Secondary Had Motivation

The leader of Florida's secondary met with the media following Florida's big win on Saturday and brought a little memento to show off. It seems the Florida coaching staff made sure that Elam and company knew that the super sophomore receivers at Tennessee weren't exactly giving Florida's secondary credit for being very good. Elam was ready to show off the message sent by his coaches.

Earlier in the week, Matt Elam posted on his twitter account about the Tennessee receivers talking trash about the Florida secondary. A laminated card posted on their lockers was enough to get the attention of Elam and the rest of the secondary and they took it to heart.

"Coming into this week, these two guys were talking a lot of trash about what they were going to do to us," Elam said about the super sophomore tandem of Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers. "They were talking about how they were in a groove and going to dominate us. All of the DB's had it on the locker. That was all the motivation I needed.


Elam showed off the card that displayed the trash talking.
"Coach was in our ear all week. ‘They are talking trash, they are coming into our house and talking trash'. He put the poster up in our lockers so it motivated us and pumped us up. We told each other that we were going to show them on the field and not respond but with our pads."

Early on, Hunter was injured, but Rogers was mouthing off quite a bit, despite Florida jumping out to a good lead early in the contest.

"Da'Rick Rogers and all there was a lot of bickering going back and forth, but that is just the game," Elam said. "He's bigger than all of us so he was telling us we were small and all of that. I just told him ‘you are going to get hit'."

Elam, who made it a point to show off the note that was placed by his coaches to the media from the second he arrived in the media room, said the lack of respect certainly got him worked up all week.

"It just made me prepare harder," Elam said. "It made me get more focused and locked in on this team. It really motivated me."

One guy that Elam praised after the game was Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray who threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns on the day. Elam says despite the overall numbers, the secondary played well and is getting better.

"I give Tyler Bray a lot of respect, he was great," Elam said. "He was getting a lot of pressure and was getting rid of the ball. I feel like we are young in the secondary and we stood strong and handled our business. We followed the coach's plan and were successful."

The secondary finished with two interceptions on the night. It was the first two of the year for the guys in orange and blue. Elam was the beneficiary if a high pass by Bray and when he got his chance he made the catch.

"I was praying for that the whole game," he said. "It was a great feeling closing the game out and getting a pick at the end. It was an over thrown ball and I just watched the ball right in my hands. I was very excited.

"That is one reason I play the position is to get interceptions. It was a big play to end the game. It seemed they were on a run and trying to come back, so it was a big thing. I picked Tyler off and I respect him a lot, because he plays great."

Freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson plays a physical game. On Saturday, Roberson played well for most of the game, but there were times when he played a little too physical and got flagged. So is the way it goes when you are learning the ropes in the SEC and against a tough passing team like Tennessee.

"Marcus played well," Elam said of the young corner. "He deserves a lot of respect because he is young. Going up against a good receiver like Da'Rick, he did his job.

"I was just telling him to keep his head up and continue to play hard and physical. Don't give up and let the penalties get you down. When you play aggressive you get penalties."

Elam, like the whole secondary has done this fall, credits the defensive front for putting pressure on the opposing quarterback and giving them a chance to make some plays.

"They do a great job every week and they are my boys," he said of the guys playing in the trenches ahead of him. "They are the reason we make our plays. The front seven gets a lot of respect and without them we wouldn't do it.

Florida disguised some things up front and sent an extra defender after the quarterback a few times, but more times than not it just seemed like more were coming.

"It was just the extra person they couldn't stop," Elam said. "We had Ronald Powell, Dominique Easley, Jaye Howard, and adding Sharrif Floyd, with that fourth guy it was too much trouble for the quarterback."

Watching the sidelines in between series, Elam and head coach Will Muschamp are often times I the middle of serious conversation. According to Elam, the former SEC safety is always trying to make sure Elam is in tune with the things he should be.

"I love Coach Muschamp," he said. "Obviously I respect him a lot with what he knows and the things he does. I feel like our relationship is like a father-son relationship, a great relationship. He stays in my ear, things like ‘be a leader, communicate' (during the game)."

The bottom line is the Gators beat a rival SEC team by ten points and the score should have been much worse. The Gators had multiple chances to score more points and didn't. They could have easily intercepted the ball at least four more times on the night, and didn't. But, they are putting themselves in a position to make those plays.

Every goal is still there for this squad and they are making strides to attain those goals.

"This was the first step to get to Atlanta, and that is all of our guy's goals and dreams," Elam said. "Next week we have another SEC game so we have to get after that."


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