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Monday October 22, 2012Quotes and Video from Head Coach Will Muschamp's Monday Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ upcoming game as they will play Georgia in Jacksonville, Saturday, October 27 at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

 

Opening statement

“To recap South Carolina, it was a great team win. Obviously when you win explosives and win turnovers, which we were able to do, you’ve got a very good chance of winning the football game. The turnover margin has been really key for us this season, being on the plus side of that and one of the better teams in the country. Offensively, six touchdowns in the red zone - certainly improved from earlier in the year on that - 133 yards in the third quarter, and starting the third quarter with a touchdown drive was critical to gain momentum and then get a three-and-out on the first series there defensively. We were very efficient on 3rd down and really throwing the ball in a lot of situations against a really good group on defense, real proud of that. Some things we need to improve on, had some protection issues in the game. When you go against good rushers, you’ve got to account for them and we need to do a better job of that and clean some things up in the run game. You’ve got to give South Carolina credit, they did a really nice job of moving some things around in the defensive front, but certainly some things that we can correct.”

 

“Player of the Game was Trey Burton. Trey does a lot of things for our football team offensively, special teams, really a lot of things go through him. We have a package for him in every game and we certainly were able to use it Saturday, very efficient. Big Plays were Jordan Reed, Quinton Dunbar and Soloman Patton, very big contributors as far as that, and Scrap Iron was Chaz Green, Chaz played one of his better games and he had a little bit of an ankle issue but he’s fine, again a guy pushing through a little bit of pain, that’s good to see.”

 

“Defensively, met all of our goals, thought we had a very solid effort and really executed the plan for what we needed to do and that was stop the run. We needed to control the line of scrimmage, stop the run, eliminate scramble lanes, which a lot of times for a defensive lineman that’s a really unselfish act because generally those guys want to run up the field and create opportunities for sacks. A lot of guys I’ve been around have a hard time not wanting to do that and for our guys to go out and execute the plan the way that we asked them to do it, I’m really proud of that group they really did a good job. Player of the Game, we had several guys who certainly deserved the honor there, Dominic Easley we thought played really well, did a really nice job.  Really on the first play of the game with the check-down to the back I thought he did a really nice job of power rushing the tackle, which knocked the back off and forced the QB to hold the ball a little longer and Loucheiz had an opportunity to get the ball off of him. Ball Hawks, we had a bunch, Loucheiz had two, Trey Burton had two, Lerentee, Sharrif had a blocked kick, Jabari Gorman, Chris Johnson and Soloman Patton. So when you’re able to create some opportunities for your team, you’re going to be hard to beat.”

 

“Special Teams, probably should’ve started off with Special Teams, they were outstanding. Kyle Christy set a school record with a 54 yard average, had six punts for over 50 yards. Again, has been outstanding for our football team this year and a guy that’s flipped the field, created momentum and hung some punts up there. Our coverage was outstanding, the whole coverage unit, whether it was kickoff or punt, were phenomenal. Andre Debose had a 39-yard kickoff return and a 19-yard punt return and fielded the ball, did a great job of holding some yards for us there. We blocked another field goal, which is the 2nd straight week we’ve done that.  Players of the Game, Kyle Christy, obviously, and Loucheiz Purifoy, continue to be very valuable to our team. Big Plays: Chris Johnson, Soloman Patton and Trey Burton, all of those guys had huge plays. Scout Teams of the Week, special teams, Jeremi Powell did a nice job for us, he’s a guy that’s really developing into a really good football player; defensively, Alex McCallister and Quinteze Williams are both doing a nice job and offensively, Mark Herndon has been a great addition as a walk-on in our program and ran down several kickoffs on game day.”

 

“Injuries right now, Riggs and Patchan will be out, Pittman is going to practice today and we’ll see how he progresses throughout the week. Jacobs will be out today but expect to get him back tomorrow and we feel like he will be probable for Saturday. That’s kind of where we are, other than that we should be fine.”

