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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12/27: Muschamp on Gator Bowl, hiring coaches

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Tuesday 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 Tuesday’s availability.

INJURIES AND ABSENCES

Four Florida starters were notable absent or hobbled during the team’s first practice since Christmas break on Monday. Muschamp explained that senior running back Jeff Demps had a “personal matter” to attend to and will be with the team Tuesday morning. Additionally, redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson was missing from the field due to being stuck in the hotel with an illness.

Two Gators – redshirt senior offensive lineman Dan Wenger (ankle) and redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray – are injured heading into the game. Wenger is “still struggling,” according to Muschamp, who said that he took some practice reps in Gainesville, FL and is expected to play in the game. McCray, on the other hand, is doubtful for the contest with a bad shoulder. “We’ve exhausted about every measure we can as far as the shoulder is concerned, trying to work to get total range of motion and strength back,” he said.

NO JOBS OFFERED, NO HIRINGS COMPLETED

Despite a report that Muschamp has zeroed in on his next director of strength and conditioning, the coach said Tuesday that nothing could be further from the truth at this time. “I haven’t hired anybody. I’ve talked to a lot of people at the strength position and the offensive coordinator position, and when I make the hire everybody will know,” he said. “No one has been hired. No one has been offered a job yet. So that’s it.”

The primary reason Muschamp indicated for not having made a hire is that he is not done with the interview process. Though he has spoken with a number of candidates for both positions, he plans to continue doing so throughout the week and insisted that Florida will not make an announcement until after the bowl game.

“I still have people I want to talk to. I’ve talked to probably six, seven, eight people so far and some people over Christmas and some people this week I plan to talk to and then after the bowl game,” he said. “I’ve never put a timetable on it because it’s [what is] the right fit for Florida. It’s going to be the best decision for Florida. It’s an important hire – obviously both of them are – and I’ve talked to multiple people [for] both situations.”

One candidate for offensive coordinator is current running backs coach Brian White, who will be the team’s playcaller against Ohio State next Monday. Muschamp said he has not learned anything new about White as he’s watched him in his interim role but maintained that he continues to be impressed with him as a coach.

“I know he’s a good football coach, and he’s just reassured my confidence in him as a football coach. He’s done a nice job of preparing our football team. It’s all about situational football and being prepared for situations when they occur in the game. As a playcaller, he’s got a knack for that,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s any question that being a playcaller for a long time, to have somebody in the room that has done it before [is a positive]. Everybody’s got great ideas until they’ve sat in that chair, and then they understand the difference and see the big picture. They understand all the things that go with running an offense or running a defense. There’s no question that his experience, I thought, was very critical in our growth as an offense to be a part of our offense as we move forward.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp said the team spent the first 4-5 days of bowl practice working on fundamental football and used the final four before Christmas break doing normal game week preparation. He decided to have Florida run, stretch and once again familiarize themselves with the game plan because there is an extra day of preparation.

» On the 2011 season as a whole: “It’s been a disappointing season from the standpoint of what our record is. It’s been very frustrating. It is what it is at the end of the day. We need to prepare well for this football game. We’re playing a good football team, and we need to play well.”

» On redshirt senior defensive tackle Jaye Howard’s play this season: “I thought Jaye played well. Jaye’s played himself into a decent situation there for April. He really has. He’s played well. He’s played blocks well. You talk to a lot of the people who’ve played us, they all compliment how he’s played and how much better he’s played, his pad level, his hustle to the ball, finishing plays. He’s done a nice job.”

» On if he’s spoken to Urban Meyer since he took the Ohio State job: “A couple times, more than anything about hiring coaches and stuff that he was looking at. He called for my opinion on a couple and that was about it.”

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12/21: Patchan says Gators will improve, notes

With the Florida Gators hoping to end the season on a high note with a victory in the 2012 Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes, three players were made available to the media Wednesday to discuss a number of topics.

PLENTY OF ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT

There is no questioning that Florida’s offense in 2011 left a lot to be desired. Just because it struggled at times during the year – especially when redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley was out of action or limited – does not mean it cannot improve before the bowl and heading into the 2012 season, redshirt sophomore tackle Matt Patchan said Wednesday.

“Obviously we have to get a lot better. Everybody has to get a lot better,” he noted referring to how the offense played through the first 12 games. “We’re going to see a marked improvement here after a short while for sure.”

Patchan also explained why the Gators’ offense struggled this season and how he thinks things will get better sooner than later.

