Watch & Read: Pearsall closing in on milestone

Press Conference

by Inside the Gators Staff
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COACH NAPIER: One of the most historic rivalries in all of college football. And I think it’s a privilege to be an opportunity of that for not only our players but the entire organization.

This is a game that matters 24/7, 365. We’re certainly excited about being in the Swamp Saturday night, sold-out crowd. I think that’s five straight for Gator Nation. So we’re very thankful for that.

It’s also senior day for a group. This will be their last opportunity to play at the Swamp. And certainly this is a group that’s done a lot of good in their time. We’ve seen a lot of growth out of a lot of these young people.

We’re having Tim Tebow back to recognize him for his College Football Hall of Fame. Certainly one of the best Gators to have ever done it. And awesome to have Tim back this weekend.

It’s also Thanksgiving this week. And I think there’s an element of perspective and gratitude here that I think we all could benefit from. And certainly we’ve started some of the things we do with the players this week.

So I think in weeks like this, it’s important that every person within the organization and the team understands that their role matters. And I think it’s important that we — the people in leadership, players in particular — they need to go out of their way and be vocal about that and making sure that everyone knows that. I think there’s something special about being a part of something larger than yourself.

I think football creates that opportunity, and we have to remember — I was talking to the accountability group just a while ago — I think you’ve got to ask a question: What does our team need from me? And certainly weeks like this, I think it’s magnified a little bit.

You’re in the position to serve. Ultimately leadership is about service, and really challenge those guys between now and Tuesday. What does the team need from you and what are you going to bring to the table throughout the week?

So we control how we prepare. We can’t ever lose sight of that. I think it’s important that, given the dynamic of this game, certainly the two quarterbacks and the situation there, I think there’s going to be an element of that.

So we control our energy. We control our attitude. We control how we prepare. We all understand the importance and magnitude of the rivalry game and certainly an incredible opportunity for our team to play against a well-thought-of Florida State football team.

Q. Does the practice schedule alter with Thanksgiving, or does it at all?

COACH NAPIER: We’ll slide things back briefly on Tuesday and Wednesday to grab a little bit of time knowing that Thursday we move everything up three hours. So we just exchange a little bit of time there. Add a little bit to the back end on Tuesday, Wednesday, and then we grab some time so that we can speed things up on Thursday.

We try to be out of the building by 4 o’clock Thursday and give the players an opportunity to spend time, if they have family in town or family nearby locally. And if not most of these guys will go to their position coach’s house.

Q. Does the schedule within the schedule change because of the change at quarterback now?

COACH NAPIER: I think ultimately we just have to play a brand of football that relative to Max and his experience, what he knows and what he’s got confidence in. I think we’ve still got to feature the players that we know are important each week.

But ultimately every offense I’ve ever been a part of starts with what the quarterback can do well. So that will be part of the plan. No different than they’re going to be going through some of the same dynamics.

Q. How is Graham doing on his collarbone?

COACH NAPIER: We took another image yesterday. We felt good about that image. We’re basically going to go in a two-week period here where we’re going to give a chance for the fracture to start the process of growing back and then we’ll reevaluate things.

I think in the meantime we’re going to do exhaustive research on like cases in college football and the National Football League relative to players that have been through similar injuries, just making sure we’re giving him the best map for him going forward with the rest of his career.

Q. How is Graham dealing with it and having something like this happen especially late in the year?

COACH NAPIER: Graham is mature. I think he’s really bright. He’s got — much like any great competitor, I think he obviously wishes he was able to do everything he could do for the team. But he’s going to be around, and he’ll still contribute to the team in the ways that he can.

But, yeah, it’s tough. I think injuries — sometimes for players those are the most some of the more challenging things that you go through because you think about things that you could do differently, but ultimately a lot of things it is what it is. So I think he’s done a terrific job for our team. I think he’ll continue to do that.

Q. What was kind of your impression what you saw from Rodemaker, now their starting quarterback when you watched him on film?

COACH NAPIER: I’ve got a long-standing history with Rodemaker. His dad is a long-time friend of my dad’s. And when I was growing up, heck, Coach Rodemaker was always around at different events and camps and things we would go to. So I think we even started the recruiting process a little bit with him at Louisiana.

