An Interview with:
COACH BRENT PEASE
THE MODERATOR: We’re joined by Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease. Coach, just a few thoughts how preparations are going for the game.
COACH PEASE: I want to say we’re excited about being here. Our kids have done a really good job as far as focus, when you come into a situation like this, a big game, you’re here this long; you always are kind of concerned with that. But our kids have been really focused and worked hard and we’re excited about that.
We’ve had four good days of preparation, three in the Dome and one out at the Saints’s facility today. Thankfully it was indoors because it’s probably a little cool outside. Our kids are ready for it.
It’s getting to the point where I think they’re ready to play, and we’re healthy and they’re excited. And we’re ready to go.
THE MODERATOR: Questions?
Q. I was wondering if you could kind of just walk me through Driscoll’s development as a young guy. And do you feel like now coming into this Bowl game that maybe the reins have been loosened, so to speak, or have they been earlier in the season?
COACH PEASE: Absolutely. I think he’s a good kid. He’s a good player. Anytime you take steps every week, and he’s got more knowledgeable, his leadership skills have started to step out. Things get easier.
He understands he anticipates a lot better with what he’s doing. He’s a good athlete. That was from day one, what he had anyway. And now it’s just the development of different aspects of offense, whether we’ve opened it up and letting him throw it a little bit more and throw it downfield or have more checks at the line, those type of things are things we continue to try to growth with as an offense.
Q. With this much time off since the Florida State game, how do you balance sharpening the offense that’s already been in place and innovating and putting in some new things?
COACH PEASE: Well, we look back, and when we were still in Gainesville and tried to do some new things, some things that as we self evaluated ourselves that we could add and other teams that we’ve studied, see what they do, see what would be good for us.
So we played with a lot of stuff there. But once we got into Louisville preparation back in Gainesville, that’s the stuff we started growing in on. Three or four days there, and everything is before we sent them home for Christmas has kind of gone back into the preparation of sharpening everything that we wanted to do.
Q. Could you tell me a little bit about your background with your offensive philosophy. And you’ve been able to really rely on that run game this year and maybe let Driscoll develop.
COACH PEASE: Well, my offensive philosophy has been to, one, you’ve got to run the football. Two, help set up explosive plays to throw the football. And three, it’s all built around shifting motions and tempo to be deceptive and that’s where you can hide your plays, because we’re all going to run the same plays. We’re going to run power, run zone. Other teams are running power and running zone.
I think when you add a quarterback ability to be a runner in the offense, that’s kind of a plus. They’re not hard to find because of what high schools are doing nowadays, but every one of our guys are that type of player on our offense with what we do. That’s kind of grown with what we have the ability to do, in our offense.
And then we’ve always, offense philosophy has always been a focus on good about no turnovers, which we’ve been good on all season, and great quarterback play. And that’s something, even with a young kid, you’ve still got to take from day one where he’s at at the end of the season.
I think he’s gotten better, as both of them have. So that’s been the philosophy offensively for us. But then where we’ve grown with it is just finding out what we’re comfortable with and knowing how our players fit into what we can do and build around our offensive line who is probably the strength of our team initially.
Q. Could you just talk about obviously you’ve got a game in three days, but Jeff moving forward and I mean obviously this was kind of a whirlwind season for him. But moving forward and how eager you are to work with him with more experience?
COACH PEASE: Yeah, I think you always see drastic improvement, when you take a kid that, wherever we end up after this game, and as you go into spring. He’ll know everything we’re doing. You can start to go back and spend some time in the film room where you’re not having to do it out there, talk a little verbally about him, get the mindset that way and more what they’re thinking, and start that development with that process.
And that’s going to be key for him. He starts to study himself, starts to study a lot of things that we’re going to do and go back and try to improve and improvise new things in the offense and make ourselves better.
And it’s not all Jeff. It’s all about everybody in the offense, about the O line. It’s also about the receivers and getting some people around them that he’s consistent with and can continue to stretch the field for the throwing game.
Q. You’ve talked earlier in the year about how Mike Gillislee has reminded you of Doug Martin, I was curious with the Bowl prep how Gillislee’s focus has been and do you still feel that way about him as far as how he’s prepared?
COACH PEASE: I do, and I think Mike’s really focused. He’s a kid that’s I mean studied a lot of football while we’ve been here. I know kids have the opportunity to go do fun things, and some of that I don’t know if he’s been involved in all that.