“There’s lots of room for improvement all over the board. It’s only going to get better as long as everything stays the same. The mark of a good offense is it gets better as time goes on – the more consistency and fluidity within it,” he said. “Also there’s timing issues involved and everything, and you’ve really got to communicate well with the line of scrimmage as far as calls and everything and knowing exactly what each call means.

“In our playbook we’ve got like 20 pages worth of just calls – like a call sheet – that we have to audible at the line as far as the way we’re going to attack a defense. If everybody’s not on page with that – meaning all five offensive linemen along with the tight ends and the fullback that’s doing it – then the littlest difference, that six inches makes the biggest difference in the play. That’s been the result that we’ve seen so far with the six losses this season.

“It’s easy to sit here and say there’s going to be a lot of improvement next season, but we still have to put the work in [during] the offseason obviously. But there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Redshirt junior wide receiver Frankie Hammond, Jr. on losing the team’s offensive coordinator: “It kind of threw me for a loop, but like I said he got a better opportunity as the head coach job at Kansas. I wish him the best of luck. That’s the world we live in, where a coach is here for a year and then they move on and get a better opportunity.”

Hammond on why Urban Meyer is such a good recruiter: “His drive to get you here, and he’s a good coach. He knows football like the back of his hand. The opportunity that presents itself when he’s around and the guys that he recruits and just the energy that he has definitely makes him a good recruiter. He got me here. He just comes after you and stays on you, makes sure you’re appreciated and [know] that he cares about you. At the end of the day he wants the best for you.”

» Redshirt junior Sam linebacker Lerentee McCray on the defensive coaches returning: “Our whole defensive coaching staff is coming back next year, so I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. We’re not going to have a problem with that, they’re all coming back. It’s going to be great to have the same system, getting ready knowing what to look for going into the offseason, knowing what to work on, knowing what the coaches have, knowing the plays and everything. It’s going to be real good.”

» Patchan on why he got better at the end of the season: “I’ve been hampered and it’s been a while since I’ve been able to be on the field for as long as I have [this year]. It’s like riding a bicycle. One day you get back on and you never really forget how to play, but it takes a while to knock all the dust off and everything. I feel like I’ve been taking advantage of my opportunity and try[ing] to improve every day whenever I go out on the field to practice. And I’ve done that. I’ve gotten consistently better, and I hope to keep getting consistently better.”

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Floyd stepped up; players on Meyer, Marotti, Weis

With the Florida Gators hoping to end the season on a high note with a victory in the 2012 Gator Bowl against the Ohio State Buckeyes, three players were made available to the media Tuesday to discuss a number of topics.

FLOYD DID “WHAT’S BEST FOR THE TEAM”

A career defensive tackle, sophomore Sharrif Floyd moved to defensive end before the season began at the request of head coach Will Muschamp, who was searching for a capable starter and depth at a very shallow position. “It was good on my part because it shows that I can do more than just what I’m here for. I can do what’s best for the team and learn things the best I can. I think it was a good fit for my resume this year,” Floyd said, putting a positive spin on the move.

With redshirt senior Jaye Howard and sophomore Dominique Easley manning the inside, Floyd played out of position on the end but still finished sixth on the team (and second on the defensive line) in tackles with 44 (18 solo, five for loss). “As I started to progress at D-end, I started noticing more teams just not coming my way. It was frustrating but at the end of the day it was make a play however it happens,” he said. “It was frustrating at the beginning until I started talked to my coaches about it. They told me to just hang in there and work with them. I did what was best for the team and came out as one of the leaders in tackles.”

That is exactly what Floyd did and though the plan was always for him to move back inside in 2012, Easley tearing his ACL has prompted that move to occur one game earlier. “[I’m] definitely more comfortable,” Floyd said of moving back to tackle. “Don’t like the way it happened or the reason why I went back in[side], but it happens in the game of football. I can’t be more excited. Three-technique is definitely my position now and until I’m done. Since I’ve been playing over eight-nine years now, I’ve been at D-tackle. I know it. I know all the blocks. I know what’s coming at me. There’s no thinking, there’s just going. I understand it a little more and there’s no need to be patient at D-tackle.”

PLAYERS ONLY SLIGHTLY FAZED BY DEPARTURES

Floyd, junior safety Josh Evans and redshirt sophomore wide receiver Andre Debose each spoke about the impact and provided their unique opinions on former head coach Urban Meyer taking a new job at Ohio State, strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti leaving Florida to join him, and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis taking the head coaching position with Kansas.

