No. 4/6 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp made an appearance Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference‘s weekly coaches teleconference and touched on a number of topics surrounding his team and its upcoming game against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday at 6 p.m. live on ESPNU. Minutes after he hung up on the SEC teleconference, Muschamp appeared on the Dan Patrick Show for a short interview. (Additional quotes from that can be found at the end of the post.)
ONE OF TWO PUNTING UNITS SHINING
To say that Muschamp is pleased with the way the Gators are punting the ball and covering down the field would be putting it mildly. Florida’s head coach believes that his team has one of the best punting and coverage units in college football and gives much of that credit to sophomore punter Kyle Christy.
“[He’s] had a tremendous impact on our football team,” Muschamp said. “His leg and him being able to flip the field and control the vertical field position has been critical to our success here this season and why we are where we are. He is an outstanding punter.”
Christy is averaging 46.5 yards per punt (fifth nationally) so far this season, which is 5.6 yards better than he was booting it a year ago. UF is netting 43.4 yards per punt (fourth nationally), meaning the Gators (specifically sophomore gunners cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy and running back Chris Johnson) are doing a great job in coverage as well.
“Loucheiz and Juice are both guys that pay extremely hard. They’re very competitive guys. That’s a one-on-one battle out there in those situations, especially when we punt and employ some different looks,” Muschamp said. “Those guys accept that opportunity to go one-on-one outside. Both of them are very difficult to defend because they’re both strong guys that run extremely well. They’re both technicians, they do a nice job of getting off any kind of bump-and-run. And they run vertically and they tackle extremely well in the open field.”
Where Florida is struggling is in the return game, specifically on punts. Redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose mans that position but is ranked just 41st nationally with an average of 9.57 yards per return.
“I have a lot of confidence in Andre. Andre got banged up a little last week. We just got to make some better decisions as far as fielding the ball,” Muschamp said. “We’re still repping a bunch of guys, and I got confidence in Andre. We got to do a better job holding up on blocking for him. A couple situations [last week where] we certainly could have fielded the ball and not lost some yardage there.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
[EXPAND CLICK TO EXPAND and read the rest of this post.]» On how important senior RB Mike Gillislee is to the team’s persona: “A lot of times teams take the personality of their feature players, and Mike is kind of who we are right now. We’re a blue-collar outfit. We’re kind of a lunch pail group. We go about our business. We go work. Our personality revolves around kind of the way he is.”
The following quotes are from the Dan Patrick Show.
» On how long the team celebrates big wins: “We have a 24-hour rule around here. You either enjoy the win or suffer with the loss and then you got to move forward very quickly in our league because you always have a quality opponent coming up next.”
» On the pressure to win after following Urban Meyer and Steve Spurrier: “When I walked into my office [the first day] there were only three things left in a very barren office and that was three national championship trophies. I think our athletic director [Jeremy Foley] left them here on purpose to make sure I understood the expectation level. […] I walked in – his office is right down from mine. I said, ‘Jeremy, I’m assuming these were left here on purpose.’ He said, ‘That’s what we expect.’ I said, ‘I got you.’”
» On how much prep Florida has done for South Carolina already: “Absolutely zero. We have Vanderbilt at 6:02 in Nashville on Saturday night and that’s all we are focused on.”
» On if the Gators are the fourth-best team in the country: “I’m not worried about that right now. We’ve got a long schedule.”
» On if he spoke with and what he said to Les Miles on Saturday: “I spoke with him briefly before the game and then obviously briefly after. I kind of got away from wishing him luck because I don’t want him to have any luck [in the game]. I said, ‘Hey, how was the trip? Obviously you’re staying in Ocala because that’s where everybody stays. How’s the Hilton? That’s where everybody stays. How’s the food? Was the trip up good? Everything going good? Looks like we’ve got a great day. We’re going to have fun.”[/EXPAND]