I mean, he’s really been with the ball, he’s practiced well, and he’s healthy, because the time off, he carried the ball a lot up through the 12 games we had. Now he’s had some time off. He’s fresh. And he understands what we’re doing, where we’re going to fit in with the game plan with it. And he’s dialed in.
Q. Looking at Louisville’s defense, not a whole lot of numbers that just jump off the page. Haven’t got a lot of turnovers this year. Where do they impress you as far as what they can do?
COACH PEASE: I think statistically you look at them, they’re very consistent in what they do in rush defense, pass defense, they’re a consistent defense overall in statistics. I think their kids are very sound. I think you look at them on film and they play with a lot of effort. And the thing they do real well, they’ll keep you off balance with what they do with all their pressures.
Q. Just in terms of the development of the offense this year, came in with a whole new system, having to learn everything. How far have they come and how important were just the last couple of weeks in terms of maybe going back and looking over some stuff?
COACH PEASE: Well, going back over the last few weeks, you know, we really went back to our first they days of install what we had in the spring as well as in the fall. So there’s some things we probably weren’t doing towards the end of the season. We still went back and hit that stuff.
The kids were good about understanding the concepts and what our point of emphasis was with it. So now everything starts to get hit again, gets a little bit repetitive and the more repetitions you have, the better opportunity you have to be successful. So it’s been good that way. And I mean was there another part of your question?
I really think we’ve come a long ways. I think just looking from the beginning, the guys know the management of the system as far as personnel and in and out and everybody getting involved and understanding kind of all the gymnastics that we do with things. I think they’ve done a tremendous job of that. I think they’ve all bought in. Up front. And the guys that maybe we weren’t as consistent all year because we’ve had injuries. So other guys have had to step up. But you got a lot of guys that are playing at that time.
Q. With Gillislee being a senior, still playing some of the younger running backs, Matt and Mack, a little more depending on the flow of the game?
COACH PEASE: Depending on the flow of the game we’d like to. They’ve gotten a lot of reps in the practices that we’ve had, because Mike’s had repetitions all season. He’s still got the reps he needed and we’re trying to keep him fresh.
And they’ve earned some opportunity. And there’s a role for him within it. Now, we got great trust in Mike and if he’s got to be the guy that’s going to be out there we’ll put him out there. But in the same sense I think Matt did some good things in the Florida State game and really towards the end of the season, Mack as well. And I think kids, which you guys know I’m being on, just how they practice and prepare, because to me that’s what’s going to show us as coaches probably how the game’s going to flow. And they’ve done a good job of that.
Q. What has the offense carried forward from the Florida State game in terms of just confidence and prosecution, those kinds of things?
COACH PEASE: Well, we come out and play. I think that guys understand that we went against a very good defense, and we had a very good high point of execution. Took care of the football, did a good job of keeping ourselves on the field in third down situations. That’s what we have to do to be successful in any game, on a big stage against a very good team, that presents issues and situations to us defensively because of the pressure that they use.
So we gotta build on what we did, make sure we’re sound in our schemes, that we can handle the pressures and go out and make plays.
Q. How big was that game for Josh, coming back from the injury, just that kind of thing?
COACH PEASE: I think there was a stage in there he probably got a little dinged up. He was a little sore. Kept fighting through it. I think his confidence continued to build. He did a good job of getting the ball in the players’ hands, throwing the ball and executing it in the running offense. The guys up front took over in the fourth quarter, when we started to lose the momentum a little bit.
So you could see that, and I’ve seen it at times during the whole season. I’ve really seen it in practices here at the Bowl, that if when we do things in practice, we hit plays, the kids confidence grows, they’re a lot looser, having fun. I’ve sensed that with communications with him on the phone between plays. He’s seeing things. He’s a pretty consistent kid. He doesn’t let a lot get to him.
But as a coach, when you’re around him long enough, you get a feel for that stuff and you understand where they’re at emotionally, I think. And I could sense that from him during the game.
Q. As Jeff develops more as a quarterback, do you want to get away from running him more with the read option stuff and let him just really become more of I guess the pocket passer, as you add more running backs to the mix or is that still going to be something really part of the offense?
COACH PEASE: I really think that that’s going to be a part of the offense. I look back through, when I was at Boise State, we played Nevada, they had Colin Kaepernick, that’s part of what they did. He’s very good, see what he does in the pocket, moving the pocket at the next level.