Floyd on how the team felt about Meyer’s decision: “There’s a lot of the guys on the team. We all got own opinions about things. I can’t really talk for everyone else but for me personally, I think that’s good for him. He’s going to do what’s best for him and his family. No hard feelings over here. If I saw the guy today, I would still shake his hand, talk to him, have a normal conversation. That’s the name of the game and it can happen anywhere. Congrats and good luck to him.”

Evans on Meyer’s choice and if the team was angry: “It was a shock. It was a little surprising, but we moved on and we’re past it. [...] He’s a good coach, and I wish the best for him. [...] I’m pretty sure there are some people that feel some type of way about it, but we don’t really discuss it as much.”

Evans on Marotti being a huge loss for the Gators: “That was big for us because he was a good coach and like a father to some players. That was a big loss because we came in here and basically everybody knew him as the strength coach. We got [Scott Holsopple] now and he’s a good strength coach, too. We kind of figured once Meyer took the job that it was a chance he probably was going to leave because we knew they were close, so everybody kind of had a heads-up on it.”

Debose on Weis suddenly departing: “It was a total shock. We had no clue that he was leaving. My reaction was that he had a great opportunity to be a head coach. I wouldn’t turn that down either. I wish him the best of luck.”

Debose on if Meyer’s decision or Marotti moving on was tougher: “Coach Marotti was just as important as Coach Meyer. I think Coach Marotti was a bigger shock to everybody because that’s our strength coach. He makes a lot of good decisions and he helps our bodies. For him to leave, that was a big shock.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Floyd on Muschamp’s proclamation that training camp was not hard enough: “If coach thinks it should have been tougher, than it should have been tougher. I’m behind whatever he wants to do.”

» Evans on redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown not playing: “To me that was a big loss because when I came in that was one of the first guys I met. Seeing him not play was difficult for me because we are real tight like brothers. He should be healthy after the season so he can get back in the spring and hopefully he can [play].”

» Debose on interim offensive coordinator Brian White: “Coach White is a great play caller. He has a track record; he has done it before. I’m behind him 100 percent. Coach White is a genius I feel like.”

» Debose said he had to work on his consistency each practice and looked to redshirt senior WR Deonte Thompson as a model of consistency and high effort for him to follow.

» Debose on having so many transfers this year: “All I can say about that is: If you don’t want to be a Gator, you won’t be a Gator. And if you don’t, you’ll leave. They left.”

» Debose on how redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley will be thought of after the bowl game: “I think John Brantley will be remembered as a hard worker, great guy, good football player. I want him to go out with a bang. I want him to have a career game for the bowl game. Even if he didn’t, I would still think he had a solid career, but I want him to go out like a champ in his last game.”

» Debose on Muschamp hiring a replacement offensive coordinator: “Whoever he brings in, we know that he’s going to be the best for this program. We’re behind him 100 percent.”

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12/20: White talks OC job, Gator Bowl prep

As the Florida Gators prepare for their 2011 Gator Bowl match-up against the Ohio State Buckeyes on Jan. 2 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, FL, interim offensive coordinator and running backs coach Brian White met with the media Tuesday to discuss the upcoming game.

A GATOR WHETHER PROMOTED OR NOT

White wanted to make one thing perfectly clear Tuesday: He loves the University of Florida and enjoys working under head coach Will Muschamp. He reiterated on three occasions that, whether or not the “interim” tag is removed from his title following the Gator Bowl, he anticipates being with the Gators in 2012 and beyond.

“Every day is an audition for the job that you have. I learned a long time ago: Do a great job with the job that you have and don’t worry about doing anything except the best job you can do with the resources you have and good things will happen,” he said. “That’s just the approach that I take to every day in this job. I love working for Coach Muschamp in any capacity and love this university, so I feel very fortunate to be here and be part of just a great university and a great athletic program.”

But would those sentiments change if he is passed over for offensive coordinator? “I’d be happy to be here,” White said. “I’d be happy to be part of this organization in every capacity every day I can be a part of it. My family loves it here. I love it here. Any opportunity to help this program get better in any way I’d be happy to be part of.

“Will’s going to do what’s in the best interest of the football program. That’s what he should do – what’s in the best interest of this university. He’ll make a great decision and it will be very beneficial to this program. I’m just happy to be here.”

”NOTHING BUT A GAME OF VIOLENT CHESS”

Though he may not have had to create an entire game plan in a while, White is excited to have that opportunity once again – even if it is just for one game.

