The Florida Gators made the turn and are heading down the back nine of spring practice. With a scrimmage and eight practices under their belt, we’re officially more than halfway done with 2014 spring practice.
Will Muschamp met with the media on Tuesday to recap the weather shortened scrimmage and detail how his team has looked through the first half of spring camp.
Orange and Blue Debut
- The most exciting news of the day for fans might be that Muschamp and the Gators plan to run a traditional spring game.
- Last season — with just six healthy offensive linemen — Florida had to scrap the traditional spring game and go with a practice instead. This year, Muschamp plans to pit the first team offense against the first team defense and the second team offense vs. the second team defense.
I want good on good. I want to see the best players going against the best players and being able to as a staff match up guys that we know we need to find out things about.”
- Keanu Neal was expected back at practice on Monday but was held out by Muschamp. Neal’s hamstring injury is about 90 percent healthy and Muschamp felt like the risk of re-injury in practice No. 8 wasn’t worth not having the safety for the spring game.
I felt like he wanted to go. We held him to just make sure this thing’s completely healed before we get you back and strain on that right now. He needs to be a part of the spring game. He needs to get in front of the crowd and play. He needs to be in practices 10, 11, 12 and 13. I didn’t want to lose him another day.”
- Rod Johnson has yet to be cleared from what was described as a “head injury.” The team hopes to have him back on Wednesday.
- Chris Thompson has been cleared; he was also out with a “head injury.”
- Andre Debose returned to practice on Monday. He will be in a non-contact jersey throughout the rest of spring.
Offense Shines in Scrimmage
- Muschamp said the offense moved the ball well and he credited that to veteran leadership at quarterback and the offensive line.
- The running backs had a good scrimmage. Mark Herndon was praised for his consistency, with Muschamp saying, “you know what you’re going to get all the time,” with Herndon.
- Kelvin Taylor continues to take the bulk of the first-team reps at running back, Muschamp says Taylor has become more confident and improved as a pass-blocker.
- Brandon Powell is sitting out spring practice with a foot injury but he continues to be a player that the coaching staff mentions when asked about the running back position. Powell was explosive in high school and is a good fit for the offense.
- Trip Thurman will begin to take more reps at center. This isn’t a move due to poor play from Max Garcia or Cam Dillard; rather a move to make sure Thurman gets some reps at the position because Florida would like to feel comfortable with three centers.
- Muschamp praised Tyler Moore for playing through an elbow injury. The coaching staff wasn’t sure that Moore would even be available for the spring but the right guard hasn’t missed a snap.
- The receiver made headlines after enrolling early and shining in the spring of 2013. He failed to make an impact last fall because he had a hard time staying on the field, getting suspended for a violation of team rules twice.
- Robinson is shining again this spring but his play on the field isn’t the story, his maturation off the field should be and it’s an area where his head coach sees improvement.
I think again, sometimes maturing a little bit. We mature different times. I think we’ve seen some strides there. I’ve been pleased to this point.”
- Muschamp has seen other players take Robinson under their wings and he referenced the basketball team as a good model for how he would like his team to handle themselves.
When you have a mature football team, they understand some guys need more help than others. Helping those guys on and off the field. A great example I tell our football team is our basketball team. You look at those guys and how they handle each other, the growth process of Prather, Wilbekin and Young and those guys through the years, they’re now seniors. What they’ve been through, now they’re reaping the benefits of what they’ve done.”