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Will Muschamp spoke with the media on Monday.

Monday September 1, 2014Muschamp's Monday Press Conference Video and Transcription

Gainesville, Fla.

Will Muschamp spoke with the media on Monday.

Florida Gators head football coach Will Muschamp spoke with the media on Monday about the Idaho game, this week’s contest against Eastern Michigan and more.

Opening statement…

We went ahead and practiced this morning to go ahead and get it in. We felt like since we hadn’t really worked since Thursday to go ahead and practice. We started as a team and watched all the plays from Saturday night. Took a long time. Jarrad Davis got the Hard Hat Award. He did. He made a great block on the kickoff return as an outstanding job by Marcel Harris sealing the edge, Valdez bouncing it. Andre put a devastating block on their kicker and we were able to get the ball down the sidelines, so very well executed.

We’re extremely disappointed we didn’t get to play as a team, as a fan base. There’s no question we’re all frustrated with that. The anticipation of the game was huge from a standpoint of, you go through Gator Walk and the fever pitch was high, the stadium when we came out in pregame was electric. We had a two and half hour delay and when you come back out, it’s unbelievable the fans that were there and as loud as it was and it excited our guys. We can’t thank our fans enough. It was absolutely amazing, the people that were there and there was still a bunch there and it was loud and it was electric and it was fun and we’ve got to do it again at 4 o’clock on Saturday for Eastern Michigan.

To put things in perspective a little bit for everyone, between the hours of 5 o’clock that afternoon and 11 we had 1,100 strikes of lightning within a 6 to 8 mile radius of our stadium. We had two and a half inches of rain between 5 and 11 o’clock and the last strike of lightning within 6 miles of the stadium was at 12:38. So it was an issue of not just the playing condition of the field which was awful, but we had lightning all over the place. It was going to be very difficult to be able to get the game in. When you get in the situation that once the game starts, that goes to the referee’s decision and the right decision was made.

At the end of the day it comes down to the welfare of the student-athlete. The playing condition issue, it was not what it needed to be and the lightning was everywhere. The game, it is what it is. I’ve never been a part of anything like it. That’s what happened. Again, we’re all disappointed. Some people are upset, I certainly understand that. At the end of the day it comes back to the welfare of the student-athlete. That’s the most important thing.

We did have Darious Cummings and Jay-Nard Bostwick suspended for the first game for a violation of team rules. They will be back this week with us. They’ve not just as far as a suspension of a game but they’ve had a lot of other things from me as well as Demarcus Robinson who had a university sanction that’s been resolved. Thomas, you asked me last week if he had handled all of his business from the year before and he had. This is a totally separate issue. Moving forward having those three guys back.

Injury wise Marcus Maye practiced today. He’s probably 80-85%. We’ll see how he continues to progress throughout the week.

We’ve got Eastern Michigan coming in. They won Saturday night. Chris Creighton is their new head coach from Drake. He did an outstanding job there. They got 17 starters back. They hired Kalen DeBoer from Southern Illinois as an offensive coordinator. They had 86 snaps Saturday night, a lot of tempo on the ball. They’re a run and play action team. Tyreese Russell is a tight end, is an outstanding player, a vertical threat down the field, he’s a good blocker. He does a lot of nice things defensively. They’re an odd structure, a little under quarters team, their special teams are very aggressive, blocked a punt for a touchdown Saturday night and blocked a field goal, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

Again, it’d be our first game. They say you make the most improvement from game one to game two, we’re still in game one. We’ve been through pregame and all that other jazz. We’re ready to go as far as that’s concerned. We’re ready to get rolling Saturday afternoon that’s for sure and I’ll open it up for any questions.

On whether he had been a part of something like this before as a player or coach…

Nowhere close, but in ’03 at LSU we opened the year with Monroe, and we were on the field for maybe 7 or 8 plays and we were back off for I want to say it was an hour and a half. We came back and finished the game, so that was the only thing that even would be remotely close to this situation.

On the locker room atmosphere during the delay…

It was electric. The guys were jacked. We deal with this a lot, especially this time of year practice wise. So our guys understand to shut it down let’s get it back going again. That’s what we do. That’s not a big deal to our staff or coaches or our players.

