Saturday, March 16, 2013
Gators break up special teams duties
By Michael DiRocco
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida's new approach on special teams was on display during the Gators' final open practice of the spring.
Marcus Roberson was one of four Florida punt returners that struggled with the sun while catching punts Saturday.
D.J. Durkin has been UF's special teams coordinator since he was hired by former coach Urban Meyer in 2010, but Will Muschamp promoted him to defensive coordinator in January after Dan Quinn left to become the defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks. Being in charge of the defense and special teams is too much, so the Gators have split things up.
Running backs coach Brian White will coach the punt team. Defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson will coach the kickoff team, punt block and punt return teams. Receivers coach Joker Phillips will coach the kickoff return team. Durkin and Muschamp will assist as needed.
"Really, all of us worked in those sections last year when D.J. kind of headed it up," Muschamp said. "We will all contribute as far as that’s concerned with special teams."
Robinson appears to have a lot of work ahead of him in regards to the punt return team. He was working with Trey Burton, Marcus Roberson, Demarcus Robinson, and Andre Debose on fielding punts on Saturday. All three were having trouble dealing with the bright sun. Several times the players had balls bounce off their helmets. Robinson, in particular, had trouble getting into position to catch the ball and had several go over his head.
Bright sunshine is obviously something the players are going to have to deal with, and the players that had the most trouble with it (Burton and Robinson) are ones who haven't had much work as a returner. Roberson and Burton are the top two returners on the depth chart.