- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
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GAINESVILE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp took to the SEC's weekly teleconference on Wednesday morning to talk about the Gators’ game at Vanderbilt on Saturday. He touched on the situation at punt returner, Vanderbilt coach James Franklin and why the team is better than it was in 2011.
1. Many unhappy returns
Florida has struggled returning punts, and Muschamp said on Monday the Gators would be taking a look at the players returning punts (Andre Debose, De’Ante Saunders and Marcus Roberson) during practice this week.
“I have a lot of confidence in Andre. Andre got banged up a little last week. We’ve just got to make some better decisions as far as fielding the ball. We’ve put Pop back there. We’ve put Marcus back there. Andre’s been back there, and Frankie Hammond’s a guy that can get some looks. Trey Burton. So we’re still repping a bunch of guys and I’ve got confidence in Andre. We’ve got to do a better job of holding up on blocking for him, but a couple situations we could have certainly fielded the ball and not lost some yardage there.”
2. Commodores aren't a pushover
Vanderbilt nearly upset Florida in Gainesville last season. The Commodores scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns and the Gators only sealed the victory when Jordan Reed recovered an onside kick with 1:16 remaining. Franklin has brought a different attitude to the program in less than two seasons and Muschamp said the Commodores are taking on the personality of their coach.
“I think he did a fantastic job last year. One thing, you turn the tape on you see guys playing hard and fast and physical. Multiple offensively. Bob Shoop does a a great job defensively attacking. What they do special teams, there’s no question that that’s James’ personality written all over it.”
3. Gators make strides
Florida is a better team than it was a season ago. Why? Muschamp says because the Gators are older, stronger and healthier.
“The No. 1 thing is we’re a year older. We’re more mature. We’re a stronger group from the weight room than we were a year ago because what I said, we’re a year older. We had a very young team last year, a talented team but a young team. We’ve been able to stay for the most part injury free at some key positions. I think that they’ve seen that the type of mentality I want on this football team and in this organization and the type of players we’re going to recruit. So I certainly have seen a little bit of it but we have a ways to go.”
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