So he’s a coach’s son. He’s very bright. This is his fourth year in the system. So he got there in ’20. So I mean he’s acquired reps throughout his time there. He’ll have a good grasp of what they do.

A little bit different type of player but certainly he’s got his strengths. And they’ve got terrific skill around him. So there will be an element of experience. I think that’s the big thing.

And he’s played — I think if you go back to the Louisville game last year he had to step in there and play, and certainly he’s played a lot; when the games have been in control they’ve put him in there. So there’s a pretty good sample size of him playing.

Q. What struck you about Max’s demeanor the other night?

COACH NAPIER: I think Max kind of did what I thought he would do. I think Max is a competitor. He’s got a level of belief in himself. He’s always been a very confident guy. And for the most part, I think we had the one ball exchange, the ball-handling issue be. Outside of that, he did what he was supposed to do.

And I think we changed gears a little bit there to try help him out. And I think critical fourth-down throw into a tight window. And then he threw a nice ball on the outside on the double move.

So first plays in there he throws a strike to Ricky on the naked. So he did a lot of good things. He’s been working hard since the first day he’s gotten here. He’s improved.

And I’ll tell you, I think the players have — he’s got good connection and camaraderie with the players. So I think they see him every day. They know who he is and what he’s capable of.

Q. (Indiscernible) the margin of error, (indiscernible) the other team, it’s slight. What are a couple of things maybe down the stretch that stood out to you? One that’s been talked about is Trevor not getting out of bounds. Like, what was he told and that cost you guys?

COACH NAPIER: Yeah, it’s —

Q. You said you were going to review.

COACH NAPIER: Yeah, I think there’s a handful of situational calls in the game. Obviously Trevor knows not to run out of bounds. I think a simple mistake there.

And I think the grounding penalty before the half was a missed opportunity in my opinion. We’re about, I would say, 10 or 15 yards away from the kick line there. So Graham can obviously do better there.

And I think the fourth-and-17th call, we’ve just got to do a little better job in the hook areas of the field. We’ve got players there. I think just there’s players in position there; we just have to have a little more awareness. And we can execute the rush plan a little bit better.

So, yeah, I think there’s 12 to 15 plays in that game, I think, that impacted the end result. When you lose these games by these point totals, it’s all magnified. So every possession counts. We’re talking about 12 possessions a game on average for both sides of the ball. I think each one of those where you don’t maybe get the results you want, there’s something in that possession you can point to that you can do better.

That’s where we’re at as a program. Every time we put the ball down, no matter who the opponent is, that margin of error that you’re talking about I think that’s who we are. That’s where we’re at, every play counts, every possession counts.

Q. Graham has another year of eligibility. Obviously we won’t be able to speak to him because of injury. But what indication do you get as far as him wanting to be back with the program and so forth, and the decision he’ll have to make in his future?

COACH NAPIER: Sure. I’ll let him handle that. Much like we’ve done with players in the past, they have their process that they want to go through. And out of respect for that we’re going to allow them to do that.

But Graham has been fantastic. And, again, we’ll let him, how does he want to announce his decision, how does he want to go about that, we’ll let him do that.

Q. (Indiscernible) different is the play calling with Max? He has the running ability that maybe he’s the only quarterback in the room that has that. How do you adjust what you’ve done all year with Graham to better fit Max for this week?

COACH NAPIER: That’s what we do. I think we take — every offense that you have evolves based off what the quarterback is really good at. And certainly Max is a little bit different type of player.

They’re kind of going from Jordan Travis to Rodemaker. We’re going from Graham Mertz to Max Brown. There’s an element of change for both teams. And certainly that’s part of the strategy relative to the game.

Q. After the fourth-and-17, I know it’s hindsight, but do you wish maybe you brought pressure there instead of playing? Was it sticks defense? Was it pattern match? What was it?

COACH NAPIER: I think sticks defense, define that for me.

Q. Rush four, the rest of everybody else, don’t let anybody behind you and try to make the tackle in front of the sticks.

COACH NAPIER: No, I think we called what we called, and I think we have players in the area of completion. I think we need to do a little bit better job distributing in our zones.

We did rush four. And look, I think hindsight’s 2020. There are other options. And I think we spend a ton of time on these fourth-down, got-to-have-it scenarios. And I think we went with what we thought was best at the time.