“I’ve always enjoyed it. It’s always a great experience to be able to put together a game plan with your coaches,” he said. “It’s always a collaborative effort. It’s fun to be able to play chess. Football is nothing but a game of violent chess, and the best part is that we as coaches don’t have to take any of the hits.”

He is also not concerned about the long layoff and believes football is the exact same game it was last time he had the permanent role of offensive coordinator.

“You may think football has changed but it hasn’t. Football is really still a very simple game,” White said. “It is who blocks and tackles the best and who scores more points than the other team, who is better fundamentally, who is tougher physically and tougher mentally. That’s who is going to win the game. It’s not nuclear physics. It’s about execution.”

NOTES AND QUOTES

» On how bowl practices have been going: “It’s been really good. I really like where the players are at right now. They seem very motivated and looking forward to playing in a big-time bowl game against one of the most traditional programs in America.”

» White said he and football Jeff Blasko are the ones currently working with the quarterbacks heading into the bowl game. “Jeff’s a wonderful young coach who has done a nice job with our players,” he said.

» On the health of the running backs: “They’ve made every practice; they’re probably as healthy as they’ve been all year. I’m really looking forward to them being at full strength for the bowl.”

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12/19: Muschamp’s Monday press conference

Head coach Will Muschamp met with the media Monday 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 Monday’s availability.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore defensive tackle Dominique Easley (torn ACL): “That surgery went very well. He is rehabbing as we speak. He probably will miss spring but will certainly be cleared for the summer, so he’ll be ready to get back.”

- Sophomore Sharrif Floyd will move back inside and play his natural position of defensive tackle after spending the entire year at defensive end. “Sharrif will play inside. For lack of numbers, we played Sharrif at end,” Muschamp said. “He is a more natural inside player. When [Easley] was injured in the Florida State game, we moved Sharrif inside and he played extremely well.”

Redshirt sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown (knee): “We’re evaluating him right now. There’s a possibility he will have surgery to repair his knee. We’ve exhausted every measure as far as not having surgery at this point and we’re in that process at this time.” Muschamp hopes to have him back next season depending on the severity of the injury.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley (concussion): “He’s fine. We gave our guys off the week after the game while we were on the road [recruiting]. We lifted him and [he] ran a little bit.”

SEARCHING FOR AN OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Muschamp maintained Monday (sorry for the alliteration) that Florida will not officially hire an offensive coordinator until after the bowl game but that does not mean he has been stationary in his search for Charlie Weis’s replacement. “A lot of people have a tremendous interest in the job,” he said. “I’m taking my time. I’m talking to an awful lot of people and will continue to do so to find the best fit for the University of Florida. We will make that decision after the bowl game.”

Interim offensive coordinator Brian White, the team’s running back’s coach who is filling in for the bowl game, is a candidate at the top of Muschamp’s list and will have bowl practice and the game itself to convince his head coach that he deserves the job. “I’ll sit down and talk to Brian but again, he’s a guy I’ve been with every day. I like how he’s managing our offensive football team at this time,” Muschamp said. “He’s doing an outstanding job. He has experience at the position with Wisconsin and had great success. Certainly he’s a candidate.”

Other candidates – like Jacksonville head coach and former UF QB Kerwin Bell – are being interviewed in the meantime. In the end, Muschamp is looking for someone who can add his special touches but keep the status quo. “You’re also looking for the right fit. We’re not going to come in and change what we’re doing. We don’t think that it’s smart to hire a guy and have 40 guys learning as opposed to one guy learning,” he explained. “Obviously will he tweak some things? Certainly. Will he change some things? Yeah, maybe. But we’re not going to just take a playbook, throw it out the window and bring another one in. We got a young football team, and I think continuity is the most important thing at this point with our football team.”

IT STARTS WITH SELF-EVALUATION

Already looking back on the Gators’ 6-6 regular season, Muschamp (as he has all year) puts the blame primarily on himself, saying he is responsible because it all falls on his shoulders. Nevertheless, he thinks there is plenty for Florida fans to look forward to with the bowl game and offseason upcoming.

“At the end of the day, are we headed in the right direction? Yes, I emphatically believe that. Is it where we want to be at this point? No. Are we going to get there? Yes,” he said. Muschamp added that the 2011 season did not go as expected because, simply put, Florida did not play for a SEC Championship. “That’s what I understand, and that’s what I expect,” he said.

