No. 3 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp and No. 21 Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong met with the media on Tuesday to discuss the upcoming 2013 Sugar Bowl and their respective teams heading into the game. Below are some choice notes and quotes from the media sessions.
» Muschamp on freshman standouts: “You look at Antonio Morrison, [Jonathan] Bullard and [Dante] Fowler. Those three guys have been as productive as any freshman I’ve been around.”
» Muschamp on becoming a head coach: “It’s taking the right job. I had other opportunities before the Florida job came. It’s about taking the right job. It’s about the right situation, the right people, the right circumstances, being in a situation where you think you can be successful. All the critical factors as far as recruiting base, support from the administration, all of those things need to be in place.”
» Muschamp on Florida’s lagging Sugar Bowl ticket sales and if the numbers worry him: “Obviously right now economically we’re going through a tough time in our country. I think that certainly has affected everyone, not just Gator fans. And so that’s a tough time right now and there’s different ways to get tickets other than going through the University Athletic Association. Obviously we’re seeing a little bit of a loophole those things happening as well. … I don’t worry about that. I worry about third down and stuff like that. I let Jeremy [Foley] worry about that.”
» Muschamp on an injury update: “We’re fine. We’re good to go for the game.”
» Muschamp on playing in a dome and what the team has had to do to prepare: “Adjusting to the lights. We’ve worked it all week, as far as seeing the punt catchers and kick off and receivers working and catching the football because it’s a little different with the lights in the stadium there. We’ve worked on that. And kicking in an environment for [Caleb] Sturgis is good for us. We can probably be at the 38 yard line and be in range for a 55-yard, 56-yard [field goal] maybe even to the 40 [yard line].”
» Muschamp said sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson will be the punt returner while sophomore CB Loucheiz Pufioy and redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose will both be back for kick returns.
Read the rest of what Muschamp and Strong had to say…after the break!
» Muschamp on the 2013 team and roster: “I’m not going to sit here and tell you I haven’t thought about next year, I have, because you’re thinking ahead as far as where you are with your roster, and I feel good about our football team coming back next season, I certainly do. But, again, right now my primary focus is on this game and this season and ending it the right way.”
» Muschamp on having LSU as a permanent cross-division opponent: “There’s been a lot of debate on that. I want to do what’s best for our league. That’s why we have a commissioner. And there’s a lot of argument in our league based on do you want to have a permanent opponent or do you want to rotate? Coach Spurrier brought up when we were in the SEC meetings the Florida-Auburn game and what a great rivalry it was. We may not see Auburn for six years the way the current schedule is set up. I understand both sides of it. That’s why we have a commissioner, whatever decision he makes is what I support. I do know that the Florida-LSU game is a great national game for our conference, for our league. That’s a game that’s going to create a lot of national attention as opposed to maybe some other match-ups. I’m fine with what they decide. I don’t want to go to a nine conference game [schedule] because we play Florida State every year. I don’t think that that’s good for the University of Florida. But whatever they decide, I’ll support.”
» Muschamp on adding Joker Phillips as a wide receivers coach: “He’s an outstanding football coach. And I really felt like we needed to add experience at the position for a receiving corps that we’re still trying to develop. … And I think he’s going to be a great addition. He’s not done much in the bowl game other than I told our receivers you’ve got a month audition for your position coach, so let’s do a good job. I think those guys have responded the correct way.”
» Muschamp on how sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is improving: “I think the game is slowing down for him. I think he’ll continue to make good decisions as far as taking the football to the right spot, getting rid of the football in some situation. But again we gotta continue to get better around him, certainly at the receiver position. That’s somewhere where we need some improvement.”
» Strong on the health of starting QB Teddy Bridgewater: “Teddy the last few weeks have really been to his advantage, because now he’s been able to get healthy. And you look at it, our game plan is all about Teddy. So Teddy’s healthy now. … But right now it’s on Teddy. … I’m not saying he’s 100 percent but he’s going to be better than he was in the Rutgers game.”
» Strong on the superiority of the SEC: “If you look at the Southeastern Conference, just look at the national championships over the last few years, it speaks for itself. Now you have a chance to go play a team from the Southeastern Conference, I think our team they’re really excited about it, because when you hear college football everyone talks about the Southeastern Conference. You look at the Southeastern Conference it’s not so much the players but it’s the fan support because when you go to those stadiums – LSU or Auburn or Tennessee – look at the fans and how they turn out. I think that is an advantage for those teams in that conference also.”
» Strong on Louisville’s focus heading into the showdown: “I think with the focus, even before we came to New Orleans, we started practicing in Louisville and they understand who they’re playing, they understand the bowl game. And I think that’s really big that now they have a chance to get to a BCS bowl game. The opponent, the University of Florida, speaks for itself. I don’t have to say much because a lot of these players on our team are from the state of Florida so they know a lot of the players that they’re going up against. So the focus and where we need to be as far as their mindset, they understand it’s the University of Florida and it’s the Southeastern Conference and we’re in the Sugar Bowl.”
» Strong on staying with the Cardinals despite receiving offers from SEC teams: “They gave me the first opportunity and it’s all about loyalty. And a lot of times when you have a little success, everybody starts saying, ‘Hey, let’s go try to go hire this guy away.’ But because of them giving me my first opportunity, it’s hard to say and walk away and then for the players that I recruited there, you know, I talked to them about trust. I talked to them about commitment. And a lot of times I tell those players that a lot of people have walked out of their life. Now all of a sudden here I am the head football coach, I’m going to walk away from them, who will they ever trust? I couldn’t do it to that university. I couldn’t do it to that group of players.”