2011 SEC Media Day: Muschamp exudes intensity

By Adam Silverstein
July 20, 2011

Updated at 9:45 p.m.

Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, redshirt seniors quarterback John Brantley and wide receiver Deonte Thompson, and senior defensive end William Green represented the team on Wednesday by appearing at a number of press gatherings at the 2011 Southeastern Conference Media Days in Birmingham, AL.

BALL OUT FOR THE 2011 SEASON

As expected, sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball will miss the entire 2011 season after learning of an arteriovenous malformation in his brain that was discovered when he passed out due to a blood clot during the spring. Muschamp confirmed that Ball will not be with the team in a physical sense but does hope that he can return to play in 2012.

“We’re very fortunate our medical staff recognized it; very fortunate to have Shands right there in Gainesville to handle that,” he said. “[I] talked to Neiron [on] Monday, he has been in Colorado at a spiritual development camp. He’s very healthy, doing fine. He will not physically be a part of our football team as we progress here in the fall. We will reevaluate his status as a football player in January and February of next year. The number one priority is that he’s healthy, and that’s the most important thing.”

DEMPS EXPECTED TO RETURN FOR 2011

Putting to rest rumors that recently had senior running back Jeff Demps possibly foregoing his final year of football eligibility to run track professionally, Muschamp confirmed an OGGOA report from over the weekend that Demps plans to be a part of the team for the 2011 season.

“He has been working out with our team, and I expect him to be a part of our football team next fall,” Muschamp said when first asked about the player’s future. “Based on our conversations, he’ll be back. I don’t deal in rumors, and I don’t deal in message boards. I don’t know any good ball coaches that do that.”

One of the reasons Demps’s return has been in question is the fact that he is currently in Italy competing with the U.S. National Team. Muschamp noted that he and Demps have spoken on numerous occasions throughout the course of the summer and are on the same page, though they do need to have a conversation when the player gets back to America about when he will officially rejoin the team.

“When I deal with people, I like to deal eyeball-to-eyeball, talk to them face-to-face,” Muschamp said. “That’s been hard to do with some of the traveling he’s been doing. I ain’t never been to Italy.

“He may run a little bit in August with the U.S. National Team, and we’re going to determine that next week when he and I sit down and talk. You talk about a fine young man; I want him in our locker room. He’s a guy who is very explosive in space, and I’m very excited about him being a part of our football team.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the rest of this post.]BRANTLEY’s CONFIDENCE RETURNS

There is no question that Brantley’s confidence was seriously shaken throughout the course of last season. However, on Wednesday, his head coach and classmate both went out of their way to explain that he looks better than ever and is finally stepping up to the plate as the signal caller that the Gators need going forward.

Asked if he stood by his statement in the spring that he had complete confidence in Brantley, Muschamp said, “I feel the same way. Johnny had a really nice spring for us. John’s very capable. Charlie Weis has tremendous confidence in Johnny and that gives me an awful lot of confidence, too.”

Thompson agreed, noting that his quarterback’s entire approach has changed. “He’s got his confidence back. [There is a] big difference. With the offseason training, he’s come in very confident – putting guys in the place they need to be, taking control of the huddle, being vocal. He’s being the quarterback that we need him to be.”

The WR is also pleased with how Weis has been able to help him personally as well as the offense as a whole from a learning perspective. “I don’t think he’s going to add too much more [to the playbook],” Thompson said. “He keeps it simple. He’s giving a lot of different looks – same plays, different looks. He doesn’t make it difficult. He doesn’t want you thinking too much out there, he wants you to go play fast. […] It’s actually easier.”

That is a process that is undoubtedly helping Brantley, too. “[Weis has] made the transition easier. He’s made learning the playbook easier,” he said. “He knows how different players learn. He’s able to teach us the playbook in different ways to help us learn. Come August, he’s going to teach me about reading defenses, watching film.”

WENGER’s PRESENCE BEING FELT

Notre Dame transfer center Dan Wenger has only been working out with and getting to know his teammates for a matter of weeks yet he is already becoming a locker room leader. Deciding to spend his final year of collegiate eligibility reunited with Weis and offensive line coach Frank Verducci on the Gators, Wenger is more familiar with his former coach’s offense than any other player currently on the team. Because of that, he’s served as a mentor to the younger players still looking to find their groove.

“He fits in really good,” Brantley said of Wenger. “He’s almost like a player-coach because he knows the offense better than anyone else and he’s taken that role on.” Thompson concurred. “Dan came in and he’s been teaching the guys,” Thompson said. “That was a big help. We needed that.”

