Watch & Read: Napier talks O&B Game

Press Conference

by Inside the Gators Staff
0 comment

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


BILLY NAPIER: Okay, guys, I think we had about 48,000 out there today. Maybe a few more. Very thankful for that. What a day for football, man. It was about as good as it gets.

I’m going to tell you, I think for the most part it was pretty clean. I think there’s a lot of balance in the game and a ton of situation work, in particular right there at the end.

I’m proud of our time. I told them that on the field. You think about we’re at the halfway point through the offseason. I think we’ve made a ton of progress. This group in particular, I think the leadership, the accountability, the self-discipline, and we’ve got a team. We’ve got a group that gets along with each other and has worked hard.

And we got out of here injury-free today for the most part, and we’ll be able to take a break and kind of restart here in the middle of May. It’s been a good day’s working.

I found out today Zach is going to be — it’s his last day. Headed to Jacksonville, and we’re certainly appreciative of all of your time here and wish you nothing but the best going forward.

What questions do we have here?

Q. How would you assess the quarterback play?

BILLY NAPIER: I think when we — I thought the rush and the coverage at times today — the rush and the coverage worked well together. You could see that. I thought they did a nice job affecting the quarterback. The coverage was tight. Overall we’ve made progress in the secondary.

Yeah, I mean, I think we threw it to the other team a couple of times. We would like to have those back, but overall when given opportunity, I thought we took advantage of it.

I do think that those guys have been awesome. I mean, I can’t compliment those two guys enough. Just to see them, you have a guy — it’s like polar opposites, right? You have a guy that started 43 games who is incredibly aware, smart, different type of player than DJ, and then DJ obviously you can see he is athletic. He can make plays with his feet, and he has no experience.

To see those guys collaborate, to go back and forth throughout the spring, and today you can see DJ has made some progress. Just got here in January.

So overall a lot of good today. I do think there will be things that we can do better. There’s no question about it. I thought at times the rush was effective, and I think the coverage had something to do with that. I thought we covered them pretty good today.

Q. What about the game-winning drive there, Graham? You obviously set that up with the punt, and it worked out to perfection for you.


Q. Was there any playing with the clock and the numbers and the…

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, unique about the format of the game. Once it gets to four minutes, both teams have to play two-minute mode like they’re behind, right? So we had time-outs in our pockets, both teams. I think we had some incomplete passes. We had some completions that got out of bounds, and that led to a couple of turnovers and possessions there. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s fourth down, and you have three time-outs in your pocket to punt it away and then get it back and then to get some chunks.

I’m telling you right now, the situation that happened in that last possession, we have worked all of those situations in the last couple of weeks. It was like clinic tape. Even the clock and then they gave us 7 seconds and then there’s the one more play scenario, and then to be able to line up and kick it. So got a chunk play — two chunk plays in reality, and then to be able to execute the play with 7 seconds and get the time-out I thought was good situational ball.

Q. (Off microphone)

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, it’s a very specific situation, and I think Arlis — we’re going to be able to coach Arlis off the tape. He took a couple of rotations after he caught that. He literally needs to catch the ball and slide and then it’s time-out. So, yeah, it was really good ball. I mean, that’s as good of a situation as we could have asked for.

Q. Coach, you talked about Graham’s leadership all spring. Obviously he comes back. He’s had a really good year last year. How has he handled all of the hype surrounding DJ? You just talked about how those guys work so well together.

BILLY NAPIER: I think one thing about Graham, and you guys know him that are here all the time, is he is confident, he is humble, and he’s a great teammate. I think he’s got enough awareness. We’re talking about 43 starts. He’s been through the highs and lows throughout his career.

I think he sees a young player that’s talented, and he is doing everything that he can do to help him take on more. I think not only teaching him the football part, but I just think the example everyday of how to prepare, how to approach meetings, the self-discipline part relative to how to take care of your body, how to study film.

I think we’re going to look back and we’re going to say that it’s one of the best things that happened to the University of Florida is Graham Mertz came back for another year while DJ Lagway was a true freshman. It’s going to benefit both guys.

