- Edward Aschoff, ESPN Staff Writer
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Florida is having to alter its plans for Saturday's Orange and Blue Debut.
Instead of having a traditional spring game, like all the other schools out there, Will Muschamp and his team will hold a big, open practice for fans inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Because of a plethora of injuries that have ravaged this team, especially on the offensive line, the Gators just don't have enough manpower to have a legitimate spring game.
Florida won't have a glorified scrimmage to show off to fans, but the Gators will go through about two hours of individual and position drills, along with several 11-on-11 situational scrimmage situations.
"To me, it's about getting good-on-good work," Muschamp said. "It's about getting your best players going against your best players. I see some of these spring games, these guys put their first group against the rest of them. You don't get any better doing that stuff. You get better when you're going good-on-good."
Not having enough guys to put out there just didn't sit well with Muschamp.
"We've got 11 offensive linemen on scholarship on campus, but with [six] of those guys being out right now, it's not fair to go in a spring game situation and ask these guys to take 60, 70 snaps in a row," he said. "That's not healthy. It's not good. It's not good for our football team."
So an open practice it is. And the athletic department is even reimbursing those who already purchased tickets. It's not the ideal situation, especially for fans itching to see the progress this team has made on offense during spring practice, but it's better than nothing.
Honestly, if Florida doesn't have the bodies to hold a spring game, what's the point of having a spring game? Why have those six linemen play for both the first- and second-string offenses for all of those snaps? Why risk an injury up front to a line that can't afford to have anyone else out? It's not about having a fun product to show off this spring, it's about making sure guys are ready for the fall. Risking injury and wearing these guys down isn't smart.
Muschamp is doing the right thing, here. He could have easily just shut things down all together, but he's decided to allow fans to come and watch, and he'll even address fans from time to time to explain certain drills. This really is the best plan of action, considering the circumstances.
People won't be keeping score, but they'll be able to see what adjustments have been made since first seeing practice at the beginning of the spring.
A game might not take place Saturday, but I'm sure the Gators will figure out a few ways to entertain fans for a couple of hours inside the Swamp.
19hGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough