Gators defensive lineman Tyreak Sapp met with the media to discuss various topics related to his team’s performance and improvement. He talks about the motivation of the defense, the impact of a teammate’s injury, the importance of executing on third down, and the effectiveness of the defensive line rotation. He also shares his perspective on Billy Napier and the team’s approach to handling a loss.
Emotions of the defense after the loss:
“Very motivated. Extremely motivated. I love all my guys on that defense, from the older guys to the young guys, because everybody is, it’s not only motivating but they want to win, everybody sees it. Even in the good we try to find things that we can do better, even in the ups of that game and the downs we try to find things that we can do better and maximize the opportunity, just ways we can play better and then obviously looking into the mirrors ourselves at what we could have did better.”
Sapp speaking to the team after the game:
“It was very important and it was important to know like I want to stress it, I’m like, take this feeling and kind of put this forth that we don’t want to feel that again, we don’t want to feel this again and the guys understood it and I’m going to keep harping on it throughout the year every day, every week just keep harping on it, remember that feeling when we lost, remember that feeling when we felt like you couldn’t do anything about it we felt like we were helpless so, like, we got to be the aggressors in every situation and every opportunity to get on that field, we express that anger, we express that feeling.”
Improving on third down:
“Just execution being clean, executing, just going with Coach Amstrong’s plan, executing it, trusting it, that was the main thing, just trusting an executing and then when bad things happen not dwelling on it, just like next play, we’re going to take that play for what it is, and we’re going to go on to the next play and play even better, just try to elevate throughout as the game goes, elevate.”
What can the defense improve on?
“Just rush the Q better, rush the Q, this week, try to get some sacks on our stats, try to get some sacks, tell the back end guys to keep handling up, tell Jason, keep encouraging him, all our guys on the back end, even our young guys like Jordan who played a lot, those guys take a lot of snaps especially those young guys just keep going and then up front I take it as my job to control that and making sure we can do everything we can to harass the Q.”
The impact of Justus Boone’s injury:
“That was one that hit me so hard because that’s like a brother, we came here together, we just worked so hard for our opportunity because this was going to be the year we were going to make our first really like, yeah we played last year, we made an impact, we were a part of that but now we get to actually lead this team, these young guys look to us, and they still look up to us even him being injured hasn’t meant anything, it just hit me so hard and then I had to gather my emotions and then get ready for a transition because I had to change positions, I had to gather my emotions and I had to kind of compartmentalize and get ready to what’s the next step and then for me I had to say everything I do, I do it for him because I know he’s burning to be out there, he wishes so much and I just try to play so hard for him because I know he’s playing through me, every play, every snap I give my all for him.”
The transition from tackle to end:
“Coach Armstrong sat down and told to me and it wasn’t anything new because I did it last year. It’s just my transition to the interior you know when you are doing something you do so well, I’m finally feeling comfortable and I’m finally feeling like I can dominate and then to know, sudden change, which is fine, which is fine, I have to adapt to something I have to do that as an athlete and a player probably my whole football career so I have to be ready for things like that, and when things like that happen, I got to step up to the plate to make something happen.”
Improvement from last year to game one of this season:
“A lot of improvement. I loved it. I loved I liked it a lot. And I like and I love going on the field with that group because that’s a group of guys that I want to play for. That’s a group of guys that I can look in their eyes every play and I know confidently that they want to put it all on the line. They know with me want me that I’m gonna lay it all on the line. I think it’s just me keeping that spark letting them know that I’ll basically die for who was with me. That’s gonna keep them on edge and keeps them fighting play by play. No matter the ups and downs in the game, I stand right here with you. I stay on right here with my guys no matter what.
The effectiveness of the defensive line rotation:
“I feel like we were pretty fresh and played a lot and then we rotated a lot. So we got a lot of guys who can get out there and play and there’s not a lot of drop off. Even with our younger guys, they can go out there and we’ll ask what I like to call them go out there and hold them down. So long as you can go out there and hold it down for me because I’m when I’m out there. I’m out there. I tell Coach, hey, put me out there. Whatever you need, I’m right here right now. Everybody, all the guys want to come off i rally everybody up. I talk to everybody and say this is what we need to do. And I stress the issue and I force it and I make sure every time we go in that field we look forward to dominating. Nothing else.”
Sapp’s impression of the young players:
“I love that. I love to see TJ (Searcy) fly around. Kelby (Collins) got some snaps and then like we got some guys like some of our guys on the interior like Jamari Lyons. You get to see Chris (McClellan) out there. This … I love them. I love to see more young guys have to grow quicker. That’s something I felt like I had to do, just grow up real fast and become a real man right now. Like no matter what the circumstances become a man right now, but I’m here. I’m here with them all the way. I always let them know I’m here. Don’t be scared to make a mistake. Don’t be scared to mess up in here. No matter what happens I’m here.”
Was there a common theme in the loss to Utah which limited the team’s pass rush?
“Not really, quarterback was releasing it pretty fast. They had that one big play at the beginning of the game which nobody obviously wanted, but I just feel like just playing a cleaner game and just using our techniques of fundamentals because that’s what it’s gonna come down to. Everybody’s good, everybody’s big, everybody’s fast. Oh, it comes down to fundamentals and your mind outthinking somebody.”
