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Monday October 7, 2013Quotes From Will Muschamp's Press Conference

Gainesville, Fla.

Head Coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to preview the Gators’ upcoming game against LSU (3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.).

Opening Statement:

 “Just to kind of recap for Arkansas, it was a good team win. Explosives, we outnumbered them by 5, and turnovers, with 2 big ones obviously off the score and a fourth down stop. So if you outnumber them by 3 there and you get a double positive there, you’re going to win a lot of football games.

 

“Offensively, I thought we threw it well, I thought we protected well; we did give up 2 sacks, one was on a shot play down the field and it was a long developing route, so we put a lot on our guys in that situation especially against that front, as well as they rush the passer. Coming into the game, red zone 100% scoring before the half was huge; I can’t tell you how demoralizing that is for a defense, here you are in a 10-7 game and it was really executed perfectly by our offensive staff and Tyler (Murphy) directing our offense and getting us in a situation at midfield to give us some opportunities to throw the ball down the field and to have an open receiver, we had great protection on the play and then Solomon (Patton)’s yards after catch have been huge for us this season and making that play. And then to start the third quarter, we always talk to our players about the last 5 minutes of the first half and the first 5 minutes of the third quarter, finishing the half well and getting off to a good start, so offensively that was outstanding. We need to run it better; we need to do a better job inside of getting some movement in the run game. We need to improve on third down, which we’ve been very good offensively through the season. Player of the game obviously was Solomon Patton; he’s playing at a high level, creating plays after the catch. I thought that the touchdown in the third quarter was a perfectly thrown ball on his back shoulder, he rolls right out of it and gets a vertical move down the field; really well executed by our offense, we’re really proud of Solomon and how he’s playing. He’s a great young man, works extremely hard and really dedicated himself to developing as a receiver and certainly has given great results. Scrap iron was Max Garcia; I thought Max played well for us. Big plays, Trey Burton had two; Quinton Dunbar had two; Matt Jones, Tyler Murphy and Solomon Patton all had three. So it was good to get the explosive plays, seven of which were in the passing game, which was good.

 

“Defensively, I thought we affected the quarterback in the game, and I think we were very efficient on first and 10. I think when you play an offense like Arkansas, getting them in second and 7-plus is key. We were at a clip of over 70% of playing second and long. When you’re able to do that against an offense like that, it says some good things for what you’re doing. Player of the game was Loucheiz Purifoy, obviously made some big plays at the corner pressure and knocked the ball off the quarterback. We weren’t really playing very well defensively, third and 6, and he just leveraged the receiver perfectly and how he played the play and the ball was thrown a little behind the receiver, but it was a really nice play on the ball and obviously scoring. Ball hawks - Darious Cummings had a caused fumble on the shovel pass late, it was a really nice play on his part. Dante Fowler and Loucheiz Purifoy had two obviously, and Mike Taylor had the recovered fumble. Hard hat was Jarrad Davis, a young man that continues to progress well for us; he’s going to be fine this week, he had a cut on his cheek and they stitched it up and he should be good. But he’s a guy that’ll put his face in the fan I can assure you of that.

 

“Special teams, I thought our coverage units were very good, I thought we got down the field and did a nice job against Herndon, who’s a good returner. Specialists obviously need to improve, we didn’t field on punt, but we did have two very positive punt returns in Trey (Burton) with a 31 yarder to flip the field, which was huge for us. I think we’ve had good blocking on a lot of the return situations. We didn’t get an opportunity on kickoff return because their kicker was so outstanding, but again I think that we have to field that one punt there that really hurt us as far as field position is concerned. Getting Marcus (Roberson) back this week certainly will help, but the leading point getter on special teams was Jaylen Watkins. Watkins made a great tackle there on the kicking out of our end zone to keep the ball at midfield and the defense goes out and makes a stop there which is huge. And the hammer was Jeremi Powell, who is another guy that continues to contribute well for us on special teams.

