Florida Defense Using Unique Preparation

The Florida film study is unique as the Gators prepare to open SEC play at Texas A&M. It's impossible to plug in a tape and analyze the game. It's a lot of changing from one film to another. That's the problem with preparing for a new coaching staff in its first game at a school. The Gators watch Texas A&M film from last year to see the personnel, but they flip to Houston film to watch the scheme.

"You can watch some of last year's Texas A&M to get a little feel for the personnel," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "That can only go so far. I'd like to look to see what his speed is like and that kind of thing. The scheme standpoint is different. You have this balance of, I'd like to know who the opponent is, but at the same time know what the scheme is. That's the challenge for the players this week."

It's a hard position for players and coaches to be in. It's especially difficult because of the unfamiliarity between the two teams. It's the first matchup between Florida and Texas A&M since 1977. Florida players haven't played at Kyle Field, and they haven't gone up against the Aggies' skill players.

Within the SEC, Florida usually prepares for the same teams every year in conference play. This year is different. It's a new scheme with a group of skill players the Gators have never faced.

"I thought it was important for the players at least to see some of the returners for their team, their style and who they are," Quinn said. "Is this guy tall? Is he bigger? What kind of runner is he? Is he a bounce out runner? An inside runner? They certainly have some receivers with production. Okay, what's their size? How do they play? What's their speed?

"I can see a little bit of them, but I still have to go back to the Houston tape to say, ‘this is the route, this is the thing.' There's a little bit of combination between the two."

Quinn was confident the biggest improvement in his defense would come from game one to game two of the season. That's an advantage for Florida, since the Aggies will open their season on Saturday after Hurricane Isaac postponed their first game.

The key for the Florida defense to slow the pass-heavy Aggies is to be physical with the receivers. The Gators will rotate at defensive back to keep the secondary fresh and able to run, but Quinn also wants them to feel strong and able to get their hands on the Texas A&M receivers.

"You've got to be disruptive to the receivers to where they don't have clean looks at things. I think you've got to be physical with those guys," Quinn said.

FRESHMEN IMPACTS: Quinn was most impressed with the immediate impacts freshmen Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler brought to the Gators in the season opener against Bowling Green.

Fowler had three tackles, a half tackle for a loss and one quarterback hurry. The freshman made an impact as a pass rusher from the BUCK position and showed he could help the pass rush early in his career.

"He had a good training camp. He had earned the right to get the turns and that kind of stuff," Quinn said. "I wasn't surprised that he played a lot of turns and that kind of stuff because I really felt like he was ready to do that. He played a lot on third down for us, and I think he's really improving as a rusher and I'm kind of excited to see where he can go.

The stat sheet wasn't as impressive for Bullard. The freshman made just one tackle, but he showed Quinn that he was capable of holding an edge and playing defensive end as a freshman.

"He has natural strength and natural pass rush ability," Quinn said. "For some of the guys, it's how fast can you get acclimated to the terminology and the system and know some of the techniques to play. Some other freshman, well you're going to have to get bigger and stronger to play with some of the guys. I think that's the balance with the new players, who's able to handle it physically and how fast can you get acclimated from a terminology standpoint.

"From a defensive line standpoint Bullard and Fowler are ones that came in, they were physically able to, now how fast can we get them up to speed mentally. Those are two rookies who stood out to me."


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