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Monday November 5, 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’ homecoming game against Louisiana on Saturday, November 10 at 12:21 p.m. in The Swamp.

Opening Statement

“To recap Missouri a little bit, I thought we had a great crowd, especially for an early kick, and I know our players appreciate that. It’s always exciting to play here in the Swamp. I want to compliment our team again for the resolve and the character we have in the locker room, and just continuing to find ways to win, it’s a credit to them and coming together and having a really strong unit as far as our entire football team and I’m really proud of our football team.

“Team stats, explosives and turnovers, we won both, when you’re able to do that you’re going to win a lot of football games. Offensively, I thought we were efficient in running the ball. Need to get some things cleaned up, they did a nice job up front, [Sheldon] Richardson was certainly as good as advertised. I’m very pleased with the explosive plays, obviously the deep ball to Frankie [Hammond] was a well-thrown, well-constructed play by Brent [Pease] and our offensive staff and Jeff [Driskel] hit it, and the screen pass was a big play. We’ve done a nice job with our screens, especially in the last two games. Then the wildcat package with Omarius [Hines], we need to continue to get him the ball more. Obviously we need improvement on third down, when you’re 2-for-13 you can’t extend drives in our league for various reasons: catching the football, protecting it a little bit better in some situations, better route running, some different things that we can certainly improve on, and details up front. Obviously, we had some new guys starting. I thought D.J. Humphries did a good job, he and [Ian] Silberman filled in for James Wilson well. Jon Harrison, Jon Halapio, and Chaz [Green] for the most part and Jon and Halapio went down, Sam Robey, a lot of moving parts up front, really our left side was all new for most of the game and those guys did a really good job. We had some communication issues up front, they stemmed and did some things, that’s a credit to them, but we’ve got to be able to pick those things up and it wasn’t anything we hadn’t prepared for. We just need to continue to get better there.

“Players of the game, Hunter Joyer is a guy that’s had an outstanding year, very unsung, blocks extremely well, a lot of the runs we’re springing are because of him, he made a great block for Omarius, but really,  this is a season award for him. He had a really good game Saturday, but he’s played consistently well for us all season. Frankie Hammond, a guy that catches a touchdown pass, gets called back, and comes back on the screen and makes just a great block on their linebacker and freeing [Mike] Gillislee, and then Jon Harrison and Jon Halapio do an outstanding job on the perimeter. Both of those guys have played consistently well all season for us. Scrap Iron was Jon Halapio and Jon Harrison, I thought both of them had solid football games. Big Play awards, offensively, go to Trey Burton, Mike Gillislee and Omarius Hines.

“Defensively, when you only give up 7 points, you’re going to win some games. We gave up a little more yards than we wanted to in some spots, especially in the first half, [James Franklin’s] legs hurt us, and we went to more zone in the second half and were able to get more eyes on the ball and do a better job with our four man rush and I think we wore them down a little bit, as far as our up front. Four turnovers and a blocked field goal, and we hit our run, pass, per-play goals and when you’re able to do that and take 86 snaps, you’re doing some good things. There were a little more yards than we’ve given up this year but there’s a lot more snaps than we’ve played. We need to improve third down. We’re not as good as we’ve been on third down, we’re one of the better third down defenses in the country and James Franklin did a nice job of keeping some things alive, so you’ve got to credit him on that, and just some execution of some things. I didn’t think we were as clean we needed to be, some things we need to prepare for and we just need to do a better job with those things. Player of the Game, Josh Evans, thought he played very well. He’s played consistently well for us this entire season, he’s having a good year for us. Sharrif Floyd, he was very difficult to block inside this ball game and has been for most of the season, really playing a natural position inside, he’s having a fantastic year. Ball hawks were [Jon] Bostic, [Dominique] Easley, [Matt] Elam, Evans, [Loucheiz] Purifoy, and [Jaylen] Watkins; really pleased with them.

“Special Teams, we downed three punts inside of the 10 so anytime you’re doing that, it wasn’t necessarily Kyle [Christy]’s best day, but we covered well and Loucheiz made a fantastic play on the sideline, you can see why we like him at wideout. The Player of the Game would be Purifoy and [De’Ante] Pop Saunders. Pop did a good job with coming in and filling in for Andre and returning punts and fielding the ball, I thought he made some really good decisions there as far as that’s concerned especially down on our 10 yard line as far as fielding the ball, so pleased with that. We need to continue to make some strides, wasn’t our best kicking day obviously but certainly our coverage units were strong.

“Injury wise, we had a bunch of guys banged up in the game, Mack Brown would be the only one that I would say is questionable for this weekend. [Andre] Debose, [Caleb] Sturgis, Wilson, [Xavier] Nixon, [Lerentee] McCray, Halapio, and Elam all are probable at this point. I will not practice any of those guys today, they’ll be in the training room today, but they all are expected to practice tomorrow based on the information I had today; some of it will be full practice some of it will not be as much, but I expect all of them to be back on the practice field tomorrow and see how much they can do as we move forward in the week. As far as other roster management, Jafar Mann and I met last night and he’s decided to transfer, he and I agreed that it was time for him to move on.

