Florida Gators spring football: 8 things Gator Nation needs to know

On Tuesday at high noon, Will Muschamp took the podium to discuss the state of the Florida Gators football program heading into spring practice. It was a meandering press conference that touched on everything from the toxic 2013 season to this year’s men’s basketball team. In an effort to cut through the mustard, we have compiled the main things fans can expect out of Gator football entering spring ball.

Open Practices

Muschamp has decided to open up team practices. He asked Kurt Roper’s thoughts, and the new offensive coordinator was all for it. Considering the disconnect that formed between fans and the team over the course of last season, this seems like a good plan. Quote Muschamp: “I think it’s best for our program at this time to do that [open practices for the public].”

New Faces

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Will Muschamp has a new offensive coordinator. Unlike the previous two, though, Roper comes in as less of a savant, and more of a yeoman. He has a track record of developing quarterbacks and sending guys to the NFL.

Varied Offensive Sets

In 2013, the Gators offense felt one dimensional. No matter the quarterback (pick any of the three at random), Brent Pease seemed to force the same game plan over and over and over. Expect variety out of Roper. He has a reputation of building offenses around players’ abilities. That means pro, spread, a hybrid of both- whatever meshes with the guys on the field. According to Muschamp, there will be plenty of plays from shotgun formation, which is where the team is most comfortable.

Emphasis on Special Teams

Quoth Will Muschamp: “Special teams, our kicking situation was atrocious last year. We’ve got to get that fixed.” It’s hard to argue with that assessment. Johnny Townsend and Kyle Christy will battle for the punting position. Look for improvement in the placekicking game.

Young Secondary

With the departures of Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson, Florida’s secondary took a hit from the experience standpoint. However, with Vernon Hargreaves III returning and five-star recruit Jalen Tabor likely lining up across the field, Muschamp acknowledges this may be the most athletically talented secondary during his tenure in Gainesville.

Position Changes

Redshirt senior Max Garcia will move from left guard to center. Tyler Moore will move from tackle to guard. Joey Ivie will workout at both defensive end and tackle.

Still Battling Injuries

Nine players will miss parts or the entirety of spring practice. Among them are skill players Andre Dubose, Matt Jones and Brandon Powell.

Traditional Orange and Blue Game

Last year’s Orange and Blue game was wonky due to so many injuries on the offensive line. Muschamp says he wold like to have a traditional game each year, and expects as much this season.

[Thanks to Only Gators and 247Sports for notes and transcriptions of the presser]