I think there’s something to teaching. I think that’s the best way to learn. I think both guys are just good human beings, right, and I think they’ve got character. Yeah, so it’s been fun to watch. Fun to be a part of.

Q. How much more confident are you after this spring than you have been the previous two springs looking forward to see what you’ve got and how far you’ve come?

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, I think I look around the room in a team meeting setting and I see some guys that are in year two, year three of our system that have played a lot of football. The top of that list is the quarterback position.

But overall the stat we’ve been using with the 41,600 snaps of experience, I think the guys that are coming back on this team understand the expectations. They know what we expect of them as people, as students, as players. I think as a coach, man, the players are what give you confidence.

I think when you look around the room and you can trust the people that are in the room, and I think we’re in a different place as a result of all the work we’ve done with the roster.

We’re deeper. We’ve got more height and length. We’ve got more veteran players, and I think the young talent, the freshmen and the portal players, are going to help us. That to go along with the changes that we made after evaluating the season, I feel good about where we’re at.

Q. What did you kind of think from DJ Lagway in terms of the poise perspective? Obviously playing out there in front of all of though those fans is different than what he has done in practice.

BILLY NAPIER: I’m going to tell you I think Thursday is when I saw it. We actually finished Thursday practice with an overtime period, Orange versus Blue. We taught the situation and reviewed it in the team meeting and went out and executed and declared it’s going to be worth three points. Whoever wins the overtime will start with a 3-0 lead.

I kind of saw him. Okay, it’s time to compete. I think ultimately even showed that a little bit out there today. He kind of flipped the switch. You could see that competitive spirit a little bit.

That’s the good thing because you don’t know. You can practice all spring, but when it’s time, I think he showed he’s a competitor, and he had the ability. It wasn’t too big for him. I think that was healthy.

Q. How do you feel about the amount of field goals that got attempted today? Obviously that means the defense is getting stops. Pup Howard had that great pass breakup, but I’m sure you wanted the offense to finish some of those.

BILLY NAPIER: It will be part of the evaluation of the game. I think we all understand red zone touchdowns are important. A couple borderline go-for-it situations where we maybe can manage the game a little bit better first, second, and third down.

Then, you know, you divide the specialists up. Each team has strengths and weaknesses. Part of the game is red zone touchdowns, and I think it’s going to be that way each game next year in the season.

It’s important every week, and I think that will be part of the lesson from the game. It’s one of the reasons we play a spring gang.

Q. LJ got some run with the starters today. How do you feel like he did with that opportunity?

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, we divided the teams up to try to create some balance between the groups. You’re rotating players once the teams are declared, and there’s no question, LJ has gotten better each practice.

I feel the same way about him. He showed out there today that it’s not too big for him either. He was able to kind of get into that competitive mode. It’s one thing to practice. It’s another thing when that ball is put down, and there’s a crowd in there to be able to narrow your focus and turn into a competitor and not be distracted.

I think he’s in that same mold as DJ. There’s some maturity there. Being a coach’s son helps, but he is definitely a talented young player that’s got a promising future.

Q. Nice routes and catches for Marcus Burke today. What did you think about his spring, and I guess what’s the next step for him? How does he elevate his game? What does he need to do?

BILLY NAPIER: Marcus is one of the players that I’m most proud of on our team. Marcus has made a ton of progress since we arrived a couple of years ago. Just overall.

I think he has matured. I think he’s grown a lot, and I think overall his approach to life has helped his approach to football. I think he’s had the best offseason since he’s been here. He changed his body. He’s added quite a bit of lean muscle. His durability has been better. He’s been available. He’s battled the injury bug a little bit.

I’ll tell you, he finished the spring strong. He stacked up. Practice 13 was probably his best, and then he had a good day Thursday, and then today. So we need Marcus Burke to grow up and mature. I think this offseason he’s proven that he is capable. I’m excited about 88, as I call him. I’m proud of the way he has grown as a person. I think ultimately we’re seeing that the football is better because of that.

