Secondary bust addressed in practice

Releasing a receiver on 3rd and 25 in the fourth quarter on Saturday played a major part in costing the Gators the game against LSU.

The Gators didn’t need to go back to the tape to see what happened. Ten players in the secondary got the check, one didn’t. Safety Keanu Neal mentioned that crowd noise could’ve played a factor in it, but cornerback Brian Poole released Travin Dural, who caught the big conversion after being wide open.

The film this week wasn’t easy to watch. The breakdown happened just once, and it wasn’t as bad as watching the tape of the games against Kentucky and Alabama, but it was still tough to stomach.

"You just keep pointing it out,” Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “That's indicative of a young team, especially young in the secondary. There's also many times where they have executed, where we have gotten the checks in time, where we have communicated and covered it well. But obviously the ones that you don't are the ones that stick out.

We’ve just got to keep eliminating it out of our game. I think all of our guys are capable, they're definitely willing. We're all on the same page. It's not a finger-pointing deal. They all understand it. We're all on the same page together. We'll keep working at it and get it corrected and be more consistent with it."

After the Alabama game when Florida allowed All-American Amari Cooper to run free through the secondary multiple times, they went back to the drawing board to simplify some of the checks and not put as much on the plate of a young secondary. The secondary wasn’t as experienced as it was in 2012 or 2013, but the coaches were still loading them up with as much information as if they were.

That changed going into the Tennessee game and seemed to improve the issues. The secondary played well for most of the game against LSU, but the one broken coverage has the coaches going back to the drawing board to see what they can fix this week before hosting Missouri on Saturday.

“It’s always one of those things where that’s a fine line,” Durkin said. “(Putting a lot on the secondary is) part of our system, what we do. And we’ve played pretty good defense here for the most part for a while. But when things like that keep popping up, you’ve got to take a look at, ‘OK, do we need to scale back?’ We’ve done that to a certain degree. And we’ll just continue to practice and get our guys to understand how important it is to focus and execute.

“Every little mistake that has popped up right now, it seems we’ve been hit on it. Sometimes you make it through a game and you’re like, ‘wow, we blew that one right there and they didn’t see him, they didn’t hit him.’ Right now that’s happening. It’s one of those deals, we’ve got to be right on it. Our guys have the right approach to it. They know where they’ve got to be. They want to be there. We’ll continue to do it.”

MORRISON PLAYING HIS BEST: Florida coach Will Muschamp said on Monday that Anotnio Morrison played his best at Florida on Saturday against LSU, and Durkin echoed those comments on Wednesday. Morrison leads the team with 46 tackles -- 16 more than the player with the second most on the team.

“I think Antonio is playing great,” Durkin said. “He is playing his best football since he’s been here. He’s got to continue to do that. We’re counting on him to do that. He’s a guy that takes his job and what we do very seriously. He puts a lot of time into it and I think it shows how he plays. He spends time on football a bunch outside of when he has to be here in meetings and practice.

“He’s making his reads really fast. His eyes are in the right place. He’s playing with good technique. He’s tackling well. And he’s always been a very physical and competitive guy. You put all that together, you’ve got a pretty good player.”

PREPARING FOR MAUK: Missouri quarterback Maty Mauk had his breakout game against the Gators last season while filling in for James Franklin. Now he’ll come to Gainesville off a four-interception game against Georgia last week in which the Tigers were shut out at home.

He has a strong arm and the ability to beat defenses with his legs. Durkin said they showed the defense film of Mauk throwing a ball 70 yards on the money last week against Georgia, making the secondary understand they can’t give up on plays.

“He’s extremely dangerous back there,” Durkin said. “He can create plays on his feet, obviously throwing it. Our guys understand that we’ve got to do a great job of containing him, keeping him right in front of us when he’s scrambling and running. Obviously covering down the field, he can make all the throws, he’s got a strong arm. I know he struggled a bit last week, to me he’s a guy that doesn’t lack any sort of confidence. We know the type of player he is and what we’re going to see.”

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