Coach Will Muschamp can joke about it now, but this time last year Gator Nation was a much tougher audience than this time around.

Muschamp made that clear early on during his first Gator Club speaking engagement on Wednesday night in Gainesville.

For Muschamp, it was the first of five Gator Club appearances - and 10 speaking engagements overall this offseason. He will be in Orlando on May 8 to address the Central Florida Gator Club.

"Last year I walked into most of these things with a bulletproof vest on," he joked to open his 25-minute speech that covered pretty anything anyone wanted to know about the Gators.

Muschamp was a first-year coach coming off a 7-6 season last spring. making him not exactly the most-popular person when he appeared at Gator Clubs around Florida.

But the Gators were 11-2 in 2012 and earned a trip to the Sugar Bowl. A 33-23 loss to Louisville would put a damper on an otherwise good season and leave Muschamp far from full of himself as he hit the rubber chicken circuit.

"You’re only as good as your last game and the last once wasn’t very good," he said prior to Wednesday's event. "So we need to get better."

The several hundred fans in attendance Wednesday welcomed Muschamp with loud applause, listened to his energetic, detailed breakdown of his program and spent the final 30 minutes asking Coach Boom questions.

At one point, Muschamp, with a Gators cheerleader under each arm, sang "We Are The Boys" with the crowd. Following the song, Muschamp let fans know how some treated him after a tough first year on the heels of Urban Meyer.

"`Through all kinds of weather we stick together.' Some of y'all didn't hang with that the first year," Muschamp said to much laughter. "Shame on you ... I'm just kidding."

During the course of the evening Muschamp would touch on many things, among them:

-Redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell is participating fully recovered from an ACL suffered last spring and injured against during rehabilitation in the fall.

Powell did not participate in spring drills, but is cleared for all offseason activities as players get ready for fall camp, Muschamp said. Coaches are so confident in Powell's return he is listed as the starting Sam (strong-side) linebacker even though he has not played in a game since 2011.

"I can’t wait," Muschamp said. "I’m looking forward to it. I don’t know if I’m more excited or him. The guy’s worked hard. He had a tremendous setback there in September."

-In response to one question, Muschamp said sophomore tailback Matt Jones could be the "breakout" player among new starters. The 6-foot-2 Jones is checking in at more than 230 pounds and the newcomer and ran a 4.4-second 40-yard dash this week.

The Gators expect Jones to be able to fill the void left by Mike Gillislee, the school's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004 and a fifth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins.

But Muschamp said he will use Gillislee, a back-up his first three seasons, as a player who accepted his role without complaint and waited for his chance to shine.

-Of all the players Muschamp mentioned, quarterback Jeff Driskel was the only who drew a round of applause from the crowd. "We would not have won 11 games without Jeff Driskel as our quarterback," Muschamp said.

-Muschamp also addressed a former Gators quarterback in the news recently, Tim Tebow. Asked why Tebow is not making an impact in the NFL, Muschamp basically said, good question.

"It's hard for me to answer that question," Muschamp said. "It's frustrating ... knowing the type of competitor he is and type of winner he is and knowing what he brings to your football team and what he brings to locker room and how he elevates everyone around him.

"Whatever sport you play there is a system for you. Let's get him in a system and a situation where he can be successful."

-Muschamp said he does not foresee losing any players from here until fall camp.

First-year freshman linebacker Alex Anzalone (shoulder) and redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Trip Thurman (torn labrum) are the only two players who should not be ready on Day 1.

Each should be able to practice during the second week of camp.

-Muschamp has a busy Thursday ahead. He will be Atlanta for an SEC media event and in Tampa in the evening for another Gator Club meeting.

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