Florida Gators Offensive Coordinator Brian Johnson met with local media on Monday to recap the Gators offensive firepower over Ole Miss, preview Will Muschamp's South Carolina defense and reflect on the Kyle to Kyle connection.
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Pretty impressive debut you had there as OC
How comfortable was Trask to you and how did you feel he executed?
“Yeah he played really well overall. You know, got us into some good plays, and was accurate with the ball, was really decisive, knew where he wanted to go. Still some stuff we’ve got to continue to clean up as an entire offense, but definitely a good start to the season, for sure.”
Specifics you can share where you think Trask can improve?
“Yeah I mean, you know, really the biggest thing is, just making sure to just continue to take care of the football. We had two potential opportunities for the ball to be on the ground One, we threw an interception, and then we got a strip-sack in the pocket and lost the ball but we ended up recovering it, so, you know, just things of that nature. Making sure we’re really aware in the pocket of where bodies are, and making sure we’re sliding with great ball security. And then finishing drives, you know we had a couple opportunities down in the red zone, particularly some red zone third downs where we weren’t able to convert and had to settle for field goals. Luckily we have Evan McPherson, who’s the best kicker in America, who can make us right, but you know it’d be nice to finish those drives off.”
Pitts dominated, but how deep do you feel his play-making ability is of this team, lot of options?
“Yeah we have some really good skill players, you know, and the quarterback does a great job of distributing the ball and understanding that coverage dictates who gets it, so, in our offense it’s, you know, got a lot of guys that can hurt you everytime that they touch the ball, so you know it was good to see us spread the ball around like that, and then, obviously guys like Kyle Pitts kind of takes it over, and even when they put two on him sometimes he’s still really hard to cover, so it’s a great job of just understanding your match-ups, knowing your personnel and just getting it to our playmakers and letting them do the rest.”
Importance and putting Emory back post-pick?
“It was really important. We wanted to make sure that we got him in and let him play. Obviously, the first play design didn’t go as we’d planned. But he did a nice job, it didn’t faze him, he didn’t freak out at all. He just came out and continued to play - and he made some plays when he was out there. I was really proud of him for continuing to play one play at a time and not getting too high and not getting too low and just going out there and executing and making some plays.”
See young receivers going forward?
“Yeah, for sure, especially in 2020 there’s just so much uncertainty with COVID-19 and what’s going on. You got to have guys ready to go, so our substitution pattern in terms of how we want to get guys ready and make sure the first time they get in the game isn’t the most important play of the game, or the first time that they’ve ever played. So, we like to get those guys in there so they can get their feet wet and build some confidence.”
When know Kyle Pitts had this kind of potential?
“I mean, it was in training camp his freshman year. It was just a matter of him kind of growing into the position. He played more, he was actually Van’s backup our first year in ‘18. We played him a little bit more outside just because he had so much talent - a huge catch radius, he’s fast, he can get in and out of breaks. And then he kind of grew into what we saw in terms of him being an elite tight end. It was fairly early on. He was a guy that as young player, as a freshman, he played behind Van and really had a chance to learn from him. We put him in the game, he made some plays. He continued to develop and grow, and now he’s in a position where he’s one of the best players in America.”
Growing into position, nuances at TE?
“Absolutely. I think just in our offense, we ask our tight end to do so much in terms of them having to understand the run, understand the pass game, understand protections. It’s a lot on their plate in terms of what they have to learn in order to go and operate at a really high level. He’s done that. He was a guy with just so much talent we had to get him on the field. He did no good sitting next to us on the sideline. We found a way to get him in there and help kind of accelerate his development.”
When is the decision made on when Emory Jones will play?
"Yeah, I mean we always have a plan for him, to get him in the game. Like I said, he's such a dynamic player and we like to get him out there. But, it doesn't second guess it at all. I mean, it was one of those plays where the three-technique got in, he got hit as he threw it, and it was probably more important to get him back out there immediately and let him continue to play. So that wasn't an issue for us, didn't second-guess getting him out there at all."
So the decision was made to put him in before the game?
"Oh sure. Yeah, absolutely."
Time lost this offseason, were you surprised by how good Trask's ball placement was?
"No, I mean Kyle's always been a worker. He's had a fantastic training camp. Those guys have kinda picked up where they left off in terms of their timing and stuff. So, they have such a great understanding of where guys need to be and how they fit into the play, each and every opportunity. So, he's done a good job, it was good to come out, we talked about leading up to the game about getting off to a fast start, and playing clean and executing at a high level, and he was able to do that."
How do you make sure Trask stays focused with all the hype?
"That's something that we talk about all the time, is, I think quarterback is obviously a very demanding position. You've got to be able to handle success the same way you handle adversity, and I think having that even-keel attitude that he does, and we talk a lot about that in the sideline. We were kinda rolling and just talking about staying with a laser-sharp focus and not taking your foot off the gas, and just continuing to be aggressive, and really, really diligent and detailed in what you're seeing and how you're playing. It's something that's really important, not only when you're facing adversity but when you have success as well."
Now that you've gotten a week under your belt with a new role and a new title, what changed, what didn’t?
“In terms of, like, our gameday operation? It’s been fairly similar. You know I’ve always been really, really, heavily involved in calling plays throughout the course f my entire time here and even back at Mississippi State. I think we have some great coaches and we put together a really, really solid plan that our players went out and executed. In terms of our game planning and gameday operation, it was kind of business as usual with calling the game.”
Spurrier around, you have a play named Spurrier, don’t worry he didn’t tell us what it is.