Q. What have you seen out of that star position? You’ve seen a couple of guys get some run there, Sharif and Aaron gates. What has been your evaluation throughout the course of the spring and then again today?

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, we have two phenomenal players. I mean both those guys. Look, I think they both have position flex too. Both those guys are really good young players. I’m not so sure both of them couldn’t play corner, safety, and that’s a challenging spot because you’re in the run fits. You have to cover the slot. You’re a blitzer.

Some of the stuff that we do, you’ve got to be in the half, right? So both those guys are really good young players. So both those guys are going to impact our team for sure. I think we’ll be looking for ways to get those guys on the field and potentially both of them, right?

Two good young ones that I think are going to prove to be a major factor next season.

Q. Talk about obviously a lot of pressure on Andre heading into the season with Ricky gone. He had a lot of big catches. Obviously the long touchdown. Talk about what you thought about his day.

BILLY NAPIER: It’s a product of a lot of hard work. I think he’s did today what I’ve been watching him do all spring. Been very productive. He has great practice habits, mature. His dad was a pro player. I think that contributes to his mindset a little bit.

Then I think overall we have a lot of players on our football team that are just like Trey. They played for the first time last year as rookies or unproven players, and then they’ve went into this offseason. Now they know what it’s like out there, and they’ve trained with that intent. I think you’ve seen him change his body.

The other thing that I think is beneficial is he observed Ricky Pearsall all summer and all season, and Ricky was a professional in terms of the way he approached the game. Much like DJ is getting to observe Graham, I think Trey got a chance to observe Ricky last year, and that’s contributing to what we see there. We’re going to get our money’s worth out of Trey Wilson. I can promise you that.

Q. I think you guys had to fight off Nick Saban and Alabama for Jadan Baugh right around signing day. What was your initial evaluation, and then has he met that and proved your evaluation right this spring?

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, another rookie that put on a show out there today. It was fun to watch. He 238 pounds. Yeah, listen, first of all, I went to Jadan’s school in January, and initially we thought he was a linebacker. I go to the school. That was the initial evaluation. He’s playing linebacker. Then we find out that he wants to play running back, and we had a really good evaluation on him. We had a high grade on him.

He ended up going to Arkansas. Phenomenal kid, right? I remember the first time I went into that school. His dad actually played linebacker at Columbia High School, and I played against his dad. His dad played linebacker. I played quarterback.

Phenomenal family. Just a class act. You go in that school with that kid, I mean, he is what you are looking for. Not only passes the physical evaluation, but he’s a leader. He can run the route tree as a receiver. He was a Wildcat quarterback, and he played linebacker and safety too. He played the entire game. He was a very productive player.

I think we’ll look back at that one, and that’s going to be good for the Gators. I think we saw a little flash of that today.

Q. The defense was very active. Last year had a bunch of sacks ultimately that didn’t really translate. What do you see from this unit that makes you optimistic that it’s going to translate better in season?

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, I think that we just have height, length, depth. I think the rush has improved throughout the spring. We got a lot of players that are capable there.

I think sub rushers, we have height, length. We have numerous players that I think can be effective as rushers. The coverage is better. I think that’s half the battle. When you start talking about affecting the quarterback, coverage is part of that, right? Disguise, pressure, the rush lane integrity. We tipped some balls today. That’s one of the ways that you can affect the quarterback.

Yeah, it will add up. Yeah, I just think we have good players there top to bottom.

Q. You seem to be in charge of the sacks. Was that a tough job to decide whether to let the offense get a play or —

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, you’re trying to do your best for both teams there without being jaded. It’s one of the tougher jobs.

Q. And guys are pleading, right?

BILLY NAPIER: Yeah, they all like to yell, “Sack,” no matter what’s happening. I think we got it right for the most part today.

Q. I know it’s only the end of spring, but have you thought about DJ’s role next year, package of plays?

BILLY NAPIER: I’ve answered that question about 500 times I think since we signed the guy. I think the big thing here is we have to get DJ to a place where he’s confident and then a place where we trust him and his teammates trust him. I think he’s definitely proven to be mature enough. His work ethic is outstanding. He’s developing nicely.