Oftentimes it’s not about what you do, it’s how you do it, and there’s a coaching and player element to both, if that makes sense.

Q. From a recruiting standpoint (indiscernible) debate on these instate rivalries, like, one team wins and it impacts the recruiting of (indiscernible). There’s been a lot of chatter about keeping your recruiting class together when you’re struggling. How big of a concern is that right now? Have you noticed any impact of these decisions being based on struggles lately?

COACH NAPIER: Yeah, you know, I think one of the things that’s been interesting about this group that we have committed is I think they understand where we’re at relative to our current dynamic.

I think part of the pitch and in the conversation I think there is a desire to be a part of something being built. How do we get Florida back to where it’s been before? We have to acquire really good groups of players back to back to back. And I think there’s a good relationship between this class and some of the younger players in our team. I think there’s some key people within each of those groups.

And look, anytime you struggle as a program, there’s an element of that that affects recruiting. But there’s no doubt about it. But there’s also, you’re early in your tenure, I think there’s a reality relative to the big picture. And I think some are up for the challenge. I think this is a unique pace and a special place.

So it’s a great group. And I think they’re made of the right stuff. They’re up for the challenge. I think recruiting is always a battle. I don’t know that it’s ever been easy.

So we’re trying to recruit elite players at every position. We have a number of them committed. And we’ve got about a month or so to get to the finish line. And I think I’ve been pleased with their response, let me put it that way.

And I think, ultimately, they have relationships to the players on our team, and that gives them insight to what’s it like here, what’s taken place here. And I think that gives me some confidence, if that makes sense.

So we all understand you’ve got to stack several groups back to back to get to where you want to go. So we’re in the process of doing that.

So, yeah, winning and losing affects recruiting, momentum affects recruiting. There’s no doubt about it. But we’ve got a great experience to sell here and one that I think people have confidence and belief in.

Q. You guys are a game-winning kick against Arkansas and a fourth-and-17 stop away from being 7-4. Do you think that this team is better than its record is right now?

COACH NAPIER: You know, I think we are a team — I think it goes back to Edgar’s comment earlier — I think we’re a team that can be competitive with about anybody, if that makes sense. We’re capable of beating anybody and anybody’s capable of beating us, if that makes sense. I think that’s who we are.

I think our struggles have been inconsistency. We’re yet to put it together, a dominant performance in all three parts of our team. Some of that is injuries, lack of depth, youth. I mean, we’re not going to allow excuses to creep into what we’re trying to accomplish, if that makes sense.

We are trying to improve. We’re trying to get the most out of our players. And I think it’s a fun team to coach because we’ve got some veteran players that are just awesome in their approach, attitude, leadership, they’ve maintained energy. The work ethic, the practice habits.

And then we’ve got a lot of guys that they don’t know any different. We’ve got a lot of young cats that are just showing up and it’s like, what’s next. And I think there’s some things about that that you respect.

So, look, we are what our record indicates. We’ve come up short in a handful of games. And we can coach better and play better. That’s what I think about. I’m thinking about things we can do — I’m going back to that question that I’m asking our accountability group: What does our team need from you now?

And ultimately we’re in the service business, right? We’ve got to do the best job we can do for our people from a leadership standpoint, both the players and all parts of the organization.

So I can tell you that this is a resilient group, just being around them the last couple of days. Went to Missouri and competed, played our butt off. And not perfect. We’ve got work to do in that area.

Q. (Indiscernible) is going to be a challenge week-to-week with any team, but is it easier this week given bowl eligibility is at stake, you can knock your rival out, senior day, night game in the Swamp — does that make it easier?

COACH NAPIER: I think all of those are external but they have impact. There’s no question about it. I think when you lose a couple in a row, you’re looking for buttons to push.

And I think this week provides some of that if that makes sense. We haven’t had that problem. So I think for me that’s one of the blessings about this team is that we don’t necessarily have that issue. I’m not looking for some secret formula to get them to play hard.

I think there’s some intangibles and loyalty that’s been developed. They want to do their job and do their best for each other. So we just need to do our job a little better, that’s the key.

Q. Back to recruiting, talking to stacking elite-level classes, what’s your philosophy on the transfer portal? Is that viewed more as supplemental year to year and focus on high school? Or how do you mix the two?

