UF notebook: Defenders return


Florida defensive lineman Damien Jacobs waits to run a drill during the first day of practice at Donald R. Dizney Stadium on Aug. 2.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 5:32 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 5:32 p.m.

True freshman cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III is back practicing after missing two weeks with an injured shoulder. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said Hargreaves will see playing time Saturday.

“Vernon's doing great,” Durkin said. “He's practicing and doing well. We expect to have him out there."

Durkin said defensive tackle Damien Jacobs is back in the mix after missing two weeks with a patella injury.

"He's looked good. He's a tough, tough guy,” Durkin said. “He's practiced well. It's really one of those things where if you didn't know, you probably wouldn't know he had an injury.

“That's what great players do and tough guys do, not only play through an injury, but play through it to the point where you can't tell the difference. That's how he looks in practice. We'll continue to manage his snaps as we go. He'll be ready to go."

Gators' psyche fine

Muschamp said the many injuries during the preseason may have depleted some depth, but they have not taken a bit out of the Gators' morale heading into the season.

“Absolutely not,” Muschamp said. “Man down, man up. That's part of the deal at the University of Florida when they sign that scholarship. You come here to compete for championships and do it the right way on and off the field. One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity. That's the way we view things.”

Safeties step up

Heading into camp, inexperience at the safety positions was a big concern. Muschamp seems to be feeling a lot better about the situation at safety heading into the opener.

“Cody (Riggs) has done a really nice job of transitioning inside and a guy that covers extremely well in the slot,” Muschamp said. “He's got really good range. A guy that's tackled well in camp. He's done a nice job for us really communicating things from a coverage standpoint."

"Marcus Maye's been very consistent. He's a guy that can play very well in the box, can play on the deep part of the field. Again, really good range, can finish on plays. An extremely good tackler in space. He's got good coverage ability.

“Jabari (Gorman) is a very smart guy that can get us in the right things. We play a tempo team in Toledo, we'll probably play an upwards of 85-88 snaps. All of those guys are going to have to play. Jaylen Watkins is a young man that gives us a lot of flexibility, that can move inside and play safety."

Muschamp said true freshman Keanu Neal also is going to see playing time at safety and on special teams Saturday.

Orr coming on

After struggling with consistency the past two years, defensive tackle Leon Orr appears to be on track going into his junior season.

“I tell you what, Leon has played his best football throughout this camp,” Durkin said. “He's done really well. He's embracing the role of being a veteran now, a guy that's going to be counted on to play more snaps for us. And he has shown evidence on tape to be more ready to do that.

“He's another guy I'm looking forward to see get out there and play. I think he's going to do a great job.”

Coaches, they do worry

Muschamp said that like every coach heading into a new season, he has his worries.

“You're going to have some unknowns, with young players especially,” Muschamp said. “You don't always know how some of these young men are going to react in front of 90,000 people. Those things, to me, are concerns. They've been sitting on my stomach since last weekend, thinking about it night and day.

“I don't know that you ever get over that. I hope you do someday, but what I've heard from some of my older coaches, it sits in the pit of your stomach every day as you go into an opening game. All you can rely on is the concepts you taught on offense, defense and special teams.”

Surgical success

Muschamp said wide receiver Andre Debose and true freshman linebacker Matt Rolin both have undergone successful knee surgery, Debose on Wednesday and Rolin last week. Both sustained torn ACL injuries early in preseason camp.

“Andre had surgery today and it went very well,” Muschamp said. “Matt had his surgery last week and it went really well.”

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