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March 30, 2012
Notebook: Leonard back
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MORE FLORIDA FOOTBALL: Tidbits from Muschamp on Powell, the backs and more | Potential transfer checking out Florida this weekend | Hines has new position, new number | Jenkins bigger,stronger, more sure-handed? | Football Practice Roundtable | Check out ITG Spring Practice Central
Tight end A.C. Leonard's reinstatement to the football team was the primary issue for Will Muschamp to address in his Friday meeting with the media.
"I have allowed him to practice only," Muschamp said. "No decision on the fall has been made."
The sophomore from Jacksonville was arrested in Gainesville on Feb. 15th after an argument between he and his live-in girlfriend. Leonard allegedly grabbed her by both feet and dragged her from the apartment before locking the door, according to police reports.
The Gainesville State Attorney's Office filed a misdemeanor battery charge against Leonard earlier in the week. Muschamp said that after being suspended six weeks, Leonard has done the things asked of him by the head coach.
As questions came in about Leonard attending team meetings (he is), or playing in the spring game (undecided), the second-year coach wanted to defend his discipline policy.
Muschamp told reporters an anecdote of when he was an assistant and three players missed a team meeting. All three players received different punishments. One received a warning. Another was given three things to do. The third was told he had to perform a laundry list of tasks and expectations.
The middle player did not understand the punishment policy and went to his position coach, Muschamp. The assistant suggested visiting the head coach. In the head coach's office, Muschamp and the player learned that all three players had been in varying amounts of trouble during their time on campus, hence the reason for different punishments. The point being that not everyone, not even assistant coaches and teammates, knows the whole story of every situation. That stuck with Muschamp and influences his discipline policy at Florida.
For the rest of his press conference, Muschamp discussed the quarterback battle, player position changes and more.
Looking for production at quarterback: Muschamp said that neither Jeff Driskel nor Jacoby Brissett has distanced himself from the other in the competition for the starting quarterback job. The staff will evaluate both quarterbacks' spring stats, but Muschamp said he's most concerned with "positive production."
"It's easy to look at statistics like completion percentage or not making mistakes with the football," Muschamp said. "It's also about how the guys are responding. That's important."
The importance of performance in the spring game was downplayed in deciding the starting quarterback for fall.
"That's just one of 15 days," Muschamp said.
Johnson likely to stay at running back: Chris Johnson has had a bit of trouble finding a home on the Florida football squad. He was recruited as a safety, but started out at linebacker. However, Muschamp dubbed him a "tweener" too small for the position. He saw time at safety during practice for the bowl game, but it was not until spring the coaches found the right use for Johnson.
"He's a tough, physical runner, he runs the ball down hill," Muschamp said.
Johnson has only seen limited time at the position, but it looks like a permanent change.
"He's going to stay at running back at this time," Muschamp said.
Staff undecided about Hines: Redshirt senior Omarius Hines is receiving praise from teammates and coaches alike this spring for his performance at running back, his new position, but it might not be a full-time move.
"That's something we're talking about as a staff," Muschamp said. "We discussed that this morning."
Hines, who spent time at tight end and wide receiver in the past, has made an impression as a ball carrier on Muschamp.
"He's a hard guy to bring down," Muschamp said. "He's very strong in his lower body. He's an explosive athlete."
A tougher offensive line: The biggest guys on the team are getting more mature, and Muschamp likes what he sees.
"I'm very excited about both lines of scrimmage," Muschamp said.
The offensive line is displaying a new toughness, and new line coach Tim Davis deserves some of the credit.
"He brings his hard hat to work every day," Muschamp said. "The players are a reflection of their coach."
Situational practice: The team worked on needing various scores with one minute left on the clock as well driving for a score with four minutes remaining in Friday's practice.
Part of the inspiration for the theme of the practice was the Gators struggles in close games in the 2011 campaign.
"You look at last year, we were 3-4 in games decided by two scores or less," Muschamp said.