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Florida Gators Football: DJ
Durkin and Kurt Roper Notebook

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Written by Ryan Randall, October 9, 2014, 0 Comments,
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This week has been anything but normal for the Florida Gators football program, but throughout the week of legal investigations and locker-room scuffles, the coaching staff has emphasized staying focused in preparation for SEC West opponent LSU. The Saturday night matchup will be the 61st meeting between the two schools, the 30th in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Due to a shift in media availability early this week, defensive coordinator DJ Durkin and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the Thursday. Here are some quotes from the two coaches.

DJ Durkin

The team coming off a successful defensive performance against Tenneseee:

“It was good to see a lot of our young guys playing mistake-free football and being on the same page and communicating. Obviously, like anything else, you learn from things. You like to still win and learn, but sometimes when you take a defeat like that you learn some good lessons from it. I feel like our guys did. They knew the urgency they needed to play with. It was just good to go see those guys go out and execute.”

Substitution issues against Tennessee:

“They’re a tempo team, and they went to a personnel group we hadn’t seen. We probably should’ve just stayed with what we had on the field and let them execute and play, in fact they went to it later and we just did stick with what we had and executed well. We got caught in a late sub there and it’s on all of us coaches to get the sub in early when we do it or hold it off. Also our guys being ready on the sideline, and if they’re not in the game, they may be in the game real fast. After that play, we just got out of it and said we’d play through it. They did a good job of it.”

Safety Keanu Neal:

“Keanu, yeah, he has a nose for the football. He’s a very fast person, he’s a very violent person. He likes being around the football. Any time a guy plays as hard as he does and runs that way, he’s going to find himself in good situations where the ball is.”

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III helping Jalen Tabor adjust to the game:

“The best way for a guy to help or be a leader change someone else’s behavior is by example and I think Vernon’s the best example you can have really in terms of a guy that prepares the right way and practices the right way. He handled himself off the field the right way, he’s the full picture. For a guy to sit there and say ‘this is the way you’re supposed to be’. I think it’s rubbing off on all the young guys with the way he handles himself.”

Change in approach in light of this week:

“No, I mean, our preparation is what it is. You know, you kind of get in your game week routine, and that’s, that’s what we do, and I think that helps with whatever positive, negative distractions can possibly be going on. College students have a lot of distractions, you know, and so, when you get into your routine, they know when they come into the building they know what to expect. They know on a Tuesday, we’re doing this, on a Wednesday, what our routine is, what our meetings our like, what our practices are like and that’s, you know, kind of how things work.”

Kurt Roper

Driskel’s confidence this week:

“I have never seen him waver. He’s a guy that has the right look in his eye. He is confident. Obviously it’s a challenge when you don’t have the success in a game or in a couple of games that you want to have. The first thing that you do is you start looking at yourself first, and he’s that kind of guy. No different than me. Coming out of that press box against Tennessee, the first question you ask is, ‘how could I have called a better game? How could I have helped the team better?’ And I think he is that way. But at the same time, he’s a guy that obviously believes in himself and is going to continue to believe in himself and is a talented guy.”

Things a team can do to help a quarterback coming back from unsuccessful play:

“What you try to do is get off to a good start. And I think you saw that a little bit in the last game with some different things with him running the football and some balls on the perimeter — protected screens and things like that. I think that’s really the focus. How do you help him get off to a fast start? And the other guys around him have to do the same thing. It’s no different than the play we had early in the game when we had the chance to go from first-and-10 to second-and-5 and we had a dropped ball. We have to be able to make those plays.”

Skyler Morhinweg and Will Grier being ready to back up Driskel:

“Are they ready to play? Yes. But we’re going to have to be smart with what we call, how we call it, when we call it. Those type things. So, it’s maybe a different package, I should say, than what Jeff carries going into the game.”

Receiving options against LSU:

“Our focus right now on the outside receivers is we’re spending the most time with D-Rob and Q (Quinton Dunbar) and I think you’ll see Ahmad more in this game. You’re going to see a larger role for him. And when I say larger role, I mean you’re going to see him out on the field more. And hopefully that creates some opportunities to make some plays. And then the slot right now, you’ll see Pitt (Latroy Pittman) and CJ Worton going into this game.”

The team’s offensive identity and if they’ve lost it:

“I think right now what we do well is run the ball pretty well. We’re a pretty physical football team. Those guys up front are playing good football. But I think really that’s largely our identity right now with the obvious understanding that we need to be better in the passing game. If we want to be able to put more points on the board, if we want to be able to create more explosive plays and things like that, we’re going to have to help it with the passing game. In the last game, we had six explosive runs. That’s a lot of explosive runs, that’s a good day. And that’s production, but in the end, if you’re going to try to meet your goals, you know, of being a high-output team, you’ve got to be good in the passing game in today’s world.”

