With the team beginning preparations for the 2013 Sugar Bowl against the Louisville Cardinals in New Orleans, LA on Jan. 2, No. 3 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease – along with sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel and redshirt senior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. – sat down with the media on Tuesday to discuss the team’s offense and how it is shaping up for the bowl game.
YOUNGSTERS SHOWING OUT IN BOWL PRACTICE
Head coach Will Muschamp has crowed all season long about the play of sophomore cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy, often mentioning how he began breaking out for the team during practice leading up to the 2012 Gator Bowl.
Asked Tuesday which players are already standing out since the team has reconvened for the Sugar Bowl, Pease, Driskel and Hammond all mentioned that freshman WR Latroy Pittman is looking really good.
“Definitely Pittman,” said Driskel when he was asked to single out a player. “Pittman’s had great bowl practices. I expect him to make some plays in the bowl game.”
Despite drawing plenty of praise in the offseason, Pittman barely contributed during the 2012 campaign. He did play in 11 games but saw most of his time on special teams, hauling in just two balls and totaling six yards on the season.
Hammond called Pittman “an overall balanced receiver,” noting that he has a big body to go along with solid speed. “There’s a lot of things you can do with him when you’re dealing with a guy that size,” he said.
Other players mentioned by Pease as those that have stood out to him thus far include freshman running back Matt Jones, walk-on freshman RB Mark Herndon, freshman guard Jessamen Dunker, freshman tight end Colin Thompson, sophomore TE Tevin Westbrook, sophomore TE Clay Burton and freshman WR Raphael Andrades. Dunker (preparedness) and Thompson (foot) are both taking redshirt seasons and will not play in the bowl game.
Read the rest of this post…after the break!
PEASE AIN’T GO-ING NOWHERE
Though Pease admitted Tuesday that there “was just minimal conversation” with Kentucky about its vacant head coach position, he also noted that “it probably never materialized as much as everybody maybe thought” and that he doubts he was even a Plan B option for the team.
He also made it clear that he never anticipated leaving Florida after one season and has always planned to remain with the Gators for a long period of time.
“I’ve been here one year. I think Florida gives you a stage to do a lot of great things. I’m not one to really leave after one year anyway,” Pease said. “I made a commitment. Will made a commitment to me. Jeremy [Foley] made a commitment to me. The university made a commitment to me. And now, to be honest with you, these kids, you kind of start getting attached and see what they’re doing. I think there’s still some work to be done, and I think the future’s bright.
“There’s always opportunity down the road. When I was young, I always looked and I was ready to make a move quick on some things. Young guys come to me and ask me now what should they do. I always tell them this: If you’re at a good place, if you work with good people and you enjoy going to work every day, the grass isn’t always greener.
“It’s really not about a money situation. I think you still got to have goals of what you want to accomplish and reach but those will come when it’s right. Don’t push the issue. For me, I think there’s a lot to accomplish here. There’s still a goal I want to accomplish in winning a national championship or winning an SEC title and all that. And I like it here. I like the people I work with, I really like the kids…and I like the media, they’re awesome.”
Pease also said he feels like a valued member of the coaching staff. When Muschamp hired Joker Phillips to be the new wide receivers coach, he made sure that his offensive coordinator was comfortable and even had him fly out to meet with the candidate. “Coach met with him and then I met with him. I actually went to meet with him in Lexington because I had to feel comfortable,” Pease said. “I’ve known Joker for a while. I know he’s a good coach. You don’t get to where you’re at … without being a good person, without being ago do coach, without being well-rounded in recruiting and everything. Coach just wanted me to feel comfortable with it, and I did.”
FUTURE A QUESTION FOR TWO BIG NAMES
Redshirt junior WR Andre Debose committed to Florida four seasons ago expecting to contribute immediately and make big plays throughout his career. Sophomore QB Jacoby Brissett knew he would be facing stiff competition when he pledged to join the Gators but also thought he would beat Driskel out for the starting job. After a full season in which Debose barely played and Brissett was forced into a backup role, questions have been raised about the status of both players.
Two coaching staffs have now had a problem with Debose’s consistency and have not shied away from allowing that issue to be known publicly. Pease mentioned Tuesday that he is very much in the team’s plans for the Sugar Bowl and has taken a step in the right direction since bowl practice began.
“He’s had really good practices. I think he’s healthy. I think he’s working hard. I think his attitude is right. He’s done some good things. We’ll try to get him involved in some things. He’s kind of refocused and hopefully he’s a guy who continues doing what he’s doing and you see him out there doing some things,” Pease said.
“Refocused means he’s going out there with a go-do attitude, putting the energy into practice. He understands that if the play’s not for him, I’m going to work hard at blocking. If it’s for me, this is how I’m going to get it to get it executed. Because it’s not [only] about him; it’s about him and the 10 other guys out there.”
Fans have asked for the past year whether the loser of the Driskel-Brissett battle would transfer from the school. Though everyone including Brissett’s high school coach believes he is too competitive to remain at Florida as a backup, Pease said he is not so sure he will wind up transferring and even hopes that he will stick around.
“His future, he’s done a good job and he’s had good practices. Like I’ve said all year, I support the kid either way because I think he’s a special kid and handled the situation well and did a good job when he had an opportunity to play. I’m sure that might come up at the end of the season,” he said.
“Selfishly, I hope it doesn’t [come up], but I support the kid either way. I think he loves the University of Florida, I do. I think if he’s in a situation that he maybe sees himself competing and playing and helping, yeah [he might stay]. I don’t know. Sometimes it’s hard to know how teenagers think. I have to deal with my own kids. I don’t know. That’s a situation I’m sure we’ll cross at some point in time.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» Pease on how Florida’s offense played against Florida State: “It just gives them a lot of confidence. It shows that they’ve hit a point where they’re breaking through with the consistency that we’ve wanted to strive for.”
» Pease on what losing redshirt senior kicker Caleb Sturgis after the season means to the team: “I’ll miss him a lot because he’s very good. You know his range. Maybe our other guy develops into that. I’ve learned that over the years. When you get into that certain range, the 35-yard-line area and the red zone, you know how aggressive you can be with the ball and what you can do [with your] play calling. It opens up the field more because you know you maybe don’t have to go further. … With someone like Caleb, he opens up our playbook offensively for us.”
» Pease on if redshirt junior TE Jordan Reed has discussed leaving school early: “He hasn’t told me anything.”
» Driskel on what he’s been working on most in practice: “Just knowing when to throw the ball away, knowing when not to take a sack and knowing that you can live to play the next play and not always having to force something.”