Tuesday March 12, 2013Head Coach Will Muschamp Discusses 2013 Pro Day and Start of Spring Practice
After wrapping up the 2013 NFL Pro Scout Day, Florida head coach Will Muschamp met with the media to discuss the 2013 NFL Draft Class and address the state of the program as it moves on to spring practice, which begins on Wednesday.
"Obviously, Pro Day today. Exciting time. That’s how a Pro Day is supposed to look at Florida. All 32 teams are here, and that’s how it ought to be. If we continue to do a good job evaluating, recruiting and developing our players, which we will, our pro days will continue to look that way. Really proud of these guys that worked out today and appreciate their contributions to the University of Florida. I want to congratulate our staff on doing a great job developing the guys as well.
“Obviously, January to the first Wednesday of February, we’ve been on the road recruiting. Jeff Dillman and our strength staff have been working with our football team to that point, and we came in as a staff in the a.m. and work on our quality control on offense, defense and special teams, as well as working with our team as far as the offseason program is concerned. Really studying ourselves in those situations.
“Staff-wise, offensively, Brent [Pease] going into his second year as offensive coordinator at Florida. Really looking forward to going into a spring practice where the terminology has a little bit of carryover for our players and our staff. Excited about Joker Phillips as receivers coach and what he’s going to bring to the table, and Tim [Davis], Brian [White] and Derek [Lewis] have all done an outstanding job. D.J. [Durkin] is stepping into the defensive coordinator position. We won’t be changing a lot as far as scheme-wise is concerned. You tweak your system every year based on your players, what they can handle and what they can’t. Travaris Robinson has been outstanding. Brad Lawing has been a really good addition to our staff. He worked with Nick at Michigan State and understands how we want to play up front, how we play and how we coach things up front. He has been a very good addition to our staff, as well as Bryant Young, who has done an outstanding job for us. With D.J. moving to defensive coordinator, we went through special teams and will make it a staff effort as far as that’s concerned. Brian White will coach punt team, Travaris Robinson will coach kickoff coverage, punt block and return teams, Joker will handle kickoff return. Really, all of us worked in those sections last year when D.J. kind of headed it up. We will all contribute as far as that’s concerned with special teams.
“As far as the quality control, looking back as we head into spring with our football team, as a team the first thing I talked to our guys about is penalties. We led the SEC this year in penalties. I think of the 105, 44 I would classify as discipline issues, jumping offsides, illegal procedure, unsportsmanlike conduct, things that we can improve on, self-inflicted wounds that we’ve got to move on with. If there’s one thing on our team from year one to year two that were the bullet points of improvement, that’s somewhere where we didn’t take a step forward. That’s probably the only area on our football team. So we’ve got to do a better job of emphasizing and coaching that. We’ve explored that in the offseason.
“Turnover margin. Our first year we were minus-12, which was 113th in the country and our record was 7-6. This past year we were plus-15, we finished sixth in the country and were 11-2. We were negative five in two losses. When we won or tied the turnover margin we were 11-0. So there’s no other bigger stat in ball than turnover margin. That was emphasized again to our players yesterday as we head into spring ball.
“We need to be a better situational football team. When I talk about that, I’m talking about red zone, one minute, third down, all of the critical times in the game where you have to go make good decisions as coaches but also have a great understanding as players of the situation in the game and continue to be a blue-collar, hungry, overachieving football. I felt like we were that for 12 games last year. It certainly didn’t feel that way in the bowl game. But I felt like the consistency of that within our program, day to day, in the offseason, moving through the summer into fall camp that’s what we need to continue to strive for every day.
“Offensively, some of the things we pointed out were negative plays. I don’t just talk in terms of sacks. The sacks falls on a lot of people. Everyone wants to blame the offensive line when you get sacked. Different areas of breakdowns, from tight end to running back to receiver to the quarterback position. Tackles for a losses and penalties. We created a lot of issues for ourselves as far as down and distance is concerned. I think in Year 2, you're looking at execution being much cleaner in what we're doing offensively and obviously Jeff [Driskel] being in his second year. Jeff's really attacked the offseason from a mental standpoint as far as film is concerned and really studying what he can do to be a better quarterback. That's part of the maturation process in becoming a better player is understanding what you've got to do to be successful.
“Obviously on offense, third down we were very inconsistent. Red zone touchdowns, we want to be at 70 percent, we were right at 50 for the year. And just be more efficient throwing the football. That's something as we hit spring, we're going to be working on a little bit more as far as throwing the football is concerned. We're going to be a little thin up front with some injuries, so we've got to be able to be more efficient throwing it, and that's going to be a big part of it in spring.
“Defensively, I felt like, in watching the film, we let some runs out with the quarterback as far as off-rhythm. You look back at Texas A&M, Missouri, we felt like we didn't contain the football as well as we could have in the run game as far as the quarterback's concerned. Affecting the quarterback with four guys rushing is something we need to improve on. We feel like we should have a solid rush package as far as getting four guys, what we term our "rabbits" package, our best rushers. We've got to do a better job of that and mixing our disguise looks when we play tempo offenses. We got exposed at times of showing things too early, being able to when we get into our check defense and we're able to check out of some things and move to some different things, we've got to do a better job of disguising and holding those tempos situations. That's some of what we're going to emphasize through spring.
“As far as special teams are concerned, we just can't have any blocked kicks. We had a blocked punt that could have cost us a football game. Three blocked field goals for different issues. We really did a study here in the offseason as far as field goal protection is concerned. I think we've made some strides there. Our punt block and return unit, really can think of obviously the Lafayette game, but the FSU game as far as the return is concerned, we've got to continue to get better returning the football. We’ve got some guys who can do some things with the football. Kickoff return, just be more consistent with returning the kicks and getting favorable field position for our team.
“Obviously, we gave you a depth chart, which I know is the most critical thing that’s going to happen in the next 12 months of your year. Just looking at it real quick, there’s been some position moves. Obviously starting out at left tackle, D.J. Humphries is up to 280. A guy that’s put on some weight. As a progressive player and developmental player, you’ve got to continue to gain weight and strength. He’s really worked hard in the offseason. Trip Thurman has had a nice offseason for us. We’ve moved Max Garcia inside. He’s had a really good offseason. He’s really done some nice things. Jon Harrison I think has had a really good offseason, a guy that’s really honed in on the things he’s got to improve himself on. Jon Halapio had a scope on his knee coming off the bowl game. We feel like he’ll be ready to go tomorrow as far as spring ball is concerned. He may be a little limited in some contact early in spring. Certainly he’ll be released after that. Kyle Koehne is a guy who can play multiple positions. He played some tackle for us this past year. Excited about what he brings to the table. Tyler Moore is a guy we’re going to play a little bit at right tackle. He needs to be able to play right and left because obviously Chaz [Green] will miss the spring because of the ankle surgery he had after the bowl game. A little more serious than we thought. He’ll be fine for fall. We’re going to hold him for spring right now. Quinteze Williams is a young man we wanted to move over to the offensive line, a guy that’s got some size and girth to him. He’s continued to gain weight. We felt like his opportunity as an offensive lineman were going to be better than on the defensive line, so he wanted to make that move. At tight end we need some guys to separate. Obviously we’ve got four guys listed, [Clay] Burton, [Tevin] Westbrook and [Kent] Taylor and [Colin] Thompson. It’s good to get Colin back on the field. He ran well yesterday. Obviously had some foot injuries. We’re trying to work through that with him but we look forward to him being full speed this spring.
"At running back I think Matt Jones has had a really good offseason, really has gained good weight and ran well throughout the offseason program. Mack Brown continues to look good and Kelvin Taylor’s been a guy we’re real excited to have on campus. He’s done a nice job of transitioning and all eight guys really have. They’ve come in and when you walk out there as a coach or a spectator and you see our offseason conditioning you don’t point at a guy and say, ‘Well, he must be a freshman.’ These guys look like they fit in. They look like they belong, which is something that says something about them.
