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Monday November 26, 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 discuss the Gators’ final regular season game and preview heading into the bowl game.

 

Opening Statement

“Great win. Fifth team in school history to win 11 games in the regular season. I am really proud of our effort and the way we did it. To lose the momentum there after playing very well in the first half, squandering an opportunity there to get some points, then they gained the momentum back. As our bunch has done, we have come from behind eight times, three times in the fourth quarter. Took the momentum back and took them out of the game. That is a credit to our players and our program.”

 

“Team stats: we had ten explosives, they had six. We had five turnovers, they had one. Again, you will win a bunch of games doing that.”

 

“I thought offensively, we ran the ball extremely well. Ended up with, without the sacks and loss yardage stuff, we had 43 attempts for 290 yards. Six yards a carry, 6.7 against a very good defensive group. They were the number one ranked running defense coming into the game. We were 8-of-15 on third down. Very efficient staying on the field. Kept it in mostly manageable down and distances on third down, except for the start of third quarter we had some issues there and the obvious turnover.”

 

“Defensively, we forced five turnovers. We ended up +17 for the year. Last year, we were 113th in the country in turnover margin. This year, we were fifth. So you really want to look at a stat where we are different as a team that is huge. That is the tell-tale for our entire season. Again, we stopped the run. We made it a one-dimensional game. We affected the quarterback in the game - 14 pressures, 12 hits, and two sacks. When you are able to do that against a team that wants to put the game on the quarterback, you are going to win a bunch of games.”

 

“Offensively, the player of the game and scrap iron awards we gave to the entire offensive line, tight ends, and running backs. When you are effective running the ball against an elite defense, which they are, you have to credit those guys. Big plays: Jeff Driskel, Jordan Reed, Mike Gillislee, Quinton Dunbar, Trey Burton, Matt Jones.”

 

“Defensively, players of the game were Matt Elam, Antonio Morrison and Loucheiz Purifoy. All three of those guys played outstanding football. Ball hawks were Marcus Roberson, Matt Elam, Jelani Jenkins, Jabari Gorman, Dominique Easley, Loucheiz Purifoy, Antonio Morrison, Josh Evans, Lerentee McCray and Darrin Kitchens. All of those guys had a hand in forcing a turnover, causing an interception, pressuring the quarterback. Hard hat was Antonio Morrison.”

 

“Special teams were Caleb Sturgis and Marcus Roberson. Had a big return in the last two ball games, a 31-yarder against Jacksonville State and a 50-yarder against Florida State to set up a score, blocked very well by our players. Big plays in the special teams: Darrin Kitchens, Loucheiz Purifoy and Jabari Gorman.”

 

“Scout teams’ player of the week was Jeremi Powell, who has done an outstanding job on our defensive scout team this year. Defensively, it was Max Garcia, Ryan Parrish and special teams was Scott Peek.”

 

“Injuries from the game: Jelani Jenkins is having surgery this morning on his foot. He will probably miss the bowl game. I am not totally certain, it is a medical term for it, but it is a small bone in his foot. He should be fine. It is a four to six week recovery time and he will be fine. Neiron Ball with the ankle will be back for the bowl game. Jeff Driskel is just sore, he will be in a boot. Right now, Jon Harrison injured his ankle, he is fine and he is in a boot right now. Other than that, we really do not have any injuries or anything.”

 

“Again, very proud of our football team coming into a tough place, playing extremely well when the game counted. Right now, we are out recruiting for the most part. We have our banquet December 8, looking forward to that. Kevin Carter, former Gator, will be the keynote speaker. Then we will start bowl practice around the 14th or 15th. I have not really set the schedule yet as I am working through the morning here. I will open it up for any questions.”

 

On bowl situation

“(Athletic Director) Jeremy (Foley) and I talked this morning and he said it looks like the Sugar Bowl, nothing for sure until Sunday night but that’s what it looks like.”

 

Interest level in other games around the country this week

“I just worry about the things we can control, which is recruiting right now. So we’re going to recruit hard now and when I have a second to watch a game or something, I’ll watch a game, but we’re going to be recruiting.  That’s the most important thing we need to do.”

