Coordinators Weis, Quinn energized and excited

By Adam Silverstein
March 16, 2011

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2011 spring practice on Wednesday, the team’s two new coordinators – Charlie Weis (offense) and Dan Quinn (defense) – met with the media Monday to discuss a variety of topics including personnel, schemes, position changes, their respective relationships with head coach Will Muschamp and transitioning from the NFL back to college football.

LEAVING THE NFL FOR THE GATORS

For Weis and Quinn, each had different reasons for trading in a comfortable job in the NFL for a new opportunity with Florida. Weis’s main concern was his family. His daughter Hannah is a special needs child, and his family being spread across the country in three different locations was not desirable. Instead, Weis and his son Charlie Jr. (who will be a student assistant on the team seeing as he aspires to be a football coach) will be in Gainesville, FL while his wife and daughter primarily reside in South Bend, IN when the weather is warm before traveling down south for the winter.

“It was a fairly easy decision but almost all of it was directly related to family issues,” Weis explained. “When Will called and I thought about how I could best take care of my family, the fact that my son could end up going to school here, my wife’s a horse person so I’m buying a house in the Ocala area – so I got serious brownie points on that end right there, too. The fact that I could take care of my wife and my daughter and my son and kind of mesh everything together, really it’s as simple of an answer as that one.”

Quinn’s decision was more about familiarity and the desire to work with an old friend again. “When the opportunity came to come work with [Muschamp], it really was an easy [decision] for me. I thought the guy had all the right stuff about him as a coach, so when I had the opportunity to come to a place like this, it really was easy for me,” he said. “I had a great experience in the NFL – loved it and made some terrific connections – but it was just a new challenge for me and something I was looking forward to doing. […] Will and I see football a lot in the same way. That connection is what brought me here. We do see things along the same line.”

Read everything Weis and Quinn had to say…after the break!

WEIS’s TRANSITION HAS BEEN PAINLESS

As head coach of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Weis was successful but saw his tenure end with struggles. He went back to the NFL, where many critics felt he belonged, and saw immediate success back in a role he has grown accustomed to – offensive coordinator. This new opportunity allows him the best of both worlds – the ability to help young men grow while only worrying about putting points up on the scoreboard.

“As far as the transition goes, it has been a very smooth transition. I really didn’t know Coach Muschamp other than through conversations with Mack [Brown], who I know very well and I’m a big fan of. [Mack is] a big fan of Will’s,” Weis said. “He’s the boss and wanted a guy to turn the offense over to, so it was a very good compliment to what he was looking for.”

Though Muschamp is younger than him, Weis insists he has no problems working for someone perhaps less experienced than himself. “It’s been really enjoyable for me personally,” he said. “The fact that he’ll have somebody like me, who has gone through that experience, to kind of lean on – it’s a very comfortable situation for me. I didn’t come here to take his job; I just want to run the offense.”

In fact, Weis took it a step further and wanted to deflect any future insinuations that his offense would be what helps the Gators be successful. “First of all, this is Will Muschamp’s team. This is not Charlie Weis’s offense,” he quipped. “This is the University of Florida. This is not Charlie Weis’s offense. It is going to be a collective group effort.”

And while he may not agree with Muschamp on everything, Weis knows the proper way to address disagreements or philosophy issues that may arise. “The good thing is knowing how to disagree with a head coach. There’s a way of handling that. You never do it in front of the other coaches. There’s a proper way of doing it,” he said. “Everyone needs to know what your role is; Coach Muschamp is the head coach. It might be through personal experiences that I’ve had where I’ll wait until the meeting is over and say, ‘You might want to rethink this one.’ There’s a right way. You have to make sure you have a very strong conviction. But it’s not what you say; it’s when you say it.”

BRANTLEY IS “A GOOD FIT”

Muschamp addressed questions about the future of redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley. Weis did the same about 20 minutes later, noting that he is first on the depth chart for a reason and that he already holds him in high regard without seeing him actually practice with the team.

“First of all, he’s a good fit. From the quarterback standpoint, you have to be a good fit,” Weis said of Brantley. “Fortunately for him, with what he does the best athletically, it fits with what I like to do. Now that doesn’t guarantee him a spot, but it gives him an upper hand with the experience he has now fitting into an offense that fits what he does. It gives him a pretty good chance.”

What exactly makes Brantley “a good fit?”

“He’s not super-athletic, but then Tommy Brady wasn’t super-athletic,” he continued. “I’m not comparing John Brantley to Tommy Brady, but I’m saying just because somebody says you’re not super-athletic doesn’t mean you can’t be a front-line quarterback. There’s certain systems that are more quarterback-friendly to the guy who doesn’t run a sub-4.5. He’s not sub-4.5; that I can promise you.”

Weis also joked about Brantley’s decision to play for Florida in the first place, considering the team was running Meyer’s spread offense at the time of his commitment. “I had familiarity with John back from when he was in high school. He’s got strong family ties, which led him here to Florida. I’ve questioned a couple times to him, in taking my Jersey swipes, [sarcastically] ‘Yeah, you came here to run a spread. That made a lot of sense. That was a great decision on your part.’”