Confidence from the second-half performance of the defense:
“I got a lot of confidence. I got confidence from the first half, just to see us go out there and play a lot better, that’s all. I want you to go out and play and let loose. No matter what happens, no matter what. No matter what happens, no matter who we play, we go out there and we let loose we play fearless and we strike.”
Motivated by some of the disrespect out there:
“I love it. Bring it on. I want all the smoke.”
On if he doesn’t block it out at all:
“Never, never. Not at all. It’s cool.”
More on third down:
“I love it, and I love the fact that we can improve it. We can be even more scary. We can wreak more havoc. We can wreak more havoc and give teams problems. Like give a lot of teams probably like what do we do on third down? But we always say, as a D-lineman we got to earn the right to rush the passer so we got to win the first and second down. That’s what they’ve got to do. Got to earn the right. Playing on third down for us, it’s a privilege. You go out there on third now first it’s a privilege. You’re a man and you take pride and you play like it.”
Using criticism as motivation:
“That’s not my main motivation. But I take it for what it is. It’s just it’s always just outside pain. It’s always somebody else talking no matter no matter what I do. I understood when I came here and I put this blue on and I put this Gator logo on. I understood no matter what I did somebody’s always have something to say. So I just take pride of going to work every day and trying to improve and make my brothers too but no matter what. So people can say what they have to say and whatever team lines up with us on Saturday got a lot going with us and they got to see us regardless.”
On if he sees the noise because some players block it out:
“I’m not saying I listen to what I’m like, but I know I know that people say. It’s fine. I’ll take whatever, you know don’t stop it, don’t change anything.”
On Napier saying the practice today was tough:
“Yeah, he makes it he makes it that way on purpose. You have a very hard practice environment. I always tell recruits, if you come here, it’s gonna be hard. I don’t care who you are. It’s gonna be hard. This is an environment where you are almost forced to get better. You’re gonna be pushing and you’re gonna take it. As a man, you’re gonna have to look down and grab, like, grab ‘em.”
Why he believes in Billy Napier:
He’s only told me the truth ever since I’ve been here. He’s only been truthful with me and everything he told me, he held his word. He gave me his word. He’s held the keys and he’s held himself up to it and I’ve been holding myself to my word. I told him I’m with him. He’s told me he’s with me and everything. Everything he’s told me he’s gonna get done, he’s got it done. So I’m with him regardless of what anybody thinks what anybody says or how anybody feels.
Napier placed the blame on himself on Monday, what’s it like to play for a coach who’s protective of his team:
You’ve got to love a coach like that because he’s willing to take everything. So as a player it motivates you to go out there and want to play hard for them, you want to run for that wall for him, you want to dominate for him. So that’s extremely motivating and that just shows you how much your coach, not only just cares about you, he cares about your brother.
What was Napier’s message when he addressed the team about not getting used to losing?
Like, the point he got across was, we going take it exactly what I said at the beginning of this press conference. He said, we’re going to take that loss, we’re not going to just sweep it under the rug. But, at the same time, we’re not going to add this weight on our back. We’re going to take that and use it as motivation and use that as a vision, take everything that happened and get better from it. We ain’t gonna dwell on it. Because a couple of games later from now, with a couple of wins on the record, then what people were saying, it doesn’t matter anymore. But, we’re going to keep that in our hearts and in our minds that that happened, and we’ll never forget about it.
Angry about loss to Utah?
“Nah, I ain’t angry. I wouldn’t say I’m angry about it. But I’ve come to grips with it. And I told myself the truth. That’s what I’m about, telling myself the truth. And just that truth is something that motivates me just to go even harder for my brothers and make my brothers go hard for me. I’m just pressing the issue every day. That happened, we’re not gonna dwell on it, we’re gonna focus on the opponent, we’re gonna focus on our opponent coming up, but we got to understand that that happened. We have to practice like we lost. Every week we should practice like we 0-1. Every week. We 0-1 right now, we should practice like we’re 0-1 just practice like. We got to work like it every day, you got to bring your lunch box with you every day. You got to build like it. Like, everything you do throughout your day, you got to step like it. Got to.”
What is ‘your truth’ in this situation?
“My truth is: better play. Be more disciplined, play harder, play faster. That’s all I can do. That’s all I can do for my team. Play harder and play faster. Of course, the mental aspect is going to come in and that’s what I’ve got coaches for. That’s why I’ve got great, phenomenal coaches for that to coach me up on that and help me understand the things that I might be doing wrong or the things I messed up on. That’s fine.”
Is anything different about Coach Napier in terms of approach?
“Nah. One thing about it, we don’t let things that happen change the way we prepare or shape the way we approach things. We’re going to approach things the same. We ready to dominate. Going into that game, we were ready to dominate. Obviously, it didn’t happen, so what are we going to do? So what, now what? What can we do now? That game already happened. I can’t do nothing about it now. Even though it irks me in my heart, you wish you could, but you can’t. That happens, so on to the next. We’ve got to take the Ls and bring the lessons with us.”
Photo credit: Isabella Marley, UAA Communications