Florida players’ pre-NCAA Tournament quotes

Prior to the 2011 NCAA Tournament getting underway, the Florida Gators spoke with members of the media in Tampa, FL about a number of topics including their recent slow starts, opening game opponent, expectations and preparation. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important quotes over the last two days, which you can find below:

Redshirt senior center Vernon Macklin on Florida starting slow the last few games: “I think we’ve got to come out more aggressive, looking to attack and looking to pass the ball to each other, just play harder in the first half than we do the second half. We’re going to carry it over to the second half like we always do and play 40 minutes of basketball. We just got to be more aggressive going to the hole and making more plays and extra passes.”

Senior forward Chandler Parsons on the expectations of making a deep run: “I think the biggest thing with us, we can’t worry about expectations. In the beginning of the season, we were preseason Top 10 and people put all these expectations. It’s about what you make of that. As a 2 seed, I think we had a great year and I think we’re very deserving of a 2 seed. The thing is all a 2 seed gives you is just what you’ve done up until now. Basically whatever we’ve done until now is over with and it starts all over again Thursday. We’ve just got to go one game at a time and no matter if we’re a 2 seed or a 10 seed or a 14 seed, we’ve just got to play one game at a time. This is it. When we lose, our three careers are over. So we’ve just got to take it one game at a time.”

Macklin on Santa Barbara: “We know, like Coach [Billy] Donovan said, they have a shooting guard, a small forward that’s pretty aggressive and they know how to put the ball in the hole and win the tournament. In their tournament, their shooting guard averaged 28 points a game for three games and their small forward is putting up 17, and their center was at 12. So that’s an offensively aggressive team and they play great defense, also. We got to go in and play hard against those guys and play hard every single possession.”

Senior F Alex Tyus on having Donovan as a coach: “I think it’s a huge advantage, just knowing that we have a coach that has gotten to a championship game multiple times on this stage, we just really have to take his experience, take what he says and believe in him and follow him and help each other, and we’ll be okay.”

Parsons on losing meaning the end of his Gators career: “It’s huge. Being a senior, this is it for us. And it’s been a great run for us and we’ve had a blast. When we’re out there, we’re going to leave it all out there because we know if we lose a game, that’s it. So we don’t want to have that feeling we had in the locker room after the SEC Tournament against Kentucky. We want to finish our career as a winner. We’re just going to play extremely hard and keep executing our stuff and trying to defend really hard and just do all the things that Coach Donovan has been talking about all year and keep playing the way we’ve been playing.”

Parsons on the four-year journey coming to an end: “I think it’s really special. Being a four-year player, I’ve experienced so much here. I’ve been through many ups and downs and it’s been a great season this year for all we’ve accomplished and all the close games and just the way we’ve all played and battled. Last year I felt like we got a taste of getting back to the NCAA Tournament, and I think that’s really helped us with all the close games we had this year, us being a mature and humble team to come back and that’s really helped us for the tournament run we’re going to make this year. We want to go out a winner.”

Parsons on not having won a NCAA Tournament game yet: “I think positively that we’re hungry. We want to win, we want to win big, and we want to go as far as we possibly can in this tournament. Like I said, last year going into double overtime of BYU, we got a taste of what it’s like and how hard you have to compete just to get a win. Because like I said, it came down to the last possession three times last year and we fell short. But I think it really gave us a good experience getting there, and we have a lot better understanding of it this year.”

Sophomore guard Kenny Boynton on preparation this season: “We’re much better prepared this year. We know what to expect this year. Last year we were so focused on being in the tournament that we got complacent. This year we’re forced more on us.”

Junior point guard Erving Walker on being more experienced: “That’s huge but that doesn’t necessarily automatically you’ll win games. But that should help us out – just being older and being through different situations and knowing what to expect.”

3/16: Muschamp’s thoughts from spring practice

With the Florida Gators beginning spring practice for the 2011 season on Wednesday, head coach Will Muschamp met the media afterward to discuss a variety of topics including the offseason program, injuries and happenings on the field. OGGOA has compiled some of the most important news, notes and quotes from his availability.

