The Countdown: Florida Gators roster (79-70)

With the 2011-12 athletic season now in the books and the 2012-13 season about to begin, the focus has shifted to the return of Florida Gators football. For the second-straight year, OGGOA will take a look at every player of substance on the roster, counting down by jersey number, in this series: The Countdown.

77 – Ian Silberman (Orange Park, FL)
Redshirt sophomore guard
6’5” 303 lbs.

Quick Bio: Silberman enrolled early in January 2010 coming out of high school as a four-star recruit. He was the No. 8 player at his position nationally according to Rivals but only saw action in the season opener that year.

2011 Season: Though he bulked up some between his freshman and sophomore years, Silberman was moved to guard and only appeared in three games as a reserve.

2012 Outlook: Silberman has gained 19 lbs. since last season but has not been spoken about much other than as a third-string reserve on the offensive line. He will play plenty of special teams though, according to head coach Will Muschamp.

76 – Max Garcia (Venice, FL)
Junior offensive lineman
6’4” 307 lbs.

Quick Bio: A two-sport athlete in high school who competed in shot put and discus in addition to playing football, Garcia committed to Maryland and despite not seeing much action as a freshman started at left tackle in all 12 of the team’s games during his sophomore season.

2012 Outlook: Due to NCAA transfer rules, Garcia is being forced to redshirt and will miss the entire 2012 season. Coaches, however, have noted that he is playing quite well during practice and they are very high on his potential to be an impact player in 2013.

Check out five more players in this edition of The Countdown…after the break!
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8/13: Muschamp discusses first scrimmage

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday following the Florida Gators‘ first scrimmage of the fall. He spoke about a number of topics including what was learned this weekend, the quarterback competition and how players are progressing.

REVIEWING THE SCRIMMAGE

Offense
Muschamp said the Gators offensive unit accounted for 11 “explosive plays” (more than 12 yards on the ground, 15 through the air) over the course of the scrimmage and that they were equally split between the running and passing games. He also pointed out that he was pleased with how the unit got in and out of the huddle and went through the scrimmage, giving special praise to the running backs.

“Offensively we ran the ball very well. Mike Gillislee, Mack Brown had his best scrimmage since he’s been here, and Matt Jones – all three ran the ball extremely well. Very pleased with those guys getting the ball north and south.”

Defense
While the offense did well overall, it also put the ball on the ground four times and the quarterbacks combined for three interceptions (though he would not say who threw them). That also means the defense did well in one of the No. 1 areas in which it had to improve from last season – turnovers.

There were also 11 missed tackles on the afternoon, a number that Muschamp said was unacceptable but also choked up to the rust of just getting into the new season.

Special Teams
Nothing in particular stood out in this area for Muschamp though his instance the some of the younger players on the team contribute to this unit perhaps means there is not as much desire to play on special teams as there was previously at Florida.

“Special teams we need more young guys to step up and contribute,” he said. “We’ve got some really good athletes in this freshman class and they need to step up. They need to come to the table and understand that that’s part of…one-third of the game and it’s very important here at Florida – controlling the vertical field position of the football game.”

QUARTERBACK COMPETITION ADDRESSED

Though Muschamp would not go into too many particulars, he said that both signal callers are completing 63-65 percent of their passes and are about even statistically in their attempts and completions. They have been taken out of the red protective jerseys as of Sunday’s practice.

“Obviously the quarterback I’d like to be a little more settled,” he said when asked which position he is most concerned about as of now. “But again, my confidence level is overly high in both guys. I would just like to settle in where we are as far as that’s concerned. You’re always concerned in camp when you got guys banged up here and there as far as injuries are concerned. I worry about everything, I guess. I don’t know if there’s one thing I could say. How much time do you got?”

PLAYER UPDATES, NOTES AND QUOTES

» Redshirt junior tight end Jordan Reed twisted his knee and will miss 3-4 days of practice. Muschamp said that he is a little sore but perfectly fine otherwise.

» Freshman defensive back Marcus Maye (knee) participated in his first practice on Sunday. “He looked good for the first time out there,” Muschamp said.

» Praised was heaped on freshman wide receiver Raphael Andrades, one of the last players to join Florida’s 2012 recruiting class. “Raphael Andreas had a good day from a receiver standpoint. [He] caught a bubble screen and made a couple guys miss, caught a ball down the field for a jump ball, 50-50 ball,” he said. “I know he’s only a two-star so he’s not supposed to be a good player, but we had the guy in camp and the guy’s got great ball skills. He judges the ball well, catches the ball well, and he’s a guy we need to get more reps to.”

