UF Media Day Q&A Transcript: Rob Sale

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    Mark Wheeler
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    Courtesy ASAP Transcripts:

    ROB SALE: Yeah. Exciting time. Fall camp’s here. It was a quick summer. Players did a really nice job of embracing everything that was thrown at ’em. We were able to be here in June, and July was a lot of player-led workouts, and then obviously you had some full-time coaches that are there and they’re off this week.

    But our guys are ready to go. They have had a good summer, especially looking through a strong offensive line, and those guys. So get ready for guys to go compete. That’s the message that’s going to be, compete, compete, compete, enjoy every single day, set goals for every day, every week, and then see where we’re at.

    Right now, we’re just working on the Gators, so…

    Q. Your mantra has been better people make better players. What have you seen since the end of spring to now that you’ve seen in the development of these guys as people, people first, players second. I know that players is important, but they got to be better people too, according to what Billy says.

    ROB SALE: Absolutely. It goes to back what Coach Napier says. Players are going to model leadership. We have a great example in Coach Napier, and then he hired the right people to model that for their individual position rooms.

    Once players see that, you see how coaches interact with each other, then coaches to players, players to players, you want ’em to speak the right things, choose your words wisely. So they’re going to model the example that we give ’em.

    They have done a good job of that. There’s things that we do as coaches. Coach Hocke just probably spoke about the regimen phase to create true leadership, offense to defense to special teams, understanding relationships. Nowadays age, when you go to the cafeteria, you go wherever, they’re on the phone. Like, hey, you know, kind of encourage ’em a little bit, put the phone down, ask somebody how their day was doing.

    So everybody nowadays, you want to be on the phone, put your face in it, but you want to have real conversations and I think it goes a long way.

    Q. Discipline was a problem on the offensive line last year. How you have you seen the discipline improving in the time that you’ve been here?

    ROB SALE: We came a long ways since the spring. What was in the past is the past. I don’t really, obviously you go through and watch cutups and how they play. We’re going to put ’em in the spots we need ’em to be.

    But they have done everything Coach Stapleton and I asked ’em to do when it comes to discipline and taking the coaching, coach me coach mentality. So I’ve been very pleased with the group, so I expect good things, and we’re going to play well.

    Q. You’ve been with Billy off and on for awhile now, so you know his personality and what he brings to the table. What are some of those qualities that stand out to you and how are they rubbing off on the team, do you think?

    ROB SALE: He’s obviously the boss and a friend, but I don’t know if there’s a week spot kink in the armor. I really don’t. Understands the big picture. As a coach, you’re look at your head coach going, all right, you know. So it’s very detailed. Every plan that we have, there’s, we quality-control. He quality-controls everything we do so that we don’t make the same mistake the next time.

    But everything is going to be detailed. We’re going to go over it thoroughly. We’re not going to wait on the back end to fix something. And the players see that. Players understand when you’re watching and you’re observing, are we organized? Are you organized as a coach when you go in your unit room, when you go in your position room, when you go to off-season program? Everything you’re doing, right, eyes are watching you. So if we’re prepared, they’re going to be prepared, and it starts at the top.

    You came in with Nick Saban at Alabama. You saw him come in and put a plan in place. It took off pretty quickly. What similarities do you see in Billy Napier’s kind of so-called blueprint with Coach Saban’s and the implementation of it.

    ROB SALE: We’re always trying to, Coach Napier’s always trying to find — open to opinions to do things a different way, but I would say the nuts and bolts are very similar. But he puts his personality on it. He doesn’t try to be somebody else. He’s his own man. He’s very genuine. It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO or you’re somebody in the program, he treats ’em all the same.

    He’s genuine. He’s authentic. So when you’re talking to him, he’s not trying to get to the next thing. You can tell he’s looking right in your eyes. You have his full attention. And that’s a quality that goes a long way. I try to take more of that myself and put into me a little bit because I know my strengths and my weaknesses, right?

    Q. Anthony Richardson said he has never seen Billy Napier yell or get mad, and Jeremy Crawshaw described him as a stoic guy. I’m sure you’ve probably seen him get mad before, but what is his demeanor? How does that affect the team and his coaching style?

    ROB SALE: He’s consistent every single day. You got to have, as he says, complimentary people around you. So he might get his point across a little bit different than I get my point across. But that’s football, that’s how people that are, have complimentary strengths and weaknesses. But he tells you upfront the things that he has zero tolerance for.

