Sept. 12, 2011
"(Saturday) was obviously a dominating offensive performance. When you look at some of the key statistics as a team another game of 15 yards per attempt throwing the ball, 83 percent completion when you throw it 41 times - that's a big number. Ten out of 13 on third downs is another big number. Five of five touchdowns in the red area is a big number, and 34 first downs. It is hard to really say much other than I'm really proud of how those guys played. On defense it came down to what I said after the game: the two fourth-and-one stops and the goal line stand. If you look after the first two possessions they really had us on our heels. They came out in a lot of different formations that we hadn't seen. Our young guys were really struggling to line up and we didn't tackle well and it slowed us down. To their credit they settled down and the next seven possessions we held them to three points and that allowed our offense to pull away and that probably broke their spirit a little bit. Good special teams game - the kicking game was sound and we got another big play in the kicking game. It was great execution by Mike [Palardy]. We give players of the week and on offense this week we gave it to the unit because everybody just played so well. The line played great from a protection standpoint. The receivers played great, the quarterback played great, the runner ran. I think he probably had his best game running to me that he's had since he's been here consistently. So we gave it to the unit. We gave it to Malik [Jackson] on defense. He was pretty disruptive up front, and Mike Palardy on special teams. The only two injury situations we have right now - I know you guys are going to ask about Dallas [Thomas]. He sprained his knee; he should be fine. So we expect him to play - no issues there. Ben Martin kind of sprained his ankle. That's what took him out. He is day to day. Nothing major, nothing serious. That's where we are on that. Of course this team - we haven't won against [Florida] in a while. I think since 2003 down there, 2004 here. They probably have the most talented defensive line in the country, two big play makers on offense, and I would say probably the best special teams in the league as far as generating plays for them. They have been doing it for a long time. It is going to be a great challenge for our team. We will find out more about who we are this week and let's go play."
On the play of Tauren Poole and bringing a new attitude
"I think he did last week. I think he just really was less concerned with making the right cut and more concerned about running, getting your pads down and hitting it. There were about four or five times where he would put the brakes on looking for a move and he just put his pads down and got another four or five yards. That adds up over the course of the game and that's what I told him."
On a relationship with Will Muschamp
"Well, Will is a Georgia guy like me. We had a lot of mutual friends even before he and I became friends and of course our first time working together was in 2001 at LSU and we had a lot of success there the four years we were there together. I was there in 2000; he wasn't there with us in 2000 - we brought him on in 2001. We had a good run there and went to the Dolphins together. Like any assistant coaches, we were both coming up through the ranks as young coaches at that time so we had a lot in common and developed a relationship. He left a year early to go to Auburn, he left Miami and that was the extent of it. We stayed in touch and we talked quite a bit when he was at Texas and I was at Louisiana Tech and even last year we stayed in touch. We are good friends and professional competitors. He is going to want to whip me pretty good and I'm going to want to whip him pretty good - that how it goes."
On gauging Florida's offense with only two games of evidence under a new offensive staff
"We don't have a lot to go on because in both games they just overwhelmed their opponents and it's like watching a preseason game. I don't think they showed a lot. I know they are going to show a lot more against us. They are able to get two games under their belt and really not go into the deep end of their playbook. The game was over really early so they were able to get young guys experience. They are going to be fresh. They got their guy back off of suspension. We are going to have to be prepared for a lot more than what we saw in the first two games."
On preparing freshman for the trip to Gainesville
"This is going to be our first big test for a lot of reason. One is, of course, that you are on the road. Everything is different when you go on the road. It will be the first time these guys get on a plane for some of them. All of the routine is different. They won't be sleeping at the same hotel they are used to on Friday night. The meals are going to taste a little different. There will be a bus ride in the morning going to the game. Everything is different, so how you handle those things when you get out of a routine can affect you. The bigger thing on the road is when the other team is playing good and the team gets loud, we are going to have to work on things we have never worked on and don't have a lot of game-ready operation on it like silent snap counts and those kinds of things. It is going to be a challenge. All you can do - you have to go down there, you can't be scared and you have to be prepared mentally and you can't be held hostage to anything that has happened in the past. That's how we are going to approach it."
On being winless vs. the Gators since 2004
"It is only relevant if the team makes it relevant. I've said it all along: you can't be held hostage to the past. We played last year and we had a good game going and they whipped us in the fourth quarter. We had a couple of turnovers at a bad time. Then we got a bunch of different guys who didn't play in that game playing now. So for the bulk of our team, this is the first time they are starting against Florida and guess what - they have a lot of new guys too. That stuff doesn't matter unless you make it matter. If you make it matter, it matters."