NOTES & QUOTES

Muschamp on what he is happiest about right now: “The most pleasing thing for me right now has been our work ethic, our workman-like attitude.”

Muschamp on depth issues: “I think we’ve got good enough players to have a good football team this year.”

Muschamp on the most difficult adjustment he has made since becoming a head coach: “As much as anything, it has been time management. Managing being the coach at Florida. The worst thing you can do in a leadership position is be something you’re not. I’m a football coach. I’m going to coach on the defensive side of the ball; I’m going to coach on special teams. I hired Charlie to run our offense; I got great confidence in what he’s going to do with our offense. I’m really excited about that; he and I are on the same page. The time management of being the head coach and understanding those things that come across your desk throughout the day, handling those [things].”

Muschamp on hiring a top-notch offensive coordinator: “Charlie Weis brings instant credibility to our football program offensively. The track record speaks for itself as far as the development of the quarterback and offenses.”

Muschamp on possibly wearing orange jerseys again: “I don’t know; you’ll have to come to the games. I’m going to meet with our seniors a little bit and get some more input from them when we get back rolling and talk about some of those things. But we won’t get real extravagant with the uniforms. We need to play good; it doesn’t matter what you wear, you need to play good.”

Muschamp on the biggest challenge he has faced: “Team building is so important, having that team camaraderie and the team concept. That’s what we’ve really worked on with the team in the offseason.”

Muschamp on coaching his first “home” game: “I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of work before that happens. I’m really excited about August 5, getting our team back together. I love training camp and working, building for the season. We’re going through our installation; we got all the practice schedules done. I’m really pleased with our staff and looking forward to the first game.”

Muschamp on keeping many of former head coach Urban Meyer’s philosophies: “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Urban did a phenomenal job; he and his staff did some great things that we’re going to continue to do.”

Muschamp on the differences between recruiting in Florida and Texas: “The competition in recruiting is much more fierce in the state of Florida because of the proximity of programs like you – programs that have big stadiums, programs that have great academic institutions, great support, great resources, outstanding staffs, championship tradition. [The differences are] the competition level and the proximity of all the schools being that close to you. We’re going to recruit the state of Florida first and foremost; we’re going to take care of our own backyard.”

Muschamp on being friends with so many of his rival coaches in the league: “I don’t have any problem with having great respect or liking somebody we’re competing against. I don’t necessarily look at it like a fan would look at it. I look at it from a respect standpoint. I don’t worry about what anybody else does. I worry about the University of Florida.”

Muschamp on meeting with New England head coach Bill Belichick: “Coach Belichick actually came down in the spring, spent some time and watched some spring practice and, a matter of fact, I asked him to speak to our football team and he did and did an outstanding job. What a presence he has in a group.”

Muschamp on an 8-5 record not being acceptable to fans: “They’ve told me.”

Muschamp on being a Georgia guy coaching at UF: “I’m a Florida guy.”

Muschamp on starting out his coaching career as a graduate assistant: “When you just come out of playing, you realize how little you knew as a player.”

Thompson on his personal goals: “If we get to the SEC Championship, all the personal goals will fall into place if we do that.”

Thompson on the team’s motivation: “We lost five games last year, and that’s just motivation for us. We’ve got a lot of young guys that’s hungry and want to be successful. I think we’re going to be very successful if we stick together and get this chemistry going.”

Thompson on the coaching change: “All the guys are pretty much buying in. It’s a close-knit group. Everyone just wants to win. It comes down from the coaches. They’re eager to win and we want to win. I think it is all going to fall in place. […] A lot of the guys are buying in and having great summers right now. Good workouts. Everybody is coming in and doing extra; coach don’t even have to tell us to come in, guys are coming in on their own. That’s what we need.”

Thompson on Meyer coming back and leaving again: “It probably impacted some guys. It shouldn’t have. Urb was a great coach, and we sent him out with a win.”

Thompson on Muschamp during practice: “He’s got so much energy. He be running around, screaming like some of the players.”

Thompson on Weis: “I was very surprised [that he came to Florida’. At first, I thought it was just a rumor, and I thought ‘Ah, he’s in Kansas City, he’s not coming here.’ He’s had success with his offenses wherever he goes. He knows how to pick out the things that work with each guy.”

Thompson on the 2010 season: “It was frustrating at times. We’re used to scoring 40, 50 points a game, and now we’re struggling to get 21, but we hung in there together as a team, and we got through it.”

