This is not a metaphor: Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease led his quarterbacks on a nature walk outside of the team’s hotel in Kentucky hours before UF squared off with UK on the gridiron.
“I don’t look at it as a ‘nature walk’ as much as we got them out of the hotel,” Pease said Tuesday. “They weren’t sitting around. They got their mind right, loosened up a little bit, even talked about football a little bit.”
He added: “I’m from the northwest. I like the outdoors.”
As redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy tells it, the nature walk took place around 1:30 p.m. and was a planned trip for the signal callers. The players knew they would be doing something but had no idea what Pease had decided.
“He shot us a text that said, ‘Nature walk. 1:30. Don’t be late,’” Murphy said. “It was kind of cool. Cleared my head and allowed me to loosen up a bit.”
Murphy said the nature walk lasted 15-20 minutes and consisted of Pease and the quarterbacks mostly going into a wooded area near the hotel.
“The weather was nice so we were able to just get some fresh air,” he said. “[Pease is] quizzing us on stuff. Unfortunately, I didn’t know anything. It was fun. It was a fun experience. That was the first, but I’m sure he’ll continue to do it at road games.”
Murphy was vague about the knowledge he accumulated from the trip – “I learned a few things about oak trees, things about sawgrass” – but noted that the trip was educational.
“We didn’t sing any songs but it was fun,” he said. “Coach Pease, growing up and being from the Montana area where he went to school, knows a lot about nature. So it was kind of cool to learn about the different trees and bushes and stuff like that. It was fun.”
On a coaching staff that is very close-to-the-vest, Pease is becoming increasingly interesting week by week, even if a nature walk is truly not that big of a deal.
“It’s not new. I’ve done them before a lot of times with guys [on other teams]. I’ve done them in Louisiana with kids from Idaho,” Pease explained. “You just go out. You see different parts. You talk about things. Some kids are smart. You never realize a kid from Florida understands that the bark on a Birch tree sheds. A kid from Connecticut did not know that. He did not know there are pine needles that fall off Pine trees. He didn’t realize that. … I told them about the caterpillars in the trees. They didn’t know that.”
It was the first time he took the Gators out, however, and he may want to be a bit more careful at the location he chooses for the next road game. Pease admitted that the area the quarterbacks walked was close to a golf course. “We almost got hit by golf balls, and then I said, ‘Bad idea, we need to get off of here.’”
Asked if he participated in the nature walk during a media availability on Monday, sophomore running back Matt Jones shook his head.
“I heard it was a little pretty boy trip, so I didn’t take it,” he said. “I heard it wasn’t good.”
Suffice to say, Pease was not pleased to learn Jones felt that way.
“A boring trip? We didn’t invite running backs,” he protested. “He heard it was boring? Well, you know what, how does he know? He wasn’t there. Sometimes it is boring; it’s like going to class. It’s boring. Practice is probably boring. But if you just listen to all the knowledge you can gain from something out there, it’s not about ‘boring,’ it’s about how much you learned that you didn’t know.”
Then things deviated a bit.
“It’s kind of like watching ‘Duck Dynasty,’” he continued. “There’s a lot [one] can learn by watching ‘Duck Dynasty’ that you didn’t know.”
Once Murphy’s loose lips let the nature walk leak on Monday and word of the trip began circulating on Twitter, the team knew it was going to be much ado about nothing.
“There was a bet,” admitted Pease, who said senior wide receiver Trey Burton guessed the media would ask about the trip at least seven times on Tuesday. “You better pick it up if you’re going to meet the over/under,” Pease deadpanned before saying that he did not take either side.
“I don’t bet. I gamble enough on Saturdays just play-calling.”