Notebook: UF counting on Dunbar

Florida wide receiver Quinton Dunbar catches a touchdown pass against the Florida State Seminoles during the second half on Nov. 26, 2011 in Gainesville.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2012 at 10:53 a.m.

After spending the 2010 season on the sidelines, wide receiver Quinton Dunbar was determined to make an impact as a redshirt freshman last year.

He never did.

And Dunbar can't tell you why.

“I can't even answer that,” he said last week. “I don't know what happened.”

He finished 2011 with 14 receptions for 216 yards and two touchdowns, but he couldn't live up to the hype about him entering Will Muschamp's first season as Florida's head coach.

Despite Dunbar's physical readiness and motivation, Muschamp said the 6-foot-1, 183-pounder was still too young and inexperienced.

“There aren't many redshirt freshmen that you rely on to be your go-to guy as far as the receiver position's concerned,” Muschamp said. “It didn't have anything to do with physical ability. It had to do with the mental aptitude of consistency in his performance every day, week in and week out in our league.”

In order to have success as a sophomore, Dunbar said he will continue to work hard and make the most of his opportunities.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “But when I get that shot, I will show what I can do. As more balls come to me, I feel like I can make more plays.”

Dunbar is now slotted as a starting receiver, so this season is his shot. Muschamp challenged him to capitalize on it.

“Quinton's always worked extremely hard and he had a great offseason,” Muschamp said. “Now he's a year older. I challenged him in front of the entire team and said ‘you're not a freshman anymore. It's time to take the next step as a football player.' ”

Calling guys out

Dunbar isn't the only player Muschamp has challenged.

At the beginning of spring practice, Muschamp said he singled out players at each position and addressed them in front of the team.

“I called several guys out and just told them ‘you need to step up,' ” Muschamp said. “We let everybody understand what our expectation level is so we're all on the same page. I think it's important to do that in front of the whole group.”

Finding the key

The two most important coaching factors for Muschamp is finding the key to each player and then identifying what they do well.

Spring practice serves as an opportunity to push the buttons of your players until you hit the right one.

“You need to learn what makes them tick,” Muschamp said. “Some guys are motivated differently than others; we're not all motivated the same way. I think you gotta find the key to each kid. That's your job as a position coach, that's your job as a coordinator and that's your job as a head coach.”

Muschamp said the process gets frustrating and can take multiple years with some players. He pointed to defensive tackle Jaye Howard and what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and defensive line coach Bryant Young were able to do with him in 2011.

“I use Jaye Howard as a great example last year,” Muschamp said. “I came in and everybody (said) ‘he's an underachiever.' You know what, Jaye Howard had a good senior year. He's gonna get drafted in April.

“I had a lot of scouts tell me, ‘wow, ya'll did a great job with Jaye Howard.' And that's a credit to Bryant Young and Dan Quinn. They did a great job. They found the key to Jaye Howard. He played hard, he played fast, he played physical, he played much better than he had in his (previous) time here. Sometimes it takes that long for it to go off.”

March Madness for Muschamp

Muschamp, like most of Gator Nation, was watching the Florida basketball team Sunday night as it advanced to the Sweet 16 with a dominating 84-50 win over Norfolk State.

He was impressed by the Gators' 25-0 run in the first half.

“We were shooting the lights out early, I know that,” he said. “We were hot.”

Muschamp was a regular in the O'Dome this season and enjoys the sport.

“I love basketball,” Muschamp said. “I love watching it and I'm a big fan of Billy Donovan.”

Muschamp was also spotted at the top-ranked Gators baseball game at McKethan Stadium on Sunday.

Injury updates

Florida got even thinner at receiver over the weekend as juniors Stephen Alli and Solomon Patton suffered groin injuries. The Gators now have just five scholarship wideouts available.

Alli is listed as day-to-day, while Patton could be out for a few weeks, Muschamp said.

“He's gonna be out this week, definitely,” Muschamp said of Patton. “I don't think he'll scrimmage Saturday based on what (information) I have. But past Saturday, I don't know.”

Senior defensive end Earl Okine injured his back and is also day-to-day. Starting sophomore cornerback Louchiez Purifoy (sprained shoulder) practiced Monday.

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