Continuing his summer speaking tour, Will Muschamp was in Orlando tonight to speak with the Central Florida Gator Club. Florida’s head coach was engaging, funny and entertaining in front of a very large and enthusiastic crowd.
In typical Muschamp fashion, the head coach opened the night with a 29-minute speech, where it could be debated whether he even took a breath in between words. He touched on every single position on the team; singling players out for their work ethic and answered questions from the crowd of more than 500 Gator fans.
The media got a chance to meet with Muschamp before the event began. Here are the highlights from our chat with Coach Muschamp.
- Muschamp has enjoyed the speaking tour this year. He said the fans are energized and excited because they see the positive direction the team is headed in.
- When asked about Brent Pease getting a contract extension Muschamp said: “He did an outstanding job. Part of being a really good coach, in my opinion, is identifying who you are and understanding who you are. Understanding what your football team can do rather than asking them to do something they can’t do. That’s something I saw Brent and our offensive staff do throughout the entire season.”
- Muschamp said that Miami is a rivalry that goes back to the days when he grew up in Gainesville. However, he doesn’t think Florida needs to schedule blockbuster out of conference opponents. “Our strength of schedule within the Southeastern Conference is sufficient.”
- Muschamp said he understands why people have had issues with the BCS but he thinks that the system has done a good enough job finding the two best teams in the country.
- Muschamp is concerned that with the new playoff system there could be “obvious biases” with whoever is selected to the selection committee.
- Muschamp said that he and Dwyer head coach Jack Daniels have talked within the last month and that there is no bad blood there.
- Muschamp said they have evaluated the team after spring but there is a lot of time between spring and fall camp. Players have the opportunity to either get a lot better or regress; it’s up to them.
- Muschamp was asked about Bob Stoops saying a lot of the SEC hype is “propaganda.”: “I’d be saying the same thing if I was in the Big 12. I was saying it for three years.”
- Muschamp called Joker Phillips a “stabilizing presence” with the receivers who have had a lot of turnover with the coaching staff during their careers.
- Muschamp said that Jeff Choate fits in perfectly with the coaching staff and he is happy to have him on board.
- When asked how the Big 12 compares to the SEC now that he has been a coach in both leagues for a while. Muschamp laughed before saying, “I’m going to let that one go.”
- I asked Muschamp how he compared to the rest of the coaches as far as being on Twitter and if he though that Joker Phillips was the MVP of the coaches Twitter team. Muschamp laughed and said, “He’s certainly in the starting five. I’m still coming off the bench.”
- Muschamp did say that he believed Twitter can be an important avenue for the coaching staff in their attempt to reach out to recruits.
Here are the highlights from Will Muschamp’s opening statement and his answers to questions from the fans.
- The bar/restaurant where the event was held was three stories with balconies looking out over the stage where Muschamp was standing. Muschamp opened the night by saying he was glad that the team won 11 games last year or else “this would have been a very dangerous place to be tonight.”
- Muschamp called Danny Wuerffel to congratulate him on being named to the 2013 College Football Hall of Fame class. Muschamp said he told Danny that he (Muschamp) played a huge part in Wuerffel being so successful because he played defensive back at Georgia during that time and made things easy on Danny.
- Muschamp said that they’re excited about the progress Andre Debose has made. He also said the coaching staff needs to find more creative ways to get Debose the ball.
- Muschamp said he was excited about the progress that Jeff Driskel has made and the progress they expect him to continue to make moving forward.
- He said that the team needs to play better around him. That goes for the wide receivers, offensive line, running backs and tight ends.
- Muschamp talked for several minutes about Jeremy Brown and the struggles that he has faced with injuries. Brown already graduated but Muschamp said that Brown told him he wanted to come back and prove that he can play football at a high level. Muschamp took a subtle shot at the players who have transferred by saying Brown didn’t take the easy way out by leaving.
- Matt Elam drew praise from the Baltimore Raven’s staff for how well he communicated on the field. Muschamp said that is a testament to Florida’s coaching staff and how they develop players on the team.
- Muschamp said that the eight come from behind wins really shows how strong the teams’ character is. It’s easy to pack it in when you’re losing a game but the Gators don’t do that.
- Muschamp singled players out for stepping into leadership roles
- On offense: Jon Harrison, Jon Halapio, Jeff Driskel, Matt Jones,
- On defense: Antonio Morrison, Dominique Easley
- Muschamp said that this time, the time between spring and fall camp, is when the coaching staff needs players to step up and become leaders. There’s 85 days until the coaching staff can get back with the team and they need to hold themselves accountable.
- Muschamp said that Purifoy will spend 14-16 practices in the fall on offense but that “If we give him [Purifoy] to Brent on day one, we’ll never get him back [on defense.]
- When asked about penalties, Muschamp made the distinction between undisciplined penalties and penalties that occur from playing hard, tough, physical football.
- Undisciplined penalties like lining up offsides, false starts, and personal fouls after the whistle all need to stop.
- Muschamp singled out Vernon Hargreaves and Nick Washington as two freshmen that will play early. Personally I think Hargreaves could steal a starting corner back spot and he will absolutely play in the nickel and dime packages.
- Muschamp continued to express concern about the safety position. Muschamp said the young guys (Marcell Harris and Keanu Neal) would get an opportunity to play early.
- Muschamp likes the progress of the defensive line (what’s there not to like about it).
- Muschamp gave D.J. Humphries one goal this offseason. “Get Fat.” Humphries played last season around 260 pounds. He is around 285 right now and will continue trying to get to around 300 pounds.
- Depth at linebacker is a concern. There is no doubt that there is a lot of depth there, especially with the additions from the recruiting class, but that is inexperienced depth. Muschamp believes that they have recruited the right character of player to play right away.
- Muschamp tells every freshman that they will determine how much they play. If they show that they’re the best at their position, they’ll start.
- Bryan Cox and Alex McCalister were singled out as two players who have improved a lot in the offseason.