"I talked about Jeff a little bit. Again, I think the game continues to slow down for you. First year as a full-time starter. First year in a scheme and system, the terminology, and now you’re not splitting reps 50-50, so he’s going to get all the turns and all the reps with the same people, which I think obviously will help us in some throwing game issues. We need somebody to step up at the backup quarterback position. Tyler and Skyler will have multiple opportunities throughout spring to be in those situations and step forward for us and be a dependable backup for us.
"At the fullback position, you see we moved Gideon [Ajagbe] and Rhaheim [Ledbetter] there. We’re going to be a two-back team. That’s going to be something we do here. We felt like that Hunter [Joyer] was a guy that’s going to be in some one-back stuff for us. He also will be a fullback for us and didn’t want him shouldering that burden and all of a sudden we don’t have him and we lose our two-back package. That’s not something we needed to do, especially with the unproven tight ends we have.
“So both of those guys, the first seven days, are going to be given a shot at fullback and kind of see where we are. Rhaheim played running back in high school, was very effective, catches the ball well. He’s got lower body punch and power. Gideon has not contributed much for us on defense since he’s been here and he deserves the opportunity to try and get into a situation to help us.
“At the receiver position, as far as the depth chart is concerned, all of those guys will play multiple positions. Quinton [Dunbar]'s going to be a guy that will play the Z and the F. Loucheiz [Purifoy] will play the first seven days full time as a receiver. I felt like again, a guy that hasn't been full time at that position, so it would be good for him to go through the first seven days. It also gives us an opportunity on defense for Bryan Poole and Jeremy Brown, a guy for the last two years that hasn't taken as many reps to get as many turns and reps as they can. So I really think it helps us on both sides of the ball as we move forward. They watch film in our league too, so you can't always just put Loucheiz in and throw a screen or run a reverse with him every time he's in the game. We need to expand his package if we're going to continue to move forward with that. He will still remain a corner on our football team. But he's going to do the first seven days. Solomon Patton will be limited through the spring with a broken arm. But all of those guys will be multiple.
“As far as returner and specialist are concerned, [Marcus] Roberson, [Trey] Burton, Purifoy and [Andre] Debose will all be punt returners. As we work into spring, they will be the four main guys we work in. And then kickoff return is Debose and Purifoy.
“Kyle Christy will be limited. He had shoulder surgery after the bowl game. He won't do any live work as far as punting. He can drop the ball and punt it; that doesn't affect his leg as far as his shoulder is concerned. And then Brad Phillips and Austin Harden, obviously losing Caleb [Sturgis] is a huge blow to our football team. We need one of those guys to step up and certainly contribute for us.
“Defensively, Dominique Easley will play both end and tackle. So he's listed as an end. He may show up tomorrow and he may be a tackle. It's going to depend on who our best four guys are and our best combination of players. And he's certainly going to be one of those four. Where he ends up really depends on the other guys.
"Jon Bullard has had a good offseason. Brian Cox Jr. is up to 260, a guy that played linebacker for us last year and really had a good offseason. He's worked awful hard, he’s changed his body and I'm real pleased with his work ethic.
“Of the four inside guys, we need some contribution and we need some guys to step up. Leon Orr, Darious Cummings, Damien Jacobs and Joey Ivie, a freshman that's on campus that I'm excited about. He’s given good work ethic and he fits in with our guys extremely well. We've got to get production from those guys as opposed to repping Dominique in there where, which I know what he can do, those four guys have to get as many reps as they can through spring ball. We need to find out what those guys can do and feel good about those guys coming out of spring ball. Obviously, Ronald Powell won't go through spring, but Dante Fowler, Jr., and Alex McCalister as you see Alex has beefed up a little bit to 230 at the Buck position. We'll also work in our rabbits package which that's a combination of our four best rushers out there. So that could be Dominique inside and either Jon or Dante inside and some other guys rushing off the edge.
