“Everybody asks do you get some time off and get away? The answer is I do not want to get away, and I want this to last forever because it is a great place to be in. Coach Belichick, who I am very close with, spoke to the team the other day and he and I were talking. Typically, when coaches get together they start complaining about different issues.”
He looked at me and told me it isn’t bad when the issues are your team was 13-1 and the Patriots almost made the Super Bowl.
The reality is his message to the team and my message is that one is over. Fortunately for everybody there are still remnants of last year. We get to go to The White House on Monday, and there are some neat things coming up for our guys. They have a couple of championship rings still to get. It is all positive, but the reality is we’ve lost some not only really good players, but some great players. There is a difference between good players and the really great ones. We can watch highlight tapes and realize a lot of those guys are gone. The positive is the greatest form of education is to witness.
We are building and we are growing. We are not sitting back trying to figure out how to enjoy this, we are trying to figure out how to build on it. That’s a task completely different than the other one. It is a task you cherish and enjoy.”
On UF quarterbacks
“I’d like two quarterbacks. Dan (Mullen) and I have talked about it. In this conference with the style of offense we play and the styles of defense the quarterback will get hit. We’ve always wanted to play two, but we’ve never had the luxury like we did last year to have a backup with the quality presence that Tim Tebow had. We had three tremendous guys sign. Two are here on campus and you’ll get to watch them in the spring. I’m hoping to play to play two during the season, but they’ve got to earn that. I made the comment before that Tim Tebow would play and how much he would play is dependent on Tim not me. By the time we got to the Tennessee game that fourth down and one wasn’t a hard decision because he earned that right in practice and the weight room and the way he played. The same things go for his counterparts. I think the competition will be fierce. One will redshirt for sure and the other two will play.”
On Tim Tebow
“Tim thought it was his team a year ago and I’m sure he thought it was his team five years ago too. He’s tremendous and accepted his role as time went on last year. On fourth down and one against Tennessee last year in front of 107,000 people that was his team. He and that whole freshman class have really started coming together. We are not together yet. A lot of those guys woke up on third base and didn’t hit the triple. When I say it is his team, he knows exactly what I am talking about. He has to bring those young guys together and it is a lot of work. Tim is as good of leader as I’ve ever been around. He leads by example. That’s the least of our concerns.”
On the cornerback position
“We have three returning guys (Markihe Anderson, Wondy Pierre-Louis and Jacques Rickerson). Of the three, I’d say Markihe and Wondy are a little bit ahead. Jacques had a knee injury that set him back. He will be fine for spring. They scoped him, but it wasn’t a tear. We have Ahmad Black from Lakeland in who we are very impressed with, but he had a severe hamstring pull. We are going to look at Markus Manson and Joe Haden at that position. We are short on numbers there. The next couple of years recruiting or else movement of players will be critical at that spot.”
On the offensive line
“This is the first time in three years that I’m ecstatic about our offensive line. I’m ecstatic about their work ethic, the attitude and the talent level. I think there are some returning guys that are going to have to fight to hang on to their spot and that is when you’ve got a good area on your team. I think our coaches have done a good job bringing an offensive line together. In my opinion, anyone who knows anything about football knows those are the guys you count on. If you are dealing with issues on the offensive line about the love of the game or leadership or lifting weights or watching film you are officially a mess as a football team. The thing is we are not there. There is going to be a lot of competition for playing time this year.”
On the defense front
“It is priority number one and the biggest issue. I’m glad we have a great defensive line coach in Greg Mattison. He develops very good players and we have some development to be done. You look at Terron Sanders, Brandon Antwine, Javier Estopinan and Clint McMillan and then you’ve got Jermaine Cunningham at defensive end. There are some body types there, but not much depth. We had to go out and sign five guys. That’s going to be priority number one for us.”
On the running backs
“I am excited about the guys we have. I don’t know about Bo (Williams) because he hurt his shoulder, but I like him. I’m real excited about the kid from Lakeland (Chris Rainey). He can do a lot of stuff. He can do what Percy Harvin did for us last year and that gives you a little bit of balance. If you ever got a guy at running back watch out. That’s what everyone is dreaming of because our perimeter right now is pretty good.”
On special teams
“We signed Chas Henry. Jonathan Phillips has a lot of talent. It is an area where I really didn’t earn it last year, because up until the championship game our kicker struggled. I thought Eric Wilbur had a fine career here. Chas Henry is projected, but he’s not here are far as our punter. For our field goal kicker we’ve got Joey Ijjas, Jonathan Phillips and a couple of other young guys trying to get that spot. It is wide open and we are going to do a lot of work on that in the spring and then obviously in the fall it will be ridiculous how much time we spend on punting.”
On the coaching staff
“This is three years in a row we’ve had the same coaching staff. When our staff left Utah to come to Florida that was big. Where are you going to go? You better leave here to become a head coach or to some ridiculous pay scale in the NFL. You don’t leave Florida. Charlie Strong and Greg Mattison are a testimony to that. Those guys can all pick up the phone tomorrow and go wherever they want. Steve Addazio has had opportunities and so has Doc Holliday. I’m all for opportunities, but it better be a really good one. I think our administration takes care of them and they are appreciative of them. The head coach is very appreciative of them and what they do. Also, a lot of them are dads. I don’t wake up in Gainesville worrying about some of the things big city people worry about. My kids have a pretty good opportunity to get a good education and grow up and I’m sure the other coaches feel the same way.
Selected quotes courtesy of UF Sports Info.