8/8: Wenger, Robey, McCray, Powell speak

By Adam Silverstein
August 8, 2011

With the Florida Gators heading into their first full contact practice ahead of the 2011 season, redshirt senior center Dan Wenger, redshirt junior C Sam Robey, redshirt junior defensive end Lerentee McCray and sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell met with the media to discuss how they are adjusting under the new coaches.

COACHING DIFFERENCES APPARENT

No matter who was asked, it is quite obvious that there are plenty of differences between the old coaching staff and new coaching staff – not necessarily in a good or bad way.

Asked how head coach Will Muschamp differs from Urban Meyer, McCray had some poignant thoughts. “He treats us like adults. He give us standards and then we’ve got to be held to those standards,” he said*. “If we mess up, that’s our fault. He doesn’t baby us and treat us like kids. He treats us like adults.”

Robey said the techniques of new offensive line coach Frank Verducci differ from the philosophy employed by Steve Addazio. “Coach Verducci’s great. It’s a whole different pace than Addazio,” he said. “It’s just more emphasis on our hands – a different type of coaching style.”

Perhaps no one can speak about the coaching style (at least offensively) better than Wenger, who transferred to Florida this year because of Verducci and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis. He said that players need to be aware of one thing in order to stay on their good side. “We’re taught to just be always focused – always zeroed in on what we’re doing at the time,” he said. “There’s no room for slacking off – mentally or physically – whether it be in the classroom or on the field. Just be on top of everything and make sure you have your notebook out.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]WENGER HAPPY TO BE IN ORANGE & BLUE

From nearly never playing again to having a legitimate opportunity to see plenty of field time in 2011, Wenger could not be happier about his transition to playing for the Gators. After suffering two concussions while playing for Notre Dame, Wenger could not get clearance from doctors to return to the field. After visiting Florida and undergoing a battery of tests, he is finally good to go. “I went through probably seven hours of testing just for the concussions,” he said. “Then I had to drive back up here to Gainesville myself to do more testing.”

It was Wenger who reached out to Verducci when the NCAA gave him his clearance to play, and he is thrilled that Muschamp gave him an opportunity to play football once again. “I actually reached out to them. I had gotten the clearance from the NCAA; they had granted me a sixth year of eligibility,” he explained. “I received all my release papers. Once I told coach Verducci the situation, he brought it up to Coach Weis and Coach Muschamp, and they were all for it.”

After just a few weeks in Gainesville, Wenger already feels like a part of the team thanks to how inviting his teammates have been and how much they have looked to him for advice and help in learning the system. “It was pretty weird initially,” he admitted. “It was very surprising to me how welcoming the guys were. It wasn’t that awkwardness of, ‘Oh, here’s the new guy. He’s going to try to steal my position.’ I’m going to be a team guy – whatever needs to be done, whatever I can do to help us win I’m going to do. I’m not holding anything back, not holding any secrets. I played in this system under Coach Weis for four years, so any help I can give to anyone, I’m going to give it to them.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

Wenger on competing with redshirt sophomore Jonotthan Harrison: “We’re pushing each other to our best abilities. He knows that I’m right behind him. […] It’s that good team competition that is going to build us stronger and make us better football players and a better team in general.”

McCray on the tone of practices: “The first couple of days, we’ve been going hard. We have to get in the groove of things and get back to football speed. We’ve been training for the whole summer, so we’ve got to get back into football shape right now.”

McCray on what has been accomplished so far: “Just getting the reads down, working on our technique and fundamentals, staying low, playing with pad level, DBs getting their coverages down, things like that, communication.”

McCray on also playing some linebacker: “It’s going pretty good right now. It’s a mental lapse sometimes, but I have to do it to help the team win.”

Powell on how he approached fall practice: “I definitely wanted to really understand what I was doing and why I was doing it. Really start working with my hands. I did a lot of footwork stuff, because I knew I was going to be asked to do a lot of coverage on the tight end and stuff like that.”

Powell on if he didn’t understand everything last year: “Coming in as a freshman, the game is so fast that really you’re just trying to get the play down. Now not only understanding the play but…Why do I have to use the blood technique on this? Why do I have to be back-and-forth? Stuff like that.”

