UF FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK

Notebook: Muschamp embraces the Gators' tough 2014 schedule


Will Muschamp was asked for his response to the Gators' tough 2014 schedule. His reply was pretty much this: bring it on.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 23, 2013 at 9:04 p.m.

When the SEC announced the 2014 football schedule this week, many looked at Florida's schedule that includes both LSU and Alabama from the West and deemed it somewhat unfair because division rivals Georgia and South Carolina play neither of those teams.

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Will Muschamp was asked for his response to the Gators' tough 2014 schedule. His reply was pretty much this: bring it on.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/FILE

UF coach Will Muschamp was asked Friday for his response to the Gators' tough 2014 schedule. His reply was pretty much this: bring it on.

“At the University of Florida we embrace whoever we play and whatever happens,” he said. “A season ago we were asked to go to College Station and we embraced it and welcomed the Aggies to the SEC.

“We're asked to kick off at noon Aug. 31, Sept. 1 every year. We embrace it. We've been asked to play a cross-division opponent with LSU. We don't gripe and complain about it, we embrace it. We embrace things at Florida. Whatever our league asks us to do, we'll certainly do that and look forward to it.

“At the end of the day, no one wants to say it, but it comes down to match-ups. People want to see the Gators play. They want to see Florida and Alabama play. I know that's not the company line, but that's the bottom line. We look forward to it.”

Muschamp then jokingly said there's a rumor going around that the Gators will be asked to play nine league games in 2014, while the other 13 teams will play only eight.

“And if they do, we'll embrace it,” he said. “What a wonderful opportunity.”

Robinson not starting — yet

Although true freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson was one of the offensive standouts in preseason camp, Muschamp said he will not start the opener against Toledo.

“Not at this time,” Muschamp said. “He's going to play a lot.”

Robinson is one of many true freshmen who are expected to contribute this season.

Here are the freshmen Muschamp mentioned along with Robinson on Friday as certain contributors: wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood, wide receiver/special teams player Chris Thompson, linebacker Jarrad Davis, linebacker Alex Anzalone, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, linebacker Daniel McMillian, safety Nick Washington and safety Keanu Neal.

Muschamp said decisions about several other freshmen have not been made yet, including tailbacks Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane, offensive guard Octavius Jackson, defensive linemen Jay-nard Bostwick, Caleb Brantley and Antonio Riles and punter Johnny Townsend.

“Well, I'd probably be better suited to answer this (which true freshmen are going to play) after the fourth or fifth game of the season,” Muschamp said. “We have some guys we feel like can play for us.

“We haven't made a decision on Adam Lane or Kelvin Taylor yet. Right now both of those guys are taking some reps, and you never know where the season progresses and what they can or cannot do. I'm not sure.

“Jay-nard Bostwick and Antonio Riles and Caleb Brantley are all kind of rotating in and working some scout work and with the defense during practice when we're in our scout periods.”

“So we're not real certain a decision is made yet on that. It's a long season, so if you have an injury or two, you've got to prepare yourself. You can't just send those guys to scout team.”

Muschamp said the coaches would like to redshirt Townsend, the back-up to star junior punter Kyle Christy.

“We'd like to, if we could, to create some separation,” Muschamp said. “He has punted extremely well in camp. I mean, he can really launch the ball.”

Muschamp said the true freshmen should not be judged based on whether or not they play in their first season.

“It doesn't mean they're not going to be a good player if they don't play as a freshman,” he said.

“That's what is frustrating for me a little bit because the natural progression is to be redshirted, to play a little bit your redshirt freshman year, compete for a starting job in your third season at Florida.

“That's a hell of a deal. Play your junior and senior season. Unfortunately, we label guys if they don't play or start their first game their freshman year as 'We missed on him.' I don't believe that.”

A vote for Johnny Football?

Muschamp indicated he was not among the SEC coaches who put Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray ahead of Johnny Manziel as the first-team quarterback on the coaches' preseason All-SEC team that came out Thursday.

“It's hard to go against the Heisman Trophy winner,” Muschamp said. “(But) I'm not going to express my vote. That's why it's a private ballot.”

Muschamp was told it sounded like he had expressed his vote.

“Private ballot,” he said.

Targeting the new rule

Muschamp is clearly no fan of the new targeting rule that allows the officials to eject players that they determine intentionally led with their helmet.

“I think we've put too much on our officials with this ejection rule,” Muschamp said. “I'm all for player safety, but I don't think it answers any questions about the other issues. I don't like the rule, I think it puts too much on the officials. I think it puts too much on the replay booth and too much pressure on them to air in a way that I don't think helps our game. I don't know what was wrong with what we were doing before.”

This and that

Muschamp said when injured starters Matt Jones and Jon Halapio do return, they will not have to go through the NCAA's acclimation period where a player cannot have full contact work until his fifth practice. “It doesn't matter. Once you start school, there is no more acclimation period,” Muschamp said. … Muschamp said there is no update on the timetable for deciding whether middle linebacker Antonio Morrison will serve his full two-game suspension. “Not right now,” he said.

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