With the Florida Gators set to begin 2012 spring practice on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp and new offensive coordinator Brent Pease met with the media Tuesday to discuss a variety of topics concerning the team’s offense.
After both playing sparingly as freshmen, sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel will go head-to-head in spring practice to determine who will win the starting job this season. However, as Muschamp and Pease both pointed out in their respective press conferences, should neither player distinguish himself from the other, Florida could very well use two quarterbacks in 2012.
» Muschamp on the competition: “Jeff and Jacoby will split reps, and we’ll name a starter when we’re ready. Whether that’s spring, summer, fall camp – I don’t know. We would like to declare a starter and move forward with it, but we’ll name that when it’s ready. And obviously Brent does an outstanding job with the quarterbacks, and we will evaluate that – he and I – as far as what’s best for our football team. We want to name a starter, but we’re going to do what we need to win games. If we’ve got to play both guys, we’ll play both guys, and we will make that determination as we work through this. But both guys have had good offseasons and [I’m] very pleased with their progress to this point and where we are.”
» Muschamp on if he is OK with playing two quarterbacks: “Prefer to play one. Prefer to play one. But again, at the end of the day, you’ve got to make the best decision for the team. If one guy doesn’t distance himself from the other then you play two. You look at it as no different than any other position. We’ll see how that plays itself out.”
» Muschamp on how one can distance himself from the pack: “Manage our football team – on the field, in the locker room, in the meeting room, [be] productive, accurate, whatever adjectives you want to throw on top of it, helping our football team move the ball down the field and score points.”
» Pease on if either player has an advantage over the other: “No, I don’t believe that. I haven’t really seen anything to associate I think it’s coming in, everything is based off of the fact that they’re here. I think the fact that they’ve been consistent off season in workouts, and they’re two of the guys that can lead the team. There’s going to be other guys that get reps also but right now they’re the guys in the position that they kind of were at last year. They’re the guys that can lead the team. I mean, I haven’t even seen these guys throw a football other than watching film of them and some of it goes back to some high school when they were in high school and I watched them. That’s kind of what I know of them right now.”
Pease on if he is OK with playing two quarterbacks: “Yeah, I’ve been in a situation where you’ve had to use both. It’ll work well if you’ve got the right type of kids that both can compete and you kind of use their strengths to how you’re going to manage the game. Not particularly in favor of that. I’d rather see one kid step forward and take charge and be productive and let it be his team. But if that’s not the way it works out, then as coaches you’ve got to do what’s best for your football team.”
» Muschamp on the future of redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy: “He’s a quarterback. Tyler is battling in there with Jacoby and Jeff and obviously they’ve kind of distanced themselves a little bit, but I’m very pleased with Tyler. He’s a very good athlete, very smart, very dependable guy and a guy that certainly will get his opportunity and reps in the spring. [...] No [he will not change positions] at this time. I think Tyler is a quarterback, and that’s where we see his future at the University of Florida.”
Read more about the offense’s players and Pease’s offensive philosophy…
MOVING TO A BETWEEN-THE-TACKLES RUNNING GAME
Now that both Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey are off the team, Florida will concentrate on being a power running team – pushing the ball through the line to gain yards and extend drives. To that end, senior running back Mike Gillislee will move into the starting role with redshirt sophomore Mack Brown, who barely played in 2011, backing him up and set to likely get a good amount of carries. The Gators will also have sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer and junior Trey Burton who would get carries as well as some other young players.
» Muschamp on running the ball: “Obviously our running game may change a little bit as far as the inside zone, some power and some inside track running game because of the size of our backs.”
» Muschamp on how the running game will develop this year: “Last year we were more of a stretch perimeter running team. We tried to run the ball inside to keep people honest with us, so people wouldn’t just edge us on everything as far as the defenses were concerned and try and hold the edges of the defense. So certainly inside zone and the power game – and whether it’s one back or two back – and more downhill running. I mean, that’s something that we need to be able to do not just for our offense but for our defense with what we see in our league. You’ve got to be able to stop the north south running game and that’s something that we need more reps and turns.”
» Muschamp on how the offense will utilize Burton: “Trey is a good football player. He gets football. He understands it. He’s a guy that can do a lot of things for us. We probably will have some sort of ‘Wild Gator’ package there where he’ll be involved in that as well. It’s something he does very well. Again, that’s a guy that he can do a lot of things for you, special teams. He can do a lot of things for us.”
» Muschamp on redshirt junior tight end Omarius Hines seeing time in the backfield: “Omarius came to us. It was something he came to us there and we talked about, and obviously we’ve got Matt [Jones] coming in as a freshman. We’ve got some different options because of Trey and Hunter and their versatility, but we said, ‘Let’s take a look at this thing and see what we can do.’ We’ve got to be able to generate some things downhill and be able to push the pile. But again, Omarius is a very explosive guy and a guy that we need to get more out of.”
FINDING RELIABLE PASS-CATCHERS
Sophomore TE A.C. Leonard (misdemeanor domestic battery) remains in definitely suspended from the team, Hines is now seeing what he can do from behind the quarterback and Deonte Thompson (despite his lack of production) is now off the team, so who exactly will be catching passes for Florida in 2012? The Gators hope that redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose, redshirt sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar, redshirt senior WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. and redshirt junior TE Jordan Reed answer their calls in a big way and show vast improvement from just one season ago.