COACH NAPIER: Yeah, I think holistically, much like — I think that NFL analogy is realistic. I think you want to build your team through the draft. You want to add quality players through free agency that fit and maybe fill needs. And I think ultimately that’s the approach that we’ve taken. That’s the approach we’ll continue to take.

And, look, I’ve said this to you guys many times, this math problem changes every day. So we may not have a salary cap, but we do have a roster number limitations. So that’s the cap.

So I think ultimately it’s a fluid dynamic. But I mean, there’s no question, I view it very much like free agency. We go get a Ricky Pearsall at receiver, we got get a Graham Mertz at quarterback. There’s a number of examples of that.

So you’ve got to evaluate your team annually, if that makes sense, much like the National Football League does relative to what do you need.

It’s almost like the old junior college model. You used to go get players at positions where you had depth issues or you needed a significant impact player. This game has evolved, and now the portal provides that.

Yeah, I think ultimately that’s the way I view it. You want to build your team through the draft. You want to retain players, you want to develop players. And then obviously there’s positions of need along the way, and you go get them through the portal.


Q. (Indiscernible) your memories of Tim Tebow throughout your life or just retweet?

RICKY PEARSALL: I feel like I was really young when he first started playing here at Florida. I don’t have too many memories of him playing ball, but just seeing his experiences that he went through and obviously his leadership and how close he is with his faith, it’s really inspiring for a lot of athletes like myself.

Q. Last game in the Swamp, what’s going through your head this week?

RICKY PEARSALL: It’s been an emotional roller coaster for me, for sure. I’m just so grateful to obviously be a part of this university, this great university, and I’m super blessed to be in these shoes. And I’m going to make the most of it on Saturday.

But I just want to give all the thanks in the world to Gator Nation and everybody that’s been part of this journey.

Q. How hard was it to see Graham go down and dealing with his injury now?

RICKY PEARSALL: It’s super tough. Obviously I know the work he’s put in and everything he’s put into the game and the heart he plays with. So seeing him go down like that is extremely heartbreaking obviously for a wideout too.

I think he left everything out on the field. We’ve got some prayers and show love his way and make sure his head is up. And knowing the guy he is, he’ll fight through that. And everything happens for a reason.

Q. (Inaudible) and has he said anything about the hit and the run that he made?

RICKY PEARSALL: Yeah, he has. Obviously you could see his adrenaline was rushing so he didn’t feel it at the point in contact in that moment in time. But as plays go by, he told me he was doing the handoff and he felt a little bit of that pain right there and the cracking of his bone. That’s when he knew and was, like, I’m going down now.

Q. Have you ever seen a blown shoulder like that before?

RICKY PEARSALL: No, he’s noncontact in practice. I’ve never seen nothing like that before. But I guess that No. 15 has power.

Q. What about Max’s performance in the fourth quarter, and how does that inspire confidence in him next week?

RICKY PEARSALL: I was actually just talking to him about it. I told him I was super proud of him for stepping up in a game like that. He’s a super confident player. He’s a baller. I think he’s one of those guys — I don’t think the lights get too bright for him. He’s ready at all times. I’m super proud of the way he performed. And I’m looking forward to obviously being a part of that with him.

Q. (Indiscernible) the offense, especially as a runner?

RICKY PEARSALL: Yeah, he brings that energy, man. I think all the guys rally behind him because of the energy he gives off. He’s a natural leader. He obviously has that running for himself. And then I think he has really good arm talent. I do, I think he has really good arm talent.

Q. Will you be texting him this week (indiscernible)?

RICKY PEARSALL: I already have. I told him, I woke up this morning and texted him: 1 is always open. That’s first thing I did.

Q. (Indiscernible) biggest growth for him? He came in the last year in the spring, and even from fall camp until now, just as a passer and quarterback?

RICKY PEARSALL: I think he’s gained a lot of confidence. I think that’s first and foremost the thing that I noticed the most. He’s one of those guys that’s always come up to me, and he’s super excited for any opportunity he gets, which I think is super healthy.

But, yeah, seeing him go through camp and all these practices and seeing the growth that he’s had has been super impressive. Obviously, I think, the mental side is the thing that stands out to me most just because as a quarterback you’ve got to know everything.

