributing $6 million to fund Lightning's practice facility upgrade


    With free agency beginning Saturday, Lightning GM Steve Yzerman will have another selling point in the courting process.

    The plan will create a brand new locker room and training facilities for the team, an 18,000 square foot addition.
  5. Buccaneers defense was among NFL's best when its pressure got to the QB


    It doesn't matter how many times they've thrown a football. It doesn't matter how many seasons they've played. It doesn't matter whether they have a degree from Harvard or Central Florida.

    Bucs defensive tackle Gerald McCoy recorded 6.5 sacks last season, but many of his other contributions didn't show up in the box scores. [ANDRES LEIVA   |   Times]