9/1: Muschamp, players discuss season opener

By Adam Silverstein
September 1, 2012

No. 23 Florida Gators football (1-0) struggled a bit but eventually pulled away from the Bowling Green Falcons (0-1) on Saturday afternoon in the season opener for both teams at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. After the game head coach Will Muschamp and a handful of players discussed what occurred on the field.

MUSCHAMP’s OPENING STATEMENT

“It was good to get a win. We had some situations in the first half that killed ourselves offensively with again a couple of penalties. It put us behind in the sticks a little bit. I thought we ran the ball very well against a team that was loading the box. And we weren’t run-checking. I told Brent, ‘Run it.’ We need to develop toughness in our program and what we are trying to do. Obviously on my part [I was] probably a little hard-headed at times. […] Pleased with the win but obviously, looking at the game and studying the tape, we did some things that we need to tie up as far as creating some plays down the field offensively, which I think the run game will do for us. […] We just need to go back and work at it. We got a long season in front of us.”

HAS A STARTING QUARTERBACK BEEN CHOSEN?

Despite seeing the field for the vast majority (10-of-13) of the drives including all eight in the second half, sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel was not officially named the starter by Muschamp after the game.

“I haven’t made that decision,” he said. “We felt like Jacoby [Brissett] did a good job. There was nothing he wasn’t doing. I felt like the rhythm of the game dictated that we were going to need some pocket movement as far as some boots and nakeds and moving the pocket. I felt like Jeff gave us that better opportunity.”

Muschamp said the coaching staff was trying to be fair to everybody which is why Driskel got the first quarter and Brissett the second. He added that Driskel seeing the field more was not indicative of any decision and that a conversation with offensive coordinator Brent Pease on Sunday will be the next step he will take in coming to a conclusion.

He also explained why both signal callers were on the field for the first play of the game with Brissett behind center and Driskel out at wide receiver.

“I thought they both deserved to start the game,” he said. “I just felt like both of them deserved to start based on their training camp being two of our better players on the offensive side of the ball; they both deserved to trot out there and start the game. And that is what we came up with.”

Read the rest of this post for notes on the running game, penalties and numerous other occurrences during the contest…after the break!

RELYING ON THE RUNNING GAME

Muschamp admitted that he was “stubborn” at times during the contest, insisting that Pease run the ball as often as possible including multiple times on 3rd and 4th down with short yardage to go. He chose not to blame the offensive line for the Gators’ failures in converting these situations but rather his decision making of being so obvious and allowing the defense to stack eight in the box.

“I was very stubborn about wanting to run the ball in those situations,” he said. “And I told Brent on the headset, ‘We’re going to run the ball.’ And then he asked about the naked and I said, ‘Run it.’ I said, ‘Let’s hit it.’ We had it open; we just have to put it on the guy. You can preach a certain sermon over and over again but until you’re willing to go do it out there in front of the Gator Nation and the fans, it’s not what you’re actually about. And we’re going to be a physical organization. And you’ve got to do it; you can’t talk about it.”

Muschamp, of course, was referring to having a power running game, one that can be counted on consistently throughout the game. To this end he said he was proud of what Florida accomplished though he knows that Pease has more in store for future opponents.

“I got to give the offensive coordinator a little bit more latitude to throw the ball in those situations as well. That’s on me, not him or not our offensive line,” he said. “I don’t care who you face, if you really look at some of the run boxes we ran against today, we ran the ball extremely well. Those [stops on short yardage] are disappointing; I’m not trying to take anything off that. But that’s also a little bit of me telling the offensive coordinator, ‘We’re going to run the football right here.’”

He continued: “Brent’s a lot more imaginative. I can assure you of that. But I told him, ‘We’re going to run the football. We need to establish what we are.’ You can’t talk about it; you got to be about it and you got to do it. And we made the decision going in the game, that’s what we were going to do in this football game.”