» Muschamp on Leonard’s future with the team: “A.C. Leonard is still suspended from our football team. He’s working through some measures to work his way back as far as being a part of our team again. There’s no timetable on that, and it’s not a right to be a part of our team, it’s a privilege, and you’ve got to act a certain way. He’s working through that, and he’s jumping through a lot of things to get back on this football team. I’ve got zero timetable and no decision will be made on fall for a while. This is a day to day, week to week operation for me.”
» Muschamp on the importance of developing wideouts: “It’s critical. Did you see us play in the fall?”
» Muschamp on Debose: “Although Andre was a sophomore, he didn’t play much as a freshman. He didn’t play much receiver. So really you look at last year, that was kind of his freshman season of really playing and being relied to be a consistent player in the SEC. So he needs now to take the next step. He’s played now. He’s been in the big picture. He’s been on the road. He’s done all the things.”
» Muschamp on Dunbar: “Same thing with Quinton Dunbar; he was redshirted, and last year was his first year of really playing, and we were relying on him to be a big time playmaker as a freshman. That does happen some but not as much as normal. So now he’s been through that process. Now he’s been through another off season program. He’s been in the weight program now for two years, so he’s gotten a little stronger. Now he’s built his confidence up.”
» Muschamp on Hammond and others: “Frankie Hammond is a senior. He’s a guy that needs to continue to come on for us. You look at those three guys, and you look at some young guys. Solomon Patton, we need to find a role for him. I think the thing that excites me with Brent with some of the different packages we look at from a personnel standpoint of where he can fit in and go do some things for us. Stephen Alli needs to step in and do some things for us. Latroy Pittman has been a guy we’ve been pleased with. Ja’Juan Story needs to step up for us; he was redshirted last year. Let’s see what he can do. So sure, you’re always looking for play makers and certainly we need to continue to identify those guys and find out the guys who can score touchdowns. Don’t throw it to a guy that can’t.”
PEASE’S OFFENSIVE PHILOSOPHY – FIVE POINTS
Having not yet laid out his offensive philosophy, Pease did exactly that on Tuesday, explaining how he approaches being a coordinator and his expectations for his players.
(1) We’re going to have a pounding running attack. We just want to have a running attack that’s physical downhill and when we have to run the ball we’re going to run the ball. It’s going to be a part of our makeup, a part of our identity up front.
(2) Off of that you want to develop an explosive pass game, and that’s where your launch plays come in. That’s where you set up things that you can create those explosive plays that Coach Muschamp was even talking about.
(3) The kind of creativity that we’ve always developed where I’ve been at before where we’re going to have shifts in motion and make things difficult and cause confusion for the defenses. We’re not going to be sitting ducks. You’re going to see a lot of formation changes, motions, adjustments, really trying to create some stress points in the defense and what they have to adjust to. You’re going to see the same football plays. We’re not going to run anything different. People run power, we’re going to run power; we’re going to run zone, they run zone. No one is reinventing that part of it. But what we’re going to add to it is creating those stress points.
(4) Eliminating turnovers. That’s probably the one stat that in the last six years at Boise State, we had a stat that we actually kept in our locker room, and that’s probably the most important stat for determining win loss is that we wanted to be in the top ten in turnovers. So obviously your defense has to work with you on it as well as your offense, but it’s something that we’re going to really work on and be conscious about and work drills and ball security circuits and do that for the offensive guys.
(5) Great quarterback play. You’ve got to understand what the kids can handle. I’ve been very fortunate in the kid I had last year. He was a Heisman Trophy guy, and he made a lot of things go, but he also had some good players around him. It wasn’t just him. He’d be the first to admit that. But you’ve got to develop the kid that’s there. The kids that we have, the kids that are competing for it, you’ve got to get consistent play. Great management, accuracy, decision making, kid has got to be tough, football players at the quarterback position. So develop those five foundations right there.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Muschamp on freshman tackle D.J. Humphries not being on the initial two-deep depth chart: “DJ Humphries is a young man that will figure into that position mid year and really looked good in the off season program. Mature, smart, driven, everything we thought in the recruiting process. He certainly has displayed that. We’ll see how he does when the pads come on.”
» Muschamp on redshirt sophomore offensive lineman Ian Silberman, who recently had shoulder surgery: “Ian Silberman had some looseness in his shoulder, and we decided to go ahead and fix that last week, so he will miss spring. We fully expect recovery for August and fall camp.”
» Muschamp on redshirt senior OL James Wilson, who just got a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA: “James Wilson has been granted an extra year. He’ll be back and be slotted in there at left guard. Really played well for us as the year rolled along, is a physical guy, a guy that’s got a little more girth and can get some movement.”
» Pease on why he chose Florida over Alabama: “Really it came down to coming here with my wife, and my wife liked it, and Will. I’ve known Will for a while, and over the years the developing relationship I had with him and just looking at the opportunity, the kids, being indirectly connected to the program one way or another. And I’ll tell you another guy that kind of really sold me on the deal is Jeremy Foley, and just all that coming in. When I came here, I mean, obviously I was [impressed]. Everybody did things first class, and talking with Will and what he wants to do philosophically and what I’ve done in the past few years where I’ve been at Boise State and the things we’ve been around, seeing that those things can fit here. So I think there’s a big upside, and I think where he’s going to take the program and where I want to be a part of that. So that was my decision.”
» Pease on his temperament as a coach: “I’m not going to blow a gasket. [...] I’ve got an intensity point. The only thing that personally challenges me is if a kid is not giving effort. Everything else after that, I mean, there’s obviously going to be mistakes, and we understand that. But if there is not effort involved because that’s the easiest thing. That’s what they all understand that is required is go out there and give effort, 100 percent. If you don’t give your effort, then that’s when you get challenged as a coach.”