8/29: Brantley’s sore back, Burton’s primary fear, Bostic’s thoughts on the defense

By Adam Silverstein
August 29, 2011

With the Florida Gators beginning weekly preparations for their first game on Sept. 3 at home against Florida Atlantic, a number of prominent players were made available to the media on Monday to discuss how the team is progressing.

BRANTLEY’s BACK SHOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM

Confirming what head coach Will Muschamp indicated last week, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley said he has been having issues with his back recently but promised that, while he has missed some practice time, he will be a full-go for the game on Saturday. “I’ve been feeling good lately,” he said. “I’m ready to move forward. I’m not worried about it at all.”

STEPPING UP AS A TRUE LEADER AND MOTIVATOR

Saying he has become “probably a little more vocal, a little more comfortable with everything in the starting leadership role,” Brantley expressed that he has matured a lot in the offseason and figured out exactly what he needs to do from a leadership standpoint going forward. “You got to carry yourself very well off the field. You have to be a leader on- and off-the field – make sure everyone’s doing the right thing, going to class, doing their studies,” he said. “There’s no one way to do it – you just know what’s right and wrong.”

The miscues and mistakes from one year ago have aided him in that development. Now he is able to forget plays that (as he said) “killed the momentum” and “sucked the wind out of us” and move forward. “Last year definitely helped me grow up a lot. It matured me a whole bunch,” Brantley said. “I think I’ve grown up a lot. I’m ready for this season. I’m ready to deal with ups and downs if they come our way, and I’m excited.”

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis has also had a big role in changing Brantley’s mindset going into this season. “He mentions it to me – not too often but often enough – to keep forgetting about last year and just keep moving forward. Even this year, if something happens, you just got to forget about it,” he recalled. “You can’t beat yourself up about it. You got to play the next play no matter what happens the play before. You can’t have that hanging over your head because that can affect more plays in the future.”

BURTON SHARES HIS WORST FEAR

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]For “Mr. Versatile,” sophomore running back Trey Burton, there is only one thing he is scared of on the football field. “My worst fear is sitting on the bench,” he said Monday. “I told coach, I’ll do anything he wants me to do.” That is one of the reasons why Burton has accepted so many roles with the team – in order to stay on the field as much as possible and give the Gators their best chance to win.

Part of that versatility included Burton learning how to block when he is in the backfield. That has been a difficulty for him but something he continues to improve on. “I’m still trying to get comfortable with it because it’s a whole new different thing, especially at this level, it’s a lot harder,” he explained. “I’m going to always need to work on something, especially with stuff I’ve never really done before. […] Coach Weis tries to give everybody the ball as much as he can. You can’t touch the ball every play, so I have to be doing something else.”

Perhaps the most difficult thing for him to learn, however, is actually being handed the ball rather than taking it directly and running with it. “[It’s] a lot different. Probably the hardest thing I’ve had to work on this camp is receiving a handoff instead of just catching it from the center and running with it,” Burton said. “Last year we did a lot of reading defensive linemen and linebacker and stuff like that. This year it’s more smash-mouth football compar[atvely].”

“THE FORGOTTEN GATORS”

Motivation tactics are a dime a dozen these days, but junior linebacker Jon Bostic sounded genuine when talking about his team’s chances going into the 2011 season. Bostic noted that while nationally Florida may not be getting much respect, the atmosphere inside the locker room is one of hard work, top-notch effort and dedication to being the best the team can be this year.

“We’re not looking to back down from anybody. A lot of people are overlooking us right now, but we got to prepare each and every week to go play on Saturday,” he explained. “You can just see it. A lot of people from everywhere are just overlooking us. Everybody’s kind of like the forgotten Gators, you know. It doesn’t bother us at all. That’s how we’re trying to look at it. We’re trying to take it day-by-day, play-by-play.”

DEFENSE WORKING OUT THE KINKS

Following a rough scrimmage last week, Muschamp chastised the team for a lack of execution and making too many mistakes. Taking a look at the tape, Bostic said he understands why Muschamp was upset and thinks the team turned the corner at the end of the week.

“There was a lot of things that went wrong in the scrimmage. I didn’t think it was as bad as it was when I was out there, watching it back on film, but there was a lot of little mistakes that he gets tired of,” he explained. “A lot of people were still making those same errors from the first days of camp. He’s a little frustrated about that. We had a pretty good practice after that day. I don’t know exactly what it was, but a lot of people were making mistakes – even myself – but towards the end of last week we got everything fixed up and we’re ready to go.”

Bostic believes the younger players on the defensive side of the ball are really coming together in that regard. “At the beginning of camp, some guys were still lost because they were throwing a lot of things at some of the freshman,” he said. “Some of the guys came out a little confused, but you can see even last week a lot of those guys are picking that up and they’re not making the same mistakes they were making earlier in camp.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Brantley on if the fans will like the new offense: “I think they’re going to be very pleased. We’ve had a great camp, a great three weeks, and we’re excited just to get out there and play against someone else besides ourselves. We’re looking forward to showing our fans what new Gator football is doing.”

» Brantley on how he feels behind the offensive line: “Very comfortable. They’ve done a great job; they’ve made so much progress in camp and everything. I feel really comfortable behind them and trust them with everything.”

» Brantley on Weis’s specialty: “Coach Weis does a real great job of using what’s working. He’ll use the same thing until it doesn’t work anymore and then change it up.”

» Brantley on redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed: “He’s going to be a huge weapon. He’s one of the best athletes out there on the field. We’re going to put him in positions to make plenty of plays. He’s just going to go out there and keep going hard every play.”

» Brantley on former offensive coordinator Steve Addazio: “I think Coach Addazio is a great coach and a great guy. I respect the man so much. We definitely miss him.”

» Brantley on his favorite targets at wideout: “They all are, to be honest with you. They’ve all had a great camp and made plenty of plays. I feel very comfortable getting them the ball. Probably Deonte [Thompson] and Frankie [Hammond, Jr.] – I’ve been around them the most and feel real comfortable with them.”

» Bostic on the difference between new defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and last year’s DC Teryl Austin: “The variety of stuff he brings to the table. He’s one of those guys who brings multiple types of defenses – we can do different types of things with the linebackers, defensive line, the buck position, he has a lot of different things he can bring to the table.”

» Bostic on Brantley’s composure: “A lot of stuff went wrong on the offensive side of the ball [last year], but he kept his head high. A lot of people are saying his confidence may be down this year, but I didn’t see that at all this offseason. I saw one of those guys who walked around with his head high, anxious to get back on the field.”

» Sophomore buck linebacker Ronald Powell on if he thinks his position is the most critical: “On the field any position is key because we all work together. It takes all of us.”

» Powell on seniors returning to the team: “It’s meant a lot to us for guys like [Brantley] to come back and step up as a leader. Along with Jeff Demps and guys like them coming back. They’ve been there before and they know what it takes. Now they’re taking over and leading us in the right way. [Brantley is] a lot more vocal. He’s really taken control of the offense and taken control of the team.”

» Powell on the practice after the “bad” scrimmage last week: “Guys were coming in and really getting focused. [There were] a lot less mental errors. Guys just really working hard.”[/EXPAND]

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