 

“On to LSU, I’ve got great respect for the program, the team and their staff. They do an outstanding job offensively; they’re very balanced right now in what they do. Cam Cameron’s come in as offensive coordinator and has done an outstanding job. I think from the run game standpoint, obviously Les (Miles) being an offensive line coach, you see a lot of similarities, but where they’ve taken the next step obviously is in the throwing game. Zach Mettenberger is playing at a very high level, he’s completing 70% of his passes, but he’s so efficient and effective throwing the vertical balls down the field. He’s very accurate with the ball down the field, and that’s the one thing that jumps off at you when you’re watching the tape. LSU has two very talented receivers in Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham. Beckham is also the punt returner and kick returner and he’s averaging over 20 yards every time he touches the ball. I think yards after the catch is going to be critical with both of these guys, they do an outstanding job of attacking the football down the field, and getting vertical yardage after. So we need to make sure that we keep them cut off down the field and do a good job of keeping them leveraged in space. At the running back position they’re very talented with Jeremy Hill, Terrernce Magee, Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard. These are all guys that are going to be physical, they’re going to get the ball North and South, they do a good job of taking care of the football and they all have good speed. So they’re very talented at the receiver positions, quarterback positions, and running back and they’re big and physical up front. Typical offensive line from LSU; they’re going to get movement in the run game, they do a nice job in protection, but again, balance is the word you’re looking for. You have to try and make this a one-dimensional game as best you can, and understand they’re very effective at throwing the football and that’s where they’ve hurt some people. Defensively, I got a lot of respect for John Chavis, he’s been in this league for a long time. They’ve got a lot of young guys, but they’re very talented defensively. I coached at LSU; they can run, they can strike, they can play. They’re young right now, but they’re fundamentally sound, they play hard, they play fast, they play physical and that’s the type of defense we will see on Saturday afternoon. Special teams, I’ve talked about Beckham already, he’s got a punt return of 60 yards, and a kickoff return of 75. Colby Delahoussaye had a 49-yarder and is 7-for-7 with field goals. They’re very strong on special teams, which they always have been because they have good team speed. So we’ve got our work cut out for us over in Baton Rouge and we’re looking forward to it.”

 

On the Florida defense not allowing more than 20 points in 12 straight SEC games and what he attributes that to:

“I would attribute, first of all, the players. We’ve recruited well. We do a good job at developing our guys, whether it’s in the strength program, whether it’s coaching or whether it’s practicing the right way. I was telling someone the other day, the most pleasing thing is a little bit of the culture we’ve created. You have guys like Dominique Easley and then when Dante Fowler comes in your program and sees how Jon Bostic practices, he sees how Jelani Jenkins practices and he sees how Dominique Easley practices. The same goes for Jon Bullard, Antonio Morris, the young safeties and the young corners. Vernon Hargreaves sees how those guys prepare themselves each week. You take good talent and then guys are willing to have that blue-collar mentality and work hard at it and come together for a common purpose. You can do some good things and it’s probably a good mixture of all those things combined.”

 

You mentioned good versus good to someone else. In practice, is that a good key?

“There’s no question. You need to get scout teamwork from a standpoint of getting the looks that maybe our offense can’t give us. Whether it’s a motion, a shift, a run play or a pass concept or protection-wise  what they’re doing, but we work good on good every day. I just don’t know how you get better. Iron sharpens iron and you have to go against good people in order to do that. In our league, that’s what you’re going to face every Saturday. I think that is critical for you to continue to develop and improve in the season who’s on.”

 

On the differences in Zach Mettenberger’s play from last year:

“I just think he’s more effective in taking the football. He’s more accurate with the ball. I think he has a better understanding of the passing game. Obviously, last year being his first year as a starter. I think everyone matures at a different ages. I know we’re all in an instant coffee society; we want it right now, and that’s not always the way it is. Sometimes that happens with players. From a maturity standpoint, he’s playing at an extremely high level.”

 

On the team using the 2011 loss in Baton Rouge as motivation for this week:

“I think everyone is motivated differently, and if it motivates them then they certainly should. If they are a competitor it should. I know we have a bunch of competitive guys in the locker room. Some people don’t get motivated by negatives. They don’t want to think about that. They want to think about positive things. So I think everyone is motivated differently. Most competitors I’ve been around certainly would use that. I will.”

 

On what the issues were in the run game:

“Movement. Movement inside. We had a hard time getting their inside guys. They did a nice job scheming us a little bit on some things, but just movement inside. There wasn’t a whole lot of movement inside as far as what we were trying to do, we did bounce the ball on a couple runs in some situations to get some success, but you know, more than anything it was just movement inside.”

