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Monday September 16, 2013Quotes From Will Muschamp's Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ Southeastern Conference opener against Tennessee (3:30 p.m. on Saturday at The Swamp).

 

Opening Statement:

“Just to recap a little bit of the Miami game, obviously I was disappointed in how we started the game defensively. You give up a 52-yard touchdown pass, which is one of the four big plays we given up this season, you create momentum in the game, especially on the road, for their team; that wasn’t good. We gave up 14 points on turnovers, we had five in the game, including a turnover on downs. The things we go back in the off week and look at, things that we obviously need to improve on, taking care of the football is one of them. We’re 4-of-12 scoring touchdowns in the red zone for the season and 6-of-12 scoring points. You end every possession with a kick and you’ll win the game. So, that’s something we’ve obviously looked at. Turnover margin for the season, we’re -4 and that’s why we’re sitting here 1-1. So taking care of the football, creating some opportunities in the red zone, doing some things defensively, working in the off week Monday and Tuesday strictly on us and then started on Tennessee on Wednesday and Thursday, and the staff recruited Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

 

“We’re excited about starting the SEC schedule with Tennessee. Butch Jones is a guy that I’ve got a lot of respect for; he did a great job at Cincinnati. They’ve got an up-tempo offense and 139 starts on their offensive line; this will be the best offensive line we will face this year. Our guys felt that way last year after we played them. Defensively, they’ve got eight starters back, they’re an over and under team, they’ve simplified some things they’re doing defensively and A.J. Johnson led the SEC in tackles.

 

“As far as injuries are concerned, Jeff (Driskel)’s knee is fine and he should be good to go; Marcus Roberson should be good to go; Jon Halapio will start at right guard, with his peck he looked good last week; Tyler Moore was the only injured player that probably would have missed this weekend had we had a game, we feel pretty good about him and he probably won’t practice today as we’re hoping to get him back Tuesday or Wednesday; Nick Washington is having surgery on his shoulder today. That’s kind of where we are injury wise, but we feel like everybody should be good, Tyler (Moore) is the only one who is a bit questionable right now but I hope to get him back for some reps Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.”

 

On injuries affecting the depth of the offensive line: “Well that’s part of it, Jason, that’s why you recruit, that’s why you have to have depth on the offensive line, we’re certainly further ahead than we were two years ago, I can assure that.  But you know, Chaz [Green] is a guy that’s started, I don’t know, close to maybe 20 games at right tackle for us, and you lose him.  At one point in the Miami game you have Jon Harrison down, Max [Garcia] is down, and D.J. Humphries is out.  And so, you know, we’re struggling moving the deck chairs there so to speak.  So it has been frustrating, but to get Jon [Harrison] back will be good from a leadership standpoint, and I mean he’s a really good quality football player and that certainly will be an added boost for us.  But you know, I think, again, we’ve done some good things on the offensive line, and I think considering some of the circumstances of it I’m somewhat pleased.”

On Jon Harrison’s injury being an ongoing issue: “I don’t think so, I think the week off helped him, he had some soreness and some tightness in the knee and certainly it’s a long season and I felt like we wanted to pull him at the time.  But you know, it is what it is if that situation occurs, then Max Garcia goes to left tackle, and Ian [Silberman] goes to left guard, and we’ll move forward.  We’re prepared for that to happen, but I don’t think it will be an issue moving forward.”

On eliminating turnovers and Jeff Driskel’s confidence: “I think his confidence is fine, I think obviously he forced one ball in there, that he knew he should have thrown the ball out of the endzone and kicked, you know, played for the points there.  I think, you know, Jeff, had a, we call it a disco route to Quinton Dunbar that he missed a little bit, was high on that and it probably would have been a touchdown.  Had two shallow crosses to Demarcus [Robinson] that we’d like to have back.  The one deep ball to Quinton [Dunbar] probably shouldn’t have been thrown, but you know, there was four or five plays in the game that he would have liked to get back; but he also made some nice plays.  He made some really nice throws on third down, he stood in the pocket on a seam throw to Quinton [Dunbar] and got smacked in the chin and made a heck of a throw.  He was very accurate with the football, we had two drops, so with the two drops, you’re 24 of 33, and you feel a little differently about it if you take care of the ball in some situations.  But he knows that, he knows he can’t force the ball Soloman [Patton] on that situation there, and we have to just move forward and learn from that, and I think that’s what we’ve done.”

