10/5: WR Hammond impressed with QB Brissett

With the No. 17/18 Florida Gators preparing for their toughest road test of the 2011 season, three prominent offensive players were made available to the media on Wednesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers on Oct. 8 at 3:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge, LA.


Even though redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley is out (at least) for the LSU game on Saturday, redshirt senior transfer guard Dan Wenger said his unit has not changed its mindset whatsoever this week. “It’s just a matter of everyone picking it up. In reality, it doesn’t change much. We still have the same job to do regardless of what play is called or who is back there or who is in the huddle making the play call from Coach [Charlie] Weis,” he said. “There is some picking him up, whoever it may be, but at the same time our jobs don’t change just because someone different is back there.”

Wenger also said that he spoke with and apologized to Brantley for allowing him to get sacked twice and injured late in the second quarter on Saturday. “It was tough. Unfortunately it’s football and I apologized to him,” he explained. “It’s just one of those things where we have to come together and he understands that it wasn’t intentional and that I feel terrible about it. We just got to move on, can’t let it affect the games until he comes back. It’s LSU now. Let’s take care of business.”


The focus this week has been on freshman QB Jeff Driskel likely starting his first game on Saturday, but head coach Will Muschamp explained Wednesday that fellow freshman Jacoby Brissett has actually moved into the second reserve spot.

That did not come as much of a surprise for redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who praised Brissett’s progress in learning the offense.

“[He’s] just being more comfortable and just being more sure of himself, learning the plays, getting in the rhythm, setting his feet, making progressions, making throws,” he said. “[He’s] just a poised quarterback. He makes great decisions in practice. He hasn’t had the chance or opportunity to actually do it in a game situation. He’s made tremendous strides and he’s a good quarterback.”

Hammond also said Brissett had the best arm of the three reserves “just because of his size” but thinks whoever starts on Saturday will do a good job.

“In my opinion, all three of them are ready right now. They’re all practicing right now, getting reps and getting themselves prepared,” he said. “Nobody really knows who is going to actually go out there against LSU. We’re getting all three quarterbacks prepared, and I don’t really have a personal preference. Any one of them can go out there and all three of them can get the job done.”


» Hammond on if the offense is bothered by not knowing who will start at QB: “It doesn’t really change anything from our perspective. We kind of got into a rhythm with JB. Since he’s out, we kind of just have to play it by ear and just be athletes. Every ball is not going to be perfect. Even JB doesn’t throw a perfect ball every time. Just be an athlete, play it by ear, if the ball is in the air, come down with it.”

» Hammond on if he would prefer knowing the starter: “You never know what the situation may be. One of them could go in the first play and roll an ankle or whatever and be out. All three of them getting an equal amount of reps, in my opinion, is beneficial to keep them going and for later on down the season.”

» Hammond on if the team’s unity changed after the Alabama loss: “There was no finger-pointing. There were mistakes made everywhere and things we can learn from every aspect of the football game. We came in, didn’t point any fingers. It was everybody’s fault. You can’t point one thing out. If anything, in my opinion, it made us closer, stronger and is something we can learn from and build on.”

» Wenger on if the offensive line got together after the Alabama game to work things out: “Some of us usually go Thursday nights out to eat. It’s not one of those things where we have to get together on our own. We all know. We all were feeling pretty miserable about it and we don’t want that feeling again. We’re doing everything we can to not have that feeling repeat itself. At this point, like I said, we’ve moved on from it. We’re learning from our mistakes and moving forward, taking it one game at a time.”

» Wenger on how defensive lines in the SEC compare with those he played against while at Notre Dame: “Very good. At Notre Dame there was a lot of Big 10 and Big east schools and some Pac-12 schools now I guess, if that’s what they’re calling it. It’s different. I’d probably say just the athletic and talent is higher than what I’ve seen in the past. People will always ask, ‘What was probably the best comparison?’ USC in 2008 when they had [Rey] Maualuga and [Brian] Cushing and those guys was the closest I’ve seen to what the SEC has.”

» Redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed on if it was easier for him to come into games last year: “Probably because I had to learn less things than they have to learn. They have to learn the whole playbook. I had to just learn a few packages last year.”

