NEW ORLEANS — With the Florida Gators preparing for the Sugar Bowl, coach Will Muschamp has sought to maintain a level of normalcy for his team.
Kickoff is set for 8:30 Wednesday night, making Monday a de facto Thursday in Florida’s weekly schedule. That, for the Gators, means doings things slightly different.
Throughout the season, as has been tradition for years, the Gators mix things up on Thursdays by switching jerseys. In something more likely found on an episode of The Twilight Zone than a Muschamp-ran practice, some players trade shirts with others, simply to have some fun.
Frankie Hammond Jr. becomes Frankie Patton. Omarius Hines becomes Omarius Schmitt.
Seemingly, confusion would abound, but Muschamp said he doesn’t mind the apparent wardrobe malfunctions as long as it does not interfere with the focus of the team.
“As long as they practice hard and practice smart and focus in on what they are supposed to do,” Muschamp said. “If they want to have a little fun with it, that’s fine with me.”
Allowing the exchange, however, does not necessarily mean Florida’s second-year coach understands its necessity.
“We didn’t really do it when I played,” Muschamp said. “I don’t really understand. I don’t know [why they do it.]”
As would be expected, there have been a few minor incidents during the season as confusion ensues. When players rotate from drill to drill with the wrong jersey on, coaches, at times, momentarily lose track of who is doing what.
The result has been a few misdirected verbal spats.
“[Muschamp] gets confused,” sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy said Monday. “He’s so used to seeing us in our jerseys. Today he got Mack Brown and (Andre) Debose mixed up.”
Allowing the changing of jerseys seems to promote little other than chaos and disorganization, things rarely allowed by Muschamp, who is known for his attention to detail.
But, said Hunter Joyer, a sophomore fullback, it is a trivial way to lighten the mood and have some fun following a grueling week of preparation and practice.
“It’s something we started … just to mess with the coaches,” Joyer said. “It’s worked for us.”
Muschamp said he appeases his players by allowing the trading of jerseys, but it isn’t something the coaching staff gets involved with.
Asked if he and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn ever swapped clothes or if the gray sweatshirt he was wearing at the time belonged to Quinn, Muschamp shot down the idea with a chuckle.
“This is my hair, too,” Muschamp said, taking a playful shot at the follically-challenged Quinn.