VIDEO: Muschamp tackles LSU game plan

After getting a much-needed bye week, UF coach Will Muschamp offered good news concerning the injuries of Trey Burton, Jelani Jenkins and Jordan Reed.

Muschamp also explained in detail how No. 10 Florida (4-0, 3-0 SEC) will try to stop No. 4 LSU (5-0, 1-0 SEC), led by a four-headed rushing attack and transfer quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

Opening Statement

“Injury report: I expect Trey Burton, Dominic Easley, Jordan Reed all to be back today with us. Jelani Jenkins, we had released that we were trying to get him in non-contact today and tomorrow and hopefully have some contact Wednesday. We’ll know about his game status as the week moves forward. Riggs and Patchan will be out.”

“We had a good off week to prepare for a really good football team in LSU, an outstanding team. The thing that jumps off the film at you every year is the physicality of their football team in all three phases and how they play the game. They have a very deep roster; they’ve won 18 straight regular season games for a reason. They have an outstanding staff and some really good football players.”

“Offensively, they are very physical. You look at the running back position and the depth that they have, they are all outstanding players. They can run it, they change the guys in and out and they don’t have any drop off at all. They’ve recruited really well there. The offensive line is massive; they’re huge, they come off and mash you, they do a nice job in their zone attracts and come down and climbing on the second level. They’re a very physical group, obviously taken the mindset of their head coach. Their receivers are very talented at the position. Mettenberger is guy that has all of the arm talent in the world, he just lacks some experience in the SEC.  You can see the arm talent, and him being able to make all of the throws he needs to make, and he certainly has the ability to do so. They have a very physical offense, they run the ball, play-actions, they spread the field, they give Shepard some plays in space and he does a nice job.”

“Defensively, John Chavis is a guy that I’ve got a lot of respect for as a defensive coordinator. This is probably as good of a front four in college football. You look at the edge pressure they are able to create with four guys rushing; they’re very talented across the board. Inside, they’re a difficult group to block. You’ve got to get the ball out of your hand, but you have to stay multiple in what you do. You can’t get in a one-dimensional game. Very solid at the linebacker position and defensive backs create a lot of plays for them. They’re a fast and physical group on the defensive side of the ball, very much like most LSU defensives are. Specialists are very talented and you see their team’s speed show up across the board in all of their special teams units. We’re looking forward to 3:30 kickoff here in the swamp and we’ve had good prep to this point and we’ll have another good one today.”

On this being the game we find out if the offensive line really is better than the previous year

“I think so, I think that if you go block this [LSU] front, you’ve done something. They’re very good, they’ve recruited well, they’ve got depth, they’re big, fast and physical. There’s no question that when you’re able to put a hat on this group and get some movement and being able to run the ball consistently is going to be key in the game. You can’t get in a one-dimension game against these guys because they’re going to be able to rush the passer off the spot pretty quickly, as far as the QB is concerned. Staying balanced in what you do is going to be very critical.”

On the lift it gives the defense if Jelani Jenkins is ready to go and what he brings to the table

“Experience, playmaker, maturity. LSU, in most situations offensively, is going to give you some things you haven’t been shown before so him being able to adjust some things out that you haven’t prepared for, because you can’t prepare for everything. Certainly his experience and maturity, playmaker abilities and being able to make some defensive calls and calm some guys down in situations of a game like this, there’s no question, it’ll be an added boost.”

On difficulty preparing for Tyrann Mathieu in the past and what his absence does for LSU defense

“I mean you go back and his contribution that that football team in the past few years, he’s been as productive of a player as there is in the country. He was up in New York for the Heisman voting for a reason. So certainly whether it’s in the return game, or playing defensive back, and just having a natural knack for getting the ball off people, whether it’s by stripping the ball or interceptions or whatever it is, he’s a really talented playmaker.”

On UF being able to hit all points of attack in the running game

“I think that Brent and Bryan White and Derek Lewis and Tim Davis do a really good job game planning during the week and making adjustments based on what the opponents give us throughout the game. Whether it’s an inside run, tracks, or outside run, the different variables that we have off of each one complement each other very well. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that our staff does a very good job of preparing our players throughout the week and making adjustments on game day to the different looks the defenses are going to give us and Jeff’s been able to get us in and out of some of the right runs. That’s been, again, something that not as noticed by the normal guy just standing there watching the game, and him being able to check and get us in the right run and then being able to block that and get it communicated.”

On this game being a measuring stick for the team

“I don’t know about that. It counts as one game, doesn’t count as any more than that. They’ve got a good football team and certainly a team that we’re looking forward to playing. We’ve got a great opportunity sitting in front of us in our own stadium at 3:30 and that’s the way I look at it. We don’t put any more hours in this week than we did three weeks ago. I know everybody thinks that we’re going to change everything for one game but we’re not.”

On excitement of seeing the team progress week to week

“Every week I’m excited, regardless of who the opponent is. You always want to see progress in the organization in a positive way and I think we’ve done that for the most part and most situations.”

Where the team is compared to a year ago going into game 5

“I think we’re much better than we were a year ago. We’re much deeper, more mature, more experienced. I think we’re stronger, I think we handle adversity a lot better, which when you play games like this there’s going to be some adversity in the game. I think anybody that was a part of watching us, and being a part of our organization, last year to this year, will notice a night and day difference between our football team. I think we’ve made tremendous improvements in a short period of time. Are we where we want to be? Absolutely not.  I’m not trying to say that we’ve arrived by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think we’ve improved and we’ve addressed the things we need to address.”

