Florida coach Will Muschamp was extremely vocal Wednesday night about how poorly the Gators played in their afternoon scrimmage, and the fiery, determined-looking head coach left his post-scrimmage press conference promising his team was “going to get after it” Thursday.
The handful of Florida players that met with the media before today’s practice seemed to be taking the head coach’s comments in stride.
“He seemed a little bit upset because some plays went wrong, some people didn’t know what they were supposed to be doing,” sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley said. “He just wants us to know that we’re not who we supposed to be yet, and we’re going to be there soon. We’ve just got to keep going at it.”
The three Gators who met with the media Thursday afternoon didn’t seem nearly as concerned as Muschamp did.
Easley was one of the players who Muschamp said “flashed” some good playmaking ability at the scrimmage, and he felt he played well personally.
“From my perspective, everything went good,” Easley said. “Obviously some things were bad. Certain things were bad, but the way I look at it, everything went good.”
Easley recognized Muschamp’s displeasure with the scrimmage but said he thinks the team is far ahead of where it was when it opened fall camp, and that’s a promising sign to him.
“We’ve gotten way better since the first two scrimmages,” he said. “We’re not perfect yet, but we will be there soon.”
Senior running back Jeff Demps was a little more critical of his team’s performance than Easley.
He mentioned some of the same things Muschamp did as things that stood out to him as problems that need to be fixed before Florida’s Sept. 3 season opener against Florida Atlantic.
“It went okay,” Demps said. “We definitely can get better mentally and physically. We’re going to come out today, have a better practice and improve on a lot of stuff.”
Like Muschamp, the speedy running back saw people taking things a little too lightly in some of the drills the team went through Wednesday.
“We run a lot of situations at the end of practice and some guys are locked in more than other guys,” he said. “For instance, like a two-minute drill you have guys jogging around not playing with a sense of urgency.”
Demps said he felt like Muschamp’s angry rant Wednesday night was simply his way of letting his team know to stay dialed in and that the team still has things to work on to accomplish its goals.
“I think he’s just not happy with us because he’s holding us at a high standard,” Demps said. “He probably feels like we’re not there yet and we’ve got a long way to go.”
Asked how he felt if the team would be ready to play a game tonight, Demps was fairly non-committal.
It sounded clear he thought the team still needed some work.
“As far as just mentally being there, I’m not sure,” he said.
Junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter felt similarly about where the team is at. The scrimmage reinforced the Gators need some more work.
“I think both sides of the ball could have did a little bit better,” he said. “We’ve still got to come together as a team a little bit more and be mentally sharper on our plays, but it was okay.”
Hunter plans to make sure he’s one of the guys Muschamp can refer to next time he’s pointing out players who stood out as leaders or players doing things the right way.
The big defensive tackle has taken on a leadership role on the defense, and he’s going to embrace that role on the practice field now that his head coach has voiced his displeasure.
“I kind of look at myself as a leader,” Hunter said. “I’m kind of older, I’ve been through a lot more things than these younger guys have been through. Grabbing younger guys and kind of pulling them the right way, I like that.”
Hunter knows what he took away from Muschamp’s impassioned speech. He’s got a clear goal for the team today in practice.
“We’ve just got to get better. We’ve got to come out today and practice harder.”