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5 posts from August 2012

August 24, 2012

Gators quarterbacks Brissett, Driskel both to play in season opener

Will Muschamp announced Friday that both Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will play in Florida’s season opener, prolonging an already lengthy quarterback competition.

The sophomores have been described as “very similar” or “dead even” since spring and Muschamp said he needs to see some game action before making a final decision. He met with both quarterbacks on Friday morning, informing them that they each will take meaningful snaps against Bowling Green on Sept. 1.

“Their numbers are very similar, whether it's in one-minute, third down -- we've taken the details down all the way, (offensive coordinator) Brent (Pease) and I have,” Muschamp said. “Both guys are very even and our football team's got great confidence in both of them. I told both of them today, the last position I'm worried about is quarterback. I feel very comfortable about both guys.”

Previously, Muschamp had hinted at announcing a starter this Monday. But with Tuesday’s third scrimmage rained out, that option was no longer viable and Muschamp said he actually made the call to play both in the opener after the team’s second scrimmage.

"Again, we can win with both guys,” he said. “I've said that all along. Nothing has changed my opinion through this camp, and how these guys have competed and managed our team. We've tried to put them in tough situations and they've both handled it well. I think as we work into competition on game day, we'll see if there is some separation. I think that's the next step. Both guys deserve the opportunity to play and I know that."

Instead of naming a starter Monday, Muschamp said the decision on who would take the game’s first snap would come later in the week. The distribution of the snaps and how they will be divided – by quarter, half or series – are also yet to be determined.

Reminded by a reporter that he said during spring that it wouldn’t be ideal to have both playing in Week 1, Muschamp said: “I don't remember saying that. I'm sure you got a quote somewhere, but it is what it is right now. We can win with both guys. We function as an offense regardless of who that guy is very well. It's a compliment to both guys, because they both have a similar skill set and they both are accomplished in what they're doing.”

Although Florida is transitioning to a new motion-heavy offense with many pre-snap adjustments under Pease, Muschamp said he was not worried about the offense’s rhythm suffering because of quarterback substitutions. Florida struggled with penalties last season, accruing 36 pre-snap procedural flags on offense for a false start, delay of game or illegal substitution. The team finished 114th nationally with 100 total penalties.

“I feel very comfortable,” Muschamp said. “We've been on the 40-second clock since practice one. Calling the offense, getting in the huddle whether it's in a no-huddle situation, a tempo situation or it's been a huddle up and call it from the sideline. Brent's purposely held calls late to get the verbiage in late for the quarterback staff to manage those situations, to get to the line of scrimmage, to understand the clock's coming down, to recognize that. So I think we've exhausted a lot of measures to make sure that these guys are prepared for this, and I feel very comfortable at this point.”

The quarterbacks will get some more work in that area today when the team practices inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, hoping to emulate game atmosphere and make up some reps missed because of Tuesday’s rain.

However, Muschamp would not speculate as to whether the competition could continue beyond the first game.

“I don't want to predict anything,” he said.

He said both Brissett and Driskel took the news well and that they understand that fans will take sides after seeing them play, creating a potentially contentious situation.

“They were great, but that's how they've handled the whole process. They're both very mature guys about it and handled it the right way. … It is what it is. Those guys understand what it is to be the quarterback at Florida. They really do. They get it, and they're mature, and they'll handle it. At the end of the day, you're going to be judged on your performance and how you play. So be it. It is what it is.”

Still, there is a slight chance this whole ordeal could be for naught, as Driskel has yet to be cleared for contact after injuring his shoulder last week in practice. He will be re-evaluated Monday.

And Muschamp would like you to believe it’s all a big fuss for nothing, anyway.

“I look at two talented guys we can win with,” he said. “It (playing two quarterbacks) didn't seem to affect LSU last year.”

August 17, 2012

Reports: Former UF running back Jeff Demps to sign with Patriots

Former UF running back Jeff Demps has agreed to a contract with the New England Patriots, according to the FOX TV News affiliate in Tampa and multiple sources.

Demps was being sought by several NFL teams and turned down serious interest from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The length and terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

Demps is expected to step in and fill a void at kick returner for New England. He will join several former Gators on the Patriots roster in defensive end Jermaine Cunningham, linebacker Brandon Spikes, tight end Aaron Hernandez, defensive tackle Gerard Warren and wide receiver Jabar Gaffney.

Spikes tweeted, "6 gators on the Pats now !!!!!!! #GrinchSmile the more the better !!" this afternoon.

After rushing for 2,470 yards and 23 touchdowns at Florida, Demps spent the spring concentrating on track and field and went to London as a part of the 4x100-meter relay team which took home a silver medal.

August 10, 2012

Gators wide receiver Story set to transfer

Redshirt freshman wide receiver Ja'Juan Story will transfer from Florida, coach Will Muschamp announced through a statement Friday morning.

Story, a 6-foot-3, 206-pound four-star recruit from Brooksville Nature Coast, did not play in a game last season, spending the majority of the year on the scout team.

"Ja'Juan came me to Thursday afternoon and indicated that he wanted to transfer," Muschamp said through a school release. "He just felt like this wasn't a good fit for him and he needed a fresh start. Ja'Juan is a good student and was a good teammate and we wish him the best of luck."

Story had more than 20 offers from Division I schools before ultimately enrolling at Florida last summer. He took visits to Ohio State and Oregon during the recruiting process.

“I met with Coach Muschamp Thursday afternoon and told him I wanted to transfer," Story said. "I had a great experience here and met a bunch of great people. It is a great football program with great players and coaches. It just wasn't the right fit for me."

