Gators reflect on ‘Cats, look ahead to Razorbacks

By Adam Silverstein
October 3, 2013

A number of players from the No. 18/19 Florida Gators (3-1, 2-0 SEC) met with the media throughout the week to discuss team issues and preview Saturday’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-2, 0-1 SEC).

DEFENSE

Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs

» On senior DT Dominique Easley‘s mindset: “He’s doing pretty good. He’s staying positive. I’m trying to keep him positive so everything’s going good. Just trying to put him back in that joking mood he’s always usually in. He’s a big prankster and a big joker so I try to keep him going that way.”

» On the opportunity Easley’s injury presented for him: “It’s a big opportunity because I’m going to have way more reps than I thought I was going to have this year. This is my last year also, so it’s a big opportunity for me to put myself on the market. Me and him talked about that last week. He told me not to miss out on it.”

» On Arkansas’ offense: “Physical, they’re real physical. I think they’re a little chippy, a little dirty, so we’re going to have to be ready for all that this week.”

» On how the Razorbacks are dirty: “I just see from film a lot of the stuff after the play. Especially with the center, number 64, he’ll get after you after the play. He’ll make you want to do some things to him. So we’re going to have to try to keep our temper and keep cool on that. Just hit them in the mouth first. Just keep hitting them until they quit. That’s how you do it.”

Redshirt junior linebacker Michael Taylor

» On what he says when he trash talks: “You guys couldn’t handle that so I can’t really say that in here. If y’all mic me up, you might find out.”

» On whether Arkansas’ center is ‘dirty’ like Jacbos said: “I haven’t seen ‘dirty.’ I’ve seen that he finishes plays. All that talk of ‘dirty,’ if somebody’s trying to come block you, if you don’t let them get into your body there’s no way they can block you. Using good hands, keeping them away from you. Anything he would try to do, if it was dirty, would be negated because he can’t even touch you.”

» On the Hogs also trash talking: “So, we’ll have a lot of fun. … That’s how I’ve always played. I’ve always played with a lot of emotion. I love the game of football so I’m going to be out there, I’m going to be passionate about what I’m playing. I’m going to let you know what I’m finna do and I’m gonna do it. So that’s just how I like to play.”

» On Arkansas’ physicality: “We’re a physical team as well, so, we go again physical opponents every day in practice. We bang in practice. Not on Thursdays and Fridays because it’s close to the game, but we bang all the way up until [that]. It’s not going to be nothing we’re not prepared for.”


» On if head coach Will Muschamp will get extra excited during the physical game: “Yeah, probably. He’ll probably be jumping up and down a lot, running up and down the sideline, having that face on like y’all have seen a lot. Y’all probably see that a lot this week.”

» On playing a night game for the first time since 2011: “[Jeff] Dillman always says, ‘The freaks come out at night.’ It’s always a big game when you’re playing at night. It’s like a primetime game. So we’ll just go out there prepared.”

» On why there has been more outpouring of emotion for the season-ending injury to Easley as opposed to junior quarterback Jeff Driskel: “Driskel, he has more time here. We knew this was Easley’s last year. It’s a sad way to go out like that. To see what he was doing on the field, not saying nothing against Driskel, but to see what Easley was doing on the field, it was just crazy. I know teams on the other side were just trying to game plan how they were going to stop him. Teams were putting three, four blockers on him trying to chip him. It was just detrimental and knowing that it was going to be his last year, and the way that happened, it’s just something that didn’t sit too well with us. But playing for him and doing the right way by him is what we’re going to do.”

» On how to do right by Easley: “Go out and play like he played, which was very angry, very aggressive and finishing the opposing player and making him completely quit by the end of the game. So that’s what our goal is to do.”

» On Easley’s Chucky doll going on the Kentucky trip: “I know he was sitting in the back behind me. I kept my eye on him a little bit … had to make sure he didn’t get up and walk or anything.”

» On the nature walk taken by the quarterbacks last week: “No… I’m not a quarterback. I wouldn’t have went on a nature walk somewhere I don’t know. No. No. Uh-uh. We aint’ taking no risks of running into any bears, so nah, we’re good.”

Senior defensive back Jaylen Watkins

» On why/how he has become a better tackler: “I put on more weight and watch[ed] film of me missing tackles. I corrected the problem. I’m just becoming a more willing tackler. And knowing that I had to make the transition to safety for the team, I knew I had to become a better tackler.”

