Gators fired up after first day

Florida head coach Will Muschamp watches players run stretching drills during the first football practice of fall.

BRAD MCCLENNY/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 2:35 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 6, 2014 at 2:35 p.m.

For some, especially the players, the start of preseason football camp means the beginning of drudgery, of long, hot, hard days on the practice field with the season still a month away, which can seem like an eternity.



The practices open to the public, with times to be announced. Dates and times are subject to change:

* Thursday: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Friday: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Saturday: Morning practice only (Season ticket holder exclusive event), Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Monday: Morning practice only, Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Tuesday: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Aug. 13: Morning practice only, Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Aug. 14: Dizney Lacrosse Stadium

* Aug. 16: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (Followed by Fan Day at 3 p.m. in the O’Connell Center)

For Will Muschamp, it's like Christmas morning for a little kid.

Florida's head coach was so excited about the start of camp Monday that he barely slept the night before.

"Excited about getting back on the field and coaching," Muschamp said Monday night. "That's what you get hired to do. That's what I enjoy doing. All of the other stuff, not so much, but the coaching part of it I really enjoy."

Muschamp said he went to bed at midnight and woke up at 3:35 without the help of an alarm.

"(I) don't require a lot (of sleep)," he said. "Couple of cups (of coffee) a day. It's been good."

Muschamp didn't mention how his players slept Sunday night, but he did say they seemed equally energetic about the start of camp Monday coming off the disappointing 4-8 season.

"It's the same every year," he said. "Everybody's fired up Day 1. Let's find out how they are Day 12."

The veteran players opened camp with a 6:15 a.m. practice at Dizney Lacrosse Stadium on campus. The freshmen followed with a practice Monday night.

Muschamp was asked if his players showed up with an edge about them.

"I think we've seen a very inspired group throughout the summer," he said. "It's tough a little bit when you're split squad. You don't get all of the bodies there. Not everybody's there in each position, so it's a little different, but it's the best teaching progression for our players."

Muschamp said there was a very different feel Monday compared to the start of camp a year ago, when the Gators were missing three key injured (or sick) starters — quarterback Jeff Driskel, tailback Matt Jones and offensive guard Jon Halapio.

"Three of our best players offensively," he said. "Two of them were out for the entire training camp, and Jeff was out probably 10 or 12 days. Drastically different. But I think we've improved ourself at the receiver position, running back position."

Driskel and Jones were back and 100 percent for the opening of camp Monday, along with sixth-year wide receiver Andre Debose, who tore an ACL early in camp a year ago and missed the 2013 season.

Muschamp commended Debose for putting in the work in rehab.

"He handled the rehab very well. At first, he was very frustrated. As time moved forward, he was very focused on getting back and having a great sixth year," Muschamp said. "So as far as his level of focus to be where he is right now, because really it takes a full year in my opinion on an ACL for a skill athlete to come back totally from a confidence standpoint, from a soreness standpoint, to be able to battle through those.

"I thought he looked really good this morning, looked fast on the field. I've been nothing but pleased with his rehab coming back from where he was."

Robbie Andreu is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.

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