“If it’s named Spurrier you know it’s not a run play.”
That’s what he said. What is it like having Spurrier around?
“It’s great. He’s obviously a legend and someone, you know you talk about guys that forget or probably have forgotten more football than you know, Steve Spurrier comes to mind. He’s accomplished a lot. Anytime you can pick his brain, get any knowledge, I think you’ve got to jump at that opportunity. We welcome him with open arms. I love it when he comes in there and draws up some plays for us. We put them in and they work. He is one of a kind, for sure. There’s nobody like him.
Does he let you know when his plays worked in a game?
“Oh, absolutely. He will come in, not only in college football, but he’ll come in and talk about the pro games from that Sunday night and stuff that people are doing in the NFL as well. So just, it’s always great to talk ball with him.”
Do you have a Spurrier impression, he’s got a distinct voice.
“He does have a very distinct voice. I don’t know if I quite have it down. I do know Coach Mullen does a pretty good Coach Spurrier voice. I’m probably not as good as him.”
WHAT GOES INTO A QUARTERBACK BEING GOOD AT BALL PLACEMENT, BACK-SHOULDER THROWS? NATURALLY HAVE IT? DEVELOP IT?
"Yeah, I mean it's something that we work on. But it also is a feel and a timing thing of understanding leverage and body placement and then just understanding the radius of your target. So when you're throwing to a guy like Kyle Pitts he has a huge catch radius, so you can just get the ball close. And really it's just as simple as throwing it where the defender isn't. It's kind of a combination of art and science, I guess."
PIERCE PASS PRO ON 71-YARD TD, HOW HAVE BACKS IMPROVED THERE?
"Well that's the one thing coach Knox always say, 'In order to play you've got to protect the ball and protect the quarterback.' That was a great block by Dameon and a great job of just executing the gameplan by the entire offense of just seeing the look, making the check and executing the play for a touchdown. It was well done by everybody on the entire unit."
FROM LAST YEAR TO OLE MISS GAME, WHAT ASPECT OF TRASK'S GAME DID HE MOST IMPROVE?
"Um, I think just managing the entire game and managing the offense. He's always been a very cerebral player, very prepared, understanding what we're trying to accomplish. But now, I think when you become a fifth-year senior, it's about not only taking care of yourself but making sure you're putting everybody else in the position to succeed and taking a bigger role in the entire offense, and in some cases the team, in providing that spark and whatever the team needs at that specific time. He's done a great job of developing, maturing, being a leader and playing really well."
What kind of role will Kadarius Toney have in the future?
"Well, I mean, Kadarius (Toney) is an every-down player. He was very involved in the gameplan. I think he had five catches, five carries, so we got around 10 touches or so. Those (touches), for the most part, a lot of them were just within the flow of the normal offense, he had some designed get-it-to plays, just get it into his hands, but he made several plays just within the normal flow of the offense. Really proud of Kadarius, how hard he works, his understanding level of the game of football, he's a very, very intelligent player that understands coverage, understands how he fits and he's an amazing athlete that's really fun to watch play football."
Talk about what he did to improve over the summer?
"I think the biggest thing is - obviously he was healthy -, I think he was well on his way to kind of doing that last year and missed the majority of the middle of the season. So, him being healthy, he's always been a very, very smart football player. I think he's just continued to develop and put himself in a position to where he has a complete understanding of not only where he fits in the offense, but how he impacts everybody else in the offense. So, he's done a great job, can't say enough good things about him."
On a good coach Spurrier story he has
"You know, the one that always comes to mind is, we ran - it was kind of like a deep-post-stop play, and it was a team playing a lot of cover 3. He came in there and he told us about the way that he communicated with the quarterback pre-snap, and he had a simple signal how he got the quarterback's attention and kind of told him where to go with the football before the play. I was like, that was the simplest thing to do and it made so much sense and I'm like 'how come nobody's ever brought that up?' and it was just a simple signal to get to the quarterback, say 'hey, this guy's open, get ready to throw it to him.' That's something that I've kind of taken with me from, that I've taken from him and I'm definitely gonna keep that one in the book, for sure."
How did you size up Kyle Trask?
“I knew who he was, because when I came from Houston, my quarterback in Houston was D’Eriq King. So, D’Eriq had always talked about him, and so I knew who Kyle was when I came here. And I just remember our first spring practice, we watched him spin, and he throws a beautiful ball. He’s a big, you know, impressive looking guy when you see him — I mean, I don’t think people realize how big he is until you get up on him — and he was a worker. He was always engaged, he did a fantastic job that first winter workout session. You know, he was just somebody who did everything the right way, did everything you asked him to with great energy and great effort. He’s a pleasure to coach.”
Were there some guys out there you wanted to get in, but because it was a two-three possession game, weren’t comfortable with it?
“Nah, I mean, I would like to try to get Anthony (Richardson) in there. But, you know, hopefully we’ll get a chance to do that at some point. But you know, I think we played pretty much everybody that was there.”
Have you ever faced Will Muschamp?
“Yeah, for sure, the last two years here. He was the DC at Auburn, we played him there in ’15. And then he’s the head coach at South Carolina, and we played him at Mississippi State in ’16. So I think this would be our fifth time going against him.”
Do you get a familiarity after playing him that many times?
“Well, I mean, yes and no, because there are certain, obviously, personnel changes, circumstance changes. So yeah, I think having a natural baseline of some familiarity of what they like is a good thing. But you know, you always got to remember that each game is independent and they study and change things up as well. So, we gotta be ready to go execute our plan at a high level. “