Thursday August 2, 2012Coach Muschamp and Florida Gators Open Fall Camp
Florida football head coach Will Muschamp spoke to the media today as the Gators reported for fall camp on Thursday.
Obviously reporting to camp today and starting practice tomorrow, just on a side note, really exciting watching the Olympics. Thirty seven former and current Gators doing a great job for our country and I think we are fifth in the world right now in medal count, something like that. But two coaches, Mike Holloway and Greg Troy are over there representing our coaching staff, and what a phenomenal job they do for us. I had the opportunity to speak to the band before they went over and that was a lot of fun to see those guys.
We start tomorrow. We'll be split squad in the morning with the older guys. The younger guys at night. NCAA rules allow you to practice once a day. We take our roster, divide it in half and really, for reps purposes, to get guys enough reps and turns.
The first two days are in helmets. So for teaching purposes, I think it's really good to get the kids out there and have them have an opportunity to be able to get turns and reps in the drills. We can slow it down a little bit at night for the younger guys especially; slow the teaching progression down for them a little bit which I think is really beneficial for them in the learning process inaudible that will be in the lacrosse field, the practice fields. I want to thank Mandee O'Leary for allowing us to go back over there again this year. It's a great arena and we enjoy going over there, sort of change camp a little bit. We have got a new meeting room down stairs and we have dressed up the downstairs. I appreciate Jeremy and the administration allowing us to do that and George Wynn, our director of football operations designs all that stuff and does an outstanding job.
You know, really, just kind of reiterate what I said in Birmingham. It's about starting fast. You don't play yourself into the season. The last time we were in The Swamp we didn’t coach or play very well and that starts with September 1. You go to Texas A&M, you go to Knoxville and you come home against Kentucky.
So we need to come out of the gate fast. It's been a great motivating factor for our football team over the summer and in the off season program and in spring to understand that. We need to finish better. We were outscored in SEC games 72-22 [in the fourth quarter], it's well documented. Some of that can go in a lot of different directions but obviously the weight room, and I think we have made tremendous improvement there.
The discipline of our football team, for two years in a row we led the SEC in penalties. We have addressed it and we need to do a better job addressing it as a staff. It's not something that has not been talked about or addressed but the silly penalties have got to cease in order for us to convert third downs against South Carolina on the offense and red zone on defense for a third and four critical situation late in the game.
Turnover margin, again, it's been emphasized, not well enough. So we have re-evaluated ourselves and what we have done as a staff to do a better job in that department, 113th in the country is tough to overcome. And the individual responsibility of every player of just doing their job at the end of the day.
I told our players, we just got done with a team meeting; 15-11 at the University of Florida [over the past two years], we need to quit talking and start playing at the end of the day, just get on the field and play. And that's what we need to do as a staff and what we need to do as a team. I didn't even contemplate even bringing the team over here today but Steve [McClain] wanted to.
But we have a lot of position battles. It's not just at quarterback. That's really good for our team right now. We are a deeper football team. We have more depth at all positions.
So that's going to be very good for our team. Competition is the best motivator for a player to understand that he needs to play well, and that promotes the consistency and performance that you've got to have in this league forward to be successful.
On the injury report, Nick Alajajian will be slowed probably for the first 10 days of camp with a back injury. He should be fine.
Marcus Maye, I told you in Birmingham has got a meniscus, should be cleared middle of camp.
Colin Thompson had surgery in the spring in high school with his foot and will be slowed probably the first seven to 10 days, but should be cleared after that and should be fine. He's limited. He's practicing some but will not be full speed.
Stephen Alli, stress fracture, will be cleared probably middle of camp.
Jeremy Brown looks to be cleared September 1.
And Ronald Powell, his knee has taken well to the surgery.
I want to complement [team doctor] Mike Moser and the entire medical staff; a lot is credit to Ronald and his approach and work ethic and mental attitude to the situation and the setback. But I'll open it up for any questions you might have.