    One thing he’ll get ready to tell the players here shortly when we go to the offensive meeting tomorrow will be you got to know what to do. No missed assignments. Because we have a teaching progression, you got different resources, if you don’t get in the meeting room to be able to close that gap. But not knowing what to do is no excuse.

    Q. I think a lot of people going into this year expected guys like Richard Gouraige and Kingsley Eguakun to be some of the leaders for this team. To see Michael Tarquin identified in the regimen face as one of the leaders, how big is that for the offensive line that he’s kind of emerged as one of those guys?

    ROB SALE: You know, I got three young pups that are in here and I kind of throw it back on them sometimes. Hey, name a player that you think does it the right way. And Michael Tarquin’s the first one that comes into mind.

    Man, you’re just talking about a guy that approaches everything the right way. It doesn’t matter if it’s film study, prehab, rehab, how you take the field and practice, it’s everything’s 110 percent.

    I’m very pleased with Michael. Obviously we’re expecting big things from him this year, but he’s going to answer the bell. He’s a stud when it comes to his attitude and his daily approach how he does everything. Sometimes just kind of crack jokes with him a little bit to see the other side, because he’s so straightlaced. But, hey, I’ll take 20 of Michael Tarquins every day all day.

    Q. How have you seen Darnell Stapleton use his experience to impact this group? Like in what ways does he share his knowledge from his playing days to be able to kind of impact these players?

    ROB SALE: What a stud, I’ll tell you that first, Coach Stapleton. I learned a lot from him. We share the room together, do it together. But the player approach, a guy that undrafted free agent and had to make the team, when it comes to center value, guard value, he was able to do both. Had four years in the National Football League, able to win a Super Bowl.

    But we think like minded. We really do. We’re on the same page with everything. I ask things, how he done things in the past, it’s not Rob Sale’s way, it’s our way, how we do it together, we embrace it together.

    But he cares about the players. He’s always has players in there and makes sure there’s nobody ever falls through the cracks, it’s about true relationships and meaning. It’s not just about always X’s and O’s. A player will run through a wall for you if they know that’s you care about him.

    And he’s an awesome person an awesome coach and I’m glad he’s on our side.

    Q. How would you describe this team’s offensive identity, like what are you guys going to look like come week 1?

    ROB SALE: We want to be able to dictate our style of play. We want to be able to run the ball, play action. We want to be able to create different tempos to put pressure on the defense. We want them to play the width of the field and the length of the field. We can win the game in many different ways if we need to throw it, we can throw it. If we need to run it more, run it more.

    First couple years, first year at UL, we were, Coach Napier was able to probably in my opinion win games we probably weren’t supposed to be in there by slowing the pace of the game and then we were able to put it all together, play complimentary football in all three phases.

    So that’s still remains to be seen. Each week is different, your matchups and the teams matchups and individual matchups. So that still remains to be seen.

    Q. Being at Louisiana and then spending some time with the Giants and now coming back to the college game is there anything that, from Louisiana to the NFL, that you’ve been able to bring back here to the University of Florida that you think will kind of press upon the individuals that you’re working with now, anything you brought from the NFL, an ah-ha moment?

    ROB SALE: Good question. I think ball is ball, in my opinion. Some would probably argue that. But it’s just, when you get to the National Football League — Coach Napier does a good job of stressing in this program and hired people that’s the best in their field of work. Either it may be Hocke and his crew, Kelsee with the food nutrition the dietician aspect and then all the way to the training room. To me you’re getting the best year-round plan set by Coach Napier here.

    So let’s go to the National Football League. When they feel like when they leave college now it’s like the ah-ha moment. It’s not like things you were preaching daily in our program, right? When it comes to getting your body right for practice, so that player has about 50 minutes from the end of a meeting before they go out and practice. Hot tub, cold tub, stretch, they’re preparing their body.

    And when you have install meetings in the evening say, Hey — I’m sorry — when you get through meeting as coaches doing game plan you say, Hey, I’m going to push as much information when we get it done to your iPads. And if it’s about 8:30, 9:00 o’clock and they don’t have it so they can review it the night before you’re getting a text message, Hey, where’s my stuff.

    Then when you go in the training room in the morning, when they’re eating their breakfast, they’re going over it. So when you have that remote in your hand and you’re installing it, if there’s something not on paper that is exactly what you’re saying, you’re going to get called out.

    So I think the level of attention to detail, but it’s the same thing you’re stressing in this program daily. They’re getting no coaching, no different treatment, it’s at a high level here. Coach Napier’s hired people that are masters in their program or in their area for the best player experience here at Florida.

