Roster decisions ahead for Florida coaches

By Adam Silverstein
August 18, 2012

Starting quarterback may be the position battle getting the most attention as it pertains to the Florida Gators this offseason but head coach Will Muschamp has plenty of other roster decisions to make before the season begins.

Muschamp said Saturday following Florida’s only open practice of fall that the team may have a day off on Sunday but the coaches certainly do not.

“We will meet [Sunday] as a staff and really just kind of grind out our roster to know where guys are going to fit and what they’re going to do in all phases,” he said.

“We do this every day but it will be in major detail [Sunday]. It’s ‘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, so who are the guys we need to count on? It will probably be a couple of hours at least, and we will go through it.”

Muschamp said he will be “brutally honest” when discussing the decisions they make with the players. But no matter what is put on paper Sunday, Gators players will have at least two more practices (two-a-day on Monday) and one scrimmage (Tuesday) to either reinforce the coaches’ decisions or force their hands into making a change.

Of course, as far as the quarterbacks are concerned, a decision will “probably [be made] into the next week” and not announced publicly until the press conference set for Monday of game week – Aug. 27.

Muschamp realizes, with the quarterback battle coming to an end, that sophomores Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett have put a lot into their competition, noting that it is “very unusual” to have a pair of signal callers of this quality in the same recruiting class.

“It’s interesting in recruiting that position how families and recruits position themselves where certain guys go they don’t want to go,” he said. “And both of these guys embraced this. Both of these guys are competitors and there was no blinking on either part as far as having these guys in this class and their competition. It’s been a very healthy competition between the both of them.”

Driskel was committed to Florida well before Muschamp took over the program but kept his pledge after the resignation of head coach Urban Meyer, a decision that certainly impressed the new guy in charge.

“When young men commit to the University of Florida or any school, they commit to the school. They commit to the school…I hope,” he said. “I think in Jeff’s situation and the Driskel family, I would say he committed to the school.

“Certainly he had a great relationship with Scot Loeffler, the quarterback coach at the time, and Urban did a great job. But at the end of the day, Jeff wanted to be at the University of Florida and put his situation in our hands to make sure we were going to make good decisions as far as what we were going to do offensively for him and as a team.”

Brissett, who was targeted by the coaching staff and recruited personally by then-offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, committed to the Gators knowing full well that he would go head-to-head with Driskel at some point. Muschamp explained Saturday that he was equally impressed with his decision-making process.

“I think Jacoby wanted to come to the University of Florida and he wanted that opportunity,” he said. “After looking at the roster at the time in December, I’m sitting there and you got Jeff committed coming to campus mid-year. You’re looking at your roster at the time and you had some other guys playing the quarterback position that weren’t natural quarterbacks.

“You’re thinking your numbers are OK but actually you study your roster, you watch bowl practice and [you realize] we need to sign another quarterback. We’re not maybe where I thought we were at the quarterback position. So we watched the film and made a decision on Jacoby. He’s a guy that wanted to play at Florida and certainly didn’t blink about competition. Neither guy did.”

Now it will be up to Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease to ultimately make the choice as far as who will lead the offense onto the field for the first game of 2012.

Gators fans can only hope that the coaches take a page from the playbook of the players and don’t blink when they make a decision that can affect the entire season.

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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