Q. One of the regrets you expressed about last year was that you did not run a physical enough training camp. What specifically are you going to do to change that this year?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think obviously more contact drills and some different things that we can do.
A little bit of our issues last year were because of numbers. At the end of the day, we had a hard time at times, especially as you work into camp and you have some attrition because of injuries in your roster, it's hard to simulate game day situations when you are only working with one line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, which was the case last year.
That's not going to be the case this year. We are going to be able to do more things. So we have really exhausted a lot in looking around us at what some other people have done. And our coaching pasts and what I feel like we need to do.
I set these schedules in May and tweaked them through the summer as we continued to look at our roster and the things we need to do to be successful.
Q. Obviously 2010 wasn't your fault, but the last two years, you mentioned the penalties, leading the SEC, and the offense has not been fun to watch. What makes you confident and optimistic that this is going to be a team that is fun to watch?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think we went into last season offensively with two offensive linemen that had played a considerable amount in our league; and as I have said more than a lot, that this is a line of scrimmage league and generally your season is predicated on your quarterback position, and both lines of scrimmage.
I told our team, we have got a lot of position battles and I said, ‘everyone wants to ask me about the quarterback position.’ I said, ‘I'll be honest with you, I feel really good about that position because we have two players that are competing that are going to make each other better, our offense better and our team better.’
But I think we are a year older up front offensively. We have improved tremendously offensively on the offensive line. I think at the receiver position, those guys are ready to take the next step. I do think we have some talent and some ability there. Certainly has not been consistent enough for us.
But again at the end of the day, we need to do it on Saturdays. That's the bottom line. And you know, potential is a bad word in my profession. Means you haven't done it. But I do think that we have the ability at the positions but those guys need to learn to do it consistently in our league and that's going to be the challenge for them. I certainly think they are capable, but we need to do it.
Q. Could you just talk about what you think Brent Pease is going to bring to the table? A lot of people get excited when a new coordinator comes in. From your standpoint how much can a coordinator bring to the table if the personnel isn't there for him to really do something special?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think we are a year older. I think that in critical areas on our football team last year, when you lose your senior quarterback, and the next best alternative in my opinion at the time was two true freshmen, you're going to struggle in our league.
You're going to struggle in any league and we certainly went through those growing pains. You lose confidence as an athlete. It's always a tough thing to overcome and we lost a lot of confidence offensively after the injury [to quarterback John Brantley] and after going through some tough games there.
I think our talent level we inherited, over 75 percent of our roster I believe last year was freshmen and sophomores and I think we inherited a good, young, talented team, a bunch of guys that had not played and done it consistently in our league.
They have been through a season, and philosophically, we are still willing to be 50/50 shotgun, under center, pro style, a little more downhill running because our backs have changed. Nothing against the guys that were here last year. They had great careers at Florida. But we will be different in our running game. We will be different as far as our motions and shifts and creating window dressing for a defense.
But I think that Brent brings a good experience of being in this league before and understanding what it's about. And I think he will benefit from an offense that is a year older, from a maturity standpoint, and I think that that's important. I mean, I think that's really important, and I certainly think that the ability with some of these younger guys stepping up is there. The capabilities are there and they have got to do it on game day.
Q. What do you think specifically bring Brent will bring philosophically?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think, again, a little bit more imagination with formations, shifts, motions that create issues for a defense. When you're getting ready for something that we don't see a lot in our league, honestly, there's not a lot of because of no huddle, people don't motion anymore. They want to get on the ball and snap it as fast as they can. You become pretty good at what you're accustomed to seeing a lot.
So we see a lot of no huddle and we see a lot of tempo and we see a lot of what I would say, pro style quarterback, under center in our league. We don't see a lot of multiple motions and shifts.
In a four day period in game week and getting ready for that, especially when you have to adjust to some different motions and shifts each week, it creates issues defensively for you. I think that those are things that are different that certainly will complement our players very well and our scheme and our system.
