The Florida Gators' first spring practice is Wednesday and there is a lot of excitement around the University of Florida.
Spring practice at Florida is traditionally open to fans and media. This year, everyone's first look at the new look Gators won't come until April 9th and the Orange and Blue Debut. Muschamp hopes fans understand the need to limit distractions so the coaches can install their system.
Will Muschamp, Charlie Weis and Dan Quinn all had press conferences on Monday, the 14th.
Will Muschamp thinks the offseason is when you really build a team and start to develop an identity. He hopes to instill toughness and develop leadership in the offseason program.
In the spring, Muschamp wants to find out how much his players can handle and what do they do best. He said he’s from the philosophy of "Throw it all at them and see what sticks".
The team is thin on both lines of scrimmage. Coach Muschamp like the quality but not the quantity. All three coaches emphasized cross training players at multiple positions, especially on defense (DT/NT and LB/DE). It helps out depth concerns if/when guys go down with injuries. It also increases player value at the next level.
There won’t be much work on this fall’s opponents. Most of the work this spring will center on seeing how much the players can handle and teaching as much as possible.
Charlie Weis referred to it as "Florida’s offense" and Will Muschamp referred to it as "Florida’s program" so it seems like they're on the same page. Florida's head coach is Will Muschamp and the offense is going to be run by Charlie Weis and the bottom line is it's really all about Florida football.
Muschamp said they will start day one will special teams and return man jobs will be up for grabs. Kicker Caleb Sturgis will be limited and the coaching staff is excited about newcomer punter Kyle Christy.
If Charlie Weis came to Florida for family reasons, then he came to the right place because the Florida program prides itself on it’s family atmosphere. Hopefully a situation will work out where Weis’ special needs daughter Hannah will be able to stay in Gainesville so the whole family can be together.
In Will Muschamp’s view, a big part of a group of players “buying in” is credibility and Charlie Weis brings instant credibility. Muschamp likes Weis’ history of butting heads with head coaches. He says he didn’t want to hire a bunch of yes men.
Charlie said he knows when and how to disagree with a head coach. He sounds sincere when he says that Will is the boss and that he’s not here to take his job. I think he makes it clear though that the offense is in his full control. Weis’ philosophy in spring is to challenge the players to see what they can handle so you know what you’re dealing with later in summer and into the fall.
Will Muschamp will have a heavy hand in defense, special teams, and recruiting but make no mistake about who is charge of the O.
Charlie feels like he can give some guidance to the first time head coach. He says sometimes he looks back to a certain situation during his time at Notre Dame and thinks, “Why did I do that?”.
Weis is able to satisfy his wife (who is a horse person) by building a home in the fertile Equestrian grounds of Ocala, FL. His son will be going to school at UF also and is looking to be a student assistant coach. Weis says his son’s mentor is Bill Belichick and that the two talk more than Charlie and Bill do.
Weis said he admired Florida’s program from afar while Urban Meyer was coach. He joked that since he always got beat by Florida on the recruiting trail, that maybe he ended up at the right place now.
Weis obviously really likes Jacoby Brissett (in a previous article, I referred to Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel’s QB battle this spring which will not take place until the fall when Brissett arrives on campus) as a QB. He is almost solely responsible for him committing to Florida. Charlie Weis’ mindset was how can you pass on two players that are that good? He really likes Tyler Murphy also and he likes recruiting so expect the Florida QB position to be stacked while Weis is coach.
On offense, Florida wants to be balanced. Will Muschamp and Charlie Weis have high expectations for QB John Brantley. I predicted in a previous article that Trey Burton would move to safety but he will not. Burton stays on offense to be a mismatch problem for defenses.
With Jordan Reed at TE, the Gators will have two guys in the starting lineup that can line up in the backfield, tight end, or out wide. Charlie Weis looks to continue what has been the trademark of Gator offense since 2006; versatile offensive players creating mismatches.
Burton and Reed look to continue in the footsteps of players like Percy Harvin and Aaron Hernandez.
The Gator defense is going to be multiple (4-3 and 3-4 defensive fronts). Coach Will Muschamp plans on defensive coordinator Dan Quinn calling the defense on game day. Quinn plans to play more man coverage especially early on in the year. Will Muschamp and Dan Quinn are a lot alike when it comes to their football philosophy. They’ve only coached together one year before (Miami Dolphins 2005) but have kept in touch since.
Quinn is a balanced defensive coach. He said sometimes he may only rush four to help out coverage in split safety defenses and sometimes he likes to play man and rush five or six. He wants a defense that plays hard and creates takeaways.
He expects his defensive line to affect the QB during a game by sacks, hits and/or flushing him out of the pocket.
Dan Quinn’s belief in employing a multiple defense began with a conversation he had when he was a defensive line coach for the Dolphins. Head coach Nick Saban asked offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey if preparing for a 4-3 or 3-4 defense was harder. Mularkey answered, “Both”.
It sounds like Chris Martin and Ronald Powell will compete for the “Buck” position on defense. Brian Orakpo played it under Will Muschamp at Texas. It's a hybrid DE that will stand up, drop in coverage and cover tight ends.
Janoris Jenkins will be out for spring still recovering from shoulder surgery.
The thin defensive line gets another body with Leon Orr moving to DT from offensive line.
Gerald Christian also moves to LB from offense. He was listed as a TE last year.
Dan Quinn said Pete Carroll had an impact on him last year in Seattle. It comes across in Quinn’s positive attitude.
He’s excited about his former player, Bryant Young coming aboard as defensive line coach.
Dan Quinn coached Young 2001-2004 with the San Francisco 49ers.
He promised Young he would hire him if he ever got the chance.
Will Muschamp talked about Charlie Weis having instant credibility. I think Bryant Young should have that effect on the defensive line.
Will Muschamp talked about the need for his team buy into the common purpose and see the big picture.
He said it starts with his coaching staff and the players feed off the coaches. So far its going smoothly for the coaches.
The players are showing an eagerness to work and “buy in” but that’s expected in spring practice.
Everyone is excited in the spring.
Muschamp will wait until fall before he gauges whether his players are "all-in" or not.
When asked about leadership, Will Muschamp singled out some guys for their effort during the previous offseason weight program.
Frankie Hammond Jr, William Green, Robert Clark, Chandler Carr, John Brantley, Stephen Alli, Jeff Driskel, and Cody Riggs were honored for their work in the weight room and off the field.
Muschamp believes it’s the coaching staff’s responsibility to develop leadership on the team.
He hopes to do that through mental conditioning and character development and it starts within the organization.
Coach Muschamp is confident that the coaching staff will be able to develop the leadership necessary to move this Florida program in the right direction.
Will Muschamp defines a leader as someone who is a productive player, dependable, durable and someone who positively affects everyone around him.
And that’s everyday not just on game day which is why it’s hard to be a leader.
A leader doesn't have to be vocal; he can lead by example.
The coaches want to convey to the players a blue collar mentality.
Muschamp wants his team to be known as over-achievers with a workmanlike attitude.
If he can achieve that with the talent in Gainesville, the Gators should have a successful season.