Watch & Read: ‘I think the kids played hard’

Press Conference

by Inside the Gators Staff
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Opening statement

“We challenged the kids to be ready to compete. Physically ready to compete, mentally ready and then emotionally ready. And tough-minded. Ready to play through adversity, momentum. Go punch for punch, knowing that it was going to be that type of game. And I think we got that kind of performance. Now, not a perfect day. Obviously, LSU’s very accomplished on the offense, they’ve got an elite group of players. They were tough to stop… It was a three-point game there with about 10 minutes to go, then we took the lead one time there in the third. But, I think the kids played hard. There’re no moral victories here, we all understand that. But what we asked them to do, they did. The feel I get from them is they feel like they had their chances. There definitely were opportunities out there tonight for us to come out on the other end. So, I am proud of that. The mentality. The mindset. The resiliency. The resolve. The toughness. The togetherness. Their ability to sustain that intensity. There are some intangibles I can respect from the players. I think we can help them. I think there’s opportunities for us to do some things strategically maybe to put them in a better position. I always feel that way, whether we win or lose. Certainly, I feel that way tonight. That’s a great venue. It’s a challenge to play here. We were ready, and I have respect for the approach the players took. We came up short, but I think we played until the last snap. And I think this group will do it again, that’s what I think. I think they’ll do it again. This is a group that has got something about them. I’ve told you all that many times before, but I’m a man inside and I know of every one of these kids and it’s a fun group to coach. They’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. But we’re going to continue to work. We have work to do. We’re up for the challenge. This group is up for the challenge and we’re going to continue to try to work hard and improve, both as a staff and at the player level. And look, for us to go where we want to go here, as an organization, as a program, as a team, every single part of our organization is going to have to work their tail off. We have to be relentless in finding an edge. Relentless in seeking improvement and taking experience and learning and growing from that. Knowing that there are going to be other opportunities. Hats off to LSU. They got a good football team. Heck of a football game.”

On holding LSU in check early before the Tigers pulled away late

“Well, reality is we got off the field on a couple fourth downs. Ultimately, you got a challenge on your hands, relative to matching up. Are you going to deny the ball, or are you going to play man or match coverage, and then all of a sudden, you’ve got your back to the guy and he takes off running? Or, you can choose to die a slow death and play zone, play coverage, try to keep them in the pocket. And we did a mixture of both all night. I do think the game comes down to matchups, and sometimes you can help your players but sometimes your players just got to go play. I think there’s a little bit of both. The quarterback is the exception, and I think his legs are ultimately the difference in the game. He’s a really good passer. They have great skill. They have a great balance of running game that compliments his legs. But ultimately, I think we can all agree the difference in the game was his ability to take off running. We played against him last year and then we played against him this year. He continues to improve. Give their staff credit and him credit. He’s definitely improved as a player. So, you pair his skillset with that group of skill players and it’s a challenge.”

On what made Trevor Etienne such a major factor

“Trevor is one of our best. He’s not only one of the best competitors and players we have, but he’s also one of the better young men in our program. His leadership, his work habits, the way he treats people – he’s a class act. He’s been raised the right way. And he’s an elite competitor. You could tell this was special for him and when given opportunities tonight, he was elite. He showed a spirit about himself. He showed some toughness tonight. There’s no question. I’m proud of him. He’s fun to coach and he’s made our team better since the first day he got here and he’ll continue to make our team better in the future.”

On how much was attributed to Jaylen Daniels as opposed to the UF defense

“I think there’s a little bit of both, if I was betting. The plays that are hard, that you struggle with are the ones where you match the pattern, you compress the rush lanes and the one guy can’t finish on him and then he’s loose. Then there are other areas where, okay I’ve got the quarterback, I’m the weak safety in zone read, I’m supposed to be the quarterback player, I’ve got bad eye discipline and all of a sudden, the guy scores a one-play touchdown. Those are the things that ultimately, there were a handful of those in the game where we’ve got players that can do better, but we also had plays where we’re in a good call and the guy made a play. So, I think it’s a combination of both. I’ll probably have a little bit better of an answer for you on Monday, but I do think the guy’s a terrific player.”