Q. What changes in this team have you seen since the FSU game?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think as much as anything, some guys that have bought into what we are trying to do. So obviously a half buy in so to speak; or their way didn't work. And I think that they understand where we are headed with this program. I am pleased with our senior class. I am pleased with our junior class, which is the majority of our playmakers on our football team.
So again, I think that the attitude of our team is much improved over a year ago from where we were.
Q. What role has Jeff Dillman played in making this team a tougher team?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Again, that's a critical hire for [a coach], because again, the last three months, by NCAA rules, I can't be a part of what they are doing from a workout standpoint or a football standpoint and he's monitored that. Jeff Dillman is a Will Muschamp guy at the end of the day, and he's putting the same philosophical ideas I want in the weight room, from an Olympic core lifting and the things that we need to do to be successful, that I know work in this league.
Q. Do you think that it's going to hurt this team at all or have any apprehensions about not naming a starting quarterback before camp and having them split reps at all?
COACH MUSCHAMP: No. I think we'll be fine.
Q. You guys lost a lot of seniors in your backfield on offense and those guys brought a lot of energy and leadership to your team. Who have you heard from the strength staff that's stepped up as far as leading the team and how key do you think that will be for the beginning of the year?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, Jon Halapio would be a guy that I would single out up front offensively. Xavier Nixon has had a good summer and he has got his weight stabilized where it needs to be and he's carrying it well. So those guys up front. I think Frankie Hammond has had a good summer; Quinton Dunbar; Andre Debose has had a good summer; Mike Gillislee is a guy that I think is ready to take the next step. But I think we have a good core of running backs. Chris Johnson; Mack Brown needs to step up. Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer will certainly be involved in those roles, as well.
So again, I think it's more of a collective group, but I think Jon would be the one guy that I think offensively, certainly, our guys see as a leader.
Q. Do you sometimes feel a bit of a disconnect between your coaching staff and the public with a lot of information being kept quiet, like closed practices and play progression and stuff like that?
COACH MUSCHAMP: No.
Q. You talked earlier about how starting fast was a motivation for this team in the off season. What about what they went through in October? How much did you hear that come up and was that something that they used as motivation in the off season? Did they grumble about, we were embarrassed in October and we can't have that again?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I told them, don't ever forget the feeling. I told them that in the locker room after the games.
There's a key to every kid and there's a key to every student athlete. It's your job as a coach to find the keys. But I know one thing: Embarrassment and failure are huge motivators for competitors.
And I think we have a lot of competitors and a lot of prideful guys on our football team that take a lot of pride in their performance representing the University of Florida, and we certainly didn't do a very good job.
I think that they have a lot of pride in that and certainly think it's a motivating factor for our unit.
Q. There were no significant off the field issues this summer; can you talk about what that says to you about the kind of team that you have?
COACH MUSCHAMP: That's a process all the time with young people. They all make mistakes and it's unfortunate, and it's your job as an educator, teacher, a coach, to help them along in that process and to continue the process.
Q. Do you feel confident that they are getting the message? Obviously it seems like it has not been an issue this summer at all.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Again, I feel very comfortable with where we are as a program, our discipline of our football team; the buy in of our football team.
Again, at the end of the day, you're judged after these young men graduate and move on. If you've helped themselves and they are better men because of being a part of the program, that's the way I judge it. It's an ongoing, continual process to me.
Q. What's changed in the quarterback race since the end of spring?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, you know, nothing that I've been involved in, because of NCAA rules.
So from a standpoint of just hearsay, I think both guys have worked hard and they both look good physically. Both were in my office today. We'll see tomorrow.
Q. You said at the end of spring how important this off season would be in that competition. Where would you be looking for and be able to tell in these first couple of days
COACH MUSCHAMP: I don't think you'll see anything in helmets. Again at the end of the day, we play in pads.