 

On when Matt Jones made his improvement this season and on his performance Saturday night

“I thought he played well against Louisiana. I thought he got some touches against Missouri, Louisiana and Jacksonville State but he’s practiced better. That’s hard sometimes for young players, they’ve been the big fish in the little pond and they always haven’t had to work as hard or do the things you’ve got to do at this level.  The speed of the game, understanding the scheme of the system and trusting your blocks and that’s something he’s continued to work on.  He’s done a better job of preparing himself throughout the week and understands what it took to be successful.  He’s got a great role model in Mike Gillislee, as good as you’ll ever find.  Again, I think given the opportunities he’s had that he’s done an outstanding job.”

 

On outside interested in members of his coaching staff and on potential of losing coaches

“It’s a great place to work and we’ve got a good, young football team and we’re going to be good for a long time.  I always tell our staff this, if you have an opportunity for a promotion; if you’re a position coach and you can be a coordinator, or if you’re a coordinator and you can be a head coach I’ll support you a thousand percent.  That’s says what kind of job we’re doing here at Florida and guys who want to make parallel moves and always looking for the next job, they don’t need to be here anyways. We’ll go find a new coach, there are a bunch of guys that want to coach here I have a long list at my desk.”

 

On the future of the receivers coach

“I am going to talk to some receiver coaches at this point. Bush (Hamdan) and I met yesterday and he’s done a fantastic job this year and how we move forward and the timetable, I have none right now.”

 

On expecting any other staff changes

“No.”

 

On balancing bowl preparation and developing younger players

“It’s a huge part and every day when we get back we will get on the practice field Dec. 7 and 8 and get out in just some helmets on Friday for more of a conditioning practice and Saturday it will be a shells practice and just working on our football team.  Our first four or five bowl practices will be absolutely no work on the opponent. It will be all working on ourselves and getting our guys back into the swing of playing football again and working on developing our young players. But the last four practices before we break for Christmas will be dedicated to the opponent, no different than game week. When we get to the bowl site, we’ll go back through more normal game preparation week so you get two weeks to really prepare for those guys. Sometimes our guys will forget over Christmas our game plan so we’ve got to review that.”

 

On if Purifoy can play both ways in the future

“No question, bottom line is that you’ve got to get the ball in the hands of guys who can make plays and play hard, fast and physical and he does.  So he will have a lot of opportunities looking forward. He is still going to be a corner though.”

 

On improvement of the offensive line on Saturday and attributing it to good health

“I think so. I think that was the first time in probably four or five games that we’ve been back at full strength. Guys have been banged up for the most part with nagging injuries here and there and that would attribute to health. I would also attribute it to them answering the call. We challenged them this week and we told them these guys if you are good up front, and if we win the game its going to be because we were able to run the ball consistently well and we were able to do that.”

 

On why Florida was able to run the ball better against Florida State

“Again, I go back to health. I think we’re healthier. There is no question that is number one. Our guys have played consistently well all year in my opinion but the health issue was huge for us.”

 

On how bowl practice can be important for young players like Antonio Morrison

“Loucheiz Purifoy, I think he started the bowl game last year for us at corner when Marcus hurt his neck and came in and played really well for us in the Gator Bowl, so it’s huge for young player to take a step forward. I’m going to meet with some guys today, like Brian Poole. They need to cherish this opportunity sitting in front of them. It’s another spring ball. It’s another opportunity to improve yourself as a player for the football team. Loucheiz is the greatest example and certainly Antonio (Morrison) will take advantage of it. Antonio is a really good football player and the reason as much as anything is that he’s very mature. He practices well and he prepares himself well.”

 

On his previous comments about what the SEC Championship game would mean to him

“I’ve been in that game and there’s nothing like it. You work at a place like Florida to go there and that’s why I feel very strongly about that and it will never change.”

