December 29, 2012 – An Interview With: COACH DAN QUINN
(players quotes follow Coach Quinn’s quotes)
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Defensive Coordinator Dan Quinn from the University of Florida. Coach, an opening statement.
COACH QUINN: Glad to be here with you guys today. The preparation began back in Gainesville, and the way we started our Bowl preparation, we really made a focus on Florida and how we were going to work against each other, it was offensively against defensively, in terms of working your skills really hard.
I thought that was an important part for us. There was good competition, both at the line of scrimmage, across the whole way. We had situation periods, third down, red zone, goal line. We went through the whole gamut.
We had a chance to help, in that time even develop some of the younger players who may have not had the opportunity to get as much work during the regular season.
So it was good to get a chance to see some glimpses of who might be somebody that’s really improved during that process.
After that five or six practice period, then we really changed our focus into the Bowl opponent obviously being Louisville. And that’s really when we saw really talented offense in terms of what they do and how they play. We did that in terms of game plan and preparation back in Gainesville.
As we came here into town, we started the process again and treated it like another game week. For us the preparation has been good. There have been physical practices in the Dome starting off the week.
The attitude has been outstanding in terms of the players and the attention to detail we’ve had to have. So couldn’t be more thrilled with the preparation. I thought the guys have handled it in the right way and can’t wait to get to the game.
Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH QUINN: The question was regarding Matt Elam and the develop of him. I suppose I had somewhat of an advantage when I first came here. I had the opportunity to coach Matt’s brother Abe for a couple of years. So maybe we had a little bit of connection prior to me getting here.
When we first came in playing nickel and safety, here’s a guy who could play two spots. We thought that would be something, if a guy could do that as a young player, that would really add value to him and what he could do to our team.
The biggest transformation to me that I’ve seen from my first year of coaching Matt to now is how physical he is. And I think that really has to stem from the time and effort that he spent in the weight room changing. He’s getting stronger.
We play him at the line of scrimmage a lot, whether it’s at safety or nickel. And I think he can blitz. He can cover. But to me the physical style he plays with Pat is one of the things that really jumps out on your team. He can blitz. He can cover.
But just the physical nature that a guy can bring to your club really is a huge advantage. And luckily for us we have a couple of guys who bring that style to our defense.
And Matt being one of them on the back end I really feel like Dominique Easley as an inside player has that same aggressive mindset that those two kind of feed off of each other. That’s one thing that really stands out to me.
We like to play a lot of press, like you said, outside. And some of it man to man and some of it zone. We like to play corners who have what we call length. Sometimes length doesn’t mean a guy who is 6’2″. It just means that you have the arm length to go and defeat plays.
And so if you’re playing tight coverage or we call it deny the ball coverage and the guy’s in tight, now you can get your hand in to defend the ball, that’s the style that we like to play.
So we do like to play aggressive and get our hands on people. That’s how we like playing our way and fortunately for us we have some guys that can do that. Roberson and Purifoy and Watkins and Poole who plays strong at the line.
Those guys, when they play outside, that’s the style we like. And certainly the matchup with Louisville, taller, bigger guys you like to have people with length.
You have to go and play with what skill set you have. Luckily for us the guys who played the majority of snaps outside for us have length to them and we certainly like playing in that style.
Q. Since Senorise Perry, their running back, got injured against Syracuse, they haven’t had a 100yard game rushing since then. I was wondering what were your observations in terms of any differences you saw in the running game before now?
COACH QUINN: The one thing, see sometimes they’ll use back sets where they’re playing two halfbacks together, one halfback together. I think the thing that jumps out in their run game is their ability to get the ball outside, what we would call as a stretch run or perimeter run. I thought the backs they have really know how to get the edge. I think it showed up on tape when you talked about the number of runs over 15 and 20 yards, the majority came as a bounce out or cutback type of run.
And for us, that was the one thing we jumped on, when we watched their run game, was their ability to get the edge and run.
Q. Why do you think you guys have been so sound against good quarterbacks? And what kind of a challenge does Bridgewater pose for you?
COACH QUINN: I think, number one, against mobile quarterbacks, you gotta have some discipline in the way you rush. Usually when you look at a mobile quarterback, is he a guy who likes to scramble to run it, or is he a guy that likes to scramble to stay alive as a passer?
In that way you have to say, okay, when we’re playing this guy we’ve got to make sure he can’t get outside and create by the way he goes.
So for us whether it’s a pressure you have to have a certain design you have to play it or just in the way you fourman rush, that would be important for us.