On ball security being a theme at practice: “That’s always a theme… it’s the same at every practice.  We practice it every single day offensively, we take all of our defensive players that are returners and they do it every single day.  So it’s nothing that’s new, it’s something we’ve talked about constantly, we emphasize it, we take pictures of it, there’s been no new emphasis on ball security that we haven’t talked about before.  We were very good last season in ball security other than one football game.  And this past year, and now this year, we’ve had an issue last week, obviously.  So we’ve got to move forward, we’ve got to create more turnovers defensively, and create more momentum for our football team.”

On why players feel there is an added emphasis on ball security: “Well I think obviously when you turn it over five times, to self-evaluate, there’s an issue.  So that’s something, that I don’t know that it was emphasized any more than it always is at practice.”

On production from the tight end position: Well we’re going to throw it to guys that can make plays, you know, our receiver position had 19 receptions.  I think Quinton [Dunbar] had seven, Soloman [Patton] had six, and Trey [Burton] had six.  Last year, by design, Jordan Reed was our leading catcher because he was a playmaker.  So we’re going to circle guys that are going to make plays, yards after catch, and that’s not been a strong point of that position at this point.  So we’re going to get the ball more vertically to our receivers down the field, we had nine explosive passes in the last ball game, which is good, and we’re going to throw it to the guys that can make plays.”

On the possibility of Tyler Moore’s replacement if his injury lingers: “Trenton Brown or Kyle Koehne can play right tackle.  Kyle’s played a bunch for us last year at right tackle, hasn’t done as much this year, did a little bit in the game when Tyler [Moore] came out last week, and then Trenton [Brown].  We put a huge point of emphasis for him last week, to continue to take steps forward mentally as much as anything.”

On most important defensive statistic to look at: “Scoring defense is the only thing I care about; winning the game.  And I think you have to do what you have to do to win games, and scoring defense is critical.  Obviously third-down defense is critical, does that equate to scoring defense?  A lot of times it does.  The one touchdown that wasn’t off a turnover was a third-down conversion on third and four was the one we gave up against Miami.  So I do look at third down conversions, I’m not trying to say it isn’t important because it is; but scoring defense and winning the game is what I’m worried about.”

On the possibility of scoring big against a Tennessee team that gave up 59 points to Oregon: “We just need to take care of Florida.  And we’ll get Tennessee’s best effort, and Oregon’s got a good football team, so we just need to take care of Florida and start the SEC schedule, their tempo and momentum will be a lot different walking in there I assure you that.  They have eight starters back, guys that have played a lot; [Daniel] McCullers inside is a hard guy to move, I don’t know about [Maurice] Crouch’s situation; but he’s a good inside player.  Corey Miller on the edge, Jordan Williams, those guys are all guys who can rush off the edge, A.J. Johnson is a guy that has played a lot of football, Curt Maggitt has been injured, but we expect him to be back.  So again, you have a lot of seasoned guys that have played a lot of football for them, and I’m sure they will play well.”

On the state of the offensive identity being where it should be: “No, we’re 1-1, so it’s not where we need to be… as a team.”

On the outlook of the team besides ball security: “Well I think, you know, we didn’t have any explosive runs, we had two for 12 yards against Miami, which is a little uncharacteristic for us, we’ll normally break off a 30 or 40 yard run at some point to loosen up the defense, and we were unable to do that, that was disappointing.  Our production in the red zone has been not what we need it to be, and ball security.  Those have been the things I’ve been disappointed with.  As far as explosive plays in the vertical passing game, I’ve been pretty pleased last week with nine.  We had an opportunity against Toledo for another one that was dropped on a well-thrown ball.  So those are things that I think we’ve improved at, but obviously the turnovers are killers for us right now.”

On decision to start Jaylen Watkins at safety: “Well you just can’t give up big plays.  We can’t afford to have that happen, we’ve got to tackle better in those situations, and Marcus [Maye] knows that.  Jaylen has played well at safety for us, he will still play some corner, but he’s a guy that covers well.  This will be mostly a sub game and nickel and dime personnel, so we need to get in some situations where we get our best cover people on the field.”

