Hunter's Award a Team Accomplishment

Senior Omar Hunter had the best game of his Gator career on Saturday versus Kentucky, leading the team in tackles with eight, a new career high. Hunter is the big man in the middle for a defense that still lacks a little bit of identity, but is finding its way and the way to the football via turnovers. Hunter was named the SEC's Defensive Lineman of the Week.

It is the first of such an award for Omar Hunter who is in his fifth year on campus with Florida. The defense is making some progress this season as it fights through several injuries among the starters. The progress according to Hunter is coming from guys just playing their assignments instead of trying to make ‘THE PLAY' on every down.

"Guys are locked in and more focused on doing their job and not over compensating for someone else's job," Hunter told the media following the Gators 38-0 win over Kentucky. "We are playing sound defense. Giving the offense the ball in better positions and not backed up all the time."

Hunter's big game is another in the short line of successes so far this season for the defense. He says that the guys are becoming a very tight group and one that is fun to practice and play with on Saturdays. They have a bond built on hard work and dedication in the spring and summer conditioning program.

"This team right here… these are my brothers," he said with a big ole smile. "I know what we did this offseason and the amount of work we put in. I feel confident in this team against anybody. We could go against the San Francisco 49ers.

"I definitely love this team. I love the character of this team. We are hard-nosed. We go out to practice every day and get better and it shows in the game."

The Florida defense is currently ranked in the top 20 in several national defensive categories including total defense, passing defense, scoring defense, passes intercepted, pass efficiency defense, and 3rd down conversions defense. The last two teams they played were leading the conference in passing before they met the Gators.

They haven't been collecting sacks, but the defense has been getting pressure and making life difficult for passing teams as the Gators are fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense.

"The defensive line has worked a lot this off-season to get reps in pass rush and get better in that area," Hunter said. "I think it is really showing right now.

"We are close. We still have a long way to go. We have a lot of improvement to make. If we keep working we will get there."

Hunter is especially proud of going into College Station and beating Texas A&M as well as going into Knoxville and beating Tennessee. Two early road victories in conference is a big thing in the SEC.

"Any time you can go on the road, especially in the SEC and pull out two road wins, it is big for your program," Hunter said. "We had a lot of new guys and going in an environment like that and come out successful. It is bringing this team together."

The new guys are doing big things. Up front, defensive ends Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard are true freshmen that have made an immediate impact. Junior college transfer and defensive tackle Damien Jacobs is also new to the team this year and is in the rotation on the inside.

"Practice is the number one thing," Hunter said of the young guys standing out and why. "They have been showing it at practice and showing they can do it. Our offensive line is one of the top offensive lines in the nation, so if you can do it against our offensive line, you deserve a shot in the game. That is what those guys have done."

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