I think one of the things you do early on in the week is not only look at the scheme of what the other club is doing, but the style of player. Like CL said is there a runner who can get outside, is it a quarterback that can run and throw it on the move?
Those are the things that you first look out. And we first present to our team, we talk about the players first. Here’s a look at Bridgewater. Here’s a look at the runner. Here’s a look at the tight end. Here’s a look at the receiver, to get a sense this guy’s a talented guy. The first things we see on tape we try to show the players this is the style of player you’re going against.
This is where he likes to go as a scramble quarterback. Longwinded answer, but I think number one you have to have discipline in the way you rush a mobile quarterback and certain ways in terms of coverage or man to man or zone, that factors in as well.
Q. Can you talk a little bit about the middle linebacker position for you guys going forward without Jon next year?
COACH QUINN: Sure. Jon Bostic has been a terrific player for us this year inside. He plays in all of our packages. He plays Mike. He’s our signal caller. He makes a lot of adjustments.
The thing that most impressed me coming in here, Jon’s a very mature guy and has what we call in the coaching world very good football intelligence. He’s a smart guy but not all smart guys are able to carry it over on to the grass and do that.
For him, the football intelligence will come with questions: Coach, on this set do we still want to play that way or go here? Those are kind of the like advanced level thinking that he has. I think he’s a good blitzer. And one of the things, going into Jon’s senior year, we challenged him on how physical can you play at inside linebacker. And I think he’s really answered the challenge in that way.
So for us he’s stepped up and played exactly in the style and fashion you’d want your inside linebacker to play in. As you know, we play like in a multiple front defense. We play 34 some, 43 some. You have to be a bright guy to do that. I’ve been very impressed by the way he’s handled himself this year and the leadership he gives us out on the field.
And moving forward, with some of the injuries that we’ve had this year with Jenkins had stepped down, we’ve had some guys step in, and Morrison is one that’s really caught my attention. He’s a physical guy who came in as a true freshman enrolled early was able to fast and get the system down. And he’s one that had to step up for us.
And as early on as our second ballgame I think is when he might have heard his thumb, to step in that environment, second game as a true freshman to take the load, I thought was good.
The future’s bright how he goes. And Mike Taylor is somebody we totally count on, another guy with really good football instincts.
At our outside linebacker spot, Neiron Ball is someone that’s improving, missed a whole year last year, but he has speed and length to play outside linebacker. So I feel those three guys moving forward, and Jelani coming back would be the four guys.
Q. This is the last game for a lot of these guys, seniors and juniors, maybe a little bit different than last year, too. Are there emotions in a game like this, does it factor in at all?
COACH QUINN: I think so. At the end you went through the process a few times. For the seniors, really good senior class, showing good leadership and good togetherness. And I think this team has good morale about it. They like practicing, playing with each other, being around each other.
There’s that common camaraderie that good teams have it. They have it. Not every team is exactly the same from year to year. So for the seniors and those guys who possibly may be moving on, what a terrific group. So we went through, hey, this is your last game in the swamp, which is a big deal for those guys who have invested so much time and we kind of went through that again at Florida State for our last regular season game together. And I’m sure there will be a little bit of that.
At this time we haven’t really talked as much about that just on the opponent and doing everything we need to do here. So I would say probably not as much as maybe the other two in terms of the regular season. This is more just about the opponent and that kind of stuff.
Q. I don’t know, I imagine you didn’t have a game like this at Salisbury Statue, but I’m wondering if this is fun for you, this type of Bowl atmosphere and environment?
COACH QUINN: It is a blast. I didn’t know what it was about. Because I had never coached where we had a big Bowl game that kind of stuff. Coached in 1AA, and I played in Division III. For me last year going through it at the Gator Bowl, that was my first Bowl experience. I didn’t know how important that Bowl time was to develop some of the younger players.
Will and I had talked about it, who really made jumps last year like Loucheiz Purifoy, played some as a true freshman. But during the Bowl season, it was like he got it. It’s nice to see the guys make that connection this year. I saw the importance of the Bowl game in terms of the developing maybe the guys who hadn’t played quite as much, and then just being together with your team and that kind of stuff and doing everything together, that’s enjoyable, too.
For coaches we have a good staff of guys that we generally enjoy being around each other and working together. In this profession it’s hard as a coach. And in terms of the ups and downs, when you have a good staff and good group of guys and you like doing it together, it’s so rewarding. You get to enjoy and spend time with the guys you like being around.
So it’s been a terrific experience. And the people here have been outstanding. So it really is something that there’s been a lot of things but this is certainly one that I’ve enjoyed a great amount.