I think can make us different, right? I think there are some wrinkles there that can cause issues for defenses, and we have to understand we’re taking 15 off when we put him out here. I’m excited about how that can make us more difficult to defend. That’s what I would say.


Q. First of all, how did you feel like today’s game went when you think back to last year because I think last year you evaluated your spring performance that you weren’t very happy with it. What about today?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think we did some things that were good. I thought it was competitive. I thought the defense played well. I thought there were times where we — we talked about momentum all week, and we’ve been talking about all spring ball. If you have it, you have to keep it. If you don’t, you have to capture it.

If you look at the game, there were swings of momentum. I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s a competitive nature of a team to have that.

Obviously we go out there every time and want to be perfect and want to have 100%. We want to be able to run the ball, but we’ll definitely have some stuff to learn about from this. It was a good experience.

Q. Where do you guys feel like you made the most progress this spring, and I guess what do you still feel like is left to do? What are the biggest focuses over the next couple of months in order to be ready for the season?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah, I think the first part was the biggest part or the biggest thing.

Q. Where have you made the most strides?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think learning how to practice. That’s one thing where you watch the tape and it looks like an NFL practice. You see guys taking care of each other. You see guys working on technique. Every player, there’s teach tape stuff about how you should practice. Guys really learning how to practice the right way.

For me it’s refining details all summer. Then things that looking back at the spring, where did we fall short? What details were missing and just going full-force on those details as far as how to run a route verse two-man. Stuff like that. Do I need to talk to the guys about, watch film about?

Summer will be big in refining details. Just building on the foundation that we’ve already laid.

Q. Do you feel like those are smaller adjustments that you’re going to need to make relative to the work that was required after the spring and before the season last year?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah. This time last year I was still learning the playbook. It’s definitely nice to have that year under the belt of learning the plays, understanding what we’re trying to do, what Coach is trying to get out of a certain play.

Now for me it’s taking that next step of ownership of, all right, if this is our offense and we’re the ones running it, we have to know exactly what’s going on every single play and every detail versus any look that could pop up. For me it’s just being able to dive into that and teach the guys that.

Q. Graham, obviously the connection between you and Trey is off to a roaring start. Just talk about —

GRAHAM MERTZ: How many yards did he have today?

Q. 128.

GRAHAM MERTZ: That will do.

Q. What are your thoughts on that and kind of how he’s played so far this spring?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah, he picked up where he left off. Just so explosive in what he does. I love his — I don’t know if he had his back played out today, but the tape with the “YAK!” with a sharpee is just Trey.

I love throwing the rock to him, but he’s taking a big step in understanding route running, and I think that’s one thing that learning from Ricky and then bringing a guy in like Chim that understand how to get open on certain routes, and to be able to talk through that has been big for him. He’s really taken a huge step in route running, which I’ve seen.

Q. How confident are you that he can sort of fill Ricky’s role that he had last season?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I think we have a bunch of guys. I think Trey has done a fantastic job. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a very talented player, but I think we have a lot of guys that can step up and make plays when we need them to. That’s why I’m excited. That’s why I was excited for today because we have a bunch of guys that can make plays.

Q. Then obviously you were on the other side, but talk about DJ and what he showed you today.

GRAHAM MERTZ: He’s done that all spring. I think he’s done a great job of when we’re in scrimmage settings. It’s cool because you see — for me I look back and think back to when I was a freshman, when I came into spring and when you have your first scrimmage and your second and your last scrimmage of spring. It’s been cool to kind of see him take that progression. I thought he did a fantastic job today. He made a bunch of throws.

I’m sitting on my sideline like because can I hear the plays that they’re calling through the headset, so I’m sitting there watching him making his read. All right, DJ. All right, DJ. I can’t be cheering for him right now. He’s on the other team. I think he did a fantastic job.

Q. You’ve talked about having unfinished business here. Now that you’re through the end of spring as we’re heading into the next phase, what’s giving you confidence after spring that you guys can accomplish that unfinished business this fall?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah, we won five games. We know what we’re striving for. We’re here to win. There’s no secrets here. We all know what we put out there, and we all know that that is not what Florida football is. That’s what keeps us waking up every day fired up to get in here and work. That is the unfinished business.

