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Monday August 26, 2013Quotes From Will Muschamp's Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ season opener against Toledo (12:21 p.m. on Saturday at The Swamp).

 

Opening Statement:

 “I’m excited about the first game and to get started for a 12:21 kickoff here in The Swamp.  I thought we had a good camp, a productive camp, and moving into the first game, Steve is handing out the depth chart and we’ll go over that.  There are a couple of announcements; I’m excited to do a little something new this year to honor George Edmonson, Mr. 2-Bits, we’re going to have a Gator celebrity for every home game to come out and sort of lead the crowd there as far as trying to be like Mr. 2 bits was, and Eric Rhett will be the first guy to do that, certainly a passionate guy with a lot of energy and we talked to him on the phone, and he’s almost going to come through the phone on you there.  But he’s excited about it; it won’t always be a football player but it’ll be obviously a Gator celebrity, somebody who’s meant a lot to the University of Florida, so that’s exciting to have that.”

 

“As far as injuries are concerned, Matt Jones continues to progress and do well; I certainly think he’ll be available next week, he’s getting some more blood-work done today, and as we work through it unless we have some sort of setback, I certainly think that’s going to happen.  Jon Halapio continues to progress well, I think he’ll be cleared for Tennessee, and to have that open week before that game I think that will give him enough time to fill in the pec there.  Really disappointing news with Chaz Green, he’s going to have to have surgery this week to repair a labrum, which happened at last Tuesday’s practice.  He felt like it was ok, but we got the MRI back Friday afternoon; Chaz was playing his best football, he was playing extremely well.  He certainly solidified himself at the right tackle spot, so disappointing news as far as that’s concerned but we do have depth at the offensive line still feeling good.  At right tackle we have Tyler Moore and Trenton Brown.  Tyler took all the reps during the spring when Chaz was out with the ankle, Chaz played through that the entire last season in a lot of pain and still played well for us.  So disappointing for him, but that’s part of the game.”

 

“After a thorough review of Antonio Morrison’s situation and how he’s handled his punishment, I’m going to suspend him for this game only; I just don’t feel like his actions warranted a two game suspension, and that’s where we are with that.”

 

“Moving on to Toledo, Matt Campbell and his staff do an outstanding job.  If you watch the tape, offensively, defensively, and special teams, they’re well coached; they went 9-4 last year, they returned nine starters on the offensive side of the ball, and averaged around 450 yards a game.  You look at the dual-threat of the quarterback, Terrance Owens, Bernard Reedy who’s from Lakewood High School in St. Pete, is an outstanding slot receiver and returner.  David Fluellen is an over 1,000 yard rusher at 6’ 215 pounds, they do a nice job of getting him the ball in different situations.  Zac Kerin is an all-conference center for them, and a guy projected as a top-three round pick from the NFL scouts that I know.  Defensively they returned four starters; a lot of movement up front, we have to be able to handle all of those sort of things, and they returned all their specialists.  So this is a good football team we’re playing, our guys I know are excited to get back on the field today, and continue our prep for Toledo as we move in to Saturday.  I open it up for any questions.”

 

On Chaz Green’s timetable for return:

“Chaz is out for the season.  He’s having labrum surgery on Wednesday I believe.”

 

On offensive line depth:

“We still feel pretty good about our situation, you know when Jon [Halapio] comes back, it gives you nine guys you feel comfortable about as far as playing experience.  Max [Garcia] and Tyler [Moore] are new to us, but both of them have played at a high level.  So both guys are guys that we have a large comfort level with. D.J. Humphries has played a lot for us and played extremely well.  Jon Harrison, you know, I’ll take him over any center in the country, as far as how he plays and how he approaches the game and being the rock for us up front.  Kyle Koehne, Trip Thurman, and Ian Silberman are all guys who have played and/or started games, Trip hasn’t, but Ian and Kyle have, and Trenton Brown has been a guy who has come along for us.  But that’s why you recruit, you have injuries, especially on the offensive line; it’s a far cry from three years ago, or two years ago, whenever it was, we had about seven offensive lineman on scholarship.  So we’re in a situation now where you know it’s unfortunate that injuries are part of the game, but those guys, you know, one man’s misfortune is another man’s opportunity.  So we’ll have some guys step up and play well.”

 

On the “Jumbo” package:

“Yeah.  Oh yeah that’s something we’ll be able to do.”

 

On last year’s season ending:

“I think different guys are motivated in different ways, I think regardless of how you ended the season doesn’t affect how you play the next season.  But certainly in the offseason, you know different guys are motivated in different ways, and certainly I think that’s something a lot of our guys have taken forward with them. 

 

On Antonio Morrison’s reduced suspension:

 “Oh I think you know, he’s very remorseful about the whole situation and we’ve moved forward.  Guys make mistakes and have poor judgment at times; I’m just disappointed with how the entire night was handled.”

 

On Clay Burton:

“Well I think Clay is just a very dependable guy that can play multiple spots, as far as playing on the line and also playing what we call the “move” position, and being able to do some different things as well as that’s concerned.  So he’s a guy that gives you a lot of variety as far as when he’s in the game, you know, how are they going to count him as far as an on the line tight-end, and an off the line move guy. 