And for a young guy to step in a system like this and be able to excel is super impressive for a young guy. I think that’s probably the biggest thing.

Q. There’s a lot of reasons for motivation this week. What tops the list? Is it bowl eligibility, senior day, nighttime in the Swamp, knocking Florida State out of its path?

RICKY PEARSALL: Yeah, there’s a lot of motivation that’s going into this game for sure. But inside that locker room, I think there’s just a fire burning for us, just because we need to get a win. It’s about that time. It’s due time to get a win for us and for the university and the program.

And I think there’s not a better week to do it than this week especially against these guys. So I think we’re all excited for that opportunity first and foremost with all the other things, all the extra things going on behind it.

Q. (Indiscernible) nothing seems better than the record says?

RICKY PEARSALL: Yeah, I heard you actually ask that question to Coach Napier earlier, but I definitely think so. I’m going to give a different answer. I really think we’re better than our record says. But at the end of the day you’ve got to go out there on the football field and earn those wins.

So I don’t think we did a good enough job obviously of doing that. Hopefully we can come together, rally back and do that this week.

Q. Close calls taking their toll a little bit in terms of frustrations with you personally?

RICKY PEARSALL: The close calls?

Q. Yeah, the close calls in these games. (Indiscernible). The other night seemed like it was a gut punch.

RICKY PEARSALL: Yeah, me personally, I don’t think so. I think I’ve been through a lot in my life, adversity. And I don’t think this is anything compared to that. So I think I’m built for adversity like that and being able to bounce back. And I think all the guys, too, as well.

It’s a blessing to come out here and play this sport each and every day. And it’s another opportunity this week, and we’re playing the game we love at the end of the day.

Q. (Indiscernible) this team shown. What’s it say about the players?

RICKY PEARSALL: I think just shows all the guys in the locker room and the culture we’ve built over this period of time. And I think it’s also a little sneak peek of what we have moving forward as a football team.

And all the guys have morals and values in that locker room. I think that’s really impressive. We just want to go out there and fight.

Q. Have multiple close calls made you have that attitude, we’re due to get one go our way?

RICKY PEARSALL: For sure, we’re definitely do. Like I said, this is a great week to be able to go out there and do that. But it’s really hard when you’re going out there and you’re fighting your butt off and you don’t get it your way. But that’s just the reality of football. You’ve got to go out there and earn it.

Q. What was it like last year to have the kind of game you had against them? And does that inspire confidence, the fact that you kind of had those two touchdowns and so forth in those matchups?

RICKY PEARSALL: I feel it was a good confidence booster going into the summer, training. But I don’t think just going into this game, just because it’s a new opportunity. It’s a new game. There’s another 60 minutes I have to go out there do the same thing if not more. I’ve got a big chip on my shoulder this week, go out and get that game.

Q. (Indiscernible) doing this for individual awards. Thousand yards, what would that mean to you? It’s been a long time.

RICKY PEARSALL: It’s a goal I set for myself at the beginning of the season. It’s right there, 52 yards away. But I’m more than a personal goal kind of guy. Obviously team goals override that for myself. I think the W is going to feel a lot better than any personal achievement to me personally, but I know within myself that I’m a thousand-yard guy. Whether I get it or not, I’m a thousand-yard guy.

Q. How many catches do you have?

RICKY PEARSALL: I’m not sure, 60 something.

Q. 64.


Q. You had the 52 yards. Why was —

RICKY PEARSALL: I know the 52 yards. However many catches to get 52 yards.

Q. (Inaudible)?

RICKY PEARSALL: 52 sounds pretty good. But I think 150 sounds a little bit better. (Laughter).

Q. Senior Bowl before you. I know you got to hint at it last week you got the invite.

RICKY PEARSALL: For sure. I think it’s going to be a really great opportunity. It’s a great honor to be able to get that opportunity for myself and it’s something it’s another goal I had to go out there and earn. But I think it’s going to be really good for myself just because I’m going to be out there and showing like how good I am in one-on-ones, creating separation, just more things to put on tape in front of people.

Q. How do you think the offense has been coming along? It’s looking a little more dynamic and Max obviously going to bring a different element. You guys are averaging 33, four, points I think in the last six games after not getting close to that early on.