On defensive capabilities: “Starting the game faster, mental quickness as far as adjustments in the game and understanding that at Florida the way we play defense here, somebody is going to do something different to you.  We expect that instead of being shocked by it; I think we’ve tackled decently well in the first two games, for the first leadoff games.  Create more turnovers, we only have two turnovers for the season.  So I think there’s a lot of things just fundamentally technique-wise that we can improve on, those are things we’ve pointed out, and that’s why they’re saying that because they see the same things we do.”

On Matt Jones taking a while to become comfortable in the game again: “Sure. I mean that’s part of it, still he’s a good football player, and you put him in those situations to play well.  And he’ll play well, he’ll be fine.”

On Florida-Tennessee being a prominent rivalry in the 90s: “It’s still a huge rivalry, it’s still a very important game to the University of Florida.  There’s no question because of the prominence that both schools had in the 90s, it was a leadoff game for CBS it seemed like every single year, so there’s no question it’s got great, great history.  It’s a huge game for both teams.”

On Matt Jones’ evolution following the Miami game:

“I think he had a really good off week and worked extremely hard. Again, it was the first game for him, which was the best part of it, and then coming off the issues he had medically; I feel good about where he is right now.”

 

On what Vernon Hargreaves III is doing well:

“The first thing is he’s really smart. He’s a guy that really works at the game, he comes and he watches a lot of tape. There’s a reason why he’s playing well, he’s a guy that’s blessed with a lot of athleticism, but he works at the mental side of the game. For a lot of young players, it’s very hard because they’ve been so much better than everybody else and they think that with their athleticism they’re just going to beat the opponent because they’ve always been better. That’s not have he has approached it. He’s come in and worked extremely hard, very similar to Marcus Roberson as a freshman. We’ll play freshmen when they’re ready and this guy’s ready, that’s the bottom line. He’s been productive at practice, he’s been productive in games. I’m young, but I’m old-fashioned that it doesn’t just snap on game day and all the sudden it happens that the guy plays really well. Vernon produces in practice every single day going back to camp, day one all the way through when he was injured, then he came back off his injury and was productive again and he does it on game day. That’s why he’s playing and is a guy that’s going to be in the rotation as far as starting.”

 

On how often the depth chart comes up during recruiting:

“More than you’d think. Just as far as ‘what is my opportunity to play?’ I think it’s pretty well outlined for a young man that we’ll give you an opportunity, but you need to take advantage of it. Vernon (Hargreaves) wasn’t a guy that was real concerned about the depth chart. He had a lot of confidence in his ability to come in here and play right away.

 

“That’s a great thing, it shows his confidence. In order to play corner, especially the way we play, you better be a confident guy and it shows confidence in his ability. He’s very comfortable in who he is and in his ability.”

 

On the chances of seeing Steve Spurrier as an honorary Mr. Two Bits this year:

“You’d have to ask him that, I have no idea. I don’t think he’d do it personally, but you may want to ask him. I’d be all for it, I’d like to see it actually.”

 

On the offensive change for Tennessee from last year:

“They were very successful running their system at Cincinnati and they’ve been very successful doing that they do. It takes that time to install offensively, schematically and philosophically what you want to do and who you want to be and that’s what they’re going through right now.”

 

On Florida’s affinity to start freshmen at cornerback and whether it’s an easier position for freshmen to pick up:

“I think it all depends on the scheme and the system and obviously it depends on the player. When a guy is ready to play, we play him. I think you look at D.J. Humphries, last year he started for us at left tackle, Matt Jones started for us at running back in the later part of the season, Antonia Morrison at linebacker, Dante Fowler at defensive end, Jon Bullard defensive end started some games, Marcus Roberson, Vernon Hargreaves; I mean the proof is there, if a guy is ready to play, we play him to give us an opportunity to be successful. At the corner position, I wouldn’t point to a position, but I’ve always said I feel like it’s easier to play if your position’s further away from the ball; you’re athleticism takes over more. Certainly, Vernon (Hargreaves) has earned the opportunity to play and play more.”

 

On Antonio Morrison’s first game back:

“I think he was okay, I think he was solid. It was a typical first game. I think he did some good things for us and there was nothing that he hurt us in. I think he’ll continue to improve and get better.”

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