Durkin highlights struggles against Georgia

The issues for the Florida defense were clear on Saturday in Jacksonville. The Gators got off to a slow start and fell in a 14-0 hole, and when Florida needed a stop late in the fourth quarter to get the ball back, they couldn't do it. The Gators played well on defense in the second and third quarters, but they couldn't get off the field when it mattered the most.

With the Florida defense playing well in the fourth quarter, head coach Will Muschamp decided to punt the ball back to Georgia and hope to get a stop with 8:17 left in the game and the Gators trailing by three points.

The Bulldogs started at their own 17-yard line and slowly took control of the clock and moved down the field.

"Very frustrating, as you can imagine," D.J. Durkin said. "Looking back at the drive, a lot of those, it came to third down just about every time and all of those third downs were close, inches. Credit (Todd) Gurley on running hard, stretching the ball and finishing those runs. The spots were all close. It was just one of those deals."

If the Gators played better in the first quarter, it wouldn't have been as much of a concern. The Florida defense was hit with big plays in the first two drives without getting a stop, punctuated by a 73-yard reception by Gurley that put the Bulldogs up two touchdowns.

The early struggles have been a concern for more than just the Georgia game. Missouri marched down the field on three plays to score on three plays in its first drive two weeks ago, and other offenses have hit Florida in the first quarter of play, like Miami did in week two.

"I don't think there's any one thing, it's probably a little different every game," Durkin said. "I think teams always do some things a little differently, especially early on in the game. They can script their plays, they can practice them and get ready for it. I think we've made good adjustments in games.

"We can't start the game like we did against Georgia. That's our job, to better prepare our guys for that and maybe be in some simpler looks early on so we can get right, get our eyes right and not give up plays."

LACK OF TURNOVERS: The Florida defense was elite in 2012 because of the turnovers it created. This season, they haven't been as easy to come by. The Gators have forced 15 turnovers in eight games this season and continue to emphasize the need for more.

The offensive struggles make turnovers even more important, with the potential to set up a short field when the Gators have the ball.

"It's definitely emphasized quite a bit," Durkin said. "We talk about it a lot, we practice, we work on it. It's kind of come in bunches this year, too. We had a stretch where we were getting a bunch out at a time. We've gone of gone dry a little bit. It's a critical statistic to winning and losing."

The Gators have recorded nine interceptions with six fumble recoveries. However, Florida has forced just two turnovers in the last three games.

"When you've got guys who are experienced and been playing a lot of football, your defense is playing with confidence out there going around, you make more plays on the ball as opposed to just worrying about making the tackle and being where I'm supposed to be," Durkin said.

FRESHMEN EARNING TIME: Vernon Hargreaves has been on the field since the first game of the season, but the Gators have had other freshmen earn playing time as the season continues. Linebacker Jarrad Davis has been praised for his play on special teams and will continue seeing more snaps on defense.

The plan was to pull the redshirt on defensive linemen Jay-nard Bostwick and Joey Ivie against Georgia, but Ivie was the only one to see the field in Jacksonville.

"The future's bright," Durkin said. "Those guys are all talented guys, really physical, competitive guys. They're going to continue to play more and more, too. They've been guys that have been playing on special teams kind of here and there and in situations on defense, but they'll continue to play more and more. We've got a great young cast of players that we feel really good about. Some of those guys aren't playing right now.

"For every guy, it's a different reason. It might be the depth at his position, or just a guy we want to develop and get another year with. They're doing well with the snaps they're getting. They'll continue to get more.


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