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.
OFFENSIVE LINE’s MANTRA STAYS THE SAME
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.”
BRISSETT MOVING ON UP
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.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» 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.”