On whether this experience qualifies as adversity that UF has to overcome…

Not really. Again, I think we deal with this a good bit at this time of the year, so it’s not a huge issue to us as a team. When we blow the horn they know we’re going in and there’s not anyone looking around like ‘what are we doing.’ They understand the issue. But I wouldn’t classify this an adversity that’s something we’re going to face during the season.

On what the coaches and players did to pass the time during the delay…

When you don’t know when you’re coming back, you don’t want to get back and stale your players and continue. We felt like if we were watching, I watched the radar a lot, so we’re watching the radar, we’re figuring out when it’s pushing through. The issue we had, it got right over us and stopped for a long time. When there were times we thought we were going back out I had the coaches back in positionally go over reminders about the game plan, get their minds back on it, back focused. I felt like our guys were extremely focused the entire time. Restless to the point at the end there around 10, 10:30 after being on the field once, coming back off. Again I felt we handled the situation very well, very maturely.

On how did the players reacted when they found out the game was terminated…

Very disappointed. They were upset. You put in a lot of work and there’s a lot of build up for your opening kickoff. Certainly a lot of disappointment and frustration but I told them we’ve got to tee it up again this Saturday. That’s part of the deal.

On whether Coach Muschamp implemented a dress code for the team for the Gator Walk…

Well, I always say it’s a business trip. You don’t wear warm ups to a business meeting, do you? So we’re going to dress a little nicer, try to at least.

On the fans support the team all day…

It was great. I think our fans have always been great, though. We’ve got to give them something to be great about. That’s on us. And I think this team will.

On how much the thought of potential injuries entered his mind when he saw the field conditions…

Certainly it’s always in the back of your mind, but regardless of what happened the previous year, when our grounds people were talking to the head referee, and they just didn’t feel like it was safe for the student-athlete, when you hear things like that and you talk in terms of as damp, as drenched as the field was on the one kickoff that we all saw, if you see the replay of it you see water going everywhere. Then let’s think about 60 to 65, 80 scrimmage snaps and what it’s going to look like and the type of footing you’re going to have. It just wasn’t a safe environment for our players. That’s our job as administrators and coaches. We want to do what’s best for the student-athlete.

On whether the three individuals who were suspended would be forced to sit out the game if it gets rescheduled…

I can’t even answer that question, number one. We don’t know the situation of the game right now.

On the official reason for suspending the game being the field conditions….

There was also lightning all throughout the area. We weren’t going to be able to get back on the field. If we were, we had another lightning strike at 12:30. So what are you going to do?

On whether he talked to his kickoff return squad about the dangerous field conditions…

Obviously, just to look at the field, I didn’t need any input about the condition of the field. Before we went out for it I was concerned about the condition of the field. Then when we came back off, it opened up again. So even more rain was on the field after we had gone through and our grounds people went and checked the field and they didn’t feel like it was safe. But the lightning was the other issue. It wasn’t just one thing.

On whether the game could’ve been restarted before midnight due to SEC rules…

I believe there’s an SEC rule but I’m not positive. I can’t comment on all the rules. They had a book that thick they were reading through and I was just watching the radar.

On the lightning strikes after midnight that prevented the game from continuing

There were lightning strikes at 12:38 was the next one that happened after I think it was 11:28 or 11:30 so we probably would’ve gotten an hour in and probably would’ve been off the field again.

On the importance of having a bye week before the Georgia game…

Well I think both teams have a bye week so it’s important for both teams, but again, other than having an opportunity to prepare extra for an eastern division opponent, nothing more than that.

On the fans and students that stayed throughout the entire delay…

It was awesome. Absolutely. They looked like they were having fun and we needed to go put a good product on the field for them. That’s what we need to do and I told our football team that this morning.

On the team’s excitement when they ran out of the tunnel to warm-up…

These guys have been pretty mature in their approach to everything they do. They’ve done everything we have asked them to do. They don’t complain, they work hard and they work well together. They enjoy being around each other and they enjoy playing with each other. We haven’t played a game yet, so it’s hard to sit there and talk in terms of facing some adverse situations, which we are going to face. Whether it is this Saturday, or on down the road, it’s going to happen. All the signs are very positive for me, and I feel really good about where we are and the leadership that we have.

On Monday’s practice…

Well they thought we were going to go this afternoon but we sent them a message that we are going to go this morning, but they came in here and everybody was ready to go.

On the potential of playing nine consecutive games…   

I haven’t even really thought about because I’m going to control the controllable’s. Right now, I have zero control of that situation. Once I am told whatever we are going to do, we are going to go after it full speed.