So after two days, I don't know. You'll ask me after every day, so, you want me to pull a tape recorder out and just play it at the start so we can get it over with (Laughter).
Q. I'd rather just ask you every day.
COACH MUSCHAMP: I figured. I knew you would answer that way.
Again, I think it's over a period of time, the consistency, the performance that they will have over a week, ten days, and then we'll know when the decision is right. I really feel that way. I've always felt that way about every position. You know when it's right.
Q. Which offensive players do you think will benefit most from the system, the new system that's coming on board, and how will the relationship between quarterback and coordinator work, considering what he brings to the table?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, I think that Brent is a guy that has played the position.
He's experienced dropping back. He's experienced those things that are critical for a player and the experience and the teaching of a player. I certainly think that helps. But he's got a good demeanor and he works well with all of our players, not just the quarterbacks.
But from a system standpoint, I mean, you know, again, we have tried to keep a lot of the terminology the same to keep some consistency. You can't call everything the same, because I want Brent to feel comfortable as well. That's critical to me. I've done what he's done, two different times; three different times, actually.
But at the end of the day, I think that we need to continue working through some of the possible question marks we have offensively to solidify our identity offensively. And that's really what training camp is on both sides of the ball.
You have a pretty good idea as a coach what you think you are, but I think sometimes there will be some surprises as you work through camp that maybe this guy is playing a little better than you may have anticipated or maybe a guy has not performed as well as you would have hoped, and I think that's the decisions we make as we work through camp.
Q. On Trey Burton:
COACH MUSCHAMP: Trey was, again, very consistent during spring and continued to make plays and continued to make explosive plays down the field. He has great toughness and he blocks and he does all of the things that you have to do outside the position to be very successful. So I'm very pleased and we are certainly counting on him this fall to play.
Q. Usually when people talk about explosiveness, they are sort of talking about the offense, but does this team have a chance to have an explosive defense and what might that look like?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think so. Again, I'm very optimistic as we head into the season.
When you have a team that was unfortunately inconsistent at times but did play well at times and did some nice things at times; and you've got all the guys returning, other than Jaye Howard and William Green, but you've got a lot of experience back there, that is a little bit of a luxury.
Again they need to continue with the competitive edge that they have to do to be successful. And we have to have a great camp and we have to come together. And obviously injuries were a part of that, and we just need to work through camp and continue to gel as a unit.
Q. Speaking of units, the offensive line, you've talked about the benefit of more experience in that group. Can you talk about a couple guys individually and the importance of that unit and having more experience?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, from an experience standpoint, three tackles played for us last year, Xavier [Nixon], Matt [Patchan] and Chaz [Green], and I think all three are guys we can win with in the SEC.
Jon Halapio played really well for us last year. Jonotthan Harrison is coming back in his second year [as a starter] and he has got great competition with Sam Robey. Kyle Koehne will get some snaps at the center position. James Wilson and Kyle can both play the left guard.
And I'm very pleased with the two young players we have, D.J. Humphries and Jessamen Dunker, both of those guys. Tommy Jordan and Trip Thurman were injured for most of last season and for spring. But to get those guys back in the fold, we have got some really more depth and competition, which, again, is the best motivator for me.
Q. How much time is Dominique Easley going to see at tackle and where do you see his best fit?
COACH MUSCHAMP: He'll start out at end, which is probably his most natural position and Sharrif inside because of the issues going into last season.
I was uncertain we were going to get Sharrif and that's why we did what we did in the first year of the scheme and I think it was very difficult to switch gears on those guys as we rolled into the season.
But Sharrif is a more natural inside player and played very well in the Bowl game for us when Dominique was injured but Dominique will play inside and out. But then regular downs, 1st and 10, second down he'll be on the edge, and in pass rush situations he and Sharrif will be in there. And again that's a place where Damien Jacobs needs to step up. He did some really nice things in the spring and I think he's got the physical attributes you have to have to be successful. Paramount for me to get that guy to understand the speed and the tempo of the game in our league.
Q. After they gained the experience from last year, what's the maturity level of Jacoby and Jeff at this point and where do you like it to go at the end of camp?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Again I think just the command of the offense by the end of camp and managing our football team.
And again, I've said it a bunch. It's not being conservative when I say that. When you manage our team, you are making explosive plays, you are taking care of the football and you are making great decisions with the ball in situations and you are getting us in and out of the right run and putting us in the right protection. When I say manage, that's what I mean.
But their experience last year was, again, I think that you look at Jeff in the Alabama game in the fifth ballgame, you tell him to get his helmet and he gave me that look. I said, ‘I'm serious you've got to get your helmet.
That's experience that you can't replace that. To be able to prepare in our league and understand that Jeff has got an ankle [injury]; we don't know if he can go or not. On Wednesday we decided [Jacoby] was going to be the starter in Baton Rouge, against a pretty good team.
The experience that they have preparing to be the starter, to be the guy; again, that's why we put Jeff in the FAU game in the second quarter because of injury and the possibility of that happening and understanding that we needed to have those guys be ready to go and unfortunately it didn't work out the way we wanted it to, but we certainly prepared for it the correct way.
Q. Coach, how does having McCray at the BUCK position affect the front seven?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, he's played the SAM and the BUCK, so he's familiar with both and will excel at doing both. So you know, Darrin Kitchens and Neiron Ball can play the SAM. Last year we ended up playing 70 percent nickel. So as far as percentages go, most teams we are going to be in sub situations anyways, on third down with nickel in the game.
Matt Elam does a great job playing close to the line of scrimmage, anyways, so we'll work him in there for the most part in regular downs. I mean, Neiron Ball is a guy that can play the BUCK, and we'll give some younger guys an opportunity at the position as well. But we'll be fine.
Q. The new kickoff change, that robs you of a chance to really be a weapon with Andre Debose. Have you figured out or thought about how you can compensate with that on the kickoffs?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Yeah, we have discussed it a lot and we are going to kind of honestly we need to get on the field and rep through it and see how it works.
I think that obviously Andre, he's got the Florida record for kickoff return [touchdowns] in a career with a three. So he's a guy that's certainly been a game changer for us and needs to continue to be so we need to continue to find ways for that to happen.
D.J. [Durkin] and I have talked about that, and we are going to look in camp early to figure out how we can get the ball in his hands and gain some returns.
Q. Can you handicap that wide receiver position? It's been sort of obvious the last two years, really inconsistent and does it speak to the fact that Latroy Pittman was one of your better receivers in the spring and maybe can start in the fall? Does that speak to the issue there?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, I think it contributes to two things. I think Latroy is a good player, and as a freshman at Florida, he shouldn't be getting that opportunity, quite frankly, if we are doing our job. So, you know, it is what it is. We'll be fine.
Q. Looking at the SEC it seems to get tougher and tougher, in the month of October you are playing three Top 10 SEC teams. Is that how it feels, just keeps getting tougher, basically, every year?
COACH MUSCHAMP: It's our league. Worry about our camp right now and getting ready and deciding who is going to be playing what is how we are going to play. I'm not worried about all that right now. I need to be worried about playing Florida.
Q. Remembering back to training camp the in the NFL, when you look at your D Line, is there any comparison when you look at the bodies and when you look at the guys that you have there?
COACH MUSCHAMP: No. I need to worry about playing for Florida ( inaudible ) size on third down.
Q. How good is your defensive line heading into the season?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think they have a chance to do some nice things. But again, at the end of the day we have not done anything with this unit this year and those guys need to worry about playing well this year. We need to quick talking and play on the field.
Q. Considering how strong the offensive line looks to be going into camp, can Gillislee be a thousand yard back in this league and will, more specifically, his ability to run take the pressure off of the two quarterbacks?
COACH MUSCHAMP: There's no question. You have got to create balance in this league. You become one dimensional in this league, it's very difficult to have success, regardless of where you are at other positions.
I do think our offensive line has improved. I would like to continue to work through camp with them and blocking a pretty good defensive front and see where we go from there.
As far as making predictions and all, I've told our players, we are not making any predictions and neither am I.
Q. The change of culture last year, now does this team seem more like a Will Muschamp style of team?
COACH MUSCHAMP: This is this is the University of Florida's team. It's never going to be Will Muschamp's team.
Q. That said is it more your style of team and will it be a better team moving forward this season?
COACH MUSCHAMP: At the end of the day, we need to coach a lot better and we need to play better. And I think, are we recruiting to a certain look to what we want to be?
Certainly, I agree with you 100 percent. We are trying to get bigger. You can be fast and still be really big and physical. That's allowed. So that's what we are recruiting toward.
Q. Can you assess where James Wilson is coming into this year and where he fits into the line and also Ian Silberman.
COACH MUSCHAMP: James, again, was a guy last year that struggled with his weight in camp. He was on an exercise bike more than he practiced, so I feel like we have made some strides there. Certainly played very well for us late in the year, really well for us late in the year. So a guy that can get some girth and movement inside against bigger tackles in our league, some guys that are hard to move, and he can do that. He's a talented guy. We have to watch his reps because of his knee, because he does have a history. So that's our job to manage that.
And Ian is a guy that this spring we decided to go ahead and have the surgery in spring so he would not miss fall camp. So that put him behind the 8 ball a little bit, but he'll certainly be given some opportunities here in camp to show us what he can do.
Q. Is Silberman a guard or tackle?
COACH MUSCHAMP: He's a guard right now but he can play both positions.
Q. Can you talk about Caleb Sturgis and what he brings to the team, and if there's any other ways you can use him as far as distance?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, again, you know, Caleb, we feel very comfortable; if the ball hits the 35 in a 52 yard range, he's in range. I think he probably would tell you he's a little further outside that. But I know that's kind of our mirror mark of what we look for.
He probably could hit from 38 and make 55, 56, I feel comfortable in those ranges as well. But a guy that again you cross the 50, he feels good about where he's kicking, certainly is a weapon for us on kickoffs and getting the ball in the end zone. I've got tremendous confidence in him.
Our team has tremendous confidence in him. He's a very talented young man. And he's also graduated.
Q. What can you tell us about Jonathan Bullard's situation, when he can practice and where he's at?
COACH MUSCHAMP: He's on campus right now and we look forward to seeing him practice.
Q. When can he start practicing?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Tomorrow, I believe.
Q. What would you tell Gator Nation and Gator fans who want to see practice but you closed it out to them and to the media?
COACH MUSCHAMP: We're open on the 18th.
Q. So come out on fan day?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Yeah.
Q. You said you have a lot of other good position battles than quarterback. What are some of the tightest ones you think at this point?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think you look at receiver, you look at corner, you look at offensive tackle, the guard positions inside, other than Jon, is a little unsettled. Kyle did some nice things for us in the spring. I think, you know, Gillislee will be pushed. Obviously we are pretty settled at the inside linebacker position, but I'm looking for Damien Jacobs to step up and do some things. We still need to settle in on our four rushers on third down.
So I think across the board, we have certainly had some guys battling and on special teams, I think that's one of the great things D.J. [Durkin] does here is have competition within the units, and our guys take an awful lot of pride to play well and to be on special teams, and we have got some young guys and we need to find out what they can do.
Q. What indications or progress are you looking for from Matt Elam this month?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Again, Matt has done a fantastic job in the weight room just based on what I saw today. He looks great. He's always been an explosive guy, strong guy, heavy handed guy, just continue to be a ball hawk and get the ball off people, and communicate well. He's going to play a lot of stuff for us on the back end. He's a natural cover safety. Just continue to take the next step, the next progression as a player that he needs to take.
