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Gators aim to rebound from worst season since '87

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP)

After a 7-6 campaign and their worst season since 1987, the Florida Gators realized their attitude needed to change.

Players held their own practices and punished those who didn't attend with early morning running sessions.

Gators coach Will Muschamp addressed the attitude change at Florida's annual media day on Thursday.

''As much as anything, some guys have bought into what we're trying to do,'' Muschamp said. ''Obviously, their way didn't work. They understand where we are heading with this program.''

Florida begins training camp Friday with a new offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and strength coach.

Sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel led the players-only practices. The two are competing for the starting job. Brissett called the quarterback competition the biggest opportunity of his life.

''I feel really good about that position,'' Muschamp said. ''We have two really good players competing. They're going to make each other better, our offense better and our team better.''

The offseason workouts gave the Gators a jumpstart on fall practice, Driskel said.

''Just being together will help us in the long run with unity and trusting one another,'' he said. ''It also helped just repping it. If you go from spring to fall without doing anything, you are going to lose a little bit. We wanted to hit camp fast.''

The Gators enter camp with greater numbers on both sides of the ball. Due in large part to a lack of depth, Florida struggled last season against Southeastern Conference opponents and lost four straight with losses against Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia in the month of October.

Muschamp and his staff now have the luxury of pushing more physical play in camp.

''It's hard to simulate game-day situations when you are only working one line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which was the case last year,'' Muschamp said. ''That's not going to be the case this year. We are going to be able to do more things.''

Offensive coordinator Brent Pease expands the playbook for Florida.

Muschamp said the former Boise State coordinator brings more motion to the offense.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond Jr. noticed the changes between the offense run by ex-coordinator Charlie Weis and the Pease scheme.

''Coach Weis has a system and that's what he stuck to,'' Hammond said. ''With coach Pease, he brings in a different style and uses the ability the players have to create certain things, adjust his playbook and tweak it.''

In addition to the two sophomore quarterbacks on offense, the Gators return leading receiver Andre Debose for his junior season.

With the Gators finishing eighth in the SEC in rushing yards and the departures of Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey, senior Mike Gillislee is expected to handle the majority of carries.

''You have to create balance in this league,'' Muschamp said. ''If you become one dimensional in this league, it becomes very difficult to have success regardless of where you are in the division.''

While the offense ranked 10th in the SEC in total yards per game, the defense held every opponent except three below 30 points.

Senior middle linebacker Jon Bostic recognized the relationship between the offense and defense.

''I have a lot of confidence in our offense turning it around this year, because I knew they weren't happy with themselves,'' Bostic said. ''They want to play better and improve off of last year. Going into this year, they are going to lean on us and we are going to lean on them. For us to win ball games, it will take both of us.''

Redshirt senior Sam Robey has suited up for four seasons. He played with Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin, but also John Brantley and Deonte Thompson.

He can't wait for the results of a retooled coaching staff and an improved mindset.

''Everything that they did over the summer and what we did ourselves as a team is really something that has never happened before,'' Robey said. ''It makes me really excited to go into fall and start fast.''

Tagged: Florida, Jeff Driskel

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