Saturday, August 18, 2012
Notebook: D-day looming for Gators
By Michael DiRocco
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Sunday will be a big day for the Florida football team.
The players will have their first day off after 18 consecutive days of practice, but the coaching staff will be hunkered in the football facility trying to figure out which players need to be on the field and in what roles before game-planning for the season opener against Bowling Green begins.
Will Muschamp, shown earlier during Florida's preseason camp, said on Saturday that decisions will soon be made about players' roles.
"We’ve got to start figuring out where these reps are going," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "That includes special teams, offense and defense. So right now certainly it’s a critical time these past two days for our players to take a step forward."
The Gators scrimmaged on Friday and had a two-hour workout in front of about 1,000 fans in the Swamp on Saturday. That’s the final impression the staff will have before making decisions about the depth chart. There won’t be a decision made on the starting quarterback, however. That won’t be made until the end of next week, Muschamp said.
"We do this every day, but it’ll be in major detail tomorrow," Muschamp said. "Who are we going to win the SEC championship with? That’s my question. It’s not about who we can win with. We understand what our goal is here and where we need to go. It’ll be probably a couple hours at least. We’ll go through it. Who does D.J. [Durkin] really need to concentrate on on special teams? Who’s ready for this opportunity?
"No decisions tomorrow are made about freshmen, whether they’re going to play or not. That’s not really what it is. We’re still investing time in everybody, but we need to start dwindling the reps down and we need these guys to continue to pick it up."
Florida will practice twice on Monday and have the final scrimmage of camp on Tuesday before taking Wednesday off again because it’s the first day of classes. Game-planning for the Sept. 1 opener will begin Thursday.
Muschamp said he won’t make a decision on which quarterback will start until the end of next week at the earliest and could announce a starter on Aug. 27.
Fourth quarter emphasized
One of the Gators’ biggest points of emphasis during camp was getting better in the fourth quarter. UF was embarrassed in the final period during SEC play last season, getting outscored 72-22 in the fourth quarter in eight SEC games. UF didn’t score a single point in the fourth quarter in a winless October.
The Gators worked on it specifically during Friday’s scrimmage with the following situation: tie game, 5:10 remaining. Muschamp said he was pleased to see the players make good decisions, especially on offense.
"Chris Johnson caught a pass and got out of bounds," Muschamp said. "Probably could have gotten an extra 8 yards by cutting it up the field but took the ball out of bounds. There were some things we did in that part that were smart.
"That has been a huge emphasis going through camp. Let’s find the guys that are willing to make the good decisions and have the mental toughness to battle through it."
Humphries out; others banged up
Freshman offensive tackle D.J. Humphries suffered a sprained MCL during Friday’s scrimmage and will miss 2-3 weeks.
Two other players -- junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd and redshirt sophomore linebacker Michael Taylor -- wore orange non-contact jerseys Saturday because they are dealing with minor shoulder injuries. Redshirt senior linebacker Lerentee McCray is dealing with a hamstring injury as well. Muschamp said he’s hopeful all three will return on Monday.
Freshman safety Marcus Maye has been held out of practice because of swelling and soreness related to the meniscus injury in his knee.
Junior defensive end Dominique Easley participated in part of Saturday’s practice but was held out toward the end because the coaching staff is trying to limit his reps as he returns from ACL surgery.