Scott Carter’s Blog Carter’s Corner
VIDEO: Gators head coach Will Muschamp updates reporters on spring practice Friday afternoon.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The No. 1-ranked UF men's basketball team faces Dayton tonight (6:09 p.m. ET) for a trip to the Final Four.
Fortunately for the UF football team, its scrimmage is over and players and coaches can check out Billy Donovan's team.
As the Florida basketball team made its fourth consecutive run to the Elite Eight the past two weeks, Will Muschamp has been busy getting the Gators ready for the Orange & Blue Debut at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on April 12.
The Gators held a scrimmage this morning at The Swamp that was cut short due to inclement weather.
Muschamp met with reporters on Friday and provided updates on the team's progress. Here are some of the highlights:
--Gators receiver Andre Debose had been cleared medically and is back on the practice field. Debose missed all of last season due to a torn ACL suffered in fall camp.
Debose was granted a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA and adds experience and depth at receiver. He is currently working in non-contact drills but Muschamp is glad to have him back and hopes Debose can put it all together in his final season.
"He’s the leading kickoff returner in UF history,'' Muschamp said Friday. "Certainly we’re looking for a couple kickoff returns from him. That would be nice. I think that he can be really special with the ball in his hands, but I think his work ethic from last year was very good up to his injury. I was extremely pleased with where he was and to me, with Andre, it’s just the battle of consistently doing it well."
--With Debose's return boosting numbers at receiver, Muschamp has moved redshirt freshman Marqui Hawkins to safety. Another redshirt freshman, safety Keanu Neal, is out with a hamstring injury.
"He played safety in high school,'' Muschamp said. "I thought he was a physical player in high school and did some nice things. We'll see how he does. To make that move mid-stream is tough on him, so we've been out getting him lined up and those sorts of things and just see how instinctively he plays the game. He wasn't making a whole lot of movement at receiver and we felt like it was the best move for him and us."
--Muschamp provided an injury update that included several players, the most notable regarding the uncertain status of tight end Colin Thompson and early enrollee offensive lineman Nolan Kelleher.
Thompson has been plagued by foot injuries since arriving at UF and has not practiced this spring. "Colin was asked to be totally off of any physical activity other than just lifting until after spring,'' Muschamp said.
Thompson is expected to see a specialist in mid-April to determine the next move. As for Kelleher, he is out with a back injury.
"Nolan will not go through spring. He’s going to see another specialist in the coming weeks,” Muschamp said.
Sophomore receiver Chris Thompson (head), offensive lineman Rod Johnson (knee) and defensive end Jordan Sherit (elbow) are also out but could be cleared by end of spring.
--First-year offensive coordinator Kurt Roper's up-tempo system often lines up in the shotgun.
Center Max Garcia, who has played guard and tackle in his college career, continues to adjust to his new position. There have been some growing pains on shotgun snaps but Roper is confident that Garcia has the tools to be a stellar snapper.
"I don't want the ball off-center or rolling on the ground,'' Roper said, referencing Denver's first snap in the recent Super Bowl as an example. "All that has to do with timing in the run game and exchanges and all that. But am I happy with the way Max is working and trying? Yeah. And do I think he can do it and be really good at it? I do.
"I think he's talented. I think he's got really fast hands, and that's not easy. He's got those skills, and you just keep working the snap."
LINKS ON GATORS
--Muschamp and Florida embrace high expectations writes Dan Wolken of USA Today.
--Florida improves offensive line depth writes Robbie Andreu of The Gainesville Sun.
--Gorman relishes being Gators' only senior DB writes Jeff Barlis of ESPN.com.
Here is a well-done video from GatorVision.tv that gives fans an inside look at Florida's spring practice: