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Monday September 17, 2012Quotes and Video from Coach Will Muschamp's Monday Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ upcoming home game against conference opponent Kentucky (12:21 p.m. on Saturday)

 

Opening Statement

“Really proud of the team win on Saturday night there in Knoxville, and that’s what it was, a team win. It was a collective effort, offensively, defensively and special teams.  I thought our players did an outstanding job with managing through the game and managing the ups and downs through playing on the road; really proud of their effort. Together everyone achieves more, and that’s what we’re talking about with our football team at this time. We need to move forward and correct our mistakes, which we have plenty, and continue to do the things we’re doing well.”

 

“Offensively, we ran the ball 41 times for 339 yards, 8 yards a carry, 14 explosives, we had no turnovers and no sacks. So, we’ve made some improvements as far as that’s concerned. I thought, as much as anything, what stood out to me was we stayed with the play, continued to execute, had some bad field position early in the game, didn’t panic, just continued to stick with the plan, continued to execute the plan, we had some guys making some plays. We obviously need to improve on 3rd down, short yardage and goal line. We’ve addressed it every week and what we’re doing is not good. We’re studying ourselves as we speak to make sure we’re getting in the right spots in those situations, what we’re doing is not working. If you continue to do the same stuff you’re going to get the same result, so we need to change that. Redzone, we need touchdowns on the road in those situations early in the game. I’m sitting at half time thinking about those two times in the game where we needed touchdowns and you’re kicking field goals, and that’s tough to do on the road. Those are some things we’ve certainly identified that we need to improve.”

 

“Defensively, we met our goals as far as per plays, as far as run and the pass - 3.3 yards a carry on the run and 5 yards per attempt in the passing game which, as far as their football team, is really good. They throw the ball extremely well, their QB is gifted and the two receivers are as good as we’ll see this season. Both guys are strong guys, who can stretch the field vertically, run good routes, and have excellent precision timing in the passing game.  Most of the throws that they did complete were contested throws. I thought we covered, for the most part, pretty well. There’s some technique issues we need to clean up on the back end. I thought we tackled extremely well in the game, didn’t have many misses at all and we really pressured the QB well, especially in the second half. I thought we wore them down a little bit on both lines of scrimmage. I was very proud of the guys, they kept coming and we were able to get four guys rushing. We pressured early in the game and as the game wore on we were able to gain the lead, we rushed four guys and we were able to get four there.”

 

“Improvements: Communication and attention to detail, we had too many minor errors that didn’t hurt us in the game but will certainly hurt us as we continue to move forward in our season. We’ve got to do a better job with those things. Third down, again. You’ve got to give them credit, they made two outstanding throws to the tight end, and we were draped all over him.  I’ll give them credit for making those throws, but we’ve got to get the ball off of them. Redzone defense, we’ve got to hold people to field goals in those situations. Our first down goal we did not meet, we want to be playing for 2nd and 7+, and too many times it was 2nd and 6 or less, or a first down conversion on 1st and 10. So those are things we need to improve on. I thought special teams was solid, coverage units were good, we flipped the field, especially early. Kyle Christy did an outstanding job and we covered extremely well, especially Loucheiz Purifoy at the gunner position. He was a guy that really covered a lot of ground. We flipped the field in punting situations, especially when we were backed up early which was critical for them not to get momentum.”

 

“Players of the game: Offensively, Jeff Driskel and Trey Burton, both guys played extremely well in the game. Big plays were to Frankie Hammond and Jordan Reed, both of those guys continue to improve. Scrap Iron we gave to our entire offensive line, I thought they did a nice job protecting and a nice job blocking throughout the game. I thought they did a really good job, really proud of their effort. Defensively, Lerentee McCray played an outstanding game. He’s got a great motor. He’s a guy that plays hard all the time. He had a big interception and continues to play well for us, and gives us a lot of good rush on the edge. Hard Hat went to Dominique Easley. Special Teams was Kyle Christy, his critical punts early in the game were backed up, he flips the field back to their 40. That’s a huge momentum change in the game and then Caleb Sturgis with the big kick there at end - a guy that’s just so reliable and able to extend it to a three score game. Most situations, you probably would’ve gone for it there on that 4th down but when you have Caleb, you put your All-American on the field and you make it a three score game and that’s what we did. Scouts of the week: Offensively, Jessamen Dunker, defensively, Ben Peacock and special teams was Mark Herndon.”

 

“Injury situation: Cody Riggs is still out, obviously. Jelani Jenkins is out, I will get an update Wednesday and know more, I don’t know what time Wednesday, but I will get an update. Chaz Green is probable, a game time situation. In an emergency situation if we would’ve had some injuries, probably could’ve played but we held him. Dominique has got some swelling on his knee, he’s day to day, we’ll see how the week progresses there, as far as his status for the game is concerned.”

