With the Florida Gators in the middle of preparations for their second game of the season on Sept. 10 at home against UAB, a few prominent players were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing.
PERIMETER BLOCKING A BIG PLUS
Running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey got most of the praise for the offense’s dominant season opening performance against Florida Atlantic. However, as offensive coordinator Charlie Weis pointed out Tuesday and redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. confirmed Wednesday, the perimeter blocking of the pass catchers on outside runs and swing passes was also quite clutch.
“We just embraced [blocking] because [Weis has] put so much emphasis on Demps and Rainey and their speed,” Hammond said. “We know that we don’t have to hold the blocks for that long because they’ll get behind us real quick. He put emphasis on just block, letting them run, get up the field and do what they do. […]
“It’s just trusting the offense and knowing your assignment and what you have to do. When you see it happen and you see him spring and he’s going and you see the number run by you, just knowing that you blocked for your teammate and you’re doing everything to help the team win, it’s a great feeling.”
FRESHMEN STAND OUT TO BOSTIC
Junior mike linebacker Jon Bostic has lot to deal with game-in and game-out, but if one of his younger teammates steps up as much as he thinks he can, things could be a bit easier going forward. Redshirt freshman LB Michael Taylor, who stayed off the field in 2010 but has turned some heads so far this year, may be integral to the unit’s success going forward. “One thing about him – he attacks real well,” Bostic said. “He’s one of those guys – when he sees it, he’s just going to go. He’s got a trigger. […] He’s real important [to the team.] We tell him that every day. He’s just one play away. Anything can happen and he’s in the game. We’re going to need him as the season goes along.”
Bostic has been equally impressed with freshman fullback Hunter Joyer, whose strength and effort have already stood out to him. “Physical. He’s real physical,” he said of Joyer. “The first time I went against him, I came in the hole and I hit him, and I came back and told Jelani [Jenkins]. I said, ‘Have you hit Hunter Joyer yet?’ He’s like, ‘No.’ I’m like, ‘He didn’t move.’” After Bostic chuckled at Joyer’s strength, he explained why he is so important. “He’s quiet – goes out every day and works hard. He’s one of those guys people always look over. They see Rainey scoring, Demps scoring, but he’s that guy that puts in the extra work and gets them to the next level. “
DEFENSE GOOD BUT TURNOVERS NEEDED
However, when it came to game-changing plays in the form of turnovers, he was aware that Florida undoubtedly fell short. “Even though we held them to limited rushing yards and limited passing yards, that’s one thing we need to stress every game,” he said. “We need at least three turnovers a game. That’s our goal every game.” The Gators may have come a bit closer to that goal had Jenkins not dropped a ball that hit him in the hands. “We tell him every day that he can’t catch,” Bostic said laughing.
One thing Jenkins is succeeding at is improving his on-field communication. According to Bostic, the two veteran linebackers are so in-sync that sometimes they do not even need to say anything to each other. “The communication between us is real good, especially with me and Jelani – for some reason we may not even have to talk all the time,” he said. “I may look at him or he may look at me and it’s like I know what he’s thinking, he knows what I’m thinking. We’re trying to get communication like that between all of us.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Hammond on redshirt sophomore WR Andre Debose’s improvement: “He looks a lot more comfortable. He’s making more plays and he’s just coming along. He’s catching the ball, making plays and knowing his assignments. He’s making an improvement. He’s been in the playbook, he’s been working, he’s been making more plays and getting more confident and it’s just carried to the games.”
» Hammond on if Weis’s teachings hold more water than other coaches he’s had: “Yeah but at the same time, if we have a correction or a dilemma, we’re not scared to go up and ask him and say, ‘Well I think this. I’ve seen this. I’ve seen that.’ He’ll break it down. He’ll coach it up. We’ll have our little disputes, but at the end of the day we’ll get it all squared away. When he says something in installs, he’s run that play forever, so I’m pretty sure he knows the ins-and-outs of it and he’s seen it work at the top level so, it works.”
» Bostic on the linebackers’ effort on Saturday: “I’d say we played pretty good. We were aggressive coming down hill. We still have a lot of things we can work on footwork-wise, technique, getting all the calls out. Overall we did pretty well.”
» Bostic on one thing that his unit can improve: “Basically just knowing what we’re doing on every play, getting more comfortable in there. Even though we may be comfortable in practice, getting under the lights and in front of another team, you start thinking a little bit more. We just have to relax when we’re out there.”
» Bostic on if Demps or Rainey ever surprise him: “Yeah. Every time. Like when Demps will break off a run, you say it every time, ‘That guy can run.’ With Rainey, you never know what to expect. He’ll put a move on you to the left or right, you never know what you’re going to get out of him.”
» Bostic on the improvement of the offense: “Our offense did keep us off the field a lot more than we were used to. […] One thing going in, we were like, ‘We were on the field forever last year.’ This year we were pissed off at them in the first half. We were like, ‘Can we play?’ I think end of the second quarter I was in like 12 plays at the most.”