Notebook: Morrison not in UF camp


Published: Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 8:54 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 1, 2013 at 8:54 p.m.

Florida coach Will Muschamp said suspended sophomore linebacker Antonio Morrison will not start fall camp with the Gators on Friday.

Morrison is “not going to miss all of camp, he's going to miss a portion of it,” Muschamp said. The third-year UF coach suspended Morrison for two games following his second arrest in the span of five weeks when he interfered with a police animal by barking at it outside a Gainesville bar last month. Three days later, charges for the second arrest were dropped.

Morrison received deferred prosecution on his first arrest on misdemeanor battery charges when he allegedly punched a bouncer outside a Gainesville nightclub in June.

“As a coach or a parent, you have to find out what is important and what are the consequences that can alter and change behavior, along with educating the young man,” Muschamp said. “And I know one thing, it's killing him not being in camp right now because he enjoys being part of the football team and he enjoys the game. And that's part of trying to alter his behavior.”

Muschamp said Morrison remains suspended for UF's first two games of the season — Aug. 31 vs. Toledo and Sept. 7 at Miami. He also said some of Morrison's punishment for his actions have been handled internally.

“There's a lot of punishment that has gone on … and it's not all about game time either,” Muschamp said. “At the end of the day our guys understand if they make mistakes there's going to be consequences and part of that is game time.”

Morrison was projected to start at middle linebacker this season after a strong freshman season which included 27 tackles and a momentum-changing forced fumble in the fourth quarter against Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel.

New graduate assistants

Muschamp mentioned the addition of three graduate assistant coaches to UF's staff. All three are former Gators — defensive end Duke Lemmens, quarterback Chris Leak and linebacker Mike Peterson. It's a homecoming for Peterson, an Alachua native who has re-enrolled at UF after a successful 13-year NFL career, he is an undergrad.

“If you talk to guys in the NFL who have coached him they will tell you he's a coach-on-the-field-type guy,” Muschamp said of Peterson. “I think it will be really beneficial for our young players.”

Starting Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said he's looking forward to working with Leak, who led the Gators to a national title in 2006.

“I'm really excited to get to work with him,” Driskel said. “He's done just about everything that you can do here at the University of Florida so he's a great reference.”

Penalties won't be tolerated

Muschamp made clear that penalties won't be tolerated this season. He wants to see the Gators play cleaner football after being the most penalized team in the Southeastern Conference in each of his first two seasons coaching UF.

Last season, the Gators averaged 68.8 penalty yards per game.

“I'm more concerned with the selfish and stupid penalties we've had the last two seasons,” Muschamp said. “Something we did not improve on. All the things we wanted to work on and improve as a football team last year we did except for that.”

As a result, Muschamp said he intends to bench players involved in foolish penalties in 2013.

“We recruited well the last two seasons and we're in a situation positionally that you can be selfish on the sidelines,” Muschamp said. “Because we're not going to tolerate a guy … we've got a deep enough roster, we're deep enough at most positions (where) we can discover the next guy.”

Securing the ball

Muschamp said the first thing he brought up was the importance of turnovers when he addressed the team before media day Thursday.

In 2011, when the Gators went 7-6, they were minus-12 in turnover margin. Last season, when the Gators finished 11-2, they were plus-15.

“We want to continue to emphasize the importance of taking care of the ball offensively and getting the ball out on the defensive side,” Muschamp said. “We won 10 games when we won the turnover margin and we lost two when we didn't. Obviously, it's critical for our success.”

Etc.

Florida senior receiver Andre Debose said Gator players have an app (application) for their cell phones in which they can watch themselves practice. “Whenever I feel like I'm not doing anything, I'll open up this application and I'll just watch it on my phone,” Debose said. … Along with quarterback Jeff Driskel (appendectomy), running back Matt Jones (viral infection) and offensive guard Jon Halapio (partially torn pectoral muscle), there was other injury news. Offensive lineman Trip Thurman (shoulder surgery) will be cleared to return Aug. 12 and freshman defensive lineman Jordan Sherit is still limited from a torn meniscus in his knee he suffered in high school. Muschamp said Sherit is at “70-75 percent” and won't be cleared for contact until Aug. 19. … Linebacker Alex Anzalone (torn labrum), linebacker/defensive end Ronald Powell (knee surgery) and linebacker Matt Rolin (knee injury) have all be cleared to start practice Friday. …. With offensive lineman Roderick Johnson now on campus, Muschamp said that all of UF's freshmen have reported.

Contact Kevin Brockway at 352-374-5054 or brockwk@gvillesun.com. Also check out Brockway's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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