Q. When you were talking about 2013, you mentioned Jelani. Are you planning on having him back or has he told you he’ll be back?
COACH QUINN: I hope so. We haven’t gone we’ll kind of visit those guys after the ballgame in terms of who will go, who won’t. He’s certainly somebody that will be eligible to. But to the guys’ credit, they’ve done a good job staying locked in on the ballgame. There hasn’t been a lot of talk, certainly not with me, where or what or when or how.
So that way we’re going to do all the stuff and get into the game and anybody that needs to address that kind of stuff we’re going to address it after the ballgame.
Q. Looking at your defense, if you’re missing anything it might be that dynamic pass rusher that you see in South Carolina or LSU or Georgia. Do you see maybe that materializing out of that group of Bullard, Fowler and maybe Powell coming back healthy next year?
COACH QUINN: Yes. I think Powell will definitely be one talked about in that category. His first year playing last year, some games up, some games not quite as much. In the spring it was kind of like the analogy I used with Purifoy where he got it.
I wish I could have shown you that, where the amount that he improved over a spring practice, ffhm, where as now he was another guy trying to make another big step. Some of the guys this year, from a year’s difference from their first year starting to a second year guy like Sharrif Floyd, big step, from year one, year two, in terms of from fulltime starter for one year and Easley is one and Bostic, although he started a lot more, really improved. And I saw Powell in that same light, he would be another one to jump up and improve.
And sometimes you could talk about, well, who do you add to make your team improve? You have to count on in college football one of the cool things is how some of the players develop. It’s one thing from me coaching I do enjoy in coaching college you can see the improvement happen so quickly, and so for some of those guys that kind of improvement, it happens so fast that you get fired up about it.
So I feel like Bullard, Fowler, Powell, and Easley are ones that like you said our pass rush has to improve in that way, in our fourman rush.
Q. Could you expand a little bit more on Floyd and that role. I think the obvious thing when you’re facing a quarterback like this is to look at the outside and the pressure that’s going to come outside. If you could talk a little bit about what you expect from Floyd inside specifically and kind of what he brings to the table in this rapid development you’re talking about?
COACH QUINN: Sure. Sharrif Floyd he played mostly D end for us last year. And we played probably less guys in terms of our defensive line last year. So we played around seven guys. He was someone that played end and a little bit of tackle. And then we made the move to bring him inside and we added some depth to our team.
So the one thing that he can provide, he’s got good initial quickness for a big guy. 300, 305 pounds but he does have good initial quickness, real power in his lower body. Sometimes a guy may have good initial quickness but will rise up and you can use his hands where this guy can really use his power to push the pocket as a quarterback, affect it that way.
He doesn’t affect the quarterback in the terms of numbers of sacks that he has but he does affect the quarterback in the way he can push the pocket and maybe get the quarterback off the spot so we can get the hit or affect the guy in that way.
We totally count on him in all of our packages to be a real force in terms of affecting the quarterback. And with us playing Louisville, their quarterback is as accurate as there is. We know the importance of getting the guy off the spot and getting hits to him and affecting him. That’s something we totally believe in defensively and how important it is moving forward.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
University of Florida – Defensive Press Conference – December 29, 2012
Omar Hunter, Defensive Lineman, University of Florida
On this game being a statement game…
“Any bowl game that you play in is a statement game for your program, especially with us being in a BCS game. It’s a big game for our program. We haven’t been in a BCS game in a while, but anytime you can get a win in a bowl game, especially [it’s a statement win].”
On Florida’s improvement as a program…
“When you’re young and coming in, all you know is winning because that’s what we did when I was younger. It didn’t go that way the next few years after that, and we were down a little bit. But Coach [Will] Muschamp got in here with his new staff and things really turned around. I’m glad I was a part of that.”
On coming close against LSU last year and improving in the offseason..
“It was very frustrating. I think the team wasn’t together. We’re playing in the big league and not as a unit, and we weren’t very tough last year, mentally or physically. Going into this offseason, I felt like with Coach [Jeff] Dillman coming in we made a big transition off the field just getting tougher, mentally and physically. Coach Muschamp kept pushing into us every day in practice, ‘You have to get more physical, you have to be tougher.’ The guys really bought into that.”
On losing to Georgia earlier in the season…
“It was a tough game, losing to a rival, and it being in the SEC and losing. It cost us in going to the SEC Championship, but it was a learning experience for a lot of the young guys on this team. For a lot of older guys like myself, going forward, it lets you know that you can’t get down. You have bigger things ahead of you. Luckily, we were able to get back on track and make it to a BCS game.”
