Many Reasons for Defense's Success

Will Muschamp has been adamant about the main reason his team is doing well this year as opposed to last. Florida's head football coach has maintained how young his team was a year ago and that experience is playing a big part this time around. Experience is one key for a very good defense, but there are other factors as well.

Senior middle linebacker Jon Bostic has been through some wars in his time. He understands the SEC and just how tough things can be. It is hard when you go through it the first time or two and pretty much unexplainable for those that have never even had a taste of it.

Things have been easier for him and his group of linebackers because of the fact that they have been through these battles every week and the fact it is the first time in four years he has had the same guy calling defenses as a year ago.

"It is just another year being in the defense," Bostic said Monday as the Gators prepare for Georgia. "It is the first year we went into the year with the same people. This is also the first year we have gone into it with the same defense. Last year we made some mistakes against the team we are playing for the upcoming week and it's been able to help us for that game."

Bostic is happy to have his side kick back. Jelani Jenkins has missed a lot of the season so far with a couple of different injuries and on Saturday against South Carolina, the junior WILL linebacker played like he never missed a beat. It is another step for this group on defense to be a complete unit and continue to make lives miserable for opposing offenses.

"You saw it Saturday," Bostic said of Jenkins. "He came back and was a big help on the defense. Him being out there and being able to echo the calls a lot more and getting the checks we need a lot faster for pre-snap reads. It is a big help."

In Jenkins absence, Florida got steady play from backups. Freshman Antonio Morrison and sophomore Michael Taylor showed up big at times and have gained some valuable experience for the rest of the way.

"With Mike and Antonio coming in, they both bring something to the table," Bostic said. "Each and every week they learn from the mistakes that I make and Jelani makes. Both have started games this year. They are learning as they go and it's only going to help them."

In all three areas of the defense (line, linebackers, and secondary) they have cross-trained players to play multiple spots. That cross-training has helped when teams go to a no-huddle or fast paced offense so the defense isn't left with mix matched personnel on the field. Getting the young guys on the field a lot has helped with stamina during the game as well.

"We have a lot of guys that have stepped up and played multiple positions," Bostic said. "It helps out when we play no-huddle teams. They (young guys) have a lot more snaps than a lot of teams are used to. We have guys that can step up and not have a drop off.

"You have so many guys that can do so many things. We said last year we weren't pleased with the way we played. We tired out in the third and fourth quarter. This year you can see it has been a 60 minute fight. We are trying to play every play like it's our last. You see guys flying around and diving in left and right. It's just everybody is trying to get after it."

Bostic says the defense feeds off of the energy from the other groups on the team and they feed off of the defense. At the end of the day, the hysteria created by the frenzy of excitement generated with each unit leads to them winning ball games.

When all three phases are happening,. The team can get a lead and then turnovers are a real byproduct of having that lead and forcing teams into things they don't necessarily want to do.

"It all plays together," Bostic said. "When the offense is playing well, special teams are playing well, turnovers are going to come. The offenses will be aggressive and take shots down the field. That is when you will get turnovers if you can.

"(Turnovers are) a big emphasis. The thing is to get the ball off the ball carrier. We have to get the ball back to the offense as much as we can and allow them to score points."

The Gators are currently ranked third in the country in Pass Efficiency Defense. As the game goes on, quarterbacks seem to get worse. The Gators put a premium on hitting the quarterback early even f not sacking him to rattle the signal callers.

Bostic had a huge hit on quarterback Connor Shaw on a deep ball incomplete pass early in the game and it may have helped the cause down the road. "That is one thing we always stress on defense," Bostic said. "We have to get in the quarterback's face and put pressure on him so he can't sit back there and get the ball down the field.

"We want to get to the quarterback and get as many hits as we can on him. Then the passes start going off a little faster. When they aren't getting hit, they feel like they have all day back there."

Big game ahead against Georgia…

The Gators don't want to change what they are doing in preparation for any game as things have worked out fine so far this season. There are so many story lines this week for the Georgia game, you almost can't count them all. A win over the Bulldogs clinches the SEC East for Florida. Muschamp played college football in Athens. The Bulldogs won a year ago in this rivalry game. The two are always matched up head-to-head in recruiting for the same players. The list goes on.

Still, they want to approach this game like every other one.

"It's another SEC opponent and that is how we have to look at it," the level-headed Bostic said. "We have to prepare like every SEC opponent, we can't change our preparation." But, he knows about this game having been in it for three years.

"It is one that goes way back," he said. "A lot of us pretty much watched it when we were kids. We wanted to play in the game. A lot of people are getting the chance for the first time this year and a some it will be the last time." He remembers the first time he played in the game.

"It is something you really can't describe," Bostic said. "As a freshman you can see how important it is and you don't want to lose this one."

Bostic and company have to prepare for one of the toughest running games in the conference led by freshman running back Todd Gurley. With 622 yards on the ground this year, the freshman is averaging a whopping 6.69 yards per carry.

"We have to be able to tackle," he said. "Everyone has to come up and put their face on the ball carrier and keep their feet running. That is something we will focus heavy on this week… tackling. We have to tackle, play smart, and stay on our guy."

He trusts his secondary. A year ago, Georgia won the game basically from two fourth down jump-ball touchdown passes. Something he would be pretty surprised to happen to this Florida secondary.

"We know we have to try and get off the field on third down," he said. "When they go on fourth, we know we have to get off the field too.

"The secondary has improved. They are more comfortable because they have a lot of checks and reads before every play. Their job is just as hard as the linebackers and defensive line. We have a complicated defense. For them to be in this defense for another year has really helped them learn."

With a trip to the SEC Championship on the line, again he doesn't want to put too much emphasis on it.

"One of our goals at the beginning is to get to Atlanta," he said. "We have to take them one game at a time. It's another SEC game that we want to win. We want to win as many SEC games we can and it's another SEC opponent."

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