RICKY PEARSALL: Yeah, I think the offense is extremely confident. I think we brought a new energy with our offense through our practices, and I think that’s translated over to the games, and I think we’re just sticking with that same mentality, is like every time we step on the field we’re going down and we’re scoring. Whatever it is, run game, pass game, doesn’t matter, we’re going to go down and score. Look into everybody’s eyes when we go out there before the snap everyone is locked and it’s like we’ll go score this draft, just keeping that mentality each and every drive.

Q. You planned to be here Saturday for senior day?

RICKY PEARSALL: I’ve got some family coming out. Obviously my parents. Got two of my sisters coming out. I’ve got some friends coming out, too. It will be really good. I’m super excited. It’s going to be very emotional for me.

Q. Emotional — are you a cryer? How do you handle walking out seeing mom, dad, sisters and then not letting your —

RICKY PEARSALL: I can’t tell you what’s going to happen in that moment. But I’m vulnerable enough to say that I do cry. I’m an emotional passionate dude. So tears might come out. That just shows the passion and love I have for this game, and I know all the work I’ve put in playing football. I’ve been playing this game since I was seven years old. There’s been a lot of work that’s come to this, brought me to this very moment. So I think that’s what brings that emotion, that passion for sure.

Q. Do the expectations fit for Florida?

RICKY PEARSALL: Definitely exceeded my expectation. I obviously knew this was a fantastic university obviously, knowing the University of Florida. But I think it’s definitely exceeded my expectations just because all the love and support I’ve received here and I just felt like everybody’s had my back ever since I got here, and I kind of can’t thank Gator Nation enough, to be honest.

Q. Coach said he’s going to have a decision, he’ll let him announce it. Do you think he’ll lean on you at all if you have to make a similar decision, if he does come back, what does that mean for this team?

RICKY PEARSALL: I think I could provide some guidance to that, just going through kind of the same thing that he was, but it ultimately comes down to his decision what he thinks is best for himself. That’s it.

Q. When you came in, people expected big things. When Graham came in, people were like, oh, we don’t know. When you heard they had gotten Graham Mertz, were you in you’ve got to show me something, how skeptical, how has it turned out?

RICKY PEARSALL: I saw all the stuff that was coming when Graham first got here. That shows the guy he is. He came in here and got to work right away. I think all the guys rallied behind him because it’s, like, okay, we’ve got our quarterback.

And he’s always been that confident guy. He studied his ass off in the film room and just works his butt off day in, day out. And I am extremely proud of him it’s hard when you have people setting expectations for yourself. But his personal motivation, he’s self-driven. I expect nothing less than him to come in here and have success.

Q. When you think of Billy as a play caller, there’s been a lot of opinions about him being the OC this year, obviously, I think as of late you guys have been having a lot of success on offense. What do you think about his system and him kind of what he does with the receivers and some of the stuff you guys do on offense?

RICKY PEARSALL: I think there’s a fine line between coaching and players. At the end of the day, we’ve got to go out there and execute any play that’s called. So obviously as an offense we’ve got to go out there execute anything that goes our way and that’s what we can do as players.

Q. How do you like playing in his offense — motions and reverses?

RICKY PEARSALL: His offense, I like it. Obviously about to touch the thousand-yard mark, so I’m pretty happy.


Q. Going to watch Michigan and Ohio State this weekend?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Most definitely.

Q. Do you follow Ohio State or That Team Up North?


Q. (Indiscernible) A veteran guy, leader even though you’re new, I’m sure you’ve established yourself. What has been the message after some of these kind of heartbreakers? You’ve had a few of them now.

TERADJA MITCHELL: We’ve got to use these losses as lessons. We’re going to face adversity. All through life you’re going to face adversity. It’s important for us as a team to make sure we respond. That’s one thing I can say about this team; we’re going to continue to put our best foot forward and continue to respond.

Q. What do you think about (indiscernible) some of the these games with some of the adversity?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I think at times we’ve shown effort. And at times we can get better in that aspect. That’s where it comes in practice. We’ve got to continue to practice hard and continue to go out there and understand what our purpose is in all this.

Q. Seems like the team doesn’t — I don’t want to say “mail it in” — to you guys — I’m not disrespecting you guys saying that, but some guys might get frustrated and not put their best foot forward. It seems like that didn’t happen.