On what a win at Florida would mean for rejuvenation of the program
"It's the third game; it's the first SEC game. We could win down there and then go get shellacked the next six weeks in a row or we could lose down there and then go play great six weeks. For me, I'm not like that. I don't believe in `If we win this, we are going to get hot and take off or if we lose, the season's over.' That has no place in my coaching. It is the next game and we are going to go play it to win. We are going to go do everything we need to do to try to win the game and if we don't, we are going to try to learn from it and try to get better the next week. If we do [win], we are going to see what we didn't do well, why we won, and then go try to duplicate it the next week. If you approach it any differently than that, you are going to be an emotional wreck I think."
On the different look of John Brantley in the Florida offense
"It is probably a lot more suited for him and of course Charlie is going to do a great job of utilizing the things he does well and minimizing the things he doesn't do as well like every player has. He has a lot of good coaches around him, he has big time playmakers around him and they are going to try to get it in their hands quickly."
On the leadership of Tyler Bray
"It starts with his play and it helps if you are going to be a leader, being able to walk the walk is important. He has certainly played two very good football games. That is the starting point. I think secondly that goes with that is he has put a big investment in trying to be good. You see it on the practice field, you see it in the time he's putting in outside of practice. When you are putting a lot of investment and you are committing yourself to being good and you are playing good then you have the ability to affect others in a positive way."
On the improvement of pass protection
"It is significantly better. That doesn't mean it's good and we really haven't been tested. We haven't played a great, great.... This is going to be a big test for our o-line. These guys across the board are as talented as any group in the country. They are good. Is it better? Yes, significantly better. We went through last game and barely got touched when we through it forty-something times. We are doing a better job, but we haven't seen a lot yet. It's two games, it's early. I told the team yesterday, `Part of me says we haven't done anything yet, and we haven't but we have. We took care of two opponents we should have taken care of and we did them the way Tennessee should take care of them.' And I told them, `That's good - it's a good start.' Now - what's next? That's what matters?"
On managing after Dallas Thomas left with an injury
"We are not as good as having Dallas in there. It is hard to really say because the game was a little out of reach and we were just able to protect him through it. When we lose anybody it starts stressing us. Especially up front."
On Bray exceeding expectations
"I don't want to put a measuring stick on what he is doing right now. It is not a time for reflection. We are still in the war so we don't want to sit back and reflect on how we are playing because you have to play the next week. I will tell you if he exceeded expectations at the end of the year, but he's playing well; you can't hide that fact."
On Florida's Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps putting pressure on a defense
"Speed. Speed. Speed. Fast and elusive. And they use them for their return game, they use them to block punts - they are all over the field. They are faster than everybody out there. They have playmaking ability, so that have that competitive character and want to make the impact play of the game. When you combine those two things - watch out."
On Brendan Downs' early impact at tight end
"It's the benefit of mid-year; we talk about it a lot. He was able to go through the off-season program with us, he was able to go through 15 practices in the spring and then he goes the summer program and all of training camp. Naturally, he's further along and it gives you that advantage. It's paid off for him. He had a good game; he's done a good job. He did well the first game too; made two big catches."
On the running game's importance against a team like Florida
"It just depends on how your throwing game is. If your throwing game is what it looked like last week, you don't need a lot of running game. But if your quarterback's getting hit, you're getting confused back there and the o-line's struggling to protect them, you've got to have a running game."
"That's why I'll always be a downhill, power-running team from Day 1. Because when you have short yardage - we saw it last week - you've got to be able to push them out of there and get a yard. When you're in goal line, when you're in four-minute - there are so many situations in a game where you have to run the ball if you're going to win. We're going to need it every game; last week was a rare deal. Any close game you're going to need it because of all the critical situations with the clock, taking the pressure off the quarterback. We've got to keep improving there."
On how the schedule has helped the younger guys
"Cincinnati was a good football team. And I only say that from a program standpoint - not that we're better, just as a program I think people expect that. We played a really good team and I think we played one of the best I-AA teams out there that is a lot better than some of these I-A teams.
"Now having said that, we didn't play Boise and South Carolina, Oregon - I don't know. I don't know what the hypothetical is, how we would have played, how we would have handled it. Who knows? Sometimes they grow up quicker than you think and sometimes you need some time to groom them in."
On if the game plan include taking the orange slacks down to Gainesville
"I don't know. That's the last thing I'm worried about. I can assure you the orange slacks aren't the reason we're winning."
