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Monday October 14, 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 Missouri (12:21 p.m. on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.).


Opening Statement:

“Obviously I’m disappointed with the loss. After going back and watching the film I feel no different than I felt Saturday after the game; we got beat on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, and any time that happens it makes it difficult to win football games. So, we didn’t run it consistently enough, I thought at times we had some creases and I think Kelvin (Taylor) did a nice job running the ball, but we only had one explosive run in the game. Against a defense like that you have to be balanced; you can’t get in situations that are obvious passing situations. They’re very athletic, and when they’re able to pin their ears back it’s difficult. We have to improve in the run game, obviously. Our protection was not as good as we’ve been; we gave up four sacks, and that falls on the offensive line, the running backs, the tight ends and the quarterback. As far as the protection is concerned, we had too many negative plays offensively. We have to create more explosives - on the road in that situation we have to create more positive momentum for our football team. We had them against Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee; we had 11 against Miami and didn’t take care of the football. But we’ve got to create more explosive plays offensively in both running and throwing the ball.


“Defensively, we lost it on the line of scrimmage. When you get behind the down-and-distance against a team like that, especially on first and 10, it becomes difficult to call the game from the standpoint of they’re able to create balance on you running it and throwing it. Third and 17 before the half was a killer; we got an opportunity there with 6 minutes left to go in the second quarter – it was a 7-3 ball game, not playing well, but certainly hanging in there and our effort was good, but that hurt as far as the momentum of the game changing there going into the second half. But our guys continued to fight, and we cut this thing to a touchdown game with 12 minutes to go; we just have to convert there defensively late.


“Special teams - we had two opportunities to pin them down in their territory in the field position game and we didn’t get it done. Johnny Townsend will punt for us this week at Missouri, we need to make a change there as far as we’ve been very inconsistent punting the ball throughout the season. Kickoff return, the one opportunity we had was blocked extremely well, executed extremely well, Solomon Patton did a nice job getting the ball close to mid field. I thought our punt coverage was solid and our kickoff coverage was solid; (Odell) Beckham, Jr. is an outstanding returner, and we bottled him up for the most part. But overall, I thought our effort was good, just physicality was not what it needs to be. It kind of flipped the script from last season when we ran for 180 yards and they ran for 40. So they sort of flipped the scripts on us as far as that’s concerned. So I’m disappointed; we just have to get our team better prepared on the line of scrimmage to win that game, and we didn’t do that.


“Injury news very disappointing - Matt Jones will be out for the season, he’s having surgery as we speak; we thought it was a sprain in the knee, turns out it was a torn meniscus, and he’ll definitely be out. Ronald Powell’s got an ankle, and we hope to get him back on Wednesday. I’ll know more in the next 72 hours, so we’ll see where the swelling goes and if he’s able to get it out of his ankle, so we’ll see where that goes. Other than that, just the normal bumps and bruises from any game, we may have some guys getting treatment today but everybody should be back practicing on Tuesday.


“On to Missouri, 6-0, top-20 football team, leading the SEC East. Gary Pinkel is a guy I’ve got a lot of respect for and a really good football coach. They went through their share of injuries last year on the offensive side of the ball, and it caused them to really struggle through the year. They’ve been able to stay healthy up until the last game. They’re very balanced offensively, averaging over 500 yards a game; they run it for 239 and pass for 276, 45 points a game, they’re over 50% on third down so they’re able to stay on the field. They have three really good backs, they lead the SEC in turnover margin, the defense leads the nation with 13 interceptions, they’re experienced on defense with six seniors, (Michael) Sam and (Kony) Ealy are two NFL-type defensive ends, both guys do a great job pressuring the quarterback and creating negative plays for them. We have to account for those guys - (Michael) Sam leads the SEC in sacks and tackles for loss and (Marcus) Murphy is a very talented returner in the return game and also couples as a running back for them as well. So again we got our work cut out for us going on the road to Missouri, not many Gators have been to Columbia, Mo. before and it’s an early kickoff. We’re looking forward to getting back on the field. As a competitor you always want to get back out and play again, and that’s what our guys are looking forward to.”


On the status of the running back position without Matt Jones:

“Well, Mack Brown and Kelvin (Taylor), and Mark Herndon would be our third right now, and we’ll go from there. Valdez (Showers) can take a larger role as a running back, not necessarily a slot guy as much. And Hunter Joyer could always be a one-back situational guy for us.”