“Kentucky is a young football team. They’ve played 20 freshmen so far, 11 of them being true freshman. Right now they’re leading the league in passing with 322 yards a game. Max Smith, the QB, is completing right at 70% of his passes, and they’re 51% on 3rd down, leading the SEC, and they’re getting 25 first downs a game. They’re working an up-tempo huddle, no huddle situation, much like we’ve seen in the first three ball games. They’re on the line of scrimmage, they will have some look back and also some tempo things that they’re doing offensively. Randy Sanders, their offensive coordinator, has been in this league for a long time, and defensively, Rick Minter is a guy that does an outstanding job. They’re an over and under team and they do a good job. Our guys need to realize the things we need to work on to improve as an organization and certainly it will be pointed out today in the meeting to capitalize on an opportunity to improve ourselves.”

 

On feeling after a ‘feel good win’ and still knowing you have things to correct and get better
“After a win, it’s never as good as it seems, and after a loss, it’s never as bad as it seems, and that’s the way I kind of look at it. I’m very technical about how we play, and we’ll continue to face better opponents throughout the season and we need to improve. We have a lot of improvements that need to be made. It’s easy to coach hard off of the film after a win, sometimes after a loss, it’s a little tougher but, again, I kind of look at them all the same. It’s no different from me walking in here Monday afternoon with the football team after a win or a loss. I’m very technical about it, what you did well, what you didn’t do well, realistic about where you are, what you’re going to get hurt on. This league is a league that, like most other leagues, they’re going to watch the film, and you will see again what hurt you before. We’ve got to improve in some areas.”

 

On worrying about a letdown against Kentucky
“You only have 12 opportunities a year, you need to play well and prepare well and that’s what we plan on doing.”

 

On how running game is enhanced with Jeff’s mobility and being able to bring Trey Burton in and have big runs
“A one-back set is a 2-back set now, a 2-back set is a 3-back set, so you create a lot of issues for a defense when a guy has legs at the quarterback position. With all of the zone-read opportunities and all of the things that you’re doing, the misdirection off of the run game, which is very difficult, you’re dealing with a guy like Solomon Patton and Andre Debose coming on and you’ve got to be able to handle the edges. Then, you’ve also got to be able to handle the inside run game with a guy like Mike Gillislee, who is playing at a high level, we’re blocking well up front, and then you’ve got the issues of a QB pulling the ball. You’ve also got to simplify things in the passing game because, from the standpoint of a defensive coordinator, you’ve got to make sure that all areas are covered. Mostly you’re going to get a lot of middle field coverage, but now you single things outside for our receivers so, again, all of that simplifies things defensively.”

 

On Lerentee growing into his role
“Lerentee works extremely hard, he’s a guy that’s always in the weight room, wanting to watch extra film, always does the little things it takes to be successful and it’s very important to him. He’s a passionate guy, he plays hard, he plays with great effort, a guy that gives everything he’s got and it’s really really important to him, playing at Florida, and that’s a huge talent of his. He’s a guy that’s really enhanced his pass rush abilities, he’s flipped his hips in the rush, he can be a ‘stand up and move around’ guy, he can do a lot of things for us. He’s a great leader, he’s a guy that goes out and works hard every single day and he’s a great example for our football team and our younger players.

 

On the best thing Lerentee does right now on the field
“Pass rush. Right now he’s rushing the passer extremely well, he’s a threat on the edge but he’s also a heavy handed guy. He can really get his hands on people and get them off of you. He’s a guy that can convert speed to power in the rush, which is critical in being a speed rusher.”

 

On Lerentee being a ‘surprise guy’
“No, he played well last year he was just injured at times. I think he’s progressed, I really do. Dan does a good job with our front seven and I think we do a good job with our players, in general, in pointing out the things they do well and then pointing out things we need to work on to improve. In our off season, we give a list of things that the young men can work on in the weight room, watching film, and different things they need to improve on and get better at. Lerentee is a very coachable guy, he listens and he understands what his weaknesses are and what he needs to improve on. Dan is a really good teacher of pass rush, he understands the pressure points and setting the protections and understanding and teaching that to the players.”

 

On importance of having guys like Lerentee and Jon Bostic who are versatile in the LB group
“Jon’s an every down LB, he can play 1st down, 2nd down and 3rd down and he can cover and play in space. We put him on an island on their back in a lot of situations so that he can stay on top of the receivers in a lot of 3rd downs and 2nd and longs. The other night, you saw him on the critical 3rd and 10 situation, they checked it down to the back and he’s able to cover the back out of the backfield. So having those guys is certainly a luxury, you don’t worry about mismatches and getting them matched up on a back that may be faster, quicker or whatever you want to say.”