Powell on how he has matured in the offseason: “To be honest, I was the type of guy that stayed to myself. If a guy wanted to talk to me, I wouldn’t talk to him. Now I have to step in and be a leader. I got to still be me – be friendly, ‘How’s your day going?’ Get to know guys and what they’re going through.”

Redshirt senior G James Wilson on how long he’s been healthy since joining the team: “I made it through my sophomore year halfway through…so I’ve probably made it through a full season [combined].”

Wilson on how he feels now: “The last time I really had any problem was spring ball. Ever since then it’s been nothing but good news.”

* Quote courtesy of the Palm Beach Post.[/EXPAND]

12 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    I feel for Sam Robey, I think he thinks he is Rudy, and will get to play at some point…..I wonder if he realizes Rudy wasn’t a center….and didn’t play in the SEC!

    As for some of the other comments, it seems like the farther and farther away we get from the Meyer era, a lot of these guys didn’t seem to have respect for him/his staff for some reason. That explains a lot of the dysfunction last year, if so.

  2. Aligator says:

    So how did urb’s treat them, like kids? people got away with murder or something?

  3. Tractorr says:

    Something I always noticed about Meyer was how much he leaned on his best players. This may sound like a stupid comment, but think back even to the last championship season. How much of the offense was Tebow and Harvin? Granted these were two of the best players in the nation but it always felt to me like other guys were not getting the ball as much as they should. The point I am trying to make is I got the feeling that Meyer expected players to be at a certain level and he was not that interested in you if you were not. Perhaps the current staff is more interested in developing talent.

    • Off the top of my head, look at AH and Murphy’s receiving numbers in 2008. I’d guess they combined for 12-14 TDs.

      • Tractorr says:

        One if these days I will look through the box scores to see if my theory is correct but I would be willing to bet a lot of those touchdowns came against less powerful opponents.

        • TDs against rivals and ranked opponents in 2008 (non-Tebow/Harvin):

          Hernandez vs. UT
          Demps, Moore vs. LSU
          Moore vs. LSU
          Murphy, Thompson vs. UGA
          Rainey, Demps, Thompson, Hernandez vs. SC
          Demps, Hernandez (2), Murphy vs. FSU
          Demps, Cooper, Nelson, Moore vs. Alabama (no Harvin)
          Murphy, Nelson vs. Oklahoma

  4. npgator says:

    I have a huge amount of confidence in our defense next year and if the O-line stays healthy our offense should be clicking on all cylinders.

  5. Joe says:

    I think a lot of the younger guys probably resent Meyer a little bit because of the tough seasons we had in 2009 and 2010.
    Even though we went 13-1 and won the Sugar Bowl in 2009, it was not the most enjoyable season.
    2010 was obviously awful too.

    Coach Meyer was not the same after he handed the offense to Addazio, but I hope our fans give him the legendary status he deserves.

    • Tractorr says:

      I don’t think it was so much as Addazio (I know Addazio was out of his depth at Florida but) as it was the lack Mullen. I personally believe Mullen was more the mastermind behind the Florida offense. That is why I wonder if Meyer were to go to OSU if he would ever be able to replicate his success. I don’t think this is only true of Meyer. It seems that some coaches build up a cohesive unit of assistants and when they leave they are never the same. Sure they can hire the best up and comers but the chemistry just isn’t there.

      • G2 says:

        True, Urban got all the credit (and blame last year) but there’s more to it than that. SA was a terrible combo OC/OL coach, defensive side better but not great? I really think coach boom will do a great job if given time. The problem lies when you have a coaching change and miss out on key recruits, it hurts…. takes some time to catch up…plus you rivals keep getting better.

      • scooterp says:

        Last year was a bad lab experiment that went awry. I strongly believe Urban wanted leave the program in the hands of some of those who helped reserect it. When Foley started looking at candidates elsewhere and didn’t consider anyone on the current staff, at that time – I think that the thought of handing the keys to the program to an outsider and the impact of the many coaches and staff members who would lose their job was killing him inside. It was an attempt to allow Addazio to show what he could do with the added responsibility. And it failed – miserably.

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