Watch & Read: Too many mistakes today

Press Conference

by Inside the Gators Staff
0 comment

Please Read: Welcome to the new-look Inside the Gators


COACH NAPIER: We made too many mistakes today. We knew the margin of error was going to be small. I do think we can coach better in all three parts of our team. I think obviously looking the players in the eye after the game, I think they know they can play better as well.

And ultimately, Georgia’s got a good football team. They’ve got good personnel. They’ve got a good coaching staff. They’ve got veteran players that have been in their system, and they played well today.

We made too many critical mistakes. I think, in particular, the two huge mistakes in the first half allowed the game to kind of get out of control to some degree.

I do think that the kids continued to play hard. I do think we have a group that has character. I think, ultimately, when you fail in the game of football and in life, you got an opportunity to learn. How do you get wiser? You make mistakes along the way. How do you get smarter and get better at what you do, how do you continue to grow and develop? Ultimately you have to go through tough times, you have to make mistakes along the way. And we did today.

Credit to Georgia. They beat us today. I do think that this group will respond the right way. I think ultimately, as a staff and as a team, being a man and taking ownership of things that you can do better.

And I think ultimately we can compromise our character, or we can choose character, and we can go about our business here. And there’s no sympathy.

You guys certainly don’t have any sympathy for us, and in our league there’s no sympathy. You’ve got to turn the page and get ready to go the next week.

We’ll go through this thing with a fine-tooth comb. It’s important that the experience that we had today, that we learn from that, all parts of our organization and certainly the players in that locker room.

I do think we did some good things today, but, ultimately, not enough, and certainly not with consistency. We made too many errors. The sack/fumble and the blocked punt in particular, those two, it’s a 14-point swing and a ton of momentum.

Q. Can you just take us through the thinking on the fourth-and-one at your own 34, I guess, it was pretty early there? Did you think you got a bad spot on the third down at the end of the first quarter?

COACH NAPIER: No, I think one was a go. And I think, ultimately, at that point in the game we felt it was going to be a point total that we needed to get to to win the game. Felt we had a good play. I think we’re close there.

Whether or not the spot was right, I don’t know. Our league’s got really good people. They got people back in Birmingham are viewing all that information.

So, ultimately, the officials, they didn’t have a huge impact on today. Didn’t have much to do with them.

Q. Throwing the ball there versus, it was fourth and inches, does that show a little bit about —

COACH NAPIER: It was a little less than a full yard. It wasn’t inches.

Q. Does it show a little bit about your concern about how daunting their front can be?

COACH NAPIER: No, I think that ultimately — I’ve got conviction about the call. I mean, you can go a lot of different directions. We can sit here. That’s one of many plays today that probably we’d like to have back.

But it’s not necessarily about the plays at times. It’s about the players. It’s about the execution. We can certainly call better plays at times today, but ultimately it comes down to the execution of the play.

Q. You guys had a very fast start, impressive start. Where do you think the momentum kind of shifted?

COACH NAPIER: I think if you look at that second, third, fourth possession there, we made some mistakes. We got behind the sticks. We had a penalty. We got sacked. Those, in particular.

I mean, I do think that — we felt like we needed to throw it at times in the game. And we did rush the ball effectively at times, in particular, early. I felt we had some good concepts.

But we got off schedule and then ultimately we lived in second-and-long, third-and-long there, the second, third, fourth, fifth possession of the game. A lot of those are long yardages. When you play that group you have to stay on schedule so you can have some balance.

Q. And Georgia, just obviously it’s the gold standard in the league. What do you take away from just kind of big picture-wise on —

COACH NAPIER: I think it all matters. I think every single part of what we do matters. The evaluation of players matters. The recruitment of players matter. Ultimately, you need continuity in system. You need to develop players. This is a developmental game. You need players in your system for multiple years.

I do think that ultimately a set of intangibles, a set of values that I think resonate with the players, that they play with effort and they play with toughness, they play with discipline. It all matters. And they’re a good example of that.