Ryan Randall

About 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_

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This week has been anything but normal for the Florida Gators football program, but throughout the week of legal investigations and locker-room scuffles, the coaching staff has emphasized staying focused in preparation for SEC West opponent LSU. The Saturday night matchup will be the 61st meeting between the two schools, the 30th in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Due to a shift in media availability early this week, defensive coordinator DJ Durkin and offensive coordinator Kurt Roper met with the Thursday. Here are some quotes from the two coaches.

DJ Durkin

The team coming off a successful defensive performance against Tenneseee:

“It was good to see a lot of our young guys playing mistake-free football and being on the same page and communicating. Obviously, like anything else, you learn from things. You like to still win and learn, but sometimes when you take a defeat like that you learn some good lessons from it. I feel like our guys did. They knew the urgency they needed to play with. It was just good to go see those guys go out and execute.”

Substitution issues against Tennessee:

“They’re a tempo team, and they went to a personnel group we hadn’t seen. We probably should’ve just stayed with what we had on the field and let them execute and play, in fact they went to it later and we just did stick with what we had and executed well. We got caught in a late sub there and it’s on all of us coaches to get the sub in early when we do it or hold it off. Also our guys being ready on the sideline, and if they’re not in the game, they may be in the game real fast. After that play, we just got out of it and said we’d play through it. They did a good job of it.”

Safety Keanu Neal:

“Keanu, yeah, he has a nose for the football. He’s a very fast person, he’s a very violent person. He likes being around the football. Any time a guy plays as hard as he does and runs that way, he’s going to find himself in good situations where the ball is.”

Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III helping Jalen Tabor adjust to the game:

“The best way for a guy to help or be a leader change someone else’s behavior is by example and I think Vernon’s the best example you can have really in terms of a guy that prepares the right way and practices the right way. He handled himself off the field the right way, he’s the full picture. For a guy to sit there and say ‘this is the way you’re supposed to be’. I think it’s rubbing off on all the young guys with the way he handles himself.”

Change in approach in light of this week:

“No, I mean, our preparation is what it is. You know, you kind of get in your game week routine, and that’s, that’s what we do, and I think that helps with whatever positive, negative distractions can possibly be going on. College students have a lot of distractions, you know, and so, when you get into your routine, they know when they come into the building they know what to expect. They know on a Tuesday, we’re doing this, on a Wednesday, what our routine is, what our meetings our like, what our practices are like and that’s, you know, kind of how things work.”

Kurt Roper

Driskel’s confidence this week:

“I have never seen him waver. He’s a guy that has the right look in his eye. He is confident. Obviously it’s a challenge when you don’t have the success in a game or in a couple of games that you want to have. The first thing that you do is you start looking at yourself first, and he’s that kind of guy. No different than me. Coming out of that press box against Tennessee, the first question you ask is, ‘how could I have called a better game? How could I have helped the team better?’ And I think he is that way. But at the same time, he’s a guy that obviously believes in himself and is going to continue to believe in himself and is a talented guy.”

Things a team can do to help a quarterback coming back from unsuccessful play:

“What you try to do is get off to a good start. And I think you saw that a little bit in the last game with some different things with him running the football and some balls on the perimeter — protected screens and things like that. I think that’s really the focus. How do you help him get off to a fast start? And the other guys around him have to do the same thing. It’s no different than the play we had early in the game when we had the chance to go from first-and-10 to second-and-5 and we had a dropped ball. We have to be able to make those plays.”

Skyler Morhinweg and Will Grier being ready to back up Driskel:

“Are they ready to play? Yes. But we’re going to have to be smart with what we call, how we call it, when we call it. Those type things. So, it’s maybe a different package, I should say, than what Jeff carries going into the game.”

Receiving options against LSU:

“Our focus right now on the outside receivers is we’re spending the most time with D-Rob and Q (Quinton Dunbar) and I think you’ll see Ahmad more in this game. You’re going to see a larger role for him. And when I say larger role, I mean you’re going to see him out on the field more. And hopefully that creates some opportunities to make some plays. And then the slot right now, you’ll see Pitt (Latroy Pittman) and CJ Worton going into this game.”

The team’s offensive identity and if they’ve lost it:

“I think right now what we do well is run the ball pretty well. We’re a pretty physical football team. Those guys up front are playing good football. But I think really that’s largely our identity right now with the obvious understanding that we need to be better in the passing game. If we want to be able to put more points on the board, if we want to be able to create more explosive plays and things like that, we’re going to have to help it with the passing game. In the last game, we had six explosive runs. That’s a lot of explosive runs, that’s a good day. And that’s production, but in the end, if you’re going to try to meet your goals, you know, of being a high-output team, you’ve got to be good in the passing game in today’s world.”

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