TERADJA MITCHELL: That’s what happens. When you lose, you face adversity, frustration, always going to come into play. That’s a natural human element. Like I said, that’s where we together as a team, as leaders and with a younger team, we have to make sure we emphasize we have to keep plugging away — it’s a process.

Sometimes people are so focused on the results when it’s the process that gets the results that’s what matters. We’ve got to continue to practice as hard as we can and put our best foot forward. When the came comes, we play well.

Q. How difficult has it been for you because you’ve probably been part of more losing games here at Florida than you were in four years at Ohio State?

TERADJA MITCHELL: It’s difficult because we put in so much work here and to not get the results obviously it’s very frustrating as players. But, like I said, it all comes back to how we respond as a team. That’s one thing I can say this team is going to — we’re going to continue to practice hard and go out there Saturday and put our best foot forward, keep chugging away.

Q. FSU is a physical team on both lines of scrimmage. Just the challenge of that? And tackling has been up and down. How important will that be this week in practice, just one last time kind of emphasize that?

TERADJA MITCHELL: We have to reiterate on tackling and pursuit to the ball. That’s going to be important, one of the keys to win in this game. We have to pursue to the ball. Have to be a bend-but-don’t-break defense. Even when we get a big play we have to get the guy on the ground and live to see the next down.

Q. (Indiscernible) about their offense, from what film study you’ve seen?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Very talented team. The quarterback, even with their backup quarterback, I think he’s pretty solid player. Great running backs, great receivers.

It’s going to be a matchup game for us. Like I said, we’ve got to make sure we prepare ourselves Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, so we can play fast on Saturday.

Q. Anything you can put your finger on defensively? Obviously September was a great start, that month, and since then it’s kind of dipped. And I guess you guys have taken a lot of slings and arrows. But what have been some of the breakdowns, what can you get fixed in this final week?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I think it all comes down to consistency. We can’t be up and down. We can’t rock the roller coaster. We’ve got to stay consistent in our play. We’ve got to sustain — the same way we were playing at the beginning the season we have to sustain that. That’s what it comes down to, consistency at the end of the day.

Q. What’s your take on that fourth-and-17? What happened?

TERADJA MITCHELL: It comes down to execution. We have to execute as players. Our coaches, they do their best to put us in the best position to make plays, and as players at the end of the day it comes down to execution. Gotta execute in those moments.

Q. Is that part of the legacy you guys want to leave here, the guys who are leaving after this season, for the young players, just what you’re talking about the effort, just staying the course?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Most definitely. Like I said it all comes down — you’re going to face adversity in life. It’s just part of life. I feel like the adversity you go through, it does not define you. The way you respond to the adversity is what defines you.

I think that’s important for our younger players and leaders we have now. That’s the most important part we have to keep responding.

Q. There’s a lot (indiscernible) motivated going into this game. What tops the list for you in terms of motivation?

TERADJA MITCHELL: This is a rivalry game. There is so much history in this game. We understand as players the legacy that was put forth from the former Gators. And we understand there’s a standard we have to play to, especially for this game. The guys are up, and we’re ready to go again. Let’s do it.

Q. What’s it like, Nick broached it, you played Michigan-Ohio State and now Florida-Florida State?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I’m blessed. Grateful to play for two prestigious programs and to be able to play in games like this. I’m excited.

Q. Is this your second senior day?

TERADJA MITCHELL: Yes. Second senior day (laughter).

Q. Cry at the first one?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I held back tears. I held back tears for sure.

Q. What has been your experience like this year, because Ricky has been here a couple and said he really almost was surprised by how well he fit. What’s been your experience? You haven’t been here that long.

TERADJA MITCHELL: I love the people here. That’s why I came to Florida. Coach Napier put together a great staff. I love everybody on the staff. I love the players. I love the camaraderie. I feel I’ve developed brothers over the past 12 months. I’m excited to go out there again and play with my brothers this Saturday.

Q. No taking joy in the Team Up North struggles, but with all that’s gone on up there, what feedback have you got from your Ohio State chums about that?

TERADJA MITCHELL: I just know those guys they’re excited. They’re ready for the game. I just talked to a couple of them last night. It’s a big week for them. They’re excited to play.

Video courtesy GatorVision | Transcripts courtesy ASAP

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