“Great week, homecoming week, here at UF, playing the University of Louisiana, a coach that I’ve got a tremendous respect for, Mark Hudspeth, he was the offensive coordinator at Delta State, I can’t remember the year, and I was the Defensive Coordinator at Valdosta State the year they won the National Championship. He does a great job offensively, they’re averaging 35 points a game and 435 yards, spread offense, they do a good job with the quarterback as far as some of the gun runs that they employ and they’ve got a lot of speed at the skill positions, they move the ball against everybody they play. Greg Stewart their defensive coordinator is a really good friend of mine, a guy that does an outstanding job, he was at Jacksonville State for a lot of years, and has been with Mark the past two years down at Lafayette.

“We’ve got our work cut out for us, its homecoming, Gator Growl Friday night, our seniors will be there, and we’re excited about that, it’s a really exciting time here at the University of Florida and I know it’s important for us to get back to the Swamp and play well again.”

On importance of winning every home game this year
“I think that we have one of the greater arenas, in all sports, to play at. Number 1, it’s because of our fans, we’ve got a great following. It’s very important, we talk about wanting to have a special season, and that starts with winning at home, and having been a visitor here before, I understand how difficult it is to come in here and play well and win a game. I’ve tried to stress it from day one with our players, the importance to play well at home and defending the Swamp.”

On the secondary evolving
“Last year you go into the season, I believe the first ball game, Pop and Marcus [Roberson] both started as true freshman, really Jaylen and Cody [Riggs] had not played a lot of snaps, Matt, it was his first time as a full time starter, Josh Evans, first time as a full time starter, so a lot of moving parts as far as experience and whatnot. Very pleased with how they’ve progressed, we’ve certainly improved ourselves on the perimeter and the way that we play and the style that we play with, we put a lot of pressure on our corners, it’s very easy to see that as far as what we do and how we do things. Competition is my best motivator and we’ve got three corners that we can win with in the SEC and all of those guys go out every day and have to perform at a high level in order to start and play the amount of snaps that they want to play and we’ve got good competition at safety and some young good ones coming.”

 On whether the approach stays the same now that SEC play is over
“It’s all the same to me, we’ve got a good football team coming in here, and having recruited in the state of Louisiana where most of their players are from, the south of Mississippi, they’ve got really good skill people that can run and play and the offense that they have creates issues for us defensively. If you look at the numbers they’re putting up, our total concentration is on them, believe me.”

On the next step for the program to get better going forward
“You’ve got to continue to recruit well, and it starts there, and you need to develop your players on campus. As long as I’m seeing improvement in each player from a football standpoint, mentality, physicality, strength, and that’s really what I look at, week to week improvement. Then it goes back to recruiting, recruiting the right guys. I look at every situation and every player on an individual basis, is this guy improving and if we’re recruiting the right guys than we should be where we want to be in a very short time.”

On not having a large number of playmakers
“It is what it is, we’re 8-1, and it’s easy to go pick at that and that’s what everyone’s decided to do at this point. We’re not scoring 60 points a game, so obviously we’re all upset, I want to score 60 too, but I want to win first of all and that’s what’s important, and that’s what I want to do.”

On Caleb Sturgis’ status affecting the approach on offense
“It certainly does change your approach when you know you have the confidence of, when you’re 3rd-and-10 on the 40-yard line, I’m telling Brent, just get us five yards here, we need some points, as opposed to trying to get the first down, you know if you get to the 35, you’re kicking a field goal. It changes the game dramatically for us, because of him. I think he’ll be able to go Saturday. I think he’s going to be full speed based on the information I got this morning, but there’s no question he’s a game changer for us.”

On Jacoby Brissett
“He’s handled it as good as you can handle it. He’s approached it that he knows he’s a snap away from walking on the field and having to win for us. I’m nothing but more than pleased with how he’s handled things. He’ll be a Florida Gator.”

On the importance of screen passes
“A screen pass really, to me, helps slow down the rush. It’s always a concern for us defensively when you’re rushing and rushing and then all of a sudden you’ve got a screen coming out and you’ve got a team that you play a lot of man like we do and we’ve been hurt by the screen this year. They’ve blocked the guy that’s man on the back and you’ve got a big play because everyone has their back to the ball. There’s no question it slows down the rush and it makes the defensive lineman a little more cognizant of having to play other things rather than just rushing the passer.”

On the teams improvement of running the screen passes since the beginning of the year
“I think that the slow screens to the back we’ve done a really nice job of, I’ve not been very pleased with some of the receiver screens in the timing of those, we need to improve, and that’s based on last Saturdays performance.”