It wasn’t fun for anybody. Yeah, we took that one deep into our hearts with us. We know what we’re working for.

Q. What’s giving you confidence in that you can accomplish that, that things can change, either —

GRAHAM MERTZ: Things have changed. It’s hard for you guys because we’re in it every day. For us it’s the constant messaging, the constant urgency that we have to have every single day of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, why we’re doing it. I can see that every day.

I think that it starts from the Head Coach down, and he does a fantastic job every day reminding us of what we went through, being able to use that experience on a daily basis. If there’s a day where you’re tired, it makes it a lot easier to not be tired when you think back to sitting in the locker room after the Arkansas game, stuff like that. Going to Death Valley, losing that game.

Yeah, unfinished business is a big theme for us. It’s not too hard to find motivation these days.

Q. Earlier in the week you had mentioned football is football, et cetera, like that. Then you used the word “understand” two, three times earlier today. Talk about how understanding — what does that mean as far as understanding what the coaches want from you, understanding what the offense intends to do?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah, football is football. It’s kind of like you go into freshman math in high school, and you’re like, all right, this is pretty simple. Then you can translate it to stuff. Then you’re like, Hold up, AP Calc, no idea what’s going on. That’s a new foreign language. That’s kind of what I meant.

Football is football where you have the base concepts, but every team has different details on how they do every single different thing. For us it’s whether it’s guys coming from a different school coming in here, it’s kind of like learning the foreign language at the start. It’s a whole new language of understanding what the coach is thinking, why he is calling it, what he likes in the situation, and what he wants me to do with the football.

For me it’s been so much fun coming here and being able to use what I’ve learned in playing football at the college level and the experiences, the defenses I’ve seen. You come to a new place, and you translate all that to a new language. Football is football, but at the same time it isn’t.

Q. So you would say you’re fluent in the new language now?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah, I’m fluent, yeah. And Spanish. I’ve been fluent in Spanish — no, I’m just kidding. I like to say I was, but I took Spanish for, like, three years. I couldn’t say one thing in Spanish.

Q. Where have you seen Marcus Burke improve this spring?

GRAHAM MERTZ: I has done a fantastic job. We’ve always known that Burke is so talented, but what he has done a great job of throughout spring is winning the contested one-on-ones. I think he’s done a great job about going up at high point. You through a go-ball to him, and he’s made the play I would say probably nine times out of ten when you look back at all of spring. He has done a fantastic job of going up and getting that and making the hard throw — or making the hard catch. He’s done a great job of that.

Q. He changed his habits too. How have you seen that impact him?

GRAHAM MERTZ: He’s focused. He knows what he wants to do. He’s taking care of his body, recovering. I think the one thing I see as far as habits is he is always in the training room. He’s always in the cold tub just taking care of his body.

I think that’s one big thing that I’ve seen across the board is the overall maturity of our team. When you’ve been on a team for a while and you get out of practice, and you look around and you are like, all right, I’m the last person here. We’ve been out of practice for 45 minutes.

Here it’s like an hour and a half after practice and guys are just getting in the hot and cold tub because they just took another 45 minutes rolling out and stretching. Guys are doing it the right way. I think that’s a contagious thing. When you see one person doing it the right way, it forces everybody else to follow suit.

I think that’s one theme that I’ve seen throughout spring is on the off days guys taking extra time to take care of their body and say, Oh, what do you do? Let me take you through this. I pick guys’ brains when I see them doing recovery and, okay, What does this do for you? Then I’ll try it out. If it works, it works.

The big thing with that is it’s contagious for people, and Burke has done a great job of that.

Q. When you came in, you said you and DJ were out having fun or something. What were you guys doing?

GRAHAM MERTZ: Oh, yeah. We had the Fan Day with Florida Victorious. We were sitting next to each other signing people’s stuff and taking pictures with them. =

I said it when I walked in, I just love Gator fans, man. They’re fricking awesome. We had a lot of fun.