 

“We’ve got the Georgia game this week. We understand what is at stake and again our approach will be the same. It’s the next game so it’s the most important game. Obviously it’s a rivalry for the University of Florida, it’s an important game for our program and for our university and for the fans. Offensively, right now they’re averaging right at 40 points a game, a school record for them. Aaron Murray is an outstanding player, started since his redshirt freshman year out of high school there in Tampa. He’s accurate with the football, really good athlete, he’s got legs, he can make the throws, he’s got talented receivers in Brown and King and Mitchell, all guys you’ve got to account for in the throwing game. The two freshman running backs Gurley and Marshall are really good. They’ve run the ball well verses everyone but their averaging 40 points a game speaks for itself. Defensively, Grantham does a great job. Jarvis Jones is an outstanding player, we saw him last season. He has 19 career sacks and you’ve got to account for him in protection. Rambo and Williams are two of the better safety combinations in the nation. They’ve got a bunch of good players. They’re big inside, Geathers and Jenkins, and they do a nice job in their schemes. We’ve got our work cut out for us again but we look forward to going to Jacksonville. We feel like we let the game slip away a little last year, had some turnovers. You’ve got to give them credit for the plays they made that we didn’t. I know our guys will be excited preparing this week and going over to Jacksonville to the game.”

 

On balancing teaching the players to strip the ball while also making the tackle
Well I mean we work on tackling every day we spend a lot of time working on that and I think, more than anything, with causing fumbles we try to make our guys cognizant of how certain carriers carry the ball. We look for guys that have the tip down low and the hand below the elbow. In a lot of situations they don’t have the ball high and tight. We talk to our guys and we identify guys that don’t take care of the football. When you have those opportunities, we ask guys to go for the strips. In a lot of situations when you’re in a confined area and you’re tackling someone in a condensed area, go for the strip, someone else is going to make the tackle and its judgment on the player if you’re in an open area. You need to get the guy on the ground so it’s a little bit of a decision by the player going in to the game and if he sees an opportunity for a strip most of our guys are going to go for it.”

 

On how that applies to Loucheiz’s play stripping the ball against South Carolina
“Generally in most situations, I’m not referring to Connor Shaw, the quarterback is the worst violator of ball security and certainly all quarterbacks carry the ball in one hand. That’s why we try to emphasize security with two hands in the pocket. When he’s coming on the pressure and the running back gets knocked off as where he’s dumping the ball down to and he comes out and Loucheiz just got his hand on the ball. We felt like we were going to make the sack regardless and take the strip of the ball if you had the opportunity.”

 

On whether rivalries are better if they’re not friendly rivalries
“I don’t know. I mean I’ve never walked into a game liking somebody. You want to win don’t you? As a competitor you go and lineup between the white lines and you go play. Then some games there will be a little more adrenaline flowing, certainly in this one, but as a competitor you prepare yourself the right way all week regardless of the opponent and the situation. Certainly when there’s a little more at stake you’ll be a little more excited.”

 

On what makes Durkin such a great Special Teams Coordinator
“Very knowledgeable. He’s got really good experience as a coach coming up through and having the opportunity to be the special teams’ coordinator for Jim Harbaugh out at Stanford. So he’s got a lot of experience, number one. He’s very passionate about it. He does a great job of motivating the players and any good coach, whether its offense defense or special teams, does when you can relate with the players and motivate them to play hard, fast, and physical. We’re a very vested group in our special teams. As far as our staff is concerned, what you emphasize is what’s important and we spend a lot of time on it.”

 

On job competition on Special Teams
“Every week we grade everything, not just offense and defense but special teams and if a guy’s not playing well, he’s replaced during the game. We watch that no different than any other phase of our football team.”

 

On ideal situation offensively
“Winning. Everybody complains that we had 32 yards in the first half, but we had 21 points. We started on the two and the three, and also started a drive on our 10 yard line. That changes your calls as an offensive coordinator in that type of game. We’re not going to go do anything outlandish on our 10-yard line and cause any issues. Every game is different, every week is different and every opponent is different. You may go into a game thinking you’re going to do this, and its kind of like Trey Burton’s package, we have a package for him every week.  Based on some looks they were giving us, it was really working for us and it’s something that was really good for us in the game. You’ve got to change gears, we may have thought these things were going to be good, and they weren’t as good so it’s about what we need to do to win the game and that can change week to week.  Sometimes your idea of what it’s going to take can certainly change and that’s one thing that’s good about our staff is that we adapt very well to when the circumstances do change.”

 

On Driskel’s pass to Hines that was called back
“That’s been a heavy package for us, high percentage run. So when the defense sees that come on the field, they’re thinking run down situations. It was a great play action fake by Jeff, it was sold well by our offensive line, and it was a fabulous catch by Omarius.”

 

On comments and talk about the cupboard being bare last year
“Not from me. I’ve said that we had a very young team, and over 70 percent of our roster was freshman and sophomores. We had less starts than anybody in the SEC on the defensive side of the ball and on the offensive line, two critical areas in our league where you need to be really good. We inherited a very young football team that had talent and we went through some growing pains last year. When you lose your senior quarterback, regardless of how many years you’ve been in the program, you’re probably going to face some struggles, and we certainly did. We just needed some growing up, we needed some maturing and we needed more experience playing the game. We had a lot of guys playing for their first time last year in a lot of situations and we didn’t have depth. We’ve recruited well and we’ve added depth on the defensive and offensive line this year. I think that the depth certainly has helped us.”

