Quinn on LB's and DB's

While his linebackers are playing well and relating well with each other, his defensive backs are focused and working on cleaning up some little things to make them a better unit. Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn likes what he sees from his back seven and knows some secondary growing pains will pay dividends down the road for a very talented defense.

Florida has gotten stellar linebacker play so far from the three main guys and two in particular that have to work well together during a game. Behind the line of scrimmage, the WILL and MIKE linebacker roam the middle of the defense and that is where you will usually find Jelani Jenkins (WILL) and Jon Bostic (MIKE) doing their thing.

Being so much in the middle of it, the two need to communicate well and from Dan Quinn's perspective, that seems to be happening.

"In good defenses you will see that there is a lot of good communication from position to position," Quinn said late Wednesday in a meeting with the Florida media. "That is what you see between those two guys and I am really encouraged as we move into our fourth ball game. Those are the kind of things we expect from the guys and those are two guys we have a really high opinion of moving forward."

Quinn loves the work ethic of junior Bostic and the fact that being such a student of the game, he tends to understand the little things he needs to do very quickly.

"The level of preparation, that's one of the things I have noticed of him," Quinn said. "He gets football easy, so let's talk about the game plan and when we call this, this is why. I think he is progressing nicely. As a player when you (see a player's) good tendency, you like to play off of it. Sometimes if we are making a certain call in a ball game it might be let's be alert for this. Sometimes it might be a down and distance indicator or personnel indicator. If they are going to be in a four wide (set) or empty (set), this call might be an indicator for him"

Jenkins has seemingly been everywhere and especially around the ball in the first three games. Quinn says it is the nature of the position and the styles of offense the Gators have played against, but also the fact that Jenkins is a superb football player.

"Sometimes with that position some opportunities will come your way when you are playing WILL, but I think he is off to a fast start," Quinn said of Jenkins. "In nickel because of the style of game plan we played, we played some man-to-man where the tight end at times was the target, so I think at times he had the chance to get his hands on some balls."

Probably the biggest complaint from most that watched the game against Tennessee was the number of penalties, especially pass interference and holding, against the secondary. According to Quinn, this will be a defense that will continue to press and get after teams, but they are going to work hard on teaching the right things to get those penalties down.

"We are going to play physical, coach aggressive, and play aggressive," Quinn said matter of fact like. "There were penalties where there were bang-bang plays and they will happen. We are going to work our techniques hard just like we do every week, but for us we are going to stay with our style of play."

Quinn was quite happy that his defensive backs, despite all the penalties, were exactly where they were supposed to be in coverage and had a chance to make a play almost every single time.

"I think it was cool to see our guys challenged," he said. "I am certainly not surprised by that because of the competitive nature I have seen from those guys. So for them to play on guys and challenge is exactly the style we want them to do."

He also believes they can do some things to catch some dropped interceptions that marred the game defensively for his squad.

"I definitely think it is correctable and we are trying to coach all the time," he said. "The more opportunities where you do that, even at practice where you are getting the ball, those will transfer to the game. If you aren't picking them off in practice… for the first time for something to happen in the game (it isn't probable). We would like for them to pick them in practice too."

Quinn talked about the play of his safeties right now. What he really likes is that the group is very versatile. Sophomore Matt Elam, freshman Pop Saunders, sophomore Josh Evans, and freshman Joshua Shaw have all played well and been asked to do a few different things.

"The strength at safety there are a couple of guys… Elam, Pop, Evans, and Shaw, they are the guys that get most of the work in practice," Quinn said. "I have been impressed with Elam from early on. He was a guy that could get his hands on the ball, did a good job communicating, he was fast, and good enough safety that can get down and play safety. You usually don't see that. I think that is one of the cool things about he and Saunders is that they are safeties with cover ability. That is one of the things that jump out to you about the two safeties is that they can really play the deep part of the field but also come down and cover and as a defense that really gives you more options."

Sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs and freshman CB Marcus Roberson are starting on the outside and both hail from the same high school, St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale. Both have played solid so far and made some terrific plays, and both still have some things they can get better at.

"Outside at corner, we play an aggressive style and coach aggressive and they play aggressive," Quinn started. "Both are really competitive. One of the things I noticed really early with Cody was just how competitive he is. He will challenge people and play on them. I am pleased with the style they are playing and whether they are taller guys or shorter guys I think they rise to it and play.

Roberson has been impressive in his coverage ability. Flagged for a few penalties, he is still on his man like a glove. Quinn loves that Roberson is spending time in the film room studying his opponent and says that is something he has really progressed in since his arrival in June.

"I think one of the hardest things for a rookie coming in is how do you even learn how as a rookie to prepare for a game," he said. "That is the thing I have seen him improve in from week one to week three. How do you take notes on guys and how do you even watch tape? Before you might watch tape and where the ball was thrown as opposed to these are the guys I have to cover and how am I going to study for it.

"Early on we had to say ‘this is how you do it and this is what you look for'. Once you learn that skill it will always stay with you as a player. Here is a technique you have to learn that is going to add value to them the whole time they are doing this and that is really the message that we are sending to the guys, every week the preparation stays the same. Every week you go through the same routine, you prepare the same way. That is how you build consistency. We really believe in that approach and it's one I think the guys are buying into to.


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