UF off and running in first week of practice

August, 8, 2014
Aug 8
4:00
PM ET
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After three years of watching his pro-style offense go nowhere slowly, Florida head coach Will Muschamp switched to an up-tempo, spread attack.

Installing a new offense takes time, however, and there is only so much that can be accomplished in 15 practices during the spring. That is why there might not be a team that benefited from the NCAA's offseason rule change more than the Gators.

Whereas coaches used to hand off their players to the strength and conditioning staff, the new rule allows coaches to spend up to eight hours a week with players, including two hours for meetings and film study.

[+] EnlargeMuschamp
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesHead coach Will Muschamp likes what he has seen from the Gators so far in practice.
"I'm really pleased with how our summer went," Muschamp said just before Florida opened preseason camp this week. "I love the new NCAA rule, to be able to be on the field with our guys, see our guys work. We're much further along than we have ever been because of the new rule. That's a credit to the NCAA."

Senior right tackle Chaz Green said the interaction was especially helpful for Florida's offensive linemen.

"That helped," he said. "Coach [Mike] Summers did a good job of letting us know what drills he wanted us to work on, and I would go up there and talk with him, meet with him and he would show me a couple of things and then he would go through them, and we would all meet in the offseason. That was definitely a big help."

Green said he and three teammates were responsible for organizing all of the players.

"I was the mediator," he said. "I made sure everybody got to the places on time."

Offensive line developing chemistry: It's been well documented just how thin the Gators are on the line, which likely will play a critical role in the success of the offense.

Florida has just six linemen who have ever started a collegiate game and eight freshmen. Summers has insisted that each of his veterans work with one of the freshmen.

In the early going, Muschamp singled out redshirt freshmen Roderick Johnson and Antonio Riles along with true freshmen David Sharpe and Andrew Mike.

"David Sharpe has been looking real good," Green said. "Young guy has been working with some of the older groups, big body, 330 [pounds], real long. He's been coming along real well. So far he's stood out to me.

"[Johnson] is full-go. He's behind me [on the depth chart]. We're sharing reps. He's a guy that can play a lot of positions, too. He's definitely somebody that can help us, very athletic. It's good that he's finally healthy with the group. We're expecting big things this year. He's looking pretty good so far this camp."

Fast track for young corners: Star cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III exemplifies Florida's situation in the secondary -- very young but very talented.

The Gators expect to start a true freshman opposite Hargreaves, who is still just a sophomore and a teen himself. The top candidates, Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson, arrived on campus in January and have already distinguished themselves in Hargreaves' eyes.

"Jalen and Duke, they're vets in my book," he said. "They have a spring under their belts. They understand the defense and what's expected. In my book they're with me.

"They're playing well. They're still getting it. We've got to do better. We've got to perfect our craft."

Muschamp also was quick to praise Tabor and Dawson for carrying over what they learned earlier in the year.

"Jalen Tabor did some nice things," he said. "Duke did some nice things. Duke’s a guy we played at the nickel a little in the spring, can play a different position. He gives you a different skill set as far as a bigger guy that’s a good blitzer. He’s got good run instincts, could possibly get some looks at safety. Smart guy."

Extra points: Muschamp said true freshman tight end C'yontai Lewis suffered a thigh bruise in Thursday night's practice, and true freshman defensive tackle Thomas Holley is dealing with scar tissue buildup from a sports hernia surgery in high school. Both will be held out of Friday night's practice. ... Steve Shaw, the SEC's coordinator of officials, visited Florida on Friday morning to clarify rules and rule changes. "We talked a lot about pace of play," Muschamp said, "and the procedure that our officials -- which do a great job in our league -- of handling hurry-up situations."

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