» Redshirt sophomore RB Mack Brown showed flashes on Saturday but still must become a more consistent player especially when it comes to his blocking and pass protection. “He ran the ball extremely well, protected well. He didn’t do a lot of dancing. He stuck his foot in the ground and got north and south, which is something that he can do very well. He’s a strong guy, he’s got a strong lower body. That was very pleasing,” Muschamp said.

» On redshirt sophomore tight end Omarius Hines: “I think he plays very well in the slot. He’s a guy that you can get the ball to on the edge and he can create some things down the field. He’s an explosive athlete. He catches the ball well. He does get on the perimeter and runs well. There is certainly a place and package for him with what we’re doing, and he will have one.”

» On freshman TE Kent Taylor: “Athletically in the throwing game he’s a really good athlete, catches the ball well. We need to get better at some point of attack things, which we knew that coming in and he did, too.”

» On freshman Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr.: “Through 10 practices, he’s done a nice job. He’s been a guy that has produced well and been very productive. He’s very attentive in meetings. He asks questions; he asks the right kind of questions. He plays hard. It’s hard for a young man to come in in the summer and understand the tempo and understand all of the mental gymnastics you have in playing the game and the different things that happen. He’s working very hard at it.”

» Muschamp said redshirt senior Frankie Hammond, Jr. has been the team’s most consistent receiver.

» On junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd playing inside: “He eats a lot of space in there.”

» Muschamp said “right now Marcus Roberson” would be starting as the team’s punt returner with redshirt junior WR Andre Debose and sophomore DB De’Ante Saunders next in line. He added that Saunders is rotating as the third safety and fifth cornerback in practice right now.

» Muschamp said the primary starting offensive line included senior Xavier Nixon at left tackle, a rotation of redshirt junior Kyle Koehne and redshirt senior James Wilson at left guard, redshirt junior Jonotthan Harrison at center, redshirt junior Jon Halapio at right guard and redshirt sophomore Chaz Green at right tackle.

» On how the team looks at this point in the fall: “I’m very pleased after 10 practices where we are [with] he commitment level, the toughness, the things that we’ve identified that were major issues for our football team a year ago. I’m very pleased with where we are but we still have miles to travel, you know?”

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Muschamp gathers Gators in West Palm Beach

Florida Gators fans in Palm Beach County were visited by a head football coach for the first time since 2008 and came away both enthusiastic and impressed on Thursday when Will Muschamp dropped by the Expo Center at the South Florida Fairgrounds to discuss his first season at the helm and his expectations for 2012.

After a 20-minute opening statement, Muschamp took questions for another half hour and stuck around to sign autographs for all of he nearly 200 fans in attendance. Below is a recap of some of the more newsworthy and interesting topics that Muschamp covered (and were not included in stories here and here):

» The competition between sophomore quarterbacks Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel has not slowed down at all. “I have the utmost confidence in both guys. They’re working extremely hard here in the offseason. It’s going to be critical – it’s got to become their football team. And their competition will make each other better which will make our offense better and is going to make our football team better,” he said. “Jacoby and Jeff are both guys we can win a championship with. I do know that. [...] We can win with both. I’d like to name a starter. If we have to play both, we will play both. We’re going to do what it takes to win games at the end of the day. If one guy will distance himself then certainly we will name him the starter.”

» Muschamp said Florida had a legitimate opportunity to match-up against and win every game but two in 2011. “There’s a fine line between winning and losing,” he said. “Last year we played two football teams that were better than us in Alabama and LSU. The rest of the games we had our opportunities. Whether it was maturity or coaching or whatever you want to say it was, at the end of the day we didn’t get the job done. 7-6 is not acceptable at Florida; neither is 15-11 – that’s what we’ve been the last two years.”

» Junior safety Matt Elam’s groin continues to be an issue for the Gators but Muscahmp is confident it will be all healed by the time summer rolls around. “He twinged it in the latter part of spring. We really needed to look at the young safeties Valdez Showers and Jabari Gorman – get those guys a lot of reps. Matt’s a good football player. I know what he can do,” he said. “I pulled him the last three practices before the spring game. I just felt like it was another opportunity for someone else to get the reps. I saw him in the weight room [Wednesday]. He looks great and is working hard. He’s a guy that is very instinctive, has great ball skills, toughness. He can cover; he can play in man and zone. He does a lot of things for our football team.”