On reviewing defensive secondary performance from last game
“I thought we covered pretty well. To me, any pass, whether it results in a sack or a scramble, goes to your passing stats; it’s not like how the NCAA does. So when a guy drops back, it’s a pass to me. When you sack him for 20 yards, we don’t put that in our rushing yardage, that’s not really indicative of our rushing defense, it has to do with your passing defense so we’re right at 4.1 yards per attempt, which would lead the country, against a team that threw 56 something times Saturday, or dropped back, attempts were 51 I think. I was very pleased with how we covered.”

On the possibility of Brent Pease going to Kentucky
I think Brent is certainly an outstanding football coach and any opportunity he has to head coach I know that I willfully endorse that as well as Jeremy Foley, our athletic director, and our President [Dr. Bernie Machen]. He’s a good football coach and that goes for any of our coaches; if they have an opportunity to be a head coach, I’m all for it.”

On Muschamp’s message to the team after Saturday’s game
“Just congratulating them on what they’ve accomplished, it’s a difficult thing to do in this league, I thought we had a difficult schedule as far as the conference is concerned. I’m very proud of them fighting through adversity and going on the road, especially early in the year with a lot of question marks, and  more than anything coming together and that to me, as much as anything, to see the team mature together and come together and playing very well. “

On improvement in Josh Evans
“A lot, I think he’s playing really well. He’s a guy that’s improved his man coverage skills, but his command of what we’re doing and how we’re doing, he worked extremely hard in the off season, he’s got really good ball skills in the back as far as playing the ball in the deep part of the field, I think he’s tackled extremely well this year, I’ve gone back and have had a hard time finding where he’s missed one and generally when those guys miss, it’s a big one. I think he’s played really well, tackled well; Josh is a tough young man. He’s a guy who will throw his eyes in there, every time.”

On young players that stand out as making the most of their opportunities
I think Brian Poole is going to be a really good player for us. He’s playing behind three really good corners and he’s played well on special teams and he’s done a really nice job for us, this guy’s going to be a really good player for us. I think both young receivers, unfortunately Latroy was hurt against Vanderbilt with a pretty severe ankle, thank goodness it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was when I  first saw it, I think both of those guys are going to continue to come on for us and they’re both going to be good players for us. D.J. Humphries got a start this past weekend and he’s going to be a really good player at the left tackle position. Matt Jones has done some really nice things at the running back position, Alex McCalister is a young man we’re redshirting, but I think he has a big upside somewhere for our football team. Obviously, Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler have played extremely well, Antonio Morrison, those guys jump out. Marcus Mays has done some really nice things on scout team, a guy that can really cover a lot of ground on the back end, has good coverage skills, and has a good knack for playing the ball down the field. I’m very pleased with our freshman class.

On how much time he spends with the defense
You’re role as a CEO of your program or a business is to spend time where your strengths are. I sit in the secondary meeting room, coach the safeties, only when the play well. I spend a lot of time with the defense. I go over to the offensive field a lot as far as practice and things, but as far as preparation I spend all of my time with the defense. Being on the same page with Brent as far as how we’re approaching the game and what we need to do to win the game, that’s something that this staff has done as good a job as any staff I’ve been on, is seeing the big picture and understanding what it’s going to take to win the game on offense, defense and special teams. My role is to tie the whole thing together, so everybody understands what we need to do to win the game. So many times you have a one-sided opinion of what you need to do to win the game, well that may not help the other side of the ball. We’ve got to be on the same page of what we need to do to win.

On homecoming week
“It’s great, we’ll have a captains dinner Friday night, and a lot of the former players will come back and talk to our players about being a Gator and that’s one of the great things about being at a place like the University of Florida is the tradition and the history of the program and I try to embrace that as much as possible and have our players see that, that they’re playing for more than just themselves and a present team, there’s a lot of guys who have sat in that locker-room and in that stadium and have done a lot more for this program than maybe we have and sometimes in our society it’s hard for them to see. Anytime we’re able to do that and bring back former players, it’s a huge benefit to me as a head football coach at Florida.”

On his relationship with Dan Quinn
“It was a very easy decision [to hire him]. Dan is a guy that obviously working together in this profession you spend a lot of time together, especially in the season. He’s a great person, he and [his wife] Stacey are wonderful people, he’s about all of the right things in college athletics and he’s a ball coach, you’ll see him on the field and working with our players and the development of our front 7, that’s a huge credit to him and what he’s done, he’s a great fundamental football coach. Certainly he and I see the game a lot of the same. “

On Matt Elam
“Matt’s a very instinctive player, he’s a guy that sees the game very well, he’s not a guy that needs many reps, you can talk him through a lot of things mentally, and just see it on the board and he sees it and he gets it. He plays safety for us, he plays nickel, he plays dime, he plays emergency corner if he needs to, he’s got box instincts, he can play the ball in the deep part of the field, he can tackle extremely well. He’s been very productive for a lot of reasons. God’s blessed him with a lot of ability but he’s also taken advantage of it. He works hard, he’s a competitive guy. You see him on the field, he competes.”

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