On reacting to another major injury:

“I’m not trying to be hard-line here, but it’s just part of the game. You know, Matt (Jones) got to play six plays in the game, he got bent up on our sideline on a tackle and got his leg caught up underneath of him, and that’s when it happened. Very unfortunate; I hate it for Matt, he’s a great young man, and to go through what he’s been through this fall missing all of, most of fall camp, working his way back in shape, starting to feel good about himself as far as how he felt physically, mentally, and then to have this setback is disheartening for all of us. I mean again, we go man down, man up, and we get the next guy up, we’ve recruited well at the position, so those guys will get their opportunity and they need to be ready to go in all situations.”


On possibility of Matt Jones receiving a medical redshirt:

“I don’t know. We just got the news yesterday afternoon and Matt (Jones) was in surgery this morning. I haven’t talked to our compliance for anything at this point.”


On Kelvin Taylor’s improvements last week at practice:

“Assignment-wise and ball security - when you’re able to do those two things, you give us more confidence for us playing you in situations in the game. I thought he did a good job of that, and he deserved the opportunity. Regardless of the injury he was going to play in the game more than he had previously, and obviously the injury accelerated that.”


On issues stopping the run against LSU:

“Well, I think as much as anything, gap control, and when you play a team like that, you have to get off blocks. I mean you have to disengage and get off blocks, we got locked on blockers too much and didn’t disengage enough in getting off blocks and making plays. You can’t put a free helmet in the box every time against a team like that, which throws the ball as well as they do. So as much as anything, just sometimes when things aren’t going well, you need to fall back to your base fundamentals of striking the block, getting off a block and making a play. And that’s where some of our guys didn’t do as well as some others did and it ended up hurting us. It only takes one or two guys to get bounced out of a gap, not play the block the correct way and then you have a crease against a back like (Jeremy) Hill, who’s a really good player.”


On resolving pass protection issues before Missouri:

“Well I think again, we just have to communicate a little bit better on some things, and again it was across the board, it wasn’t just the offensive line. But just communicate a little better, sit a little better, hold the pocket a little bit better, be more firm in the pocket, not as much push in the pocket and there’s multiple things we can improve on from last Saturday.”


On how the running back blocking was involved in pass protection issues:

“There were some issues and we just have to clean them up.”


On less run-game production being due to injury or increased competition:

“I think that Arkansas is a really good front; regardless of what happened last weekend, they have some good front players. Certainly we knew all along going into Baton Rouge that LSU was going to play well defensively and charged up, and we felt that some other fronts that we played have been pretty good. So, you certainly credit them when they beat you and that’s what we’re going to do in this situation, but there are some things when we have a hat on a hat in some situations, we have to finish a little better as far as that - get on the edges of some people instead of down the middle of people. We had some productive run game; we averaged on first and 10, we ran the ball 17 times, we averaged 4.5 yards a carry. So, you’re battling for second and five which is good. We just have to be more consistent in what we’re doing; we have to create some more explosive runs. That’s been the biggest issue to me in the run game this season, we haven’t had as many explosive runs as we need to have and we have to continue to create that.”


On Tyler Murphy blaming himself for holding the ball too long:

“There were some things protection-wise and he could have re-directed some things. Again, he’s very hard on himself, as far as that’s concerned. But overall effort we just have to step it up at every position.”


On Florida’s issues being due to playing on the road

“Well we’ve been a good road team, so I don’t want to ever have a crutch for anything. We expect our guys to play well and we prepare them for crowd noise and playing in a different situation. And those are some things we expect to play well.”


On Missouri having a different quarterback having an effect on the game:

“No, he’s a very similar type based on the situations he’s been in. They’ll continue to have the same run game, they’ll continue to have some of the same quarterback run game and the quick pass game they use. They’re very talented at the receiver position and they’re very experienced at the receiver position. Other than (T.J.) Moe, they have the entire receiving core back from last year.”


On last year’s game being an indicator of how tough the game will be this year:

“Certainly, they’re playing very well. Last year they had a bunch of injuries on the offensive side of the ball, they lost half of their offensive line, they lost (James) Franklin for most of the year, they were banged up at running back and (Henry) Josey didn’t play last year for them. He’s a guy that’s back for them this year, he’s a really good player and their starter at running back. So they dealt with that. They’re a team that’s very explosive and it catches your attention when you turn on the tape on both sides of the ball.”