I think this is the eighth year for Kirby. And, look, we’ve got work to do to chase them down. There’s no denying that. And we’re in the middle of that process, in the middle of that journey.

So it causes you to respect all parts of building a football team, ultimately. I think there’s a number of things that can be done better from just game-day, situational football. They do it all well. And today we gave them a little bit too much.

Q. There’s no sympathy medal or anything like that, but what can you take positively away from this game?

COACH NAPIER: I thought we showed some fight early. I thought we continued to scrap in the game. We continued — I think, ultimately, 14 points — you basically had two critical errors that led to 14 points, short fields.

The recipe for the game was to not do that and try to get them to do that. And ultimately that didn’t happen today.

You know, the game got out of control as a result of some critical errors. I think when we go back and watch it, we know exactly what happened. And I think we’ve got to take ownership of that.

Q. Trey was clearly a big part of the game plan. He was somebody that Kirby mentioned when he wasn’t asked about and clearly knew about. How important was it for him and the other freshmen, T.J. Searcy, guys like that to get the experience like this?

COACH NAPIER: That’s what I’m describing here. I think ultimately we all can agree in this room (indiscernible) some of the best what you can do. But ultimately you’ve got experience. Experience got you here.

I think that’s important for our staff, but it’s invaluable for young players. And I think that I’m hopeful that they’ll take what they learned today and go back to work. I think that our team will do that. I’ve got a ton of confidence.

They know we care about them. This group will get up and go back to work.

Q. The pass defense, McConkey hurt you a lot of times. Just the evaluation of the secondary and the inability also to make Carson uncomfortable as well?

COACH NAPIER: I think you’re spot on. Certainly couldn’t get him off his spot much, I thought they protected him well. And certainly there were guys open, even in man coverage at times.

That’s what I’m kind of getting at here relative to we can help as a staff conceptually. We can do more. And, ultimately, players had opportunities today.

I think it’s a combination of all of it together. That’s a good question. McConkey is a good player, though. He’s been a good player for a long time.

Q. I know these were second-half injuries, but we saw Shemar James injured in warm-ups. Can you provide us with an update on him or Kingsley Eguakun?

COACH NAPIER: Kingsley is okay. Same ankle, aggravated him a little bit there. Princely, he did have a little incident pregame — I mean, Shemar, sorry.

So, yeah, he was able to play. Certainly a little bit of a setback there late. I do think it will be something we’ll be evaluating, big picture-wise for him. It is a prior injury. It’s an injury that he had before in high school that kind of came to life today a little bit. So we’ll give you more of an update in the middle of the week.

Q. Because they’re so good and so talented, do you sometimes feel you have to coach a little riskier maybe than if you were facing —

COACH NAPIER: I don’t feel that way at all. I feel like we need to eliminate sack fumbles on short fields and not get punts blocked. Those have nothing to do with coaching risky.

I think if we do those things well, it’s probably a little bit closer game going into the locker room at halftime. Playing from behind is a challenge. Ultimately, I think that was the big issue today.

Q. Offensive line play, what would you evaluate from this contest and the health of the unit and the challenges they face, where do you feel they’re at after watching today?

COACH NAPIER: I think we struggled to protect them a little bit at times, but I also think they covered us pretty good. Some of those, we’re holding the ball. I think if we’re throwing the ball three hitch on time, there’s short edges, we’re climbing, guy gets a little bit of his elbow there, the ball comes out.

They made him move a little bit, but, listen, it’s a combination of the rush and the coverage, right? It’s not one or the other.

And I don’t think there was any just purely immediate sacks. I think it was a combination of the arresting coverage. This is the game we play, right? When you play a team that can cover you and good rushers and they have a good plan, the key to the drill is you try to avoid those. We don’t want to live in second-and-long, get back on track, third-and-seven, -10, -11-plus. Those are tough downs for any football team.

And certainly when you’ve got good cover guys and good rushers, that can cause problems for you. But, look, we ran the ball effectively at times today. I don’t think we had a ton of mental errors. They’ve got a long, heavy-handed group up front. And I think the two inside backers do a good job.

