Pouncey Moving On and Focused

It was just one of those days. The Florida offense had miscue after miscue on Saturday against Miami (OH) and through three quarters it was probably the worst exhibition of offensive football in decades by a Gator team. There were barely more yards (26) than points (21) on the scoreboard when 'We Are The Boys' cascaded from the stands. One guy that accepted the blame, is ready to move on.

Florida center Michael Pouncey fell on his sword after the 34-12 win against Miami (OH) Saturday. With a dozen or more errors in the center–quarterback exchange in the game, the vocal team leader on offense accepted the blame for the issues and did his time in front of the media. It was a noble venture for the senior guard turned center.

"I am the leader of the offense and when the leader messes up it makes everything look bad," Pouncey said as to why he decided to place a lot on his own shoulders. "It's not expected out of me. I have been busting my tail and haven't been able to sleep since the game just trying to get it right.

"I had to take on that role (of accepting the blame). If I had run from you guys (in the media), there would be more and more stuff. I came in and faced the consequences ...took full ownership of it and now we'll move forward from it."

He was never pressured by his teammates Saturday or any time since.

"All of them guys respect me so much," Pouncey said. "When I was messing the snaps up no one said anything to me. They know I am going to get it right. I respect them for that. I love my teammates because none of them turned their back on me. We are just moving forward and it made us a stronger team."

Offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio is in Pouncey's corner. Addazio said the bad snaps that happened that day are few and very far between.

"That was not a problem," Addazio said of the snaps. "You are talking about someone that played in the Sugar Bowl. He was the backup center last year and he had no issues and had no issues through camp. That surfaced and when something surfaces how do you address it? You work harder and practice harder. No one has more focus than Mike Pouncey."

Indeed Pouncey and quarterback John Brantley have spent time outside of normal practice time working on just the snap.

"We are looking forward to USF, we have it fixed now," Pouncey said firmly. "We worked on stuff before and after practice snapping the ball. We didn't have any bad one's Sunday, so we will be going Tuesday and working on the same thing."

According to Pouncey, the issue was the ball kept slipping. In order to fix it, they dried the football a little more and more importantly, he re-gripped the football to make it easier to snap in the shotgun. Moving his snapping hand towards the nose of the ball so he can grasp the smaller part of the ball.

"It just kept slipping out of my hands, so I moved my hands up further on the ball so I can just grab it better and throw it back there," he said. "It is something I worked on before, but I'm glad it happened in game one instead of (later)."

Pouncey thinks he has pretty much put the game Saturday behind him even though he is really mentally working on fixing the issue.

"I am not thinking about it at all," he said. "I know I messed it up Saturday and I am moving forward. I am one of the type of guys that doesn't dwell on the past. I don't think anyone else should be."

He also understands as much as it all looked and felt like he was the entire issue at times, there were other circumstances that came into play and made the offense go backward at times. The announcers on ESPN placed 13 bad snaps at the hands of Mike Pouncey.

"I rolled three of them back, Johnny dropped a couple of them...13 snaps? I don't know what game he was watching," Pouncey said.

Addazio also stepped up and stuck up for his star center and expressed his faith moving forward.

"Those things weren't all Mike Pouncey," Addazio wanted to make clear. "He had a couple of them and is addressing that. You are talking about one of the best offensive linemen in college football if not the best who has played that position for over a year and played it in the Sugar Bowl and had no issue with it.

"He had a couple of times where the ball was wet in his hand and slipped out of his hand. He is just the kind of guy that wants to be the best he can and has his total concentration (on it) because he wants to be absolutely at his best. I am not the least bit concerned about Mike Pouncey, not even a little."

Pouncey believes and knows he has seen the worst game of his football career and put it behind him.

"When I was in the game I thought it couldn't get worse and it kept getting worse," he said. "It just sucked to be in one of those moments. Tough times don't last, tough people do, and we are moving on past it.

"It's a mental game. I was frustrated and it just went down hill from there. I've been working hard since the game and haven't been able to sleep much. So, I'm going to go out and play my best Saturday."

This is the first year of organized football that Pouncey has been playing without his twin brother Maurkice. Maurkice was drafted in the first round of the NFL draft in April and was recently named the starter. Mike was asked if his separation from his brother has caused any of this.

"Well he's playing (real) good up in Pittsburgh," he said as the crowd of media laughed. "If he was playing that bad I would say that."

Continuing on the humor, Pouncey got a text message from his brother after the game. The message was a wish delivered from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin to Mike.

"The guys up there were joking about my snaps and Coach Tomlin told (Maurkice) to 'tell him to keep playing like that and we'll take him at the end of the first round.'" Mike said with more laughter from the media.

Big brother can shed some light as well. His first couple of games at center, Maurkice snapped the ball everywhere it could possibly go before settling down and becoming an All-SEC candidate and finally wining the Rimington Trophy as a senior.

"He told me when he first started at center a few years ago his was the same," Mike said of Maurkice's adventurous snapping exploits. "He had high snaps...snaps were everywhere. He said get back to work and that's what I'm doing."

Mike wouldn't even venture into talking about another bad snap or two. When asked he was very assertive.

"It's not happening," he said.


A side note to the troubles up front is the addition of a couple of starters back into the lineup. Senior left guard Carl Johnson is back from a one game suspension and sophomore left tackle Xavier Nixon should be back from minor knee surgery for the game against USF.

"Up front we get Carl Johnson back this week and Xavier Nixon, so we will be a much stronger unit," Pouncey said.

"Xavier is back working right now," Addazio said. "I don't know the exact timetable for him, but certainly will be able to get back at it. Carl will be going (Tuesday).

One guy not ready to return yet is sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan. Addazio says he is working out to a certain extent, but not quite ready.

"Patchan is certainly working," Addazio said. "But the degree of physical activity, I don't know that yet."

Nixon is probable, and Addazio hopes that his star sophomore returns, but also really liked the play of his two tackles on Saturday.

"I don't know yet," he said about a set lineup for the USF game. "I want to see who else is back. I would like to get back to my original line up. I will say that Maurice Hurt played very well at Right Tackle. That was encouraging. Marcus Gilbert played very well too (at left tackle). That was a good move to have in the hip pocket. That was not the cause of our issues."
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