What Muschamp was able to do as a recruiter the last 2 years to overcome 2 subpar years on the field

“When you have subpar years, everyone thinks they can come in and start, that helps in recruiting. That’s one thing that sells as an opportunity as part of the reason why a young man might choose a university, is he sees himself having an opportunity to play. I think that was the selling point for a lot of young men and whether I was selling opportunity or not, they thought that they could come in and certainly contribute, as most young men do when they get to a place like Florida. They realize that we still have some good players here, we just needed to sure up in some areas. I think that would be the number one attraction for having some sub-par years and then you look at the tradition at Florida and winning and you look at the academic reputation of getting this diploma, it’s not a state degree, it’s not a regional degree, it’s a national degree. I think all of those things sell itself, but certainly when you struggle a little bit there is the opportunity for a young student athlete coming in.”

On emphasizing Les Miles game plan (fake punts, etc.)

“We don’t emphasize it any more than we do any other week. It’s just all about executing and doing your job, we have people responsible for the punter and the fakes and every different call that we have. It’s just about guys going out and executing.”

On if LSU is drastically different offensively with Mettenberger

“No, I think they still have the downhill running game that they want to have and Les wants to have and it’s very evident on film and the play actions off of it, they’re going to create 6, 8, 10 opportunities down the field, they’re going to max it up, they’re going to take shots down the field and they’re going to win those battles. They’re going to continue to bang you in the running game and over a period of time they want to wear you down. They’re going to get in some one-back situations and have the run pass checks based on the run box, and they are who they are offensively. Obviously with Jordan Jefferson last year they had a little bit of a quarterback run game that they don’t have as much with Zach, which they will still run some speed options and some things. It’s a typical LSU offense since Les has been there.”

On Jeff’s progression and what Muschamp likes about him going into this game

“A lot of guys in his situation want to point at a situation and say that it’s unfair but he decided to work; he decided to go back and work. He had a great offseason, he had a really good spring, he had a great summer, obviously, and he came into summer camp in August and had a great training camp. He’s a guy that took a circumstance and did something about it. So it’s a credit to him and his fortitude and his drive to be the starting quarterback at the University of Florida.”

On how much team grew from LSU game last year and rough October

“I told the guys all along, don’t ever forget the feeling you have right now. As a competitor it ought to motivate you. If you’re truly a competitive guy, it ought to motivate you not to be in that situation again. I know I use it and I think the players, I’ve tried to continually remind them about October, about the 4th quarter about not being outscored, about all of those things, and as a competitor and to be a competitive organization those things I constantly bring up.”

How much Driskel needs to be aware this week due to LSU defense

“I think Jeff needs to be Jeff, we don’t need any superhuman effort out here. We just need to go out and execute and play our game and that’s what we plan on doing. He doesn’t need to do any more than he’s done in the previous four weeks.”

On impact a game like LSU/Florida has on recruiting

“You’d love to coach and play at a place like Florida because of a game like this. It’s a national game, it always is. Two of the most prominent programs in the country over the last few and 10, 12 years, as far as playing in national championships and winning national championships.”

On corrections in the run game defense and offense during the off week

“We worked on it. I think Saturday they’re going to make our secondary block and tackle, there’s no question. In order to split some runs on these guys, you’ve got to block on the perimeter. We worked on both of them, from an offensive and defensive standpoint, in the open week and hopefully we’ll see some positive results on game day.”

On run- game adjustment being drastic due to having not seen a run game like LSU’s

“I do think that it’s a different, more physical run game than we’ve seen, so we certainly will from the standpoint of pad level and striking and playing blocks up front . You’ve got to have good gap integrity in what you do, and keep your head in the gap, and when you’re in pressure situations you have to make sure you have good penetration and have some good gap integrity in what you do.”

On changes during the bye week

“I think we’re going to do what we do, and that’s from an offensive and defensive standpoint. We’re going to game plan the opponent no differently than we would if we just had one week to prepare for them. Sometimes when you get into bowl games and you get into off week you execute and you have too much time to think about different things you want to do and that’s something that you really can’t do. Your guys have to play fast and physical when you play in a game like this. So we won’t do anything extraordinary, I can assure you that.”

On where extra week of preparation pays dividend the most

“We had some guys banged up, I think that’s the number one thing. We were able to get some guys back that if we had played last week would not have been able to play in the game. I think that’s the first thing. We’re able to study ourselves and see what we’re doing well and not doing well and really try to pay more attention to those situations where we think we can take a step forward, and knowing the games we’ve got coming up where we need to play better. I think it was easily identifiable for our plays and us as a staff to see those things.”

On blocking of Gillislee, Joyer, and protection of Driskel

“I think that’s one of the things where Mike’s very attractive as a guy on the next level, because of his protection and because of how intelligent he is in picking up the right blitz, sticking his face in there and being able to block the back or the safety or the corner or whoever the extra guy is they’re bringing and Mike does a great job. Hunter has been fantastic in blocking the two-back power force this year and some of the perimeter blocks. You look at the run against A&M there that Mike scored on, that was a huge block by Hunter so he’s done really a fantastic job and really an unsung hero so to speak in that position. I think both of those guys have blocked extremely well for us.”

On Matt Elam’s performance in the first 4 weeks

“I think from a communication standpoint he’s doing a really good job of communicating things, he and Josh both. A lot of situations, they’ve done a nice job of that. I think he’s a guy that’s made a lot of plays for us. He’s showed up in some big situations and does a lot of things from a communication standpoint. He tackles extremely well, he does some nice things as far as playing the ball downfield, leveraging the football, getting us in and out of the rights checks based on the right formations and set, does a lot of things that maybe go unnoticed but for us are huge.”

Courtesy of UF Communications