SEC notebook: Lawing makes good impression with Gators

jkendall@thestate.com / nwhite@thestate.comJuly 16, 2013 

— Seven months later, Florida coach Will Muschamp is thrilled with his hiring of Brad Lawing.

“After 15 days of spring practice, I totally understand what he did (at USC),” Muschamp said at Tuesday’s SEC Football Media Days. “He’s an outstanding football coach and really a great addition to our staff.”

Lawing spent 17 years as an assistant coach at South Carolina (during two stints) before being hired as the Gators defensive line coach in January.

“At the end of the day, what you put on the field is who you are as a coach,” Muschamp said. “I really watched South Carolina and the job that Brad Lawing did there, a guy that has 33 years of experience — you talk about developing players. The guy did an outstanding job.”

Just in case

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel was drafted by the Boston Red Sox in the 29th round of this summer’s Major League Baseball draft, and he signed a contract. However, nothing will change under center for the Gators.

The Red Sox are laying claim to Driskel should he choose to take a shot at professional baseball in the future.

“I haven’t played baseball for three years as it is now,” Driskel said. “Hopefully, football works out and I never play baseball again, but playing for the Red Sox is a good backup plan.”

The pick was a surprise to Driskel, who learned he had been chosen while checking a draft tracker on his cell phone while hog hunting in Arcadia, Fla.. Muschamp is fine with the arrangement.

“He said, ‘I have no intention of playing baseball, but they’re willing to cut me a check.’ By NCAA rules, it’s legal,” Muschamp said. “I said, ‘Jeff, if you were my son, I’d tell you to sign the contract.’”

Healthy Tigers

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel expects a different-looking team on offense this season with a healthy James Franklin at quarterback and a healthy Henry Josey at running back. Franklin experienced a series of injuries last season that limited his playing time, while Josey missed all of last season after experiencing a devastating knee injury late in a dynamite sophomore campaign two seasons ago.

“Last year was different than any time since I’ve been coaching,” Pinkel said. “James had more injuries than I think any I’ve ever had combined. What he went through, he missed three starts, and he didn’t finish three other games. He pretty much played about half the season.”

But he expects Franklin’s toughness and competitiveness to aid in a big comeback this season.

“I think he’s driven, like we all are, to get back to winning, because that’s what we do at Missouri,” Pinkel said.

He’s also hopeful about Josey’s ability to regain his form.

“He comes out in spring football, runs for the first time, plant, changed direction, looked good,” Pinkel said. “(He) really looked great at the end of spring. We expect him to be 100 percent. Obviously, he’s an impact player.”

Power game

In 2012, Mike Gillislee was the first 1,000-yard rusher at Florida since 2003.

“That’s not going to be the exception any more at Florida, that’s going to be the norm,” Muschamp said. “I’m excited moving forward with our style. Everybody has their own preference of what they feel like they need to do to move the football. In my opinion, we will do some more tempo on offense this year, and it will be in our style.”

The Gators’ style is power football, Muschamp said, and their coach believes he saw some teams wear down against them late in games last year.

High praise?

Asked which school had the top atmosphere from Missouri’s SEC debut season, wide receiver L’Damian Washington said it was South Carolina.

“Their fans are pretty crazy,” he said. “The ruder the better, right?’

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