Asked if there was one thing he could change about how the year went, Muschamp said it would be one of the very first decisions he made as head coach. “The most disappointing thing or poor decision I made was training camp not having been more physical because of numbers. You get nervous about injuries. You get nervous about situations with guys as far as having a more physical camp to prepare our team for the season. If I had one thing I wish I could have changed, that would be it,” he said.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Florida began practicing on Friday and worked on fundamentals and technique over the weekend. Preparations for Ohio State began on Monday, and the team will practice Monday-Thursday this week before going to Jacksonville next week.

» On the sophomore class: “Without getting specific, there’s no question the majority of our playmakers are in that class. You look offensively, defensively and special teams of the guys who really contributed to our football team.”

» On there being so much attrition this year: “I would attribute it to a lot of different things. I think it is hard to really put your finger on one thing and say, ‘This is it.’ Anytime you have transition there is a natural attrition that occurs. Whether it is the coach that recruited you, the position coach, the coordinator, the head coach is different, the scheme is different. There are a lot of things.”

» On why Brantley impresses him: “Regardless if you pay attention to it or not, you hear negativity a lot. Quarterback is a tough position to play. It is the hardest position o play on the field. When it’s going well, you normally are put on a pedestal that you actually are playing probably better than you really are. At times when things aren’t going very well, you’re probably painted to be a little bit worse than you really are. From that standpoint, a guy that went through a frustrating year the previous year, came into our situation [and] really embraced it, did a good job with our offense, unfortunately had some injuries and some setbacks. The one thing I’m going to tell you about John is that he’s a positive guy. He loves being a Florida Gator. And that’s important to me. He’s a guy that does everything he can do in a first-class manner. He’s got a great family that supports him and is a guy I’m really proud of to be a part of this football group.”

» On how he will approach recruiting with so many empty spots: “You still want to evaluate and take the right guys. It’s a little different now because we have a whole year to evaluate. My philosophy at that point was not taking a guy you weren’t sure about. That’s the most important thing – right now we’ve had a full year to evaluate. We know what we’ve evaluated. We’ve ranked everybody at every position. We understand the numbers at certain positions that we want to take, but we’re not going to take a guy to take a guy. We’d rather – if there’s five at this position and you want to take three, you know you’re going to get two so you take four more at this position if you really feel good about those four. More than anything, at the end of the day, it’s kind of like the NFL Draft. You take the best player available at those situations.”

» On redshirt junior tight end Omarius Hines not seeing the field much: “He had some injuries early in the year. As we moved forward, you look at Jordan Reed and A.C. Leonard were very productive at the position. [...] We expected more of an impact on special teams as well, not just on offense. The injury put him behind a little bit as far as moving forward.”

» On his plan for redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy: “To compete at the quarterback position.”

On sophomore Buck linebacker Ronald Powell: “He played better as the year rolled on. He’s having a nice bowl practice as we progress to this point. He’s had his best practice since we’ve been here the other day as far as just his pad level, his hand placement and affecting the quarterback in the rush. He always plays with good effort and toughness.”

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Urban Meyer answers Dan Patrick’s questions

Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer appeared on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday morning and answered questions about deciding to take a new job, the reaction he’s received from Florida Gators fans and some of his thoughts about Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

Below are some of his most interesting responses from the interview. You can listen to the entire 11-minute segment by clicking here.

On if he has been surprised about the reaction he received from Florida fans: “Yeah, I was. I tried to say I didn’t watch or didn’t listen. I did. I heard some of it. Not from Jeremy or the president or the people that know that we put every ounce of everything we had or six years in there. There were fans that were upset when we beat Tennessee only by 10 points. I mean really upset. I tried not to let that bother me, but I would be lying to you if I didn’t say it didn’t bother me a little bit. I heard the word ‘dishonest.’ That couldn’t be the furthest thing from the truth. Yeah, that’s a shame.”

On if he ever thought of not taking the Ohio State job: “Oh yeah. The contact was made on that Sunday, but I kind of was watching all fall and this whole NCAA thing, you just don’t know until you know. I’ve always been an Ohio State fan as far back as I can remember, and a chance to go home [was great]. I’m not going to do something that’s not the right time. Once I was able to visit with people and do the homework I needed to do, it was kind of a no-brainer.”

On if he thought he would be back in the game this soon: “I was planning on giving it more time than one year. Who would ever imagine your home state, Jim Tressel is a great coach. They were doing great things here [so I] never even had any thoughts about that. And then when things started to move, that’s when it all changed.”

