Shannon’s show: UF interim coach making changes

Randy Shannon
University of Florida interim head football coach Randy Shannon addresses questions while holding his first weekly news conference Monday morning. [Doug Engle/The Gainesville Sun]

Randy Shannon is off to a busy start as Florida’s interim football coach.

He’s opening the quarterback competition. He’s promoted two coaches. He’s changing some things up in practice. He’s opened more of practice to the media.

On thing he’s not doing is looking back on what put him in this position. He’s moving forward, and he’s bringing the Gators with him.

“We have to look forward, we can’t look back,” Shannon said Monday, the day after UF and Jim McElwain agreed to part ways. “Sometimes when you look back, that tends to bring you down. These guys take that approach. They’ve done a good job. We’ll practice today and then move forward.”

Shannon has wasted no time taking command of the football program. He’s already made some significant changes, the biggest being promoting defensive line coach Chris Rumph to defensive coordinator, his former role.

“Promoting Chris Rumph, a guy who’s done it, that’s prepared for it,” Shannon said. “He’s ready to do a great job. For me as a head coach, I’ve got to be able to multitask on offense, defense, special teams.”

To fill Rumph’s role on the defensive line, Shannon has elevated defensive quality control assistant Robb Akey.

“NFL guy that was at the Washington Redskins, Minnesota Vikings, been around in the Pac 10 for a long time, also was a head coach,” Shannon said.

Shannon is not making any changes with the offensive staff. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier will continue to call plays.

“Doug’s going to continue to lead the offense,” Shannon said. “You can’t wholesale everything. A couple of things we’ve changed. Coach Mac left a great foundation for us. Now we’ve just got to build on it.

“We’re going to do certain things in practice that are maybe a little bit different. The way we probably do certain things off the field will be a little bit different, but it’s giving us a chance to win. It’s giving us a chance to do certain things. When you have change you have to change certain things. You have to change something or it becomes stagnant. We won’t be stagnant. We’ll change some things that we feel is best for us.”

A change could be coming at quarterback. Shannon said he’s opening the competition at the position between struggling starter Feleipe Franks and Notre Dame graduate transfer Malik Zaire.

Franks had another tough outing in the loss to Georgia, throwing for only 30 yards and getting sacked five times. Zaire came off the bench in the fourth quarter and led the Gators to a touchdown.

“We’ve got some competition at quarterback,” Shannon said. “A lot of guys want to know what we’re doing at quarterback. My theory and my thoughts are you compete every day at practice.

“It depends on who does the best things in practice. The one thing that’s hard to do is judge on one game or one series. You’ve got to judge on what they do in practice. I think the more competitive guys are, you bring the best out of them.

“Either you’re going to be up or you’re going to be down. You always want the guy that’s up. The guy that’s going to bring the energy, the guy that’s going to bring the operation, the things that will make you win games.”

Shannon also hinted at possible changes on special teams, another area where the Gators have been unproductive. UF is 114th in the nation in punt returns and 71st in kickoff returns.

“We’ve got to do a better job of special teams,” he said. “Big emphasis this week is special teams. We have to get field position. We have to get field position on our punt return team and also our kickoff return team. We have to do a tremendous job of getting the offense not 80 yards to make it, 60 or 50 yards to go to give us more of a chance.”

A lot of what goes on in practice will end up on social media. Shannon is giving the media access to more practice time.

“Back in my early days when I was a coach ya know what it was different. Let you guys come to practice and see what we’re doing and get your opinions about what you see and stuff like that,” he said. “Just don’t film anything. Otherwise you can come out there and see what we’re doing. That’s part of your job is to get information and see what we’re doing and get your opinion.

“Your opinions don’t affect me like they did when I was younger. I’m kind of used to it now. But it’s just to help you guys do your job and be the best you can be more than anything.”

Just one day into the job, Shannon has already put his stamp on the program.

He and the Gators are moving forward, hoping to turn around what has been a disappointing season. It starts with Saturday’s game at Missouri.

“The message yesterday for the team is, hey, we’ve got four games left,” Shannon said. “Nothing matters but this game coming up against Missouri.

“Everybody in the room wants to be winners, they want to be competitive. They don’t want to let anybody down. Most of all, I told them, ‘Don’t let yourself down. Compete at a high level. Concentrate. Do all the things that you need to get done and we’ll be successful.’ ”

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  1. My Son’s middle school team’s offensive coordinator is available as their season just ended. He would do a better job than Nuss.