I think that’s the strength of their defensive group and, ultimately, when we watch the tape, I probably would be able to tell you a little more Monday, but there’s no doubt.

The group we have, we can’t live in that world. We need to stay on schedule, avoid penalties, avoid negative plays and tackles for loss.


Q. How formidable was that front? And how difficult was it once you guys got behind, chasing points?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think anytime we got behind the sticks, second-and-10, third-and-long, that’s where their game plan specific. They’re a talented defense. You just can’t put yourself in that situation.

I think there were multiple times in there I could have done a better job giving us the right call or throwing to a different person. When you get behind the sticks, it’s never easy, especially against a good defense.

Q. Just broadly, what would you say were some of the things that maybe held you guys back today?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think there were a set amount of plays that, when you’re playing a great team like that, I mean the margin for error, Coach talked about it all week, is so slim.

You make a mistake. I stepped in the pocket, didn’t have good ball control. The ball got tipped out. It’s first and, what, around the 15-, 18-yard line. There’s so many little plays within the game, but I can think of a set amount that we flat out didn’t execute. And it really flipped the score. Especially when you’re playing a good team like that, the score can get away from you quick. We’ve got to be better.

Q. In your opinion, what do you think changed really from that first drive where you guys were moving the ball pretty well and then as the first and second quarter went on, the offense struggled a little bit more.

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think first drive we were clicking. And then after — they have great coaches too; they’ve got great players, too. They made adjustments. I think anytime you’re in a game, you’ve got to be prepared to give a punch and receive a punch, I think, especially in this sport. It’s a fistfight, and it’s for four quarters.

We’ve got to be better to be prepared for that punch and punch back and be able to respond quickly. We started fast. Momentum was going. We knew it was going to be a momentum game, especially with the stands split 50/50.

So we’ve got to do a better job of setting that temperature. We always talk about — I had a coach tell me one time, the difference between a thermostat and thermometer leader — can’t be a thermometer team thermostat team that sets the energy and the tempo and continues that tempo.

Q. What was your message and the leadership group’s message to the team after being handed a loss like this?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think the guys are frustrated. Because we know we’re better than that. And we know it’s controllable stuff. We’ve said that at Utah and Kentucky, now this game. Every game there’s stuff you can control that go wrong, but it’s what did you do after that, your response to that.

I think we’re going to push guys to have that short-term memory and respond quick, especially when you’re playing great teams. We have a lot of great teams on the schedule. It’s going to come down to executing, playing at a high level and being able to take a punch, give a punch, and keep punching because these games are going to be four-quarter battles.

Q. On that fourth-and-one early in the second quarter, from your own 34, did that ball go between your legs?


Q. And were you surprised you guys went for it there, and do you think it shifted the momentum?

GRAHAM MERTZ: It definitely shifted the momentum. I trust Coach Napier and his play call with all my heart. Anytime he calls a play it’s my job to go out there and execute it.

We had a direct snap to Trev, and they had a great defensive call and they made a play. It was a momentum shift, but when that happens, our defense did a great job of, especially when we would give them a short field, I mean, holding them to those few field goals. That was big.

So for us we’ve got to play complementary football in all three phases, but I’m never going to doubt a play call. It’s my job to go out there and execute it.

Q. (Inaudible)?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Every game we’ve got a few things, trick plays that you’ve got designed for different situations. We knew they were going to stem and check sneak. So it was a game plan, a specific thing.

Q. You were talking a couple minutes ago about kind of the response. What do you and the leadership group here, how do you make sure this doesn’t snowball into the season going south?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I’ll tell you right now it’s not going to snowball. They’re a great team. They got after us today. We made a few mistakes. But we’ve got a young team and I’m confident in our leaders to see the bigger picture. We’ve seen that all year.

We know what this team has. And we know that our best is still out there. So there will be no snowball effect from this, I can guarantee you that.

Q. On the fourth-and-one, did Trevor have a run-pass option on that?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah. He had run-pass option.