» Reed on what Driskel brings to the table: “The play is never over with Driskel. He’s real mobile. Just keep running around and hopefully he’ll see you.”

» Reed on Brissett: “I see a lot of good things out of Jacoby. He’s got a real strong arm and he’s really athletic as well. I think he could be a really good player.”

» Reed on how the offense will play without Brantley: “With young quarterbacks, we have to make every play we have a chance to make. Got to keep his confidence up.”

FOUR BITS: Larson faces jail, Starks returns to Steelers, Noah spotted, Hill arrested

1 » Florida Gators redshirt freshman forward Cody Larson may have had his legal matter settled in the state of Florida (he accepted deferred prosecution for his misdemeanor criminal trespassing charges) but how his actions will impact his legal status in South Dakota is another story. According to Keoland.com, Larson’s 120-day suspended jail sentence may be invoked due to him violating the law. “Minnehaha County State’s Attorney Aaron McGowan filed a motion this week asking a Sioux Falls judge to drop the suspended sentence and consider jail time on the prescription drug charges from last year,” the website reports. “A court date has been set for Friday. That’s when it will be up to a judge to decide if Larson serves any or all of those 120 days.”

2 » After nearly three months away from football, former Gators offensive tackle Max Starks has officially been re-signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the same team that cut him shortly after the lockout ended due to concerns over his weight and status following offseason neck surgery. Starks, a favorite of the front office but reportedly a problem for the coaching staff, returned Wednesday and found his old No. 78 jersey hanging in his locker. “It was good to see everybody and everybody was happy to see me,” he told the Steelers’ website. “It was like old times. There are a lot of old faces and some new faces. It’s comfortable and it’s home. I am happy to be back.” OGGOA spoke with Starks a few weeks ago in an exclusive interview that will be published on the website in the coming days. He hopes to returns to the NFL gridiron as soon as Sunday.

3 » Back in Gainesville, FL working out with fellow former Florida forward Al Horford while the NBA lockout continues, Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah was caught by TMZ on Tuesday…having some fun in a pool. No, not that kind of fun. If you care to see two pictures of Noah playing beer pong, you can click here.

4 » Former Gators power forward Dametri Hill was arrested on Tuesday for not paying child support and for two previous charges of marijuana possession. According to the St. Petersburg Times, police caught up with Hill at the Tampa International Airport booked him with a warrant for contempt of court. After leaving Florida, Hill played with the San Antonio Spurs for a short time before pursuing professional basketball in seven countries over a 14-year period. He has recently participated in basketball camps as a coach and had hoped to continue living around the game.

Extra BIT » The University of Florida announced Wednesday that the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut spring game will take place on April 7 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. It will be a busy day on campus at UF with a track and field meet, baseball game and softball game also taking place.

Youngblood: “He doesn’t know how crazy I am.”

With last Saturday being the two-year anniversary of ONLY GATORS Get Out Alive and considering he released a brand new book the very same day, former Florida Gators defensive lineman Jack Youngblood sat down with us recently for an exclusive and extensive hour-long interview about his life and career.

Click here to read an OGGOA exclusive excerpt from Because It Was Sunday: The Legend of Jack Youngblood while learning more about the book.

The first University of Florida student-athlete to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Youngblood is also a member of Florida’s Ring of Honor, the College Football Hall of Fame and the UF Athletic Hall of Fame. He has as accomplished of a career as any player who has put on the orange and blue of the Gators after being named first-team All-SEC and All-America in 1970 and also being selected as the No. 20 overall pick in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft.

Youngblood went on to be named to seven Pro Bowls and be selected as a first-team All-Pro five times while also winning NFC Defensive Player of the Year in back-to-back seasons (1975-76) and the Los Angeles RamsMost Value Player award three times (1975-76, 1979). He played in five NFC Championship games and one Super Bowl and had his No. 85 retired by St. Louis prior to being inducted into the team’s Ring of Fame in 2001.

Since retiring for the game of football, Youngblood has done some acting work, served as an analyst with numerous media outlets, and co-hosted Wal-Mart’s Great Outdoors program, which used to air on ESPN on Saturday mornings. He also wrote a biography, has held a number of football administration jobs and continues to work to this day.