 

On Jeff being able to recognize Tennessee being a ‘pattern match’ team
“A pattern match team is basically a man coverage team, we’re a pattern match team for the most part. What that means is that you’re matching patterns down the field. When you do that, you turn your back to the QB sometimes to match route, and when you do that and you’ve got a guy that’s got legs, and you don’t have the right pass rush disciple or you get knocked out of a pass rush lane and the guy takes off running, your back is to the ball. It’s not that he recognized it, he knew it going in to the game that they were a pattern match team and when they did a good job matching the routes and he’s able to pull the ball back, they don’t have anybody left for the QB. In those situations it’s very difficult, and it’s always an issue with us, when we face a runner at the QB position, how are we going to handle his legs when he starts to scramble, we’re going to change up the pass rush lane, what are we going to do? Sometimes you rob Peter to pay Paul. You hurt yourself in the run game to change up things, as far as the pass rush lanes are concerned. You’ve got to give and take a little bit and you’ve got to be careful how much pattern match you play when you play a running QB.”

 

Jeff improving on getting in and out of the right run calls
“We gave him a little more, as far as Brent’s standpoint, being able to check a run from one side to the other, get out of a run and throw the ball, go to a solid protection when you’re in a 7 man look vs. some pressure and be able to create a 1-on-1 outside, so just more things at the line of scrimmage. He made really good decisions, he got us in and out of the right runs, he got us out of some run situations and he was able to do those things at a very high level. A good example is the touchdown pass to Frankie; in that situation, recognizing flat-top coverage in max pressure. They had one more than we could protect, we were in a 6 man protection, and they brought 7. So being able to recognize that, and knowing exactly where you’ve got to be able to take the ball and understanding where you’ve got to get the ball.”

 

On how much the 2 SEC road wins help in recruiting
“It’s a long season, we just need to continue to press forward and continue to improve. We’ve got a big game and SEC East opponent on Saturday at 12:21 and we’re looking forward to kick off. I think a lot of the young men want to come to the University of Florida, regardless, because it’s a great institution, outstanding academic institution, it’s got great facilities, it’s got a great tradition, there’s a lot of positives here. Certainly winning helps, I’m not going to say it doesn’t. It’s a long year and we’ve got to continue to improve and we’ve got a lot of improving to do.”

 

On biggest difference in Jeff from spring

“I’ve always felt like from a potential standpoint that he had everything he needed to be successful, there’s no question about that. I think, again, that it’s a maturing process as a player, especially at that position, it’s very difficult to play that position as a freshman and he was put in a tough situation his first year here, as was Jacoby. It’s just hard to walk in a play as freshman, at any position, much less the QB position at the University of Florida. A lot of the game has slowed down for him, he’s able to anticipate things more, he’s able to see things more, he understands a little more about coverage concepts and where the rotation is and where the pressure may come from based on the tilt of the safety’s. There are so many things in the learning process of being a young player, but even more so at that position, because you’ve got to understand how the other 10 are working on that side of the ball and also have a great understanding about what’s happening on defense. When you’re able to start seeing those things, and the game continues to slow down, I think he’ll continue to play well. The thing about Jeff is he’s going to continue to work at it. He’s a humble guy, he’s going to come in and understand the things he did well and why they worked and the things we need to improve on as a football team.”

 

On Jeff not turning the ball over
“That’s a huge part of it, taking care of the football. When you talk about managing the team, that’s what you talk about. Number one thing is taking care of the football.”

 

On 4th quarter success being attributed to off-season condition
“No, again I want to go back to experience and maturity. We’re a more experienced football team than we were a year ago. We’re a little more mature football team at times, from the stand point of understanding what it takes to be successful. I think that a lot of that camaraderie, those things are certainly much improved. But experience and maturity has a lot to do with that.”

 

On coaching off of the film
“I always look at it this way, ‘why did this work? Well, it worked because we rushed right, it worked because we kept our head in our gap, it worked because we got off the block, it worked because we tackled, it worked because we played the ball down field, I mean why did it work?’ Next play, ‘okay this worked here but if they had taken the ball here, we’ve got a problem guys, we didn’t have the right communication on the back side’. So, just because the result of the play was positive for the Gators, doesn’t mean it was the right thing. I try to point out all of the time, whether it’s a win or a loss, ‘this didn’t work’ or ‘this worked, but right here, we’ve got a problem if he takes the ball here’.”

 

On Lerentee McCray being a redshirt senior being a testament to staying your whole career
“We had Earl Thomas at Texas, he was redshirted his first year played two years, came out, and was the 17th pick in the draft. Just because you’re a redshirt doesn’t mean you’re not a good player, different guys mature at different times, their opportunities sometimes are presented differently than others. There are so many factors that go into playing as a freshman, or playing early, or when you become a good player, it’s a maturing process.  He was also injured last year, he would have started more last year but he was injured.  He’s a mature guy, works hard, and knows what it takes to be successful.”