 

On Jeff’s development and his ability to run and pass
“He’s capable of doing it, his skill set is very large. He can do a lot of things for us. He’s a really good athlete, he can make all of the throws when he’s asked to and he’s very intelligent and he can take care of the football. He’s a guy that poses a lot of issues for a defense.”

 

On how key it will be this week to get more production out of Gillislee
“Mike ran for some hard yards in there and he helped us a lot in protection and he did a good job Saturday. Obviously we want to travel things through him on game day and see where we are, but if people are going to try to take that away it’s going to open up some things with our team. Obviously with Vanderbilt, it opened up Jeff and being able to run some of the zone read concepts and Saturday it was kind of a weird game in the first half for us offensively because of the field position. You’re able to score quickly and South Carolina had an extended drive in the second drive in the game that took some time off of the clock so we didn’t have a lot of snaps to get out there and get things going offensively. But it is important to get Mike going.”

 

On emphasis of protecting the football
“We spend a lot of time working in practice. We have a practice period with our offense that we take them through a turnover circuit and it’s about protecting the ball and it goes back to what you emphasize is what’s important. You can’t just talk about it, you have to drill it, and that’s something we work on with our layers.”

 

On scramble lanes
“When you face a guy that’s got escapablity at the quarterback position like Shaw, you’ve got to be very disciplined in your pass rush. You can run up the field and then get bent inside and you can’t create a lane for him to step up and escape. It’s hard sometimes for the defensive lineman to get to the quarterback and when they see a tackle set high, they want to take off running up the field and try to beat them on the edge. Well that may be the best for that player, but that’s not the best for our team. It’s very pleasing to watch the tape and see that about every snap we did what were supposed to do.”

 

On how he would best sum up the rivalry
“Obviously you look at the tradition through the years. Georgia, back in Dooley’s era, had a great run and during Spurrier’s era, we had a great run, and we’re looking to try to get on another run. Jacksonville is a great environment. The stadium is 50/50 and it’s a great environment to be in. When you come across that bridge on the St. Johns River, if your blood isn’t boiling, something is wrong with you.”

 

On addressing BCS with the team
“When there are obvious possible distractions for your football team you can stick your head in the sand and pretend everything’s okay or you can address it with them, and that’s what I choose to do. So I address it with them and say alright if we need to talk about it lets talk about it and we’ll all agree that we don’t need to.”

 

On how he feels the linebacker group stacks up in the SEC
“Very well, I thought that before the season. I think Jon Bostic is playing as well as any linebacker in the country. He disengages on blocks, all of the things we really presented to him last season about getting stronger, getting firmer with his hands, short area contacts where he’s got to get off blocks and shed and he’s always been a really good space player. Go back to a couple plays against Manziel, he made some plays there on the open routes which were outstanding plays. Jelani has obviously been hurt, but when he’s played he’s played really well and he’s a guy that really played well in space. I remember thinking that when they’re backed up on the goal line there, he made a hit in the hole on Lattimore and it was a heck of a tackle, he’s really playing well. Antonio Morrison is a young player that’s come along, Mike Taylor has been slowed by and ankle but when he’s been healthy he’s been instinctive and played well on the outside. Darrin Kitchens and Neiron Ball both have done a lot of things for us. We need to add depth there. We certainly can’t afford another injury. We were working three inside backers there for a while when Jelani was hurt and it was tough.”

 

On what Bostic has that translate well into the NFL
“He can play every down, he can play 1st down, 2nd down, 3rd down, and he can cover. There are not a lot of guys that can play inside and can cover a play on third down, and he can. He’s very intelligent. The other thing about Jon, and what I try to get our guys to understand, is that it’s a 53 man roster, and you better play special teams. Jon’s on our punt team, he’s helped us on kickoff and he does a lot of other things that bring value to him as a player in the organization.”

 

On Murphy at receiver
“He’s not going to change positions. He’s a guy that works hard in the program and does everything that we ask and certainly is a really good athlete. When you throw him out there, you make the defensive coordinator think ‘what is this?’ and that’s really what it was for.”