» His pair of freshman offensive linemen are impressing him: “Jessamen Dunker from here in Boynton Beach and D.J. Humprhies from Charlotte, North Carolina are two really good players. I’d recruit them again. Glad they’re on our football team.”

» Muschamp said he learned plenty of lessons after his first season as a head coach but in the end you cannot change what happened, you can only move forward. “There’s a lot to be learned through last season. You can’t go back and re-do and press the reset button and start over. That’s not what you do. You learn from it, you move forward, and I think our guys have learned from it,” he said.

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FOUR BITS: Powell, Jenkins, lacrosse, Zunino

1 » Florida Gators junior Buck linebacker Ronald Powell tore his anterior cruciate ligament during the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut and photographer David Carr happened to capture the moment about one second before the injury occurred. As you can see below, courtesy of InsidetheGators.com, Powell was pulling up from attacking the ball carrier as he believed freshman LB Antonio Morrison had him tackled. However, redshirt sophomore tackle Chaz Green kept playing through the whistle (as he should) and shoved Powell in the back to get him away from the play. Powell planted his left foot at the same time as the push and tore his ACL as a consequence.

2 » Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins, just three weeks before the 2012 NFL Draft, has fired Ben Dogra of CAA and hired Malik Shareef of DSI as his new agent. However, as is tradition with anything Jenkins does, there appears to be two sides to the story. Though Jenkins’s camp claims that he did indeed fire Dogra and bring on Shareef, a report from the Orlando Sentinel notes that it was Dogra who decided to no longer represent Jenkins. “The only reason we decided to move on is because they’re too big,” Jenkins’s “mentor” Sandy Cornelio told NFL.com. “We weren’t getting personal attention, so we decided to move on. That was it. And we told them. We called them professionally and said, ‘Hey, we’re moving on. We came to the conclusion that we honestly believe a smaller agency that pays us more attention will be better for us.’ [Dogra] told us that he understood and he would help in any way he could. At the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that the kid drafts himself by his performance.”

Regardless of which party made the decision, changing agents so close to the draft undoubtedly raises any remaining eyebrows that may not have been previously. And though Jenkins and Cornelio may be justified in feeling they were not getting enough personal attention from CAA, they are undoubtedly incorrect in believing that it is solely Jenkins’s performance that will dictate his draft position. If it was he would be a consensus top-15 pick; instead he’s rumored to fall out of the first round due to character concerns. Shareef previously represented Cleveland Browns CB Joe Haden who switched over to Drew Rosenhaus in November.

3 » Gators lacrosse (13-2, 3-0 ALC) took down the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (7-4, 0-2 ALC) on Saturday in the first overtime victory in program history. Florida defeated Johns Hopkins 13-12 in double overtime and extended the game twice by scoring the final goal both in regulation and the first overtime. The only goal of the game for junior attacker Gabi Wiegand came with just seven seconds remaining in the contest, giving UF their first extra opportunity. Junior attacker Kitty Cullen and freshman midfielder Nora Barry combined for seven goals on 11 shots and respectively scored the game-tying goal in the first overtime and game-winning goal in the second overtime. Florida moved up one spot from No. 5 to No. 4 in the country in the latest top 25 poll.

4 » Ranking the top 50 prospects available for the 2012 MLB Draft, ESPN Insider’s Keith Law has given plenty of respect to three junior Gators. Law lists catcher Mike Zunino as the second-best player available, noting that “most scouts seem to think he doesn’t get past Seattle at No. 3.” He also has left-handed pitcher Brian Johnson at No. 24 overall and shortstop Nolan Fontana at No. 26 overall; Law considers both the fifth-best prospect at their respective position.

Extra BIT » Despite neither being drafted nor signed as an undrafted free agent by a NFL team in 2011, former Florida safety Will Hill is “hoping to make a comeback” with the New York Jets and New York Giants “showing interest” according to SI.com NFL Draft analyst Tony Pauline. Hill hails from New Jersey and has been training in the area.

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4/5: Floyd outside, Wilson debuting, Nixon, Riggs

A handful of Florida Gators spoke on Thursday about how they and the team as a whole is coming along heading into the 2012 Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday, April 7. The scrimmage will air live on Sun Sports and FOXSportsFlorida.com at 1 p.m.

FLOYD STILL PLAYING DEFENSIVE END

It was quite obvious during the 2011 season that junior Sharrif Floyd was not completely comfortable playing defensive end and succeed at a higher level by playing defensive tackle. However with two solid players on the inside and lacking players on the outside, Floyd bit his lip and played end to help the team. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn noted at the beginning of the spring that Floyd is indeed better suited to play inside and that he would see more work there this year although he would also continue playing end for depth reasons. That is not necessarily what is happening on the practice fields.