 

On being a second half team and knowing that if you’re down, you can come back
“I’m just worried about what it’s going to mean for this Saturday. I think as much as anything it brings the guys confidence that, regardless of the situation or circumstance, we can make this thing happen. I also think it helps guys recognize when you’re doing things well and when you’re not doing things well. Part of being a good player and being a good team is understanding why you’re having success and why you’re not having it.”

 

On turning it around in the second half being a sign of maturity
“I think being able to take coaching. We have some guys that handle that very well and they understand when you stand in front of them and say, ‘we’re not doing this well enough, we need to improve on this’, they seem to understand that, they get that, they take that. A lot of situations in our society now-a-days, no one ever wants to be corrected and told they did something wrong or they didn’t do something exactly right, so that’s a good quality to have.”

 

On why Mike Gillislee didn’t see the field much last year and what has changed in him on and off of the field
“We were equipped differently last year with our runners. Chris Rainey was a fabulous player here at the University of Florida, and so was Jeff Demps; their running style was a little different than Mike and we weren’t as physical, tough, whatever you want to say, experienced, seasoned up front, we didn’t block as well as we’re blocking right now. I’m not trying to take anything away from Mike, because he’s running very well, but I think we were a little differently equipped. What we’re doing now suits Mike very well, so that’s one, he did get banged up a little during the season as we were trying to get him some more touches, and those things happen, but I’m very pleased with how he’s playing and how mature he is and his work ethic and everything he does every day for our program and our younger players. He’s always worked hard, he’s a guy that never complains, he was on our kick off team, return team and our punt block team last year and was running back and never complained. He’s a very unselfish player, works extremely hard, you come to our practice, you see that he puts in the work every day and he’s a great example for our young players.”

 

On discussion of new helmet rule
“We’ve talked about it a bunch, helmets are going to come off, it’s part of the game. I know we’re trying to do it for safety reasons, but when you rush the passer and the o-lineman sticks their hand in your face and knocks your helmet off or when the d-lineman sticks his hand in the guy’s face and knocks his helmet off, no one meant for it to happen, it just happens. Obviously we’re paying a lot more attention to it now because it is a rule and you have to leave the game, so that’s the rule and we follow the rules. We’re making sure they’re putting their helmets on tighter, we had some guys in camp whose helmets did come off unusually a lot so we had to make sure we said, ‘this is how you put your helmets on, this is how you fasten the buckles on it, make sure your chin strap is tightened up.’”

 

On how Gillislee’s strain felt after Tennessee
“He felt better after the game than before, is what he told me. Everything we had from the injury report yesterday was very positive. We’ll see him work today but based on the injury report that Anthony gave me yesterday, he’s going to take every rep in practice and we think he’s ready to go.”

 

On Special Teams’ trick plays
“I think it says something about the confidence in our football team. We’re sitting there, games in balance and we call a fake punt, didn’t work. If we would’ve kept it outside, we probably would’ve still been running, but it didn’t work and the defensive kids come on the field, ‘We’ve got you coach, we’re going to be alright.’ So I have confidence in our defense. I thought we were playing well at the time, I thought we needed to flip the momentum a little bit, quite frankly, and that was the reason why I called it. When you have confidence in your defense and confidence in your football team, you’re able to make those calls and situations knowing that you’ve always got to think about the alternative of ‘what if it doesn’t work?’ So it didn’t and our defense went 3-and-out and then the first play on offense we go 80 yards for a touchdown. So, again, I always tell the players, were going to call it aggressive, so you play aggressive. You can’t ask them to play aggressive and then be a passive caller. You’ve got to be aggressive in your temperament and what you’re trying to do with your football team. We’re going to be aggressive in what we do, we’re going to attack and be smart, we’re going to take calculated risks, were not going to be dumb about it but that was a very calculated option there and we had a good opportunity, it just didn’t work.”

 

On Frankie Hammond taking short passes for long yards
“Against Bowling Green, he was able to break a tackle and then out run everybody and then again, that was a max pressure. They had a plus one pressure, they had one more than we could block, and then Jeff got the ball out and took it to the right spot and they were off coverage and playing 2-on-2 and we had a good route concept called for the coverage they were in, blitz coverage there, and Frankie caught the ball and made a heck of a run and made a nice cutback and Quinton made a nice block as he went into the end zone to make sure no one could catch him.”

 

On Kyle Koehne
“I thought he did a really nice job. They have two very good edge rushers, and both guys can have a little juice on the edge there and I thought he did a really nice job of stepping in and playing. As a whole, Halapio played very well, Xavier (Nixon) played very well, Jimmy Wilson did some good things, Jon Harrison was matched up against a 350-pounder and he did a nice job of containing him. But again, ‘Man down, Man up” and I thought Kyle did a nice job for us and certainly played winning football.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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