The ultimatum has been laid out.
You have 12 practices, wide receivers. Show Will Muschamp and the coaching staff what you can do or find a good spot to watch from the sidelines while Loucheiz Purifoy does your job for you.
“The way I’ve got it planned is he [Purifoy] will go the first 12 days strictly on defense,” Muschamp said. “I want to see how these young wide outs continue to develop.”
Following a breakout sophomore season at cornerback, Purifoy began the spring on the offensive side of the ball. In what may be a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul, Muschamp chose to move one of his most talented cornerbacks to offense in an effort to inject some life and electricity into a stagnant passing attack.
“He’s an electric guy, he’s got no fear on the field, he’s got really good ball skills, he’s got vertical speed down the field, he can do some things for us,” Muschamp said of Purifoy. “I was really pleased with his first seven days [of spring practice] at the receiver position, so now he has a base learning, concepts-wise, of what we are offensively, so that helps him.”
Purifoy played sparingly as a wide receiver in 2012. He was limited in what he could do on game day due in part to not having extensive time at the position and a limited knowledge of the playbook. The key on offense for him was learning what the offense was trying to accomplish on each play. The effort was made this spring to have him start on offense at the beginning of spring while Brent Pease and the coaching staff worked on scheme and fundamentals.
“The first seven days of spring were simply teaching the concepts,” Muschamp said on Wednesday. “We know what he can do at corner, we know he’s going to play corner for us next year. Give Brian Poole and some other guys more reps at that position, but also teach him [Purifoy] the base concepts of our offense.”
While the coaches were encouraged with what they saw out of Purifoy on the offensive side of the ball, they’re not ready to move one of their most talented cornerbacks to offense full-time – yet.
“We want to see what those guys [the receivers] can do in scrimmage situations, in ball situations,” Muschamp said. “We will have more scrimmage snaps in the fall than we did a year ago because of spring. Because we need to put our guys under a little more duress as opposed to maybe what we did a year ago in scrimmage snaps.”
For the first time in a long time, Florida will have plenty of options at receiver. With a recruiting class that brings in five new players to match with guys like Quinton Dunbar, Latroy Pittman, Andre Debose and Solomon Patton, there isn’t a lack of talent or bodies at the position. Muschamp and Pease will use those first 12 practices in the fall to gauge what they have in the new players and also to see how the older guys have developed throughout the summer.
In Muschamp’s opinion, having Purifoy at receiver from day one would only take away from the potential progress that the receivers could make.
“I want to find out what those guys can do as they continue to develop within our offense and then the young guys coming in and see where they are. A guy may catch your eye and you know, hey, game five you may be a contributor for us,” Muschamp said. “So we need to give him more time. In my opinion, you put Loucheiz over there in practice one; you’re going to be getting Loucheiz ready for some things and that’s not what we need to do. We need to develop the depth at the position and find out who we can move forward [with].”
If the fall turns out like spring practice and nobody steps up to seize the coaches’ confidence, it will be Purifoy that they turn to.
Call it a challenge, perhaps, or even an ultimatum. Just don’t call it a ploy to motivate the wide receivers.
“I hope it’s not motivation,” Muschamp said. “I hope they’re self starters and they want to go out and compete and be huge contributors. And I think we have the ability.”
If they do have the ability, they have exactly 100 days to show it. There are 98 days until fall camp opens up and they’ll have 12 more after that to show the coaching staff that the offense, and receivers in particular, are ready to step up.