 

On how big this Florida State game was

 “Beating your rivals is very important. Beating your in-state rival is critical. You have to live with it for a long time. I can tell you those Gator Club meetings are going to be a lot more fun this year. It really is critical. To win in your state and in your backyard creates positive momentum for your program. It puts your program in a positive light with where you’re headed and what you’re doing. I look at it more from a standpoint when we were over there last time, we lost 31-7 and it could have been worse. We’ve made strides, we’re getting it back to where it needs to be. Obviously, last year’s game was disappointing here in The Swamp.”

 

On how the Gator defense is compared to other defenses around the nation

“I don’t compare. I don’t want to do that. They are a very talented group and they really played well together. They play for each other. Regardless of the circumstances of the situation, they play through it. They have a mental resolve to themselves and they are a tough bunch. I’ll put them up against anybody. They are a group that really plays well together. They understand the team concept and how to compliment each other. We cover well on the back end and can play man and zone very well. We’re able to rush the passer and stop the run up front. We’re very athletic at linebacker so we stack up pretty good.”

 

On Alabama head coach Nick Saban saying its not fair for the loser of the SEC Championship to not go to a BCS bowl game

“I can switch and go to Atlanta if he’d like. Be careful what you ask for Nick.”

 

On the challenge of keeping the team from getting stale

“That’s for everybody. It’s not any different for anyone else. I think, again, you go back and look at everything. You can practice too much and prepare too much and become stale with your team. I always look at it as you practice seven or eight times here in Gainesville and then you get on the bowl site, you’ll get another five or six practices, so you’re looking at another spring ball. You got to keep it interesting for your guys. Right now, as a staff we’re recruiting really hard. Our guys will be lifting, running and maintaining some good endurance shape right now. That’s the most important thing. They need a break right now. It’s been a long season. So, they need a break from football for a little bit, get in the weight room and heal up. I think you can do too much at times as far as practice is concerned, so you have to be careful there.”

 

On if there is frustration for not playing in the National Championship even with a good record

 “We knew the rules of engagement at the beginning of the season. I’m not one that’s going to sit there and complain about it. It is what it is. We had our opportunity in Jacksonville and we didn’t get it done. That’s our fault and nobody else’s. I’m not going to sit there and belly ache about the rules. They were set when the season started. I’m not going to sit there and complain about it. We should have won the game.”

 

On the possibility of juniors leaving early for the NFL

“Any one that has the opportunity to apply for an evaluation with the NFL office, I encourage it. I encourage the players to submit those papers and that I get to sit down with them and give them the input that I’ve gotten from the NFL people. Some agent isn’t going to give you the right information. I can assure you of that. We have a good process here. We’re very honest and open with our players. If a guy is going to be a first-round draft pick, I’m probably going to tell him he needs to go to the NFL, which is my policy. If he’s not and can improve himself, then I suggest he comes back. The statistics speak for themselves on a guy that comes back and graduates, he plays longer in the National Football League. Bottom line. Again, it’s all a personal decision and a family decision. It’s not mine. It is my job to get them the right information. A lot of times there is not the right information out there. It is important to me to get them the right information.”

 

On conversations with players about going to the NFL

“I have had some conversations with guys as early as yesterday and today. We will handle that when the bowl game is over, that is not a conversation we are going to have every press conference.”

 

On kickers (Sturgis and Christy) being the difference between a couple of wins and losses

“There is no question. When you roll Caleb (Sturgis) out there, unless you fake a field goal, you are going to get three points every time. Kyle (Christy) has been outstanding. He has really changed the field for us and we are a field position team. We are not a team that has been as explosive offensively as we want to be so we have had a harder time making explosive plays down the field. In our league, with some of the defenses as good as they are you have to play field position. You are going to have a hard time putting together 14, 18 play drives consistently in a game. You have to be able to work on a short field and make them work on a long field and Kyle has certainly done that consistently well for us this year.”

 

On Sturgis’ field goal range

“Right now our benchmark, depending on weather, is the 35 yard line which is a 52-yard field goal. Going into Saturday for instance, in pregame I always ask D.J. (Durkin) where he feels good from. Going into the tunnel we came out of, he felt good at the 40 and going the other way he felt good at the 38. It changes a little bit based on weather and situation of the game but that is kind of our benchmark each week.”