August 03, 2012

Gators receivers coach Hill resigns, cites personal reasons

With Florida's fall camp set to open today, coach Will Muschamp announced wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Aubrey Hill has resigned.

"Aubrey informed me he was resigning for personal reasons that have nothing to do with the University of Florida," Muschamp said Friday in a prepared statement. "Aubrey didn't want to be a distraction to our team and our football program and he thought it was best for him to move on. I appreciate Aubrey's efforts and wish him the best of luck moving forward. He will always remain a Gator."

Hill, who was an assistant coach at Miami for three years before joining Florida's staff in 2011, has been mentioned in two Yahoo! Sports stories investigating improper benefits provided by booster Nevin Shapiro to players the Hurricanes were targeting in recruiting.The first report broke nearly a year ago, but the NCAA is still investigating and has yet to hand down any punishment.

"I have too much love and respect for this program to become a distraction as I deal with some personal issues," Hill said. "I'm thankful for the opportunity to have worked with coach Muschamp, a tremendous staff and great group of players. The future is very bright here and the University of Florida will always have a special place in my heart."

In Hill's absence, new offensive coordinator Brent Pease will step in to coach the receivers alongside former Boise State quarterback and graduate assistant Bush Hamdan.

UF has not named a replacement recruiting coordinator, which is where the largest fallout of this news will likely come. Hill was a big name in the recruiting circles in the state of Florida and was very close with several of Florida's top-ranked verbal commitments.

UPDATE: Four-star wide receiver Rodney Adams of St. Petersburg Lakewood, who committed to Florida in February, has reopened his recruitment and has spoken to staffs from West Virginia, FSU and USF this morning, according to Rivals.com.


Hurricanes coach Al Golden's staff used booster's associate in potential recruiting violations - Most recent Yahoo! story that mentions Hill.

Renegade Miami football booster spells out illicit benefits to players - Original Yahoo! report on Shapiro.

August 02, 2012

UF Media Day: Muschamp, players talk improvement with fall camp set to open

With Florida set to begin fall practice Friday, second-year head coach Will Muschamp and Gators players addressed the media Thursday.

While these preseason media sessions are usually filled with hyperbole, that wasn't the case in Gainesville. Coming off a 7-6 season, much of the chatter from Muschamp and players was of improvement.

Before fielding any questions from the contingent in attendance, Muschamp pointed out several glowing reasons as to why there isn't any chest-thumping happening in The Swamp: UF has compiled a 15-11 record in its last two seasons, was outscored 72-22 in the fourth quarter last season, has led the Southeastern Conference in penalties the last two seasons and the team's minus-12 turnover margin a season ago.

"It's been emphasized, not well enough," he said. "So we have re-evaluated ourselves and what we have done as a staff to do a better job."

"We need to quit talking and start playing. At the end of the day, just get on the field and play. And that's what we need to do as a staff and what we need to do as a team. I didn't even contemplate even bringing a team over here today but [associate athletics director] Steve (McClain) wanted to."

Here are some highlights from Muschamp's press conference:

- New strength coach Jeff Dillman from IMG Academies instituted an olympic-style weight regimen that most players have raved about. The physical change in appearance of several players was noticeable. After the regular-season-ending loss to FSU, Muschamp infamously referred to his team as "soft." He said Thursday the team's attitude is "much improved" because the players have "bought-in."

"Their way didn't work," he said. "I think that they understand where we are headed with this program."

"Jeff Dillman is a Will Muschamp guy at the end of the day, and he's putting the same philosophical ideas I want in the weight room, from an Olympic core lifting and the things that we need to do to be
successful, that I know work in this league."

- Muschamp also discussed the benefits of bringing aboard new offensive coordinator Brent Pease, who brings to UF from Boise State a shift-heavy, motion offense that UF believes can cause problems in the conference.

"In a four-day period in game week and getting ready for that, especially when you have to adjust to some different motions and shifts each week, it creates issues defensively for you. I think that those are things that are different that certainly will complement our players very well and our scheme and our system."

More on this in the coming days and weeks.

- Florida begins its season on a bit of a different note this season, as the team travels to College Station, Texas, to welcome Texas A&M to the conference in Week 2. The Gators usually schedule two lesser opponents in the first two weeks before beginning the SEC slate in Week 3 against Tennessee. Muschamp said the team can't afford a sluggish start.

"We need to come out of the gate fast," he said. "I think it's been a great motivating factor for our football team over the summer and in the offseason program and in spring to understand that."

- There has not been any change in the quarterback competition between sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel. Muschamp has been adamant that the team can win with either under center and said following spring practice that how each handles players-only practices during the summer would have a leg up. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from having contact during the summer. However, Muschamp did not provide any insight Thursday.

"From a standpoint of just hearsay, I think both guys have worked hard and they both look good physically. Both were in my office today. We'll see tomorrow (when practice begins)."

- Injury updates: According to Muschamp, defensive tackle Nick Alajajian (back) will be limited for the first 10 days of camp but is expected to be fine; freshman safety Marcus Maye (meniscus), should be cleared during the middle of camp; freshman tight end Colin Thompson (foot) will be limited to begin camp after undergoing surgery in spring and should be fine; wider receiver Stephen Alli (stress fracture) will be cleared probably middle of camp; cornerback Jeremy Brown, who missed all of last season and significant time in 2009 due to injuries, is still out but is expected to be cleared by September 1.

Muschamp also said starting Buck linebacker Ronald Powell has improved after surgery to repair a torn ACL he suffered in the spring game. No timetable for his return has been given.

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