    My hopes for becoming bowl-eligible are dwindling otherwise.

  2. I like Mac as person, it’s very hard not to and I actually believe he’s a good coach. Unfortunately, his loyalty to Nuss led to his dismissal. I would have never thought that Mac would be out and Nuss would still be there, what a crazy scenario!

    • Your absolutely correct! also with Nuss still calling the plays nothings going to change. The defense may actually be better now that Shannon isnt running it. After having awesome defenses since meyer, this year, shannons 1st as DC , were no longer great were average and dont give me any garbage about playing freshmen, we always do cause our guys leave early for the NFL.

      • The def was good because will muschamp and his players.
        Muschamp players are pretty much gone and def has dropped, that should not be a surprise.

        You may notice that Sou Car and Geo def are better. That is a result of WM and K Smart.
        Lord knows we need SOS to lead team offense.
        Too bad WM and SOS could not both lead their side of the ball at the same time.

  3. To think anyone could come in and do anything with the offense at this point in the season shows a lack of understanding on most people’s part. They have only a couple days before they get on a plane and go to Missouri. Hopefully they go play loose and have some fun. The season is basically over, so just put hard work on tape for the next staff or for the nfl.

    • Correct…so lets do it accordingly. I mean, sittin at #147, or where ever our offense is right now, we can draw ’em up in the dirt right in the middle of the huddle, and if my math is even close, we can only move up. I say it’s time to have fun. Just like Franks said after one of the losses earlier…that God has predetermined the outcome of every game so “I just want to go out there and have some fun.” If ever there was a time for fun, it is now. Like we honestly have anything to lose right now.
      If Shannon fires/demotes/moves/does away with Nuss before Mizzou, people here will worship the ground he walks on. Then the ‘fun’ starts.
      But what the heck happens if he does nothing, and lets him call another game? I shudder to think.

  4. The only thing, I found disappointing in his interview was he is keeping Nuss as the OC and will continue to call the plays,,,sad,,,now would be a great time to ask for Spurrier’s help and see if he would be interested in calling plays…

  5. Coach Shannon is making changes. Hopefully, He will use some of the great talent more often and better plays for Massey and Toney. Massey would spread the defense if he is used more on jet sweeps and Toney to pass or run? Just observing the most obvious improvement but Nuss wouldn.t think of this.

    • Shannon was a failure at Miami as HC and he had plenty of years, thats why they fired him, NO THANKYOU! So far he has failed as DC here too as this was his 1st year as DC and the Gators took a huge step backwards from the elite defenses we have had since Meyer!

      • Our great team defense over the last 5 years is a result of W Muschamp.
        As soon as he was gone the def started to decline. Now that his players (for the most part) are in the NFL, the team defense is average.

        So from the eye test the offense, defense, and special teams is poor.
        What we have to build on is Toney, rb’s, WR’s, cb’s, k, & p.

        We need help everywhere. We need to replace #’s because of the CC mess.
        We need leadership.

        Michigan, Georgia, Miami, UCF seem to have gotten better from coaching hire.
        Maybe UF will get lucky?
        We got better immediately with SOS & UM.

  6. The man can speak in actual sentences that say actually say something! How refreshing. By definition then he has to be better at communicating with his players. I wish him the best of luck. His press conference was in itself a big departure from the prior ineffective regime. Go Gators!

  7. Kevin Brockway’s retweet of the youtube snippet of the postgame presser after Air Force beats CSU and the accompanying article makes you wonder what Foley was thinking. Apparently his abrasive personality and bold arrogance was no secret to anybody out there. Did Foley think by giving him the reigns to an elite SEC program like Florida that that would somehow tame him down a bit? Looks like it just threw a log on the narcissism bonfire. And when it became apparent to himself that this was no Mountain West, second tier (sorry CSU), football program and that he may be in over his head, he seemed to have panicked. And to me his most visible gaffe (among quite a few), was to stick with Nuss, through thick and thin using the two East championships as justification for keeping him on.
    And by the way…this is just me…I can’t stand how he is a breath away from a snot bubble blowing full on cry fest every time he loses a ballgame. For God’s sake man, don’t cry! I want a “I’m a man! I’m 40!” kinda speech at the presser after a tough loss.