Calling it a day with the Gators

Jesse Palmer and Florida coach Will Muschamp look on while players eat. Jason Parkhurst for ESPN.com

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- With the first day in shoulder pads in the books, the Florida players are finishing up dinner in the Gator Room.

Fried chicken and mashed potatoes were the dishes of choice.

Coach Will Muschamp makes the rounds from table to table. He never stops being a coach. He encourages his offensive linemen, but in the same breath, makes it clear that they have to keep pushing.

He's one of the last coaches remaining in the Gator Room, and players flash easy smiles when he approaches their table.

"He's always right there with us, whether we're in here eating or in the huddle out on the field," senior running back Jeff Demps said. "He's definitely not one of those coaches who stands back and lets his assistants do the coaching."

That may be the case, but Muschamp leans heavily on his assistants and challenges them to challenge him.

"I didn't hire a bunch of 'yes' guys. I hired some really good football coaches, and I hired them for their opinion," Muschamp said. "I hired them because I believe in them, and if they disagree with what we're doing, then I want them to say that. But when we make that decision, we move forward and are 100 percent behind that decision. At this point, it's been great."