UF still has blue-collar attitude from Meyer
Published: Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, September 5, 2011 at 11:14 p.m.
GAINESVILLE — At his introductory news conference last December, new Florida coach Will Muschamp said he wanted the Gators to be a blue-collar football team. That was a quick and easy goal to attain. They already were one.
Muschamp inherited his kind of team from Urban Meyer.
“They knew how to work. They knew how to compete. They knew how to work out. They knew how to go to practice every day and have a business-like approach to what we're trying to do,” Muschamp said Monday.
“Certainly, they have bought in from day one, some better than others. Those who didn't as much aren't here any more. I feel very comfortable about where we are as far as work ethic and approach.”
Muschamp said the players' work ethic is a reflection of Meyer and strength and conditioning coordinator Mickey Marotti. Meyer and Marotti put the blue-collar stamp all over this team.
Meyer always talked about wanting to have the fastest team in America, but he also wanted the toughest. A big part of that plan was “Bloody Tuesday,” those physically punishing smack-down practices the Gators put themselves through every Tuesday of game week.
Muschamp has brought some of his own blue-collar terms into play at Florida. The Scrap Iron and Hard Hat awards that will be handed out by the coaching staff after each game.
The Scrap Iron Award this week went to sixth-year senior offensive guard Dan Wenger, who obviously mixed it up pretty good with the FAU defensive front in Saturday's 41-3 UF victory. The Hard Hat Award went to outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins for his big hits in the game.
It's all about being blue-collar.
“We kind of view ourselves as a blue-collar outfit,” Muschamp said. “That's kind of what we are, a workman outfit. We go to work every day. That's part of our mentality and what we sold to the kids and what our kids have bought in to.
“It's kind of who and what we are. We're going to try and outwork the people we play. We're not going to be fancy in what we do. We're going to try and strike people and play people with physical toughness, and that's what it's about.”
To ensure that the blue-collar mentality would carry over from Meyer's staff to his, Muschamp's first coaching move was to retain Marotti, who was hired by Meyer in 2005.
“I want to credit Urban and his staff,” Muschamp said.
“A lot of the credit goes to Mickey in the weight room. There's really where the foundation of your team is built. Coaches can only touch the athletes so many times out of the year. Mickey is with them 12 months out of the year.
“Certainly, his work ethic, his approach has instilled (the blue-collar mentality). That's why I wanted to retain Mickey, for the job he does.”
It's a job that never stops.
The Gators were a blue-collar team through the offseason, during summer workouts, in fall camp, and in the opener Saturday night.
But there are many more tough games ahead, so the tough work ethic needs to be sustained, Muschamp said.
“Can we do it consistently?” Muschamp said. “We have some young guys who have to display that over a period of time. We're talking about one football game right now. We have a long season ahead of us.
“That's the big challenge. I'm going to challenge the team today that you've got to do it consistently. You've shown you can. Now, it's a week-in, week-out, day-in, day-out deal. You can't just show up some days because you're excited it's the first game. It's got to be week-in, week-out.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.