Muschamp: Produce or else

Scrimmage focused on running game


Will Muschamp is expecting better production.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 26, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.

Florida coach Will Muschamp planned to deliver a simple but very strong message to his players in Monday's team meeting.

If you want to play in the fall, prove it now. If you can't prove it in the spring, you're not going to have the opportunity in August.

“What I'm trying to say is the guys who have been in our program, how are they all of a sudden going to get productive in August (if they're not productive now?),” Muschamp said. See what I'm saying? You've got to be productive right now, or in August we're looking for somebody else to be productive

“When I leave spring, I'm going to sit down with our offensive staff, I'm going to sit down with our defensive staff and say, ‘Who are we counting on here?' I tell the players this. I'm going to tell them today.

“We can count on you, you, you. I don't know about you other guys right now. I'm going to tell you right now, you're not getting it done. So, you need to get it done or we move forward and try to find someone else who can do it.”

Muschamp said he and his staff will come up with a depth chart at the end of spring drills. If your name doesn't appear, it's obviously not a good sign.

“The depth chart is going to be set after spring,” Muschamp said. “Then we're going to let these young guys (the true freshmen) come in here and figure out what they can do. So, you better put your work in right now.”

Coming off a disappointing 7-6 season, Muschamp said this spring is all about competing and finding out who can play in the fall — and who probably can't.

He said it's not necessarily about locking down a starting role this spring. It's about fighting for a spot, producing and proving you deserve to be on the field.

“If we have competition at a position, like the quarterback position, then those guys are going to battle it out,” Muschamp said. “We've got that at running back, we've got that across the board with some guys.”

But not all guys, at this point.

Despite Muschamp's strong message, he seems pleased overall with the progress the Gators have made through two weeks of practice and one major scrimmage, which was this past Saturday.

“There were some good things on both sides of the ball,” Muschamp said of the scrimmage. “I'm pleased we were able to run the ball pretty effectively. I thought offensively we did a nice job of getting some movement up front. We did a nice job executing in a red-zone period.

“Again, that's give and take because the defense didn't stop the run very well. At times, we didn't play as well up front (on defense) as I thought we should. We were not as productive at the linebacker positions as I would like to be.

“But I thought there were some good things.”

Muschamp said it was a scrimmage that focused mainly on the running game, meaning quarterbacks Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett did not have many opportunities in the passing game.

Muschamp said Driskel and Brissett are right about where they were at the start of the spring — running neck-and-neck for the starting role.

“Nobody really distanced themselves as far as the quarterback position,” Muschamp said. “I thought both guys played well and did some good things, but there is no separation. We'll continue to split reps with all three. Tyler Murphy did some nice things as well.”

Muschamp said the offensive player of the scrimmage was senior tailback Mike Gillislee.

“He made a couple of really nice cuts in the run game and did a nice job in protection,” Muschamp said. “He continues to have a really good spring, and a productive spring.

“On one of the first series, he did a nice job in protection and then (he) made a really nice run for about a 20-yard gain, caused two guys to miss. He's got good vision, a good feel for the running game.”

Muschamp was asked if Gillislee was close to earning the first snap at tailback in the fall.

“I think so, if he continues down the same path. There's no question,” he said. “But again, that's where competition is your best motivator. He's got guys behind him that are pushing him and are doing a good job as well.”

Muschamp singled out several other offensive players for good performances in the scrimmage, including wide receivers Frankie Hammond and Latroy Pittman, guard Jon Halapio and tackle Xavier Nixon and tailback Mack Brown, who is pushing Gillislee for the starting role.

“Mack Brown has made some strides for us,” Muschamp said. “I'm very pleased with his production.”

The defensive player of the game was junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell, who continues to have a strong spring, Muschamp said.

“He had the most production of anybody up front, and of anybody, really,” he said. “He had a couple good third-down stops, a couple of good pressures, a sack. He continues to play well.

“His pad level is improved and his hand placement in playing blocks (has improved). He's a guy that, again, you look at the two players of the day, Mike Gillislee and Ronald Powell, both had great offseasons. They didn't miss a day. They worked hard. They've done a great job in the weight room.

“They're in shape, they're attentive to detail and what they've got to do to be successful.”

They would seem to be examples of what Muschamp is looking for from some other players this spring.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. 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.

▲ Return to Top