Spring is in the air and the Gators are just over a week from officially closing the book on 2013 and beginning preparation for the 2014 football campaign. As with just about every program in the country, Florida is optimistic about their team as they prepare for 15 practices this spring before heading into the summer.
Will Muschamp is entering his fourth season as Florida’s head man and as most offseason have gone since he’s been at the helm, there is a lot of turnover on the coaching staff — namely at offensive coordinator.
Kurt Roper will bring a spread, up-tempo offense to Gainesville and that has the fans, players and coaches excited about what the future holds in Gainesville.
With just over a week until spring kicks off, Muschamp met with the media to give a run down of the team, position changes, injury updates and schematic changes before practice gets underway.
- Matt Jones is progressing from knee surgery and will be cleared on May 1. Jones won’t participate in spring practice.
- Matt Rolin — coming back from his second ACL surgery — will also be cleared May 1.
- Alex Anzalone (shoulder) will be cleared May 1.
- Jeremi Powell (ACL) should be cleared by June 1.
- Freshman running back Brandon Powell had a foot injury from high school that required surgery. Powell is expected to be cleared by the end of spring ball but will be non-contact upon his return.
- Leon Orr will miss spring practice with a fractured wrist that he sustained at some point during the 2013 season according to Muschamp.
- Freshman OL Nolan Kelleher has a back injury from high school and he has not been cleared for spring practice. There is no timetable for when he will be able to participate.
- Colin Thompson has not been cleared to practice with his chronic foot injury.
Colin Thomson has not been cleared because of foot issues. The last opinion we got is that he needed to shut it down completely and we’ll have another opinion when spring is over but he will not partake in spring.”
- Andre Debose (ACL) will be back March 28. Debose will be non-contact this spring but has progressed well through his rehab.
Shaking up the Offensive Line
- The biggest move on the offensive line is moving left guard Max Garcia inside to center. Garcia will try to replace three-year starter Jonotthan Harrison.
- Cam Dillard and Trip Thurman will back up Garcia this spring.
- Muschamp said that for the first time since he enrolled D.J. Humphries has been able to keep his weight above 290-pounds. Humphries only played in half of the games last season but being able to maintain a heavier weight is something that he has worked hard at and a good sign moving forward.
- Chaz Green (shoulder) is fully cleared for spring practice, as is Tyler Moore. Green will work at tackle, while Moore will slide inside permanently.
- Rod Johnson has worked at both guard and tackle positions but Muschamp says they like the redshirt freshman at left tackle right now. He will compete with Humphries there.
- Trenton Brown will work at both tackle and guard this spring.
- Muschamp expects to have 10-11 healthy offensive linemen this spring.
- Muschamp said the Florida offense is going through a “drastic change schematically.”
- Florida will use a lot more shotgun formations under Roper and Muschamp detailed how successful Florida was running out of the shotgun last season and acknowledged that it helps Jeff Driskel as a runner.
- Muschamp hopes to have a conventional spring game this season and if the 10-11 offensive linemen can stay healthy that could still be an option.
I want to have a spring game every year. Last year I just didn’t feel like it was fair with six offensive linemen healthy to put those guys through that. You know, I want to have a spring game. I have all plans to have a spring game every year. I think it’s important for those guys to get out in front of that crowd, the coaches off the field, and make them make calls and communicate and produce. There’s no question. I want to have a spring game every year.”
- Asked why Florida was opening more practices this season, Muschamp joked that he has friends in Gainesville that wanted to come and watch practice. While Muschamp still believes that opening practices can lead to a competitive disadvantage, Kurt Roper was fine with it and Muschamp felt it would be a good move for the program as a whole.
We’ve got great fans and I’m very appreciate of their support. I’ve had people reach out to me and say, ‘hey, we’d like to be able to have more access to the team.’ We’re really kind of set in what we do defensively. We are what we are. We are going to make subtle changes based on our personnel. We are what we are on special teams. Kurt and I sat down when I made the decision with Steve a couple weeks back and I said, ‘you have any issue with us opening practice?’ He said, ‘I don’t have any issue with what we’re doing.’ I think it’s best for our program at this time to do that.”