Muschamp: Florida’s sack leader will play in 2012

Florida coach Will Muschamp said defensive end Ronald Powell

will play this season and tight end A.C. Leonard will play

elsewhere.

That’s part of what the Gators know, who will play quarterback

remains an open question going into preseason camp. There is

apparently a dead heat for the job between sophomores Jacoby

Brissett and Jeff Driskel. It could be both, maybe at once.

”Both guys are very talented,” Muschamp said Wednesday at

Southeastern Conference media days. ”Both guys are certainly

qualified for the position. If you saw the spring game, you saw

what I saw for 14 practices: Two guys that are very even in that

competition. They’re even going into fall camp and they’ll get

equal reps. I’d like to name a starter before the season but I’m

not going to put a timetable on that. If we need to play both of

them, that’s what we’re going to do. We’ll do what we need to do to

win football games.

”There’s a possibility you could see both in the game at the

same time.”

Perhaps the best news for Gator fans Wednesday is that Muschamp

believes Powell will make it back this season. The starting end and

team sack leader tore a knee ligament in the spring game, leaving

his status a big question mark.

Muschamp said Powell has been cleared for all weight-room work,

including squats, and straight-ahead running.

”He’ll play for us this year,” the coach said. ”When that

will be, I don’t know yet. There’s nobody that’s worked harder or

handled the situation better or more mature than Ronald has. He’s

grown up through the summer.”

Leonard, meanwhile, is leaving the program in what Muschamp

described as a mutual decision. He was arrested on domestic

violence charges in February. Muschamp said he met with Leonard

Tuesday and they ”decided it would be better off for him to

transfer.”

”It was shocking but it wasn’t as shocking knowing where he’s

come from and what he’s been dealing with since he’s been at

Florida,” Gators defensive end Lerentee McCray said.

Muschamp said backup cornerback Jeremy Brown was undergoing

surgery Wednesday morning to repair a fractured wrist but should be

back for the opener with Bowling Green. Brown has already missed

three seasons with injuries.

As for the quarterbacks, McCray said it was a win-win situation.

Brissett and Driskel combined for just two touchdowns and were

intercepted six times last season, filling in when starter John

Brantley was injured.

”That’s going to be a tough decision for coach Muschamp and the

offensive staff because both of them look really good right now,”

McCray said. ”We feel like we can win with either one of them.

Whoever’s at quarterback, Muschamp is emphasizing two big areas

for improvement. The Gators ranked 113th nationally in turnover

margin, which he says makes it ”a minor miracle” that his first

team managed to win seven games. He called that debut season ”very

frustrating, disappointing.”

Then there was the fourth quarter problems in SEC games. League

opponents outscored Florida 72-22 in the final quarter, and

Muschamp called his team soft after the regular-season finale with

Florida State.

”That’s one of our main things going into this year,”

linebacker Jon Bostic said. ”We’ve got to to finish in the fourth

quarter. If we don’t finish in the fourth, the year will turn out

the same as last year.”