Muschamp finishes speaking tour


Will Muschamp made his last of 10 stops on Thursday night. (Pierre DuCharme/The Lakeland Ledger)

Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 25, 2012 at 12:27 a.m.

FORT WALTON BEACH — Florida football coach Will Muschamp looked a bit weary-eyed Thursday evening as he wrapped up his spring booster club tour through the state with his 10th and final stop in Fort Walton Beach.

Despite his busy schedule, which includes constant tasks of breaking down opponents and reviewing recruiting film throughout the spring and summer, Muschamp still realizes the importance of getting out among the statewide Gator Nation and spending time with fans.

“They say 10 of these, but it seems like more than that,” Muschamp said with a sly grin, admitting that it can get tiring, but is still something he embraces.

“Yes, it's always great to get out and touch the Gator Nation, and being the head football coach at Florida that's what it is,” he said. “I really do enjoy it. It's been ultra-positive everywhere we've been, and I'm very appreciative of our support.

“Right now our staff is out evaluating. This is evaluation time here in the spring. My days are pretty busy, then we jump on a plane and fly that night to wherever we are going to go speak, and talk about the Gators.”

Muschamp, getting set to begin his second campaign at the Gators' helm, was greeted by more than 200 fans and boosters inside the Ramada Beach Resort.

He addressed topics ranging from the Gators' new offensive coordinator Brent Pease and the team's heated quarterback battle to quelling much of the program's recent off-field problems.

The Gators had 31 players arrested during former coach Urban Meyer's six-year reign and have tallied nine more since Muschamp took over prior to last season.

Muschamp feels the epidemic of off-field issues throughout college football is no different than it was two decades ago. He said the media, including the advent of social media, has just allowed for more exposure when problems do occur.

“Some of those things just get more attention nowadays,” he said. “It's just the world we live in.”

Eliminating those problems is a matter of constant education of young people, according to Muschamp. He is putting an emphasis on teaching them to make good choices and decisions, both on and off the football field.

“We try to continue that education every day with our guys as far as developing good leadership within the team, ownership within the team, for guys to make good choices and decisions.

“We have a lot of groups that come in and talk with them about things like how to treat the opposite sex and making good decisions when dealing with other people. When I say it's a constant education experience, it's not just within our staff, it's within people that we try to have come in and help our young people.”

Muschamp is hoping that some of last season's on-field problems will be rectified with the entrance of Pease, the highly touted offensive mind who came to Gainesville after six successful seasons at Boise State.

“First of all, he is very smart, very intelligent,” Muschamp said. “He thinks out of the box a little bit offensively, which always gives defenses problems. He's not very predictable in certain down and distance situations. He uses a lot of multiple personnel groupings that we are going to use, with motion and shifts to give the defense some issues in preparation.”

He feels that he has two capable sophomore quarterbacks in Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett, who each saw extensive time last season after getting tossed into the fire following an injury to starter John Brantley. Both played well in Florida's Orange and Blue Debut this spring. Driskel finished the scrimmage 12-of-14 for 147 yards, and carried the ball four times for 19 yards and a score. Brissett was 9-of-16 for 233 yards and two touchdowns.

“They are both capable guys to run our football team and to run our offense,” Muschamp said. “Their competition throughout the summer is going to make each other better, make our offense better, and make our football team better. I'm excited about both guys. They each have the intangibles, both have the physical attributes you need to be successful at the position, and we can win with both of them.”

He said he would not name a starter until he sees how things pan out through August camp. But he feels last year's experience will obviously benefit them both heading into another staunch SEC schedule.

“They see the game a lot better now and they have been through the preparation,” he said. “Neither one of them were really ready last year, but that's not a slight on either young man. It's hard to play any position as a freshman in the SEC, much less at the quarterback position. But both guys handled it the right way. I don't think their confidence was hurt at all. They are very realistic with their opportunities, and we need to play better around them. And I think the change with Brent Pease will help both of them.”

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