As the Florida Gators prepare for their second-straight road test on Oct. 4 against the No. 24 Auburn Tigers, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis met with the media on Tuesday to discuss Saturday’s loss and the upcoming contest in Auburn, AL.
WHY GILLISLEE DESERVES MORE TIME
Junior running back Mike Gillislee has continued to prove to his coaches, teammates and fans that he deserves to carry the ball more often. After his performance on Saturday against LSU, Gillislee showed that hard work, determination and positive attitude can really pay off in the long run.
“He’s probably the perfect example of a team guy. Most of these guys they all have illusions of grandeur like they’re the best guy on the team,” Weis said on Tuesday. “You come in and now all of a sudden you have [Chris] Rainey and [Jeff] Demps ahead of you that are playing very well. You’re kind of waiting in the wings and just playing hard in practice every day, never opening your mouth and just going hard every single snap that you get and on special teams.
“All of a sudden, you get in there and you start getting more reps and more reps and you produce. He’s a lesson to a lot of these guys that are backups to see what can happen if you’re prepared to be ready, and they call your number and you produce. That’s going to get him on the field more.”
Another reason that Gillislee will get an increased workload? Unlike Rainey and Demps, he has seen success running between the tackles in Southeastern Conference play. Though he only weighs in at 205 lbs., Gillislee has proven he is better suited and better equipped physically to run the ball inside than the starters.
“He likes to run in there. Most running backs can’t get to the outside fast enough,” Weis said. “He likes it in there. He likes contact. Most running backs don’t like contact. They prefer not to get hit rather than get hit. Getting hit is part of his game. There’s times where, if he has a choice to make somebody miss and try to dance or try to run through somebody, he’s one of those guys were a lot of times he’ll try to run them over. He plays way bigger than his size.”
BECOMING A MORE FLEXIBLE COORDINATOR
With his starting quarterback out at least one more week and an offense that has only scored 21 combined points against top of the top teams in the country, Weis realizes that the Gators have to make some changes. It did not help that he had to start his third signal-caller on Saturday with a limited package of plays that did not allow Florida to pass the ball as much as he wanted.
“If you score 10 or 11 points on a weekly basis, you’re going to lose most of them – if not all of them. What we have to do is be more aggressive. You’re in that catch-22 when you’re dealing with inexperience at the quarterback position. We will be more aggressive [this week],” he said.
Weis also explained why he was unable to keep the offensive momentum going two weeks ago when redshirt senior John Brantley went down and freshman Jeff Driskel was forced to enter the game. He placed the blame on his lack of preparation.
“Let’s go back two weeks. John gets hurt. What you could do is you could have a better auxiliary plan in place so that if John goes down, we’re going to go just to this auxiliary plan,” he said. “But to be honest with you, I thought we were going to have to throw the ball to win – as you saw what our game plan was. You don’t go into that auxiliary plan with guys that have been here for three days saying, ‘OK we’re going to let you throw it on this defense on every snap.’ It’s quite a drastic change from what the plan really was to win the game.”
Part of Weis’s auxiliary plan against LSU was using RB Trey Burton behind center for many of the running plays. He said that Burton was a viable option for the team and will be one going forward if UF must continue using young quarterbacks.
“You better have, especially going into that game, you better have some options, some versatility within your package,” he explained. “I wasn’t going to wait around and let us be stagnant. […] We had the package. I used it the second series. Didn’t intend to use it quite so early, but what you didn’t want to do was – it was already 7-0 – you don’t want to let the game get away from you too quickly.“
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On freshman QBs Driskel and Jacoby Brissett: “I like both these guys. I like them a lot. I don’t like one of them a lot. I like both of them a lot. They both have attributes to be a very good quarterback. [...] I’d love Brantley to be here this week, but you can only play one quarterback at a time. Right now my job is to make sure I just get those guys ready to go.”
» On learning about Brissett’s presence during recruiting: “I was scrambling a bit to help get him here, but one of the things that I liked the most besides watching him on tape was actually watching him play basketball. I watched his basketball team, which was really good. But I watched him play on his basketball team and watched his presence and his command playing basketball. It’s so much easier when you can watch a guy physically doing it. That’s something that’s different. Presence is not something that you can watch on tape. You can watch production, but you can’t watch presence.”
» On rumors about redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy transferring: “He’s been with me for the last five hours, so that would be news to me.”
» On if he’s concerned about the blocking of tight ends and running backs: “If you can’t block then you can never be a regular player. You can never be an every-down player. Because a running back who can’t pick up the blitz, you have to take him out when there’s a blitz. A tight end who can’t block the run, you’re going to be looking for somebody better. And the same is true for wide receivers. If they can run and catch but they can’t block anyone, you can’t play them on a regular basis because you’re going to run the ball at least half the time.”
» On if his offense is physically capable of matching up with teams like Alabama and LSU: “That’s a moot point because I’m just worried about Auburn. That’s what I’m worried about. Hopefully we’ll get to revisit that question down the road. Hopefully that question has some merit this year. Right now, we can’t be worrying about that. We have to be worrying about Auburn.”
» On the improvement of redshirt junior tackle Matt Patchan: “He’s played with a lot of physicality. That’s what’s got him more time. Matt is a physical player, but when he knows what he’s doing and can really turn it loose, he can be a dominant physical presence. That’s what he’s shown to earn himself more playing time. In that last game, he was one of the players for us that stood out and played with physicality the whole game.”
» On if his offensive line is undersized: “It depends on who you’re playing against. If you really look out our offensive line versus LSU last week, no, they weren’t undersized. It depends on the opponent and how big they are versus how big you are. I’ve been with offensive lines where everyone averaged 280 and I’ve been with offensive lines where everyone averaged 315. And I’ve won with both of them. Size isn’t always the factor.”
» On if using so many special packages early has hurt his playbook: “Now [other teams] practice that and you do other stuff. That’s part of coaching. There’s other things you can do off of the same thing. We only ran a handful of things.”