Gators players speak at 2012 football media day

By Adam Silverstein
August 3, 2012

One day before fall practice began on Friday, the Florida Gators held the official team’s media day where head coach Will Muschamp and dozens of players discussed the upcoming season. Below is some of what the players had to say as it relates to the Gators in 2012. Though all practices will be closed to both fans and media, Florida has decided to hold fan day on Saturday, August 18, which will include a special open practice at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (9-11 a.m.) followed by fan activities in the Stephen C. O’Connell Center (3-6 p.m.).

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN US?

The hot topic of conversation, one that was not only addressed by Muschamp but seemingly every other player on the team, was if one of the team’s two sophomore quarterbacks either led for the job or was preferred by teammates to win the gig. When asked themselves, sophomores Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel took a more matter-of-fact approach at the topic.

“I’m going out there to win the job,” Driskel said. “That’s what we’re all trying to do. Going to have to go from there.”

He added that both he and Brissett know exactly what Muschamp wants from the quarterback position and that they are trying to bring it every day in practice.

“You’re always going to have to be a leader, that’s the first thing,” he said. “That’s what coach is looking for and that’s what he’s said the whole time. And he’s going to look for the guy that’s going to produce. If you don’t produce, you’re not going to play, and that’s basically how it’s been the whole time.”

To that end, redshirt junior guard Jon Halapio said he and the entire team has noticed how well both players have developed.

“I’ve definitely seen both of them grow as leaders this [offseason],” he said. “They’re only sophomores but it’s funny how they interact with the players because you would think they’re seniors just the way they carry themselves in and out of the film room. They live in the stadium basically. They’re constantly watching film. It’s just fun to watch them grow and become these leaders at such a young age.”

Whoever does win that job will have Gator Nation’s eyes and his team’s fate squarely on his shoulders, though that is a situation that Driskel claims he would embrace.

“Being the quarterback at Florida, there’s always going to be pressure. You just have to go out and perform and not worry about pressure by the media and by everybody else,” he said.

And if Driskel should end up winning the job, Brissett said he would be OK with that because he knows there is only one way that would be accomplished.

“If he beats me out then he did a hell of a job to do it because he’s going to get the best I have every day,” Brissett said.

Read much, much more from the players at media day…after the break!

PITTMAN PUSHING FOR PLAYING TIME

For a team in desperate need of playmakers, freshman wide receiver Latroy Pittman could be exactly what the doctor ordered. Not only have Muschamp and some of the other coaches taken notice, many of Pittman’s veteran teammates are impressed with what they have seen from him in spring and over the summer.

“Man, he’s a great guy. I came into college at 173; he comes in at 201. So he’s definitely a man amongst child,” redshirt junior WR Andre Debose said. “He’s just a physical guy. Him coming in as a freshman, he pretty much has all the tools that you need to compete at this level. He just needs to polish up his routes and everything and I feel like he’s going to be a very special player here at Florida.”

Redshirt senior Frankie Hammond, Jr. is glad Pittman will be able to help the Gators but notes that his presence is a reminder to the veterans that no one’s job is safe.

“That definitely gives guys like us a reality check,” Hammond said of Pittman’s emergence. “The best guys are going to play, so if he comes in and he’s been here six months and he’s making plays and doing it, you’ve got to put him on the field. We understand that keeps us on our toes and lets us know we can’t slip up because he’s right there behind us.”

QUOTES

» Driskel on the motions and shifts being installed for the offense: “[Offensive coordinator Brent Pease] wants to try and confuse the defense. I was talking to [Jon] Bostic and he said, ‘You guys got all kinds of plays already and this is just day three.’ But we only had a few plays, but the different motions and different shifts and different formations – that kind of throws the defense off and confuses them.”

» Brissett on the difference between Driskel and himself: “I stay better looking than him. We actually got in an argument about it because I told him I’m the best looking quarterback at the University of Florida.”

» Debose on how the offense has evolved: “I feel like Coach Pease is not scared to take a lot of shots downfield. I feel like Coach Pease is really behind his power football game in the run game. He’s really behind those two things – explosive plays downfield and power run game down field. That’s what he’s really about.”

» Debose on his outlook for the upcoming season (via GatorZone.com): “I know I can run with most of the people around, and I know I can catch the ball, but it’s trying to get open. That’s the thing I’m working on the most. A lot of people have been expecting a lot of things out of me on a consistent basis and I just take that and run with it. It must makes me want to perform each and every Saturday and show the world what I can do.”