 

On Austin Hardin as a starting kicker:

“Right now Austin would be.  You know, Brad [Phillips] was slowed by a groin, but Brad kicked well when he kicked, he didn’t have as many attempts and at-bats as Austin did.  But Austin sort-of distanced himself to be the kickoff guy and to have the placekicking duties.  But, you know, Brad has been a guy who’s been in the game before and done it when the lights are on.  So that’s something we’re going to continue to work on through the season.” 

 

On kickoff approach:

“Well again, I think Austin’s been pretty, you know, pretty solid though camp as far as kicking and kicking the ball deep in the endzone.  We’d like to have touchbacks as much as possible, but our coverage units, there are times where we like to pin the ball back inside the five if we’re able to.  With Caleb [Sturgis] you had ah, he was very talented as far as being able to place the football and have good hang time to be able to have our coverage guys cover it.  So we’ll kind of move forward with that as the season grows.”

 

On Demarcus Robinson:

“No I mean, again, I think that the bottom line is if they’re the best at their position, they’ll start, and if they’re good enough at their position they’ll play.  We don’t really set back and try to ease anybody into anything.  We are mindful for the situations we’ve put them in knowing the anxieties of some players more than others, will face in their first ball game.  So, that’s something we’ve talked about at the latter part of last week and into today; offensively, defensively, and special teams about how guys will handle certain situations, and Demarcus is a young man that I think will handle it very well.’

 

On Loucheiz Purifoy returning kicks:

“He’s done that before.  He’ll be back at times.  We rotate guys though there, it depends on also the off returner at times, if someone is going to spray the ball we want two returners back there; or if they’re going to pinpoint the ball we may want more of a blocker at the off returner.  But we have multiple guys, he’s [Purifoy] also returned punts for us as well.”

 

On Loucheiz Purifoy’s number of snaps:

“Well we’ve talked about that as well too, so we’re continuing to work through those things.”

 

On player’s excitement:

 “Well I think you always go into a first game knowing there will be a little anxiety with certain players, and the older guys certainly will lean on them to get those calmed down in those situations.  But that’s part of a first game, the unknowns that you go into.  You like to head into a season with less unknowns than usual, but certainly I feel comfortable about the makeup of this football team mentally, their approach about how they handle things and certainly how they handle the first football game I feel very comfortable with that.”

 

On preparation for noon time kickoffs:

“No we don’t prepare any differently regardless of the kickoff.” 

 

On Loucheiz Purifoy’s role on offense:

“Well again, I feel very comfortable with the guys we have and how they’re playing.  And there will be certain packages we use him within, and that’s really why in spring we went eight practices with him solely as a receiver; to let him learn the offense so we could plug him in to different spots, and that’s kind of the plan of action at this time.”

 

On Dante Fowler, Jr.:

“Again, I’ve got huge expectations.  A guy who has played extremely well, number one he had a great offseason, you know, he approached it the right way, worked hard, he worked hard on the things we asked him to work hard on, he’s a very coachable young man, and a guy that’s had a really good fall camp.  I mean, really worked hard.  He approaches it the way you’re supposed to, he goes after it every single day, he plays hard for the University of Florida. 

 

On being a better first quarter team:

 “Well we’d like to play well in all four, if we can.  But you know, again, I think that we’ve started talking to our guys more about starting fast, especially on the offensive side of the ball, create some positive opportunities for our football team.  But that goes in all three phases.  In the kicking game, being able to pin somebody back or get a big return and create some momentum for our football team, defensively create a turnover early in the game to create some momentum for our fans, our football team, it’s a team thing. Certainly we’ve emphasized it, maybe more so than we have in the past, and I know it was a huge point of emphasis offensively.”

 

On offense being more prepared:

“There’s no question, when you have your quarterback back, the guy that won 10 ball games for you a year ago, there’s, you know, you’re further along.  And I feel good about the talent level around him up front, at the receiver position, the running back position, I think the tight end position has improved itself though camp, so I think we’re better in spots than we were a year ago. And certainly the comfort level with what we’re going to be offensively is there.”

 

On Ronald Powell:

“Well I think, you know, a guy who’s been though a tough deal.  You go through two ACL’s the setbacks, and as hard as he worked to get back the first time, that’s what people don’t realize, I mean he was a guy who was probably going to end up playing for us the latter part of last season before the second tear happened.  So, a guy that’s just put so much in to, as a coach, you get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing somebody put so much into something, and now you’re going to see them have the benefits of going out and playing.  Which sometimes, that’s really what’s fun about playing college football.”

 

On the relationship between Ronald Powell and Dante Fowler, Jr.:

“Well again, I think that’s about a maturing football team.  You know, a guy that’s willing to take somebody under his wing, a young player, and help him develop.  That’s what good football teams do, that’s what good football programs do.  They help develop the young players within how we practice, how we approach meetings, all of the things we need to do to be successful, and that’s what we got a bunch of older guys that understand that now. 

