As the Florida Gators prepare for their first road test of the 2011 season on Sept. 24 against Kentucky, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s 33-23 victory over Tennessee as well as the upcoming contest.
WEIS NOT A HAPPY CAMPER…OFFENSIVELY
Florida’s offense may be much improved from a year ago, but don’t tell that to Weis, who has found plenty of ways in which to pick apart the Gators heading into their first road game of the season. “Actually I’m pretty disappointed. Am I content that we’ve been able to move the ball pretty consistently the first three games? Yes. I think that anyone who really is meticulous in their preparation at this stage of the season finds a lot of faults in things we’ve done,” he explained. “I think we can get a lot better on offense than we are right now. I think we can get a lot better.”
What is it exactly that perturbs Weis? A number of things. He explains:
“[On] third down we’re 31 percent. I had to throw a play action pass on the goal line to get it in, then we had to go for it on fourth down to get it in. I’m not too fired up about that. I said 31 percent on third down – that makes me miserable.
“We fumbled the ball one time. Turnovers, I’m not very happy about that.
“Got the ball back with four-and-a-half minutes to go in the game with a chance to run it out, we didn’t do that. Not very happy about that. We get the ball at the end of the game and we have to be smarter situationally to make sure we don’t run out of bounds.
“Seven penalties, sign me up for not being happy about that, too. Three line of scrimmage penalties at home, that doesn’t cut any water.
“And then throw on top of that the missed calls that I might make during the game and the number of mental errors you have during the game, trust me, there are plenty of things for me to be miserable about.”
Some of those other things?
Inefficiency in the red zone: “What really killed us in the red zone were penalties. Any time you have penalties in the red zone, it almost always prevents you from scoring touchdowns and you end up kicking field goals.”
A big blocking mistake: “We gave up a sack on a mental error on a +13 after a turnover. We had the ball first-and-10 on the 13 yard line, and the quarterback – he had no chance on the play because we turned a guy free. Now we don’t turn them free, somebody might get beat but we don’t turn them free. Add that to the list of things I’m not very happy about.”
…BUT HE LOVES HIS NEW JOB
He also talked about being able to come home at night and spend time with his wife and daughter, even if only for a few minutes. “Football season is always tough because when I’m here…Nora [his wife] is probably buying something right now. I’ll see it on the credit card here in about 30 days,” Weis joked. “You still don’t give your family the fair amount of time, but that’s just the nature of the beast. But it is nice being able to go home and give my daughter a kiss goodnight, talk to my wife for a few minutes before we go to bed. It’s been fun. As I said before, Nora – besides her love for people with special needs – she’s a horse person. Living in the area where we’re living, I think she feels like she’s died and gone to heaven.”
Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley: “John’s done a nice job. He deserves a lot of credit for going from where he was at the end of the year to where he is now. You know how it goes: Any time a season doesn’t go as planned, there’s certain guys – whether they be coaches or players – that are pegged as sacrificial lambs. He was one of them. Everything’s the quarterback’s fault. Certainly the quarterback will always get too much blame and too much credit; it’s the nature of the position. He’s clearly the leader of the offense. You don’t have to worry about who the players are turning to; everyone turns to him. That’s half the battle. When the players look in your eyes and say, “OK, talk to me,” I think that’s a very good thing.”
Redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey: “I’ve been telling every pro scout that’s been coming in since the spring time the same thing. I said, ‘If [Jeff] Demps is better than him, you better draft him really high.’ From watching in the spring, this is how the kid was the entire spring. Having the fact that Jeff’s here too, having that combination of that type of athleticism at that position – kids that can play and like to play the game and know how to play the game – they’ve been fun to be around. [Pro scouts didn’t] know too much about [Rainey] but they know about him now. It’s tough not to know about him. You can make a highlight film from his first three games. We’ll worry about that in January. Chris is fun to be around.”
Redshirt sophomore center Jonotthan Harrison: “He easily played the best game he’s played for us since he’s been here. He was very, very good. There was maybe one time where he got knocked back, and I think he got surprised a little bit on the play. If he can play with that physicality that he played in that game against a good team, if he can play with that type of physicality, that bodes well for our strength up the middle.”
Freshman tight end A.C. Leonard: “He was very disappointed that he had got banged up because he was definitely high in the mix to get out there and be playing a whole bunch. Once things calmed down and he got settled, he’s got tons of talent. [...] He has a very high ceiling. Last week I think first game out there, he got in there about 15-20 plays. I think it was a good start for him.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On his confidence level in throwing the ball downfield: “I think that wouldn’t be a problem. Years ago I learned from [Bill] Parcells, ‘You are who you are.’ Everyone wants you to do something that is not within the personality of your team. We’ve established the personality of our team. [...] There will be games that come up that way, but for now you just take it one game at a time. We’re just trying to worry about how to attack Kentucky?”
» On the importance of going through reads and checking down: “When I was a relatively young coach, I had this quarterback with the Giants who used to wear No. 11 [Phil Simms]. He told me the difference between throwing for 3,000 yards in the NFL and throwing for 4,000 yards was check down and flare control. And that always stuck with me. Everywhere I’ve always gone, I always try to get these quarterback to have a clock in their head. Read it downfield, but when that clock ticks, dump the ball off. There’s a lot of times a receiver will come open just after he dumped the ball off and everyone will say, ‘I was wide open.’ That’s OK with me because [you] have that clock in your head. ‘Boom – boom – boom – gone.’ That’s one of the ways you avoid having a whole bunch of sacks.”
» On working off of a script to start the game:“I do think when players get into the game and know what you’re going to call, it’s easier when they first walk out there. When I tell them what’s coming, that’s what’s coming. I don’t say it’s coming and then all of a sudden it’s not. Unless a situation comes up like a third-and-one comes up where you didn’t script the third play might not be a third-and-one on your script, but now it’s third-and-one so you also go to, ‘The first call on third-and-one is going to be this.’ At least early in the game, the players already have a good idea for what you’re going to call. To be honest with you, I try to do it as best I can to start the second half, too. There’s a big difference between a college halftime and a pro halftime. There’s a lot of time. It gives you time to not only to talk to the players but to collect your thoughts and give you a pretty good idea how you’re going to start both halves. Starting both halves are critical, not just starting the first one.”
» On Kentucky’s defense: “They’re giving up 13 points for a reason. I think they have a pretty good idea of what they want to do on defense.”
» On lessening tackling for Rainey and Demps in practice: “We try to keep those guys from getting hit too much as best we can. That doesn’t mean they don’t get hit, but you can’t be stupid. You want them fresh on Saturdays. You always have to get enough contact to have you ready to go.”