The University of Florida opens Spring Practice on March 16th. The Orange and Blue Debut will be on Apr 9th.
What a debut it will be. Sanders Practice Field welcomes Will Muschamp and seven new assistant coaches. This is the players first real introduction to the new coaching staff.
Then it’s the offseason and that’s Mickey Marotti’s time to shine. The longtime strength and conditioning coach is one of the best in the business.
Let's look at the top story lines surrounding the Florida Gators as they head into the spring.
He’s the new coach of Florida football and he grew up in Gainesville.
He’s known for his high energy demeanor on the football field and his intense coaching style. Though it sounds like spring practice is going to be closed so we won’t get an up close look at that.
Also he is an SEC coach who graduated from Georgia and coached at LSU and Auburn. Urban Meyer was a graduate of Cincinnati who coached at Ohio State and dreamed of coaching at Notre Dame. Most of all, Muschamp is a defensive coach.
He’s come back to Florida to restore to greatness what was the foundation of all the great Gator teams; defense. Even when Florida wasn’t any good, they always had good defensive players.
The best thing about Will Muschamp turned out to be his hiring ability. He was able to attract an NFL quality coaching staff to set up shop in Gainesville, FL.
Charlie Weis is the new Head Coach/Offense, right?
If there is a head coach of offense and a head coach of defense, does that mean Athletic Director Jeremy Foley decides if the Gators punt on fourth down?
All jokes aside, I am interested to see how the dynamic works between Charlie and Will.
Is Charlie happy just to be offensive coordinator or does he still want to prove he can be a head coach?
Needless to say, everyone is excited to see what he can do with this Gator offense and especially the talent at the skill positions that was underutilized by the previous offense.
Let’s be honest, Florida fans love their old coaches.
We even check in on Ron Zook every now and then to see how he’s doing (Illinois went 7-6 with a win in the Texas Bowl against Baylor last year).
Two time National Champion Coach Urban Meyer is headed to ESPN.
Will fans be watching his talking head on TV wishing he was their coach again? Didn’t he say he was just going to hang out in Gainesville around the football offices? I wonder how his former players feel about that.
The bottom line is it's great for Florida to have it’s former coach on national TV with the likes of Lou Holtz and Kirk Herbstreit.
Now, any one of these aforementioned coaches may come up in conversation more than the others depending on where you live in Gator Nation.
If you live in St. Augustine, for example, maybe you have your summertime neighbor Steve Spurrier on your mind more than the others.
He is still the most beloved Gator coach and he heads into his spring practice with his South Carolina Gamecocks picked to win the SEC East.
Though some may feel otherwise, seeing the ol' Ball Coach win at USC mostly just conjures up good feelings and reminiscence.
My feeling is that there has been some Brantley family politics going on behind the scenes the last few years.
There is a large fraction of Gator Nation that wants to see Scot’s nephew and John’s son start and win at Florida.
Could that have been the type of stuff that in the end made the job too much to handle for Urban Meyer? Maybe that’s just part of the territory at a big-time university.
I fully expect Johnny Brantley to start and to have a great year.
What happens to the other QBs from last year? Remember Florida’s vaunted three-headed quarterback monster? Yeah, me neither.
The utility man Trey Burton is rumored to be headed to defense. Muschamp likes defensive backs who have played quarterback before because that means they’ve had to make decisions. Former Gator All-American CB Joe Haden played quarterback in high school and so did Trey Burton. I think Burton will turn out to be a lot like Ahmad Black at the safety position.
Jordan Reed translates to a pro style TE but I’d like to see him battle it out for the starting QB spot. I don’t think he’ll get the chance because he looks so good at TE.
Tyler Murphy will end up being a great scout team player for the Gators if he sticks around. He has a good enough mix of athleticism and arm, that he could be invaluable as a scout team guy getting the starters ready week to week.
Seven items in and all I’ve mentioned is coaches and quarterbacks. That’s Florida Football for you.
Jeff Driskel committed to Urban Meyer. Jacoby Brissett committed to Charlie Weis.
Their quarterback battle will be the storyline once spring practice starts.
Brantley is the starter this year no matter what.
These guys are going to battle it out for the future of Florida football.
Janoris Jenkins came back for his Senior year. Really? Why?
I think he came back to graduate, become a better football player, and close out his Gator career as four year starter and a winner.
And play himself into a top five pick. Though he might not get as much money as he would have last year with the old NFL CBA.
In January, he was arrested for marijuana and will likely face some sort of punishment for that.
Whenever he does get on the field, he is a bonafide All-American and a stabilizing force in the secondary.
Now, we’re getting into the meat and potatoes. The defensive line for Florida was at an all-time low last year.
Enter Dan Quinn who was Will Muschamp’s defensive line coach with the Miami Dolphins.
Muschamp also brought on Bryant Young, the former All-Pro with the San Francisco 49ers.
The defensive line will be getting much needed attention from all three men.
The move to the 3-4 should help out the line because Florida is stronger at the DT position than the DE position. You want those front three in a 3-4 defense to be those wide DT type bodies.
The question then becomes how do the outside linebackers (some of them transplanted DEs) handle being a stand up rusher and dropping back into coverage.
Florida returns tackles Omar Hunter, Jaye Howard, Sharif Floyd and Dominique Easley.
I think Ronald Powell will make the move to OLB along with Lerentee McCray, Earl Okine and William Green. Though Powell may find himself back on the line due to numbers or injuries.
Both lines of scrimmage for the Gators last year were sub-par.
We came into last spring hearing how the offensive line was a strength of the team and I’m hearing the same thing this year.
So what’s going to be different?
Will Muschamp brought in Frank Verducci who has experience coaching offensive line under Charlie Weis.
Getting tackle Matt Patchan healthy and on the field would go a long way toward helping the O-Line become a cohesive unit. He has a certain "it" factor the previous coaching staff was sold on. He never was able to stay healthy, though.
Florida returns solid starting tackle Xavier Nixon and guard Jon Halapio. James Wilson, also a guard, has starting experience.
Sam Robey should be ready to take over center duties in the post Pouncey era.
Yes, Will Muschamp you get a pass your first recruiting class.
This year, Florida fans expect a top five recruiting class whether or not you “count stars”.
Recruiting is off to a good start with three commitments in the month of February. One of those was the top running back in the state, Matt Jones.
Florida fans just want to see that continue. Win the state of Florida and everything will be OK.
When a new coaching staff comes in, there is always an adjustment period.
There is a feeling out period before both sides develop trust with the other. It may take a few weeks and it sometimes never happens at all.
Sometimes it's called a team "buying in" to a coaches philosophy.
Call it group consciousness or team chemistry or whatever you want to call it.
It took Chris Leak and the offense until the National Championship in Urban Meyer's second year to really start clicking.
With this coaching staff, I thinks its not a matter of if they will get things clicking but when and how?
Does it happen Sep. 3rd against FAU or how about Sep. 17th vs Tennessee? Or will it not be until 2012?
Relive the best moment of 2010.
Two bad teams made for one of the best games in the Florida-Georgia rivalry.
Check out the hype of Jeff Driskel.
Top Notch editing and a must see for any Gator fanatic. Or a fan of quarterbacks in general.
A bit more modest, but still impressive highlight.
While not having the same wow factor as Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett is probably the better of the two as a pure passer. I think the two guys are pretty evenly matched and both are really good.