Better Blocking Key to More Big Plays

The Florida offense has spent the past two weeks of practice focused on the little things. Big plays have become a thing of the past during the current three-game losing streak, but offensive lineman Carl Johnson thinks the team is just missing them. Improving the smaller aspects of the offense could be what the group is missing.

"Holding the extra block out at receiver or chipping on extra linebacker when you're running to the second level," Carl Johnson said. "Things like that and one extra inch where (the defender) reaches out and grabs his jersey, those can be the difference between a seven-yard gain and a 60-yard gain."

The failure to hold the block longer or chip on a linebacker isn't something Johnson attributes to effort. Instead, he just wants his teammates to have a better focus on playing their part in the offense.

"It's not effort, it's just execution," Johnson said. "You can be blocking someone and he can just stick an arm out. You've got to practice those things. You can't just sprinkle pixy dust and expect it to happen. It's repetition."

While they use repetition on the practice field to work out the issues, there is also repetition going on in the football facility. Videos continue to play through the facility, showing tape of Georgia's on-field celebration in 2007 on loop.

However, the Bulldogs' celebration three years ago won't decide Saturday's game. That will come down to how well Florida prepares on the practice field this week.

"That happened three years ago," Johnson said. "It still plays a big role, but we can't look back on three years ago. I didn't even play. I was like, "that's messed up. Why are they going to stomp on us like that?" I was shocked they actually did that."

The purpose for the video is still important. The Florida coaches want it on the minds of the players. They want them to remember when Georgia embarrassed them by dancing in the end zone after their first score of the game.

It stems from strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, who the players say has a memory unlike anyone else.

"He's like one of those old, wise elephants," Johnson said. "He never forgets. He knows your last rep, the last time you were in the weight room-- he never forgets anything."

The Gators will be forced to move the ball against a different Georgia defense than they're used to seeing. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is running a 3-4 defense in Athens, and the Bulldogs have improved in recent weeks as they get more accustomed to it.

"They're a top tier SEC defense," Johnson said. "They're fast, big and make plays. It's a Georgia defense, so they're always good. It's still a solid SEC defense."

It is still hard for Johnson and the upperclassmen not to look back at what has happened in the last three games. They know that looking back will only hinder the rest of the season, but the three-game losing streak frequently sneaks into Johnson's mind.

"Every day, but you can't dwell on it," Johnson said. "We've got to be a good team, stick together and make it to Atlanta. It's still in our reach, so we're not giving up now."

The psyche of this team is a worry at this point. The thought from the outside is that if things start to spin away from Florida this weekend, they could fold the tents and give up.

Johnson won't let it happen. The seniors won't let their careers end like that.

"We trained all offseason for adverse situations, if something like this happens," Johnson said. "We have our fourth quarter program. We're big on sticking together. We have to stick together. If we play the old Gator way, we'll be fine."
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