“It’s one of my best springs since I’ve been at Florida,” Floyd said Thursday. “I’m still out at defensive end and getting better at each day at it. Now I understand it so it’s no problem with me anymore.”

It may not be a “problem” for him but Floyd nodded in agreement when asked if he preferred to play inside. “We’re still low on numbers right now so it’s still about what we have and what we need,” he explained. “As of now, in our base front, I’m the D-end. In the nickel front, I’m the defensive tackle. It hasn’t been that way throughout spring ball because of numbers so right now I’m at D-end. Ideally, getting ready for the season, I should be inside for good or, depending the way it goes, I’ll be playing both.”

WILSON READY FOR HIS FIRST SPRING DEBUT

In his sixth year with the Gators, redshirt senior guard James Wilson will actually be participating in his very first Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday. Wilson, 23, has experienced a myriad of knee injuries since joining the team in 2007 and plans to use his extra year of eligibility to ensure that he leaves Florida satisfied with his career and out on a high note.

“It was really tough,” Wilson said of being injured for so long. “Sometimes I couldn’t even – I’d have to call someone to come help me and get my knees loose [after waking up in the morning]. Now it’s all good, smooth sailing. Knock on wood.”

Interestingly enough, Wilson credits new strength and conditioning coach Jeff Dillman for his improved health. “I really think it has a lot to do with Coach Dillman and the strength and conditioning program we have now. A lot more power lifting – the stuff I did in high school. I really feel a lot stronger,” he said.”

He also thinks that the offensive line as a whole is much improved from a year ago and is excited to see what they can do in 2012. “We’re just more tight; we communicate,” he said. “We’re comfortable with each other. We tell each other when one is slacking off and when one’s not. It’s just more like a family.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Redshirt sophomore Chaz Green said he redshirt junior Matt Patchan have been rotating at right tackle while senior Xavier Nixon has pretty much locked down the left tackle job with his much improved play this offseason. “He’s playing real well this spring. I think he’s had the best spring that I’ve seen. He’s looking good,” he said.

» Junior cornerback Cody Riggs on the improvement of sophomore CB Louchiez Purifoy: “He’s doing real good. He’s improved a lot from last year. He’s always been physical; he’s a big body out there at corner. He can really help us on defense.”

» Riggs on sophomore CB Marcus Roberson and how he’s doing coming back from injury: “He looks good. I’ve played with him since high school, so he’s very talented and he’s doing real good out there.”

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Florida Gators 2012 spring practice depth chart

You may be excited that, in a few lines, you are getting a look at the Florida Gators 2012 spring practice depth chart. Don’t be. As he explained one year ago, head coach Will Muschamp does not put a lot of stock in the spring’s first depth chart, referring to it in 2011 as not worth the paper it was printed on. In other words, it is just a starting-off point for 2012 and plenty can change between now and the end of spring, the start of summer, the beginning of fall or when the season starts. Nevertheless, below is the depth chart as it was presented on March 13.

RELATED: Muschamp, Pease talk offense | Muschamp, Quinn talk defense

Florida omitted players who are injured or limited and not participating in spring practice. A list of those players can be found at the end along with some additional explanations.

QB: 12 Jacoby Brissett OR 6 Jeff Driskel
RB: 23 Mike Gillislee, 33 Mack Brown
FB: 8 Trey Burton OR 43 Hunter Joyer
WR (X): 4 Andre Debose, 89 Stephen Alli
WR (Z): 1 Quinton Dunbar, 83 Solomon Patton
WR (Slot): 85 Frankie Hammond, Jr., 13 Latroy Pittman
TE: 11 Jordan Reed, 20 Omarius Hines* OR 88 Clay Burton

LT: 71 Matt Patchan*, 73 Xavier Nixon
LG: 66 James Wilson, 50 Sam Robey*
C: 72 Jonotthan Harrison, 64 Kyle Koehne*
RG: 67 Jon Halapio, 74 Jessamen Dunker
RT: 75 Chaz Green, 71 Matt Patchan*

DE: 73 Sharrif Floyd*, 91 Earl Okine
DT: 44 Leon Orr*, 4 Damien Jacobs*
NT: 99 Omar Hunter, 58 Nick Alajajian
Buck DE: 7 Ronald Powell, 25 Gideon Ajagbe*
SLB: 49 Darren Kitchens, 55 Graham Stewart
MLB: 1 Jon Bostic, 51 Michael Taylor
WLB: 3 Jelani Jenkins, 72 Antonio Morrison