On his message to keep the team together during a wacky third quarter

“We don’t have that problem. We don’t have any problem keeping guys together. We need to execute a little bit better, but we’ve got intangibles. We’ve got morale. We have a group that tries to do it the right way. We just got to continue to learn and grow, play with more detail, more discipline, more poise. Communicate better. Work harder on our fundamentals. Those are where our issues are at. We don’t have any issues staying together. That’s a fact.”

On manufacturing more touches for Eugene Wilson III in the middle of games

“We called a lot of plays for Tre tonight. I think sometimes concepts are designed in that you try to put your best players at primary spots, and then ultimately the defense kind of dictates where the ball goes to some degree. But, we did some design touches. We had a reverse to him in the red area. We pitched him a couple sweeps. I think that that has nothing to do with our intention, I can promise you that. If there’s one thing that’s been evident, we’re trying to get him the ball.”


On returning to his home region and what he sees from Mizzou

“Obviously, I haven’t studied them on the defensive side yet. I will start that tomorrow. I’ve seen them offensively, just watching other teams, and you kind of get a feel of how they play throughout the season. I grew up, Drew Lock, he played quarterback there. I grew up going to Mizzou games and I’ve got a lot of people who went to school there so it’ll be fun.”

On Eugene Wilson III’s early involvement and then lack of

“I think in the middle of the game we really established a run game. I think the guys were blocking well up front, the running backs were running hard. We have sets of rules in our RPO game where if it’s a light box and we are running it good, we are going to run it in there. Early in the game, they were loading up the box and the first drive we were opening it up a little bit and they made some adjustments. There are so many different rules on every single play. Obviously, you would love to get him involved.”

On the Kahleil Jackson play getting overturned

“I didn’t see it come off my hand. But I saw it on the Jumbotron and it looked like a catch. But anytime it’s a third down and obviously we need to be better on third down. We talk about it every week, it’s a point of emphasis. I can do a better job in that. Especially when it’s a third and six and you get that big conversion, big chunk play, and you are moving down there and it gets called back, obviously its fourth down and you can’t play another play and you need to punt. It definitely provided some momentum but our team, we got to stay steady in the game.”

On the importance of getting one more win for a bowl game

“I mean I think any game you go into; our goal is to win every game. I think if that’s not your goal you should quit the sport. We are going to do everything we can to go out these next two weeks and do our best to win.”


On his assessment of the defense

“He’s [Jayden Daniels] a great player. He came out here today and competed. There were a couple things we should’ve executed a lot better. We should’ve maybe played a little bit better. But you know, he’s a great player and he came out and played well today. Obviously, we probably should’ve played a little more for the quarterback run. I thought we did a pretty good job of executing some of the blitzes and some of the stuff we had set up for them. Obviously, when we go back and watch this film there’s a lot of things we need to correct and lot of things we need to prepare for next week’s game.”

On the goal-line stand in the beginning of the game

“I think that says a lot about our defense. It says a lot about our heart and our mentality. How far we’ve really come as a team and even as just a defense. The pride we took during those couple plays reflects what Coach Napier and Coach Armstrong stress each and every day in practice. Little things like: ‘don’t let them cross your goal-line’ and ‘don’t let them do this.’ All these different things. For us to be able to do that really brought us really close together and it felt really good to get the momentum swing early in the game.”

On how the defense needs to improve in the final two games

“When we get back tomorrow and go back to practice we will be able to go over the film and correct a lot of different things. Getting ready to play again next week, at night, against another really good team who has been having a good season. I’m really excited. I think we will be able to make those corrections. Coach Napier and Coach Armstrong are going to have an amazing plan to come in tomorrow and I think we are going to be able to execute that.”

Video courtesy GatorVision | Transcripts courtesy Florida Sports Information

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