Notebook: Pease says next year's offensive line could be better


Florida Gators players stand on the sideline during a practice at the Louisiana Superdome on Monday in New Orleans, La. Florida will play Louisville in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 4:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, December 31, 2012 at 4:54 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS — Although Florida will be losing the left side of its offensive line (tackle Xavier Nixon and guard James Wilson) after Wednesday night's Sugar Bowl, offensive coordinator Brent Pease said the Gators have a chance to be even better on the offensive front next season.

While the Gators lose Nixon and Wilson, they add two prominent transfers (Tyler Moore from Nebraska and Max Garcia from Maryland), a highly rated junior college transfer (Trenton Brown) and one of the nation's top offensive line recruits from a year ago who redshirted this season (guard Jessamen Dunker).

“I think we're going to look really good (on the offensive line),” Pease said. “We've got some good kids coming in. We've got some good kids who were young this season. We've even got one or two good kids redshirted that I think will be coming up. I think we'll have really good depth.

“There are things we'll have to improve on next season. We have to improve our sack ratio. Some of that is on the quarterback and receivers. We didn't reach all of our goals this year. What we have to do as coaches is go back and assess each possession and what our goals were and say how can we get better.”

Debose on the rebound

After disappearing late in the season due to a knee injury, it appears junior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose is set to re-emerge in the Sugar Bowl.

“He's had really good practices,” Pease said. “He's healthy, he's working hard and his attitude is right. He's done some good things and we're trying to get him involved in some things.

“He's kind of refocused and hopefully he's a guy that continues doing what he's doing and you'll see him out there doing some things. Refocused means he's going out there with a good attitude and putting energy into practice.”

Brissett ready if needed

Pease said a player who has remained focused throughout the season, despite a tough situation, is No. 2 quarterback Jacoby Brissett.

Pease said Brissett is game ready, as usual.

“He's taken a lot of reps, even when we were back in Gainesville working out,” Pease said. “And he's been good. He's prepared like he's going to have an opportunity to play.

“He prepares himself as if he's the guy. He's good. He's professional about it.”

Pease said he has not had any conversations with Brissett about Brissett's future plans. There is speculation he will look to transfer after the season.

“I'm out there to coach him and whatever his future is, he's done a good job,” Pease said. “I support the kid either way because I think he's a special kid and handled the situation well and done a good job when he had an opportunity to play. Selfishly, I hope he doesn't (leave), but I support the kid either way.

“I think he loves the University of Florida. I do. If he's in a situation where he maybe sees himself competing and playing and helping, yeah, (maybe he will stay).”

Pease: Joker a good fit

Before hiring former Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips as the Gators' new wide receivers coach, UF coach Will Muschamp sent Pease to Lexington to meet Phillips and get a feel for how he would fit on the offensive staff.

“I had to feel comfortable,” Pease said. “I've known Joker for a while. I know he's a good coach. You don't get where you're at being a great receivers coach, a great reputation as a coordinator and then a head coach without being a good person, without being well-rounded in recruiting and everything.

“Coach wanted me to feel comfortable with it and I did.”

Phillips is attending Sugar Bowl practices, but is only observing and advising while graduate assistant Bush Hamdan continues to serve as the wide receivers coach through the bowl game.

“I think (Phillips) is a great coach, a great addition to the staff,” senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. said. “He knows a lot about the position. He has been around it for years. It's about picking his brain since we have only a few days left.”

As for Hamdan, his opportunity at UF this fall helped him land a job. He's been named the wide receivers coach at Arkansas State.

“I'm really excited for him,” Muschamp said. “We appreciate him coaching the bowl game for us. I'm really pleased that he's got that opportunity. It says a lot about what he did for us this year,”

Cards just as talented?

Senior Louisville center Mario Benavides isn't buying into the perception that the Gators have more overall talent than the Cardinals.

“I think we have the best coaching staff in America,” he said. “So, as a player, you always have confidence in them. I think what it really comes down to is executing because our coaches put us in the right position.

“People may have that perception that Florida has more talent. That may be. But the bottom line is that anyone can win on any given, Friday, Saturday, or in this case, Wednesday.”

THIS AND THAT

True freshman tight end Colin Thompson, who underwent knee surgery before the start of the season, has been participating in the bowl practices with the Gators. He will be a redshirt freshman in 2013. … Buck linebacker/end Ronald Powell continues to recover from his second knee surgery stemming from his ACL tear in the spring game. He will not participate in spring practice, but is expected to be 100 percent for the start of fall camp in August. … With only a walk-through practice in shorts scheduled for today, Muschamp said Monday the Gators are 100 percent healthy for Wednesday night's game. “Nothing,” he said when asked about injuries. … Many of the UF players switched jerseys with each other for Monday's practice. Muschamp said it is a Thursday practice tradition.

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