CLEARING UP MISCONCEPTIONS

Contrary to conjecture elsewhere, Muschamp confirmed that the only reason senior cornerback Janoris Jenkins is sitting out spring practice strictly due to his offseason shoulder surgery – not his run-in with the law earlier this year. “He had reconstructive shoulder surgery from the season, so there’s no contact,” he said. “A lot of his situation coming back was not being able to go through the combine or any type of offseason workout. No testing for any scouts. He felt like he could help the situation by coming back and getting his shoulder healthy. He just got out of the sling two weeks ago, I think.”

Muschamp also divulged that redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., who got some playing time late in the season, is officially back on scholarship after having it pulled by former head coach Urban Meyer due to a DUI arrest.

DAY ONE ACTIVITIES

Though he was excited to get on the field Wednesday and see his players work, Muschamp cautioned that not much can be taken away from the day’s events – especially considering the players were without helmets and still trying to find their groove. “Day one, we’re out there in shorts, pajamas running around. You don’t play football in that; you play football in pads,” he said. “Everybody was going to be enthusiastic. Today was easy.”

He also stressed the importance he put on practice in general. “I want the guys that guys that like ball, want to be out there all the time,” Muschamp said. “Practice is a huge part of the game; preparation is a huge part of the game. The really good players I’ve been around, they’ve practiced.”

BEING INJURED IS NOT ALWAYS AN EXCUSE

Muschamp certainly does not have plans to aggravate injuries or cause old ones to flare up, but he did divulge a policy on practicing, noting that he expects maximum effort at all times even if players are not 100 percent. He also commented that the unfinished depth chart will not show the names of players who are not participating in full.

“Guys that don’t go through the full offseason, they don’t deserve to be in the two-deep [depth chart], in my opinion. Injuries are part of the game, but it’s also a part of our evaluation,” he said. “We want durable, dependable players. If you’re not going to practice, you’re not going to play. Practice is important to me; it’s preparation. Those things are critical to me.

“Now if you’ve got an injury, a surgical situation, then I understand that. I understand that injuries are a part of the game. We also have to move on and prepare somebody else, and that’s why we cross-train guys at a lot of positions, so they’re able to get out and prepare for game seven when somebody goes down. So we’re able to get the best 11 on the field instead of putting a guy out there that’s maybe not as good as somebody else sitting on the sideline.”

Jokingly, Muschamp was amazed at how healthy players suddenly get when it is time to step out of the weight room and onto the field.

“When we get into fall camp, the injury report will be two pages long. And the day before the first week, the injury report will have two names on it. In the offseason program we’ve got a two-page-long injury report; we had three names on it today,” he said. “My point being, when they get close to football and playing, they all get well. It’s never changed no matter if it’s Florida or anywhere else I’ve been. It’s amazing how that happens. The trainer rides in on his white horse and all of a sudden gets them well. It’s phenomenal.”

QUOTES

On how the first day felt to him: “I love the offseason program. It’s one of my favorite times of the year to see your team develop and develop your football team in that time. To really see guys push through a tough time when there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. To get on the grass and coach – that’s my most fun thing to do. And I like spring because you’re able to really develop and teach [without] the pressure of getting ready for a game.”

On how quarterback reps are being distributed: “All three guys are repping through practice right now. All of those are getting turns and reps. We’re really right now rolling a lot of players regardless. We don’t necessarily have first group, second group. All guys have repped with all groups, so it’s not like one guy is getting all the reps with one group.”

On how to keep five-star QB Jeff Driskel level-headed with all of the hype coming in: “Treat him like everybody else. The guy’s absolutely no different to me other than the fact that he’s got a red jersey on the field because he’s a quarterback. That’s it.”

On recruiting rankings: “What you’ve accomplished in high school does not mean you’ve accomplished anything in college. It’s a different game; it’s a different level. I always tell them, ‘You can take all the stars and…’ You can fill in the sentence. If you live in yesterday, you’ll never see tomorrow.”

On what buck defensive end Ronald Powell brings to the table: “Ronald’s an explosive, strong, tough, hard-nosed football player. He’s a guy that we feel like we can create some one-on-ones and some mismatches for an offense. He’s a guy I think you’re going to need to account for based on what I’ve seen so far in the offseason program, his film from last year. I think he’s a good player and a guy we’re looking forward to seeing how productive he can be over the long haul.”

