UF football has the look

Florida head coach Will Muschamp thinks fans will like what they see at this Saturday's spring game.

Rob C. Witzel/Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 2:34 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 at 5:50 p.m.

Florida fans are going to be pleased with what they see in The Swamp on Saturday — and beyond, Florida football coach Will Muschamp said Tuesday.


UF football

Up next: Open practice Friday, time is TBA
Where: Sanders Practice Fields on UF campus

“I think when they see our football team and offensively where we are … and I think they'll see a formidable unit on defense playing well. … They're going to see a good-looking team,” Muschamp said. “We're going to have a good team next year.

“We just need to continue to progress. The summer months are going to be critical for us to continue to take advantage of those opportunities to take the next step offensively and then defensively as well.”

While Muschamp is predicting the Gators will look good in the Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday, and on Saturdays in the fall, he's also making it clear that this is still far from a finished product as UF heads into its final practices this spring.

UF still has some holes, some concerns that need to be addressed between now and the Aug. 30 opener against Idaho.

Among the concerns, Muschamp said the Gators still haven't found a second starting cornerback to play opposite standout sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III, the nickel position in the secondary is lacking productivity, there have been too many missed tackles on defense, some poor shotgun snaps on offense, and the talent gap remains too wide on both lines of scrimmage between the starters and reserves.

On the positive side, Muschamp said Kurt Roper's new uptempo offense is ahead of where he thought it would be at this time, quarterback Jeff Driskel and the receivers are having a good spring and the experienced veterans on both sides of the ball are standing out, especially junior defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.

Muschamp said the Gators had another promising scrimmage this past Saturday in The Swamp.

"Overall, pretty pleased with Saturday,” he said. “The effort, guys got after it and competed. I think offensively we're further ahead than where I thought we would be at this point as far as from an execution standpoint. There's still some things that we've got to get better and clean up, but I'm pleased with where we are.

“Pretty pleased overall. On both sides of the ball, I thought there were some good things.”

On offense, Muschamp said the Gators produced 10 explosive plays — five in the running game, five in the passing game — and averaged more than five yards per rushing attempt.

“I thought we were really efficient on third down, especially in the early part of the scrimmage, keeping drives alive, especially (after) creating some tough downs and distances for our offense,” he said. “I thought we ran the ball extremely well with the first group. So, all of those very positive things in the scrimmage. The quarterback run game was outstanding. Jeff was not live, but you could see where it creates a lot of issues for a defense.

“I thought the receivers played well. Ahmad Fulwood had a 52-yard touchdown (catch), a guy who continues to improve. Quinton Dunbar has done some nice things. Demarcus Robinson had a touchdown (catch) off a third-down conversion. He made a couple guys miss. Again, I think the receiver position will continue to make some positive strides there.”

On the downside, the centers had some poor shotgun snaps again and the offensive line became fatigued late in the scrimmage, Muschamp said.

“Disappointed (with the bad snaps),” he said. “We repped Trip (Thurman) in there, along with Max (Garcia) and Cam Dillard. If we continue to have those, we need to look in another direction. One bad snap is one too many.

“I thought we got a little tired late, especially up front on the offensive side of the ball. If we're going to be a tempo team that needs to be part of our advantage, so that's something we'll look at in the offseason.”

Muschamp said he was pleased with the overall defensive effort in the scrimmage, but the Gators gave up too many big plays, missed too many tackles — and still have two big question marks in the secondary, at the one cornerback position and at nickel.

“We had 22 missed tackles, a lot of those coming in the secondary,” Muschamp said. “We don't have a starting nickel right now. Brian (Poole) and Duke (Dawson) have been in there. We may look at Marcus Maye in there. We need to get better at that position. It's a position that's been very productive for us over the years.

“We really need to find a corner opposite Vernon. Jalen (Tabor) and Duke and Brian have all done some nice things at times, but the consistency is not there.”

Muschamp said he could see one of the two true freshmen (Tabor or Dawson) winning the starting role at corner.

“Sure. Those guys are definitely in the mix,” he said. “They are good players. Eye control is a major issue. When you get into scrimmage situations and the first time you are on your own and coach (Travaris) Robinson is not standing right behind you telling you what exactly to do, that's what happens. You lose your eyes, you start watching the quarterback, you become a spectator in a lot of situations.

“But (overall), I've been pleased with those guys.”

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

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