 

On seeing improvements in the receivers and the passing game:

“Oh absolutely. Again, looking at it defensively, you better account for Solomon Patton; Quinton Dunbar, who has made vertical plays down the field; and Trey Burton, who has been a guy that’s been in the intermediate zones as far as catching the football. So as you watch the tape, you’re sitting there thinking, we’re going to create some one-on-ones, we need to win those one-on-ones. And so, there’s no question that success in the explosive plays in the pass game will help our running game.”

 

On if it’s good to see veteran receivers succeed:

“Absolutely; no question. Again, we all mature differently, and I know we all want it now, we all want it to happen when they’re freshman in their first game, but that’s not always the way it happens. Solomon Patton is a great example of that, Tyler Murphy is a great example of that – of guys that when they get their opportunity, they cash in and they play well. And so, I’m extremely proud of those guys; but a lot of those vertical plays have happened when people outnumber us in the box. And so now we’ve been able to make some of those vertical plays, when last year we weren’t able to consistently do that.”

 

On profile of the Cam Cameron offense:

 “Well I think again, in the run game, you go back and he was at San Diego when I was at Miami, and then at Baltimore, the run game is very similar. And he and Les (Miles) go back a long way and I think obviously there are a lot of shared ideas in the run game as far as what they do. I think they’re very efficient in what they do as far as throwing the football and taking shots down the field and stretching the field vertically; it creates some intermediate throws, tailoring the offense to fit the quarterback, and I think that’s what he’s done a nice job of.”

 

On using his experiences of facing Cam Cameron in the NFL during this game:

 “It’s different players at a different level and it was a long time ago so, not a whole lot.”

 

On looking at Cameron’s NFL scouting to prepare for LSU:

“No, from a play-callers standpoint, you always want to see situational, what they look at, and those sort of things.”

 

On preparing for hostile environments:

“We pump in crowd noise every day. Defensively, when we play home games, we work on crowd noise because it’s hard for us to communicate defensively at home, which is a good thing. And then on the road we’ll work crowd noise with the offense today. We start crowd noise about the 5th practice of training camp. So our players start to feel comfortable being uncomfortable. And when you go on the road, that’s key. Quarterback play is going to be key; Tyler understands and knows that, but we don’t approach this game any differently than we do any other road game.”

 

On if environments are hostile because they have good teams in them:

“There’s no doubt. Normally who’s on the other sideline helps.”

 

On matchup between LSU receivers and UF defensive backs:

“There’s no question. Defensive football is a lot like war, if you line up in the same spot, you’re going to get blown up. So you got to be able to change some things up, play some split safety, play some middle field coverage, get your numbers right in the box to stop the run. But you can’t against a quarterback like Zach (Mettenberger) and the talents they have at the receiver position, so you have to be good at what you do.”

 

On improvement in red zone offense the past three weeks:

“Taking care of the football. If you end every possession with a kick, you’re going to win a lot of games. So I think we’ve been more efficient. We’ve worked in there a bunch in training camp, so I can’t sit there and tell you we spent more time in the red zone. We spent a bunch in training camp because that was a huge emphasis for us coming in to this season. But I think more than anything, just taking care of the football, making better decisions, so those would be some things that jump out at me off the top of my head.”

 

On Max Garcia having a good season:

“He is. Max is a smart guy. You know, our pass protection grades are pretty good with our offensive line, not so much in the run game, but Max (Garcia) is pretty solid all over. He was a guy that did a lot of things well for us. He can play left tackle, he can play multiple positions, he’s been a really good fit for us.”

 

On Dante Fowler’s personality:

“Well you know Dante’s got a great personality; he’s a lot of fun to be around, he’s a joy to coach, he’s always got a smile on his face and you can coach Dante hard. Guys of his caliber sometimes aren’t always as approachable in that situation, but he’s a guy that takes to coaching, he wants to be coached, he wants to be coached hard and when he makes a mistake, he wants to know what he needs to do to get better. He’s just a very coachable player. And that’s what makes him a very good player too. I mean God’s blessed him with a lot of ability, but the flip side of that is, the guys that I’ve been around that are really, really good, you can coach those guys. They’re willing to listen and they don’t think they’ve got all the answers; they understand that they have improvements to be made. Dante watches the film and he understands that good plays take care of themselves and negative plays are the things that need to be corrected. And he’ll correct them himself, but he also wants input.”

