Florida Gators learned from Leonard Fournette’s performance

The Florida defense spent all week before the LSU game hearing about Leonard Fournette.

Looking back at the preparation, defensive line coach Chris Rumph said he team should’ve focused more on itself. Fournette gashed the Gators for 180 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns. His 5.8 yards per carry average hurt the Gators and wore down the defense as the game went on.

With the Heisman Trophy favorite on deck, the Gators think they spent too much time talking about him.

"That's our fault, trying to make it all about him, which it was,” Rumph said. “I think our guys pressed a little bit trying to do some things that they weren't accustomed to doing. We're going to take some of the fault on that.”

The Florida coaches saw their defense handle the loss the right way. Rumph said his defensive linemen were “pissed off, upset” about the way they performed in the LSU game. The Gators didn’t get enough pressure on LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, and they were angry about the 180 yards allowed to Fournette.

The bye week came at the perfect time for an angry defense, getting two weeks to watch film and find corrections.

The Gators responded against Georgia on Saturday by allowing just three points. Florida gave up just 223 yards to Georgia, the fewest for the Bulldogs since 1991. For a Florida defense that felt it was embarrassed in the previous game, they bounced game in a major way against the Bulldogs.

“It goes back to the leadership,” Rumph said. “Those guys, Antonio (Morrison), (Jarrad Davis), those guys on the back end doing it. Those guys not accepting it. Winning ball games is good, but let's make sure we do our job and we're being accountable to each other. We know what we're capable of doing. I tell them all the time: 'All we got is all we got, but all we got is enough.' Make sure that you maximize your potential and everything will just fall right in."

Florida’s response has the team one win away from clinching the SEC East and locking up a berth in the SEC Championship in Atlanta. The initial College Football Playoff rankings were released on Tuesday night and have the Gators at No. 10, allowing a path to the playoff if Florida wins out.

The defense continues to be the team’s anchor, but Rumph stopped short of calling them a championship-caliber defense.

“We’ll find out at the end of the year,” Rumph said. “They’re playing pretty good. They’re doing some good things. But you have to close the deal. It’s too early. We have some ballgames left, so we’ll see what happens. Do we have the parts? Yeah, I think we do, but we’ll see.” 

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