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Monday September 2, 2013Quotes From Will Muschamp's Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ game against Miami (12:00 p.m. on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Fla.).

 

Opening remarks:

“Alright just to recap Toledo, I thought it was a really good team win; and you know, I always look at explosives and turnovers and we had nine explosive plays to two for Toledo, which is plus-seven which is outstanding. And then we both had a turnover; We have got to take care of the ball a little better in the pocket, but we had the fourth down stop so I count that as a change of possession, so that’s a plus-one there. I thought we were balanced offensively, averaged 5.5 yards per carry and I thought we were really good on third down. The player of the game offensively was Mack Brown; you know, Mack ran extremely hard in the game, and certainly a guy who played really well. Scrap iron offensive lineman were Jon Harrison, Tyler Moore, and Max Garcia, I thought all three of those guys played really well, really build some continuity with those guys up front, Tyler [Moore] and Max [Garcia] have been two really good additions for us. And big plays for Trey Burton, Valdez Showers, and Mack Brown; but I’m really proud of Valdez, a guy that makes a transition in the middle of camp competing for a job on the other side of the ball, very unselfish in coming over and helping our offense and will continue to do so; he’s a guy that adds some dimension to us offensively. Defensively, I thought we handled the tempo very well, when you play a team like that it is a true team game in the essence that you’ve got to be able to maintain the ball offensively, stay on the field on third down and create some three-and-out situations defensively. So we had about 60 snaps in the game, 54 I think, total, 60 including some penalties but you know, again, that’s outstanding for a team that wanted to snap the ball about 80 times in the game. Third down was outstanding, and I thought we really contained the quarterback well; I think we had three sacks but we had 15 pressures, and that, you know, to me a pressure is an incomplete pass affected by pressure. We only allowed him to have one scramble and that was late in the game on a third down, and Leon Orr made a great effort play coming out of the stack there and making a tackle. So we really affected the quarterback, and did it with four guys rushing. As the game wore on, we felt like he was affected in the game and we had a good pressure plan going in and when we pressured we were very effective. The interception Vernon [Hargreaves] had was an outstanding job of constricting the pocket, he had nowhere to step up in the pocket and Vernon [Hargreaves] made an outstanding play on the ball. But players of the game, we gave it to our front; Dominique Easley, Leon Orr, Bryan Cox, Jon Bullard, Damien Jacobs, Dante Fowler, and Ronald Powell. All of those guys played well to contain him in the pocket; be able to rush more effectively throughout the game, affect the quarterback and stopping the run. We played a lot of split safeties, at some times, we were always minus one in the box so I’m real proud of those guys’ efforts. Ball hawks were Vernon Hargreaves, and the four guys that created pressure on that play, on his interception; Mike Taylor, Dominique Easley, Leon Orr, and Ronald Powell. Hard hat was Neiron Ball, thought Neiron played really well; a guy that’s really helped us and a huge step forward defensively for us was him being able to play off the ball, which since I’ve been here he has not done, shows really good instincts in the run game and an active, active playmaker, so he’s been a huge addition for us. Special teams, I just thought we were very solid, I think we had a lot of fundamental things we need to work on, we had a lot of young guys out there for the first time, and it certainly showed. Player of the game was Mark Herndon; you know, continues to do, be very productive in everything we ask him to do, but certainly a special teams leader for us, Jarrad Davis played extremely well. Big play was Marcus Roberson, a guy that flipped the field a couple of times with a couple big punt returns; maybe could have fielded one there late, would have liked to be able to field that; well right before half, excuse me, not late. Scout team players of the week, Jeremi Powell on the offensive field did a great job, Ryan Parrish and Chris Thompson as far as special teams. Injury-wise we feel pretty good about where we are, Darrin Kitchens pulled a muscle in his oblique, and we feel like he will be fine, he will probably miss a couple days this week but will play this weekend. D.J. Humphries we feel like will be back at practice tomorrow in a limited role, but full time on Wednesday. Dominique Easley has got the flu, but he’s going to be fine, he’s going to miss today and be back tomorrow. But we had a good team meeting this morning since we didn’t have classes, and we’ll start on Miami this afternoon; outstanding football team, 19 starters back on their football team. Duke Johnson is an outstanding player, we recruited him here, the guys’ got a great competitive nature to himself, he’s very similar to a Chris Rainey, bigger version of that; a guy that can full speed, one cut, get the ball vertical, makes people miss in space, runs hard and runs tough, he’s an outstanding receiver out of the backfield, he is an outstanding football player. Stephen Morris is a very accurate thrower, a guy that really takes the ball to the right spots, very impressed watching him throughout the last season and in his first game. They’re very talented at the receiver position, they got guys that can run, make plays in space; they have close to 100 starts in their offensive line, they’re big and athletic, 6’4”, 6’5”,6’6” across the board, 320 pounds plus, McDermott the center is about 300, the rest of them are all very big, very big and very athletic. Defensively, you know, Al’s [Golden] background is a defensive coach, I think he’s a really good football coach, they mix odd and even fronts in four-down and three-down, very similar to what we do. You know, two years ago they played a bunch of freshman and sophomores, and now those guys are juniors and seniors. If you look at their two-deep, I think they have two sophomores starting and the rest of their two-deep is all juniors and seniors. So they’re a very experienced group, Anthony Chickillo, Shayon Green, some guys that we know very well; and I think they’re very talented on special teams, they have a lot of team speed, very similar to us, and outstanding specialists, and they’ll always have good return guys, you know Duke [Johnson] and [Phillip] Dorsett and those guys can really play. So we got our work cut out for us, a noon kickoff down in Miami, and we look forward to getting it going on game day. And I’ll open it up for any questions.”