 

On Jeff Driskel running the ball:

“We’ve talked about it.  I mean obviously we’re going to do what we have to do to win football games.  But we have, you know, explored number one him taking care of himself and getting down in some situations, but again, you know, he’s a valuable guy carrying the football and we’re going do what we have to, to win games.  We did have practice situations where he would run and we would slide him or get him out of bounds, we emphasized it more to him than maybe he wanted us to.”

 

On the challenges of Toledo’s offense:

“Well I think you start with the tempo.  You know, they’re on the ball, they snap it quick, they get off a lot of snaps, they’re a team that wants to snap it about 80 times a game, but you know that’s a team stat from the standpoint of you have to maintain the ball offensively to be able to maintain possessions and keep them off the field; and then defensively you have to create some three and out situations, where you get off the field and put their defense back on the field.  So they pose the issue number one, of tempo, and then I think they’re a very talented unit.  I think [Bernard] Reedy is as good a slot receiver as we’ll face all season.  Over a thousand yards back and runs the ball hard; I think they give you a lot of pass conflicts as far as what they do in the zone game and then the vertical throwing down the field. They get the ball thrown out quick in the spring game; I just think they are very effective in what they do.”

 

On his third year of coaching at UF and what it means:

“What we want to be is a little bit more identifiable as we move forward. Our guys worked hard, our staff is on the same page on what we want to be and what we want to accomplish. I feel very comfortable about where we are at this point.”

 

On whether the run game would be less physical with Mack Brown compared to Matt Jones:

“No.”

 

On sophomore receivers (like Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades) getting lost in the shuffle on the off command:

“Well I don’t know that they were lost in the shuffle, but they are guys who were told before camp that they need to be productive. You know we have some good players coming in, I don’t care about where you are from or what class you are, the most productive guys will play. Those guys have been a little bit more productive.”

 

On Jaylen Watkins taking on the leadership role:

“I think Jaylen’s done an outstanding job. He is a guy who can play corner, safety, can play nickel, can play dime. He is a major contributor on special teams. He’s been a very vocal guy in a very positive way. I think he is one of the team leaders on our football team. I don’t think there is any question, when you walk around the locker room, the respect he has for his teammates, the way he carries and handles himself, he is a first class young man.”

 

On whether Coach Pease will coach in the box or on the field:

“He will be in the box.”

 

On what Tevin Westbrook has done to be number two on the depth chart:

“Well I think that Tevin has been a guy who gives you multiple things on the position as far as blocking at the point of attack, some things as far as receiving he’s got his length, he creates some things in the run game that we really like, and his length creates some things in the passing game that we like. So, he has developed himself to not mind sticking his face in the fan a little bit and blocking at the point of attack, which was an issue before and his buy in for that is that he is a contributor on multiple special teams and also a guy who can do both things at the tight end position.”

 

On expectations for pass rush this season:

“I hope it’s good. Again, I think those guys have been productive in camp. I think Ronald (Powell) has done a nice job rushing the edge, Dante (Fowler, Jr.), Dominique (Easley) is a match up guy inside, Leon Orr’s done a good job pushing the pocket, we’ll get Damien Jacobs back at practice today and he’s done a good job of pushing the pocket inside. Neiron Ball, a guy who we have left at linebacker, is projected to be a guy who can give us some pass rush and edge rush, because of our situation at linebacker he will stay there.  Bryan Cox is a guy who I have been really impressed with as far as his pass rush is concerned, but certainly Ronald (Powell) and Dante (Fowler) off the edge are an improvement from where we’ve been, and we need to continue to rush well inside, which I think we’ve done.”

 

On what the other running backs are capable of with Matt Jones gone:

 “I have a great comfort level with Mack (Brown) and Mark Herndon and Valdez Showers. I think those guys are all the quality running backs. I think Matt (Jones) obviously gives you a little different dimension with his size and power, but we have good packages for those guys when they are in the game and we certainly will continue to use that through the season.”

 

On what needs to be seen from Matt Jones:

“I’m all to the physicians on that, but he’s running, he’s cutting, he’s lifting. We haven’t put pads on him yet, and he has not been out in the heat yet. He has been out in the heat as far as running is concerned, but again, they are just worried about a relapse from the stand point of coming back too early and that’s what we are waiting on - for the blood work to get back from today. I’ll know more this afternoon or tomorrow.”

 

On Matt Jones looking healthy:

 “Yes; I saw him yesterday, he looks great. But again I’m not a doctor.”

 

On the new targeting rule and how he will react if a player is ejected:

“There’s nothing you can do about it. The refs make the call and in my opinion, the rule is written pretty clearly on what’s going to be called. I think it’s a very difficult call. I think we’ve put way too much on the officials, in my opinion.”

 

On whether he expects the heat to be a factor against Toledo:

I think we’ve prepared. We’ve been in the heat and I think it’s an advantage for us. Regardless of the time or the place or in the parking lot, it doesn’t matter – we’ll play.”

 

 

 

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