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June 12, 2013
In Part I of Parting Thoughts: Sam Robey, the former Florida offensive lineman talked about his decision to come to Florida, the dynamics that came with playing for Urban Meyer and Will Muschamp and more. In Part II, Robey dives a little deeper into what playing at UF was like behind the scenes.
ITG: You went through three offensive line coaches at UF. Does one stand out as the guy who helped you the most?
Robey: "Steve Addazio was the reason I came to Florida. No doubt about it. I still love Addazio. His intensity is tough to compare to anyone. It's funny: Addazio was a mix between Frank Verducci and Tim Davis. Davis is real outspoken and in your face, too. Maybe not as severe as Addazio can be at times. Verducci was an unbelievable technician. I learned a lot through Verducci, just with technique. Addazio is why I came here so he's obviously the one who stands out. I was with him for two-and-a-half or three years. All three of them have had lasting impacts on me. Verducci was the best technician of them all, but Davis, he was great at making football fun again."
ITG: You played in 45 games at UF but were never a regular starter. I'd imagine you could have started at other schools. Why stay at Florida?
Robey: "I've been asked this a bunch. Not a lot of people know, but I actually could have graduated in three-and-a-half years. I took 19 hours one fall. That way I wouldn't have had to sit out if I wanted to transfer. But when it came down to it, I felt like Florida was going to be my home so I didn't really want to leave it. I know football is not going to be there forever. I knew having a degree from here and the relationships I have formed with people down here, I've made so many from everywhere. That was more important than transferring and giving up. I'd rather ride out the storm and see what's going to happen and work my butt off. The relationships and the life I was going to have after football was going to be better here. Florida is home."
ITG: What was the Jeff Driskel-Jacoby Brissett quarterback battle like behind the scenes?
Robey: "It was going to suck for whichever one didn't get picked. I personally did not want to do a two-quarterback rotation thing. A team needs one quarterback, in my eye. Obviously it kind of helped for that one game when Driskel went down with his ankle injury. Jacoby stepped up and came in and played well. It was tough watching for Jacoby because it sucked for him. It would have been the same if Jacoby was playing and Driskel was on the sidelines. It would have been tough either way. It was a catch-22. You knew it was going to be bad for one of them, but I definitely didn't want a two-quarterback system."
ITG: Was there any divide on the team as far as players supporting one guy or the other?
Robey: "There was a little. I'm not going to name any names with that. That's in the past now. There was a little at first, especially. It kind of got brushed under the rug when we started beating LSU and everything. When we got into the season and started winning."
ITG: The reason I ask that is because of the pro-Brissett Matt Elam tweets that have made the rounds the past few months.
Robey: "It was a tough situation because they're both great at two different things. Jeff's a freaky athlete with a great arm, and I always compare Jacoby to Ben Roethlisberger. He's a big guy and he is athletic. He's great at scrambling within the pocket and having a guy holding on to him and making a pass 20 yards down the field. He just isn't as freaky athletic as Driskel. What made it tough is it somewhat became a race thing and that was what sucked. There were guys that you've been friends with for years and then all of a sudden it's one side or the other. That was definitely a shitty situation for the team. Not just for the quarterbacks, but for the team. It was not ideal."
ITG: The offense last year was equal parts dominant in the run game and shaky in the passing game. What were your overall impressions of 2012?
Robey: "Other than our two losses, I thought our offense did what it needed to do. We took up clock, gave the defense rest. Other than those two games, I thought we did what we were taught and designed to do. Our defense was great. I would put our defense up against any in the nation. I don't think there's any comparison. We wore down defenses in the first half like we were supposed to. The defense needed to win the first half and we would come through in the second. That was an unsaid thing. At least that's how it looked. The running offense was a huge step up from the previous year. We knew that because of the quarterback play, whichever one did play, it was still going to be their first year of starting, which is tough. I can't wait to watch this team next year. (Mike) Gillislee is a tough guy to replace. I hear he's doing great in Miami and I'm freaking crazy excited for him. But the running backs they still have there with Mack Brown, Matt Jones and that freshman Kelvin Taylor, I don't see too much of a drop-off. There's so much talent back there. Gillislee, it was his time and he had a great senior year and he should have been playing for years before that. He bided his time and he was rewarded. Driskel having that first year under his belt, getting a tighter mesh with him and the receivers, he can get the timing of the routes down. He can learn the offense even more. They liked to say the offense was the same, but no it wasn't. There were a lot of differences. I think Brent Pease will get Driskel ready. I'm excited to see this team next year. I don't think there will be as much pressure put on the defense."
ITG: How beneficial is it for Driskel to not have someone he has to look over his shoulder for at quarterback?
Robey: "That will definitely help out a whole lot. That was another part that was hard about last year. I think Jeff, in the back of his mind, made some of the decisions he did because he was worried, 'Don't mess up. Don't mess up because I don't want to come out.' That's got to be the last thing in your head when you're playing out there. I think it will be huge for Jeff's confidence and everything."
ITG: Who stands out on the offensive line heading into 2013?
Robey: "I lived with Jonotthan Harrison for a year and a half, so I'm always excited to watch Jon. He's a hell of a player and athlete. Jon Halapio, he's one of the most powerful guys I've ever seen, honestly. He's going to be a monster. From what I saw last year, D.J. Humphries is really something special. He could be really great in a couple years. He'll be great next year but he got through his first year not really knowing all the plays and everything. He's a freaky athlete, and I think he's going to be a really great tackle.
"I'm excited to see Max Garcia. When he got here, I was the one who kind of took him around on his visits and everything. I'm excited he's going to get to play. I know that was really tough for him last year. He's a hell of a player. He started as a true freshman at Maryland. He's a talented guy."
ITG: You're from Louisville. Was the Sugar Bowl a tough way to go out? Did you feel the season ended for the team mentally after FSU?
Robey: "I wanted to win that more than anyone else on the team, obviously. I don't know exactly what other people were thinking. I guess some people had one foot out the door. After we didn't get a national championship opportunity, I feel like it wasn't as focused of a team as we had been all season. That's kind of what it seemed like. I had a knot in my stomach two or three days before the game. A sixth sense almost kicked in. I got worried about it.
"I don't know if this sounds right, but I wouldn't want to lose to any other team. I have four guys I played with in high school that I was really close with that were on Louisville's team. I was happy for them, but I was so happy for Charlie Strong. (UL athletic director) Tom Jurich is one of my dad's close friends, so I was really happy for Tom. But it sucked. It was the worst way to go out, but if we had to lose to anyone I guess it doesn't sting quite as much that Louisville got that win. It meant more to them and it showed."
ITG: Do you have a favorite moment from your time at Florida?
Robey: "Gosh, there's been a lot of them. Beating LSU and Florida State this past year, the way we did. Those were up there. Two other ones that stand out from my early years: One's the game against LSU my freshman year when Brandon Spikes punted that ball out of the end zone, and I remember (Tim) Tebow going into the north end zone. Every time he pumped his arms, the crowd just went up to an unbelievable level of loud. It was insane. And then definitely the national championship game, the two goal-line stands and then Ahmad (Black) picking that ball off. Those were the first ones that came along."
ITG: What are your plans from here?
Robey: "I had some opportunities to do the CFL, but I don't want to do that. My dad asked, 'Is it worth it to be like I am?' He's 56 years old and he can barely walk. He's got one new knee and a titanium hip. He got the hip done when he was 38. I'd rather be able to run when I'm 50. I'm going to get into real estate. I'm back in Gainesville right now. I got my place for the summer, so I came down to get my Florida license. The plan is to go down to Naples and get into real estate."