 

On this week feeling like a rivalry game:

“Certainly. I think a lot of the carry-over talked to our team this morning, between the players and the common guys you know on the team certainly attributes to that, and a little bit of the history of the Florida-Miami game, and understanding that, we’ll continue to educate our players throughout the week.”

 

On players not knowing the history making the game less special:

“I don’t know about that, we’re very well aware of each other and we have great respect for their program, as I’m sure they do for us as well. So I don’t know that the history is as much as maybe the carry-over of knowing players on the other team, you know, developing whether you played with them in high school or you played against them in high school, and certainly knowing about them and having the respect for them.”

 

On the importance of recruiting in South Florida:

“They have players every year, you take Broward and Dade county, those two alone, the number of players that sign out of there every year. But certainly recruiting the state of Florida is very important to us. First of all, there’s great players in the Orlando area, and the Jacksonville area, and the Tampa, St. Pete, and all the way through. And whatever players appeal to us are the guys that we’re going to recruit, but certainly that’s a very fertile area.”

 

On Matt Jones’ availability this week:

“Yeah, Matt will play this week, certainly will. Feel pretty good about his progress, and I think, you know, as we work through the week, we’ll be able to know how much he’ll be able to contribute. But, he certainly will play.”

 

On Muschamp’s memory of Miami:

“Well it was a lead-off game every year, in the 80s, and I remember I was sitting in the North Endzone when James Jones made the one-handed catch there against Miami, and that was, I guess, ’86 was, or no, ’84 was Kerwin Bell’s first game; I think we went through five quarterbacks in the preseason, Jeremy [Foley], you probably remember, we went through a bunch of them there, and Kerwin had his first start down in Tampa, I think is where we played that year. But that was a game that when it was in Miami, I remember watching or listening on the radio, and obviously when it was here in Gainesville I was trying to get into the stadium somehow.”

 

On Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood:

“Very good. You know I think Ahmad [Fulwood] had a huge third down conversion for us, I think he played 14 snaps, we’re going to get him more involved this week that’s something we talked about yesterday. Demarcus [Robinson] had two balls going to him, one got tipped at the line on a hitch, we wanted to create a one-on-one for him outside; and another situation we didn’t get the ball to him on a particular route based on the coverage they ran. But he had two outstanding blocks, and one he climbed and sealed another defender for about a 15 yard gain on a screen… so very instinctive play on his part, especially for his first time playing. But both guys played well, their roles will continue to increase.”

 

On Marcus Roberson returning punts:

“He’s made some really big plays for us returning punts Number one is, he’s really good with ball security, and a guy that fields the ball and I think he makes good decisions; he could have probably fielded the one before the half, I wish we’d have used the timeout there, and we still had one timeout left, I wish we had fielded that and maybe gotten it up and then if we had gotten to the 40 or the 45 maybe have gone to a one-minute situation, 35 possibly gone to a one-minute situation depending on time. But I think Marcus has been very efficient in what he has done back there. I think he’s very consistent and he’s been very productive; you look at last season late in the year against Florida State, he made a huge return, which was a huge momentum swing in the game to put us up 10, to put us in field position to go up 10, in the game. And I think punt returning, that’s a feel. You’ve got to have a guy back there that, you know, Marcus has got a great demeanor for the position.”