 

On Darious Cummings:

“Darious played very well. He really did. I thought he played blocks extremely well, he played square on the line of scrimmage and he got good penetration inside. Probably as far as our inside guys are concerned, he probably played the best game of our inside guys.”

 

 

On Les Miles throwing the ball more this year:

“Well I think good coaches do what it takes to win football games, and that’s what he’s doing right now. So, I think Les (Miles) is a good football coach, and I think they’re doing what they got to do to win football games. And obviously they have a strength at wideout, and at the quarterback position.”

 

On being surprised by how many points LSU’s defense has given up:

“I think everyone goes through that. They replaced a bunch of really good players that were seniors or came out early for the draft, and you see where all those guys were picked, they had a bunch of good players on defense last year. I’ve got great respect for John (Chavis) and the job he does. They’re young but they’re extremely talented; they run well, they play physical, they’re going to be fundamentally sound and we expect a good LSU defense on Saturday that’s for sure.”

 

On if Muschamp is okay with giving up 50 points in a win:

“As long as we win, I don’t care. Honestly. I got real caught up in all that stuff when I was a coordinator. When I’m a head coach, I want to win. If it takes 51-50, let’s go.”

 

Really?

 “Absolutely. And then we’d watch the film on Sunday and figure out what we need to do to get better. But I can tell you right now, I used to grab those stat sheets when I was a coordinator. Not anymore. There’s one stat that matters and that’s winning. Do what you’ve got do to win games. It’s hard enough on Saturday afternoon without worry about all that other stuff. Just do what you got to do to win.”

 

On being able to endure a 51-50 game:

 “Winning is all that matters.”

 

On Tyler Murphy’s leadership abilities after being a back-up:

“He’s got great respect from his teammates. Regardless of how much you’ve played or how well you’ve played, when you step into the role of quarterback at the University of Florida, you are a leader. Whether you are perceived that way or think you are, it doesn’t really matter. But he is. He’s a very well respected teammate.”

 

On whether Murphy confronts his teammates:

“No, but he was always that way even when he wasn’t the starter. He was always a guy that really understood what we were trying to do and was always very helpful to young players and gave them assurance of what we were doing and confidence. He’s always been that way. That makes him a good player.”

 

On Michael Taylor:

“He is a tenacious young man. Michael is around the ball a lot. Obviously, in our defense we try to clear some things up for the linebackers to make plays. He's a guy who is around the ball and has very good instincts, and when you're around the ball a lot is going to happen."

 

On Taylor’s personality:

"He's a very colorful young man. Probably the best way I can say it. Football is very important to Mike. He goes out and practices every day. He brings his heart out there and he works extremely hard, he's very smart, he understands our defense. We put a lot on the linebackers as far as making checks at the line of scrimmage. We had a void after last year and as a defensive staff we were concerned. Certainly he and Antonio (Morrison) have both filled that void very well."

 

On moving Jaylen Watkins and Cody Riggs from corner to safety:

“Both guys are really smart. Both are willing tacklers, which you’ve got to do in our league. Both guys can cover. So many guys now are building normal personnel groupings, 21 and 12, multiple tight ends and things, and building three and four open receivers. Your safety has got to cover. If you can’t cover and play in space you’re going to have a hard time. Both of those guys have really good man-coverage skills. They also have good zone instincts, as well. But we put a lot on our safeties. Those guys are really smart and get us in and out of the right stuff.”

 

On Jeff Driskel’s involvement with the team:

“Jeff went to the hotel with the team. He’s in the meetings every day. Doing as well as could be expected.”

 

On wanting Driskel on the road:

“We do. We haven’t gone as far as the travel. We haven’t gotten that far ahead. But having Jeff around, certainly Tyler and he have a great relationship, and anything that helps Tyler play well, we’ll do.”

 

On taking Driskel to LSU:

“I don’t know that he can travel. He still has a pretty large sized boot on his ankle. As far as a cast is concerned, traveling is kind of hard. But I’ll talk to him about it.

 

On whether taking Driskel to LSU would count against the travel roster:

 “No it would not.”

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