Secondary Prepping for Vols' Ground Attack

The Florida secondary hasn't played a game at full strength this season, and they still lead the country with eight interceptions. Their total doubles second place Alabama's number in the SEC. The secondary will now go up against a power running game in Knoxville this weekend.

The starters in the secondary aren't a concern. Redshirt sophomore Jeremy Brown will play in his first career road game. The other three starters have seen significant playing time over the last two seasons, including safety Will Hill, who is expected to make his first start of the season.

The same experience isn't there in the depth. When Moses Jenkins hyper extended his elbow, three freshmen cornerbacks provide the only depth at the position. Backup safeties Joshua Shaw and Matt Elam haven't seen meaningful playing time on the road.

The veterans in the secondary know how important depth will be, and they are taking it as their responsibility to help the young players along.

"Just by talking to them and informing them," Black said of how they will help the freshmen this week. "I may tell them to check the Internet about it. We just let them know the history."

Brown likes the progress the young corners are making. After Brown went down with a strained hamstring Saturday against USF, each of the three freshmen made plays.

Brown sees it every week in practice, so their production on the field doesn't surprise him.

"They're all doing real good," Brown said. "I'm a big fan of them. They practice hard. That's one thing that's special. They're all trying to get that spot and a chance to come in the game and play. I love the intensity those guys bring to the table. They're going to be special."

Their production doesn't just come from athletic ability. The freshmen have spent extra time in the film room. When they first got to campus, Brown wanted to explain to them how lucky they were to get a chance to play in their first season, as he couldn't because of injury. However, the young players are working hard enough off the field to catch Brown's eye.

"As a group, one thing they do that I wasn't real big on is that they really study the game," Brown said. "Coming in as a freshman, it's hard to study. You just see film and look at it. For them, they're learning route concepts, formations and tendencies. That's impressive."

The Florida secondary knows what they'll be facing this weekend. While Tennessee's wide receivers took a hit when Gerald Jones broke a bone in his left hand, there is still plenty of talent.

Star freshmen Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter flash brilliance, but they are still young. Senior Denarius Moore provides veteran leadership.

"I've heard that SEC receivers are a lot better than what we've been facing," Brown said. "I wouldn't say I'm nervous. I'm really excited. I'm ready for the challenge. I hear a lot about Rocky Top and the rivalry between Florida-Tennessee. I'm ready for the hostile environment."

The environment the young Florida team will experience may take some getting used to. Black remembers only "a bunch of drunk, old people" in Knoxville, but he also knows the importance of the game. It opens SEC play and "should let us know what to look forward to this season."

The Florida coaches know the importance of this game. Florida strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti is always looking for new ways to motivate his team. The Volunteers' "T" made its way to the urinal cakes this week, as well as the extra highlight videos and slogans on the walls of the football facility. Then there is the constant playing of Rocky Top at practice.

"Coach Mick is always nuts," Black said. "I think he turns it up a notch and sleeps on the wrong side of the bed during rivalry week. He's barely got any hair anyway, but he wakes up with bad hair days."
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