Gators 2011 early enrollees pick uniform numbers

Athletes care about their uniform numbers, and now that Florida Gators football has started spring practice for the 2011 season, the team’s newest members to have chosen/been assigned theirs. The current freshman roster of early enrollees, according to the University of Florida, can be found below:

» No. 16 Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL), five-star quarterback
» No. 81 A.C. Leonard (Jacksonville, FL), four-star tight end
» No. 26 De’Ante Saunders (DeLand, FL), four-star cornerback
» No. 22 Mike Blakely (Bradenton, FL), four-star running back
» No. 87 Javares McRoy (Lakeland, FL), four-star wide receiver
» No. 86 Clay Burton (Venice, FL), four-star defensive end/linebacker
» No. 44 Kyle Christy (Brownsburg, IN), three-star punter

Meyer says Gators used spread out of necessity

With quarterback Tim Tebow graduating and a number of talented play makers leaving for the NFL, it was a known fact that the Florida Gators had to reinvent themselves going into the 2010 season. So it certainly came as a surprise to both fans and analysts when head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio did not adjust the offense to fit then-redshirt junior QB John Brantley‘s skillset.

During an interview Wednesday on ESPN, Meyer did something he never chose to do while still wearing the orange and blue: provide an explanation as to why the offense was not better tailored for Brantley to succeed from the get-go.

“We wanted to do some more pro-style stuff, but our fullback was hurt for the year, our tailback got hurt for the year and we didn’t have a tight end,” he said. “That just mounted and then we got to the point where we had to win. The best way to win was to do some of the stuff – some of the spread stuff.”

Florida was aware the tight end situation was a rough one going into the season with then-redshirt freshman Jordan Reed‘s transition to the position being delayed by a knee injury suffered during fall practice. The Gators had also not truly utilized a fullback since Meyer took over the program and certainly had reserve running backs behind then-junior Jeff Demps who were more apt for a pro-style set.

“It’s going to be all positive,” Meyer said of Brantley’s situation. “We tried to adapt. We had issues at other positions. Tim Tebow had all the success, but you look around him and he had a first-rounder here, a first-rounder there. Johnny we had an exodus of juniors that left for the NFL Draft a year ago – I think we had nine guys drafted.”

Nevertheless, Meyer believes those things are in place now and that Brantley has a great chance to succeed in the new system.

“It’s going to be a very good transition,” he said. “You have a tight end now in the program – Jordan Reed’s going to go to tight end. You have a fullback in Trey Burton. Those kids weren’t even playing those positions a year ago. I think it’s going to be very smooth. Charlie Weis’s record is very impressive with development of quarterbacks. It’s going to be all positive for him.”

He is also pleased with how the Gators as a whole have adapted to the new coaching staff put in place days after his resignation.

“I can’t imagine a transition going better. Very rarely in college football – or any sport – when a coach leaves a program that there’s a smooth transition,” Meyer said. “The guys get along, the guys are helpful and there’s communication. It couldn’t be better. I love Florida. I’m very impressed with Will Muschamp and his coaching staff. I know there’s a bunch of good, young players there. They’re going to keep on marching in Gainesville and have a great year.”

Photo Credit: ESPN

Florida assistant Pitino up for Gulf Coast job

Less than one year go, OGGOA learned that Florida Gators assistant basketball coach Richard Pitino interviewed with Iona for their head coaching vacancy. Just under 12 months later, head coach Billy Donovan revealed that the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles have contacted Pitino about filling their opening.

“They’ve contacted him,” Donovan told Florida Today. “I think they have definite interest in him. In my conversation with their AD it’s probably at a point right now where they are probably going to go through a process of looking at three or four different people and I think Richard is in that mix of people and I think there will be a point where Richard will really get a chance to sit down and talk and find out a little bit more one, his interest, and I think two, his interest. But there has been some contact made there.”

With Donovan’s coaching tree branching out at a Rick Pitino– and Dean Smith-like pace, it should be no surprise that another one of his assistants is garnering this type of attention. Six of Donovan’s former assistants (and one ex-player) were on college coaching staffs during the 2010-11 season.