But Jeff’s got the arm. And as far as him being a better pocket passer, you know we’ve got to get some people get better people around him, play the spots, give him more depth that the receivers had, because we had injuries and guys that gotta be more consistent, and he’s gotta get those repetitions.
But I still think that using him like we do is you get a little cautious as a coach. You don’t want him to take unnecessary hits. But he’s big, strong, fast. I think he knows how to protect himself. He knows how to protect himself. He’s athletic enough when he gets out there you can see what he’s done all season.
Q. Can you just talk about what you’ve seen from Jacoby the last couple of weeks, days in terms of his mindset and what you see from him moving forward?
COACH PEASE: He’s taken a lot of reps even when we were back in Gainesville working out. And he’s been good. He’s prepared like he’s going to have an opportunity to play. And there’s no indication that he wouldn’t have that in case something, if something happened, he prepares himself as he’s the guy, he’s good, he’s professional about it.
Q. What were some of the hiccups you encountered putting in your system this year that you think maybe will run a little more smoothly next year once these guys are in year two?
COACH PEASE: Maybe doing a little too much too early with number wise plays and trying to get a lot of guys involved in scaling it back and maybe going with guys that are looking more consistent because of the depth we had in possessions. And probably tried to use too many guys in the long run it will pay off because we’re trying to get some guys some experience, younger kids, some freshmen maybe they weren’t quite as ready putting them on that stage in those situations.
But you look towards the end and now they are. But it’s growing pains. It’s learning curves. It’s maintaining kids’ confidence that they’ve got to go make those plays, and sometimes when they’re put in those as a young player, if you don’t make them, you gotta keep yourself confidence about it. That’s where they built through things with the extra practices and got it done since then.
But I think now you’re kind of getting in, as we look into it for next year, you’ve got experience in those positions. You’ve got guys that are more mature, and they know what the expectations are of making plays.
Q. With your own line, your offensive line, when you look at who is leaving and the younger guys, what you saw during December, juke line coming in, how do you think that line will look in 2013?
COACH PEASE: I think it’s going to look really good. We’ve got some good kids coming in. We’ve got some good kids that were young this year. We even got one or two good kids redshirted that I think will be coming up. I think we’ll have really good depth. And that’s a very they understand how to work together and their role and Coach Davis does with them and kind of develops their chemistry with it. They’ve done a really good job with that. I think they’re excited about because they’ve had good days where they built on things and through the season. There’s things we gotta improve on. By no means we have to improve on our sack ratio, some of that is quarterbacks and catches ball and stuff. But we didn’t reach all our goals this year. We’ve done a pretty good job. But that’s what we’ve gotta do as coaches go back and assess each possession and what our goals were in a lot of areas and say how do we get better.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.
University of Florida – Offensive Players Press Conference
Jeff Driskel, Quarterback, University of Florida
On going into this season not as the projected starter…
“The course of the season is really long so there are always some changes and stuff that you are not expecting but I think we’ve handled the situation well through the whole team and we have handled winning, which is sometimes hard to do. We haven’t slacked off at all during the season and that’s helped us come to where we are now.”
On this season’s success carrying over into next year…
“Right now we are focused on the Sugar Bowl because that’s a huge game and one of the biggest games in the country. But, I am excited for the future and we have a lot of the same guys coming back so we will be a lot more familiar during the offseason. We will be able to work out a little bit more by ourselves instead of having to be coached through everything.”
On his confidence…
“I feel like I have been confident the whole season. There has never been a lack of confidence. I feel like I am a little bit more confident because we beat teams week in and week out and I’ve played well down stretch. I’m excited about playing a good Louisville team in the Sugar Bowl and getting a jump on next season.”
On watching Florida’s 2010 Sugar Bowl victory against Cincinnati…
“I did. That was a big time game for Florida. The whole offense was really clicking. Riley Cooper made a ton of plays that game and they couldn’t really stop him. Hopefully, we can repeat that performance but that’s hard to do. [Tim Tebow] had a huge game and he went out with a bang for sure so hopefully like I said we can put on a show like that.”
On Louisville having over a month to prepare for Florida…
“[Louisville] has had the same amount of time. The defense can change up too so it’s a chess game. Knowing when to put too much in and knowing when to hold back a little bit. We have handled it well. Obviously, we have new stuff, but we are going to stick with the things that work. There is kind of thin line there on what you can do.”