 

On keeping emotion in-check:

“Sure. I think you have to keep your composure. It’s a very emotional game, and there’s going to be a lot of, you know, some ups and downs in the games, there’s going to be some good things that happen, and you have to play for 60 minutes, and you know it’s going to be an emotional game any time you’re going to go play a rival and you’re going to play somebody you know a lot about, certainly you need to make sure you keep your composure within the game and play through the situations and play between the whistles, line up, and play the next down.”

 

On seeing Miami on the schedule every year:

“Well, I think our schedule is what it is. You guys keep wanting to add the Packers and everybody else, but you know, I’m kind of happy where it’s at right now. And it has been so unsettled just because I know Jeremy [Foley] and them guys have been dealing with, you know, the schedule-SEC schedule moving forward; what are we staying with, what are we not, I don’t know that all of those things have been defined as of yet, so we’re really kind of uncertain as we move forward right now.”

 

On turning UF’s program around similar to Al Golden at Miami:

“Well I don’t know that anybody’s back, I think Al [Golden] would say the same thing. I got a lot of respect for Al, I think he’s a really good football coach, I think his situation was much different and much tougher than certainly ours was because of the NCAA situation. I think he and his staff have done a fantastic job, they’ve recruited extremely well, I think they’re really good football coaches, I think that they, you know, again they’ve done a really good job, you know he loses Jedd Fisch to the Jacksonville Jaguars and he hires James Coley, a guy that I know really well and who is a really good football coach and from down there; I think that was a really good hire on his part. They do a really good job; I’ve got a lot of respect for Al and his program.”

 

On how quickly Golden has turned Miami’s program around:

“They should have played for the ACC Championship last year, had it not been for the other situation. I don’t think there’s any question, any time in this day and age that you have the opportunity to go play for a championship, you’ve done an outstanding job.”

 

On what makes Antonio Morrison a good linebacker:

“He’s got innate instincts as far reading plays, which is key for linebackers who can play off the ball to be able to anticipate where plays are being run, based on their keen diagnostic ability. That’s something you can’t really teach - you either have it or you don’t have it, and he has a very high level of that. He’s physical, he’s a tough player, football is very important to him. He brings a certain physicality to our football team and he’s a very good communicator at the linebacker position, which for us is critical. You have to have a guy who’s going to be able to relay the calls. I’m really proud of Mike Taylor, Darrin Kitchens and Neiron Ball for this past Saturday. We put a lot on them at the line of scrimmage, which we do in every game, but even more so in the first game situation with how hot it was and Toledo’s up tempo offense. They did a really good job, which is critical, and Antonio does a nice job of that as well.”

 

On whether that was evident from the beginning with Morrison:

“Yes, that’s something you see pretty quickly. You can coach through reading the power and seeing the counter, knowing when it’s a boot and when it’s not a boot, and when it’s a neck and when it’s not a neck. Some guys naturally have that and some guys you can teach through that.”

 

On changing reps for Ball and Kitchens due to Morrison’s return:

“We’ll work through the week, but Neiron Ball and Mike Taylor are playing extremely well. I’m hoping to get Darrin Kitchens back Wednesday. He’s going to play this weekend, I do not that, I just don’t know how many reps he’s going to be able to take this week.”

 

On Valdez Showers’ impressive offensive career in high school factoring into this year’s move to offense:

“That was the whole decision in putting him back over there. I said after the game, that during our first season when Jeff (Demps) and Chris (Rainey) would get banged up, and I think it was the Auburn game, Mike Gillislee was banged up, we thought about taking Valdez out of his redshirt and putting him at running back. For whatever reason, we ended up not doing it. Watching his film from high school, I always had it resonate in my mind that he was a guy who was pretty special with a ball in his hand and could do a lot of things that were very natural to him. When I first approached him in fall camp about possibly moving over he was all for it. He’s all about helping the team; whatever I can do to help the team is exactly what he said to me. I said I think right now you can help us more at running back. There was no question that he could compete for the starting job at safety, but we were going to create a role for him on offense and give it a couple of days. After two days on offense, he was very natural with it.”

 

On the team’s conditioning in relation to the heat:

“Outstanding. I’m very pleased with our conditioning. I think in the last two season openers in pretty hot conditions, we didn’t have one IV. I think that says a lot about the work through camps and the job that Jeff Dillman and our strength staff do. They’re outstanding; they did a fantastic job.”