“He’s definitely interested in the job,” Donovan said of Pitino. “He’s excited about the potential in the program, being relatively new, the school relatively new… he just wants to find out more. […] The other thing too is that he’s one of three, four or five people. I don’t think he knows where he’s at because they are going to kind of go through the process.”

Another Donovan assistant who may also have an opportunity elsewhere is Larry Shyatt. Rumored to be a candidate to return to coach at Wyoming over the last few months, Shyatt did not discount the possibility when The Gainesville Sun’s Kevin Brockway reached out to him about it.

“That’s a question I wouldn’t be able to answer unless we visited some. […] Had a great year there [1997-98]. Loved it.”

Coordinators Weis, Quinn energized and excited

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2011 spring practice on Wednesday, the team’s two new coordinators – Charlie Weis (offense) and Dan Quinn (defense) – met with the media Monday to discuss a variety of topics including personnel, schemes, position changes, their respective relationships with head coach Will Muschamp and transitioning from the NFL back to college football.

LEAVING THE NFL FOR THE GATORS

For Weis and Quinn, each had different reasons for trading in a comfortable job in the NFL for a new opportunity with Florida. Weis’s main concern was his family. His daughter Hannah is a special needs child, and his family being spread across the country in three different locations was not desirable. Instead, Weis and his son Charlie Jr. (who will be a student assistant on the team seeing as he aspires to be a football coach) will be in Gainesville, FL while his wife and daughter primarily reside in South Bend, IN when the weather is warm before traveling down south for the winter.

“It was a fairly easy decision but almost all of it was directly related to family issues,” Weis explained. “When Will called and I thought about how I could best take care of my family, the fact that my son could end up going to school here, my wife’s a horse person so I’m buying a house in the Ocala area – so I got serious brownie points on that end right there, too. The fact that I could take care of my wife and my daughter and my son and kind of mesh everything together, really it’s as simple of an answer as that one.”

Quinn’s decision was more about familiarity and the desire to work with an old friend again. “When the opportunity came to come work with [Muschamp], it really was an easy [decision] for me. I thought the guy had all the right stuff about him as a coach, so when I had the opportunity to come to a place like this, it really was easy for me,” he said. “I had a great experience in the NFL – loved it and made some terrific connections – but it was just a new challenge for me and something I was looking forward to doing. […] Will and I see football a lot in the same way. That connection is what brought me here. We do see things along the same line.”

Read everything Weis and Quinn had to say…after the break!
Continue Reading » Coordinators Weis, Quinn energized and excited

Florida baseball walks off with 5-4 win over FSU

Rallying back from a four-run deficit surrendered back in the third inning, No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (15-2) utilized a walk-off single by junior left fielder Daniel Pigott in extra innings to defeat the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (15-2) 5-4 on Tuesday night at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL and even the season series at 1-1.

With one out in the bottom of the 10th, sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (1-4, R, 2 BB) smacked a triple to put the potential game-winning run in scoring position. Pigott (3-4, 4 RBI, 2 BB) followed by stepping up to the plate and hitting his career-high fourth RBI of the game to score Fontana and conclude Florida’s come-from-behind victory.

Scoreless through two, Gators junior left-handed pitcher Alex Panteliodis had a rough go of it in the top of the third. After the lead-off batter singled to center field, Seminoles right fielder James Ramsay homered to right to put Florida State up 2-0. When Panteliodis (2.1 IP, 3 ER, 3 K) gave up a double two batters later, head coach Kevin O’Sullivan replaced him with junior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson, who promptly allowed SS Justin Gonzalez to hit FSU’s second two-run home run of the evening.

Florida cut the deficit to three runs by having a single batter cross home plate in the bottom of the inning. Senior second baseman Josh Adams (1-3, R) led off with a single to center and advanced around the bases on a pair of ground outs. Pigott hit a double to left center for his first RBI of the game to get the Gators on the board.

One inning later, sophomore designated hitter Brian Johnson (2-4, R, BB) smacked a ball up the middle before being driven home two batters later by junior center fielder Tyler Thompson (1-5, RBI). Florida left three on base in the fourth and stranded a total of five more batters over the next three innings.

