Florida Gators Football: DJ Durkin and Kurt Roper Notebook

With four days before the final game of the regular season against Florida State, Florida Gators Defensive Coordinator DJ Durkin and Offensive Coordinator Kurt Roper met with the media Tuesday for their weekly press conference. The Gators look to cap off the final game of the Will Muschamp era with an upset win in Tallahassee.

Here is some of what the coaches had to say:

DJ Durkin

On anything being changed being named interim head coach for Florida’s bowl game:

“Nothing has changed as of right now. It’s business as usual. We’re getting ready to go prepare and to play Florida State. Obviously, at the conclusion of that it will be just finding out where we are going for a bowl game and getting prepared to go do that. We have a great staff of guys that are very professional in what they do and they will continue to do their job. We look forward to an opportunity in a bowl game. I think our guys have earned that and are excited about it.”

Avoiding a Florida State second half comeback:

“Yeah. He said it right there. They have. Obviously, you can’t ever count these guys down and out. They’ve come back from some big deficits and late deficits, so you got to keep playing and executing the game plan. You can’t tighten up as a team, players or coaches. You’ve got to stay loose and keep executing the game plan. Obviously, hopefully we get in that spot and we’re able to do that. And then we go execute it and finish it, because they’ve sure done a good job finishing games throughout the year.”

The importance of having depth going into this year’s contest:

“Last year was some slim pickings. If one guy went down, we had to throw a whole package out that we had because we couldn’t go to it. Anytime you have that ability, and our depth on the back end especially helps us big time, as well as rolling guys up in the front seven. That’s a big thing always, especially playing in these games where you know it’s going to be a draining game, a physical game. You need a bunch of bodies.”

The focus of the team this week:

“Last week was kind of an anomaly. There was a lot of extenuating circumstances going on, probably changed how, what our focus was. We practiced yesterday and the guys were locked in and ready to go. They understand the challenge ahead of them. I anticipate the same thing today. This is one of those games, I know on both sides everyone looks forward to and looks to and I think focus won’t be a problem. It’s controlling your emotions in the game and executing what the game plan is is what’s the biggest key.”

Kurt Roper

The importance of staying aggressive in the second half:

“Well, yeah. I mean obviously, that’s the natural inclination to believe aggressiveness is throwing the football. But even for us, aggressiveness comes on perimeter runs, quarterback runs and different things like that. Trying to get outside of the tackle box, per se. That’s just kind of who’ve we morphed into and who we’ve become this season. And the other day, hey they said, ‘You’re gonna have to throw the football to win the game, and he had to go do it and he did it. So every game is different and you’ve got to be able to adjust, but definitely being able to throw the football helps.”

If it is strange recruiting despite the uncertainty of the program:

“You know, I hadn’t really thought that much about it yet, to be honest with you, in the sense other than, you know, you just keep doing what you’re asked to do and what you’re responsible for doing, and I think everybody really out there really understands the situation and handles it well and that’s our responsibility, you know. Like I’ve said before, I love it here, but who knows? Who knows?”

The connection between Treon Harris and Quinton Dunbar:

“Yeah. I don’t think there’s any doubt. They’re such good friends, you know. So they hang out all the time and they know each other well, so I don’t think there’s any doubt there’s something to it. Where it might be a little too much to say is they haven’t worked together very long at all. When he got here this summer, Q’s working with Jeff when we were doing our 7-on-7s. I think you see it growing all the time, but the fact of familiarity helps.”

Demarcus Robinson comparing to some of the other receivers Roper has coached:

“He – body control. Because his top-end speed is really good, but it’s not the best I’ve ever been around, top-end speed wise. I’m not saying he’s not fast, I’m just saying his most impressive I guess skill is his ability to control his body when he’s off the ground. It’s impressive. I mean he can change directions in the air without having feet on the ground. And he’s got the ability to get off the ground, high. And he has really good hands. He’s our best ball skill guy. Him and Brandon Powell are probably the two best ball skill guys on the team. But he’s talented now, he’s a really, really talented player.”

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Ryan Randall
From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_