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.