RBs Focused on Protecting the Football

Stan Drayton sees a silver lining in the cloud of fumbles and missed assignments hanging over his running backs after game one. Drayton said, while the run game did not go as planned in Florida's opener against Miami (OH), he is feeling good about what his guys have produced in practice this week.

"It's a lack of focus and a lack of mental toughness to be honest with you. That's our deal. Our number one job is to protect the quarterback and to protect that football. For us not to be able to do that, even with an emphasis placed on it on a daily basis from the moment they walk on this campus, that's very disappointing. I love the way they're carrying the football right now in practice. You can tell there's some pride in those individuals and we're going to get it fixed."

Emmanual Moody, Jeff Demps and Mike Gillislee all came away from the game with fumbles. Stan Drayton said this week of practice has been a collective effort toward fixing problems dictated by some good old-fashioned self-inspection.

"I don't want to put a grade on it. I hold my guys to a high expectation level and we put the ball on the ground. All three of my guys fumbled the football at some point in that game and it really disrupted the flow of the game. We hold ourselves directly accountable. We are looking ourselves in the mirror right now and we're coming away with information saying we can definitely get better. It was a great learning experience. Fortunately we were able to come out with the win from it but we know that style of play-putting the ball on the ground- will lose ball games around here. It's just not a characteristic of this football team and we need to get it fixed. We're disappointed but we've got the right mindset going into this week as we prepare for South Florida."

Drayton insists that all fumbles are not created equal, even if a RB is fighting for extra yards and loses his handle on the football. He reiterates the importance of taking care of that ball first and foremost.

"Our job description is to fight for extra yards and I expect them to protect the football in the process of doing that. It's absolutely not acceptable one way or the other. I can't put different levels of fumbling together like that."

So, what exactly went wrong with the run game last week? Drayton admits schematic mistakes were made but he hints at the blatant fact that a sorry O-Line made it very difficult for his backs to find holes to run through. He's counting on a much-improved showing from every offensive unit against the Bulls.

"We had some missed assignments within the scheme of the play. We just have to get some continuity within our offensive unit and get some guys back healthy. We need to get that rhythm that Florida's been accustomed to having. We just didn't find that rhythm last Saturday. It was just a very erratic game for us and, like I said, I didn't want it to happen for us that way but I believe it was a blessing in disguise. It really woke our players up and we've had a nice sense of urgency this week. I expect to see a better performance out of everybody."

Urgency. It's a word Urban Meyer has used repeatedly this week as well. Drayton agrees, saying this urgency is already deeply engrained in the players. They understand the test that will be rolling into The Swamp tomorrow. They have more to prove than they thought they would after last week's discouraging, yet unexpected melt down.

"We're playing a very athletic opponent in South Florida. We know a lot of those guys down there can play some football because we recruited some of those guys. We're not taking this team for granted at all. They're a fast, athletic team and they're physical on defense. They've got some experience in the secondary so we've just got to go out there and execute. Our main focus is us. We have to execute. Once we get that taken care of we feel like we can go out and compete with anybody in the country."

But, Florida doesn't really have to worry about competing with anybody in the country tomorrow. They just have to find a way to win against the elusive South Florida. How do you prepare for a team that you really don't know too much about? Drayton said it's all about research.

"We turned the film on and we studied the mess out of them. Obviously they've got a new coaching staff and some transition so that's forcing us to do some research deeper into the history of those coaches as opposed to just the team. When we turn on South Florida film we're looking at what they're capable of doing athletically. From the schematic stand point we have to go back and study those coaches which means we may be looking at other teams to do that."
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