THE “OTHER GUYS:” MURPHY, DRISKEL, BRISSETT

Upon taking the Gators job, Weis immediately knew that Florida had a need for depth at quarterback. With only redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy in the fold behind Brantley, he was pleased to have five-star Jeff Driskel in the recruiting class but still wanted more.

“If you look at the depth chart, you realize what looked like a heavy position quarterback-wise was actually light,” he explained. “We had already moved a couple of guys through mutual conversations that I had with them and Will had with them. Jordan [Reed] was already a tight end. Trey [Burton] was already a move tight end/fullback/halfback/put-him-wherever-you-want-to. While everyone else had him zoned in at safety, I said, ‘Safety?!’ Those two guys, because they were already gone, if you look at the depth chart, the quarterback position was already light.”

That is why he went after four-star QB Jacoby Brissett with plenty of passion and energy. “Not that you’re ever trying to bring in two guys in the same year as such high-caliber as Jacoby and Jeff, but how can you pass on two guys that are that good? They’re both really good players,” Weis said. “Yes, I got actively involved enough when we lost a playoff game on Sunday, I was taking the compliance test on Thursday, and I was at [Brissett’s] school on Friday morning. I went there as many times as I could. I’m glad he’s coming on board.”

Though he made it a point to bring in Brissett, Weis praised both Murphy and Driskel, giving the latter compliments that will warm the hearts of Florida fans.

“I really like Tyler Murphy. Just [be]cause people don’t know who he is doesn’t mean he’s not good,” Weis said. “[Driskel is] a classic drop-back quarterback. He’s a classic drop-back quarterback. You couldn’t be any more tailor-made. The one thing he has over John is he’s much more athletic. The one big disadvantage he has from John is he has no experience. But he’s a classic drop-back quarterback.”

When it all comes down to it though, neither Murphy nor Driskel nor Brissett are guaranteed to be the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback to Brantley because none has played “a down of meaningful football” yet with the Gators.

DEFENSIVE SCHEME ALREADY SET

With Muschamp and Quinn now in charge of the defense, Florida will be running a 4-3 set with what Quinn called plenty of “3-4 principles.” This flexibility is something both coaches knew would be implemented from the get-go.

“There was one conversation that kind of hit me back when I was at the Miami Dolphins,” Quinn recalled. “We had just hired Mike Mularkey as the offensive coordinator, and I can distinctly remember Nick [Saban] asking him, ‘What do you think is harder to prepare for – 4-3 or 3-4?’ Out of Mike’s mouth, he said, ‘Both.’ That conversation resonated; if you have the opportunity to do both, I really thought it could create some problems with match-ups for an offense. We’ll be a 4-3 team that has some 3-4 principles.”

POWELL’s POSITION COULD LEAD TO BRIGHT FUTURE

Sophomore defensive end Ronald Powell, who filled in at linebacker in 2010, may not have made the impact as a freshman that many fans hoped for, but the talent is there and Quinn believes he has quite a future ahead of him at the “buck” position – as a hybrid between the two. Though he was mostly giving examples of other players who were in a similar position, Quinn put Powell among some big-time company.

“It’s really a unique position. It’s a guy who can stand up, he’ll drop into coverage, he’ll rush, he’ll cover a tight end,” he said. “In the past you’ll know guys that I’ve coached – Jason Taylor in Miami, Calvin Pace at the Jets, Chris Clemons this past year at Seattle – and in Will’s time it was Brian Orakpo and Sergio Kindle. That position is a real unique guy. It’s a fun position to play; you’re kind of a hybrid defensive end where you can rush and drop into zone and play on receivers. It’s really unique. You’re looking for a guy who’s got speed, length and has got the ability to play into space with receivers as well.”

QUOTES

Weis on senior running back Jeff Demps: [Laughing] “6.53 [seconds in the] 60-meters? I might be able to figure out something to do with him.”

Weis on his appreciation for the Florida program: “I’ve admired Urban [Meyer] and this program from afar for getting beat on the recruiting trails a whole bunch of times. Seriously, when you get beat on the recruiting trails a whole bunch of times – which I did – and he ends up winning two national championships and I get fired, I think that maybe I came to the right place. No one ever said I was stupid.”

Weis on how he will teach a complicated pro-style offense to college players: “The 20-hour work week vs. the unlimited-hour work week – college vs. the pros – that is the biggest difference. There’s only so much you can expose the players to in 20 hours. In the NFL…you’re with them 12 hours a day. There’s no classes. There’s only one class and it’s football. I’ve grown up in a system that’s very expansive. It’s all predicated on personnel and formations. Wherever you go, you find out what you have as far as personnel and you try to get the guys that can make plays the ball as many times as you can do it. And you try to do it with a little trickery and deceit so the defense just can’t zone in on you. It all depends on what you have. Whatever you have, that’s what you do. That’s yet to be determined. I can tell you this – we have a bunch of guys that can run. I’ve seen that in the time I’ve been here.”