OGGOA’s three-part interview with Youngblood covers his college days and professional career while also highlighting some interesting stories and moments in his life. This is part two of that interview. Part three will be published next week.

Part I – Youngblood: A career of life-changing moments

ADAM SILVERSTEIN: You succeeded very quickly when you started in the NFL, just like you did in college. In back-to-back seasons you won the NFC Defensive Player of the Year award, but a pair of Pittsburgh Steelers – Mel Blount and Jack Lambert – took the overall NFL award. I was always curious if you felt a little slighted not getting that honor?
JACK YOUNGBLOOD: “I never looked at those awards as if they were something that you should covet. It’s wonderful to be acknowledged, but that’s not why you played. You played to win ballgames during the regular season and then in the postseason. You’re paid to be the best, was my perspective. My job was to be the best defensive end in the National Football League. That’s what I was paid to do, and that’s what I expected myself to do. All of the trophies, all of the plaques, all of the dinners, all of the acknowledgements were just icing on the cake. Defensive linemen don’t get Players of the Year. Linebackers and defensive backs do because they’re intercepting balls, going back for touchdowns, having 400 tackles in a year, that type of stuff. That’s linebacker stuff. That’s not the working man. [Laughing]”

AS: Let’s talk about your time with the L.A. Rams when, let’s face it, the team had a crazy amount of success. From 1973-79 you won seven-straight NFC West titles, five NFC Championship games and played in a Super Bowl. What was it like to be part of such a dominant organization for such a long period of time?
JY: “There’s no question that it was rewarding to be an integral part of the nucleus of a good franchise. It was a really good football team. It was rewarding and at the same time, because we had got our nose busted on us four times with the door slamming in our face in the championship game. That was humiliating. It was a great experience. I loved my players. We truly had – and this wasn’t just rhetoric – we had a family. We had 12 or 15 guys that, if not once or twice a week we would get 12-15 of the guys together and we’d eat someplace, bring the wives and bring the kids. We had that kind of a close relationship. To be good, to be really good, I believe you have to have trust in your fellow players. That was a big thing that I think we grew to and that became one of the factors integral to how we played as well as we did in the 1970s, especially on defense.”

Read the rest of part one of our interview with Jack Youngblood…after the break!
Continue Reading » Youngblood: “He doesn’t know how crazy I am.”

10/5: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

With the Florida Gators just days away from their sixth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the LSU Tigers, he spoke during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week six action.


Though Muschamp refused to name a starting quarterback for the third day in a row (offensive coordinator Charlie Weis deflected the question on Tuesday), he did note that freshman Jacoby Brissett has jumped redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy on the depth chart. Murphy will remain the team’s No. 3 quarterback even though redshirt senior John Brantley is out due to injury, and Brissett will take the No. 2 spot as long as freshman Jeff Driskel is indeed named the starter for Saturday’s game.

“Jeff’s obviously [ahead] because of the playing experience, but we’re repping all three guys for the game and preparing all three of those guys,” Muschamp said. “I feel very comfortable about our preparation up to this point. Obviously today’s a big day. We’re working the red zone and third down, so that will be critical for all three.”


In addition to Alabama being better, one of the reasons Florida struggled so badly in the second half was the fact that the entire offense was tailored around Brantley and his abilities. Muschamp echoed Weis’s sentiments from Tuesday that, given the new situation, the Gators will be much better prepared heading into the LSU game.

“After the game, Charlie and I sat down and he said, ‘You know, I just don’t know if we gave Jeff much of a chance because of the game plan and the experience that john has in running the offense,’” he said. “It’s tough when you’re getting ready to play a defense like Alabama or LSU and you’re preparing for your starter to play the game and then something happens. You got to be able to adjust and adapt to the situation and do the best job for your football team.”

Muschamp said that Florida prepares itself for “injuries at all positions including the quarterback position throughout training camp,” but now the team must step up to make up for a big loss. “Now you’re getting into a point in the season where you have an injury that’s unfortunate because John has been playing so well. He’s playing his best football since he’s been at Florida,” he said. “Very disappointing for him, but we got to move on and understand that he’s not going to play this week. Our guys need to accept the challenge not just at the position but as the team as a whole.”


