Kan Li / Scout

McElwain: Gator defense compares to Bama 2008

Florida fans will remember the 2008 Alabama defense. The Gators beat Alabama in the SEC Championship to go on and win the National Championship that year. McElwain was part of that team that came in undefeated and with a group on the other side of the ball that was really good. He sees similarities with his current defense.

The Gators play host to Tennessee this weekend in The Swamp in a game with a lot on the line. Coming off a victory at Kentucky on the road, this home game will be nice for his team and a challenge.

I’m excited about getting back home to The Swamp,” McElwain said visa the SEC Teleconference earlier in the week. “We had a heck of a battle against an excellent Kentucky team on the road. It was good we figured out a way to win and learned some things from that.

With a new team made up mostly of players recruited by his predecessor, the Gators new coach hasn’t had a chance to really fit the roster to the way he wants it to run game plans on both sides of the ball like he would want. He isn’t letting on that it’s an issue, he just wants to win the games on the schedule.

“I don’t know what that style is,” he said of any kind of program formula he may have. “So far we’ve figured out a way to win a couple of ball games. We’ll continue to try and slug along and try and get some more I guess.”

His defense is a major part of the 3-0 start and gives him more hope as the season wears along and as he gets his offense more fine-tuned. That group was strong against Kentucky where they held quarterback Patrick Towles in check almost the whole night and they didn’t allow the Wildcats to get in the end zone at all.

“We really challenged our guys on that side of the ball based on what happened the year before,” McElwain said. “I was really impressed that our guys were focused from the get go starting on Monday. They took each situational game plan part as we installed it during the week… the communication and those things were really on point in that game. It was fun to watch the defense that game and being able to watch the video was even more special.

“Maybe they took from a year ago some of the deficiencies. I think it’s all in the preparation.”

This defense reminds McElwain of the time he spent in Tuscaloosa as an offensive coordinator and having to go against one of the best defenses in recent years in college football.

“It does remind me a little bit when we were finding a little bit of our identity, I think someone brought 2008 up a little bit, it’s a defense that is fun to watch,” he said. “What I like is the way these guys have embraced each other and the excitement on the sideline when either side of the ball is on the field is good to see. We are obviously a work a progress yet at the same time it is a fun group to be around.

“Every team is different. I just know this, it is important to them, they do the extra, they come prepared. It is very reminiscent of that (2008) group.”

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