Grantham 'Whatever we have to do to win the game'

Oct 26, 2021 | 0 comments


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Todd Grantham, Antonio Valentino, and Daquan Newkirk answered questions after practice Monday in the lead-up to Saturday’s rivalry matchup against the top-ranked Georgia Bulldogs.

Here were the top takeaways from today's press conference.

Todd Grantham

  • Grantham was asked about the defense’s problematic performance during the LSU game. He mentioned how the most frustrating part was he felt the unit played well leading into that game. He brought up allowing the lowest number of yards to Alabama in over 30 games and just 211 to Kentucky. They didn’t do a good enough job of adjusting. He emphasized the league’s margin for error.
  • “That's this league. That’s no different than the National Football League. If you're not exact in what you're doing, you're going to have a bad performance. And, with our expectations, the way they were, and the way we'd been playing, it was certainly disappointing.”
  • The Gator defensive coordinator has experienced this rivalry on both sidelines. He talked about how both teams are passionate and they have a challenge in facing the No. 1 team in the nation. But ultimately, you’re playing for a win.
  •  “Whatever we have to do to win the game…if it's playing 80 plays on defense, play 80. If it's playing 40, play 40. If it’s score, it’s score but, we always take the mindset of whatever we have to do to win the game, you win the game. And that's the bottom-line thing.”
  • He also addressed the challenges of the Georgia running game. He mentioned how the running backs are good running at where defenses aren’t, they can get the edge or bounce and can run through tackles to double-digit gains. Not to mention they can take it to the house. And they will have to prepare for two quarterbacks too seeing as either Stetson Bennett or JT Daniels will get the start.

Antonio Valentino

  • He was asked about the defense’s struggles against LSU. The defensive tackle mentioned how it was little things and echoed Grantham’s sentiment on how small the margin for error is. Sometimes guys were out of position a few too many times but there’s 11 guys out on defense. “Just little things, man. Really just little details that coach is always harping on. We just got to execute better.”
  • Valentino also spoke on how he’s not really experienced a true rivalry game since he was in high school in Ohio. The only big rivalry he knew growing up was the Michigan-Ohio State rivalry. But he finally got to get a taste of it when attending the Gator Softball’s Super Regional against Georgia. While it’s great to play in a pro stadium, he thinks the game should be played on-campus. “I wish it was either here or there. And it just rotated like that, because we're both in the East… It's the game to watch, you know? I think it would do a lot for the rivalry if they did away with the neutral site.”
  •  And for him as the three-technique lineman, all he’s done is watch cut-ups of Georgia running the football. His entire focus for the first day of practice this week was on stopping the run.
  • He was also asked about the vocal and critical Gator fans on social media. Valentino recently engaged on Twitter with a fan who voiced his displeasure with Grantham. How people act on social media used to really affect Valentino personally. But he knows how passionate fans are but doesn’t appreciate it. “What do you want me to do? Like, agree with you? ‘Yeah, our coaches are awful.’ No, they're not. I wouldn't come to the University of Florida, if I didn't believe that this defense (was) a good defense.”
  • He also took some time to comment on the mood of the team coming into the game: “One thing I will say is that by no means is this team defeated. We don't have a defeated mindset we don't say ‘Oh it's too late, our season's over blah blah blah.’”

Daquan Newkirk

  • All three guys were asked about the opportunity to play the No. 1 team in the country twice this season. There’s a lot of motivation for this game because it’s a rivalry and the Bulldogs are the nation’s top-ranked team. It’s also his first time in the rivalry but not his first time playing Georgia in a rivalry game. However, he thinks the Cocktail Party is bigger than the Deep South’s Oldest Rivalry because Auburn biggest rival is Alabama. “It’s huge because what team has played the No. 1 team twice in one season this year? No one but us. We’re getting the opportunity. So, we got to seize the moment.”
  • Newkirk was also asked what went wrong in the run defense against LSU: “I wouldn’t say it was lack of focus or missed assignments. They kind of just out-schemed us in a way schematically.”
  • The Bulldogs feature a tough running attack. Here’s what Newkirk said about what the defense has to do to stop it: “We just got to take up all the small creases that they can get and just all the minor details and small errors we could make and just focus on those.”

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WCC: Updates on everything Todd Grantham, Antonio Valentino, and Daquan Newkirk had to say can be seen HERE.


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