» On LSU’s talent and ability: “LSU’s got a good football team, very balanced, got a lot of respect for Les [Miles] and the job that he’s done. They’ve got an outstanding staff and team. They’re very balanced offensively with what they do with the run and the pass, the two-back package as well as the zone read. Compliments to what they do. Defensively they’re playing very well, especially in their front seven. They’ve got a lot of playmakers on the back end and John Chavis does a great job.”

» On LSU cornerback Tyrann Mathieu: “Ball hawk. Just an electric guy on the field. Plays with great energy and tough, hard-nosed, great blitzer and has just a knack for getting the ball of people as far as strips are concerned and interceptions. Just one of those guys that shows up in the right spots. Certain players have a certain knack, have a certain ability to be in the right spots at the right times and make plays. He plays the game extremely hard. He’s a physical player. Got a lot of respect for the young man.”

» On the Florida-LSU annual game being in jeopardy if divisions shift: “It’s been a great game through the years, especially recently. That decision ill be made by people far above my head. Certainly the Flordia-LSU game has been a game that’s been nationally watched and has national implications every year.”

» On if the run defense has improved after he ripped into them this week: “We had a really good practice yesterday, but it needs to transfer to game day and that’s the bottom line. I thought we had good preparation last week. It’s about playing blocks. It’s about understanding your job within each call, striking the guy across from you, keeping him off the second level. We did not do a good enough job of that the other night. We had too much second-level blocks and the ball bounces to the second-level, not getting the carrier down. A lot of that had to do with our front. We got to play blocks better up front. That’s something we’ve seen throughout the year, it’s not something that just happened Saturday night.”

» On if Alabama and LSU’s defenses look very similar: “Athletically, you look at the front seven of LSU and the thing that strikes you is that they have a lot of guys. They’ve recruited well. They’ve got some length up front, they’re athletic, they got great speed, they’ve done an outstanding job coaching those guys. I’ve got tremendous respect for John and the job he’s done wherever he’s been. And then they’re very athletic on the back end. You see the length and the size of the secondary, being able to cover space. They are very similar. This is the SEC and those are two of the best defenses going, obviously.

Weis not tipping hand on Gators’ starting QB

The position of quarterback is one that demands stability, and the Florida Gators had that this season until redshirt senior John Brantley went down with a high-ankle sprain on Saturday against the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide. Set to square off against their second top-ranked opponent in as many weeks, Florida goes into their game against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers uncertain who will be under center on the first series.

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis refused to indicate who that might be, even though freshman Jeff Driskel has been the second-string quarterback all season long up to this point.

“I can tell you, but I’d have to shoot you,” Weis said jokingly. “We don’t know yet. We’re practicing as the head coach has already previously told you. Brantley’s out and we’re practicing the other three guys. By the end of the week, we’ll decide who the starter is.”

Aside from Driskel, Florida has redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett on the roster. Whoever Weis chooses will be tasked with starting the first college game of their young career, a big step up from starting in high school.

“The first thing they have to realize is…you were the star in high school and it came easy for you. Now there’s 90,000 people every week when you go to play,” he said. “The stage is the first thing you got to get used to. It’s a different set of circumstances. A lot more people involved and a lot more pressure involved [and you’re playing] against better athletes. With every young quarterback, every play they’re out there, he’s getting more experience, which only makes him better in the long run.”

Weis said he will “objectively” pick his starter for Saturday but admitted that Driskel “has obviously got the upper hand because he has played and the other guys really haven’t played meaningful football yet.” However, all three are getting reps early in the week and Weis anticipates each to succeed in his own way.

No matter who eventually wins the battle, Weis is much more confident in being able to create a game plan for a back-up given a week to prepare rather than having to scrap one in the middle of a game and start from scratch.

“I feel a lot better now than I would have doing it last week in the game. You devise a game plan really around John, and when John goes down, you have to cut back in what you’re doing,” he said. “Now at least knowing that John is out for this week, you can devise a game plan around less experienced guys rather than more experienced guys.

“The best thing for this week versus last week is everything’s being tailor made around these guys. You don’t add more, you cut back so you get used to doing the things that they feel comfortable doing. You don’t expose them to as much material, which gives them a lot more confidence.”