Brantley comparing Meyer and Muschamp: “Coach Meyer is very intense, great coach. They have a lot of similarities with the intensity and great coaching ability.”

Brantley on how Muschamp’s intensity and discipline have changed the team: “Guys aren’t getting away with some of the stuff…”

Brantley on Weis’s offense: “It definitely helps me out a lot. I’m not a runner. I don’t like to run. I like to hand it off to a fast guy. I’m all for that. I don’t like to take too many hits.”

Brantley on being lucky to be coached by Weis: “It’s awesome [to have him]. You grow up watching a team like the New England Patriots and see the offense he runs, you just don’t expect to have him as a coach. It’s an honor to play for him. Just in the last six months, I’ve been learning just as much as I can, and I can’t wait for August when we pick back up.”

Green on the lack of preseason hype: “We care about it. I think everyone has a chip on their shoulder. We want to be our best every Saturday and just try to get back to Atlanta.”

Green on the younger defenders: “In the past year, they’ve grown up a lot. The maturity is a lot better. I think they’ll help us tremendously this year.”

Photo Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun[/EXPAND]

12 Comments

  1. Justin says:

    Great stuff Adam!! Thanks and of course GO GATORS!!

  2. Gio Showtime says:

    Lovin this quote >> “Guys aren’t getting away with some of the stuff…”

  3. Danielle says:

    Wow…this was an interesting comment…

    Brantley on how Muschamp’s intensity and discipline have changed the team: “Guys aren’t getting away with some of the stuff…”

    Thanks, Adam. Getting very excited for the season!

  4. chigator says:

    BOOM!!

    I am sensing that Muschamp has begun to correct some of the entitlement issues we had last season. I can’t get over the feeling that this change in attitude will manifest itself on the field.

  5. Cesar says:

    “I like to hand it off to a fast guy. I’m all for that. I don’t like to take too many hits.” -JB

    This is not what a competitor sounds like… his confidence is growing? He doesn’t like getting hit? No QB likes getting hit, but would Peyton or Brady or Rivers or Wuerrfel ever say something like this? Sounds like he might drop tothe ground as soon as he hears footsteps. I’ll keep hating on Brantley until he proves me wrong. Let’s hope that he does. Go Gators!

    • CH says:

      Probably better to interpret that quote after you watch/hear it live. Sometimes, and often, players will mock themselves in the exact manner. Being able to take media bashing and turn it into a joke about yourself can be a huge sign of confidence. It could mean that Brantley doesn’t care what the media or fans think about him any more….he knows his style and he’s going to play his style and win.
      Again – you could be right, but there is a possibility that this quote also shows confidence. Like you, we just need to wait and see how it turns out. Remember that at that age – a lot can change in a person in just a matter of months. Good luck to him.

  6. GatorRx says:

    I’m ready for the season to start right NOW.

  7. Ken (CA) says:

    awesome quotes….if they live up to their talk, this will be a much better season than many expect. We have the talent and the speed, if they are really that engaged in winning, we should be a great team. Personally, I have thought we would be all along, i would be surprised if we win less than 10 games this year, I don’t buy in to the LSU at night mistique..they got extremely lucky 4 yrs ago, and 2 yrs ago we took them to the wood shed. The score didn’t reflect how badly they were beaten, but they were swamped….

    Lots are predicting 9-3 at best, and 3rd in SEC east….I would expect 10-2 at worst and 2nd in SEC east at worst, with a good chance of winning. Latimore is awesome, but against our D front, he shouldn’t have much success. SC has a lot of talent, but I believe they are being overrated.

  8. swiftt_tech69 says:

    I agree with cesar. Its easy to talk big when there are no games bein played. I just think about how he played in the spring, and I think 5 loses here we come. I can’t remeber a spring game when our qb didn’t look magnificent. As of now I see murphy or even driskel eventually takin snaps. They should I doubt we win any titles this year. Might as well get ready for the future.

    • GG says:

      If Brantly falls apart, 4 or 5 losses for sure. Unless Murphy can run the show we have a freshman qb and everything that comes with that. Nobody knows until we tee it up.

  9. John S says:

    The quotes are interesting, thanks Adam. I have no idea what to expect this year, but if Wenger and Patchan are available, maybe we can get something moving on offense. SEC Media Days make this new season seem close, started to get excited…

  10. npgator says:

    I don’t mind being under the radar knowing that we have a chance to be a very good team.

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