Clark Lea took to Zoom for his weekly press conference ahead of Saturday’s game at Florida. Again, we watch so that you don’t have to.
- What is your approach to deciding which of the true freshmen will continue playing versus who will take a redshirt? Year one will be different than the plan going forward. We’re going to default to where we need guys to play for depth and if a freshman is helping with that, we’re going to do what it takes to be more competitive.
- What’s the response been like in practice this week and what did a win do for the team’s spirits? Obviously when you get the result you want, the mood lightens. We looked honestly at the UConn game and celebrated the areas where we felt like we pushed competitively, and also looked at the things we did that prevented us from closing out the game sooner. There’s learning in that, but I loved where the guys were yesterday in meetings.
- How much do you try to learn from your first SEC game against Georgia? What are the challenges involved in going on the road in the SEC? The environments are unforgiving on the road. We look forward to playing in those hostile environments. For us, it’s gotta be tightening our game down and I felt like we did that in some ways against UConn in the form of fewer procedural penalties and self-inflicted wounds. There are still some things to clean up in the kicking game and coverage units. We have to stop making mistakes in the return game.
- Going back to the true freshmen, a lot of them got on the field against UConn. What do you expect that to be like going forward? They’re on the field because they’re trending in the right direction and they earn it in practice. Some of them played for the first time against UConn and they’re getting their toes in the water. We’re excited about those young players. It’s about looking at the competitive mindsets and skill sets to continue that trend.
- Will Sheppard had a big game last weekend, can you talk about his development? He’s come a long way. In my first meeting with him back in the winter, he was expressing the desire to play more and felt like he could have played more a year ago. He’s earned that playing time. He grew a bunch from spring to summer, I loved the summer he had training and getting himself physically and mentally prepared to play. There’s more for every young player, he has fundamental technical aspects of his game that he needs to clean up. As the year goes on and he gets more experience, we’ll see his performance sharpen. There’s a chemistry developing there that will be beneficial to us.
- De’Rickey Wright’s snap counts have been limited, how much of that is related to health? I would say that when De’Rickey practices in the week, he’s a young player who’s still getting his football IQ up, so when he practices he’s in a good position to help us on Saturdays. He was a little banged up last week and we were playing a little more man, so Michael Owusu was able to play snaps at that position. We didn’t think it was fair to put De’Rickey out there without a full week of prep behind him. He has playmaking ability on defense that we’ve lacked.
- Robbie Weinstein asks for an update on Justin Ball. He’s advanced himself to a point where he’s doing individual with us and complementing that with conditioning. He’s day to day.
And, the depth chart for Saturday’s game. Nothing truly notable, though I think this is the first appearance for Errington Truesdell and CJ Taylor.