Will Muschamp met with the media bright and early on Monday morning to update the status of his football team. The Gators have practiced 19 times this fall and some of the long-waited position battles have begun to finally become clear.
Will Muschamp was candid when discussing the depth chart on Monday, giving clarity to what we will see in The Swamp on August 31.
This might be the worst kept secret among the position battles. The very first week of camp, Muschamp singled out Cody Riggs as a player who has stepped up and distanced himself. The next week we started hearing about Marcus Maye and today, Muschamp made it seem as if the two starting spots had been locked up already.
“Marcus Maye and Cody are guys that I think have taken a step forward,” Muschamp said. “Jabari Gorman has played extremely well. We’ve got three guys that we feel good about but Cody also plays the nickel. Right now with Vernon being hurt, Brian Poole and Cody can both play the nickel and we’re going to need both those guys, especially early in the year. Those three guys, Jabari, Marcus and Cody have all kind of distanced themselves at the safety position.”
Riggs is the best coverage man that Florida has at safety. He has made 14 career starts while seeing action in 28 games. He is the most veteran option Florida has at safety spot currently. Maye is an extremely talented, athletic safety who has been impressive all camp.
The surprise here is Gorman – who has looked bad both open practices – but earned praise from Muschamp on Monday.
The depth chart at linebacker won’t be done shifting until Antonio Morrison comes back and takes over the middle linebacker position. Muschamp updated the unit today and the depth chart reads as follows.
Weakside linebacker: Neiron Ball, Darrin Kitchens, Jarrad Davis
Middle linebacker: Mike Taylor, Alex Anzalone
Strongside linebacker: Ronald Powell, Daniel McMillian
This is a far cry from what had been reported up until this point. McMillian was playing Will linebacker and had an opportunity to start, while Ball was slowly moving from Sam to Mike and now, all the way over to Will – where he is apparently starting. The whole position group will likely be shuffled around again when Morrison comes back but there was no update on Morrison’s suspension and he is still slated to miss the first two games.
If you though that linebacker was a surprise, wait until you hear how the chips are falling in the backfield. With Matt Jones return date still unknown, the Gators have been working out a slew of running backs this fall and they even brought over Valdez Showers from defense to help the offense out.
“Mack Brown and Mark Herndon and Valdez Showers would be the three guys right now as the young guys continue to develop,” Will Muschamp said when asked who would step in for Jones if he were unable to play against Toledo.
Muschamp elaborated as to why the two freshmen running backs were falling behind.
“Number one is ball security. You’ve got to take care of the football. That’s the number one thing. They’re very talented runners, so much more goes into it other than just running the football,” Muschamp continued, “They’re both talented runners, but it’s not about carrying the ball. We like to make sure the quarterback is protected.”
Muschamp said that both Lane and Taylor would help out on offense this season but how much they would contribute would be up to them, they will need to continue to develop.
With a running back who has 40 career carries, a converted safety and a walk-on leading the depth chart at tailback, the Gators can’t wait to get No. 24 back healthy and carrying the rock.