Muschamp: Video games help prepare freshman

Florida Gators coach Will Muschamp isn’t into video games much. In fact, he referred to them as “SEGA” when he was asked about the latest gaming systems while meeting with the media on Thursday as his team prepares to play Missouri on Saturday at noon in The Swamp.

SEGA announced on Jan. 31, 2001, that it was ceasing operations as far as its “home console” business. In Muschamp’s defense. SEGA is still publishing software, including a football-simulated game called “Football Manager 2013” that, ironically, is scheduled to be released on Friday for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X.

Regardless, Muschamp sees how video games have helped teach young football players some aspects of the game and agreed it was one of the reasons freshman are arriving on campus more football-savvy than ever.

“I mean my 11-year-old likes to tell me what we ought to be doing — So does everybody else.” Muschamp said with a smile. “Most of his ideas come from SEGA or

whatever he plays.”

Muschamp said he plays football-type games with his sons, the 11-year-old Jackson and the seven-year-old Whit. He admitted he “loses a lot.”

“I don’t know. Maybe I’m not very good with my hand-eye coordination,” Muschamp said. “Jackson’s really good. I can still beat Whit, but he’s 7. So that’s not much of a thing to brag about.”

At first, Muschamp declined to say video games have helped teach young football players the game. When pressed, he admitted there was a correlation.

“I think as much as anything it’s getting guys to think about football when they’re not supposed to or when they’re not being told to. I think I would agree to that,” Muschamp said. “From that standpoint that they’re thinking about the lead play or two-deep coverage or whatever. Yeah, I would think that, I would agree to that.

“When they’re thinking about football when they don’t have to, I go back to when I was growing up there in the living room with your dad talking about the game, talking about two-minute situations, why do we call timeout here. It’s things like that you know.”

Absolutely. All of the football video game playing world knows. They know the formations and plays on games like NCAA Football simulate actual football in ways that are uncanny.

Muschamp has played several true freshman this season, especially on defense where Buck end/linebacker Dante Fowler Jr., defensive end Jonathan Bullard and linebacker Anotnio Morrison have earned starts.

“Hard to play as a freshman in any situation much less the SEC,” Muschamp said. “I think (Fowler Jr. has) been very productive. You look at him and Jon Bullard, and Antonio Morrison all of those guys have been very productive for true freshmen.

“Been very pleased with what they have been able to accomplish.”

More than video games, Muschamp said the way plays are broken down on TV shows on ESPN and the NFL Network have helped prepare players to play earlier than usual. He also said more sophisticated offensive and defensive schemes are being run at the high school level.

“The players are exposed to a lot more now, not necessarily just in their high schools, but things they see on TV and understanding a little bit more,” Muschamp said. “It’s amazing to hear that some of the kids don’t watch much college football when you talk to them about games and all.

“I grew up sitting in a living room with my dad if I wasn’t at Florida Field watching the Gators, watching the game and talking about the game. I think the sophistication level on the high school level certainly helps a guy when he gets to be able to handle more concepts.”

Another thing that has sped along the development of true freshman is the NCAA now allowing schools to pay summer school tuition as well as more players enrolling early for the spring semester.

“Now when these young men are on campus in the summer, they’re able to work with the other players,” Muschamp said. “They have a huge head start on scheme when they start in August.

“That, to me, puts them further ahead as much as anything else.”

Even video games.

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Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.