Muschamp practicing patience


Florida coach Will Muschamp watches as his team runs a drill during the first day of practice at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Friday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:07 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 2, 2013 at 10:07 p.m.

Florida could be without starting tailback Matt Jones for quite some time. How long that will be, nobody knows for sure.

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Florida coach Will Muschamp watches as his team runs a drill during the first day of practice at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Friday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer

UF coach Will Muschamp said the uncertainty surrounding Jones is “frustrating” for all concerned.

“We’re in a little bit of uncharted waters here,” UF coach Will Muschamp said after UF’s first preseason practice Friday. “It’s very uncertain. It’s very frustrating, for him first of all, and for us a little bit. It is what it is. We’ll handle the situation.

“Matt’s going to be fine. I do know that. Whenever he’s able to join this football team and work and do the things we want him to do, No. 1, he’s healthy. That’s the most important thing.”

Jones, a true sophomore who locked up the starting job in the spring, is battling a viral infection that led to him being hospitalized. There is no timetable for his return.

It’s also uncertain what kind of shape Jones will be in when he’s cleared to practice.

Jones, who is listed at 230 pounds on the roster, apparently has already lost significant weight.

“I'm sure he's lost weight,” Muschamp said. “I don't have anything exact at this time."

There is a little more certainty when it comes to the prognosis of starting quarterback Jeff Driskel, who could be sidelined for a week or so after having his appendix removed Tuesday.

Driskel said at Thursday’s media day that he’s already feeling better, expects to return soon and does not anticipate having any issues with his conditioning when he does get back.

With Driskel out, redshirt junior Tyler Murphy has taken over at quarterback. Muschamp said Murphy had a “good” first day and will benefit from the extra reps he’ll get in Driskel’s absence.

“It's huge. Any time you get a situation where you get all the turns and reps and at-bats, it helps you as a player,” Muschamp said. “There's no question it helps him being with the first group and first offensive line and less mistakes and less issues and all of those things. There's no question.”

Muschamp said the offensive coaching staff has not altered its practice plans with Driskel out.

“It doesn't alter it at all. We're going to run our offense and install our system on offense, defense and special teams,” Muschamp said. “Really after the first two scrimmages is when you start making decisions on where you need to go schematically. Right now, we need to install our systems. We're installing everything right now.”

Overall, Muschamp seemed pleased with what he saw in UF’s first practice.

“Effort. Conditioning,” he said when asked what he was looking for Friday. “They’re not gonna know everything. You’ve gotta understand that and be patient with that. Really, for the mid-year guys, you want to see them understand the tempo of practice, how we do things and make sure they’re doing that — which those guys did. They’re ready for that.

“How much did they comprehend through the summer? I saw some positive signs there. The new guys, it’s really not about Practice 1. It’s really about Practice 12. If they’re still swimming mentally, they’re gonna have a hard time. If they’re struggling with the tempo of practice, they’re gonna have a hard time. All of those things. You just have to be patient right now.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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