CB: 15 Louchiez Purifoy, 27 Willie Bailey
CB: 31 Cody Riggs*, 14 Jaylen Watkins
Nickel CB: 22 Matt Elam*, 31 Cody Riggs
S: 22 Matt Elam*, 26 De’Ante Saunders
S: 9 Josh Evans, 10 Valdez Showers*

K: 19 Caleb Sturgis, 97 Brad Phillips
P: 44 Kyle Christy
H: 47 John Crowfoot, 44 Kyle Christy
LS: 46 Drew Ferris, 43 Kyle Crowfoot
KR/PR: Not listed

LIMITED FOR SPRING: LB Neiron Ball (vascular condition), CB Marcus Roberson (neck)

OUT FOR SPRING: CB Jeremy Brown (knee), DT Dominique Easley (ACL), OL Cole Gilliam (shoulder), DE Kedric Johnson (shoulder), OL Tommy Jordan (shoulder), LB Lerentee McCray (shoulder), OL Ian Silberman (shoulder)

*BEING CROSS-TRAINED: Floyd – DE/DT/NT, Jacobs – DT/NT, Riggs – S/CB/NCB, Elam – S/NCB, Hines – RB/TE, Patchan – LT/RT, Orr – DT/DE, Ajagbe – SLB/Buck, Jabari Gorman – S/NCB, Showers – S/NCB, Robey – C/G, Koehne – G/C

OGGOA NOTES
– TE A.C. Leonard remains indefinitely suspended from the team for his recent arrest for misdemeanor domestic battery. He would fit in at the first or second slot at his position.
– Wilson was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, a big win for the Gators and their lack of depth and experience on the offensive line.
– Freshman D.J. Humphries, expected to make an impact at offensive tackle, is not yet on the two-deep depth chart likely due to an off-the-field reason like weight or conditioning.
– Brown (CB), Roberson (CB), Easley (DT), McCray (SLB) are four other starters/potential starters who are currently off the depth chart due to injury.

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2012 Gator Bowl: Florida vs. Ohio State post-game

The Florida Gators (7-6) capped their lackluster 2011 season with a rousing victory against the Ohio State Buckeyes (6-7) in the 2012 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Monday. After the contest, head coach Will Muschamp and some Florida players were made available to the media to discuss some of the notable occurrences before, during and after the game.

MUSCHAMP’s TWO POST-GAME STATEMENTS

Accepting the trophy on stage after the team sang the school alma mater and fight song, Muschamp delivered the following statement to his players, their families and the fans remaining in the crowd after the game:

“I can’t talk real well right now. I’m proud of these players, fighting through a tough situation, a tough transition, but they hung with us all the time. I appreciate the Gator Nation. We’re building a program, not a team, and it takes time, and I appreciate your patience. I’m going to tell you what. We’re going to have a better football team next year because of these young men you got right here. And you’ve got an outstanding staff. Go Gators.”

He began his post-game press conference in a similar fashion:

“[This was about] sending the seniors out the right way. We got a lot of good kids in that locker room. We got some guys that have had a very frustrating year. The realization of this whole thing, if you really want to see big picture, is in the last two years at the University of Florida we’re 15-11. That’s unacceptable. That’s what we are. We’re one game’s difference from last year. We’re 7-6; we were 8-5 last year. Sometimes I think you got to put your realistic glasses on of where you are and what you are as a program right at this point. And it’s not where we’re going to be very long, I can assure you of that. We’re moving in the right direction.

“I’m very pleased with the attitude and the effort and the drive of our young men. They kept fighting in the game and kept playing; they did it the entire season. I don’t think you could turn the tape on and watch a team that wasn’t giving effort, wasn’t trying to play with the right kind of toughness. It wasn’t always what we wanted at times. It was frustrating at times, and I appreciate the backing of our administration in what we’re trying to do. I’ve said it before and I mean this sincerely: We’re not building a team, we’re building a program. That takes a foundation to start, it really does. You stay the course with what you’re trying to do and what you believe in and the hardcore values of what you want. It isn’t always what you want. You get criticized and those sort of things, and that’s part of the deal. That’s part of being the head coach at the University of Florida, and I fully accept that.

