The theme of spring football practice under new head coach Will Muschamp has been learning the new systems on both sides of the ball.
Two-thirds of the way through the spring, the focus has shifted somewhat.
Muschamp and his staff are now working to make sure the Florida Gators football team knows exactly what to expect in a variety of different in-game situations.
“We’ve really worked a lot of situational work as far as red zone, third down, coming off the goal-line situations, end of game situations that come up,” he said Friday. “We’ve got a very experienced staff of guys that have come up with a lot of different situations that we’ll practice and go through.”
Florida lost two games last season due to poor execution late in games.
The Gators weren’t prepared for a fake field goal against LSU, and the Tigers managed to pick up a key first down on the fake to extend the eventual game-winning drive.
Against Mississippi State, Florida couldn’t manage to stop the run or get off the field on third downs, leaving its offense with too little time to mount a comeback and forcing a potential game-tying field goal that sailed wide right.
“In this league we’re going to have four or five games that come down to the end of the game, and you’ve got to be good at the end of the game,” Muschamp said. “We’re putting in as many situations as we can with our football team right now.”
Florida will scrimmage today and Muschamp said the team will work on more of situational plays.
But the teaching aspect for Muschamp doesn’t stop at simply getting his players to learn what to do in each situation the coaches put them in.
“What I told them today after practice is it’s not just learning what to do, learning why we do it is important, too,” Muschamp said. “When we call a play on 3rd-and-8, anticipate what call Charlie (Weis) is gonna call, anticipate what Dan (Quinn) is gonna call defensively.
“That’s what we need to start doing now as we progress forward is not just learning what to do, but learning why to do it and why we’re doing it that way in the situational football that comes up.”
So far, he’s been pleased with his players’ ability to soak up everything he’s thrown at them.
The retention on both sides of the ball has been better than he expected, and he’s been pleased with the effort in all but one of Florida’s spring practices.
“The guys are working very hard,” he said. “We’ve had great off days of watching film and learning. I think for the most part they’re paying attention to great detail in what we’re trying to do and learn what we do.”
Continued learning and understanding of the playbook and what the Gators want to do situationally will be the focus for the rest of the spring.
“That’s part of being a smart football team is understanding those situations,” he said. “That’s what we’re trying to teach right now.”