 

On what types of challenges Miami QB Stephen Morris presents:

“He’s experienced, number one. Even though they recently hired James (Coley), they kept intact a lot of things they were already doing offensively. I think he’s very accurate with the football and I think he takes the ball to the right spots. He gets the ball in the playmakers’ hands, he makes really good decisions about where to take the ball and he makes quick decisions. He’s got a very quick mental makeup as far as where to take the football. I think he’s one of the better quarterbacks in college football.”

 

On how the three years Trey Burton and Jeff Driskel have had together affects their play:

“I think certainly, when you have a rapport with someone on the offensive side of the ball, you are able to feel their presence and feel what they’re thinking without making a gesture or hand signal. At times, you understand what they’re thinking. I don’t think there’s any question as we move forward with those guys, and the younger guys coming along, that will continue to develop with others.”

 

On the benefit of receivers seeing the same thing as the quarterback:

“It’s huge. I think Jeff (Driskel) and Quinton (Dunbar) have a very good bond, as far as that’s concerned. Certainly, Trey as well, and those younger guys will continue to develop that. There’s no question how critical it is when they have that comfort level with each other.”

 

On how Gideon (Ajagbe) has emerged as a full back:

“Moving Gideon to full back has been another really good move for us. He showed you Saturday that he catches the ball extremely well and blocks extremely well. He blocked the power very well several times in the game and he blocked the counter well to seal the backside on a couple of big runs that Mack (Brown) had. He’s been a huge addition for us. The thing about Gideon is he’s got length. He can play the full back position, but he can also be moved to the tight end for us, which he didn’t play as much Saturday because of Hunter (Joyer)’s situation. When Hunter gets back, we’ll be able to use Gideon as a move guy who can create leverage on formations, which is going to help us in the run game with what we’re trying to do. He does a nice job of denting the edge as far as leveraging some formations for us with Hunter still at the full back position. So putting those guys on the field together will help us a lot.”

 

On Hunter Joyer’s status for this week:

“We feel like he’ll be back. He had missed some reps Monday and Tuesday last week with a hamstring, was limited Wednesday, felt a little better Thursday and then we got in the game and he tightened up a little bit. We feel like he should be fine this week.”

 

On if there is a plan to run Valdez Showers up the middle:

“We use him in a lot of different roles, as far as playing in the slot and playing out wide, trying to create some matchups with him. It’s always difficult for a defense coach on how to count that guy; is he a running back, is a slot receiver, how are they going to utilize him this week? We try to create a little confusion for the defense in using him as a back, but also being able to use him in other ways. He can run the power or the counter just like the other backs can do.”

 

On worries regarding communication on the road:

“We work crowd noise every day at practice. In camp, we went to crowd noise sometime around practice five purposely because of the environments we’re going to go into. I think it heightened some players’ awareness to communicate better by signal. That’s something we use regardless of where we’re playing that week. We use it for our offense, defense and special teams. For special teams, we use it on punt, which Leon Orr did a fantastic job the first time we had to punt, they were in an overload situation, he completely checked it and went to a different position. That’s something we work on all the time. We’ll work it this week, we’ll work it every week and we’ll work it in the off week. That’s just something that we do. I think as far as going on the road, you’ve just got to really rely on your older players to help your younger players understand when there’s time to focus and when there’s time to have fun. The good teams I’ve been around, they know when to have fun and when to focus.”

 

On Kelvin Taylor’s progression:

“I think his role will continue to develop through the season; we’ll see how much as we move forward. He’s a natural runner, he’s got really good vision, he’s just got to continue to do some of the other things you do at running back. We’re excited about him. From spring to now, there’s a night and day difference. There’s no question you continue to see the improvement. Look at Matt Jones from last year, he was a guy early in the year who did some nice things for us and then hit a little bit of a freshman lull. I asked Matt last week in front of the whole team, for the benefit of the freshmen and the young players, what was the difference in him playing later in the year and being more productive. He laughed and said ‘I was able to stay awake in the meetings, I practiced harder, I knew what to do in practice, I executed my assignments and I gave the coaches the confidence to play me.” That was totally him, I just asked him, and like Matt usually does, he said the exact same thing you want him to say. My point being, for the young players, was that if you don’t know what to do and you’re going to struggle to know your assignments, you don’t give us confidence from Monday to Thursday. With a younger player, you’ve never seen them do it on that stage. Some of the older players, I can deal with them busting an assignment on Tuesday, because I’ve seen them do it on Saturday afternoon. I am young, but I am old fashioned and you will play like you practice.”

 

On how much Gator fan support he expects this Saturday in Miami:

“We’ve got great support down there in south Florida, and we’re looking forward to going down and seeing the Gators.”

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