 

On what key things make the difference in the Offensive Line this year and impact Tim Davis has brought
“We’re just a unit that is a little more tied together. There’s two units that need to be close knit on your football team and that the offensive line and the secondary, because generally when they’re not on the same page, it’s not good for your football team and they have been that way and our communication is much better. I think, as much as anything, we have some competitive guys and really, as you look at last season, Xavier Nixon and Jon Halapio were really the only guys that had played extensive snaps in the SEC. So, it was a pretty daunting task what those guys were trying to undertake in a new scheme and a new system. They’re a year older, a year more mature, experienced, stronger, all of those guys are a year older. I think you look at all of those things in why we’ve made some positive steps forward. Tim Davis has a huge part of that as well. He’s an outstanding football coach, he’s a guy that I’ve worked with when I was with the Miami Dolphins and his track record speaks for himself when he was at Wisconsin and Southern Cal and the job he does.”

 

On the ‘Florida Never Breaks’ motto
“Jeff Dillman has kind of come up with that just as a different way to motivate the players throughout the summer and to be able to always try to find an edge and to create an edge for our football team.  Jeff does a fabulous job, he and Jesse Ackerman, and our entire weight room staff. They spend more time with the student-athlete than we do, especially during the summer, and a lot of people don’t realize that. When you’re sitting there in the middle of June and July, you better be able to be creative in how you motivate these guys. I’ll be honest with you, I think back to when I was playing, it’s hard, it’s a hundred degrees outside and you’re lifting weights, you better have somebody in there to motivate you, and Jeff certainly does.”

 

On how much sleep he gets
“Not a lot. Early in the week is rough, Sundays and Mondays and Tuesdays are kind of long days. When we get done, we get done. We don’t set office hours. We’re not working bankers’ hours I’ll tell you that. We just kind of do what we have to do and we get done when we feel good about where we are and then get back to it the next day.”

 

On how much he would say Florida is 7-0 because of Special Teams
“It’s a huge part. When I say we don’t have a whole lot of margin of error, I mean that we’ve got to play in all three phases and it’s very evident every Saturday. We’re not a team that’s going to overpower you in any fashion but we certainly, as a team and as a group collectively, can be pretty good. When were all hitting together we’ve got a chance.”

 

On how much the kickers mean to the team
“It changes our thoughts offensively depending on the situation in the game. Brent and I will be talking on the headsets and I’ll say when we hit the 35, ‘we’re in range and we need points right now’, does that change your thought process as a play caller? Certainly it does, because of the accuracy of Caleb. From a kickoff standpoint, he’s going to put most of them out of the endzone, so you don’t have to worry about putting the balls in the hands of somebody you don’t want to carry it, unless you want to and you want to try to pin them back there, which we haven’t as much. And then Kyle, you go back to the Tennessee game, the first drive there. We were inside our 5, we flip it back to their 30, there are so many instances in the season and you go back and look at where we’re able to flip the field. Ace Sanders, look at the Missouri game for South Carolina, the return in the first quarter. You look at the Georgia game and the return in the first quarter for a score, so two huge momentum swings for their football teams and two big games at the time, we were able to take him out of the game with the punts.”

 

On Mike Bobo
“Mike does an outstanding job, they’re averaging 40 points a game. He’s a really good football coach and a guy that, we played together for about two years, was a really good quarterback at Georgia and a guy that’s done a really nice job going from the quarterback coach to being the offensive coordinator. I think the numbers speak for themselves year in, year out they’ve been very productive offensively.

 

On Georgia defensively
“They’ve got two really good playmakers, Rambo and Williams, guys that really flash on the film. They make a bunch of plays for them. Jarvis Jones is a guy that jumps out at you. We expect to see him Saturday. Geathers and Jenkins inside are two guys that you need to account for because of their size and they’re going to be hard to move in the run game.  I think top to bottom they’re a really talented group. Cummings is a corner that’s played a lot of football for them, Smith, they’ve got a lot of guys as far as returning starters and I think both teams have about the same number back from last year. From an experience standpoint, it should be pretty even.”

 

On if anything was broken last year that needed to be fixed or if it was just a matter of needing more time
“When you’re dealing with a young player, football is a very developmental game. It’s not add water instant player, that’s just not the way it works. You have to continue to develop the player from a strength standpoint, from the mental side, from a competitive standpoint and some guys are more mature than others and you’ve got to work through that as a coach and find the right buttons for each player. Sometimes that takes more time than people want to say it does.”

 

On if consistency is what he’s happiest with
“I think more than anything we’ve been pretty consistent and work ethic has never been an issue, which is always fun as a coach when you know you don’t have to pull it out of them and that they’re going to work on their own.”

 

 

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