Weis on how many tweaks he will have to make to his offense: “One of the biggest mistakes coaches make when implementing a system is to try to do more than your players can actually handle. Spring is the time to challenge them mentally and physically to find out what you’re dealing with. Then that gives you the time…before you get to August where you can really zone in on what you think your team will do the best. We have a lot of time to make that determination. This is the time of year that is exciting for the coaching staff because we finally get an opportunity to go ahead and make those judgments.”

Weis on if he shows off a Super Bowl ring while recruiting: “I actually keep one in my pocket. I really do that. When I first got the job at Notre Dame, I used to wear it but got chastised so many times by the media, by every coach about ‘wearing his gaudy rings.’ So I stopped doing it. I used to have the same stupid line. I’d say, ‘Honey, if I could just get them to look at my hand instead of my face, I’d have a legitimate chance in recruiting.’ I have it in my pocket right now. I always keep the biggest one because it makes the biggest impact – Super Bowl XXIX, Philadelphia Eagles, my boy Andy Reid. It cost him a dinner for four.”

Weis on his son wanting to be a football coach: “I’ve done all I could to discourage him from that. When you’re a coach, you’re away from your family so much. They don’t get the proportionate amount of time; it’s a disproportionate relationship between the love of your family and love of football and who wins out because, time-wise, football wins out. […] The only life the kid has known is pro football or the son of the head coach at Notre Dame.”

Weis on if Muschamp is right about the offensive line being thin: “I have a lot of confidence in Frank Verducci, who is the offensive line coach here who worked with me at Notre Dame. We’re been in this position before where we have to create position flexibility within the offensive line. That means we might have to have some people cross train. It just forces you to take a little bit more of the pro mentality where you create some position flexibility so you have good guys playing against good guys at all times.” [Weis added that, rather than be 10-deep, Florida may be eight-deep with those players having extreme flexibility.]

Weis on how to address Tom Brady: ”Actually he prefers his friends call him Tommy. There’s a little insight for you.”

Weis on the F positions on the depth chart: “I’ll make that very easy for you. There’s different personnel groups that every team in football uses. The numbers 21 — the two numbers are referring to how many backs and how many tight ends are on the field. When you see ‘21,’ that means there’s two backs on the field and one tight end. That means there’s two wide receivers.

“If you saw the number ‘12,’ that means there’s one back, two tight ends and two wide receivers. If you see the number ‘11,’ that means there’s one back, one tight end and three wide receivers. In all those cases, there’s somebody that starts in those personnel groups. In other words, when you have three wide receivers on the field, you see Deonte [Thompson] down there as the F. When you see 21 out there, you see Trey [Burton] down there as the F. When you have different personnel groups, there are different guys that are starters within those groups.

“Everyone wants to just give you those bogus depth charts that you get all the time. We actually tried to give you a real one. Sorry. Instead of giving you some bogus depth chart that doesn’t really tell you anything and just lines up with two wide receivers, we figured we’d give you, ‘Hey, here’s what we’re thinking.’ Now the players are the ones that are trying to determine how they change the depth chart. Within the personnel groupings, it also shows them if they want three wide receivers on the field, they can’t just compete against the wide receivers, they also have to compete against the second tight end and they got to compete against the second running back. It builds more competition on your team.”

Quinn on his main goal for the defense: “I’d like to see relentless effort. That is where good defense starts.”

Quinn on the secret to rushing the quarterback: “You’ll hear us use the word, both Will and I, ‘affecting the quarterback.’ [That] is the biggest thing for me. Part of it is scheme, and the other thing is just the players and the relentless attitude and the effort to keep finishing on the quarterback.”

Quinn on if Florida will rush with the front four or bring extra players on blitzes: ”We’re somewhere in the middle. There will be a balance of that.”

Quinn on hiring Bryant Young as defensive line coach: “He left a real impression on me of what a professional is. When he stepped out onto the grass as a player, there was a real pride about the way he went about his business. Through the years, that’s always rubbed off on me. I remained close with him when we left. When he decided to get into coaching, I said ‘If I have the chance, I’m going to try and hire you one day.’ When Will asked if I knew somebody, I said, ‘As a matter of fact, I do.’ Certainly somebody that I really hold in high regard.”

5 Comments

  1. David says:

    As indicated in an earlier post, I was very very impressed by Weis.

  2. John S says:

    From the way they talk, they sound comfortable. They don’t seem overcome, like they know what they’re doing. Impressive.

    So much change…the side line will be very different.

  3. obgator says:

    Like almost everyone who reads this website…I can’t wait until football season starts.

  4. Jesse C says:

    Big difference between Weis and Addazio… I guess it comes when you know what you’re talking about. I like it… I like it ALOT.

  5. npgator says:

    They seem to bring a certain swagger that I think our players need especially after last year.

Top