James Wilson, Offensive Lineman, University of Florida
On bowl practices being intense…
“They always are with Coach [Will] Muschamp. We just always go hard. We make sure we give each other our best effort so that we’re prepared for the game.”
On managing his weight this year…
“It was just finding a way to play through things. I got my weight down, got stronger, changed my lifting style – more heavy weights, less reps – and that really helped this season. I made it through my first Spring and my first camp.”
On Florida’s running game…
“We know it starts up front. I feel like with the O-line, we probably do out of every position, we have the most strenuous practices, and it has to be that way. If we’re driving the machine, then the machine doesn’t go. And that’s how it’s been all season. So we know it starts with us, and we just do it for each other.”
Jon Halapio, Offensive Lineman, University of Florida
On not getting the chance to play in the BCS National Championship…
“Obviously, we wanted to be in Miami and everything, but everything happens for a reason. I’m not complaining. I’m still glad that we’re here in a BCS bowl against a good team and it’s televised. What more could you ask for?”
On his visits to the French Quarter…
“It’s crazy down there. Last time I was here it was back in ’09 and I didn’t really go out to see Bourbon Street and the casino and stuff like that, so it was pretty good to see all that.”
On Louisville’s defense…
“They’re very physical up front. I think the two defensive tackles inside are very solid, big, heavy guys. Definitely, I could see them playing on a good, solid SEC defense. We just have to play our game. We can’t really sleep on Louisville just because they’re in the Big East or anything. I think they are a really good defense and it should be a good game.”
On having success running the ball this season…
“That’s what our coach loves about the game and we love about the game. We just love running the ball and when we can spring Gilly [running back Michael Gillislee] out in the power plays or anything like that, it’s going to be a good day.”
Mike Gillislee, Running Back, University of Florida
On the importance of the Senior Bowl invitation…
“It’s a great feeling. It wasn’t something I expected, but I accepted the invitation and it’s an exciting feeling. It’s going to give me a great opportunity to perform for the scouts and coaches that are there.”
On how he remembers his previous Sugar Bowl appearance in 2010…
“I remember getting in with about a minute to go, and I told myself if I get in, it’s to score.”
On the differences between the last Sugar Bowl appearance and this one…
“I’ve been here before so this trip is more about being with the team and having the family getting together at the hotel. We’ve spent most of our time in the hotel room, so we haven’t really gone downtown other than to eat. We’ve spent a lot of time playing cards and video games together as a team.”
On the controversy and transition within the Florida program from the last Sugar Bowl appearance until now…
“There was a lot going on my freshman year with rumors that [former] Coach [Urban] Meyer was leaving and [former Florida quarterback Tim] Tebow leaving, but this year we’ve been a lot more focused. This game will be emotional, but we just want our senior season to end the right way.
On the ability of Louisville’s front seven to defend the run…
“We’re going to focus on our ground attack. Louisville has a great front and I think they’ll do well, so it will be important for us to come out and execute.”
On the opportunity to add to the offensive scheme during bowl practice…
“It gave us an opportunity to polish things up and to make sure all of our guys know their assignments. It’s not really enough time to make a lot of changes though.”
On how he feels physically after this season…
“My body feels great. I give all of the credit to the training staff who got me healthy again. They really helped me to heal my body a lot.”
Frankie Hammond,Wide Receiver, University of Florida
On your old roommate Adrian Bushell who transferred to Louisville…
“He was laid back, talented. With him coming to Florida, he was just a guy trying to find out why he was there in the first place. We can relate, since we are both from South Florida so we bonded pretty quickly.”
On the recent hire of Joker Phillips…
“I think he is a great coach, a great edition to the staff. Knows a lot about the position, he has been around it for years. It’s about picking at his brain since we only have a few days left.”
On playing night games or day games…
“Last year we had a whole bunch of night games, 3:30 or 1 o’clock was working best for us. I would prefer 3:30 because it’s not too early or too late, it’s just at the optimal time of the day when your body is right.”
On the kind of player Mike Gillislee is…
“He never came to practice with a bad attitude, he was always positive, and just really took the most of his opportunities that have come his way.”
On the play calling of Jeff Driskel…
“It’s a great advantage. There’s a lot of trust in the quarterback right now and knowing that he will get us guys in the right situation. When we are all on the same page and we all see it through his eye, then everything starts clicking.”