On whether he has a preference if the Idaho game is made up during the bye week…

I do not have a preference. I’m going to do what I am supposed to do, and that’s help coach and develop this football team. That’s really all I can do right now.

On what the first play call was going to be against Idaho…

We were going to run a run back power on the tight end side. We had a quick game off of it if they loaded the box. We will change it for this Saturday.

On Matt Jones getting the start at running back on Saturday over Kelvin Taylor…

Those guys are both going to play. They both have done a nice job and at the end of the day they are both going to get a bunch of carries. We’ve got great confidence in both players. In the package we were in, we had one back but there is going to be some packages with two backs and both of those guys are going to be involved. It’ll be a week-to-week deal. Really who prepares and practices the right way, which they both do, so it’s going to be a hard decision every week.

On whether losing this first game is going to set the offense behind…

You know, you’d like to be getting live bullets as there is no question that that is important. Young players, how are they going to respond? We are going to have some young players on that side of the ball. How’s our secondary going to respond? There is going to be some angst moments, with some young players in some tough situations. You don’t ever really answer some of those questions until you get in front of 90,000 people; until you get in front of band and all of the things that create anxiety. You don’t know how some of these young players are going to respond. We have young guys up front on both sides of the ball. As far as functioning with our top 15 or 18 on offense, I feel very comfortable where we are. The young players that are going to be contributing are more than ready.  I think C.J. Worton is a very mature young man, I think Brandon Powell is a very mature young man, I think Treon Harris is certainly ready for the opportunity, I think Will Grier will be ready for the opportunity and I think David Sharpe is going to be a really good football player. So, as far as young players playing on that side of the ball, I’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys. You all have heard me say it a bunch of times, playing as a freshman has much to do about maturity as it does about ability. And all those guys are mature young men.

On how the learning the offense in the spring is paying off now…

I think we are where we need to be as far as right now. There is not as many questions marks as maybe I thought, for me, going into the season that there would be positionally. Schematically, I think we have answers for a lot of different things, so I feel very comfortable with where we are. Again, we haven’t done it against an opponent yet and have to see how that goes.

On whether the No. 2 QB battle is open this week and where Treon Harris ranks…

Sure, I mean right now if we were to play tomorrow, Treon [Harris] would be the backup. But today, both Will [Grier] and Skyler [Mornhinweg] got reps at practice with our first [team] offense. We will evaluate the tape from today and move to the next day and continue to do that throughout the season. I think it’s important for those guys to stay game ready.

On whether he watched the South Carolina vs. Texas A&M or Tennessee vs. Utah State games this past weekend…

Not Tennessee, but I did watch South Carolina a little bit on Thursday night.

His thoughts on the Texas A&M vs. South Carolina game…

Both offenses moved the ball, there were a lot of big plays involved. The young quarterback for Texas A&M (Kenny Hill) played extremely well on the road, a tough place to go play. They looked really skilled throwing the football [and] they looked really good up front offensively. I know Steve [Spurrier] and them [South Carolina] have some young guys on defense. You have to keep coming along. But again it’s a long season. It’s amazing, in one week everyone is ready to announce the top-4 and just cancel the season and just go to the playoff. We’ve got a lot of ball to play.

On whether his team was ready for the short kickoff to begin the game…

Yes, we did. With Andre [Debose] back you’ve got to be ready for all alternative kicks, squibs, and skies. I tell Coleman [Hutzler] all the time, I wouldn’t kick to him. I would kick away from the guy and make somebody else beat you. I think that we have to prepare for those each week. A surprise onside or all of those things of what I would call alternative kicks we have to be prepared for.

On who will be the starting punter…

Kyle Christy will be the [starting] punter, Johnny [Townsend] again, I even told our team Thursday and talked to them about everybody’s role within the organization. You don’t have to like your role, but you need to embrace it and if you don’t like it then do something about it. I asked our team, look at Kyle and Johnny; you make that decision because they are both really good players and there is only one punter. It’s not like there is another position where you can contribute on a coverage unit or return unit. I think some of our players talk about the running back position and some of the competition there and the receiver position, the linebacker position. When we are in nickel, only two guys can start. There are a lot of tough decisions we make. We make them for a reason, and for what’s best for the organization. We felt like Kyle was a little bit more consistent but certainly Johnny is more than capable.       

 

 

 

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