On possibility of coming closer to a 50-50 run to pass play selection:

“I think we’d like to be more balanced in that, but I think a lot of that goes back to we’re not getting explosive runs. That’s where we’ve been different - we haven’t gotten the long runs and that’s where we have to be different. Just take Saturday for instance, on first and 10 we ran it 17 times and we averaged 4.5 yards a carry; we threw it 7 times for 2.5. So you have to protect if you want to throw it every down. That’s something that was an issue Saturday, and that’s something we’re trying, obviously from a protection standpoint to make sure we were not going to give them negative plays in the way the game was being played. We needed to throw the ball better, absolutely. There’s no question.”


On frustrations having issues at kicker and punter:

“It’s part of the team, we have to punt the ball better. I’m very proud of Frankie Velez and the job he did coming in, and giving us some consistency; now you have to do it week-in and week-out. But I thought Austin (Hardin) kicked off well, so we’ll move forward with the guys that perform the best.”


On Frankie Velez being surprised at being used this week:

“Well again, we opened the competition the last two weeks, and the numbers speak for themselves. The previous week Austin (Hardin) had kicked the best, and they came out there and hit the low one against Arkansas, and we felt like we needed to make a change there, and gave Brad (Phillips) an opportunity. Then this past week, Frankie’s (Velez) numbers was the best. So we gave him the opportunity, I told him on game day ‘we were going to kick you today, let’s go do a good job,’ and he did.”


On changing approach due to field goals not being a sure thing:

“There’s no question it has changed our approach all season on some things. We’ve made some adjustments to that as far as going for it in some situations and maybe we wouldn’t have in the past. But I’ve got confidence in those guys, and again I don’t think it’s an abilities issue. Sometimes mentally you have to be able to overcome those things, and I’m very proud of Frankie (Velez) walking into that situation and kicking as well as he did.”


On saying the goal is to get to Atlanta, rather than Pasadena (National Championship):

“Well in order to get to Pasadena, you have to go to Atlanta first.”


On attributing Kyle Christy’s struggles to mental issues opposed to physical issues:

“I think so. We’ve looked at his swing and different things, and we’ve tried to continue to do so. We’ve looked at all of those things, we’ve tried to make some corrections as far as his drop is concerned, as far as the placement is concerned and as far as the swing is concerned; and it comes to a point where we have to see some production. And right now we’re just not getting it, and I think that Kyle (Christy) is going to be fine, we just need to work through this time.”


On Christy’s struggles being more frustrating due to how well he performed last season:

“Yeah it is. It’s very frustrating, as much for him as anyone. It’s not from a lack of work or lack of trying to get things right, there’s no question about that. So it’s just a matter of him working through this and us continuing to search for answers. If you continue to do the same things, you’ll get the same results.”


On starting out slow defensively:

“I’m just going back through my mind - Tennessee we started pretty good, I think Kentucky gave us a couple different things off the open week, we adjusted that out decently. Arkansas we got a stop there and on the second drive they hit us good a couple times. We do get some different things we have to adjust to in the game, that’s part of every game, especially if you’re playing well teams are going to do some different things to you, but I think it’s a mixed bag a little bit as far as the production early in the game.”


On being too aggressive or energetic defensively at the beginning of games:

“I think we’re locked in. I think what D.J. Durkin was saying was maybe a little over-excited to play the game, and calming down and getting our eye control right and our alignments and things. I do think that we’re playing some younger guys at some positions, and some new guys at some positions, so that’s been a little bit of an issue but not a terrible thing.”


On this being the toughest injury situation Coach Muschamp has faced:

“It is what it is. It’s unfortunate more than anything; I hate it for the young men. They put a lot of time and effort into playing this game and for that to happen…I’m disappointed for them first of all. That’s what hurts the most, to see guys go through the struggle and having to make that phone call and tell them what’s going on or having to walk them into that training room and tell them what’s happening. And that’s very frustrating for a young man as much time and effort as they put into it.”


On outrushing an opponent being an indicator of winning a game:

“I think that is because that means you’re winning the line of scrimmage, which generally means you’re stopping it on defense, stopping the run for the most part. If you look at the second half of the Arkansas game, we stopped their run and we created a one-dimensional game; we didn’t Saturday. So it speaks for itself being able to stop the run and being able to rush it to create balance for your offense.”

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