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Monday, March 04, 2024

Call me a cynic — and maybe this is just repressed jealousy because I wasn’t appointed to one of the four media guest coach spots — but it’s hard to get excited about what’s going to happen Saturday in The Swamp.

I could rant for days and write pages about how ultimately useless it is to cover spring practice and how investing yourself in today’s football news won’t do you any good come fall.

But that’s not what this Saturday is all about.

Florida coach Will Muschamp bucked his predecessor’s tradition by extending an olive branch to the media — however select the audience and questionable the motive may be.

No, the annual Orange and Blue Debut is all about you, the fans.

Truth be told, most coaches would probably rather use Saturday as another chance to scrimmage behind the comfort of their practice field’s closed doors. They would likely prefer one more opportunity to teach their players the new offense and defense.

“I think more than anything what we want to do is go out and have a very functional scrimmage. We want to go out and execute on both sides of the ball,” Muschamp said Tuesday. “What I want to do is play physical, play with toughness, get in two-back, run the ball, stop the run defensively, and do those things in the scrimmage.

“It’s not going to be real flashy.”

Sounds like fun, right?

Sure, as Muschamp said, it’s important to see how some of his younger players respond in front of a crowd in a big stadium, to evaluate how they perform at a faster tempo and to find out how physical they’re willing to play.

“Those are the things we’ll be looking for, not looking to scheme anybody, but more than anything just execute and because of the depth issues its tough to carry a lot,” Muschamp said.

In other words, don’t get your hopes up about learning the ins and outs of every aspect of Florida’s new pro-style offense or its multi-formation defense. Don’t expect to leave Ben Hill Griffin Stadium with all your questions answered.

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Will we know who’s going to start opposite Janoris Jenkins at cornerback this fall? Probably not.

Will we know how offensive coordinator Charlie Weis will use speedy running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, who are better suited for the spread? Don’t count on it, especially given that only Rainey is getting carries this spring.

Will we have the slightest idea how Florida’s offensive line and secondary will develop chemistry? Absolutely not, especially with the injuries shortening the spring depth chart on the line.

Will we even have a clue what the Gators’ starting lineup will look like? Not to sound like a Magic 8 Ball here, but, “Outlook not so good.”

And it should be.

That’s what spring practice is all about, especially with the new staff and a group of unproven players moving into leadership roles.

It’s a time where nobody actually knows anything, where everyone’s guess is as good as the next person’s — where any player can be as great as you want them to be.

After a disappointing season and the end of an era, Florida fans are simply looking for a reason to be optimistic.

And perhaps with spring football, as a new era dawns and a number of questions remain unanswered, ignorance is bliss.

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