Q. You seem unphased by DJ, the new toy, the five-star freshman. You seem unphased by all the hype that he is getting. You seem more like a teacher than a competitor to him.

GRAHAM MERTZ: I don’t know if you guys — this was a while ago, but 2018, 2019 when I was coming out, it was a very — if you don’t know the story, I committed to Wisconsin with three offers, and after that it was kind of — it blew up. Then we had Elite 11, All-American Bowl, and you end up with 35, and there are so many things that come with that where I kind of — I went through a lot of the same things he did. Not the same scale or at Florida, but a lot of the same things where I kind of had those experiences.

For me it’s being able to use what I’ve learned and impact the future of the team. I want this place to win for a while. Whatever I can do to help it out, I’m going to.

Q. What are you seeing from the guys playing star across from you, Sharif Denson and Aaron Gates?

GRAHAM MERTZ: All the guys playing star have done a great job. The biggest thing that stands out is speed and being able to — earlier in the spring I was calling when they were bringing their pressures, and it kind of got you should their skin. They were asking, What are you looking at?

I started telling them what I can see. Hey, when you start creeping up and you give me that eye right there, I know you’re coming. Now they start holding their stuff and are not looking at all and then they just hit it, and they can still get back there.

The biggest thing that stands out is asking questions and their just overall speed. They do a great job.

Q. The three guys, new guys, in at safety there: Asa, DJ, and Trikweze. Can you talk about what they’re bringing in?

GRAHAM MERTZ: They’re doing a great job. I think they’re just overall knowledge of the defense kind of like I just said about the stars. They’ve asked me questions, and we’re kind of picking each other’s brain.

I had my sophomore year at Wisconsin. I had a bunch of guys that were veteran safeties. You probably don’t — you won’t know any of these names but Collin Wilder, Scott Nelson. Anyway, they were great safeties. John Torchio. They were all at Wisconsin.

They remind me of them, how they’re students of the game, and they want to understand what I’m thinking and where the quarterback is looking and how to mess with me. That’s been a fun balance this spring is just the constant going back and forth with them and trying to just make each other better. They’ve done a great job.

Q. Hard to throw it over the top of those guys too.

GRAHAM MERTZ: Yeah, I mean, we had a few today, but we got them today. I got them today on one.


Q. Tre, where do you think you made the most progress this spring, made the most strides?

A. I feel like yards after catch. I done put on a few pounds. I felt like there was a lot left on the field last year, so I made sure to be able to get after the catch and all that.

Q. How hard is it to work on adding weight to your frame and maintaining your —

EUGENE WILSON: I took my time with it. Our strength staff got me in real good shape, and I got some good time in there. All hands down to them really.

Q. What are kind of your biggest things you’re trying to work on and improve here over the next — between now and August?

EUGENE WILSON: I’ll say separation. Separation at the release, beginning the route, top of the route, and just running through balls and all that and being able to find that box a lot.

Q. Obviously you’ve worked a lot with Graham. What’s he been like this spring? A little bit different role than what he had last year.

EUGENE WILSON: I feel like he’s taking on that role of leadership, A-1. His positivity and all that just run through his veins, and it really just is running through the whole coach of this team, so it’s good to have him as a leader.

Q. One thing when Billy was out here, he was saying that you learned a lot from Ricky last year. Now in your first sort of action without Ricky on the field, just talk a little bit about that and what he taught you last season.

EUGENE WILSON: I will say really it was a lot of confidence too. He really broke my ice a little bit. He taught me a lot as far as making the DB play my game and not going out there and running concepts all the time, but being creative and being an artist in the game. That’s one key point that he put on my game.

Q. Last season he was a lot of times Graham’s security blanket. Is that a role that you think you can fill this season?

EUGENE WILSON: Most definitely. I feel like Ricky was cut short of that 1,000 yard mark, so I most definitely have to fill them shoes for him.

Q. How much more comfortable are you in the offense now? You didn’t get a spring last year. You were kind of learning on the fly. Now you know the offense.

