Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively ahead of the seventh game of the season against the Missouri Tigers on Oct. 19.
A CHANGE AT RUNNING BACK
Freshman running back Kelvin Taylor has displayed great ability with the ball in his hands during his limited action this season and impressed Pease on Saturday with his poise and flashes of ability. With sophomore Matt Jones now sidelined, Taylor’s role will continue significantly increase going forward.
“I think Kelvin did really well. I mean, he ran the ball hard. You see he made some good vertical cuts and did a good job in space and ran tough,” Pease said. “He did his job. So, I think it’s good experience for him. I think he showed us something. And, you know, he really actually gave us a little spark in running the ball there for a while.”
Pease believes Taylor is ready to handle a large number of carries but said the player has to “zero in” because he’s going to have a lot more pressure on his shoulders and responsibilities other than toting the rock.
“It just can’t be all hand-offs to him. There’s some things that he didn’t do that he needed to do. The expectation on every down,” he said. “But I’ll tell you, the kid is a physical runner. He put it north and south. We missed a couple guys. Just his speed how he hit the holes, he made them miss, especially down in the red zone. And he got good, positive yardage. When we were in that position, we kind of kept going to him a little bit. When he got the ball, he was gaining five, six, seven [yards].”
Though many fans were frustrated that Taylor, outside of the Toledo game, had not seen much action, Pease said Taylor was accepting of his previously limited role.
“The thing about him, leading up to this point and not having so many turns, is that he never complained about it. He never said it’s not fair or this isn’t equal or anything like that. He just continued to work, tried to find some consistency in what he was doing and said when my opportunity comes, I’m gonna do it. Now it’s there. I’m happy for him, and I think he’ll just continue to get better and better.”
WANTED: TIME TO THROW
Despite having no running game or protection inside the pocket, redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy displayed poise and playmaking ability on Saturday. He was certainly not as productive as he had been in the previous three games, missing some passes he should have made, but Murphy did the best he could given the situation.
“He played solid. I thought he saw some things well. He missed some throws. He missed a few throws that he’s hit at that stage up ‘til then. That probably needed to be a little better, his accuracy,” Pease said. “I mean, I think he threw well, he missed a couple throws especially getting out on the move and, you know, we had some deep opportunities. I think he saw them and we had chances for them but just some timing [issues] up front. We didn’t get some blocks down.”
On Monday, Murphy blamed himself for some of the issues in pass protection, but Pease took the pressure off his quarterback’s shoulders and rightly so.
“We got to get better pass pro, maintain our blocks, or else you got to really reduce – or you got to help them in some protection and situations. Sometimes you try to reduce the number of guys you’re putting out in a route so you don’t get so much one-on-one situation up front,” he said.
The pass protection was particularly bad late in the game.
“[LSU] went to an odd front and some cases we’re built to handle it and we didn’t get it done. It’s fixable, and you just gotta get better at it. It’s unacceptable to let it happen, but we’re not just gonna stay like that. We’re gonna make sure we’ve got it fixed and cleaned up,” he said.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Pease on how much head coach Will Muschamp exerts control over the offense: “How much does he exert control? Like any coach, and like all our coaches, we all have ideas we share. He’s very open about what we do. He allows us to do our job, do what we want to do to be successful, and like he says, ‘Do what we gotta do to win a football game.’ That’s what we’ve got to do. I think he’s got his philosophy on what our makeup of our team is. Everybody is good with that, including myself.”
» Pease on his biggest takeaway from Saturday’s game: “That we weren’t physical enough up front. It was kind of the same scenario, our same situation last year but reversed in that they had an intent to do what we did last year and I think they won that battle. We had our opportunities, and when you’re in a tight game against a very good team like that, you have got to strike when you have the opportunity. We got down there and, you know, we had too many negative plays and we got behind the sticks at times based on some sacks and situations that we probably can’t, we’re not capable of overcoming.”