On the punting situation
"Matt (Darr) hasn't performed the way he's capable but he's still our punter. He just needs to get out there and get some snaps. We only had one punt the other day and he didn't punt it very well. Right now he's our punter; but we still use (Michael) Palardy if I have that feeling. It's just I'm standing there and turn around to Coach (Eric) Russell and say, `Put Palardy in.' It's a feeling. I wish I could articulate why.
"The thing Michael has is he's experienced, and sometimes with the situation I say, `Let's put our more experienced guy out there.' We keep bringing Matt along and when I feel like Matt has a true comfort level of where he is as a punter, we move."
On the significance of tight ends making eight catches against Cincinnati
"Tight end is important. We used the tight end a lot last year, and we're going to keep doing it this year. I'm a tight end guy, (Offensive coordinator Jim) Chaney's a tight end guy - we like throwing to the tight end. It just takes some pressure off the perimeter. You ought to complete about 85 percent of them - just boom, boom, throw it to the big guy. And if he's a good player, he can make some plays for you. They are all a little different."
On the tight ends' importance as the defense focuses more on Tennessee's wide receivers
"I think it's important all the time. The more guys you have who are weapons, the harder it is on a defense. That goes without saying."
On Marlin Lane's ball-security issues
"I think it's being young. I don't think he has issues other than being young and doesn't have a lot of experience. He has some breakdowns in fundamentals. You get away with bad fundamentals in high school, and you don't get away with bad fundamentals in college. Rajion (Neal) was the same way - bad fundamentals with how you hold the football. They don't have issues. It's not anything that can't get corrected with experience and a belief in the importance of fundamentals. They will be fine."
On if you are getting what you wanted from Lane at punt returner
"Not right now, but we're going to have to go through growing pains with true freshmen.
On if Devrin Young will be available this week
"I don't know. We're going to x-ray him this week and we will see. He's getting close, though. If not this game then next game."
On if the second-half time of possession against Cincinnati was part of the halftime adjustments
"Not coming out of halftime, but when we pulled away - that first drive was big and we pulled away. And then we held them to that field goal and we were up more than three scores. At that point, I felt like we had to think about shrinking the game. We were a little more ball control and a little less shots.
"What you don't want to do is say, `Yeah, let's put 50 or 60.' But you also don't want to screw it up and turn the ball over like we did. Get out of the game and get the win. Once you get in that fourth quarter and you're up three scores - I guess I'm a little old school."
On how encouraged from being able to do that
"Very encouraged. But we had some long drives against Montana too, and we had them in the scrimmages; I've mentioned that. The thing you feel good about is we've shown an ability to do both - hit some quick-strike explosive plays and grind it out a little bit.
On upper-classmen and starters making a difference on coverage teams
"Yeah but we haven't been challenged yet, and this week we're going to get challenged. This is probably the best return group out there, with those guys. We've played well but we haven't had a big-time juice guy in the back with a team that has a lot of great skill holding us up. That combination, Florida's got. We will see how we handle it, and on the road."
On the premium that puts on being able to directional kick
"It's a play, and if the kicker doesn't execute the play like everybody else, you start bleeding a little bit and everybody's got to stop the leaking. Everybody's going to have to play well."
On the competition at fullback
"Ben (Bartholomew), right now, is the starter. Ben did a good job; I was pleased with him. It doesn't mean Channing (Fugate) is on the shelf; we going to still play Channing. Channing's still a good player, but it's good to have competition. It's a healthy thing on a team."
On the play of Maurice Couch
"Mo had close to 30 snaps and was disruptive; did a good job in there. He's getting better every week and I told you from Day 1 we're not disappointed in him. I just think he needs a lot of snaps. He's a junior college guy but he's got three years (remaining), and we forget that. He's a young juco guy."
On the team's goal line stands and fourth-and-1 stops
"What's encouraging is just an aggressive nature more than anything. Not that you're so much better, but so many plays can get made with an aggressive attitude. Even when they run trick plays, fakes and all that stuff, you might have a lot of schematic breakdown. But if guys are playing fast and confident, and they see things and are not afraid to react, then you make those plays. That's why good teams usually do, because they've got a bunch of confident guys who aren't scared to make a mistake and they're not scared to trigger. Seeing our guys just trigger, it was fun to watch. That's why I was getting so excited.
"We misaligned, we screwed up some things on those too. But that's my point; that's usually what happens. They come out and do a funny formation and if you're tentative, they get you. But if you just line up and `let's go,' you can overcome a lot."
