As the Florida Gators prepare for their first Southeastern Conference game on Sept. 17 vs. Tennessee, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s 39-0 victory over UAB as well as the upcoming contest.
RECAPPING THE OFFENSE’s PERFORMANCES
Suffice to say, Weis has been pleased with the production of the Gators offense up to this point. However, rather than look at how many touchdowns were scored or how many yards were put up, Weis was more concerned with exposing holes that he can close before the team enters SEC play.
“Stats a lot of times are misleading. We’ve matched up with two teams that we should have had good numbers against that we did. It still comes down to, I think when you start off with games like that, you want to make sure you’re very critical of the areas that would get you beat against a team that is at the same level or a little bit better than you,” he said. “It’s really important that, in those critical areas, you don’t falter. For example, last week when the first guys were in there, they had five first down situations. They ended up going 3/5 on third down when the first guys were in there. And the two times they didn’t convert were communication errors not really mental errors. So instead of potentially being 5/5 on third-down conversions, you end up going 3-5. In a big game, those are the types of things that can be the difference between winning and losing.”
Weis said the team is certainly taking a close look at the team’s mistakes in the red zone (any red zone possession that does not result in a touchdown is considered a failure). He would not go into detail but explained that all were correctable issues. “They were just things that, if we did the right thing or something better, they would’ve been all touchdowns instead of settling for three field goals.”
He also discussed how proud he was that, when he changed the game plan at halftime due to some minor injuries (from up-tempo to grind-it-out running), the team succeeded with flying colors. “I told them that I wanted to just get in there and pound them for the rest of the game. I said it’ll pay dividends down the road when you just want to be able to get to the line of scrimmage and say, ‘We’re running it, you know we’re running it, but we’re running it anyway,’” Weis explained. “We threw two passes in the second half, and I thought that it was good on our part to do it that way. When we went in, we were going to go huddle, we’re not going to up the tempo and we’re just going to come out there and run it, run it and run it again. That will definitely pay dividends.”
BRANTLEY AND WEIS TRULY ON THE SAME PAGE
If it was not already obvious that Weis’s mottos, sayings and philosophies have rubbed off on redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley
, comments the offensive coordinator made on Tuesday highlighted that fact even further. Brantley has often discussed two particulars about his game recently – taking what the defense gives him from a passing standpoint and forgetting about bad plays and focusing on the next one no matter the situation. Weis touched on both topics and provided some background as to why Brantley is performing the way he has been recently.
“I’ll give you analogy, OK? You probably watched the Patriots and that quarterback [Tom Brady]. Did you notice that Ochocinco only had one ball thrown to him? Because the philosophy of the offense is that you throw to what the coverage dictates you throw it to,” he explained. “We never believed that you take one guy and say, ‘We’re going to throw it to him 15 times in a game.’ Sometimes the way they play and what you’re calling, that’s what ends up happening, but you don’t go into a game saying, ‘Hey, we’re going to throw it to him this many times.’ We’ll play that first game and they’re playing a soft cover four and [Brady’s] looking down the field for reads and their [coverage] says, ‘Go ahead, throw it to Randy [Moss] in the flat,’ so we threw it to Randy in the flat. That’s a better sign than anything else anyone can say. All quarterbacks want to throw the ball down the field, but to have the patience to not throw it down the field when the defense is saying, ‘Go ahead, we’ll give you this but we won’t give you that,’ that’s a very strong positive.”
He also touched on Brantley’s progress in concentrating on the next play and not worrying about anything else that happened previously. “He’s night and day. I don’t have all the answers now. Let me not say that his progress is solely based off of me,” Weis said. “Philosophy and mentally and psychologically, if you can just say, ‘OK, here’s what happened on that play.’ I coach him harder during the week than I do on game days now. On game days I’m very, very, very calm. During the week when they make mistakes, I let nothing go. I let nothing go. I don’t let it go on the field and I don’t let it go when we watch tape. But as the week goes on, my feeling is, they’re not paying money to come watch the coach. They’re paying money to go watch the players. When you realize that as a coach, that game days are supposed to be for the players, you’re supposed to have done your job already and then you just kind of help orchestrate it, I think that’s a proper approach.”
EXCITEMENT NOT AN INDICTMENT
Weis is quite pleased that his offensive players are buying into the Gators’ new pro-style system. However, he wanted to make it quite apparent on Tuesday that the excitement from Florida’s student-athletes is not because of negativity about the spread offense but rather positivity about what his system can do for them going forward.
