GAINESVILLE -- Florida coach Will Muschamp formally introduced three new assistant coaches Monday, but he also updated UF’s extensive injury report and hinted at a blank-slate approach to spring practice.
The Gators -- decimated by 11 season-ending injuries during their dismal 4-8 campaign -- will enter spring camp (tentatively starting March 19) with their former starting quarterback healthy but remain shorthanded elsewhere.
Junior signal caller Jeff Driskel, who broke his leg against Tennessee last September, should be ready for spring practice, according to Muschamp.
“His rehab is coming along very well,” UF’s coach said.
The Gators pushed back camp roughly one week in order to give Driskel the most time to heal.
The prognosis was not so good for junior tailback Matt Jones, who sustained a complete radial tear in his left meniscus (Oct. 12) and will miss spring practice following a second procedure expected to take place in about a month.
Muschamp said Jones’ initial surgery repaired “60 percent of the meniscus” and is hopeful the tailback will be ready for the start of preseason camp in August.
“He had a radial tear, which basically splits the meniscus in half,” Muschamp explained. “We’re going to go back and build the quad back and then we’re going to come back in three or four weeks to have a scope to repair the remaining 40 percent. Our orthopedics feel very confident that they’re going to be able to do so. … We’re very optimistic about the meniscus being fine.”
Also sidelined for spring practice are linebackers Matt Rolin (torn ACL) and Alex Anzalone (torn labrum), as well as special teams ace Jeremi Powell (torn ACL). Wideout/kick returner Andre Debose (torn ACL) is expected to participate in all non-contact drills, while offensive tackle Tyler Moore (fractured elbow) will have an X-ray in a couple weeks to determine his status for the 15 practices. Finally, redshirt freshman offensive lineman Octavius Jackson had offseason shoulder surgery to repair “a chronic issue,” and is questionable for camp.
Meanwhile coming off the school’s first losing season in 34 years, change is afoot and no one is guaranteed a starting job, according to Muschamp.
Florida’s coach refused to tab Driskel as UF’s No. 1 quarterback for 2014, saying, “Every job is open. When you go 4-8, it’s all open.”
“You are what your record is,” Muschamp continued. “I’m a 4-8 coach, and we’ve got a 4-8 ball club. We need to work hard to get better and improve in every facet.”
NINE NEW FACES ON CAMPUS
UF officially announced nine early enrollees including five-star defensive back Jalen Tabor. The rest of the group includes TE DeAndre Goolsby, QB Will Grier, OL Kavaris Harkless, OL Nolan Kelleher, OL Drew Sarvary, RB Brandon Powell, DL Taven Bryan and DB Duke Dawson.
JOKER AN OC CANDIDATE?
As first reported by the Austin American-Statesman, Florida wide receivers coach Joker Phillips is one of three finalists for Texas’ offensive coordinator position.
On Monday, UF’s offensive line coach Mike Summers -- who actually recruited Phillips to Kentucky in 1981 -- and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper both spoke glowingly of Phillips and acknowledged their strong ties to the assistant was a factor in their decision to come to Florida.
Musuchamp said he does not anticipate any more changes on his coaching staff.
“As far as an injury update, I’m not going go through everybody, but what I’m going to do is if I don’t say anything about them, that means they’re a full go for spring. And if I hit on guys — there’s different guys, and I’ve got multiple dates and we could be here all day if you want me to go through it.”
-- Muschamp, on Florida’s hampered roster.
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