Q. Georgia is the gold standard right now in the SEC. What do you think that — what does it tell you about where the program is, where the team is when you play a team like that?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I thought our guys competed. The score got away quick, but across the board, we’ll turn the tape on and we’ll see good and see bad. And for us as a program we have to keep striving to be better. It’s so cliché to say. But it’s what we do on a daily and weekly basis.

You’re working all week to go out there on game day and put your best out there.

There was some great stuff on tape. I haven’t looked at it yet. But I know there’s going to be some good stuff. There’s going to be some bad stuff.

I trust where this place is going 110 percent. There’s not a bone in my body that thinks it’s going in a different direction.

Q. And how highly anticipated was this game because of the opportunity it presented, playing a team that’s won 24 in a row and a couple national titles?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think anytime you’re really — my way about going about it, every time you have an opportunity to play this game is a blessing. So regardless of the opponent, especially — I’m just so thankful to go out there and play.

Like I said, it sounds so cliché, but as a team when you know that you’re going to a game and you kind of control your destiny, it gets guys excited, gets you amped up. I’m definitely not one that would like to lose.

Q. You seem like you made it a point to find Kirby afterwards and say, I don’t know if it was to say hi, congrats, whatever. Do you do it with all opposing coaches, or why was Kirby someone you wanted to reach out to after the game?

GRAHAM MERTZ: He recruited me pretty heavy out of high school. It’s funny, there were a bunch of coaches — in every game there’s a coach who either recruited me or I was with at Wisconsin. I feel like I’ve been in college a while, so I know a lot of people.

It was funny. It was, like, Coach Dickey was out there. He was at A&M. And Coach Streeter, he was at Clemson. And obviously Coach Smart. In every game I know some coaches.

So if I know them and they recruited me, took the time to put energy and effort into me as a person, I feel like I owe it to them to go say hi.


Q. The challenge of covering Ladd McConkey today, what was that like? I know you had some pass breakups, but he got the better of you a few times too. Talk about that battle this afternoon.

JASON MARSHALL JR.: Like you said, some plays he did get the better of me. But at the end of the day, he is a great player. I’m a great player. He’s going to make plays. And that’s pretty much it.

Q. What would you say were some of the things that maybe didn’t go right for you today, your immediate thoughts after the game? What do you think held you guys back on this one?

JASON MARSHALL JR.: Nothing really held us back. It was just a lot of mistakes, offense and defense-wise, game changing-wise, and basically we had to fix those.

Q. Jason, just talk about what pressure was put on the secondary, because you know the defensive line struggled to really put pressure on Beck. So what does that then do for the secondary, knowing that is not really a lot — there’s not really anyone coming to the quarterback?

JASON MARSHALL JR.: Nothing to that. Just gotta cover our guys. It’s as simple as that. They have to do their job. We have to do our job. At the end of the day, just gotta cover our guys.

Q. How difficult was it the way things just spiraled out of control there at the start of the second quarter and was it just one bad quarter the whole time?

JASON MARSHALL JR.: Like you said, it was a bad quarter. Like I said earlier, the mistakes kind of held us back. As we grew on the mistakes, the lead grew. So we can’t allow that to happen.

Q. You’re one of the longest tenured players on the team at this point. You’ve seen a lot of downs over the years. What is your message to guys who haven’t experienced much after a loss like this to keep guys motivated and going through the rest of the year?

JASON MARSHALL JR.: Nothing much. We have a lot of football left to play. It’s getting back to the lab, and we have work to do. That’s the message, we have work to do.

Q. How confident are you that this team is not going to let this be in vein, they’ll capitalize on this and it’s going to be a beneficial learning experience, for a lot of the young guys, especially, on this team?

JASON MARSHALL JR.: Like I said, I’m excited for the young guys that haven’t experienced some type of loss like this. Myself being a leader, just telling them, like I just said, keep your head down, keep working, we have a lot of football left to play.

Video courtesy GatorVision | Transcripts courtesy ASAP

Go to discussion...

Related Articles


Leave a comment

Please log in to your forum account to comment

Community platform by XenForo® © 2010-2022 XenForo Ltd. Style and add-ons by ThemeHouse