 

On being willing to put Sturgis in to kick a 60-yard field goal to win the game

“Yes.”

 

On Matt Elam’s development on the field

“He has really become a much better communicator as far as being in a situation. Matt can play a lot of positions for us. He plays safety, he’s an emergency corner, he plays nickel and plays the dime when we go to six defensive backs. He is a guy that, from a communication standpoint, has done a really good job of communicating the calls. We put a lot on our secondary as far as ‘check with me’ things at the line of scrimmage based on the formation of the set. He does an outstanding job of that. He is a very smart football player and I think he has really put himself in a situation that over the summer he was in great shape. Matt last year had a groin injury the last five weeks of the season and hardly practiced Monday’s and Tuesday’s because of the injury. We had to get him and manage him to the game and play through the game then he had surgery in January. Again, a guy that I think has just had an outstanding year with what we have asked him to do. You look at special teams and some of the coverage things he’s been able to do for us. He just gives great effort, intensity, attitude, has the resolve that has certainly helped our team.”

 

On Elam being a vocal leader

“No, and I made that mistake with Sergio Kindle when I was at Texas. I asked him to be more vocal. You can’t ask someone to be something they are not. You have to let them be who they are. Matt is a guy that plays the game very focused, fast and physical. His leadership abilities are based on how he plays. He is not an overly vocal guy, but I am not ever going to ask a guy again to be something they are not. He’s a guy that leads by example. He has a certain persona of leadership around him and certainly our guys follow it.”

 

On other players missing the bowl game

“Ian Silberman and Jelani for surgery.”

 

On Derek Dooley’s firing at Tennessee

“I am disappointed for Derek. He is a really good coach and a great friend. That is part of the profession. At the end of the day it is the bottom line, winning and losing football games. I am very disappointed for him.”

 

On Jeff Driskel’s growth through the season

“First year starter and you won 11 games, accomplished a lot. Certainly his legs and us being able to stay multiple in the run game because of what he was able to do. Things I saw evolve through training camp. He is a tough guy and went out there not full speed and played very well against an elite defense. Certainly his growth through the offseason will be critical to our success next season.”

 

On keeping the team playing at high level

“You deal with a different attitude. You have to always stay on top of it, complacency kills. You can’t get complacent in what you are trying to do. You have to understand why you had success and that is constantly my message for them ‘Why did we win this game?’ Those are the things you can’t get away from. You have to understand why you are successful and again, I go back after every win, loss or draw and very technical in our approach of why things worked and why things didn’t and then addressing things when they are not right. The kids will tell you that I am real honest with them on where we are and what we need to do to be successful and understand where the barometer is set and where we want to be.”

 

On Leon Orr’s condition after kidney infection

“Leon, I’m hoping to get him back into physical activity this week. Anthony Pass is letting me know this afternoon when he can get back into some physical activity, but he is going to be fine.”

 

On Loucheiz’s (Purifoy) role next season

“Loucheiz is going to be a corner for us. Again, at the end of the day we have created a role for him because he is an explosive guy. He makes plays with the ball in his hands and has tremendous ball skills. You can never have enough of those guys and we need to have more. He is a guy that we are going to find a role as we move forward and every game to get explosive guys the ball and he is one of those guys at this time.”

 

On if Orr lost a lot of weight due to the kidney infection

“He did lose a little weight, but probably did him some good.”

 

On what Antonio Morrison does well

“Antonio is a very instinctive, tough, physical player. He is a guy that tackles well. He enjoys the physical contact of the game, really does. Very instinctive, we noticed that on his high school tape. He wasn’t a real highly ranked guy so you guys probably didn’t like him but we liked him a lot. Instincts are hard to coach and they are hard to find right now in high school because a lot of people are running spread offenses. That was something we saw. D.J. went up a spring ago and watched him workout and saw his work ethic and his toughness and what he was about and knew he was the type of guy we wanted in our program. Very pleased that he is here.”

 

On how Brissett will handle being the backup heading into the offseason

“Jacoby has been great and he knows that he is one snap away and is a guy that we have a lot of confidence in.”

 

 

 

 

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