    Q. Torrence is obviously a guy you coached, developed at Louisiana before you left for the Giants. What makes him special, different, unique as far as an offensive lineman is concerned?

    ROB SALE: Talking about O’Cyrus? Is that right?

    Q. Yeah. Yeah.

    ROB SALE: Sorry. Unbelievable human first, right, person and character. Identified that when we were there at the other place. But he’s big, he’s twitchy, football comes easy to O’Cyrus, it really does. But we have a plan and a teaching progression to get a freshman to be able to play early. If they are ready. But you got to meet us in the middle.

    The teaching plan is, there’s no holes in it, but the player also has to do his part being full in. O’Cyrus missed like the first two series, first game of his freshman year and then he started the rest of his career there and he was ready to go.

    But an unbelievable person first. Does everything the right way. Football comes easy to him and he’ll have a lot of success here.

    Q. Curious about the install process. How much did you get done in the spring and how much more do you have to go in camp do you think in terms of the offense?

    ROB SALE: Kam Waites?

    Q. The install process of your offense, where are you in terms of that installation.

    ROB SALE: There’s a little bit left. But we’ll hit reset. I mean, there’s always game plan things that you’re putting in, but I would say, if I had to give a percentage 80, 85 percent’s already in. So we’ll go back and hit reset, install 1 and install 2 and then things on our shelf that we did not install we always got to go back and put it in.

    But first-year staff when you’re trying to come in here in spring ball you’re trying to also install but identify who can play. Who can do what. And then what do you got to do in your recruiting needs to fill the roster. So hopefully that answered it.

    Q. You’ve known Mark Hocke a long time now. What was your initial impressions of him when he first got to Alabama, how is he — I see you laughing — obviously how has he evolved in the job and just kind of what kind of impact does he have on these guys in the program?

    ROB SALE: Started off as a guy that was living on a couch, probably threw all of his stuff in a vehicle and came there. You have different people at that part of the year in the program that just show up and you’re trying to figure out, All right, title, who is on salary, who is working for free, who is trying to make their way up.

    And he was a guy that was a freebie at the time and then worked his way up to probably making hourly wage and then he became, by the time he left, he was a first assistant.

    And then we worked at another place — we worked at three schools together. So, but unbelievable person, it’s about just like, I would say, relationships with our players. Obviously he’s around more of the players than the staff and in a calendar year. But he speaks words and knowledge into ’em every single day. He just doesn’t ramble. He has a plan and a message every part of the year within the program where Coach Napier identifies the eight phases.

    So you’re always trying to highlight the rest of your staff that he has around him. Of how those people can help the student athlete make their craft better. And he has a lot of people to manage, a lot of responsibility, but he does a phenomenal job. I wouldn’t want to go to battle with anybody else but him.

    Q. (No microphone.)

    ROB SALE: We were at Alabama together, we were at Georgia and then we were at UL and then here. This is the fourth, fourth stop.

    Q. Philosophical roster-building question. The numbers in the portal for offensive linemen weren’t very high relative to other positions. Is that a position where you need to get high school guys because you can’t count on the portal as much or sort of what’s your philosophy on developing and where that talent acquisition is best?

    ROB SALE: I think every year’s a little bit different. Who you got coming back, who you graduate. So those needs could change. If you done a good job of recruiting high school players I think it’s going to sustain itself. But that’s not necessarily true all the time. You don’t know how, what O-lineman is going to, it’s going to click to ’em. It could be a freshman like O’Cyrus, right? I remember I had three O-linemen in college, I was a second-year player, I wasn’t as athletic as some of these guys, but I thought I was smart and tough and knew what to do. It clicked at a different time.

    Might be a deal where we have to get a portal guy or we try to find high school kids with the right character and identify the right guys that have the movement skills that we’re looking for to develop ’em.

    So it’s different every time. And then you got parameters where the transfer portal and you got NIL to where that’s kind of changed it, right? I always kind of go, All right, what’s wrong with this situation? Why is he trying to leave?

    Now you got NIL opportunities for these guys and they’re just all over the place. So you got to kind of figure out that dynamic as well too.

    But it starts with their head coach. And he knows, he’s a closet O-line guy, right? He knows how to identify offensive linemen. We sometimes see different things and we’ll work it out and some things, you know, but he knows what he’s looking for. And he’s done a good job at every place he’s gone, UL and here, identifying offensive linemen.

    So we can’t worry about all the stars and all that stuff. We know what we’re looking for, we know what we’re identifying, and coach ’em up. That’s our job to do, develop ’em and coach ’em.

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