Weis was also quick to point out that replacing Brantley is not a one-man job. The entire team will have to step up to fill the void created by their signal caller’s untimely injury.

“Everyone knows that part of their responsibility with Brantley out is everyone, on both sides of the ball and on special teams, has to pick up some of the slack,” he said. “There isn’t one guy that picks it up. It isn’t the backup quarterback coming in alone that picks up the slack. It’s everyone that has got to kind of pick up the slack.

“We can’t lose the line of scrimmage. [If] we lose the line of scrimmage Saturday afternoon, we’ll be in for a long day. It starts there with making sure that you don’t go get roughed up. If you control the line of scrimmage with the players we have on offense, I like to think that will give us a legitimate chance.”

In a hostile environment against a tough opponent trying to fight back after a disappointing showing at home one week earlier, chances are the Gators will have plenty to worry about on Saturday in addition to their quarterback situation.

10/4: Weis on Brantley, Murphy, Brissett, Debose

As the No. 17/18 Florida Gators prepare for their biggest road test of the 2011 season on Oct. 8 against the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s loss and the upcoming contest.


All week leading up to Saturday’s contest against the Alabama Crimson Tide, redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley‘s teammates kept saying how impressed they were with their leader’s confidence and poise. Brantley showcased just that during the game, opening the contest with a 65-yard touchdown pass and completing 69 percent of his passes for 190 yards through just two quarters before being injured. Weis said Tuesday that he was as impressed as he has ever been with Brantley during the game.

“With the exception of the interception where he didn’t ever see the guy – he was trying to throw the check-down to Trey [Burton] and should not have thrown it because he couldn’t really see Trey either. Think about it, he throws 16 passes, he completes 11 and he has three dropped balls,” he said. “You think about it: 14/16 against that defense? He’s stepping up in the pocket. That’s what real quarterbacks look like. Stepping up in the pocket, shuffling a little to the left, shuffling a little to the right. Making the big throw down the field that everyone said he couldn’t make. Stepping up and making the crossing route to Deonte [Thompson]denote which was his fourth read of the play. He goes boom – boom – boom and hits them out the back door.

“He would like to have that interception back, but you notice the one thing I liked the most about him was when that happened, I said three words to him when he came off the field: “Short term memory.” He came back, we went on that two-minute drive right at the end and got the ball down to the 14-yard-line before we got back-to-back sacks. It never fazed him. [He] never lost his cool. I look into peoples eyes. It was pretty easy to see that he expected to play a good game. That’s why it was unfortunate that he got injured.”


Weis also discussed Florida’s two other quarterbacks on Tuesday, noting that each can play and has the opportunity to win the starting job this week.

Redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy: “His biggest asset over those other guys is just a year of experience. Having been involved in the college football program for a year, be it a different offense, gives him a little bit of an upper hand.”

Freshman Jacoby Brissett: “Jacoby probably, the only reason why Jacoby hasn’t been a factor at this point is only because he came here in the summertime. He had to play catch-up over the other guys. The other guys were here in the spring when we put everything in. That’s the only thing that kept Jacoby from possibly being the second guy in. I don’t know how it would have played out if he was here in the springtime with the other guys, but he wasn’t.”

He also addressed whether or not specific thought has been given to redshirting Brissett (or even Driskel before the season began). “Although the thought is in the background, it’s too early in the year to do that. Once Jeff played, you don’t want to put Jacoby in just to hand off. But if Jacoby gives us a chance to win this week, Jacoby will gladly play. He would be more than happy to trot out there for the first time.”


» On if he thinks Brantley will play again this season: “Yeah, I do. You already were told by the head coach that he’ll let you know on Monday. He’s going to let you know on Monday, right? Isn’t that what he said/ He said, “I’ll let you know on Monday,” so the head coach will let you know on Monday.”

