After covering several Gator Gatherings this spring and then having a chance to spend some more time around Florida coach Will Muschamp at last week’s SEC spring meetings, I feel safe to say this about the man: he’s much more comfortable in his role than he was a year ago (or even last fall).
Muschamp seems to have grown into the job. He appears relaxed and confident around his coaching peers. He is much more at ease (and maybe even much more candid) around the media, especially those writers who cover the Gators on a daily basis. He seems much more comfortable speaking in front of hundreds of Gator fans.
Muschamp knows so much more now than he did a year ago, when he walked into what turned out to be a much more difficult situation than he (or anyone else) ever imagined. He knows his players. He knows what it’s going to take to get this program back where it needs to be. And confident that he feels much more comfortable with his coaching staff now.
He made a big splash when he hired Charlie Weis to run his offense, but the buzz didn’t last long. Weis lost his starting quarterback in the fifth game of the season, which was a huge problem, and it seemed many of the offensive players had a difficult time relating to him.
Muschamp and his offensive players seem much more fired up about Brent Pease and what he brings to the offense. Clearly, the players relate better to Pease than they did to Weis.
It’s also obvious Muschamp and the players are excited about Jeff Dillman and the new weight staff. If you don’t think the Gators are getting bigger and stronger, just take a look at some of the players, including linebacker Jelani Jenkins and offensive tackle Xavier Nixon. Their body types have changed.
Being around Muschamp, I get the feeling that he thinks this offense is going to be a lot better than many are predicting. And he feels great about this defense. This is a defense that he thinks will keep the Gators in every game, and that’s always going to pump up a defensive coach like Muschamp.
Many football programs experience a considerable bump in the second year under a new head coach and staff. There are signs that this could happen for the Gators.
Maybe the best sign of all is that the head coach seems much more comfortable now being who he is.