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"This is the one that everyone says tears families apart. I keep hearing all the stories, but it's my first year of coaching here. I have great respect for both universities and great respect for this rivalry. In terms of the players, I have great respect for them, and hopefully we have a good week of practice. That's what we are going to try and accomplish starting today."
On the Florida senior class
"Everybody wants to talk about the future, and everybody wants to talk about spring practice. I have a group of seniors that have gone through some stuff. I've only been here one year, but I can say that I have great respect and I care about these guys."
"There are some that are more invested than others. The most invested of the seniors I have great respect for, and I think that if this team wants to show respect to their seniors they have to go out and play. They have been through a lot. You do want to go out and beat your three rivals in one year. I have been told that it hasn't happened very often here, so that would be a great opportunity for them to be able to say they did that."
Covering the FSU receivers…
"If you take a look at the four receiver set which they run often, we will need four cover guys. You certainly can't use a safety that doesn't play man coverage. The next thing you do is find the four corners, with the injury to Vernell (Brown), you have Reggie Lewis, Dee Webb, Reggie Nelson and Avery Atkins will come down and play man to man. That means we have to bring another safety into play in a nickel and dime situation. It's going to be a match-up game and they have great athletes. Their receiver corps is built on great size and speed."
On the FSU running backs…
"Well (Leon Washington) is back, and our defense believes that he is tremendous playmaker. They have three guys with documented track times. The issue with that is to contain them and keep the ball in front of you. That has been the same with several games this year. LSU and Georgia had guys that can get outside. The dilemma is do we sink a guy in the box or not, that's where we have to keep them off balance."
On Ray McDonald…
"Here is a young guy that has done everything we ask and still has swelling issues in his knee. Whether it needs surgery to repair, we will do what's best for the young man. It is a good possibility (he might be done for the year)." .
On assessing his first year…
"Six days from now, that will be easy to let you know. If we play extremely hard this week, you can take wins over your three rivals. There have been some bumps in the road, but I think there have been a lot of positives."
"The goal was always to compete for an SEC Championship in November, and we did that. We didn't close the deal, and the outcome of the Georgia game just rips your lungs out to know that we were that close. But that's all history, and the future is six days from now. That's what our players and I want to be focused on."
On Chris Leak…
"He has gotten better. He has adapted to us and we have adapted to him. The surrounding cast, along with him, has a lot of work to do to become the style of offense that we want to be. With the injuries we've had a receiver, I think Chris has done a decent job. I think if you want to be critical, be critical of the whole group."
"There are times when he has played fantastic. He's a three-year starter. I watched him two years ago against FSU, and he played very well. I think we're going to need that type of performance out of Chris this week."
On the thought of being a head coach for 30 years…
"I can't even imagine that. I would like to think that but I can't. You think about Coach (Joe) Paterno and Coach (Bobby) Bowden, I don't think it will ever be done again. I sat down and talked to Coach Paterno about that. There is no question that continuity on staff (helps), you start seeing depth at the tight end position and wide receiver position. You start seeing a very clear system in place and they recruit to that system."
On Bobby Bowden
"One thing to admire about him is that he is not fazed. It seems like everything is ok. I have to learn to deal with that. You look at Coach Paterno and Coach Bowden and that's the way its supposed to be. They are at peace with their program and other guys are trying to get to that point. Like I said, I don't think that will ever happen again. I really don't."
On Jarvis Herring…
"I have heard mixed emotions on him. I love Jarvis, he is one of the guys I am closest with on the team. When I saw him play in the spring, I expected him to be a good player and I expected him to be one of our leaders."
On players quitting on teams at the end of the year…
"I think you can see some teams that are not playing as if it were not a championship. I don't believe that would happen (here) because this is a big rivalry. As a matter of fact, I know that won't happen."
On the lack of SEC bowl eligible teams…
"I'm not sure what to think about it. The champion of the east had two losses and the west champion had one. Tennessee struggled, but they beat LSU. From top to bottom this is a competitive league. Look at Vanderbilt they finished 5-6 and that quarterback is one of the finest quarterbacks there is in the country. If you look at the records of the teams they kind of beat each other up. It tells you there is some great balance in the SEC."
On current changes in the offense due to personnel
"The improvement of Tate Casey has something to do with him getting more involved. Billy Latsko, we started to figure out what an excellent player he was. For a lot of the majority of the season we played with only two experienced receivers. The progress of Casey and Latsko plus the injuries played a major role in changing our offense."
On running the offense his way…
"We haven't gone through a whole year. I think we have to keep adapting. At Utah, the year one on offense was significantly different than year two. They were far different at Bowling Green. We have to look at who we are playing and who we have. There are elements of the offense that will always be there, what we need is more big play potential and opportunities. When they show up, we need to make them. That is the biggest thing this week and in the off-season. Teams are winning from making big plays. Methodically moving the ball eighty yards, not many teams can do that these days. We've certainly had some opportunities, and we have had some to win games, but if you ask me what I am alarmed at is we have got to do that. At Florida we should be able to do that. The biggest thing we are working on is the ability to make big plays.
On personnel issues on offense…
"We made a decision to red-shirt a receiver and we also decided to play a couple that we hoped we would have better prepared to step into a situation like a two minute drill. We obviously worked on that this week. Dallas Baker has to be back. Ideally we need 12 receivers to run this offense, but we have to be adaptable. We have a good tight end in Tate Casey and a guy that has improved in Billy Latsko. We have to build them in the offense more. We have not done that in the past. In the last few weeks, if you check all the tight end and full back plays we have run (at other places), I don't think we have ever done that. That is certainly something we will look at in the off-season."
"What you do is take your best 11 players. The system is a product of what you have. Tate Casey and Billy Latsko are two of our top 11, they are going to be in the game. There are certainly going to be concepts there that we have to have. We also have to build it around personnel. We have to see how Bubba comes back and see who returns at wide receiver, then we will go from there."