Notebook: Secondary fixing holes

The early part of practice this week has forced the secondary to make adjustments and correct issues that showed up against Kentucky.

If the issues aren’t fixed, it could turn into a long day on Saturday in Tuscaloosa.

There wasn’t a lot that went right for the secondary during Florida’s win in the SEC opener. There were busted coverages that turned into long touchdowns. Other times, the defensive backs got caught looking in the wrong spot before the snap and were out of position. Communication was tougher against a no-huddle offense.

The Alabama offense Florida prepares for likes to use some tempo between plays at times, but it isn’t a key component of what Lane Kiffin’s group does. That should help the Gators get set and in position earlier than they did against Kentucky.

"We made mistakes with our eye discipline,” Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “That was something we talked about going in the game, when you face a tempo team you've got to get lined up and get your eyes in the right place and react and see it. On those particular plays we didn't, so that's something obviously we're working on to correct and being addressed.

“I think the guys, they played really hard, played with great effort. It wasn't a matter of that, it was just a matter of on those plays we weren't looking at the right thing."

The Gators gave up plays against Kentucky receivers that lined up in the slot, and Muschamp mentioned on Monday that there were fundamentals that needed to be cleaned up from players that line up as the nickel.

Durkin was less concerned with it on Wednesday.

“I don’t have any concern about that,” Durkin said. “I think our guys match up well. I think our guys, we put them in a lot of one-on-one situations. When you look at it, we made two big mistakes in the game. Other than that, there were guys contesting for all the throws and all the balls. That’s how we’re going to play -- aggressive. I think we have the right guys to do it.”

HARGREAVES-COOPER MATCHUP: All eyes will be on the passing game when Alabama has the ball as two All-Americans battle. Alabama receiver Amari Cooper and Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III have become friends in recent years, but that won’t carry onto the field on Saturday.

"Those are two great players,” Durkin said. “I think it'll be a fun one to watch. I'm sure they're both probably excited to face each other, and that's what it's all about."

Durkin did say that Hargreaves wouldn’t shadow Cooper throughout the entire game, but the Florida secondary has a few different ways to make sure there’s always an eye on Cooper.

"We have several different plans going into the game, so that's not going to be the entire game (with Hargreaves on him). We have a couple different ways but obviously he's a guy they like getting the ball to. He's very explosive, dangerous, so we have a couple different ways we're going to handle that and some of it will be Vernon on him and some of it won't."

PASS RUSH WITH MCCALISTER AND BALL: Dante Fowler led the pass rush against Kentucky and has one sack with six quarterback hurries, but the Gators are still looking for more pass rush from someone else. Neiron Ball provided it with two sacks in the first game of the season, and Alex McCalister had one.

The issue was stamina. Both teams ran a no-huddle offense, meaning a lot of snaps and a lot of energy used up in regulation. It also limited Florida’s substitutions. The goal is to keep repping different linemen that can keep everyone else fresh.

“Part of the deal playing a tempo team like Kentucky was you get caught in substitutions and you're trying to run guys in for a certain situation and you have to get them back off the field, so we were kind of limited,” Durkin said. “We were able to do it a couple times, but it wasn't something we could do a bunch of for that reason. We didn't want to get caught with not having the right guys on the field at the right time.”

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