» Pease on the message to the Gators this week: “We got to respond. We got to have better energy in practice because we could be down after a loss like that. But, I mean, what’s that going to get you? You’re not going to have an opportunity going to the next game. Everything’s still on the table for teams that we play in the East and let’s go play football. I mean, we got to be better at what we are and I don’t think we’ve reached the pinnacle of what we’re really trying to achieve yet.”
» Pease on how failures in the kicking game have affected the offense: “Sometimes, if we’re taking the points, then you can be aggressive on a throw knowing we don’t have to gain three, four, five more yards to put Caleb [Sturgis] in range because we were within his range once we crossed the 35-yard line.”
» Pease on Missouri’s front getting pressure without blitzing: “No doubt. They got two, if not three, guys that are NFL-type guys. Especially [Kony] Ealy and [Michael] Sam, and even Sam’s backup, [Shane] Ray. They both play opposite sides at times, but they’re speed guys. One thing that’s amazing to me, and it still goes back to last year when we watched them, is that they bat a lot of balls down. They’re leading – they’ve got a streak of, what, 36 games with a turnover? And I think they’re leading the league with interceptions. But a lot of those are coming off tipped passes by the D-line. The D-line’s got two scores – they just intercepted the ball themselves. … They’re more destructive than you think [than] just sacks. They got sacks. They bat balls down. They’re running the field. They’re very active.”
» Pease on the Tigers giving up a bunch of passing yards but also leading the SEC in interceptions: “They’re willing to let you complete balls, but they tighten up at a certain time. They’re kind of a bend-but-don’t-break defense. But then when you get in certain areas within in the field they come become aggressive, and they let those guys up front start to try to take over and get in one-on-one match-ups.”
» Pease on freshman wide receiver Ahmad Fulwood: “He’s playing a lot sometimes. I mean, he’s out there and I see him playing faster and he obviously had a big catch and he had another one where he’s trying to separate one-on-one and Tyler dumped it down to him. He’s starting to get in there and get the feel of the game and play to the speed of the game. He works hard in practice. He’s starting to fit in, and his opportunities are coming.”
» Pease on the trick play with senior WR Solomon Patton near the end zone: “We just kind of try to have a variety of assortment of things to catch them off balance at that time. We know the area of the field we want to do some things. That was where we were going to use that play.”
» Pease on whether it would have been necessary to run the play had the offensive line been playing better: “You know in experience in the past from running it, you know how they’re going to react. The thing about it is, we look at it and it worked well in practice. You feel good about it and tell the kids that. We’ve just got to make sure we follow through with how we execute it in practice because it’s there.”
» Pease on who called Murphy’s pooch punt: “It’s something we work on within a special teams phase, and Coach Muschamp decides when to use it. We’re probably catching them probably more off balance and trying to pin them because we know what his range is. He did a great job. We wouldn’t do that if we didn’t know he had the ability to kick the ball a little bit. He has practiced it. We did it last year with Jeff [Driskel], and it didn’t work out as well on the punt itself. Some of those guys, we’ve done it at some other places I’ve been, they just kind of have that touch. For him to roll it down and the gunners to get down there and stop it like they did, it could be a big momentum changer because it’s real tough field position-wise to pin them like that.”
» Pease on if punting struggles played into the decision: “No, I think it’s something that you always kind of have in your bag. We do it even if, having a good punter, we’d still do it.”
» Pease on why Florida did not try and get the first down instead of pooch punting: “You don’t want to give them some type of momentum right before half. Try to regroup and pin them, and I think that’s what our intent was.”
» Durkin on junior safety Jabari Gorman: “He’s done great with the snaps he’s gotten. Jabari plays really physical. He’s a good tackler. He stands for what we believe in as a defense. Like anyone else, the more snaps you get and do well with, you’re going to get more the next game. I see that continuing with him. These past couple of games have been a lot of his style of football, too. He’s a physical guy, good tackler. That’s the type of games we’ve been playing. We get to this week, not that they’re not a physical team, but they’re more of a spread-it-out, not a two-back team at all. But he’ll continue to play. He’s done a good job.”
» Durkin on the defense not playing up to snuff: “We hold our guys to a high standard in our room. We feel we are a great defense. We need to play that way. And we need to play that way consistently.”