Cummings stepping up to the challenge

Junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings came to Florida in a road rarely traveled. Signing with Florida State in 2010, he didn't last a year there before transferring to East Mississippi Community College. While there, Cummings earned JuCo All-American status and maintained his fourth star before signing with the Gators. Now he is pushing to start inside on the SEC's best defense.

Florida head coach Will Muschamp said Monday that Darious Cummings had his best game as a Gator and that he was coming on strong after the win over Arkansas last week. The junior tackle is a high energy guy that has made himself more valuable to this Gator team. In light of the loss of all-American candidate Dominique Easley to season ending injury, Cumming's emergence is big time for a thriving defense.

"Just focus and preparation," Cummings said are what he has been working on since his arrival at Florida. "Coach Muschamp is a defensive coach and he's the type of coach that he's big on what you do in practice is what you do in the game, so I just had to focus on being explosive and reading my assignments and reading my keys."

"He kind of challenged us after Easley went down and said, 'Somebody needs to step up. Somebody needs to fill that void.' I kind of felt like I took it upon myself, because that's why I was brought here… to replace people and step up. I just took it upon myself to get better week in and week out."

The Florida defense leads the SEC in all the major statistical categories… Pass Defense, Rush defense, Total defense, and Scoring defense. Cummings credits the passion that the staff has instilled into the team to get after the ball at all times.

"We're just relentless," he said. "And you say the SEC, I don't think anybody in the country is playing better defense than we are. We haven't even reached our max yet. So I feel we just have that relentless effort and we're not taking no for an answer. We get challenged week in and week out to be the best."

The last two weeks Florida has allowed an early touchdown only to keep the other team out of the end zone for the rest of the games. Last year both the offense and defense were known for making great in-game adjustments which led to 11 victories during the regular season. Cummings gives props to the staff and says it is one reason he chose Florida, because the staff puts the players in position to win.

"One of the reasons why I came is I watched the Texas A&M game last year and I saw how Coach Muschamp adjusted at halftime and put the clamps on Johnny Manziel," Cummings said. "That's one of the reasons why, so of course we adjust the best that we can and it works out just fine."

Florida starts a three game stretch with ranked teams and none of them in the cozy confines of The Swamp. Cummings says it doesn't matter where they are in the schedule, playing in the SEC is tough.

"You have to play every week, and that's why I came to Florida to have to play every week and not have weeks off," he said. "Even if we play a team that is not as good as you are, they're still going to give you their best punch. That's what I feel is different about this league."

The LSU Tigers will no doubt be the best team the Gators have faced this season. Cummings is prepared for the game on Saturday.

"It's going to be loud," Cummings said. "It's going to be intense. It's something to look forward to, you know. Death Valley is a historical stadium. Les Miles, LSU, it's going to be a tough little challenge."

He's heard about the different atmosphere to expect and seems ready for it.

"I'm not the type of person to get too much into the fan, the crowd and the stadium and what not," Cummings said. "But everybody tells me about LSU and how their fans are, so it's something to look forward to.

"That they get at you. So, I mean, that's something to look forward to. Shaking the bus, I heard about that too."

LSU comes into the game this year with a totally different mindset offensively. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger is one of the nation's leaders in passing and the Tigers have gone from an almost total ground assault to a high flying passing game on offense.

"He's a good quarterback," Cumming said. "We're going to game plan for him as best as we can and we're going to throw some things at him. We're going to try to slow him down a little bit.

"We have to get pressure on the quarterback, which we can and we will."

LSU has scored a minimum of 35 points in every game so far this season. They have two games of over 55 points already. Their defense isn't playing quite as good as years past, but a lot of folks think they might want to get in a shootout with Florida. Cummings doesn't see that happening.

"Oh, not at all… no sir." He said to the possibility of a shootout. "We're not going to allow ourselves to let that happen because Coach Muschamp is a defensive coach and a great mind and he's going to adjust and we're going to get it done."

If it comes to that what will the defensive conservative head coach think about it?

"Muschamp he doesn't care if he wins by one point or two points a win is a win," he said. "We're going to get chewed out about the 50 points. But a win is a win here."

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