FOOTBALL: Coach Zook Q & A

Coach Zook discusses how well the Gators did against South Carolina, whether he'll be coaching a bowl game, and talks about the upcoming FSU game.

On the TV show you said this will be the last week you all are together. Does that mean you won't coach the bowl game?

I haven't even thought about that. We are bowl eligible that is all I know. When I said it was the last week, I was talking about this regular season. This is an important game and we are putting all of our focus on this game.

If Jeremy Foley asks you to coach the bowl game, will you?

When we find out if and when we are going to a bowl we will think about that. Right now, I only want to think about one game and that is the Florida State game.

Was the game as dominant as it looked last night?

In coaching there is a saying that it is never as bad as it seemed and never as good as it seems. There were some things that we really did well and some things that we didn't do well. Overall we are beginning to be more consistent. Defensively we are beginning to play like we are supposed to play with more consistency. Once again, I think we will continue to improve and I think that is what you are supposed to do.

What helped with the pass rush last night?

Some of the movements we were doing. The front guys got after their guys pretty well. The last few weeks I thought our defensive front was getting better and doing more things. Sure, teams were getting some runs on us. Every time a pass is completed, everyone thinks it is the secondary (and its not always) and every time someone runs the football it's not always the defensive line.

Did everything just come together like it hasn't before?

I think we were more consistent. I had a lot of people tell me that consistency is the last thing that comes with a young group. Hopefully we are turning that corner a little bit.

What kind of satisfaction do you get by the timing of this game?

As a coach you want to be a much improved football team as the year goes on. You should never be as good the first game as you are the last game. This team has continually improved. That team (USC) was a very well coached team. I think the fact that we could go out there and do some of the things that we did, shows that we are improving.

On the match-up of the UF offensive line and the FSU defensive line…

The Florida State defensive line is very good. They are two deep and are going to keep running them at you. This will be our offensive line's stiffest test. It is imperative that those guys are ready to play because FSU will be.

Is there a way to have Brandon Siler and Crowder start together if Crowder is back?

Absolutely, there is a way. Particularly with what Florida State has done in the past, we are going to need three linebackers on the field. I also have every reason to believe Channing will be back.

With Crowder and Travis Harris out the last couple of weeks, both are rested, will they be ready?

I think they will both be ready. They both practiced a little bit last week, so it isn't like they have been off. The thing you worry about is a player being off and not practicing and not sharp. They have practiced and been involved a little bit. It will be important that we have a good week of practice. You can't have too many (linebackers), particularly in a game like we are getting ready to play.

How much does an offensive game like this help you in confidence?

We are going to try and take what the defense gives. People know that we aren't afraid to go deep. They know that we can get deep. They know that the quarterback can throw it deep. We can also throw underneath, run the football, get the backs out of the backfield and those kind of things as well. In all it just adds to the repertoire of things you can do offensively.

The players started talking about FSU last night, is it because of the intensity of the rivalry?

It is a big rivalry. It is a game that has been a long time since Florida has won over there. It is important that we go over there and play our best.

Are there a few things that you look back and say I should have done that differently?

I think that anytime and in any situation. If you ask the president, I bet there are some things he would have done differently. I have gone back the last two or three years and changed a few things. If I know circumstances and outcomes of a few things, obviously I would have done a few things different. I have been around a lot of good coaches and seen the decisions they made that did not work out. Maybe sometimes my decisions get questioned because I didn't have any head coaching experience; it has nothing to do with it. It is easy to stand on your side and say I would have done that differently. There are a few things that I would have done differently, but not very many.

Matt Leach is a good example of someone that survived through the good times and came on as a player, can you talk about that?

Three years ago, people wanted to send him down the river. But, they didn't know the circumstances that he was going through. I sit there and watch him in practice and know what kind of leg he has. Having some experience in the NFL in the kicking game helped me. I knew the guy was a good kicker. He punted the first year and there is a reason that kickers in the NFL don't punt and kick. Usually you do one or the other and the whole year before he was a punter and not a kicker. He had to get back in that swing and do the things you do as a kicker. All of the things that happened to him early with the rain and the holder leaving, there was just a barrage of things that happened. I was on him hard, I wasn't nice to him. If you ask Matt, he will tell you I was tough in the beginning. I did put a lot of pressure on him. I also saw something in him and knew he was a winner. I just needed to let him alone and he would get through this thing.

With the bad luck of the season like the hurricanes and stuff, can you relate that to why you should be allowed to stay around?

That's not my decision and not something I need to comment on. I felt very good about the direction that we were going and that is all we can do. When we walk away from here I know that we can say we did it our way, the right way, and left this program in great shape. I don't consider myself unlucky because I had the opportunity to be the head coach at the University of Florida. There are a lot of people that would like to do that. There have been some breaks that haven't gone our way. I believe everything happens for a reason. You play the cards you are dealt and go from there.

How are the kids going to handle the continuous questions about the end of the Zook era?

Obviously, that is water under the bridge. Our guys have done a pretty good job about dealing with things they have no control over. We have to go play. What happened, happened and there is nothing you can do about it.

The players mentioned they are playing this game for pride. How big of a factor is that?

I think if you go back and look at the 2004 season, if we are able to win this game, they will remember there was something special about this group. They went through some adversity and kept playing. They kept competing and wouldn't take no for an answer. I want to believe that there are some people that will look and be proud of this football team. That is one thing I told them. They have nothing to hang their heads about. I told them with the news a few weeks ago, we didn't fail, they didn't fail, and the coaches didn't fail. For whatever reason, this happened. Let's get ourselves ready and finish it out strong.

Will there be talks about making sure the extra-curricular stuff doesn't happen before and after the game with FSU?

We always talk to them about that in any game. It happened when I was here before, it happened when I left. Once again, no one can win in that type of situation. It will be important that we just worry about playing football.

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