Q. How has the emergence of Jeff Driskel solidified an offense that initially struggled at the beginning of the year?Bob Redman: This offense is continuing to find its identity. That identity will come when Driskel is completely comfortable in the passing game, can go through his progressions, and feels good about where his receivers will be and his protection up front.
The thing he has going for him is his ability to really run. We saw that last weekend with the 177 yards rushing for him and that was no fluke. In high school he had a game with three touchdown runs of over 60 yards, and he is a passing quarterback.
Eventually, he will be able to sit back in the pocket and do his thing as he has as good of an arm as any quarterback in college football. Until that time, the staff is content on using his legs and are more apt to do it now than in the beginning of the year.
Q. There are many similarities in the two reams (running QB, great RB, stout defense. Where are the other areas of strength that makes UF believe they will win, not counting home field?Bob Redman: Honestly it is a pretty even match up and I imagine both teams feel pretty good about their chances. I will say that I believe that Will Muschamp is trying to build his teams in the same manner that Nick Saban has done it at Alabama. They want to be bigger, stronger, and faster than anyone else, with more emphasis on the first two and not at the expense of not recruiting real football players.
With that in mind, Florida is bigger up front than they have been in years on defense. They go Lerentee McCray (257), Dominique Easley (290), Sharrif Floyd (310), Omar Hunter (315) on the line and Jelani Jenkins (235), Neiron Ball (235), and Jon Bostic (250) at linebacker. They are also as big as ever in the secondary with a trio of cornerbacks (Marcus Roberson, Jaylen Watkins, and Loucheiz Purifoy) that are as physical as any in college football. I think on defense this is where Florida will be different this time around and may have an edge against receivers at South Carolina that aren't quite as physical as they have been in recent years.
On offense, it is up front where the staff has praised the most and when three starters went down on the offensive line last week, three guys came in to replace them and they still ran for over 320 yards on the ground. They expect the starters to be back for the game ad to help running back Mike Gillislee who is second in the conference run a bit on Saturday.
I know South Carolina feels good about their special teams. They certainly have the edge in the return game. Florida wouldn't trade their punter (Kyle Christy) and place kicker (Caleb Sturgis) for anyone and both are on pace for major post season honors.
Q. What type of relationship do you think Muschamp has with Spurrier?Bob Redman:I don't think the two call and share secrets, but I would imagine they actually are chummy together when put in the same room. I think both respect the job the other is doing and Muschamp was a huge fan of Spurrier as a child, at least until he wouldn't take him as a walk-on at Florida.
Q. What do you attribute Mike Gillislee's success to this season after hardly seeing the field last year… improvement over the offseason, better line play or the departure of Weis?Bob Redman: He's always been talented. My personal theory is that Weis held him back and that is the biggest reason. The man was too stubborn to try and get this kid on the field. Muschamp said before the season it was a mistake not to Gillislee more touches a year ago.
The line is also improved and that comes from experience and coaching as well and a scheme more suited to run between the tackles than last season.
Q. How surprising is the early success of Florida this season? Did people expect this kind of success at this point in the season or is most people around the program shocked with how things have gone up to this point?Bob Redman: I thought Florida was an 8-4 team and then just before the season I switched to 9-3. They have three tough games left with top 15 teams so the latter is possible, but I don't know many, if any, folks that thought the Gators would be undefeated at this point in time.
The crazy thing is they are still really waiting to have that complete game against anyone not named Kentucky. It will come, and it would be nice for the Gators if it appeared in the next two weekends.
They still have their issues including a very talented quarterback that is learning a ton every week but isn't there just yet. But, they are leaning on very good special teams, defense, a surprisingly good running game, and a turnaround in the turnover margin to win ball games.
Q. What's the general consensus of Steve Spurrier around Florida these days? Are they impressed with what he's been able to do at South Carolina?Bob Redman: Yes, I believe so. Most thought Spurrier would hang it up after about three years of not winning the SEC and he has not done that. I think once he got close, he wasn't going to quit and kudos to him. I think most folks are very impressed with what he has done at South Carolina.
In the beginning it was rough for Florida fans that he was at a competing school. I think winning a couple of national titles in the time he has been there has helped with the separation. I also think when he is done coaching football Florida will welcome him back as one of theirs with open arms.
Q. How is the health of some of the players that are supposed to be back this week, namely Easley and Jenkins?Bob Redman: I think Dominique Easley could have played last week. They held him out as he has a knee that continuously needs to be drained. Jelani Jenkins has played all of a game and a quarter this year. He broke his thumb in the first quarter of the second game of the season and came back in game five against LSU and lasted less than a quarter. This time around it was his hamstring that gave out. He missed the game against Vanderbilt but he and Easley were both practicing on Monday of this week.
Starting offensive linemen James Wilson (LG), Jonotthan Harrison (Center), and Xavier Nixon (LT) all missed most of the Vandy game with Wilson not even making the trip back. All are expected to play and start on Saturday with Wilson and Harrison probably the most banged up.