8/8: Gators evaluate each other in practice

By Adam Silverstein
August 8, 2013

A handful of Florida Gators football players met with the media on Thursday to discuss how the team is looking at the start of fall practices.

“IT’S LIKE WE GOT TO PLAY WITH PILLOWS NOW.”

Suffice to say, redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor is not pleased with the NCAA’s new targeting and contact rules that restrict hits in games and allow referees on the field to assess penalties and eject players during games.

“It’s unfortunate. It’s kind of hard. It’s like we got to play with pillows now,” he quipped on Thursday. “[The coaches] tell you. We watch film. If you come through free on a blitz, they tell you that you got to target low. If you got a receiver flying across the middle, we don’t kill them in practice, but they let you know you can’t go targeting his head. I understand they’re trying to make the game safer.”

Taylor does not plan to change the way he plays, however, noting that thinking about the rule could result in mistakes being made on the field.

“I’m just going to react and play,” he said. “You can’t hold back because that’s when you give up plays, you give up big plays, giving up touchdowns. You can’t think when you’re on the field sometimes; you just got to react. So that’s what I feel. That’s all we have to do. And sometimes it’s out of our hands.”

Taylor also explained the message that head coach Will Muschamp conveyed to the team during meetings throughout the offseason.

“He’s telling us: ‘Be smart. Play smart about it. Don’t go running directly into a guy’s helmet. Don’t launch yourself. If you’re going to hit somebody, hit them face-up. Don’t launch yourself into them. If you’re making a tackle, wrap him up like you’re taught in Pop Warner.’”


PLAYERS DISCUSS THEIR TEAMMATES

» Junior fullback Hunter Joyer on freshman running back Kelvin Taylor: “His ability to just make cuts. His feet are really fast. It’s different than most running backs. Most running backs have fast feet, but his are just like really fast. He has a little extra something to him. He just makes cut-backs and everything, plays designed to go one way and he has the ability to cut it back the other way and break loose.”

» Joyer on redshirt junior FB Gideon Ajagbe: “He’s doing a phenomenal job so far. He’s being limited on mistakes and he’s doing what he’s asked. He’s going hard and really grinding this year.”

» Junior tight end Clay Burton on redshirt junior LB Ronald Powell: “He’s doing really well. Him and [Dante] Fowler are really, really good. We go against them every day, and that’s what makes us better. I don’t think, if we didn’t have those two guys, that we would be progressing and doing as well as we have been doing in this camp. He’s doing really, really, really, really good.”

» Michael Taylor on Powell: “Coming off that injury like that, staying around us, not going into a shell, staying around us and keeping us motivated, trying to keep us pumped up. I think that’ll be big having him back.”

» Burton on redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy: “He really has stepped up as a leader. He’s playing well. I think he got ‘Player of the Day’ a few days ago. … I think he could win a game for us if he needed to play. I just think he’s doing a really good job.”

» Redshirt junior RB Mack Brown on Murphy: “He’s looking good, man. Murph looks good right now at quarterback. Throwing check downs, throwing vertical, he has a lot of confidence right now.” Could the Gators with a game with Murphy starting? “I believe so. With the coaches we have, I feel like we can win any game with our type of coaches.”

» Brown on losing redshirt senior wide receiver/kick returner Andre Debose for the season with a torn ACL: “It hurt, man. When I heard the news, I had to pause for a couple of minutes because he was having his best camp that I had seen since I have been here. … When somebody goes down with an injury like that, you want to give them a couple days because you don’t know what they’re going through. So I just prayed for him. … I think he’s the best returner in the country, college and pro, if you ask me. Just as far as quickness when he catches the ball. We lose a lot. We have people to fill in for him, but it’s hard to replace a guy like Andre Debose.”

» Michael Taylor on losing Debose to injury: “That’s really detrimental. You lose one of the guys who can break a game open instantaneously. He’s a playmaker. He’s a positive guy to have around the locker room. When you see him, he’s smiling, he’s joking, he’s laughing. He’s a good friend of mine. Not even just having him football-wise – because a lot of times life is bigger than the game of football – just having him around being that same person. Because with an injury like that, it takes a lot out of you. It’s going to really hurt us, but it’s just production we’re going to have to make up for.”

» Michael Taylor on freshman LB Daniel McMillian and what he does well: “I’d say instincts. He’s fast. He can get to the ball. And if he knows where the ball’s going to go, he can get there. So I can say it’s instincts and its speed. … It’s a very complex scheme and he’s not just going to pick it up in a matter of months. It’s going to be new things going in that you’re not going to know, so you’re going to have to adjust to it. It’s just the learning curve of it for a freshman, you’re going to have to go through it when you’re new to a scheme.”

» Brown on sophomore walk-on RB Mark Herndon: “He’s going to do a lot of special teams, a lot of running back, too. Because he’s looking good too, as well, he’s having a good camp so far.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Brown on the importance of getting the starting quarterback, junior Jeff Driskel back in practice: “It’s very important because the first game is in a couple weeks. You need your starting quarterback and everybody to get familiar with each other. The offense runs through Jeff, so it’s good to have him back.”

» Brown on the offense’s cohesion this year: “A lot better. This is our first time having a coordinator for two seasons straight. So I feel like we’ll be more faster, more productive this year.”

» Michael Taylor on the team’s depth at linebacker: “We do still have to bring some guys along. We still have to work on depth. But I feel we’re perfectly fine with whatever we have. Some guys have gone down, but as [Muschamp] says, ‘Man down, man up.’ With the injuries, injuries are going to hurt, but we’ll get some guys back so it’ll be fine.”

One Comment

  1. Timmy T says:

    Hell yeah. Let’s get this party started!!!!!!

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