"We wanted to come out and start fast to take some pressure off our young (defensive backs)," Omar Hunter said. "We did some good things. There's a lot of stuff to improve on, but we did some things. I think we can get to the quarterback more and be more alert on formations at times."
The front seven has heard enough from the coaches that they now have spent multiple conversations talking about their importance to the team. The biggest help a young secondary can have is a pass rush. When the quarterback has all day to sit in the pocket, he can dissect any little mistake made by a member of the secondary.
When the pass rush is in his face, the quarterback has to hurry his throws, helping out a secondary without much experience.
"We talk about that among the front seven," Hunter said. "We are the most experienced group, so we always tell each other we should get to the quarterback to take some pressure off that group."
Hunter even took a few of the young secondary members aside before the game. Safety Pop Saunders and cornerback Marcus Roberson started the first games of their Florida careers, and Hunter wanted to make sure they learned from his freshman mistakes.
"I just told the guys not to be tight," Hunter said. "In my first game I ever played in The Swamp, I was tight. That crowd got to me. I told them to come out, have fun and enjoy the moment. Before you know it, once your bell gets rocked or you rock someone's bell, you'll be right there."
With the help of a solid pass rush, the Florida defense held the Owls to just 107 passing yards. There were only two sacks, but Florida Atlantic moved the pocket and threw quick passes to offset the advantage Florida had on the line of scrimmage.
The run defense was also solid, allowing just 30 yards on the ground. The competition wasn't very good, but what happened between plays also encouraged the senior.
"We're more alert as far as the checks that our linebackers are making," Hunter said. "The communication was great out there."
After putting in the new defense during the offseason, Saturday night was exciting for the players to show it off to fans. It was also about erasing memories of the past.
"We were so ready for this game because we could erase some memories from last year," Hunter said. "At the same time, we still keep it in the back of our heads because we want to use it as motivation to get better."
Hunter didn't play much on Saturday, and he came to the press conference with his right hand in a cast after an injury. He said that long hours went into getting him on the field for the game, but he expects to be fine for next week.
With the way sophomore Dominique Easley played, Hunter could've taken the night off. Easley made three tackles, one for loss, during the game and seemed to be in the backfield almost every play.
"Dominique Easley is a monster," Hunter said. "He's just a monster. He came in hungry, wanting to play tonight. He really showed the type of football player he is."
Easley doesn't just help the team on the field. When there is a rough point in the game or during practice, he's known for breaking out into a dance that loosens the team up and helps them regroup.
"Easley sucks at dancing," Hunter said through a smile and shaking his head. "Let me put that out there. He sucks at dancing. But, he keeps us going when he does that. He brings a lot of juice to this team, and I love him for that."