"You never want to give up a punt block, and we hadn't in years," Terron Sanders said. "To know that you're the sole reason for it, it puts a damper on it."
Sanders said they watched film and have corrected the issue. He said that he simply bit on an outside fake by the Vanderbilt player, who then cut back inside and got an easy punt block.
When South Carolina comes to town this weekend, there won't be room for small mistakes, especially not on special teams. An appearance in the SEC Championship Game is on the line, and it's possible for the Gators to play in their third straight if they can get by the Gamecocks.
"This is a make or break game," Sanders said. "As seniors, we don't want to be out of the SEC Championship Game. It'll hurt to know that we had it in our fingertips and let it go, if we don't do what we need to do. It has a lot of value to us."
The South Carolina offense has all the pieces to give any defense trouble. They have an athletic, yet inconsistent, quarterback in Stephen Garcia. When he is paired with freshman running back Marcus Lattimore, it's a duo that defenses have to focus on stopping.
It would be easier to do if it wasn't for Alshon Jeffery, whose statistics are the best for any receiver in the SEC. He has 59 catches for 1,034 yards and seven touchdowns. Tori Gurley has 36 catches for 357 yards and four touchdowns, giving the Gamecocks a receiving duo that is tough to stop.
"We know they're going to give us everything they've got," Sanders said. "It's going to be a challenge to contain the running back and quarterback. It's going to take tremendous focus for us to go in with the game plan and shut it down."
Florida head coach Urban Meyer said Monday that the South Carolina run game is tough because they run read plays, forcing the Florida defense to focus on Garcia as a potential run threat out of the backfield.
"It opens up the threat of them popping off a run," Sanders said. "In the three games we've lost, we were shaky on stopping the run. It throws in a big factor for them, having a healthy running back and running quarterback."
The Florida defense knows they have to get into the backfield and hit Garcia. The moment he becomes comfortable in the pocket is when he will give the Gators trouble. For a quarterback that has dealt with inconsistencies throughout his career, any hit on Garcia could be the one that has him expecting more Gators coming his way.
"We've got to do a better job of getting to the quarterback and making him feel uneasy in the pocket," Sanders said. "As soon as he gets comfortable, then we have issues. We've got to keep him with happy feet in the pocket and having him worry that someone is going to hit him."
The upperclassmen on the defense have experienced plenty of big games in Gainesville. The Gators are tied for the lead in the country, playing 17 freshmen this season, meaning the older players have plenty of first-year players to communicate with this week. The seniors have spent time talking to the younger players about how to deal with big games.
"We've made sure to let it be known to the underclassmen how important focus is this week," Sanders said. "Our captains have done a great job reiterating that this is an important week for us."
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