EUGENE WILSON: I feel like these few months in the spring most definitely have been beneficial to me. I wouldn’t say I missed out last year on, but it most definitely is something I could have added on. Can’t really change the past, so we’re going to go forward from here.

Q. What is learning the offense better? How does that help you?

EUGENE WILSON: It just lets me play a little bit more my game, you know, being able to play a lot more comfortable, a lot more my speed. Not really on other people’s timing.

Q. Obviously that helps you be more of a downfield threat?

EUGENE WILSON: Most definitely.

Q. Billy talked a lot about the progress DJ made from practice one to Thursday when you guys were doing your overtime drill and when he told you guys that whoever won that overtime drill was going to get three points and just the competitor in him. What changes and growth have you seen in DJ?

EUGENE WILSON: He is progressing every day. After our first couple of scrimmages, it just kept going up. Even today with all the people around, it didn’t seem to phase him. He is just out there playing his game, and his ice broke. Most definitely his ice broke.

Q. I just talked about Graham a little bit. His leadership, can you just talk about that? What does he bring to the team and bring to you?

EUGENE WILSON: He brings motivation, joy, all that. It’s just who he is as a person. He has that personality and keeps it all as a role model player and coming in the huddle. You can’t have your head down around Graham really no matter what type of day you’re having. It’s the most important dude on the team really.

Q. Where do you feel like this offense has made the most progress as a whole, as a unit? What’s the biggest thing?

EUGENE WILSON: I say really just coming together. I feel like that goes for the whole team really. It’s not really no gaps. We’re a whole chain. Everybody got their own link. There’s nowhere it can really break.

Q. Is there an area where you as a group still feel like you have room to grow? What is the focus in order to —

EUGENE WILSON: I don’t think we’ve ever been satisfied out there a day of practice. I feel like even if we have the best day of practice, spring is always progression to go. We stay unsatisfied, and I feel like it’s always room to grow.

Q. Playing off of that, you guys have four and a half months to answer a lot of questions about what’s the team going to be like this year. What’s your gut feeling today after spring is over? What’s your outlook for the season?

EUGENE WILSON: I mean, we just got our eyes on Miami right now. Rest our bodies up a little bit and get back at it in the summer.

Q. Does it feel different?

EUGENE WILSON: Oh, yeah, most definitely. I will say talent, the depth on all the positions and then really the culture too. After all the practices… long, hot days… shoot, we coming in laughing and junk like we ain’t just have a few hours practice and the bodies ain’t drained. Coaches are a real big part of this team.

Q. Jadan Baugh had a good day today. What have you seen from him and then also from KD?

EUGENE WILSON: Oh, shoot, them boys, like I said, their ice is breaking. Especially Jadan Baugh. That’s what’s up. When I first met him, I’m not going to lie, I didn’t really know too much about him from the recruiting angles and all that. Seeing his first couple of days at practice, I knew he was going to make some shaking, and he most definitely showcased it off today in the spring game. Most definitely.

Q. On the other side of the ball what have you seen from the two guys playing star, Sharif and Gates?

EUGENE WILSON: Oh, man. I was just talking to my dad about it the other day about how — I mean, they wasn’t really too much on the field last year, but towards the end of the season they was really making their name be shown. Shoot, they stand on it now. Really imprinting it. I feel like they’re out there like they’ve been out there this whole time.

They just dogs on and off the field. The cool guys and nothing can really phase them, so they’re most definitely going to be a huge part of this team.


Q. You’ve made it through the spring healthy. How does it feel to be going into the fall healthy for the first time in a while?

DEVIN MOORE: It feels amazing. Really, like, I’m lost for words. Just being able to continue to compound all the practices, the reps, the gains I’ve made in the weight room with the strength staff. It’s just a great feeling just being able to continue to build on that and just being healthy overall.

Q. How much progress do you think you made because you were healthy this spring?

DEVIN MOORE: Oh, a bunch. You can’t make up — you can only make up for the lack of reps so much. You can always take mental reps, kind of develop, but the only way to fully maximize it I feel like is to get on the field, get in that live fire and take those practice reps, see it a bunch of times, get coached by your coaches and just continue to develop.

Q. Where do you think the secondary has made the most progress when you think back to where you were this time last year?

DEVIN MOORE: I feel like between communication and tackling I feel like open field tackling is something that our coaches really emphasize this spring. You can see it throughout every scrimmage, throughout every practice, throughout the spring game.

Also, communication. Just being on the same page, being overly communicative. What’s about to come, what motion is about to come, what coverage are we going to on the motion, just things of that nature.

Q. You guys had a couple of young guys playing in the star position. What have you seen from Sharif Denson (off microphone) this spring?

DEVIN MOORE: Just the hunger. Every day those guys are in the facility trying to learn, doing all the extra things, working hard in the weight room.

There’s not that many subs at that position, so the amount of reps they took and the amount of things that they were able to experience this spring and just learn and develop from it, it was amazing to see.

Q. Jacob asked you about the secondary’s growth as a whole. I want to ask about the defense as the whole defense. What’s giving you confidence from what you’ve seen through spring that things are going to be better on that side of the ball as a whole?

DEVIN MOORE: Just the whole vibe and energy. Whenever somebody makes play, everybody is getting turnt. It’s great vibes. Like I said before, the communication. Even at DB we communicate with the D-linemen sometimes and just making sure the whole defense is on the same page. Even if we’re not even in the right call, if we’re all on the same page, then that can be a right call. Just being able to communicate and trust in one another.

Everybody is out there taking reps with each other and just being able to develop that trust knowing, okay, that guy is going to take care of his job. I have to do my job for him.

Q. Napier was saying but for you that there’s more depth on that side too. Do you agree?

DEVIN MOORE: Yeah, for sure, 100%. In every position room there’s a bunch of guys that can go, and the newcomers are continuing to learn and continuing to develop so they’ll be able to go too.

Q. I just want to know what was it like going against Trey today? Obviously he had a great game and is someone that is going to get a lot more reps this year with Ricky gone. What was it like going against him?

DEVIN MOORE: It’s fun. Every time I see 3, matching up against 3, I know it’s going to be a battle. He is going to bring the best out of him. I’m going to bring the best out of him.

You know, you have to switch it up versus him because he’s very shifty and very explosive. Every time I see him, yeah, it’s on. It’s going to be a great battle.

Q. Just what are your overall thoughts going against the Blue team offense with Trey and with Graham? What were your overall thoughts on how they did?

DEVIN MOORE: I think they did good today. They had a bunch of explosive plays. That late game situation being able to trust the coaching and drive down the field, make those throws in critical moments and be able to win the game overall.

Q. Are there areas where you guys have identified or even in your own opinion that you still need to improve on the defensive side? What is the focus over the next couple of months in order to put yourselves in the best position possible to succeed this year?

DEVIN MOORE: I kind of say it’s like a double-edged sword. I talked about our communications and tackling and improving, and I feel like those are two areas we can always improve in no matter how good you are.

You can never over-communicate. Then you can never work on open field tackling too much and just tackling overall. I feel like that’s definitely going to be a main focus for us.

Overall just being able to go out there and play and not think.

Q. It sounds like you had quite a few turnovers, picks this spring. What’s the difference? What do you think has enabled more turnovers, and how much of an emphasis has that been?

DEVIN MOORE: I think it’s a combination of everything really. The coaches put us in great positions, the disguises they coached us on to be able to create those turnovers. Really the main thing is just everybody flying to the ball, being able to showcase that effort. Being around the ball, you’re going to make plays. We got D-linemen running to the ball. Big Dez, they pulled up a clip of him running to the ball in the stack. That definitely creates turnovers.

Q. You didn’t have to tackle Jadan Baugh today, but what we saw today, was that typical of this spring in practice and stuff?

DEVIN MOORE: Yeah, he’s a very hard runner. He’s definitely been coached very well and just his frame and for a guy that big too, he got some juke move and stick to him too, so you can’t just come up there and cut him. You have to make sure you wrap up and make the tackle.

Transcripts courtesy 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