» On whether moving to safety has helped him: “Yes, because at the next level the running backs are bigger and you have to be able to tackle. If I’m going to play at the next level, that’s something I needed to improve on. The coaches have put me in a position to showcase that at safety. … I played corner my whole career. This is something I’m doing for the team, and I’m actually pretty good at it. So it’s just helping me.”

Redshirt junior safety Cody Riggs

» On moving to safety along with Watkins: “With guys like Vernon [Hargreaves III] coming in and stepping in and Marcus Maye, me and Jaylen, we had to find our way to complete the secondary since we lost Matt [Elam] and Josh [Evans]. Playing safety with me and Jaylen opened it up for a lot of other guys.”

» On junior S Jabari Gorman stepping up recently: “Me and Jabari have clicked a lot over these past couple of weeks. Jabari is a really good football player. I knew that was going to happen. I’ve always been a fan of the way Jabari plays. He’s doing really well.”

» On if he likes playing safety compared to cornerback: “Yeah, I like it a lot. I think it makes me more versatile, makes me more marketable. Long term, wherever they decide to put me.”

Sophomore BUCK LB Dante Fowler, Jr.

» On playing in his first night game at home: “I’m pretty pumped for that to be my first night game in The Swamp. I used to come watch when I was in high school watch the night games, and I know it’s pretty loud and stuff like that. And it looks fun. It’s going to be a fun experience. I can’t wait.”

» On his two sacks against Kentucky: “It was crazy. I know the first one he didn’t try to block me. But the second one, he like tried to hinge me but I was too fast for him. So I just ran right past him. I saw the opening and by the time I came, he was like, ‘Oh, shoot.’ I was like, ‘Nah buddy, it’s too late.’ I sacked the quarterback, so I felt good.”

OFFENSE

Redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy

» On his telecommunications degree: “I have dreams of being a talk show host, something like the First Take with Stephen A. [Smith] and Skip Bayless. It’s just been a dream of mine to debate and argue about sports.”

» On whether he realized that he started the last game 13-for-13: “No, I wasn’t actually sure what my completion percentage was at the time. I didn’t know I was 100 percent for the first half until at the end of the game when Coach Muschamp pointed it out. That’s something I really don’t try to pay attention to. I just focus on getting first downs and just managing the game.”

» On if the coaches said anything to him after his touchdown-saving tackle following the interception: “They told me it was a good hustle play. Of course, I don’t like throwing interceptions and stuff like that, so I was kind of upset and mad at the time. I wasn’t really thinking about anything else other than just take the guy down. They told me just be careful how I take them down.”

» On how graduate assistant Chris Leak has helped him: “Chris Leak came over and talked to me and just calmed me down. He’s been a good mentor for me since he’s stepped here on campus. He’s won a national championship himself, so I’m just going to sit there and listen to him and try to soak in as much information from him as I can.”

Sophomore running back Matt Jones

» On being tackled by redshirt junior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar, who Jones said owes him a touchdown: “I wasn’t really mad at him because I knew that he was trying to make a good effort and make a block. I really didn’t know. I thought a Kentucky Wildcat tackled me until I saw the replay on the big screen. I’m like, ‘Ohhhh.’ But we’re good now.”

Redshirt freshman kicker Austin Hardin

» On the warning he got from Muschamp and how he has played since: “It’s been going well. I’ve been practicing well. I think I’m improving each game but I obviously think there is more room for improvement. I think there is a higher standard here at Florida that I continue to strive for because we have a history of good kickers.”

» Hardin said there have been more touchbacks because the coaches have allowed him to use his full leg strength on kickoffs. He also moved the ball over to the left hash mark, which is more comfortable for him as a right-legged kicker.

» On if he expected to be called on to try the 53-yard field goal: “Yeah, I did, because we’ve hit longer in practice and I have a strong leg so I’ve been able to hit from that far and I have before. … Coach Muschamp said he has all the confidence to put me out there for another one. I really hope I can get another chance at a 50+ yarder because I love that opportunity. So I think I will have another chance and I think I’ll hit it next time – I know I will.”

» On UK’s kicker faking a field goal and scoring: “I was pretty jealous of him, I’m not going to lie, because every kicker wants to go run a touchdown.”

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