Howard Still Learning from New Staff

The four game drought of October is over for the Florida Gator football team, and it looks like November has brought new life. The Gators snapped their losing streak with a 26-21 homecoming victory over Vanderbilt, and Defensive Tackle Jaye Howard says the team was desperate for the win.

"It feels great," Jaye Howard said. "The last couple of weeks I haven't really wanted to come on campus, I haven't wanted to go out on the town."

Since coming to Florida, none of the players on this team have been through a slump of this magnitude. Howard says it hasn't been fun, but it's made them a much closer group.

"It was a learning experience. It humbled a lot of people. It just made us a better team, you stick together through that you can stick together through anything," he said.

The 6-foot-3, 303-pound red shirt senior will graduate in December and is finishing up his degree with an internship. He credits much of his improvement on the field this season to the extra work he's had time for with a lighter class schedule.

"I took advantage of my time this year, I'm not taking any classes, so I'm in watching film with my coaches everyday just trying to get better," Howard said.

"There's still certain areas that I need to improve on. I'm still young. I've only been playing football since my freshman year of high school, so there's a lot I have to learn still."

So far this season, Howard's recorded 46 tackles (4.5 for a loss), 2.5 sacks, and 3 hurries. He says he's been able to be more of a consistent player, and having more depth on the defensive line is a big help.

"In the past I played too many plays, so I wasn't able to give it all I had every play," he said. "Now we have enough depth that I don't have to be out there when I'm tired."

Howard also credits Coach Will Muschamp for encouraging him.

"He really has been a tremendous change for me in my life. I just want to see him win," he said. "He motivates me. I talk to him every other day and he always has something positive to say."

This weekend, the Gators travel to Columbia to face former Florida football coach Steve Spurrier and the number 13 Gamecocks (7-2, 5-2 SEC). Howard remembers last year's 36-14 loss to South Carolina in the Swamp and says this year will be different.

"It was tough. Lattimore ran all over us. Our defensive line just didn't hold up. This year we're going to try to impact the game more," he said.

The Gamecocks are coming off a 44-28 loss to number 8 Arkansas in Fayetteville, and are without star running back Marcus Lattimore. Howard says not having to face Lattimore doesn't make much of a difference for him.

"I'm not scared of competition, we want them at their best. Unfortunately for him, he got hurt, we would have loved to play him, we already faced great running backs before," Howard said. "They're still a great team, they're going to come out with a lot of trick plays."

After falling to Georgia two weeks ago, the Gators are out of the running to win the SEC East. South Carolina is still in it, and Howard says the Gators are ready to be a spoiler for the Gamecocks.

"We don't want them to go to Atlanta, we wanted to go there."

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