ALPHARETTA, Ga. -- There's no question that Florida coach Will Muschamp feels much better about his team now compared to a year ago. But there's still work to be done. Here are a few extra notes Muschamp covered with ESPN.com before he spoke to the Atlanta Gator Club last week:
QB battle: At this point, flipping a coin might be the best way to determine this race. While it might seem that Jacoby Brissett holds a tiny advantage over Jeff Driskel because of his experience, Muschamp insisted they are still even, and finding the better leader during summer workouts could determine everything. But even that will be tough, he added. Right now, he said, both have the intangibles and the natural leadership skills to be successful, and he thinks players respect and respond to each equally.
"Their competition is going to make each other better, and that's going to make our offense better, which will make our football team better," Muschamp said.
So if summer doesn't push one ahead of the other and fall camp still doesn't create separation, what then?
"I'll take both of them," he said with a laugh. "I may must put them in at the same time and make everybody mad."
To be continued ...
Powell and Easley: Coaches and players were devastated about the news of defensive end/linebacker Ronald Powell's ACL tear during the spring game, especially after the solid spring he had, but Muschamp said there has been optimism surrounding his injury. Powell is expected to miss four to six months, as he recovers from surgery, but Muschamp said Powell has progressed quite quickly. He's off crutches and walking fine. There's still a long way to go in his rehab, but there's increasing hope that he'll still play this fall. I'm skeptical about how effective he'll be after such a short amount of recovery, but we're seeing athletes come back faster and faster from ACL injuries.
Speaking of ACL injuries, defensive tackle Dominique Easley appears to be ahead of schedule as well. He tore his ACL in the season finale against Florida State, but when I saw him at Florida's spring game, he was walking around without a noticeable limp and looked good. Muschamp expects him to be back and ready this fall, and Florida will need him. When he's on, he can be dominant in the middle. He'll be counted on a lot, especially while Powell is out, as the Gators try to take the next step on defense this fall.
Pittman's progress: The biggest surprise coming out of Florida's camp this spring was the emergence of true freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman. Muschamp was a little surprised by Pittman's adaptation to things, but said the early enrollee "popped up and made a lot of plays" this spring. But that was this spring, not this fall. And that's something Muschamp said he stressed to Pittman immediately after spring was over.
"I told him after spring, I said, 'You've had a good spring, but you've made zero plays in the fall when it counts in the Swamp. You've made zero, and understand that and stay hungry for what you need to accomplish, and help our football team and help yourself,'" Muschamp said.
Muschamp added that while Pittman has a good work ethic, he still needs to work on staying grounded, something that can be hard for young players, especially ones that receive a lot of attention early.
Finding leaders: Muschamp made an interesting comment when asked about players he was turning to for help in the leadership department. He said he isn't turning to anyone. Not a one. Asking players to turn into leaders isn't the same as having them. He's said the team has to figure out who those leaders are, and he's staying out of it. He wants them to grow on their own (well, with some help from strength coach Jeff Dillman as well) and turn into true leaders without him present. This could be risky, but we'll see if the good chemistry created this spring carries over to the fall with the players running the show.