» On if he has had to rebuild the offense’s confidence this week: “Our coaching staff, at least the veteran coaches on our staff, have all been through experiences like this before, and we got a good idea how to handle it. It’s not like panic sets in, pandemonium sets in, it’s very matter-of-fact evaluation of what we do and what they do. It’s not a finger-point situation. Let’s be objective about the things that we could have done better and then here’s what we’re going to do to fix it and let’s move on. I don’t think there was any panic or any loss of confidence or all those things. I think that when you have a bunch of experienced guys who have been through the highs and lows, it becomes much more matter-of-fact.”

» On losing to Alabama: “They coached better than I did and they played better than we did. Not ever would I ever not start with the fact that I have to do a better job. When John goes down, I have to do a better job to put us in a better position to make plays.”

» On his evaluation of LSU: “We know it’s a formidable opponent. They’re ranked first in the country. They’ve got a great defense. You’re playing them on the road. It’s loud and you’re playing without your starting quarterback. What that does is, that gives you all the, “us against the world” mentality where you sit there and say, “Yeah, I guess we should just not go. We should just stay home this week.’”

» On if all three quarterbacks could play Saturday: “I would doubt that.”

» On if Driskel did indeed sprain his ankle on Saturday: “All three guys practiced today. What more do you want me to tell you? I’m not going there. It’s just not my territory. I feel I’m overstepping my bounds when I address that subject. I should always follow protocol and I just don’t think that’s my place.”

» On redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose stepping up recently: “The arrow has been pointing up on Andre for about a month. He’s been a very, very slow start – didn’t have a great training camp. He’s got tons of ability, an ability to be a front-line, top-line wide receiver. But he’s got to show you evidence of that. You don’t just go by reputation. They have to show you evidence. That’s part of the good thing that Will’s done since he’s been here. People don’t play based off of reputation; they have to give you evidence. For about the last four weeks…for him, the arrow’s clearly pointing up.”

» On if any changes will be made to the offensive line: “They have to get pressed more and not feel comfortable. With guys that play better or worse, they need to know that they’re not just handed a position. It’s still the same cast of characters that is involved in the mix. […] It’s not a question of who the people are, it’s just a question of how you intend to utilize them.”

FOUR BITS: Young, Jaeckel, cheer, Jenkins

1 » Florida Gators sophomore forward/center Patric Young, one of the most important pieces to the team’s 2011-12 season, was named to the John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 50 list on Monday. The Wooden Award is presented each year to the nation’s most outstanding college basketball player and is awarded after the postseason has concluded. Every player in the nation is eligible to win except freshmen, medical redshirts and transfers. Young is one of seven players representing the Southeastern Conference on the watch list and the only one from Florida.

2 » Gators senior outside hitter Kristy Jaeckel picked up a pair of prestigious weekly honors after standout performances over the weekend. Jaeckel was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week on Monday and was honored with the AVCA National Player of the Week award just one day later. Over the course of two road games against Auburn and Georgia, Jaeckel totaled 29 kills, 12 blocks, four digs and two service aces. Florida swept both opponents 3-0 and is now 11-3 with a 4-1 record in SEC competition so far this season.

3 » UF cheerleader Tarin Moses wrote a Sideline Report blog for AmericanCheerleaders.com, which takes readers through a day in the life of a member of the Gators’ spirit squad before, during and after a big contest at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Though the majority of Florida fans already know of the traditions Moses writes about, the entry is an interesting look at the game from her perspective.

4 » Former Gators cornerback Janoris Jenkins, playing his final collegiate season with the North Alabama Lions after transferring due to multiple rules violations, was named the Gulf Coast Conference Special Teams Player of the Week on Monday because he had an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown and a blocked field goal during his team’s game on Saturday. It was Jenkins’s third touchdown of the season (punt return, fumble return), and he is also third on North Alabama with 33 tackles through five games. The Lions have started the 2011 season 5-0.

Extra BIT » Offensive tackle Max Starks has not played a game in the NFL this season after being released by the Pittsburgh Steelers when the lockout ended this summer. Due to a massive amount of injuries and an intense need for a player who knows the system, Pittsburgh flew Starks in to work out for the team on Tuesday, NFL.com‘s Jason LaCanfora reports. Starks was originally cut by the Steelers due to weight issues and concerns stemming from offseason neck surgery. When asked last week if Starks was an option to return, head coach Mike Tomlin flat-out said no.

