Intro: "We’re looking forward to Saturday and getting back to the sunny part of the season. 12:21 kickoff here in The Swamp. Toledo has a tremendous football team, they went 9-4 last year. Matt Campbell and his staff do an outstanding job."
Question. Can we get an update on Matt Jones?
Will Muschamp: “Matt was in pads yesterday and ran around a good bit. We tried to bang him around a little bit and I think he is a little sore this morning. It is the same status as far as being on track to play next Saturday but he won’t be available Saturday.
“We probably will take him through pregame to get him in uniform and let him run around in the heat and continue to acclimate his body and get back with it. He will not play Saturday.”
Q. Any other players that will miss the game because of disciplinary reasons?
Will Muschamp: “No, not at this time.”
Q. Thoughts on the kickoff rule?
Will Muschamp: “I think that goes back to player safety. That is a big collision. Guys are running about 40-45 yards and they are trying to limit the contact. I am all for it. As far as player safety is concerned, we are all for it. We will continue to see things limited from the safety side and I totally understand it.”
Q. Does it limit the quality of play from a fan’s stand point?
Will Muschamp: “Well it is an exciting play. You look at some of the collisions when guys covering kicks. It is an exciting part. Changing the game with momentum… somebody scores and you are on the road. Kickoff return is a great way to change the momentum of the game. That part has certainly been taken out, but that is fine and I understand the reasons.”
Q. Are you seeing more consistency in fall camp from safety position, especially from Cody Riggs?
Will Muschamp: “I think Cody has done a really nice job of transitioning inside. He is a guy that covers real well and has really good range. He has tackled well in camp and gives us a lot from a coverage standpoint.
“Marcus Maye has been very consistent. He plays very well in the box and play in the deep part of the field. He has very good range and can finish off plays. He is an extremely good tackler in space and has good coverage ability.
“With Jabari Gorman we have three guys that we have a very high comfort level. Jabari is a very smart guy that can get us in some right things.
“We are going to be playing an up-tempo vs. Toledo and play upwards of 80-85 snaps. All of those guys will have to play.
“Jaylen Watkins is a guy that gives us flexibility and can move inside for us as well.
“Keanu Neal and Marcell Harris are two young players that we are excited about. Marcell is coming off of a meniscus from high school and is a little slowed by that. It has altered his development at the position at this time. Keanu is a guy that we plan on contributing on special teams and on defense as the year moves on.”
Q. How bad are the injuries and can you have the same type of team you envisioned going into camp?
Will Muschamp: “The frustrating thing for me has been all the non-football issues you have to deal with. Matt gets the viral infection. Jeff has his appendix situation. Jon Halapio hurts his pec in the weight room. Andre Debose and Matt Rolin have non-contact ACL injuries. Chaz Green’s labrum injury was the only contact football related injury we had. That is very disappointing.
Andre’s surgery went very well today, Matt had his surgery last week and it went really well.
We are going to be fine. We have depth on the offensive line. We still feel very comfortable without Jon included. We have eight guys that we can play football with… which is good enough. With Jon back we will have nine. We feel comfortable with our back situation with Mack Brown, Mark Herndon, and Valdez Showers is a guy that can do some different things. Kelvin Taylor and Adam Lane are two young guys coming that we have a good comfort level with.
I think we are in good shape… would we like to be trotting Jon Halapio and Matt Jones out there in the opener? Absolutely, but it is what it is. You take the guys that are on the field, you coach them hard, and you get them ready to play.
Q. It seemed that every day we were reading something bad. Did the morale ever dip and how has that been considering the month that you guys have had?
Will Muschamp: “Absolutely not. Man down; man up. That’s part of the deal at the University of Florida. When they sign that scholarship you come here to compete for championships and do it the right way on and off the field. One man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity. That is the way we view things.
Q. What worries you about opening games?
Will Muschamp: What doesn’t worry you? That’s the question.
“We go through all the game situations of what could happen to you and special teams stuff and ask if you covered it all and covered it well enough. We will have unknowns going into every season, with young players that have never been in those situations. You don’t always know how some of the young men are going to react in front of 90,000 people. All of those things are concerns and have been sitting on my stomach since last weekend. I don’t know if you ever get over that? All you can do is rely on the concepts that you taught on offense, defense, and special teams and hope the experienced players can help the younger players in tough situations and that those guys will perform well when they run out into The Swamp.”