Still down two in the bottom of the eighth, the Gators found the bases loaded on a pair of hits and a walk. Pigott came through in the clutch for the second time on the night, tying the game at four runs apiece by hitting a two-RBI single to center to score junior 2B Jeff Moyer (1-2, R) and sophomore pinch hitter Kamm Washington (1-1, R).

After Larson (3.2 IP, ER, 2 K) and junior LHP Nick Mardone (1.1 IP, 3 K) did most of the heavy lifting in relief, junior RHP Anthony DeSclafani (3-0) stepped in at the top of the ninth. He promptly retired FSU’s batters in order in each of the next two innings, paving the way for Pigott’s game-winning single in the bottom of the 10th.

The Seminoles utilized nine pitchers on the evening and attempted to disrupt any rhythm the Gators could get going by stalling on the mound.

Florida will conclude the week by opening up Southeastern Conference competition with a three-game series on the road in Baton Rouge, LA against No. 5 LSU (15-1). The trio of contests will be played on Friday (7 p.m. – ESPN3.com), Saturday (7:30 p.m. – FSF) and Sunday (1 p.m. – CST).

Muschamp provides pre-spring practice thoughts

With the Florida Gators set to begin 2011 spring practice on Wednesday, new head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Monday to discuss a variety of topics including why practice is closed, who has stepped up as leaders, which players have changed positions and what he expects from redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley.

FIVE-WEEK OFFSEASON PROGRAM

Florida’s student-athletes participated four days each week in a five-week-long offseason program with spring break serving as a nice ending to the activities. Muschamp believes that the time is now to get the Gators in the proper mindset for the upcoming year.

“In the offseason, that’s where you build your football team,” he said. “You build the mental toughness it’s going to take to be successful. You find out a lot about individual players at this time – what they’re willing to push through. You find out a lot about where your leadership is on the football team. You start to develop your identity in the offseason. I’m really pleased with where we are. We still have a ways to go, but I’m excited about what those guys accomplished in our offseason program.”

NO SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT CLOSING PRACTICE

Former Florida head coach Urban Meyer shut fans and media out of fall practice last year, but spring practice was open throughout his entire tenure at UF. Muschamp, who announced last week that practiced would be closed, said that he had no second thoughts about the decision even though some fans are peeved by the choice.

“We’re a new staff. It’s important – on both sides of the ball and special teams – for our guys to focus on what we need to do to be successful. We need to do that in closed quarters,” he said. “I understand that our fans love the Gators and want to be a part of that. On April 9th, we want a full packed house at The Swamp. We need to concentrate on us right now. We need to get better and continue to develop the identity of what we want to be as a football team on both sides of the ball on special teams.”

He continued, “I’ve got to make a decision that I think is best for the program and about winning football games and doing it the right way. That’s something that will be evaluated in the fall by me and in the spring by me. If I think it’s best for the practices to be closed, they’ll be closed.”

CREATING AND ESTABLISHING LEADERS

Muschamp has a number of goals that he has set out to accomplish before spring practice concludes. One of those is finding a set of leaders who prove their worth by displaying a positive attitude, being productive and establishing themselves as both dependable and durable.

“Develop the leadership. Come together for that common purpose. I know we’ll all be excited on Wednesday; I want to see how we are [at] practice 12. That’s really where you find out what kind of team you’ve got,” he said. “We want to be a blue-collar, overachieving unit. We’ve got some good football players; we got a good football team on campus. We’ve got to come together as a cohesive unit, build for a common purpose and develop that workman-like attitude.”

Singling out a handful of players as early leaders, Muschamp pointed to Brantley, senior defensive end William Green, redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr., redshirt sophomore WR Stephen Alli, sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs, redshirt sophomore safety Tim Clark, sophomore QB Chandler Carr and freshman QB Jeff Driskel as guys who have already stood out among their peers.

“They came out and played to a championship standard as far as their competition is concerned in the weight room and off the field,” he said of the players. “You’ve got to develop leadership; it’s not just something that happens. We’ve got to develop that within our organization. We’re implementing leadership, character development, mental conditioning for our football team.”

