Notebook: Gators to scrimmage Saturday


Published: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 28, 2014 at 3:55 p.m.

Florida will hold its first major spring scrimmage today, but it is not open to the public. The next open practice is at 4 p.m. Monday at the Sanders Practice Fields on campus.

Execution on both sides of the ball will be a priority in the scrimmage, UF coach Will Muschamp said Friday.

“We need to go out and execute,” Muschamp said. “We’re installing the offense, we need to vanilla some things up defensively and just get our guys to play blocks and run to the football.

“When you can get that, and you can get great effort and technique ... and that’s what we’re really honing in on, on being a better technique football team defensively as far as playing blocks, leveraging the ball.

“I don’t want to get into exotic pressures on third down, I’m not looking for that right now. We’re looking for really good execution, really good effort, really good fundamentals and technique and really just continuing to build on where we are offensively.”

Muschamp reiterated he’s been pleased by the progress made by the offense under Kurt Roper, the new coordinator who is installing a shotgun, uptempo style of attack.

Because the installation process remains in the early stages, Muschamp said this will not be one of those scrimmages that will be hands off for the offensive coaches.

“No, I told the coaches this morning, ‘I understand in some situations, especially with mid-year kids if you feel like you need to interject on the field and help them out a little bit, (then do it),’ ” Muschamp said. “I don’t want a young player to get frustrated, but we will use a game-day operation situation at this time. That’s what we’ve decided, and get off the field and let them play, see where we are.”

Cox making a move

Muschamp said one of the rising stars on defense this spring has been sophomore defensive end Bryan Cox Jr., whose strong play at end has allowed former starting end Jonathan Bullard to move inside and play tackle, where the Gators lack proven depth.

“His motor,” Muschamp said, when asked what he likes about Cox. “He plays hard. Football is really important to him. He plays with an edge. He goes out every day and works hard.

“Bryan was an off-the-ball player in high school. He came in and we didn't know if we were going to play him at linebacker, play him at defensive end. We knew he would continue to grow because he was a young senior coming out, so he still had a lot of growth potential. But I think his strength levels are up. His body weight is up. I think we had him at 260 — 258 or 260 — the other day. So he's being able to hold the point much better.

“You can't coach a motor. The guy either plays hard or he doesn't. You can coach him through it and you can bring him along, but the guys that have that natural ability to play hard, you can build off that a lot."

Muschamp said another sophomore, Alex McCalister, also is making a favorable impression at defensive end, especially rushing the passer.

McCalister was a basketball player in high school who didn’t start playing football until his junior season.

“He hadn’t played football much and he hadn't been in the weight room at all. He'd been a basketball guy,” Muschamp said. “But now he's up to 242, 245, he can hold the point a little bit better. He's starting to understand about leverage. He's got natural pass-rush ability to flip his hips in the rush.

“So he has the things we saw. And we knew it was going to be a while. You never know in those situations how quickly they're going to take off and go. Just been real pleased with how he comes. We need another good edge, juice rusher. We need somebody else on the edge to give us a little edge pressure."

Praise for Goolsby, Bryan

Muschamp said he’s been pleased with the early progress that’s been made by tight end DeAndre Goolsby and defensive lineman Taven Bryan, two of the early enrollees.

“(Goolsby) is a really good athlete. He's a guy that can do some things as far as what we're looking for at that position,” Muschamp said. “He fits it extremely well. I think he's done a really good job. I'm very pleased where he is. I think it's a little early right now to tell where he will contribute.

“Taven Bryan is a really strong core guy, he's got really good strength. He's still learning what we do defensively. But I'm very pleased with where he is. He's a guy that's got the intangibles and he's got the physical ability and athleticism to be a really good player here. Now, when that's going to be? I don't know. But he's got what we want. He's got length and he's a really good athlete.”

Taylor impressed with offense

Senior middle linebacker Michael Taylor didn’t hesitate when he was asked which offensive players have been impressing him this spring.

“Demarcus (Robinson) is a freak. Some of the stuff he can do is crazy,” Taylor said. “Mack Brown running the rock. KT (Kelvin Taylor) is. Everybody is really picking up the scheme and able to make plays in it. (Quinton) Dunbar is making a lot of plays. I think if you've got the ball in your hands in this offense, you can make plays."

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