Muschamp Happy With Florida Pass Rush

The Florida defensive game plan was straightforward. They had to get to Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. Letting him sit in the pocket and dissect the defense wouldn't end well for the young Florida secondary. The defensive line responded and picked up the slack. There were three sacks and six quarterback hurries as the Gators effected Bray enough to help out the secondary.

"We had some good pressures," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "We've got to get pressure with four guys rushing. Sharrif (Floyd) being back helps that. We've got to challenge those guys every week. Because of protections and how skilled quarterbacks and skill guys are, it's tough to play a bunch of middle field coverage."

Of the three sacks, Jon Bostic and Jelani Jenkins each had one as the Gators showed a more versatile blitz package than the first two games of the season. When the sacks weren't recorded, the impact was still felt.

Ronald Powell opened the second half by forcing Bray out of the pocket, where he threw an interception to Josh Evans that the Gators drove down for a touchdown.

Muschamp said earlier this week that the Gators needed more production out of Powell, and he stepped up. He combined with Jaye Howard for a sack and had two quarterback hurries.

"I saw him several times hitting the quarterback," Muschamp said. "I didn't tell you all anything different than what I told him. We just needed more production."

With a pass-heavy Tennessee offense, Muschamp spent most of his time watching the Florida secondary. That caused him to not be sure about the success of the pass rush, but the vibe he got from the other defensive coaches was positive.

"I'm generally watching the back end when I see it's a pass, but I always ask on the headset after every play, ‘did we hit the quarterback?' Generally, I just want to know if we hit him or not," Muschamp said. "I heard that a good bit."

The defensive line also got a boost from the return of Sharrif Floyd. The crowd roared when his name was announced for tackles on Saturday, showing their appreciation. He recorded three tackles, a pass breakup and two quarterback hurries.

The most important lift might have come from an emotional standpoint.

"He's a leader," Muschamp said. "He's an outstanding young man, as good as we've got in that locker room. When he says something, he commands a lot of respect because of his honesty, integrity and the type of man he is."

INCONSISTENCY IN THE SECONDARY: The Florida secondary heard all week about the challenge of facing Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. The results were mixed.

Bray completed 26-of-48 passes for 288 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. The interception number should've been higher, as the Florida defenders dropped multiple interceptions.

"We've dropped a bunch of interceptions this year," Muschamp said. "I guess it's just do more ball drills or something."

Overall, Muschamp thought the secondary played well, but he was unhappy with the penalties. There were five pass interference penalties called against the Gators that drew some frustrated reactions from the sideline.

Muschamp didn't say anything controversial about the referees after the game, but he said they would review the film before making judgments on how the defensive backs played.

"As I evaluate and watch the film, I'm able to tell a young man if he's in good position there," Muschamp said. "Sometimes they just call a foul."

Sophomore safety Matt Elam has been a coach in the backfield for the Florida secondary. He had a pass breakup and an interception that sealed the game.

"Matt makes the calls for us on the back end," Muschamp said. "You've got to have a guy you can go to. You can sit on the sideline and not have a great feel of where we are. He's got a good feel for that. He's instinctive and tough."

START OF CONFERENCE PLAY: Muschamp said the tone around the team changed at the end of the UAB game last week, and it was easily noticeable before the game. As the team for off the bus for Gator Walk, Muschamp commented about the noticeable different in passion and excitement of his players and the fans.

Once inside the stadium, it wasn't much different.

"This atmosphere in this stadium is unparalleled," Muschamp said. "When you walked out into it today, you felt a different buzz. Our guys understand what's at stake, but certainly a different buzz around you.

"This one counts for one. Next week counts for one. We need to enjoy this tonight and then get locked in on Kentucky."

PENALTIES A PROBLEM: The game was slowed by a combined 26 penalties, while 16 of them were on the Gators. Florida was penalized for 150 yards. It wasn't ideal for the Gators, and the coaches will work on it this week.

"I look at penalties a few ways," Muschamp said. "Are they disciplined penalties? Did we jump offside when we were down at the 13-yard line? That's an issue. We had to call timeout because we didn't get the right personnel in the game. That's an issue. Those are procedural issues that are discipline penalties.

"Those are things you have to get corrected. They have to be addressed. Are they being addressed the right way? Obviously not because they're still happening."

The pass interference calls need to improve, especially from a young secondary. However, there could be worse signs from a secondary made up up of two freshmen and two sophomores.

"There are penalties that are aggressive penalties that are judgment calls, and those happen," Muschamp said. "Especially in the way we play, because we play a lot of man-to-man coverage."

STURGIS SOLID: After an injury plagued 2010, Caleb Sturgis is now 9-for-9 this season kicking field goals. With the struggles in the red zone, he has given the Gators a security blanket to at least leave the field with points.

"To know you feel good when he walks on the field and the ball's on the 35-yard line, you feel very comfortable when he walks on the field. Caleb has been outstanding for us."


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