Muschamp: ‘I'm pleased with progress'
Published: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
Only a handful of practices into preseason camp, one in pads, Florida coach Will Muschamp is already getting a pretty good feel for the Gators' offense.
Muschamp revealed Wednesday that all four quarterbacks are making promising progress, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps have separated themselves from the other contenders at tailback and Deonte Thompson, Frankie Hammond Jr. and Quinton Dunbar have emerged as the top receivers.
Muschamp also already finds himself dealing with another depth issue on offense, this one at tight end, where his No. 2 player, true freshman A.C. Leonard, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday and will be out six to eight weeks.
In response to the injury, the coaching staff has moved true freshman defensive end Clay Burton to tight end. Wide receiver Omarius Hines also could be used at tight end in certain situations.
“I talked to (Burton) last night. He (played tight end) in high school some,” Muschamp said. “He's an athletic guy who can do some different things. Hines is a guy who is still playing wide-out, but we'll use him in some situations, more than anything to provide some depth. He's still a wide-out.”
Muschamp said Leonard tore the meniscus in his left knee during a non-contact drill Saturday.
“He planted on it wrong. There was no one near him or around him,” Muschamp said. “It's a six-to-eight week process. We'll make a decision on his playing this year at that time. If he heals quickly, we can get him back on the field pretty quickly and make a determination on his playing status this year.”
Leonard's injury is the only piece of negative news to come out of camp thus far. After listening to Muschamp after practice Wednesday, everything else is pretty much positive.
“I'm pleased with our progress,” he said.
He definitely seems happy with the work of the quarterbacks — senior starter John Brantley, redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and true freshmen Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett.
“John has done some nice things,” Muschamp said. “I think we've done a nice job tailoring the offense for the quarterbacks, which limits the amount of things you have to carry.
“Right now, in the first five days, Jeff Driskel is very solid, a lot of carryover from the spring. He's a lot more comfortable. After a nice ball yesterday he walked back and I said, ‘The game is slowing down a little bit for you, isn't it?' He said, ‘Ain't no question, coach.'
“As far as the run game, pass game and getting us in the right looks, Jeff has really progressed well.”
Murphy and Brissett also are showing signs, Muschamp said.
“Tyler Murphy has done a really nice job of managing the offense,” Muschamp said. “Today, the coaches got off the field and let the players play. Tyler took us on a nice drive down the field.
“Jacoby is doing an outstanding job. He's got a big-time arm and talent, great leadership ability. He's going to be a really good football player for the Gators. Not going through the spring, he's a little further behind, but he'll catch up because he's extremely intelligent.
“We're very comfortable with where we are right now (at quarterback).”
Apparently one of the best moves the quarterbacks can make at the moment is hand the ball off to Rainey and Demps, who are off to a fast start.
“Jeff and Chris have been very impressive,” Muschamp said. “We do a nice job on the perimeter blocking with our wide-outs. We create some one-on-ones with people who aren't as used to tackling as much as far as corners and secondary people.
“When (Demps and Rainey) get the ball on the edge, they're fun to watch. Chris and Jeff have distanced themselves from the pack (fellow tailbacks Mike Gillislee and Mack Brown).”
Muschamp said the coaching staff also has identified the top three wide receivers — Thompson, Hammond and Dunbar.
One young receiver who may be ready to make a move is Andre Debose.
“Andre Debose made a very nice play in the back of the end zone today,” Muschamp said. “He really went up and got the ball.”
Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Chaz Green is another young offensive player beginning to emerge, Muschamp said.
“Chaz Green is a guy who has really stepped forward,” Muschamp said. “He gets a lot of movement up front and does a nice job at the tackle position, and he can play other positions (on the offensive line).
“He's one of the guys we talked about as a staff yesterday. We feel real comfortable with where Chaz is.”
On the other side of the play, Muschamp said the defensive front has performed well, linebackers Jelani Jenkins and Jon Bostic have stood out and the young secondary has been solid.
“That's kind of where we are,” Muschamp said. “We're a little thin on both lines of scrimmage and we've had to really shore some things up as far as practice schedule. But I'm pleased with the effort thus far.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
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