The players in the secondary knew that and decided to see what they could do to correct it.
It started on Sunday in the football facility when they called a players-only meeting. The stats don’t always tell the complete story, but in this case, they do. The Gators gave up 346 yards through the air to East Carolina. The Pirates want to throw the ball around and depend on it to move the football. The Gators knew that and offered little resistance at times.
Even though they allowed 136 passing yards to New Mexico State, there were still too many open receivers down the field and the Aggies only hit some of them.
“Stuff like that because it’s not acceptable with the amount of yards we’ve given up,” Florida safety Marcus Maye said. “For the most part, we have everybody back now and we have to live up to that standard if we’re gonna talk about it. It’s just small stuff we talked about, just getting aligned, getting balls down, making tackles in the secondary and not allowing extra yardage. But the amount of yards we’ve given up, we don’t accept it, so we talked about it.”
The Gators have been without two starters in the secondary for both games. In the season opener, both safeties were out while Keanu Neal dealt with a leg injury and Marcus Maye was suspended. Against East Carolina, All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III was scratched after a leg injury suffered in practice on Thursday was too much for him to play. Neal remained out with his leg injury.
This weekend when the Gators open Southeastern Conference play at Kentucky, they’ll for sure get Neal back while Hargreaves remains questionable and didn’t practice on Monday. Whether he’s in Lexington or not, the Gators have to play better in the secondary.
“We just watched the film over, just us, had comments about different plays and stuff like that,” Maye said. “We just watched the film and had a meeting and talked about it.”
The Kentucky offense will attack Florida through the air. The Gators saw it last season when the Wildcats almost pulled off the upset in Gainesville. Quarterback Patrick Towles has thrown for 449 yards and completed 58.7 percent of his passes over the first two games of the year for three touchdowns and two interceptions.
He can move in the pocket and elude pressure, but the Gators know his arm can be dangerous on Saturday.
"He’s pretty good,” Maye said. “He has a good arm. He can move. He can see over the pocket. Going and playing against him, we just have to send a lot of pressure, keep him in the pocket, make him be one-dimensional. We can shorten him up and have him not be able to use his feet and throw the ball down the field. We just have to play him the right way and I’m pretty sure coach will have a plan for that.”