I certainly know based on what I just saw today from a body standpoint, he's ready to make that next step. I know he's worked hard.
Q. How has Marcus Roberson come along and what would it mean to get him back?
COACH MUSCHAMP: He's been fully cleared. Marcus is a really good player and started as a true freshman. That will tell you the confidence level we have in him as a football player but again another guy that I think changes his body a little and is getting stronger.
Again he's a year older, been in the weight room and done a nice job. Had a scary injury, any time you're dealing with the head or the neck, it scares you to death. Really pleased to get him back, and he's been cleared and he's excited to get going.
Q. You said repeatedly that the record the last two years is unacceptable for the University of Florida. Would you consider the season a failure if you don't win the SEC east?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think when you don't go to Atlanta, Florida is a failure.
Q. How does Hunter Joyer benefit from the change in the offense this year? Seems like he could be a piece that's able to move around.
COACH MUSCHAMP: He will. He certainly will. Again he's a guy that needs to continue to develop to be that lead back; to be that dominating power blocker, lead blocker, lead draw. Divide draw. Some of the stuff we have gone to, more of the direct runs that I think certainly will benefit us with him being in there. But he's also a guy that can go into our one back stuff. We go to three tight end personnel and two tight end personnel and getting some wing back; a guy that can push the ball and we feel like you gain some advantage and some short yardage and goal line situations with him. He's a talented young man.
Q. And the rankings are out. I'm sure you don't care about your preseason ranking.
COACH MUSCHAMP: (Shaking head.)
Q. When do you think teams should care about their ranking?
COACH MUSCHAMP: At the end of the season. End of the Bowl season.
Q. Was there any self reflection from you after your first season as a coach and anything you would change going into this season or how do you evaluate?
COACH MUSCHAMP: I think I would do that every day. I think any good CEO, any good competitor, any good player, any good coach is a hard self evaluator.
The guys I've been around are hard self evaluators and they look to themselves first before they look at anybody else. There's no question that you live and learn.
I go back to my experience as a coordinator, first year to second year, and the steps you take and the pitfalls you fall into, and not being as reactive in some situations obviously would help. And we have got a really good staff and lean on those guys and learn to delegate a little better in some situations. Continue to trust your gut.
I really feel like from a managing personnel standpoint that there were some things we did well. We didn't get the results we wanted but at the end of the day, you make decisions, especially your first year of a transition, for the long haul. You don't make them on the short term. That's not smart. It's not good business.
And again, I've said it all along; we are building a program, not a team. So we made decisions to build a solid foundation for where we are going. And we need better results on the field. And I know everybody wants that; I get the e mails, and I get that. But that's part of it.
I want it to happen today, too. I want it to happen yesterday. But you also need to be a little bit realistic where you are and where you are headed. I feel really confident and never wavered for one second where we were headed.
Q. As good as your defense played at times last year, you didn't create a lot of turnovers, and that's something your defenses have done. Is there anything from a football technique standpoint that you can do to maybe create more this time around?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think when you create more loose downs for an offense, we got in some situations in some games that maybe statistically look good for our defense but other offenses didn't feel like they needed to score.
So they were willing to take a three and out and take time off the clock and not put the ball in the air and not create what I call 'loose downs' where you create more turnovers and the quarterback is dropping back and you sack the quarterback and you knock the ball off him and you get a tipped ball. Just the different turnovers you kind of fall into.
We didn't get a lot of the snaps last year because we were inept on offenses. It helped us statistically defensively but that's not the point.
So we have made a huge emphasis, maybe differently, how we want to emphasize things as far as technique of taking the ball off people, make our kids more cognizant of situations when we can get the ball off them.
I do think being in year two, you're a little more comfortable in what you're doing and how you're doing it, and you react more than you think on the field.
So I think all of those things combined, hopefully we can create some more loose downs and we can more some more points and put our defense in situations where we have got better chances to get the ball off people.