EXPECTATIONS FOR BRANTLEY

Brantley is the Gators’ No. 1 quarterback, and it is going to take a huge effort from either Driskel or redshirt freshman Tyler Murphy to unseat him. Not only does Brantley have the age factor going for him, Muschamp (and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis) both believe he is capable of doing the job that is necessary behind center. To his credit, Brantley has put the pedal to the metal so far this spring and is doing whatever he can to learn the position to the best of his ability.

“John’s worked hard in the offseason. He’s a talented player,” Muschamp said. “John needs to worry about John’s expectations, mine, Charlie Weis’s and nobody else’s. That’s what I think about expectations. Ours are high – really high; we expect a lot. John himself expects a lot of himself, and we’re expecting him to have an outstanding year.”

Asked what his specific expectations are for Brantley, Muschamp instead discussed what he expects from any quarterback running his team. “From the quarterback position, and I don’t mean this in a conservative manner, it’s [about] managing the game,” he said. “Peyton Manning manages the game. Tom Brady manages the game. They don’t turn the ball over; they take care of they ball. They provide great leadership for their offense and their football team. They convert on third down. That’s managing the game; that’s what we want to see. He’s got the ability to do all of those things.”

POSITION CHANGES AND ADJUSTMENTS

As OGGOA covered yesterday in our depth chart post, there is plenty of movement going on throughout Florida’s roster. Here are some of the moves that have been made and what Muschamp had to say about the player involved.

Redshirt freshman Leon Orr from offensive line to defensive tackle: “He’s a bigger body guy that can hold the point inside.”

Redshirt freshman Gerald Christian from tight end to linebacker: “He’s got good lower body explosion [and is] a guy who is certainly bright enough to play two positions.” Christian will also see offensive work at tight end and fullback.

Redshirt sophomore Jordan Reed from QB/TE to tight end: “Jordan Reed will be a full-time tight end. [He] can stretch the field vertically and be a match-up issue for defenses with his athleticism. [I’m] excited about him.”

Sophomore Trey Burton from QB to “F” position: “We’re excited about the versatility Trey will play for us at the F and at the H position in some third-down work.” Learn more about the F position.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Martin from DE/LB to DE: “He’s got good pass rush skills, good pass rush ability. He can move his hands and feet in the rush, which is a natural talent. That’s not something that’s easily coached.”

Muschamp was also asked about sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley, who had some behavioral issues last season. “That was last season. This is this year,” he said. “I [told him], ‘You’re going to do it our way.’ Change is inevitable, growth is optional. You either do it our way or leave.”

Finally, he discussed where the Gators are weakest position-wise. “We are thin on both lines of scrimmage at this point. I like the quality of players; I don’t like the quantity of players. The SEC is a line of scrimmage league. We’re going in a little bit thin,” he said.

QUOTES

Muschamp on the depth chart: “I don’t know if that depth chart is worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Muschamp on the depth chart (II): “It’s not about where you start – it’s where you finish.”

Muschamp on the defensive philosophy: “We want to be multiple. We’ll be more of an over team, a 4-3 team, a one-gap team at this point. We will commingle some 3-4. We’ve got an outstanding defensive staff, and I’m really excited about what those guys are bringing to the table.”

Muschamp on Weis: “Part of buying in is instant credibility, and he brings instant credibility as a football coach because of what he’s accomplished.”

Muschamp on potentially butting heads with Weis: “You hire guys that you have tremendous confidence that you know their abilities. You hire the best coaches available. We’ve been allowed to do that here because of the support of our administration. You want to hire the best in the business. I don’t want a bunch of “yes” guys. I don’t want a bunch of guys who are going to agree with everything I say. I don’t claim to have all the answers, and I don’t have all the answers – especially on the offensive side of the ball. I want guys that want to disagree.”

Muschamp on what excites him about the team: “There’s been a willingness and an eagerness to learn. We’ve got a bunch of prideful guys in that locker room that want to have a lot of success.”

Muschamp on it being “his” team: “It’s Florida’s program, not mine. I’m the steward and I’m driving the ship. Florida won a bunch of games before any of us showed up, and they’re going to win a bunch of games after we’re all gone.”

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