Florida Defense Wants More Playing Time

Saturday night was unfamiliar for Jon Bostic and the Florida defense. After spending most of last season on the field as the offense sputtered, the defense didn't get much time on the field in the season opening win over Florida Atlantic. The success of the Florida offense took away from valuable reps the defense could have taken. However, they certainly aren't complaining.

"Our offense kept us off the field a little more than we were used to," Jon Bostic said with a laugh. "We were on the field forever last year. This year, we were pissed off in the first half. We asked (the offense), "Can we play?" At the end of the second quarter, I think I was in on 12 plays at the most."

The Florida defense allowed just 137 total yards to the Owls. Only 30 of them came on the ground, where FAU running back Alfred Morris record just 16 yards on 14 carries. Morris is expected to take over as the school's career leading rusher in the next few games.

That's a stat the Florida defense will focus on for the rest of the season. If it can stop the opponent's run game, it makes them one-dimensional.

"That's our main focus every week," Bostic said. "We want to get them in second and low and third and long. That first down is where we really want to stop the run."

Bostic made just three tackles, including one for a loss, in Saturday's game. The other starting linebackers, Jelani Jenkins and Lerentee McCray, combined for nine tackles.

Bostic was happy with how the linebackers played, but there are still areas of their game that need work.

"I think we played pretty good, but we still have things to work with on our technique and getting all the calls out," Bostic said. "Overall, we did pretty well. We just need to make sure we know what we're doing on every play and get more comfortable in there. We're comfortable in practice, but getting in front of the lights and in front of another team, you start thinking a little bit more."

The Gators spent the entire offseason putting their new defensive scheme in. However, until the used it during a real game in front of a packed stadium and an opponent that hadn't seen it, it was hard for the team to judge how the defense looked.

The toughest part is communication. Head coach Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn lean heavily on the safeties to get the calls in to the defense, but the linebackers are also responsible for spreading the calls to the defensive line.

Bostic liked how the communication went on Saturday, especially within the linebacker position.

"Communication is real good, especially between me and Jelani," Bostic said. "I may look at him and he looks at me, and we know what we're thinking. We've been trying to get the communication like that with all of us. We need to have that chemistry."

There are plenty of smaller issues Bostic wants the linebackers to fix, but the main area for the defense to work on is turnovers. They didn't record one turnover against FAU, and it's something the coaching staff has stressed throughout the week.

"Even though we held them to limited rushing and passing yards, that's one thing we stress is that we need at least three turnovers a game," Bostic said. "That's our goal."

It looked like there would be at least one, as Jenkins had a pass thrown right at him. It hit off his hands and dropped to the ground. It still forced a punt, but his teammates wouldn't let him hear the end of it.

"We tell him every day that he can't catch," Bostic said.

Fightin Gators Top Stories