» Redshirt junior center Jonotthan Harrison on the 2011 season: “That’s just not Florida. Last year was not Florida.”

» Halapio on the offseason program: “I feel like this summer was the best summer that I’ve seen this football team come together as long s I’ve been here.”

» Junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell on benefitting from his torn ACL: “This injury has given me something better than football – a mindset. I can actually take that to my family. I can sit my [children] down one day and say, ‘Hey, maybe when you’re going through hard times, this is when you have to push through. It’s only going to make you stronger.’ I didn’t have that before. Now, I do.”

» Powell on if he will redshirt this season if he is not going to be ready until late in the year: “I don’t plan on redshirting, but like I said, if it’s in God’s will to do that, that will be my decision.”

» Powell on his prognosis going forward: “I’ve always been a fast heeler. I’ve always been able to push through things. […] [The doctors] say I’m doing good, and I just come in every day ready to work, ready for their plan and I do it.”

» Redshirt senior LB Lerentee McCray on Florida’s strong defense: “Our defense I feel like is 11 people on the field but it’s really one person out there. When we’re all out there, we all got our voice but everybody listens to each other and our chemistry is great. We do everything together; we might even use the bathroom together. We got a lot of chemistry going on with our defense. We feel real comfortable. Whoever they put on the field against us, we feel like we can beat them.”

» Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson on how the team feels about Muschamp: “We feed off of him. However he’s feeling, that’s how the team’s going to feel. He’s a great guy so you know with his leadership we’re able to follow and prosper off of that.”

» Roberson on chemistry in the secondary: “The experience, for one, is going to take care of itself. We’re learning each day, taking it day by day, getting better. We’re going to have a good year.”

» Roberson on his health following a scary neck injury last season: “I feel good. I feel better than when I left. I feel this experience helped me a lot.”

» Senior running back Mike Gillislee on if he can reach 1,000 rushing yards: “Yeah, most definitely. If I stay healthy, number one.”

» Junior Trey Burton on his role with the team: “My role is whatever Coach Pease needs, whatever Coach White needs, hopefully get to move around and play different positions.”

» Redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis on his health: “This is the healthiest I’ve been in two years. I feel really excited about this season both from a personal standpoint and from a team standpoint. I think we made a lot of improvements in the offseason, and I’m excited [to see] what we can do this year.”

Quotes in the above piece are courtesy of the GatorVision.tv and Florida.

4 Comments

  1. GatorGrad98 says:

    Reading between the lines, or rather what’s printed, Brissett is not talking much. His quotes are not noteworthy & he seems to be more concerned with how handsome he is rather than the state of the team & coaches (unless he is just uncomfortable talking with the media). Nothing against Jacoby, seems like a good kid, but there seems to be a bit of media favoritism towards Jeff???? From the articles I have read to the questions being asked of these two QBs… Maybe I am reading more into this than I should but there seems to be some favor towards Jeff, regardless of what Muschamp is saying… I am curious as to how this will play out.

  2. pecan says:

    I’m sorry, but I love the fact he avoids the questions. I think his “concerns” are to try to dodge the issue and get back to work. The way he interacts with the media is reminiscent of Saban (and hence, CWM), which i believe is a good thing. A healthy arrogance is necessary to play the position successfully, as long as it does not go to excess…

  3. scooterp says:

    Really? You’ve formed an opinion on Brissett based on that one quote? Reading between the lines – he fielded a question, that depending on you answered it, could make many on the team uncomfortable. He avoided the trap by taking a stab at humor. I thought he handled it rather well………… and yes, I’ve gotten the pro-Driskell feel from the media and fans as well. I really don’t think anyone cares as long as we win. But, in my opinion Brissett appeared more composed and less rattled than Driskell when they had their opportunities last year.

  4. pecan says:

    Scooter, Exactly. His avoiding the question he gets asked 100 times a day with some humor and poise is impressive… Even more so when you think he is a true sophomore. Both Driskel and Brissett have both handled themselves with maturity.

    I love the fact he came here to compete. I have faith that the player who gives us the best chance to win will start this year (or see the majority of reps). This comes with the expectation that whoever is number two will be deemed the better option when or offense struggles–as is expected of any team, especially given or current state.

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