Muschamp SEC Teleconference Q&A

As the Florida Gators prepare for their SEC East showdown with South Carolina they are trying to get healthy for a Gamecock team that brings some punch when they play. A home game in The Swamp is at hand and Florida head coach Will Muschamp knows the value of playing in front of 90,000 plus screaming Gators. he talks about all of this and more in his weekly teleconference.

Will Muschamp led off the conference call talking about injuries and the guys that will and won't be ready for the game. He said James Wilson will be ready to go after missing last week with an eye injury and he and Dominique Easley (knee) practiced yesterday. Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) practiced yesterday. Jonotthan Harrison and Xavier Nixon will both be practicing today (Wednesday). He said the one guy that he doesn't know about is receiver Latroy Pittman at this point.

Here are the rest of the questions and answers…

Q. Can you talk about Florida being a passing team in the past, Spurrier being a passing coach, and both relying on the running game now?
WM: "At the end of the day you have to do what your players can do. You have to identify what you are and that is what good coaches do. They understand what they can and cannot do. I saw in spring and got with the offensive staff about where we were headed with this. We're doing what it takes to win football games right now. For us that formula has been running the ball and playing good defense and we have really good specialists that control the vertical field position in the game.

"When you look at South Carolina, Marcus Lattimore is a fabulous football player. Connor Shaw is a winner and has legs and can extend plays. They have talented receivers.

"Doing what it takes to win in this league is a little different because of the defensive linemen. You have to account for guys like Clowney and Taylor in the pass rush. It is a little tougher to drop back and pass like they used to. Then again, when Coach Spurrier was here they were 50/50 run pass. They did a fabulous job of running the ball and creating opportunities with play action because they had some great backs."

Q. Can you talk about The Swamp as a place to play?
WM: "Our fans are outstanding and the best in the country. I have been in a lot of arenas and none like this one. I have been in college and the pros, it is an electric atmosphere and I can feel it already."

Q. An update on Xavier Nixon?
WM: "We expect him on the field today."

Q. What happened to James Wilson and what is his status?
WM: "It was a contact drill. His helmet slipped down and he took a pretty good impact on the eye. I don't have all the medical terms on it, but they didn't feel like he needed to have contact through the weekend. He was cleared yesterday (Tuesday)."

Q. What is the pressure like on a coach and a staff in your first year?
WM: "I have only been a head coach in the SEC. Obviously being a player and a defensive coordinator in this league. Week in and week out there are no ‘Gimme's'. When you line up each week in this league, you better play well. I would say that is what separates our conference from a lot of conferences. I think pressure is what you put on yourself. We don't worry about anything else other than preparing our football team week in and week out and dealing with things that we can control."

Q. When playing a team like South Carolina that is similar offensively and defensively, does it make it easier?
WM: "I don't know that it is easier. From the standpoint of right now we still do good on good (practice first teams against each other), because I think it is better to do ‘fast ball' work. You are working with scout teams and simulating the other offense and it may be easier for your scout teams to execute some things based on being used to rep things similar in fall camp and spring practice. Other than that I don't know that it really helps you."

Q. With Boise State throwing the ball so much last year and Florida running the ball so much this year, how much does that speak to Brent Pease's willingness to adapt his style here?
WM: "It certainly speaks to his flexibility as a coach but that is what good coaches do. I think sometimes in the coaching world one of the biggest mistakes guys make is not identifying who you are. Brent isn't a stat guy. Most offensive guys are stat guys and he cares about winning football games and doing the things it takes to win the games."

"He played to his strengths at Boise and that was Kellen Moore. Right now we are playing good defense, special teams, and running the ball. That will create opportunities for us down the field in the passing game. That is just a matter of time. It is just a matter of when those opportunities present themselves. They haven't up to this point in the season."

Q. Are yours and Pease's philosophies more in sync than yours and Weis' philosophies last year?
WM: "No, we are just better than a year ago. We were all on the same page a year ago. We were struggling, had an injury at quarterback. We had less starts than anyone in the SEC along the offensive line. We weren't equipped at the running back position like we wanted to be for a power running game. That isn't to slight Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, they were both outstanding players and both did great a great job for Florida.

"There were obviously deficiencies with where we were last year and we struggled to find things we could do well and consistently well. The numbers speak for themselves."

Q. What do you think Spurrier's stamp has been in this game and this league?
WM: "Being an SEC guy and growing up in this part of the country and being a huge fan of the Southeasterm Conference There are really two coaches that come to the forefront of your mind as far as what they have done for this league and that would be Bear Bryant and Steve Spurrier for the winning and the championships at the University of Florida (and Alabama). That is personally my opinion.

"You look at what he did when he came to our league, it was more of a ‘three yards and a cloud of dust' league. He came in and spread the ball around a little bit. He was credited with throwing the ball a bunch, but heck they were 50/50 and ran the ball extremely well when he was here. It became a little more of a throwing league and changed things defensively. It helped advance this league to a more offensive mindset.

"That is my opinion that those are the two coaches in this league that for a long period of time had tremendous success."

Q. Is it more of a big deal to us and the fans about him coming back and playing in that stadium than the kids (on the team)?
WM: "I think so. Kids nowadays are a lot different than when I grew up. I was glued to the TV or at Florida Field when I was growing up. Nowadays they have so much more stuff going on in their lives. I think it is all little bit of the time we are in right now. There are a lot of distractions other than watching college football. Sometimes it's amazing the football IQ now and some of the young men we get from a football standpoint it is kind of shocking actually."

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