Q. On some freshman, with Bullard and Fowler, Bullard came in a little bit late but they were some of the top guys you brought in this year; how much are you counting on them for depth and what do they need to be able to do to contribute as freshman?
COACH MUSCHAMP: We'll determine that in camp. I tell those guys when they first report and I tell them again in the team meeting: What you've done and what you've accomplished in high school does not help you at Florida. It's over. You have not made one play in our league and you have not made one play in our stadium.
So you need to earn the respect of your teammates first in how you prepare and how you play and how you compete every day. Some of those guys possibly have done that in workouts this summer; I don't know.
But at the end of the day, those guys haven't made any plays for us. At the end of the day they are good players and I'm glad they are Gators and I'm glad they are here. But they need to go out in camp and play well and create their opportunity with our football team.
Q. Same thing with Colin Thompson and Kent Taylor with the loss of Leonard, how much will they be counted on at the tight end position?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Every freshman at the University of Florida will be given every opportunity to be a starter or to play. They will determine their role and how much they play based on how they perform in camp.
At the end of the day, after practice 18, we will sit down as a staff and say as we move forward, who can we count on? And the thing you always have as a coach, because normally in the first game they may not be better than that older player; but are they going to be better in week five, and that's a decision as a coach you have got make. Because if he's going to be better in week five for the long haul, we probably should be playing him.
So that's the decisions you have to make. But over that long haul, they have got to, you know, they have got to show that they are mature enough and a lot of times, it doesn't have anything to do with ability. It has to do with maturity, ability, consistency, coming every day, learning and transferring to the next day.
What happens, a lot of players especially earlier in the year, they get bogged down with everything. They have got class and they have got social and they have all this stuff going on and they get bogged down early in the season. Those are all things that we have been through, and we understand the pitfalls of those situations.
But every one of them will be given an opportunity to be a starter at Florida this year.
Q. I know this doesn't matter to you, but do some of the higher rated kids that come in that they are going to be able to walk in and play, how do you handle that and their expectations to get that out of their head?
COACH MUSCHAMP: When we recruit them, we tell them we are going to promise them one thing, an opportunity. That's it. That's it.
My loyalty is with the young men on campus. And the young men that want to come to the University of Florida, we promise them one thing, an opportunity. And if they are the best in their position, in my history as a defensive coordinator, as a head coach, they will start, if they are better than the guys in front of them. I don't care where you're from. How many freshman we start last year? Several.
Q. Can you talk about Matt Patchan a little bit? Here is a guy who has been around a long time, obviously has had injury after injury after injury, but he's bigger than I've ever seen him and looks like physically, like a tackle, finally.
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, I think Matt has put in the work. He always has. He's a guy that really enjoys the weight room and understands what it takes to be successful. He's got a good work ethic and he's got a good demeanor for the game. Matter of fact, he was a little late for our team meeting today. He was taking the GRE. He's graduating in December. So kudos to him.
You know, I think that for whatever reason, some guys have bitten the injury bug and have a hard time getting around it. And that's been unfortunate for him.
But I know the work ethic he's put into this spring and into the summer lifting; and as we head into fall camp, I think he's at a good place and I think he's ready to have an outstanding season. And I know that anybody that's been a competitor before and had it taken away from you, certainly you want those guys to have success.
Q. You talked about the weight room and the philosophical changes in there. Did that involve a lot more working with heavier weights, and also, did you detect any problems with the atmosphere last year in the weight room and what was going on there? And has it gotten a lot better under the new deal?
COACH MUSCHAMP: Well, in order to get stronger, you have to push heavy weight and that's what we have been trying to emphasize. Mickey Marotti did an outstanding job with the University of Florida: He won two National Championships and two Conference Championships, and ought to be proud of his efforts and he what. He did a good job for me.
But at the end of the day, I also have to look at the product on the field and what we are doing, and we needed to improve.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports ...