9/21: Will Muschamp’s SEC teleconference

By Adam Silverstein
September 21, 2011

Updated at 1:00 p.m.

With the Florida Gators just days away from their fourth game of the season under head coach Will Muschamp on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. against the Kentucky Wildcats, he spoke with the media during the Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference to provide some insight about where his team is at going into into week three action.


If you follow OGGOA on Twitter (and you should), then you may have seen a retweet we sent out Tuesday evening from a Kentucky sportswriter who believes Florida is skirting the rules on punt blocks. This was triggered by something Kentucky Wildcats head coach Joker Phillips said during a press conference on Tuesday about the Gators’ punt block team: “They’ve got big guys pulling this guy that way, and this guy that way and a little fast guy with world-class speed comes up the middle to block it. And you can’t get off the block,” he said. “We’ve got to punch them in the mouth when they try to grab you and get their hands off of you and come off and block the little guy that tries to split the gap.”

Asked about the play Tuesday, Muschamp responded with one of his (now standard) quips. “We just play hard. We play hard and coach hard,” he said. “I’m real pleased with what we do. They didn’t throw any flags on that play, did they? OK. We just ran a guy through a gap.”

Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley, whose team was victimized by the punt block on Saturday, brushed off the question, too. “If we do our job, we’re not even having this discussion,” he said.

Muschamp also expanded on why Florida has been so successful blocking punts over the last few years. “We have good players – that’s the first thing that jumps out at you. We’ve got some guys that got some special ability. There’s been a huge emphasis on special teams, obviously when Urban [Meyer] was here, and I’ve carried that over. Special teams are very important to me,” he said.

“I always talk to the players in terms of, if you want the opportunity to play in the National Football League, the old Bill Parcells line, ‘If you’re not a quarterback or an offensive lineman and you don’t play special teams, you’re a selfish football player.’ I live by that. Our guys understand our best payers will play on special teams – you look at what Chris Rainey and a lot of our starters do – we have good players.

“Second thing is we have good speed. You create space plays in special teams, you got to have guys who can run. And then the third thing, I think D.J. Durkin – our special teams coordinator – does an outstanding job. He puts his guys in the right spots, he does a great job with scheming guys to get good players free in certain situations whether it’s the returning game or specialist or whatever. He takes a combination of all those things, that’s why we are where we are.”

He even discussed how the Gators blocking a punt can significantly affect the outcome of that particular game. “The percentages of winning the game go through the roof. It’s such a deflating thing for the punt team,” he said. “I don’t think off the top of my head I’ve won many games if we’ve had a punt blocked. It’s hard to do. The change in momentum, obviously you can easily score off of it either by the scoop or the next offensive possession. The momentum of the game certainly can slip pretty quickly.”

Asked to clarify his comments at the end of the SEC teleconference on Wednesday, Phillips said he was not trying to insinuate that anything Florida was doing was against the rules. “There’s nothing illegal with that. Nothing,” he said. “Everybody does it. We try to do it also. There’s nothing illegal about it. I wasn’t saying there was anything illegal about it. I was saying they do a great job of it.”

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of this post.]» Muschamp said redshirt sophomore tight end Jordan Reed has a “lower body” injury that is not specifically a hamstring problem. It is the same injury that kept him out last week, but the team has an outside chance of seeing him return to the field. “We still got a shot. He’s been moving around a little bit. He’s a little gimpy here and there, but who knows, we got a lot of time until Saturday,” he said.

» Opening statement: “[I’m] very pleased to be 3-0 with a good conference win over Tennessee. Heading to Lexington this weekend is our first road game. We got 16 guys in our two-deep who have not been on the road yet or got on a plane. It’ll be interesting there. Kentucky is playing very well defensively; they’re giving up 13 points a game and leading the SEC in kickoff coverage and punting. They’re playing well so we’ve got our work cut out for us, especially with the newness of what we’re trying to do.”

» On linebackers junior Jon Bostic and redshirt sophomore Jelani Jenkins being so in sync: “Over a period of time as far as practice is concerned, they’ve played together last year, first of all. Number two, they’re very close off the field. Generally in my experience in coaching, guys that are close on and off the field generally have a bond. […] As much as anything, they’re both highly intelligent young men, very driven. They’re good football players and very productive for us. Those guys have a good bond of the field and they see things the same on the field.”

» On if redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey is doing well off the field, too: “I can only judge from the time I’ve been here. He’s done everything we’ve asked and then some as far as being accountable on and off the field as a football player, a member of our football team and this university. He’s a guy that is early in the meetings, works extremely hard as far as workouts are concerned and practiced, [and] does everything that’s asked of him academically. He’s been a great example for the rest of our football team.”

» On if Rainey should be in the race for the Heisman Trophy: “I think you look at the first three ball games and his production and what he’s done for our football team – running, catching and all the special teams [like] the return and blocking kicks – you’re talking about value to a football team. It’s a long season. We need to continue to play consistently well at his position and what he’s doing for our team. There’s nothing that tells me he won’t from the standpoint of how he’s working in practice and how he’s approaching the game.”

» On the Gators’ depth at running back: “We’ve really consistently played that group of guys [Rainey, Jeff Demps, Mike Gillislee, Trey Burton and Hunter Joyer] and have been very productive at the position. A lot of that credit should go to Charlie [Weis]. Here’s a guy that’s identified, ‘OK these guys are playmakers. These guys can do good things for us. Let’s narrow their role down based on what they can do and their skill set.’ I think he’s done a really good job of identifying what they do well.”[/EXPAND]


  1. tank says:

    Just checking out the stats, noticed that Omar Hunter hasn’t recorded a tackle this year. Is he seeing significantly less playing time?

  2. Wes says:

    I will never tire of hearing comments about Rainey stepping up off the field since the issues he went through last year. He’s always been a great kid but I think he’s just about turned the “kid” tag into “man” these days. Polk County represent!

  3. Mike says:

    Adam – What is your take on the RBs?
    1. Can Rainey stand up to the punishment he is getting?
    2. Is Demps 100% right now?
    3. Why hasn’t Gillislee gotten in the rotation earlier in games?
    4. Where (besides special teams) is Mack Brown?
    5. Should we expect Burton and Joyer to get more touches around the goal line?

    • 1. I don’t think he’s taking too much punishment hit-wise, but he definitely got gassed last game. He can stand up to it though, yes, the team just has to be smart.
      2. Not sure, but he’s close. The dip in production is related more to Rainey’s emergence than anything else. Demps is not as versatile, it appears.
      3. That’s a question I’ve been asking for a while. I think it’s because Rainey/Demps are the speed guys and Burton/Joyer are the power guys, so that doesn’t leave much for Gillislee except as a reserve. You’ll see him this weekend.
      4. Nowhere. Still young and plenty of guys in front of him. Don’t forget, he’s a redshirt freshman.
      5. They should, at least in my opinion. Within the five I ALWAYS believe in running it four-straight times up the middle. If you can’t get five yards on four carries, you don’t deserve the TD.

      • Joe says:

        AS, I think #5 is absolutely critical to our success through the upcoming SEC schedule. Bring the FB dive with Joyer and let the boy hit the gap full speed. No way he gets stalled at the line at 260lbs+.

        We definitely need to start getting these tough yards against Kentucky and take that into our match-ups with AL and LSU if we plan on improving our red zone %.

        • ziggy says:

          Amen to that. That’s what I’ve been saying the whole time. Joyer is heavy and strong enough to pound out those tough yards.

      • SC Gator says:

        I’m sitting here applauding your answer on number 5. I’m not opposed to doing something else exactly – I have many fond memories of the jump pass to the TE for example – but at the end of the day when you need that score you should be able to pound it right up for the TD. If you can’t and it cost you the game then you didn’t deserve to win it.

      • SaraGator says:

        2. Is it possible Demps isn’t as productive because he missed spring camp?

  4. jay d says:

    Demps is our #1 outside run threat…rainey is our new percy..the x-factor…if demps can stay healtthy…he will shyne just as bright as rainey by seasons end..

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