“At Sam linebacker, Darrin Kitchens returns. He also will play the Will and Dime. Neiron Ball will also play the Buck as he does do a nice job of giving us some pass rush on third down to get more speed on the field. Jeremi Powell will also play the Will and Dime.
“Inside at linebacker, obviously losing Jon [Bostic] and Jelani [Jenkins] is a blow to us. They were both very productive players for us. Antonio Morrison has moved to the Mike. Our Mike and Will in regular, personnel is really mirrored, it’s the same position. But when we move to nickel, the Mike and Dime have different coverage responsibilities, so we felt Antonio would be better suited to play the Mike and Michael Taylor at the Will, but we can always switch those guys back because they’ve played both positions. In spring, it's about experimenting and looking at different things. Alex [Anzalone] and Daniel [McMillian] have both looked good in the offseason program. They've looked good running around in shorts and looking forward to getting them out on the field.
“In the secondary, Jaylen Watkins in regular will play corner. When we go to nickel, he will play safety. A guy that can play both positions and play the nickel position as well. Brian Poole will play corner and nickel to start spring. As we progress through, a guy that we could probably give some safety looks to. Cody Riggs can play safety and corner. Marcus Maye will play safety and dime. Jabari Gorman will stay at safety in both sub-packages and regular. Valdez Showers will stay at safety and play some dime. Marcus Roberson and Jeremy Brown at the other corner position. We’ll start out playing right and left corner and right and left safety to start spring and those will be the inside players that we’ll rep.
“As I talked earlier, Chaz Green, Ronald Powell, Matt Rolin and Ian Silberman will miss all of spring and then other guys will be limited. Included in that group is Kyle Christy as well as Neiron Ball with the ankle. But we feel like Neiron’s getting close to full speed and should be released full-go Wednesday as far as all the team activities.
“That’s kind of where we are right now on our football team. I think we’ve had a good off-season. I think we’ve made the right strides we need to make within the team. I’m pleased with where we are, knowing we still have a long way to go as we climb the mountain here through the season. But we’re looking forward to starting spring and getting back on the field.”
On Pro Day:
“That’s what Pro Day at Florida should look like. If we do a good job recruiting and evaluating and developing our players, then all 32 teams will be here and that’s what happened today. There’s some head coaches and some general managers and some people here that were part of the exposure that our players have at Florida.”
On players being around the program the past few months after the Sugar Bowl:
“No, we’ve seen most of them. Matt [Elam] and Josh [Evans] have come by several times. Jelani and Jon and Gilly [Mike Gillislee], most of the guys have kind of been through. But I’ve been in contact with most of the guys throughout the process.”
On anyone making improvements in the past couple of months:
“I don’t know. I think they’ve all worked extremely hard. They all understand what’s at stake. These guys are at a great time in their life. Here they are on the verge of playing in the arena on Sunday. That’s something you look at. For you, you’re a football player and taking that next step. They understand what’s at stake. I’m proud of what I saw today just from a standpoint of how they worked and how they’ve conducted themselves. The positive feedback I’ve gotten from general managers, head coaches, assistants in the National Football League, of the character of our guys and how they handled themselves at the combine. All of it has been ultra-positive. I’ve been real pleased with that.”
On building on the physicality from last year:
“Brent and I have talked about that. We’ve got to improve the efficiency as far as throwing the ball. There are some things that we are going to need to work on, but we can’t get away from who we are. We’re going to be a physical football team. I really believe in order to win this league, you’ve got to be physical. You’ve got to be able to win on the line of scrimmage. You can’t get away from that. That’s something that’s going to be a balancing act for us as we move forward. But I do want to make sure that we’ve got to improve some things in the throwing game. We’ve got to work on that but not get away from being a physical football team.”
On expectations after last season:
“We totally embrace the expectation that Florida has to go to Atlanta.”
