Gators work through adverse situations

The Gators are a little more than a week into fall camp, and already head coach Will Muschamp is putting his team through drills that simulate situations in games.

“A lot of situation work in the last four or five practices,” Muschamp said Saturday. “Third down, coming out, a lot of special-teams emphasis of different situations that are going to come up in different games. Two-minute situations, end of game, down a touchdown, down two scores, down three points, putting the offense and defense in those situations.”

Florida scrimmaged for the first time Monday, and a good portion of the scrimmage was dedicated to putting the Gators through some adversity to see how they responded.

The new head coach thinks that’s the only way the coaching staff will know how the Gators will respond when the games actually begin this fall.

“We will have four or five games this year that will come down to the last drive of the game,” he said Tuesday. “We’ve got to execute in those situations. I think it was really important.”

The Gators are still trying to sort out the depth chart, but as things take shape, Muschamp and his staff are also making sure they’re ready to put the right players in the right position to win games.

After all, they are getting used to working together for the first time, too.

“We played three or four, I think it was actually four, end-of-game situations where we put time on the clock, we had to finish the game, make great decisions as a staff,” Muschamp said. “Us being a new staff together, I thought it was important for us to make some of those decisions: when we’re gonna bleed the clock, when we’re going to punt, those sorts of things.”

It didn’t go quite as well as Muschamp would have liked.

“(We) put our players in situations of centering the ball for a field goal,” he said. “We didn’t execute very well.”

The good news for Muschamp and the Gators is that there’s plenty of time to fix the problems before the season opener against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 3.

With two and a half weeks of practice to go, Muschamp and his staff will continue to put the team in tough situations it has to battle out of.

Along with the emphasis on situational work, the head coach has also mixed things up in terms of when the team practices.

The Gators began fall camp practicing early in the morning and late at night to avoid the brutal Gainesville heat.

Not anymore.

“Scrimmage yesterday, we had about 130 scrimmage snaps,” Muschamp said. “We did it purposely in the heat of the day. When we left the field it was about 118 on the heat index. We needed that to get out and play in the heat. That’s to our advantage here at Florida. We need to use that to our advantage playing in this heat.”

Even though Florida’s first two games are scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs, Muschamp said the Gators will be ready for anything: suffocating heat, scoring with time running down and making goal-line stands on defense.

Each situation tells him a little more about the Gators.

“We’re working through practice 13, practice 14,” Muschamp said. “You find out a lot about your leadership, especially when you face some adversity. We put them in some adverse situations on both sides of the ball yesterday, so you find out a lot about your football team at this time.”