Notebook: The biggest remaining concerns

Notebook: The biggest remaining concerns

Florida is near the halfway point of fall camp, and now a week away from the start of game preparation against Idaho, the biggest concern for the Florida coaches is the same as it was coming into camp.

The depth on the lines of scrimmage has to improve.

The offensive line isn’t where it needs to be at this point. There are seven linemen the coaches trust at this point with Trenton Brown, Max Garcia Chaz Green, D.J. Humphries, Roderick Johnson, Tyler Moore and Trip Thurman.

The questions start behind them. Freshman David Sharpe would be the next one on the field, but even with his 6-6, 330-pound frame, the first-year player has a lot to learn before he’s ready to make an impact.

“I feel really comfortable probably with seven guys right now,” Muschamp said. “We need to have eight or nine. That's a critical issue.”

The defensive line has shown signs of hope. Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley had a great week of practice and look ready to take the next step. Florida coach Will Muschamp said that Jay-nard Bostwick also had a good scrimmage on Friday.

“I feel Joey Ivie and some of the younger defensive lineman have made some moves,” Muschamp said. “Jay-nard has been better. Those guys have made some strides.”

Muschamp also pointed to the backup quarterback battle between Will Grier, Treon Harris and Skyler Mornhinweg. The Gators have another week to decide who will win the job and would like to have it decided before game week so that practice reps can be properly divided.

There are still concerns in the secondary, too. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III and safety Keanu Neal have starting jobs locked up, but no one else does. There are concerns with the youth that is guaranteed to see the field this year, and the inexperience continues to create some fear. Despite that, the talent level is still high.

“Our communication from the safety position has not been very good and that needs to improve,” Muschamp said.

RECEIVERS IMPROVING: Muschamp has said it since the spring, and it continues to look accurate. The Florida receivers are the best they’ve been since he took over. Open practices showed it, especially with the sophomores on the group. Ahmad Fulwood and Demarcus Robinson are having great camps and continued that into Friday’s scrimmage.

Muschamp complimented their effort on Friday, and fellow sophomore Chris Thompson added a touchdown catch.

“I think we’ve made huge improvements at the receiver position,” Muschamp said.

In an ideal world for Muschamp, the three sophomores would be preparing for this season as redshirt freshmen.

“If you're recruiting right at the position and your roster's where it should be, those guys should have been redshirted,” Muschamp said. “They should have been able to grow a year, get stronger, work on their speed, work on their route running, learning the position. And they were thrown in the fire. I'm glad they were thrown in the fire now, but big-picture speaking, those were guys that needed a year to mature and grow."

SECONDARY QUESTIONS: With Hargreaves and Neal locked into starting jobs, the Gators continue to search for answers at other positions. There aren’t many obvious ones at this point. Marcus Maye is likely the starter at the nickel, but Muschamp said on Friday that he has been inconsistent.

Jabari Gorman was thought to have the inside track for the other safety jobs, but Muschamp also said his play has been inconsistent.

The second cornerback job remains up in the air. Brian Poole has spent his first two years at nickel but is being given a chance to play the outside cornerback spot. If Poole isn’t ready to start, the starter could be a freshman.

“We’ve got to continue to coach those guys up and play well,” Muschamp said.

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