On Demarcus Robinson contributing:
“He’s looked good in the offseason program as far as his athleticism and those sort of things. But we haven’t done as much football-related stuff and the guys covering him and getting their hands on him. Some of the corners we have are pretty good, so it will be interesting as we progress through. But as far as the things I’ve seen athletically, certainly I’m excited about what I see.”
On the returning wide receivers:
“I think Quinton Dunbar took a step forward last year. Going back and watching our season, I thought he made tremendous strides as a football player and as a receiver and a dependable guy in what we do and a guy that can do some good things for us. Andre’s a guy that has had a good offseason to this point. We’re looking forward to seeing him show some consistency over a period of time. That’s obviously the challenge there. Loucheiz is a guy that’s got great ball skills, acceleration, can do a lot of things for us. We just need to get him more turns and reps at the position and not get away from what he does best, which is cover. It’s an interesting balance that we’ve got to be able to manage. Demarcus, we’ve talked about as a freshman. Solomon Patton has been a very effective payer for us. It really hurt us offensively when we lost him in the Georgia game last year. He was a guy that made a lot of plays for us on special teams and on offense. So he was a guy that I’m excited to get back. He will be non-contact all of spring. Non-contact means he doesn’t have contact. For any of you older people, y’all don’t understand what I’m talking about, but I figured I have to add that in. Raphael Andrades is going to be a part of football. He’s obviously been playing baseball with Sully [Head baseball coach Kevin O’Sullivan]. Sully and I are on the same page but he’s going to be in our practices, in our meetings, still splitting some time with baseball as we continue to move forward with that. Trey Burton, again, a guy that does a lot of stuff for us. Plays in the slot. He’ll play move fullback slash tight end, whatever you want to say. We’ll continue to have a package for him as a quarterback. But again, guy does a lot of stuff for us. Latroy Pittman again has had a good offseason. We’re looking forward to seeing him compete this spring.”
On Driskel’s focus this spring:
"Well I think again as a player and as a competitor knowing Jeff and talking to Jeff he wants to go back and improve everything. But I think you take things in segments. I need to improve here, I need to improve there. I think within saying that, year two in the system the game slows down a little bit. A better understanding of the protection, a better understanding of where the ball needs to go, where you’re protected and where you’re not protected. I think those are the things as much as anything it’s going to help him to understand that. The passing game concepts vs. middle field and vs. split safety, where to take the ball. So all of those things, again, that’s easy to talk about but when it’s happening in front of 90,000 people against some of the people we play against, it’s a fast, fast game. Those are things to me as far as just the mental intensity of where we need to go with the football in situations. That’ll slow down for him in his second year, and he’s also not splitting reps. And he’ll be working with the first team receivers all the time. I think you couple that with a lot of things, and I think Brent does a really good job of developing the quarterback position and recognizing things he needs to improve."
On the importance of these 15 practices for Driskel:
"It’s huge. You look at the opportunity of going against live bullets, whether it’s in skeleton, whether it’s in team periods, all of the situational work we do, moving the field, it’s a critical time to be able to get the cohesiveness he needs with the receiving core, the running backs, the protections, all of those things as we start trying to narrow down what we’re going to be."
On the running backs:
“I think Mack Brown is going to give [Matt Jones] competition as well. So I think we got three guys that I’m excited about seeing. It’s Mack’s turn to step up and be a guy that can do all the things we need to do from the position. But Matt Jones again, really challenged him in the offseason to be a guy that needs to be able to carry the ball 25 times in a game and understand that role and embrace that role. And again, Kelvin’s a high school senior right now, and I’ve been very proud in what he’s done. He’s come out here and worked, you walk out and see those eight guys — I say eight, Tyler and Darious aren’t high school freshmen, Matt Rolin’s repairing the ACL as far as rehab is concerned — those guys fit. You walk on the field, and they look like our guys. They fit, they run, they do all the things, they’ve got the endurance and the things you’ve got to do to be successful.”
