Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jobs Open as UF Gets to Work; Gators Unsettled at Quarterback and Receiver as Fall Practice Begins

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Jobs Open as UF Gets to Work; Gators Unsettled at Quarterback and Receiver as Fall Practice Begins

Article excerpt

Byline: Hays Carlyon

GAINESVILLE | Let the battles begin.

Florida's football team begins preparing for the season in earnest today, as practice opens 29 days before UF hosts Bowling Green on Sept. 1. The Gators, ranked 23rd in the USA Today preseason coaches poll, are coming off a 7-6 season in coach Will Muschamp's first year.

The defense returns 10 starters and is relatively set, but the offense is in flux. A year ago, UF averaged its fewest points a game since 1992. The top returner in total offense is running back Mike Gillislee with 328 yards.

Things might not get much better this year, despite the hiring of new offensive coordinator Brent Pease. The Gators are unsettled at quarterback and receiver and have to build depth up at running back and tight end.

"We have a lot of position battles," Muschamp said. "It's not just at quarterback. That's really good for our team right now. We are a deeper football team. We have more depth at all positions."

Muschamp will have more bodies in camp than last year when a high transfer rate limited the Gators to 68 scholarship players, a stunning 17 under the NCAA maximum. Muschamp awarded four walk-ons scholarships to cut the number to 13, but he shouldn't have to worry about attrition this season. The Gators enter camp with over 80 scholarship players.

"That's going to be very good for our team," Muschamp said. "Competition is the best motivator for a player to understand that he needs to play well. That promotes the consistency and performance that you've got to have in this league to be successful."

By far the most critical battle of camp will be the race to win the starting quarterback job. As true freshmen a season ago, Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel combined to complete 34 of 73 passes for 354 yards with two touchdowns and six interceptions. …

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