Florida Gators football coach Will Muschamp handled nearly a dozen interviews in less than a five-hour span as part of ESPN’s “car wash” with other Southeastern Conference coaches on Tuesday.
Of course, Florida’s offense was a hot topic for the second-year Gators’ skipper. Many questions were about the quarterback battle between sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel.
“We can win with both guys,” Muschamp said. “Both Jeff and Jacoby are outstanding quarterbacks. They have the intangibles to be successful. They have a skill set that’s very similar, so we’re not repping two offenses.”
That’s positive news because timing is key for any offense to click, whether it’s linemen gaining familiarity with a quarterback’s cadence or handoffs to running backs or pass routes to receivers. Operating the same offense helps, but Muschamp said he hopes to name a starter when the time is right for the team.
“I wish I could name a QB right now for you,” Muschamp said during a Twitter chat segment where fans could submit questions.
“We will do whatever we need to do to win football games at the U of Florida,” he added.
Muschamp went into a little more detail in another interview.
“Someone needs to create some separation in fall camp as far as managing our football team, and I don’t mean in a conservative manner,” Muschamp said. “I mean making vertical plays down the field, taking care of the football, scoring points, moving our offense and for our team to have confidence in there.
“I’m going to be watching that very closely in August.”
In virtually every interview on the various multimedia platforms, Muschamp spoke about his confidence in first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease. When asked what he wants the makeup of the offense to “feel like,” Muschamp offered a response UF fans have often heard since Pease’s hiring on Jan. 11.
“Be more balanced, be able to run the ball when we need to,” Muschamp said. “Late in games last year, we were unable to maintain possession of the ball. We couldn’t run the ball and we put the defense on the field way too long.
“We were 1 of 7 in three SEC ball games we lost last year in the red zone in scoring touchdowns, and that could be the difference in three or four games.”
Just as he said at SEC Media Days last week, Muschamp said he’s happy with Ronald Powell’s progress. The junior is recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) he suffered in the spring. He has been cleared to lift weights and do straight-line running.
Notwithstanding, Powell likely will miss a few games. Exactly when he returns remains a mystery, meaning Muschamp will need to fill the void while Powell’s sidelined.
“Man-down theory — somebody needs to step up,” Muschamp said. “We’re getting Neiron Ball back. Lerentee McCray is a guy that we feel like can fill in there and we may have some freshman help us out at that position.”
The two freshmen are likely Dante Fowler Jr. and Alex McCalister. Both arrived on campus for UF’s Summer B session and will begin fall camp on Aug. 3.
Muschamp didn’t sound like Florida will go too hard after any Penn State players, at least not after doing a little of research first.
“You’ve got to be very careful. We are very close to the season right now,” Muschamp said. “Our players have worked really hard and I love the chemistry in our locker room right now. So you can disrupt your football team very easily by bringing someone in from the outside who is not the right fit.”
The NCAA lifted its usual transfer rules in light of the stiff sanctions it hammered the Nittany Lions’ program with on Monday.
After last season’s 7-6 finish, Muschamp talked about how “hungry” his team is to get back on the field. He’s “excited about the foundation” for success that has been built to this point, but knows there is a long way to go before meeting the Gator Nation’s expectations.
“Our expectations every year is to go to Atlanta and play for a championship,” Muschamp said. “But we’re 15-11 in the last two years at the University of Florida, so I’m not asking anybody to be patient, (but) let’s be realistic about where we are.”
Muschamp hit below the byline with this jab at the coverage by recruiting websites. It’s important to note that recruiting is the only aspect of college sports the UAA/IMG-owned website is not allowed to cover due to NCAA rules.
“For as much information out there, there is so much misinformation,” Muschamp said. “It’s amazing to see some of these recruiting sites. You never know what may be true or what may not be true. I’ll have our recruiting guys come to me and say ‘Well, we’ve heard this.’ And I’m thinking, ‘That never even happened.’
“There is a lot of misinformation in the recruiting world and a lot of people making a lot of money off of it.”
• For the second straight year, UF’s plane picked up former Florida and current South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier on its way to Bristol, Conn. “He’s enjoying riding with the Gators,” Muschamp said.
• Muschamp on whether he felt pressure as a coach: “The pressure is what you put on yourself. I really don’t think I have a stressful job. No one made you signed up to do this … there’s not a day, even after a hard loss, that I got to work that I don’t enjoy going to work and representing the University of Florida.”