Scott Carter’s Blog Carter’s Corner
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The standards are going to be high. So are the expectations.
That was a key message new Gators offensive line coach Mike Summers shared with his latest group of man movers.
Since he was hired 10 days ago by Gators coach Will Muschamp, the 57-year-old Summers hasn't had a lot of time to get to know the players he is now responsible for coaching and developing. But based on first impressions, Summers likes the building blocks the Gators have up front to help reverse the program's fortunes in 2014.
"The one thing that I know is that the players I've met on this football team are hungry to be successful,'' Summers said. "And they believe in Coach Muschamp. They believe in this program. And all of those feelings have come through to me just in the short time that I've been here.
"I believe I can make an impact in what's going on, on the offensive line. I feel extremely comfortable with the coaches we have on this offensive staff."
Summers quipped that he may lead the nation in head coaches in the past year. He was at Kentucky in 2012 on Gators receivers coach Joker Phillips' staff, briefly accepted a position on Bobby Petrino's staff at Western Kentucky before opting to move across country to join Lane Kiffin's USC staff.
When Kiffin was fired, Summers stayed aboard and helped the Trojans win 10 games under interim head coach Ed Orgeron. After USC parted ways with Orgeron, Summers was looking for his next stop.
He didn't have to wait long as Muschamp sought a replacement for Tim Davis.
Summers is well respected in coaching circles for his success during a 34-year coaching career highlighted by a successful tenure at Louisville with Petrino -- the Cardinals went 41-9 during Summers' four seasons there -- and featured one of the country's most explosive offenses.
"He has a diverse background,'' Muschamp said Monday at Summers' introductory press conference at UF. "He is a great addition to our staff. He's done a fantastic job. In the interview process, a fantastic teacher, a good teaching progression. Some young guys are going to need to be developed and developed very quickly."
The Gators lose starting center Jonotthan Harrison and right guard Jon Halapio, but an experienced group that includes D.J. Humphries, Chaz Green, Tyler Moore and Max Garcia return.
The mission for Summers is to make the offensive line a strength next season in first-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's system.
"I'm encouraged that when we start into the offseason program that they've got that hunger that's burning to get themselves back to where they want to be,'' Summers said. "And because of that, and because of the passion of the coaching staff, I feel confident that we can do that."
To make it happen, Summers will employ the tactics he has honed during a coaching career that started in 1980 as a graduate assistant at Kentucky.
"The first thing we have to do is work on our fundamental foundation as an offensive line," he said. "So much of our success is dependent on our footwork, our landmarks, our hands and our eyes.
"Those technical developments have to be committed to muscle memory. It has to be trained so when we snap the football, those guys can execute with speed, power and with the kind of emotion that we need in our offense."
First, Summers must get settled and turn his focus to National Signing Day on Feb. 5 and then the start of spring practice in March.
Muschamp said Summers will primarily be responsible for recruiting the Panhandle area, a region he developed contacts during in stops at Kentucky, Louisville and Arkansas.
It's been a crazy year for Summers, but he is thankful for the way 2014 has started.
"There are jobs out there when you start out in coaching and look at and think, 'This is where I'd love to be someday,' " Summers said. "Florida has always been that for me. I grew up in Kentucky, grew up in SEC country and have always looked at Florida from the outside wishing I could be on the correct sideline.
"The reputation of this program is strong. I've been doing it long enough to know that every program has ebbs and flows to it. The things that I've seen in a short time that I've been here makes me encouraged that we're going to get right back to that point."