10/4: Debose’s maturity and confidence in Driskel

With the No. 17/18 Florida Gators preparing for their toughest road test of the 2011 season, three prominent offensive players were made available to the media on Tuesday to discuss how the team is progressing heading into their showdown with the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers on Oct. 8 at 3:30 p.m. in Baton Rouge, LA.


Redshirt sophomore Andre Debose on Saturday made his most significant contribution from the wide receiver position to date, catching two passes and taking the first play 65 yards for a touchdown. Debose was pleased with his play after the contest, noting Tuesday that it was “definitely a nice feeling to be involved in the offense.”

Asked what changed this week, Debose explained, “Coaches always [said] it was pretty much my practicing and my practicing habits, me being consistent in practice and showing the coaches that I can compete at a competitive level on Saturday.”

He also feels like he can be consistent game-in and game-out as long as he continues to get chances to prove himself. “I definitely will be getting my opportunities and that’s all I’ve been asking for – the opportunity to make plays,” Debose said. He also hopes to go back to returning kickoffs as soon as possible. “Coach always preaches that if you don’t practice you don’t play. I didn’t practice the kick return position so I didn’t play it. I’m trying to get back there as soon as I can,” he said.


Considering redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley has been ruled out for Saturday’s game, freshman Jeff Driskel is by far the most likely player to take his spot in the huddle. In addition to Driskel himself needing to get his head in the game and mature quickly, the support of his teammates is going to be important going forward.

If comments that Debose and redshirt sophomore guard Jon Halapio made on Tuesday are any indication, Driskel is not lacking in that department. “We have the ultimate confidence in Driskel. I feel like he can get the job done,” Deobse said. “His whole attitude has changed since the time he has been here until this point. He’s a whole different person. He let us know that he doesn’t consider himself a freshman.”

Though Debose said that redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy and freshman Jacoby Brissett are also getting reps in practice, he thinks Driskel brings something special to the table. “He has a strong arm, and when things are going bad, he can always get away with his legs. That’s one thing he can bring to the offense that Johnny B couldn’t,” he said. “He can keep a lot of plays alive a lot longer, so the scramble rules play into effect.”

Halapio said Driskel is “confident in the huddle” and though “he’s young, he’ll get it right this week.” He continued, “Obviously he’s a young quarterback, but I have full faith in him and we fully support whoever will be playing that quarterback position on Saturday.”


» Debose on how hurt he was two weeks ago: “I had sprung [sprained] my ankle, and I feel like I’m 100 percent now. It was pretty bad. I couldn’t walk for a while. With our training staff, they helped me get back as fast as possible. It was pretty bad. I was walking on crutches after the game and had a boot for a couple days after that. I was just determined to get back.”

» Debose on why the offense struggled moving the ball against Alabama: “We really couldn’t get a run game started. That had a lot to do with it. Once you’re one-dimensional, the defense can kind of pin your ears back and it’s kind of hard.”

» Debose on how he gets along with redshirt freshman WR Quinton Dunbar: “Our relationship is great. I’m always pushing him and he’s always pushing me. When he was on the field, I just always tried to tell him little advice on what he can do to get better. He does the same for me. It’s a friendly competition. We’re never putting each other down or anything like that.”

» Debose on how the team can be more successful this week: “I would definitely say we have to get our run game started. Our whole offense is kind of based on our run game. Once we get our run game started, I feel like our team will open up.”

» Redshirt freshman tackle Chaz Green on the team’s performance vs. Alabama: “We obviously struggled and need to do better. Everybody will take that upon himself to get better. We got to do better on protection of course. We don’t like to give up any sacks. That’s something that we pride ourselves on. We got to get better in that area and we got to get better in our run blocking.”

» Green on the offensive line not creating holes to run the ball: “It was rough because that’s what we pride ourselves on. It was rough but, like I said, we just got to look at film and correct it. We got to make sure we correct our technique and make sure we get it back to where it [was].”

» Halapio on not playing well against Alabama: “We feel like it’s just motivation. We’re going to go out there and play to our best abilities. It’s motivation for this week to get better, go up to Louisiana and handle [our] business.”

 Page 459 of 771  « First  ... « 457  458  459  460  461 » ...  Last »