Coach Meyer: Our goal was to play great defense and I think we did statistically, not fundamentally. Statistically, we gave up 204 yards and a key stat was third downs, we held them two for 13 and we held them to 48 yards rushing and only 12 first downs. It was hard to believe that in the first game of the season there were no turnovers on either side of the ball and obviously we tried to secure turnovers and did not.
We had twice the ball was on the ground and we recovered it so that is a concern that we adjust today. Guys that have those issues will not be touching the ball for much longer. In red zone production we were five for five with five touchdowns. I thought our kicking game was very good for the first time out with all of those young players playing. We had a bunch of true freshman starting on those phases. We had eight of ten goals reached. Two times we gave the ball to the offense on a plus 50, which resulted in two touchdowns and we pinned one kickoff inside of the ten and two punts inside of the 20. Time of possession was a non-factor and we did a nice job in our field possession average.
The one thing that happens when you lead the nation in rushing defense and you play with the seniors that we had last year is that there is a certain standard that we are not going to change. The young players have to live up to that standard and they did not do that. Derrick Harvey did though and he was the defensive player of the game with two sacks, three assists and a forced fumble. On offense we were a little better-still have a long way to go. It was good to see Drew Miller come out and play the way that he did in a new position. He is the apex of the offense and the guy who makes all the calls. I thought our tempo was about an eight out of a ten. Steve Rissler did a really good job for us last year and that guy sets the tempo of the game and sets the huddle and we made a big deal out of that. Jim Tartt is 100 percent healthy for the first time at Florida. His shoulders are fine and he is playing very well for us. David Nelson only played 13 plays but he graded out a champion. Tim Tebow was 13 of 17 and he graded a champion. Our player of the game was Bubba Caldwell who has improved his whole game. He also won the four to six second award as well. Our punter (Chas Henry) has a great leg and is a great kid so he is going to have a great future at Florida.
On Brandon Spikes
He was good, not great. Once again, he did not set the standard of middle linebacker at the University of Florida; it was set a long time before him. Drew Miller is the apex of the offense and obviously the middle linebacker sets the tone for the defense. I was pleased with Brandon for his first time out.
On the defensive line
Javier Estopinan is not playing as well as he did last year before he was injured and we have addressed that. He is not happy with the way he is playing and he just has to play better. Clint McMillan gives you everything that he has got, but he has to clean up a little bit. We are going to start moving some guys around in there. Lawrence Marsh is a guy that will have an opportunity to play. Torrey Davis has earned a little bit more time. He is as talented a defensive lineman as we have, but he just doesn’t know how to get the switch on all of the time.
On playing the first game
Especially with a young team, this was the first opportunity they had to play in a live situation. I always make a big deal about our Orange and Blue game because guys like Cam Newton got a little bit of his jitters out there. We have an advantage because we were plus one where we get to see how some of the young guys can play. We had 14 true freshman play in this game and of those 14 I am not sure how many played in the Orange and Blue game so that was their first live experience in their home stadium. You can say that jitters aren’t involved, but they are. I have seen it for 20 years now. The video technology and the chance for coaches to get one under their belt is why coaches usually say that you see the biggest improvement between first and second games. Everyone is settled down now and they know their routine. They stayed in the hotel, got on the bus, did the Gator Walk, put on a shirt and tie, those are now routines.
On playing a younger player over an older one
I know a lot of staffs have pulled that trigger really quick. We don’t do that here, especially if he’s and invested player. There are certain guys when we got here that we pulled that trigger because we didn’t feel like they were invested. Ultimately, our job is to win games. We’re going to give a guy every opportunity to be successful. We have a saying that we’d rather you play later than too early. We’d rather them get settled in, because once you lose your confidence as an athlete it is hard to get back. I’ve seen it take years.”
On Jarred Fayson
I thought he was a little tentative on punt returns as well as running the ball. He’ll get better and that that’s the first time he’s been in that situation. He’s a fine athlete and we’re going to find ways to get him the ball. We wanted to get him more involved, but the fact that the game was out of hand makes you think what if someone grabs an ankle right now.
On Riley Cooper’s performance
It was a mismatch. He has blazing speed. He ran as fast as he could and we threw him the ball for a touchdown. The thing I was impressed most about with Riley was his down field blocking.”
On Maurkice Pouncey
He was very close to grading out a champion. For his first time out there facing a defense running a 3-4 scheme he did fairly well. Schematically that was a hard one to prepare for. Western Kentucky had 60 plus blitzes and that’s hard for a young player. He’s one of the best freshmen I’ve ever seen on the offensive line.
Quotes courtesy of UF Sports Info.