On Marcus Jackson earning the first spot off the bench for the offensive line
"Of course he's got good size and power, so his position-specifics up front are good. And I think just him being here mid-year, he's had the benefit of being in the system. You look at a guy like Tiny (Antonio Richardson), for example. Not only was he not here mid-year, but then he missed all summer and three weeks of camp. It's so much that you miss; it's just hard. I think him being here and he's got good physical tools, he's going to get better and better. I don't know how he's going to perform, though, when he goes out there. We'll see."
On the difficulty studying Florida with their new coaching staff
"We don't know what they're going to do. We did all that in the off-season like everybody else does, but I don't know how much it matters. We looked at Florida film; we looked at Texas film - you can watch it until you're blue in the face and then at the end of the day you go out there and they do something totally different. You've got to play."
On any advantages from Florida running a pro-style offense
"Well, they've got some guys who can hurt you. There's no advantage. They have really good coaching and they have playmakers. If they ran spread, I'd be nervous. They run pro-style, I'm nervous. If they ran wishbone, I'd be really concerned. If they ran the wing-T, because we don't see that very often, I'd be nervous. I don't think there's a scheme out there where we say, `We're in great shape.' We look at their guys and their coaches and see they have good players and good coaching; what's their scheme."
On confidence in Palardy making a deciding field goal
"I have 100 percent confidence in him. It doesn't mean he's going to do it, but I don't bat an eye with Mike. The way he executed that onside kick - that's a hard kick. But he's done it a lot in practice and he nailed it. And they were lined up a little tighter than what we had expected, and even he noticed that. Their guy was about a yard-and-a-half tighter than what we had seen. But a good kick, it doesn't matter; and he kicked it perfectly. He hit a good field goal there in the fourth quarter. I have a lot of confidence in Mike. He's young and he's talented, but he's confident and he's a good athlete."
On thoughts about calling off the onside kick after noticing Cincinnati's alignment
"No. Once you call it you've got to go, man. You can't get scared. Now we do have a lot of things where it's an auto if they give it to you, but that wasn't one of them."
On Bray's personality handling the decibel level at The Swamp
"I don't know; I have no idea. He could go out there and have a spring game, or he could go out there and light it up. I know this, it's not all on Tyler. We've got to block those four guys up front, we've got to handle all the blitzes and junk they are going to bring us, we've got to get open, we've got to catch the football. But if everybody does those things, that doesn't guarantee it either. Tyler's got to prepare and be ready."
On keeping his sophomores focused on the next game despite their early success
"That's been a challenge with all our young players, because they are a confident group and I like that. That term that's overused is `swagger.' OK, everybody loves using that term. But they have a good way about them, I'm going to use that term. They have a nice, competitive - they are not going to back down and they want to be good. They expect to be good, but they also are like most young players and don't have a lot of scars on them. It's hard to really be good consistently without getting some scars - having some bad moments, some screw-ups. That's what always concerns you.
"What I don't want to do is put my own scars on them and it kind of breaks their spirit. But at the same time, I don't want to tell them they're great because they're going to get their tales whipped. So far, they've been doing pretty well. I don't want to mess them up. I'm more nervous than those guys are. Sometimes I wonder if they even know we're not in the back yard, with a lot of people watching and depending on them. They're just playing and that's the way it should be. It really should."
On simulating Florida's punt-blocking unit
"You can't simulate the speed, and that's what gets you. Usually you are a little bit lazy and you have a breakdown in a technique or a fundamental, and their athleticism exposes you. The most important thing you can do is align right, do your technique perfectly, your eye-control is perfect and you execute it the way you've been coached to do. And if you do that, you'll be OK. But they prey on a little breakdown here and there, and they torch you with it. They've been doing it for a long time.
"But they do it on all phases - their punt game is hard to defend; their kickoff return game is just `juice-central' back there; their kickoff coverage unit, they're just flying by you. It's hard. So they're getting short fields and they're winning the vertical field-position game every game. I think that has contributed to their success as much as anything over the last five years, and it's something nobody really talks about."
On what needs to change for the secondary to improve
"Experience, better play - which will come with experience - better understanding of formations and adjustments, getting guys in the right spot, better tackling, better technique in coverage. We just need to get better. I told Justin (Wilcox) that we have about six or seven newcomers on defense, first-year guys. We've got three or four in the secondary, two at linebacker, d-line - they're going through a lot of the things we had to go through on the other side of the ball last year, when Bray was getting his helmet taking off about every third pass. And it's hard. So we've just got to be patient and coach and allow them to grow and improve, and get those scars and get better."
"All right, guys. I'm back to work."