Format change to UF spring game

Florida head coach Will Muschamp throws the ball to warm up for leading drill at the first of two open spring football practices that the Gators are having, at the Sanders Practice Field on the UF campus, in Gainesville, Friday March 15, 2013. Saturday's practice will also be open to the public from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 1:06 p.m.

Down to only six healthy offensive linemen, the Florida Gators will not be able to play a traditional spring game Saturday in The Swamp. Instead, the Orange & Blue Debut will be a typical Saturday spring practice, UF coach Will Muschamp announced Tuesday.


Saturday Schedule of Events

9 a.m. - Gator Locker Room Yard Sale (outside Gate 9)
10 a.m. - Verizon Fan Fest in North End Zone Lawn
10:30 a.m. - Gator Walk
11:30 a.m. - Gates Open to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
11:30 a.m. - Warm-ups begin on the field
12:30 p.m. - Alumni Flag Football Game
1 p.m. - Orange & Blue Debut

“We’ve got 11 offensive linemen on scholarship on campus,” Muschamp said. “But with five of those guys being out right now, it’s not fair to go in a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60, 70 snaps in a row. That’s not healthy. It’s not good. It’s not good for our football team.

“So, we’ve changed the format a little bit, which I think will be good in a way.”

The practice will include work on special teams, one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills, red zone practice and pass rushing/protection drills. The Gators also will scrimmage some during the middle and near the end of practice. Muschamp said there will be two sets of two series, consisting of eight to 12 plays each.

“Depending on how those plays play out,” he said. “They will be normal football, just like you watch on a Saturday afternoon. No different. Playing the situations out, playing out third down. If we get stopped, start the series over with a first-and-10.”

Saturday’s practice is open to the public at no charge. Those who have already purchased Orange & Blue Debut tickets will be refunded by the athletic department.

While going away from a traditional spring game may seem like a setback to the fans, Muschamp said his team will benefit from Saturday’s practice.

“I’m comfortable with this, I really am,” he said. “This is no different than if we would have a scrimmage. To me, it’s about getting good-on-good work. It’s about getting your best players going against your best players.

“I see some of these spring game where these guys put their first group against the rest of them. You don’t get any better doing that stuff. You get better when you’re going good on good.

“We’re going to get one-on-one work. We’re going to get red-zone, one-on-one work. We’re going to create some situations. This is a normal scrimmage-type situation for our football team. It’s good on good, and that’s all I’m concerned with.”

Muschamp said the players also seem fine with Saturday’s format.

“I think it’s just a great opportunity to get better, and our guys understand that. It’s about going out and having another opportunity to get better. You have only 15 (spring practices).”

Muschamp said he and his assistants will be interviewed at certain points during the practice by Gator Network sideline reporter Brady Ackerman to help explain what’s going on to the fans in The Swamp.

“As we go through practice we can explain the situations,” Muschamp said. “Brady Ackerman will be down on the field doing that as well.

“It will be a good functional day for our guys, and good for our fans. Again, putting them in normal (game) situations. If we were having a normal scrimmage, this is what we would do.”

More information

Normal game day stadium policies and prohibited items will still be enforced for the safety of all fans in attendance.

For fans who purchased tickets with a credit card, all monies will be credited back to the card that was used. If a fan purchased with cash or a check, a refund check will be mailed to the account holder's address. Contact the Gator Ticket Office at (352) 375-4683, ext. 6800 for all inquiries.

Florida Farm Bureau customers who had received free admission coupons for the Orange and Blue Debut may redeem each coupon for a 50-percent discount on a full-priced ticket — a $25 value — for the Gators' season opener versus Toledo on Aug. 31, or for the game against Georgia Southern on Nov. 23. The coupons may be redeemed beginning May 15 at the Gator Ticket Office at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during regular business hours, Mon.-Fri., 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Tickets are subject to availability.

Note on parking: The O'Connell Center parking garage will be open on a first-come, first-serve basis. The main O'Connell Center flat lot is for reserved parking only. The UAA will be running shuttles from the large commuter lot on Gale Lemerand Drive beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

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