Muschamp Talks Up His Staff

Dan Quinn comes with some familiarity.

As Florida head coach Will Muschamp makes his inaugural tour around the state to speak to different Gator Clubs, he is trying to spread the excitement of a new time at Florida both with the players and the staff. Wednesday he spoke to the Polk County Gator Club and in front of 1200 plus Gators and gave us a glimpse of what his staff is like.

When Will Muschamp was hired at Florida, the head coach made it clear to Athletic Director Jeremy Foley that he would need some help. But, it was Foley who was direct and strong with his intentions to surround Muschamp with whatever he needed to be a good football coach at Florida.

There is a big legacy to follow behind Urban Meyer and his two national championships. Foley knows it and that is why according to Muschamp, Foley made it clear he would have every reasonable resource available to make things work.

"I am not an administrator, I am a facilitator," were the words from Foley according to Muschamp, who told the masses gathered in Lakeland on Wednesday. "I am trying to help get you what you need to succeed on and off the football field."

Recalling that initial conversation, Muschamp pointed out that getting some offensive assistants with some background was something that had to get done.

"I am a defensive football coach," Muschamp told Foley. "I coach on special teams and I am going to recruit harder than anyone in America. But, I am going to need to hire an offensive coordinator to run the offense that philosophically believes the same things I believe."

The two were able to collaborate to bring together one of the most highly decorated offensive gurus in all of football and then bring him to Gainesville. Muschamp talked about Weis with a smile on his face for the crowd in Lakeland.

"We were able to hire Charlie Weis as the offensive coordinator," he said. "The track record as a quarterback coach and quarterback developer… Tom Brady, Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, and Jimmy Clausen come to mind. They all excelled tremendously at the position.

"If you look at the offenses he has been a part of. Philosophically… we both have the same beliefs in that you have to be balanced in what you do and have to be able to run the football.

"The SEC is a line of scrimmage league and if you can't run the football and control the line of scrimmage, you will have some long days."

They also understand that they are going to have to work the ball through the air as well to make things work in America's best college football conference.

"You can't be one dimensional in what you do," Muschamp said. "You have to be able to throw and stretch the field vertically. You have to be able to do both to give yourself a chance in this league."

Muschamp really believes that he and Weis are on the same page when it comes to what they want to do on the football field with whatever talent they have available to them.

"We have the same beliefs. You look at the offense he turned around in Kansas City last year, the offenses at Notre Dame, 16 years in the National Football League, and four Super Bowl Rings. The credibility speaks for itself.

"He is a really good teacher with our players. He does an outstanding job of relating to the players and teaching the concepts we are trying to teach our players."

A key ingredient in making the offense work is an offensive line that works well within the confines of the offense. This, according to Muschamp, made it almost a necessity to hire someone that Weis was connected to and had worked with before.

"Frank Verducci and Charlie were together at Notre Dame for a year which I think it is very important," Muschamp said. "The play caller and the offensive line coach have to think alike. It is really fun to watch these guys interact in practice and in the meeting rooms teaching our players."

Getting a Gator Great to join the staff was also something Muschamp thought would be beneficial. Aubrey Hill was one of the first trend setters for Gator offense when he flew around as a Gator in the early 90's.

"We have Aubrey Hill, a former Gator, back coaching receivers," Muschamp said. "I think it is very important to have a guy on the staff that has run out of that tunnel before and has gone to English class on this campus.

"He's a breath of fresh air, a guy that comes into the office every day full of energy. Our players have really taken to him."

Muschamp knew about Hill from a previous coaching stint and has been an admirer of Hill's for a while. Hill was working for rival Miami, when the two started talking about coming back to his alma mater.

"We interviewed him when I was at another place and I told the head coach, ‘we need to hire that guy'," Muschamp said. "At the time we wanted to hire a little more experienced guy. I wrote it down and said when I get the opportunity I am going to hire that guy."

The two are at the right place and time to make it happen.

"Luckily I am at his alma mater. He called me more than I called him, I can tell you that… He was trying to get out of Miami."

Muschamp talked highly of the new tight end coach and his recruiting ability. That he played the position in college at Texas is a bonus for the guys he will be teaching.

"Derek Lewis is coaching our tight ends," Muschamp said. "He is a guy that brings a lot of passion and energy to the position."

Muschamp said he doesn't like the word ‘retained' when describing a coach that stays on from the previous staff. Every coach on this staff had to go through the process of being hired and he is extremely excited about the hire of Brian White who was on Urban Meyer's staff for the previous two seasons.

"I hired Brian White to coach running backs," Muschamp said of the change from his previous position as tight end coach at Florida. "He is an outstanding coach.

"He was the offensive coordinator at Wisconsin. I thought it was a good to have a guy in the room that has been a coordinator before and been down that road and help bounce ideas. I have been in that position where you get late in the year, you get a little stale, and wonder if you are doing the right stuff. He will coach our running backs."

Of course Muschamp is most familiar with defense. His aggressive attacking style has been one of the ground breaking things in modern college football defense and he wants coaches that will follow that pattern.

His first priority was to hire a defensive coordinator that would be on the same page as him and knows what Muschamp wants when coaching defense. He was able to secure that with the hiring of Seattle Seahawks defensive line coach Dan Quinn, who will now serve as Muschamp's defensive coordinator and call plays on that side of the ball.

"Dan Quinn is a guy that that I worked with at the Miami Dolphins," Muschamp said. "I knew when I got my opportunity to be a head coach I would hire Dan. He is as good a front coach as I have ever been around and has been in the NFL for ten years.

"Jason Taylor told me on a text message, ‘he is the best d-line coach I ever had'. This is from a guy that will be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame."

As a compliment to Quinn in more ways than one, Muschamp found someone to team with Quinn as an assistant on the defensive line freeing him up to do coordinator things. At the same time, he secured the services of a four-time pro-bowler and NFL veteran to help mold the young guys up front on defense.

"Bryant Young is a 14 year NFL veteran," Muschamp said. "We have some young inside players and I felt like in hiring him we needed a mentor, somebody to bring them guys along.

"Sometimes coaches that haven't played at that level, (the players) will question (the coach). They don't question Bryant. He is also in charge of discipline. He is 6'4" and about 305. They don't question Bryant."

Muschamp also hired the Gators linebacker coach from a year ago and D.J. Durkin also retained his duties coaching special teams. Muschamp recalled a time when the two squared off in recruiting and Durkin was able to beat him for a prospect. It was something that Muschamp was forced to make a mental note of it and as they say the rest is history.

"D.J. Durkin is a really good recruiter," Muschamp said emphatically after telling the story of losing the recruit. "He's a really football coach and also does an outstanding job with our special teams."

Finally, in the secondary, Muschamp wanted someone that could really relate to the players he was coaching. This spring we have heard members of the secondary sing the praises of Travaris Robinson and also tell how much work he expects of them and more than others on the team. Robinson is also a native of the Sunshine State and helps recruit South Florida among other places.

"Travaris Robinson played in the SEC and will coach our secondary," he said of the Auburn grad. "He was a lot like me and wanted to come to Florida but Florida didn't want him. He brings a lot of energy and excitement to the staff."

In the end a football staff is like a puzzle with pieces that need to mesh together. Each teacher has to be able to do his part in molding the young men to form a cohesive team. Muschamp feels he has the staff to do just that.

"I think putting a staff together is a lot like recruiting players," he said. "You are looking for critical factors for things you want at each position. That was what I was able to do in a lot of those situations."

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