“[I’m] excited for our football team. We need to get better and that starts with me. For our entire organization, 7-6 is not acceptable at the University of Florida. We’re looking forward to getting started on January 9. When we start school, we’re going to have a good team meeting that day and get these guys ready to go. That’s when our season starts for next year. It’s good momentum. There are a lot of guys out there knowing their opportunity to come a place like Florida, get an outstanding education, play for a great staff and be a part of a winning tradition..”

HIRING PROCESS WILL NOW BEGIN
Continue Reading » 2012 Gator Bowl: Florida vs. Ohio State post-game

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12/28-29: Coordinators talk players, Gator Bowl

Interim offensive coordinator Brian White and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media this week to answer some questions and look ahead to the Florida Gators‘ next opponent, the Ohio State Buckeyes. Florida and Ohio State will go head-to-head in the 2011 Gator Bowl at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL on Jan. 2 at 1 p.m. Below are some of the most important notes and quotes from the availabilities.

PLAYER UPDATES AND EVLAUATIONS

Despite both missing the first day of Gator Bowl practice, senior running back Jeff Demps (personal issue) and redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson (illness) were on the field on Wednesday. Additionally, White said that redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley is completely healthy and has even been routinely taking snaps under center during practice.

White also noted that, with 2012 being the offense’s second year in the pro-style system, he expects to see some major improvements and is already seeing players doing much better in these practices.

“There’s always a learning curve your first year in any program. Once you flatten that learning curve, you see an exponential jump, and certainly that’s what we’re hoping for,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of progress with our young players – Chaz Green being one of those players, Andre Debose being another one of those players, Hunter Joyer invaluable time and reps for a player like Hunter, Mike Gillislee. There are a lot of players that have improved dramatically and hopefully they can put the performance on the field and really use it as a springboard to 2012.”

Quinn spoke about five players in particular, praising three and providing some evaluations on two others. He said that redshirt junior defensive tackle Omar Hunter has been playing great in bowl practices, being strong and square and really jumping out with his technique. Quinn also noted that there are two players who have continued to get better as the year has gone on and should make a big impact next Monday.

“[De’Ante] Pop Saunders has been one that’s really come on and done some good things,” he said. “At linebacker, [Michael] Taylor has improved from where I saw him in the spring to training camp to now playing some meaningful and valuable reps for us. Those guys at those two spots would be two that have shown up and [I can tell] are coming on and doing a good job.”

He also spoke about sophomore Sharrif Floyd’s participation going forward and how redshirt senior DT Jaye Howard will fare in the NFL.

On Floyd’s position on Monday and beyond: “It’s really going to depend on the situations. In this bowl practice, we’ve played a lot of him inside [in nickel formations], but we’ve also played a lot of him at the defensive end spot. [It will] just kind of be by the flow of the game. Fortunately for him, he’s had reps at both spots playing tackle and playing end. When it’s a running team, sometimes you like to have a bigger base end out there where you can play strong and hanker on the outside. And then in nickel, we’re going to need some speed to chase this guy down because he’s certainly a guy who can run and move on the field.”

On Howard’s NFL prospects: “Inside is where I see him, playing nose tackle and three technique. I thought he’s really improved as the season went on. It was important for him from last year to this year to get his weight down and his conditioning up so he can finish on plays. I think he’s shown that on tape. I think he’s a real strong guy that can anchor. [...] He’s done a good job this year. He’s really done a good job with his hands being strong, improvement and I think the arrow is going up on him moving forward.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» White on calling plays once again:“What people don’t realize are game plans are a very collaborative effort. They’re very structured and your calls are very defined based on situational football – down and distance. Not to diminish the role of a playcaller, but it’s not as difficult as one would think. There is a knack to making the right call at the right time, but for the most part he could have picked anyone else on our staff – they are very qualified to do it, too.”

» White on how practice has been going: “We’ve had very good timing and practiced very wisely.”

» White on why Gillislee did not get more carries during the year: “The Florida State game was just a function of the way the game unfolded. We wanted to use him a lot more in that game, but you’re playing from behind. Sometimes it doesn’t go according to your plan. Mike has made improvement. We’re looking forward to him having a role in this game. To say it’s going to be anything more than a role would be disingenuous.”

» Quinn on what improvement he is most proud of this year: “Our situational awareness – I think our third down defense those guys deserve a lot of credit for that. Knowing that on 3rd-and-6 you play differently than 3rd-and-12 and 3rd-and-1. That situational awareness for me is one of the things that sticks out on the back end.”

» Quinn said that not getting takeaways on defense this year negates any positive statistics about the unit, including the fact that it is No. 9 in total defense and does very well against third downs. He said there was plenty of room for improvement in 2012.

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