Quinn Notebook: Halftime Locker Room Key

When the Gators went to the locker room at halftime during the first three games, the mood was surprisingly upbeat. Florida trailed at the half during the past two weeks but came into the locker room optimistic about fixing the problems. That upbeat attitude wasn't always the case in 2011. The eagerness to correct issues has been an important part of the strong second half play this season.

When the team comes into the locker room from the field, the coaches go into an office and meet together as a staff. They're drawing it the adjustments and talking about the different things seen from the coaches on the field and the coaches in the booth.

During that time, the players are getting more tape, drinking water or trying to reenergize for the second half.

There were times in 2011 when it wasn't always the most civil meeting for the players. This year, it's different. The coaches have emerged from their meeting with schematic changes and found players eager to listen.

"You can just tell it's a locked in group with the defense. All of us talking, the adjustments that we had to make and we go through and do that," Quinn said. "As we get to half, we can kind of emphasize what we're going to do for the second half. It might just be, ‘Hey, let's rally together. This is what we need to do to win the game in the second half.'"

Last year, halftime adjustments were more possible for Quinn. There are five extra minutes during halftime in the college game, and coming from the NFL, those five minutes were a welcomed surprise.

"It is a really big difference," Quinn said. "You'd think why would five minutes make such a difference, but it really does seem to make a difference. At times in the past you felt rushed to go in quick and make the adjustment and have to get back out. In college, it seems a lot longer, so you can go in and talk about some of the things that you need to do more of. It is a big difference. It would seem small, just five minutes, but there really is a big difference."

SECONDARY BOUNCING BACK: Marcus Roberson struggled early in the game at Tennessee on Saturday while being called for pass interference and a holding penalty in the first quarter. Jaylen Watkins added a pass interference, too.

It looked like the Florida secondary would struggle throughout the game. However, Quinn encouraged the secondary on the sideline and told the group to stick with it, and their play improved throughout the game.

The challenge on the other side of the field was two likely first-round picks at receiver in Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson.

"I'll give credit to Tennessee and to their receivers, who made some plays," Quinn said. "There were some times where it was really good, tight coverage and they threw a ball and completed it. At corner, there's going to be some balls completed on you. You've got to be willing to battle and compete and trust your technique to go back at it the next play."

The early struggles still produced errors for the Gators to look at during the week of practice. Some of it came down to communication. Plays were brought in late and coverages were confused.

"We had communication errors in terms of eye control and how we played," Quinn said. "That was one of the things we're talking about and how we can improve."

FORCING TURNOVERS: The Gators have forced four turnovers through the first three games of the season, and two of them came at Tennessee. Lerentee McCray disguised his coverage and picked off Tyler Bray in the first quarter, and McCray hit Bray later in the game to allow Matt Elam to intercept an errant throw.

"Sometimes it's a combination everybody doing things together," Quinn said. "On the one that Matt had, Lerentee had a hit, the ball went up high where Matt had a chance to pick it. Although it might be sometimes one guy makes an individually terrific play, other times, really the whole unit working together in terms of creating takeaways."

The film showed some mixed opportunities for the Florida defense, too. Quinn saw times when Tennessee ball carriers weren't handling the ball as close to their body as they should have. Quinn wants his defense to see those chances more.

"We thought we maybe had a chance on a couple of those to get the ball out," Quinn said. "For us to only get two, we're really trying to get three or more a game, so we just missed that goal for us."

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