Matt Elam, Defensive Back, University of Florida
On the defining moment of the defense this year…
“Maybe the LSU game. That strip was a big pay. That saved the game. That probably was the biggest play of the year.”
On the defense having success against good quarterbacks this season…
“Our D-line is so good. Our depth at D-line. I mean, everybody can come in and make plays. So, I think it starts with our D-line and our linebackers put pressure on the quarterback. So, it starts up front.”
On facing Louisville and a team that likes to air the ball out…
“I mean, playing against a good quarterback like Teddy [Bridgewater] makes you lock in a little more and makes you focus a little more.”
On what stands out about Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater…
“His ability to throw the ball and move around and throw the ball. He’s a great thrower, so it should be exciting.”
On the biggest benefit from the hire of head coach Will Muschamp…
“His knowledge and things like that. I learned a lot of new things from Muschamp, things I didn’t know and things I never thought I knew. So, Muschamp came in and it was big.”
Josh Evans, Defensive Back, University of Florida
On if he sees himself as an improved player…
“Yes, I do. I see myself as one of the players who took what I did last year into consideration and became better and just work on my craft a little more.”
On the key to success on third-down defense…
“Communication. That was something we lacked last year and learning to anticipate certain calls. We can’t get locked into a certain call and not be ready for certain tricks and formations and that’s what we’ve been improving on this year. We’ve gotten faster, quicker, and we can move that linebacker outside or tell the corner he’s in man or zone and things like that.
On the team’s confidence entering this season…
“I think we’re always pretty confident. We have always had the talent. We were adjusting to a new coaching staff and adapting to a new defense. That was the biggest thing. We have a lot of players that are maturing a lot and have grown up in this program.”
On the success of Florida’s defense…
“You have to first look at the coaching staff. We have guys like Coach [Will] Muschamp and a great defensive staff and our players take in their advice and it helps a lot. They are there to help you and you have to take it all in and trust them to put you in a position to play your best.”
Jonathan Bostic, Linebacker, University of Florida
On Teddy Bridgewater and how you will slow him down…
“We are going to play him like any other quarterback, just try and keep him contained. He does a lot of things well and just makes sure we play the passing lanes tight. He does a lot with his feet even with his hurt ankle so keeping him contained is one of our main goals.”
On the mobility of Teddy Bridgewater even with his injury…
“Even with the injury he is still moving around pretty well.”
On how the defense can contain a mobile quarterback like Bridgewater…
“Just coming together and making sure everyone is on the same page, that’s how you stop mobile quarterback. Everyone has to stay in their passing lanes. If someone jumps out that’s when the quarterback steps up.”
On playing in high school with Matt Elam…
“It’s really about taking charge of the secondary. His defense really gets everyone going and I try to do same thing with the front seven. He’s one of those guys that can play all over the field. He played free safety and strong safety. We mess with him and tell him he can play linebacker as well.”
On the heart and emotional leader of the defense…
“Me playing linebacker really holds down the defense, but it’s really everyone helping each other out. We help the secondary out and get in the passing lanes. Our whole defense really ties together”
On the defining moment from the defense (referring to the LSU game)…
“Right after they showed that the ball did come out and they said it was our ball. That might be the play.”
Sharrif Floyd, Defensive Lineman, University of Florida
On if he is declaring for the NFL draft…
“My coaches and I decided that we are going to sit down after the season and after the bowl game and talk about that.”
On the team coming together over the past three seasons…
“We came a long way even just inside of our program learning to believe and trust in each other and talk to each other. Not just with the good things but with the bad things as well. We did a great job of just coming together and taking care of each other’s problems instead of putting it on the coaches.”
On containing Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater…
“We are following the game plan of what our coaches put down. There is no rhyme or rhythm to it. [Bridgewater] is just another guy. He is not his whole team. He needs his o-line. He needs his receivers. So we will use our game plan and do what we need to do.”
On the defense taking pride in containing opposing quarterbacks…
“We have a lot of players on our team that can go and get sacks but at the end of the day, it’s not about stats. It’s about what do we need at this point and time. Do we need to contain the quarterback and keep him in the pocket and let our DBs play? Do we need to rush him out the pocket and still let our DBs play? At the end of the day, it’s what does our team need not do what do I need type of thing. It’s a team effort.”
On comparing Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater to other quarterbacks Florida has faced this season…
“If I had to compare [Bridgewater] to somebody I would say [Johnny] Manziel from Texas A&M just because of the illusiveness, running and pass threat. [Bridgewater] has a lot he can do so we are going to have to keep our cleats tight.”