On if OSU is going to be his last job: “I think so. I’m never going to make…I’ve made some comments before that came back to haunt me because you just don’t know. I hope so.”

On how concerned he was about Tebow’s throwing motion: “Big-time. There were a lot of people that recruited him out of high school that said he couldn’t play quarterback, and I was one of them. When I first saw the high school film [from] his junior year, I was very concerned. As a matter of fact – and he gives me a hard time still about it – he wasn’t my top-rated quarterback. And then I watched him play a baseball game and I walked away saying, ‘That’s the most competitive human being I’ve ever seen.’ He moved to the top of the list real fast. And then we had him in a camp, and his competitive will [impressed me]. I’m not one of those guys who believes that because he’s got an elongated throwing motion that has any impact on him winning or losing a game. I’d much rather have that guy who’s going to find a way to get a first down. I was very concerned.”

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Muschamp confident in future of Gators offense

Losing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis – a four-time Super Bowl winner – to a head coaching job with the Kansas Jayhawks after just one year wearing orange and blue may be a tough pill to swallow for some. Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp, however, is confident that his team will not miss a step either in the 2012 Gator Bowl on Jan. 2 against the Ohio State Buckeyes or going forward next season.

After he confirmed that Weis would be leaving the team at a bowl game press conference Thursday in Jacksonville, FL , Muschamp announced that running backs coach Brian White would take over play calling duties for the contest.

“Brian’s an experienced play caller. He’s a great idea guy. He’s been a coordinator before. He’s had tremendous success as a coordinator before, and he’s a guy I got tremendous confidence in,” he said.

Though White will be a substitute in the interim and may be a candidate for the permanent job, Muschamp does not know who will be taking over long term. He does, however, know the direction the offense is going to be heading.

“We are going to remain a pro-style offense, and I will go hire the best offensive coordinator in the country,” he said. “We need to improve offensively; it’s pretty obvious. We look forward to taking those steps forward.”

He did not express a shred of trepidation when saying that he and the Gators will have no problem finding the right replacement.

“We’re at the University of Florida. We’re going to be able to hire an outstanding football coach that’s going to fit what I want done within our offense and within our systems. That’s what we’re going to do, and I’m going to take my time on it to make sure we hire the right guy and get the right fit,” he said.

Weis is the third staff member to leave Florida since the regular season finale against Florida State. Strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti and director of football operations Mark Pantoni both left UF to join former head coach Urban Meyer’s new staff at Ohio State. Offensive line coach Frank Verducci, a close friend of Weis’s, may also follow him to Kansas, though that remains to be seen.

Despite a few defections, Muschamp refused to say the staff has been “raided” and remains confident in the coaching staff staying by his side heading into 2012.

“Our staff hasn’t been raided,” he said. “Our strength coach left with a guy that he’s been friends with for 25 years, and I totally understood that was a possibility when I retained Mickey. But Mickey’s a good strength coach and he did a good job for us. And our offensive coordinator got a head coaching job, a multi-million dollar deal. That’s not getting raided.

“When you’re at the University of Florida, and you hire a really good staff, what a compliment it is to the job you did hiring people that other people want your coaches. You know what? We’re going to hire really good coaches. Next year, we’re going to win, and they’re going to come want to get our coaches again. It’s a great problem to have. You know what? There are a bunch of people calling my cell phone – that is off right now – that want to come to the University of Florida.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES

» Muschamp, when asked if he had guys in mind for the offensive coordinator job, lit up and responded, “Oh yeah.”

» When asked if Jacksonville head coach Kerwin Bell was a possibility, he did not dismiss the notion whatsoever. “I know Kerwin. He’s an outstanding football coach and certainly will be under consideration,” he said.”

» Muschamp said having a prior relationship with his new hire is not the most important thing but “it would help obviously because you know them a little bit better and, when the bullets start flying, you know how they’re going to respond and react.”

» Asked if he would be leaning on any of his coaching friends for advice, Muschamp quipped, “Most of my friends we got to beat, so no.”

» Most of all, Muschamp is interested in having continuity in the staff in the future. “If guys get a promotion and guys get a step up, I think that’s great and I support it. It says a lot about the guys you hire – that they do a good job, are good football coaches, are good men and are good recruiters. I’m very pleased with the continuity of our staff and do not anticipate any changes moving forward,” he said.

Photo Credit: Associated Press

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