Monday August 12, 2013Gators Notebook: Jones' road back, Muschamp's take on scrimmage, Showers to offense, more
Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor looked good in Saturday's scrimmage.
Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor looked good in Saturday's scrimmage.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Gators coach Will Muschamp is taking a serious look at the potential of opening the season without sophomore running back Matt Jones, the projected starter at tailback.
As Jones continues to recover from a serious viral infection that led to a hospital stay prior to camp, redshirt junior Mack Brown has worked as the No. 1 tailback.
True freshmen Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane are also taking regular reps. Taylor looked impressive at Saturday’s scrimmage, including a touchdown run in the final moments of the scrimmage.
“Kelvin's played well. He really has,” Muschamp said Monday. “He did some nice things in the scrimmage Saturday. We've got to continue to preach ball security. He put it on the ground [Sunday] night, and that's something we can't have happen.
“But, again, I’ve been very pleased with his progress. He's very quick in his lower body, gets it north and south and he runs the way we want it to be run at Florida.”
Meanwhile, Jones was at Saturday’s scrimmage and watched from the stands. Muschamp said Monday that Jones will play for the Gators this season but that there is no timetable on his return. First, Jones must regain his strength and get back in football shape.
“Beginning of the season at some point, whether it's the first week or the second week or as you head into the open week, he's going to play for us this year,” Muschamp said. “Whether they come to me Aug. 19 and say, ‘hey, we want to get him out there.' That's the feedback I've gotten. It's totally up to [our medical staff].
“I think we need to be really careful right now that we don't have a relapse of the situation. Whatever our medical people tell me as far as the different things they're doing with him in the weight room, cardio-wise, they're going to let me know as far as the other stuff is concerned.”
While there are more uncertainties about Jones than certainties at this point, Muschamp hasn’t ruled Jones out for the season opener.
“Well, that may be a reality, but I don't know that,” Muschamp said. “Again, I talked to one of the doctors at Shands and he said when you're dealing with the human body, you never know. You don't know how he's going to respond and how quickly. He said the great thing is he's young and he was in great shape and it knocked him down a little bit, but he's a guy who's going to respond very quickly.”
TURN IT UP
The intensity of fall camp picked up Saturday when the Gators held their first scrimmage, moving from the lacrosse complex to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Muschamp and his staff spent Saturday evening watching film and then on Sunday morning the Gators returned to the practice field to run through “corrections” the coaches compiled during their film study. They returned to practice Sunday night and Monday afternoon to continue their preparation for the Aug. 31 season opener against Toledo at the Swamp.
Prior to Monday afternoon’s steamy practice in temperatures that reached the high 90s, Muschamp sounded pleased at the direction the Gators are headed despite missing some key players due to injuries.
“I thought we really had a solid scrimmage,’’ Muschamp said. “Each group, offensively and defensively, got between 40-50 snaps. I was very pleased with the effort. It was the first time we [practiced] in the afternoon as far as the heat was concerned. Getting out in that was good for us because we’ve been practicing at night.
“We had a very physical, physical practice [Sunday night] coming off a scrimmage, and I was really pleased with the effort, the tempo and the urgency – the things we addressed post-scrimmage that we needed to work on.”
The Gators will hold another two-a-day on Tuesday with the morning session expected to be physical and fast as the Gators head toward their second scrimmage of camp on Friday.
SHOWERS ON MOVE
As a senior at Madison High near Detroit three years ago, Valdez Showers was named Michigan Gatorade Player of the Year. Showers was a two-way star, starting at defensive back and running back.
He rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 29 touchdowns, so with Jones sidelined and receiver Andre Debose (knee) out for the season, the Gators want to see if Showers can help out the offense. The redshirt sophomore has played safety at Florida.
“He's a guy that we feel like vertically can do some really good things for us,” Muschamp said. “We experimented with it in the scrimmage [Saturday] and I thought he did some nice things carrying the ball. He was a natural carrier when he was in Detroit, a guy coming out of high school. But vertically he can do some good things in the run game and we're going to look at that over the next three, four days and sort of see where that takes us.”
Muschamp mentioned the possibility of using Showers in a receiver/running back role like the one performed the past two seasons by Omarius Hines.
Offensive linemen Max Garcia (back) and Trip Thurman (shoulder) were back in full pads and full-contact drills during Monday’s practice.
Garcia is the projected starter at left guard and Thurman as a reserve at right guard behind starter Jon Halapio, who is expected to miss another week due to a partially torn pectoral muscle that has prevented him from full-contact drills thus far in camp.
Meanwhile, starting fullback Hunter Joyer is expected to be sideline for several days due to a pulled hamstring.
“It was a pretty [serious] pull. I would conservatively say 10 days,” Muschamp said.
With Joyer sidelined, Gideon Ajagbe and Rhaheim Ledbetter will get more reps.
Finally, Muschamp remains optimistic that defensive tackle Damien Jacobs (patella) and defensive back Jaylen Watkins (foot) will be able to return to practice next week.
PURIFOY PLAN IN ACTION
Junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy will start working with the offense later in the week. Purifoy worked at receiver during spring camp and Muschamp said there the plan is to use Purifoy on offense during the season.
However, he wanted to see what the young receiving corps could do the first part of camp before using Purifoy at receiver.
“We're going to get him over on that side. We met Saturday night after the scrimmage, as a staff, we kind of talked about our roster,’’ Muschamp said. “My question to our staff is who can you count on? Who can we win with? Who do you have confidence in? It's not always necessarily Aug. 31.
“It's throughout the entire season and understanding that maybe some of the younger guys don't know what to do right now, but athletically they are guys we need to be coaching and developing for the season. He will start repping over there this week. I am pleased with the progress we have made at the position.”
QUOTE OF NOTE I
“Adam's done some nice things. He's a guy that's really a tough guy to tackle. There's not a lot of soft spots on him. He's a guy that's very difficult. You've got to bend your lower body to tackle him. He moves the pile well. He's got really good vision. I'm very pleased with his production so far.” – Muschamp on 5-foot-7, 222-pound Lane
QUOTE OF NOTE II
“Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson are two guys that are going to help our football team and improve our football team. I've been very pleased with Quinton Dunbar and Trey Burton, those four guys and Solomon Patton. Those five there have been productive and consistent in what they do and how they perform.” – Muschamp on the receivers
QUOTE OF NOTE III
“Neiron Ball is playing really well inside. He's very athletic. [On Saturday], our offense tried to hit a reverse and he saw it and ran it down. He showed his speed on Solomon Patton, a guy that can really run. Neiron Ball is a guy who's been a really nice find for us. He's been a guy who has played on the edge since I've been here and has moved inside. I'm pleased with his progress.” – Muschamp on the redshirt junior linebacker
NOTES AND NUGGETS
Starting quarterback Jeff Driskel worked in full pads for the first time Monday and continues to look sharp after his appendectomy according to Muschamp … Former Jaguars head coach Mike Mularkey, a standout tight end for the Gators in the 1980s, attended Monday’s practice … Former Gators linebacker Mike Peterson is back at UF finishing his undergraduate degree and is serving as a undergraduate student assistant coach. Peterson is meeting with the media on Tuesday morning … Muschamp said freshman OL Roderick Johnson underwent successful meniscus surgery and is expected to miss three to four weeks.