SEC call: Muschamp says he's looking for leaders
Published: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 2:16 p.m.
All 12 SEC head football coaches took part in a media teleconference Wednesday to give their views on their respective spring practices, and Florida's Will Muschamp was upbeat about what he saw from his first Gator squad.
“We were pleased how the spring ended,” he said. “It was a little frustrating with running a little thin on both lines of scrimmage. Having some injuries obviously on the offensive side for the spring game wasn't exactly the way we wanted to end it up, but we got both sides of the ball with a lot of installation done.
“I'm pleased with what we're doing offensively. (Offensive coordinator) Charlie (Weis) does an outstanding job; defensively, (coordinator) Dan Quinn has done a really nice job with our players; and D.J. Durkin is running our special teams. I'm pleased with the progress we've made as far as the installation and identifying the playmakers on both sides of the ball. We've just got to continue to build depth on our football team.”
Quite a few projected starters missed the spring with injuries, but Muschamp expects everyone on the list ready to go by the time fall practices start in August.
“(Offensive tackle) Matt (Patchan, wrist) has been cleared for lifting,” Muschamp said. “He just couldn't have any contact on his hand, but he's going to be fine. All of the guys who were injured, we expect to be full-speed by the first of June, to my knowledge.
“With all of the injury situations, none of them were very serious. They were almost all a two- or three-week deal. I think (running back) Mack Brown (broken leg) was the only one who was not, and he is due to be cleared by June 22, so we should be full-bore going into August.”
Muschamp noted that while a few players did step forward as leaders, he is expecting a lot more in that respect before the season opener.
“That's still something we're still trying to identify,” he said. “We've got a good plan with (strength and conditioning coach) Mickey (Marotti) in the weight room to really work on developing leadership. You can't sit here and say ‘We don't have leadership.' It's your job to develop it. I look at what West Point does for our military as far as developing leadership. That's part of what we do, though obviously we don't want to do it the exact same way that they do. But we've got to develop that on our football team.
“I do feel like (linebackers) Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins both had good springs. Both those guys are good football players who do things the right way on and off the field, and I was pleased with what they did. We've got to have more guys step up. (Defensive ends) Willie Green and Lerentee McCray did a nice job, and inside I thought (defensive tackles) Shariff Floyd and Dominique Easley are coming along for us. But we've got to build more of that on that side of the ball.”
Muschamp said he saw a lot of positives on offense as well.
“John Brantley had a good spring for us,” he said. “I'm real pleased with where he is in directing the offense. The kids have a lot of confidence in him. Deonte Thompson, from a leadership standpoint, does a nice job at the receiver position. (Offensive linemen) Xavier Nixon, Jon Harrison and Jon Halapio would be the three up front that I would identify as good leaders as far as work ethic and what they do.
“At the running back position, I think Chris Rainey and Trey Burton really had good springs. (Tight end) Jordan Reed is a young player we're really excited about, but again, from a leadership standpoint, we need to take some strides.”
Muschamp feels too much is being made of Brantley's spring game performance.
“We put a lot on the quarterback in our system, and I'm really pleased with his poise, his leadership, his habits off the field in studying what we need to do to be successful – getting us in the right runs and the right protections – he's got the ability. I don't think in the spring game John had much of a chance. We played well up front defensively and we had a lot of moving parts up front offensively, so John didn't have a whole lot of chances. Heck, I was standing behind him and saw it coming pretty fast.
“But again, I was very pleased with his spring and what he did in terms of the command of what we're doing. Now, he needs to have a great offseason, and I've challenged him. It's going to be his role to make sure that we handle the offseason in the right way in the seven-on-seven and team drills where coaches cannot be involved. That's really where your leadership has got to develop. John's got to have a huge part in that, and I think he will.”
Muschamp also addressed the recent releases of freshmen wide receivers Javares McRoy and Chris Dunkley, who are transferring.
“It was two separate situations,” he said. “Javares just really wanted to play with his brother at Texas Tech, and he and I had a long conversation about that. We wish him all the luck in pursuing that.
“Chris felt like, you know, sometimes things don't fit, and he and I had a long conversation. We wish him all the luck in the world and we're trying to help where he's in a situation where he'll be better off.”
Muschamp also addressed the oversigning and grayshirting of athletes that has become a recent subject of concern in some areas.
"I think there is some gray area involved with all of it," he said."Now, you're able to sign players back (previous year) as long as you're under your 85 (scholarship) total. So does that count against the 28 you signed in February? Right now it doesn't.
"Again, at Florida, we don't grayshirt. That's not something that we do; it's not a policy of ours. We don't place students; that's not a policy of ours. That's not something that I'm going to cross that bridge on right now because it's not something that we do or is part of what we're going to do."