With the team preparing for its final regular season game of the 2012 campaign, a road contest against the in-state rival No. 10 Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee, FL, No. 4 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media Tuesday to discuss the upcoming game.
OFFENSE: WORK IN PROGRESS BY CIRCUMSTANCE, VANILLA ON PURPOSE
While Florida’s defense continues to improve with each passing week, the Gators’ offense seems to be regressing. Faced with a unit that is 104th in total offense and 79th in scoring offense (out of 120 FBS teams), Pease explained Tuesday that he understands the criticism but does not think that situation has been put in the proper perspective.
“I’ve got that side that I feel responsible at times. In the same sense, the bashing, so-called bashing…we are what we are right now. We tried to improve. Where we’re at, it’s still kind of a work in progress until we get everything totally in place,” he said.
“The kids have worked through it for a year. You hope you continually see some improvement. Experience has to go along with that. I don’t take the so-called critics part of it, because I think everybody has got to understand the circumstances around everything when things are new. I didn’t expect this thing to be a work of perfection or I would have come here for one year and left and that’s not my intention.”
Fans have especially become restless over the last few weeks as Florida has combined to score 50 points against Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State. In years past, the Gators would put up that total in each of those two games. Pease did not say outright that Florida has been purposely hiding things the last two weeks, though he did note that the team has been thoughtfully vanilla.
“When you go into the last few games, you hope you don’t have to use a whole lot because you feel the match-ups are probably in your favor. We didn’t show a lot the last game. We kept things pretty simple. I think that was our intention,” he said. “It worked out because of a new quarterback, because of what they were presenting to us defensively. We still had things in the game plan, but we didn’t get to a situation where we really had to use things that were quite exotic.”
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PLAYMAKERS RETURN FROM INJURY
It is still unknown whether sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel will start on Saturday though, as of press time, it appears like he is on track to do so. Head coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Driskel was healthy enough to play but would be evaluated when he stepped on the field Tuesday and Wednesday for practice in order to see how much he is able to do on his injured ankle.
Pease had not yet see Driskel perform but did say he looks much better than he did last week. “If he can go out and play, which he feels good right now. … Jeff’s our guy. He’s the guy. It’s just a matter of how he feels going into this. It’s not like a controversy or a battle again. That’s not the issue,” he said. Even if Driskel ends up being limited Tuesday, the game is not for another four days.
Also returning for Florida is redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose, who has not made any noticeable impact on offense or special teams despite possessing more athleticism and game-breaking ability than many of the other players. Pease said he is not yet sure how he will be worked into the game plan.
“It just depends how he fits in and what plays he’s in on and if he can go and make some plays,” he said. “To this point, I wouldn’t say much, but it depends what he’s in on. We got to kind of find that out during practice, how healthy he is and when he can get out there and be put in some spots to make some plays.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Pease on if the Gators having the toughest schedule in the country makes them battle tested: “It does [help]. When you face those teams, you kind of have a good gauge on what you can do, especially if there are some similarities in the type of player you’re facing, type of scheme you’re facing in what you have to beat. In the same sense, you go back and look at yourself. What hurt us? Understanding that it is probably what they’re looking at also. I think it gives us a confidence in knowing how our kids will probably react. … We can look at those games and kind of make a comparison.”
» Pease on freshman running back Matt Jones: “He’s a physical kid. He demands respect when he carries the ball. … He’s a kid that’s got great hands, too. You just put him in those situations; he makes plays.”
» Pease on senior RB Mike Gillislee’s quest for 1,000 yards: “I think it’s very tough. It takes a lot of durability, especially when you carry the ball that many times. I think in this league it’s a big accomplishment. … It’s also tough when you look up front and the five guys you’re really with all year, there’s been a lot of changes in there. That causes some inconsistencies. And then with what we’ve done putting the emphasis on that, guys key on it. You got to have some compliments around him to kind of help him out. He’s done a good job. They’ve been tough yards.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Quinn on his first impressions of Florida’s defense when he was hired: “Everybody seemed smaller. I didn’t know the other teams [size] well though to know… Are we really small? No, we’re good. It’s just the truth.”
» Quinn on the improvement of freshman defensive end Jonathan Bullard: “He’s got real power. I think, the fact that he’s now been in the strength program for a few months, I think that’s made a real significant increase in him. But he is a strong guy. It might even be just a function of more reps, more turns, more experience playing where it’s less thinking about what [the coaches want him to do] and allowing his style to come through.”
» Quinn on containing a mobile quarterback like E.J. Manuel: “Certainly when you play mobile quarterbacks, you got to take care of the edges and know where a scramble pattern is and how you’d like to play it, things like that. … Knowing you got to do your job in terms of taking care of the edges with a guy that can create and get outside the pocket. That’s been an important focus for us against these guys that can do that.”