No. 23 Florida ready to make roster decisions
By MARK LONG
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Two weeks before the season opener, No. 23 Florida held a rare, open practice Saturday in The Swamp.
The Gators better hope it's not an indication of things to come.
About 1,000 fans showed up for a two-hour session in full pads that coach Will Muschamp called a "little sluggish."
Florida's offense, led by competing quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel, mostly struggled in 11-on-11 drills. In fairness, the Gators were coming off a physical scrimmage the day before and were fairly basic in hopes of keeping coordinator Brent Pease's revamped offense under wraps. Florida opens Sept. 1 against Bowling Green.
"Obviously with today's technology, as we all see here, anything you say, do, show, it's there, it's out there and it's going to be on the Internet five minutes later," Muschamp said. "We did discuss that briefly as a staff (Friday). What are we doing today? What do we want to do? What do we want to show? ...
"At the end of the day, they got to know when you're going to call it."
Nonetheless, Muschamp has declined to show much during his two seasons in Gainesville. Saturday's practice was just the third open to the public and media.
Saying he wanted to take advantage of the team's one shot at having the element of surprise, Muschamp closed every practice last year. He has opened things up some in Year 2, but the coach still plays injuries and depth charts relatively close to the vest.
He has offered little insight into the quarterback battle, other than to insist that Florida can win with either Brissett or Driskel under center.
Neither looked polished in team drills Saturday.
Muschamp said the coaching staff would take an in-depth look at the roster Sunday and put together a plan outlining who will get more repetitions in preparation for the season.
"We got to start figuring out where these reps are going and that includes special teams, offense and defense," Muschamp said. "Right now, certainly it's a critical time these past two days for our players to take a step forward."
That includes Brissett and Driskel.
"Yeah, there is no question," Muschamp said. "We have to start figuring that out as we move forward. I think both guys, looking at it right now, are very even in what they want to do."
Brissett completed 46.2 percent of his passes for 206 yards, with two touchdowns and four interceptions. Driskel wasn't any better, completing 47.1 percent of his passes for 148 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
The Gators, who ranked 105th in the nation in total offense in 2011, are counting on the sophomores to improve under Pease. The new offense includes lots of shifts and motions that could be deceptive to opposing defenses. Not surprisingly, the Gators used none of that in Saturday's open practice.
"Stuff that is on tape, people have a book on you," Muschamp said. "Anything that was totally different or new, we didn't do."
There were plenty of positives.
The defense looked stout, as expected. Running back Mike Gillislee solidified his spot as the starter. Receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. continued to show consistency. Defensive end Dante Fowler, cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, tight end Kent Taylor and receiver Latroy Pittman all were impressive. And after calling his team soft late last season, Muschamp said it will be tougher, especially along the offensive line.
"Who are we going to win the SEC championship with? That's my question," Muschamp said. "It's not about who we can win with. We understand what our goal is here and where we need to go. ... Who's ready for this opportunity? 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."
Updated August 18, 2012