Muschamp added: “Again, as our competition heats up a little bit, we got to be able to open up our offense more. And we will. It’s a long season. You got to understand that it’s not just about emptying your bullet here in game one. We got to win the game, do what we go to do to win the game, and that’s what we did. As we move to week two, we need to be able to open ourselves up a little bit more. We kind of purposely put things out there that we want people to obviously work on as far as what we are and who we are. I think today was a good feel for Brent on some of the guys he can count on in these situations because I don’t really think until you really have been in with the guys in those situations you really know [how good they are].”

PENALTIES STILL A PROBLEM

The Gators spent all offseason working on being a more disciplined team at the line of scrimmage and overall on both sides of the ball. Florida did not like it improved much at all in that category on Saturday after committing 10 first-half penalties and 14 total (for 106 yards) over the course of the game.

“This is something we’ve worked on,” Muschamp said after the contest. “I addressed it with the team at the end of the game. Believe me, we’ve exhausted every measure I know. So we’re going to continue to do so. […] We’re going to look at the tape and obviously make some changes for some guys that can’t stay on-side.”

Penalties cost the Gators on Saturday. Procedural miscues ended offensive drives early, pushing Florida back further and making first downs more difficult. Personal fouls hurt the defense. A 15-yard rushing the passer penalty by redshirt senior Buck linebacker Lerentee McCray on the Falcons’ second offensive drive put them in the red zone and brought them closer to a touchdown; a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty on redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose while chasing down a fake punt brought BGSU down to UF’s 27.

The mistakes upset Muschamp but did not phase him.

“I’m very confident. I am. I like this football team. I like where we are. We wanted to be 1-0 leaving today and that’s what we are,” he said. “Are there things we need to work on? Yes. Regardless of the outcome of the game, we were going to have things we needed to work on and tie up and certainly improve from game one to game two. That’s going to be every single year. Certainly feel a lot better than I did a year ago, I can tell you that.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp on redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. following up two drops with a big 50-yard touchdown: “He’s been a consistent guy for us, a guy that I’ve always said it’s just a matter of going out and making some plays. And he finally did it.”

» Muschamp on freshman Buck LB Dante Fowler, Jr. and his fourth-down stop: “He’s going to be a good football player, has just go to continue to learn the game, got to play himself in shape. He’s not in the best of shape right now.”

» Muschamp on if UF set the tone for the season: “Yep. We’re 1-0.”

» Muschamp on having 4,000 fewer fans at the opener than one year ago: “I’m not overly concerned about it. We need to win football games and that’s what we’re going to do.”

» Muschamp on certain players not seeing the field more: “How well did you practice? You actually do have to practice here now.”

» Injury updates were not provided or junior long snapper Drew Ferris (who appeared to hurt his shoulder or collarbone on a fumble recovery), senior safety Josh Evans (who hobbled off the field on the same play) or junior defensive end Dominique Easley (who appeared to tweak his surgically-repaired left knee).

» Driskel on how he felt in the offense on Saturday: “It was an easy day for me. All I had to do was turnaround and give it to Gillislee. The offensive line was creating holes and he was hitting them, so an easy day for me.”

» Driskel on if he feels that he is now the starter: “I’m not worried about that right now. The goal was to get a win and that’s what we came out with. We were worried about game one and that’s it. So we’re happy with the win.”

» Driskel on if he hopes to throw it more in the future: “Why not rely on the run when we’re pounding it all day long? Third-and-one, I expect us to get one yard. The offensive line has proved that they’re able to do that. But with packed boxes we’re going to have to take some shots [down the field].”

» Driskel on when he knew that he would play the first quarter: “They told us yesterday that we were both going to be on the field the first play and then after that I was going to take the first quarter and Jacoby was going to take the second quarter and go from there. […] They said I was going to go out the third quarter and then just went from there.”

» Driskel on Hammond’s touchdown and how it affected him: “He’s the one who made a move and put it in the end zone. That was my first touchdown pass, so it gave me a little confidence.”

» Hammond on his touchdown: “I worked hard all this camp. To finally see some of it pay off is definitely exciting. There’s still some work to be done, but as long as there is a progression being made [I’m happy].”

» Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson on his interception in the second half: “It was a dropped pass so I was lucky enough to catch the pick in the first place. But it felt good just to make a play for the team and help us. […] It felt good. I just like to see guys happy. When we win, we all have happy faces.”

13 Comments

  1. GatorKen says:

    really would like to see Champ let Pease run the offense and make the decisions.

  2. gator says:

    Pick a QB and LET THE KID PLAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  3. AnObfuscator says:

    “I got to give the offensive coordinator a little bit more latitude to throw the ball in those situations as well. That’s on me, not him or not our offensive line”

    I’m glad he understands that. Muschamp needs to let Pease do his job, and focus on his defense, which was pretty weak. There’s no way we can handle Texas A&M or Tennessee when we miss tackles like that against a bad MAC team.

  4. Aligator says:

    micromanage!!

  5. flgtr95 says:

    “I haven’t made that decision,” he said. “We felt like Jacoby [Brissett] did a good job. There was nothing he wasn’t doing. I felt like the rhythm of the game dictated that we were going to need some pocket movement as far as some boots and nakeds and moving the pocket. I felt like Jeff gave us that better opportunity.”

    In other words, our offensive line can’t block in passing situations against an undersized BGSU defense and Brissett will not see the field because he will not be able to run for his life once our line takes on an SEC defense.

  6. GatorGrad98 says:

    There is no way they have not picked a QB. The most important reps are game time reps & to not have your “starting QB” take the majority of the reps prior to one of your biggest games… No way!!! Driskel is the guy!!! Is Muschamp in the secret service or something???? I really do like him but this non-disclosure of his is very annoying. I understand the importance of not opening everything up for your opponents, but this is a bit extreme in my opinion. Just call it!!!! Good grief!!!

  7. BKP says:

    Sounds like he’s in over his head sadly……

  8. nugent1021 says:

    I read this last night and was so aggravated. It sounds like excuses to me. They repeatedly said prior to the game that they were going to prepare just for this game and take each game one at a time and not look ahead. Then, after the game they’re basically saying they didn’t want to show their hand and didn’t play their game?!?? Sounds like Urban speak, but it definitely reminds me of the Zook years where he would mess with the offensive and make poor decisions. What are we paying Pease $2mil/yr for, then treating him like an admin assistant? I hate WVU, but they (Holgrenson) go out against Marshall and put up 10 touchdowns and get the crowd behind them. They don’t worry about the next game, they play to win each and every game and are enjoyable to watch.

    I think actions have to speak louder than words. We’ve had a lot of coach speak the year prior to Champ, Champ’s first year, and now this year. We’re going to have a long season this year based on that game. Adam, I hope you’re right about waiting til next game. Thoughts?

  9. G2 says:

    I waited 8 months for this?? I could have handed the ball off….don’t think Gilly will be able to take the sec pounding with this many carries!

  10. WallyGator9 says:

    Offense played poorly in key situations. Defense is good but not good enough to keep turning away the opponent offense series after series. 6-14 BG positions ending in punts, 3-14 3 and out Just got to punt point on the board between those.

    I don’t think that this Bowling Green team looked undersized in the least bit.

    As a coach I can tell you that playing someone with nothing to lose (Furman last year), especially with a young team is always a trap. Boys are going to get rolling.

    I agree we need to name a quarterback it is hard for either of them to build any confidence when they know they are under an intense microscope. One that can result in a loss of the starting job with one mistake. When you are thinking like you squeeze the ball a bit tighter, you miss easy passes, you are afraid of taking risks that can result in big plays.

    Sounds like coach really held back the play book and forced the issue in the run game, even when they defense was ready for it. And in the end… the run game was successful.

    Let just get behind these young Gators and see how far they take us.

  11. alex says:

    We are what we are

    A mediocre football team

    Say hello to 6-6

  12. Wyndell says:

    Two words. Trey Burton(bigtime sec athlete)

  13. Pingback: Look, I am fed up with the fear - Page 5 - VolNation

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