On running backs in pass protection:
“That’s always something as far as just working forward. There’s so many different looks we see and we have more than most protections than they’ve been used to dealing with so those are the things we’ve just kind of got to work through and put them in situations where they can be successful.”
On backup quarterback position:
“There’s no question we’ve got to be able to have some answers. Jeff’s a guy that’s got to do a better job at protecting himself, and Brent and I have to talked to him about that. Tyler’s a guy that’s now going into his fourth year. He’s a junior, redshirt junior. And he needs to be able step forward and be a dependable guy that we want to put in a ball game. And I have confidence in Tyler. I got a lot of confidence, he just hasn’t done it. And Skyler’s a guy that came in as a true freshman, was thrown into the fire, and there’s nothing tougher at that position to be counted on to play at the quarterback position going back to our first year with Jacoby and Jeff. Very difficult on both of those young men. I think again, the game will slow down a little bit, he’ll have a better feel for what we’re trying to do.”
On the linebacker position:
“We sit down with every player during the dead period in January before we go on the road and sit down and say ‘These are the things you need to improve on,’ whether it’s something within in the weight room, on the field, off the field, whatever it is. And it’s very detailed. We go through every point with the player and I meet with the player to through every point and make sure they understand what’s being asked of them and where they need to take the next step. I go back to Jon Bostic last year. He was a guy that we said ‘You need to take on blocks better, you need to disengage better, you’ve got to be able to play blocks in the core better. And if you talk to a lot of the NFL teams, that’s one of the best things he does, taking on blocks and disengaging on blocks. That’s what Antonio has done, he’s added some bulk to himself, but again this is the first time he’s really gone through our offseason program. He went through it last year as a true freshman, goes into the spring, now he’s coming in year two and he’s got a better understanding of what’s being expected of him. And I think he’s embraced it, I really do. I think he’s had a really solid offseason.”
On Sharrif Floyd’s rising draft status:
“Turn on the tape. I mean, the guy can anchor, he can play the run, he’s got great initial quickness, he can rush the passer. He’s everything you want for an inside player. The NFL teams, they don’t like to project – I’ve been there, I know. They want to see guys that play in 3-4 and 4-3. So they’ve seen him play 2-gap, they’ve seen him play nose, they’ve seen him play 4-technique, they’ve seen him play 1-gap, 3-technique, 5-technique, 9-technique. They’ve seen him play outside, they’ve seen him play inside. So from a general manager’s prospective, talking to his owner and talking about spending money on a player, a clean player that’s got no issues off the field, you know that’s a very smart pick in my opinion. Because you’ve got a guy that can be a very dominating player that’s got so many positive things surrounding him and he’s been exposed positionally to so many different things within our scheme.”
On selling players to NFL personnel:
“Our players know I’m going to be very honest in the process about where they are, and what they accomplished. But at the end of the day each coach, just like I do when I watch high school kids, you form your own opinion as you watch the tape. At the end of the day, you’re going to go back and watch the tape. And that’s what speaks for itself. It’s not the opinion of a coach, or what you jump vertical jump at the combine or what some agent thinks. At the end of the day, it’s what matters on tape.”
On helping guys’ prospects in the NFL:
“Certainly, with the experience of coaching in the National Football League, absolutely. I understand what it’s going to take on Sunday afternoon. I’ve also been in a situation where guys walk into a lot of money, and how are they going to handle that? How are they going to handle the exposure they are going to have in the different communities they are going to be in. So there’s no question.”
On the seniors realizing your advice and opinion matters:
“No. Our guys take heed to it. I certainly, when you come to a place like the University of Florida, you’re coming to get a great education, you’re coming to play for a championship and have an opportunity to possibly play on Sunday afternoon, if that’s what you want. And obviously with the turnout that we had today, there’s a bunch of guys that have that want. We want those guys to be successful and there’s no question those guys listened pretty well to our coaches this year.”