“Let’s not slight all of the good things that happened here offensively in the past. It wasn’t like they had a bunch of garbage they had done here. The last time I checked, they won a couple of national championships,” he said emphatically. “I think all these guys want an opportunity to play on Sunday, and they see this offense as an offense that, once you learn the offense, it’s not easy when you’re first learning it, but once you learn it, it becomes pretty simple.
“They sat there and watched the game [Monday] night and they’re hearing the same calls. The quarterback’s sitting there watching the game and listening to Tommy saying the same thing they’re saying. They kinda like that. And there’s a bunch of other teams doing it too. I think that they just see…change is always something where everyone gets a new chance to go ahead and make their mark. This is what a lot of them are doing. For a lot of them, it’s working. So far so good.”
PLAYER EVALUATIONS, NOTES AND QUOTES
» Freshman fullback Hunter Joyer: “He’s really done a nice job. His first game, those eyes were wide open. They haven’t closed too much yet now. The good news for everyone is he hasn’t really let it loose yet. He’s going from being tentative to now he’s fitting on everyone. And because he’s so strong, it just looks like he’s dominating them, where if you realize he really hasn’t played to his full strength yet. When he lowers the boom, it’s pretty vicious. This kid…he’s got a lot of ability. He’s going to help us. He’s one of the stronger kids on the team probably as a freshman. I’d say he’s way up there.”
» Sophomore running back Trey Burton: “A lot of years I’ve gone in and out of personnel groups. I’ve gone from what we call 11 to 12 to 21 to 10 to 20 to go in and out of personnel groups to try to disguise running the same plays over and over. What Trey allows you to do is, a lot of those formations that you get into with those multiple wide receivers, now you can get into with him. To take on personnel group and be able to adjust it with multiple formations puts a lot of pressure on the defense and usually gives you a good tip for what they’re going to end up doing.”
» Redshirt senior transfer left guard Dan Wenger: “If he couldn’t play a down, he would’ve still helped us tremendously because he knows the offense better than all the rest of them. When you’re in the offense for multiple years – starting at center and started I believe at both guards – he’s got very high football IQ. Even if he physically couldn’t hold up, what he was going to bring. His intangibles are through the roof.”
» Junior RB Mike Gillislee: “Michael has always been able to run it with power. [It’s not that we] don’t like Michael as a runner, it’s just that when you have 1 and you have 28, there’s not very many carries left over the way those guys run. That’s no slight on Michael. The best thing for Michael was, he wasn’t expecting as many carries as he got, and when he got that many carries, it was as if he was not only prepared but he was chomping at the bit. That was a good thing to see.”
» Redshirt senior RB Chris Rainey: “I think talking to him this is as happy as he’s ever been. He loves being part of the team. He’s about ready to graduate. Things are going well in football. I wasn’t here for the whole Chris Rainey Show, I just know what I’ve had since I’ve been here, and I love being around the kid.”
» On Burton’s future in the NFL: “Let’s worry about Tennessee right now. He’s a second-year player. Position flexibility and versatility are always things that intrigue people at the next level, but I think that he’ll have plenty of time to get things on tape that – whether it be catching the ball or running the ball or blocking – he’ll have plenty of time over the next bunch of years to sell his wares. I think now let’s be a little more short-sighted than that.”
» On what type of defense Tennessee will be presenting: “They’re playing multiple fronts and multiple coverages. They don’t just line up and play. They’ve obviously been very energetic in the first two games, but they’ll play over, they’ll play under, they’ll play odd, they’ll play diamond and then they’ll throw a slew of different blitzes and coverages at you. They really try to not only just line up to play against you, they try to confuse you, too. We’re going to have to be not only physically at the top of our game, but we’re going to have to be mentally on top of our game or else we’ll have some problems.”
» In light of Bobby Bowden announcing he hid his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2007, if he is comfortable sharing personal information while recruiting players: “When I talk to players, I can just go upon my frame of mind, I tell them anything and everything they want to know – football or family. I let them know about my wife, my kids. I let them know about everything. There are very few things that I would ever hold back from anyone. Honesty – put it like this – if people don’t like something you say and what you told them was the truth, then so be it. I’ve had that happen a few times in my life, in case you’re wondering. I’d rather do it that way. I’d rather just tell the truth and deal with the consequences.”