The Tennessee game is a prime example. The Volunteers hit a few trick plays for big yardage when the Gators were out of position. The other way they moved the ball with a lot of success came in the quarterback run game, as Josh Dobbs gained 165 yards on the ground.
The Gators haven’t faced a true running quarterback in another game this season, but Jim McElwain and his staff continue to remind the defense about their issues stopping the quarterback runs against Tennessee. They know the Florida Atlantic coaching staff is well aware of it heading into this weekend’s matchup, and McElwain expects to see plenty of it from FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who has gained 336 yards on the ground this season.
"We talked about that at the beginning of the week. Obviously they've studied that Tennessee film, and this guy is saying he can probably run for as many yards as he wants,” McElwain said. “If there's been an Achilles heel the thing that these guys do from us, from our standpoint what have we gotten beat with -- trick plays, and these guys do a ton of them and they do them well, and quarterback run.
“That's where I said the discipline for us to be on task and be focused on each and every down to be successful is going to be key. It will be interesting to see how our guys are."
KENT PAYING DIVIDENDS
Florida director of strength and conditioning Mike Kent led the charge during Florida’s offseason. When the college coaches are limited in the time they can spend with players, Kent and his staff became integral parts of the program, especially during the summer.
The Florida players credit eating the right way and the program Kent put them through over the offseason. The program helps players add weight, but it also focuses on players building camaraderie.
“First and foremost, people with separate agendas or individual agendas who don’t buy in to the principles and values in which we expect, that’s when things start fraying,” McElwain said about the program’s message. “We’ve got a long way to go. It doesn’t happen overnight. The delivery of the message doesn’t matter. The message is what matters.”
The weight program is different than other programs, focusing on building strength in the different movements that some positions make more frequently than others. No workout is the same from position to position, and they’re all aimed at improving specific areas that some positions use while others don’t.
It has worked well so far this season. The Gators don’t have depth at multiple positions, but injuries haven’t been a problem and the team seems to be holding up physically as the regular season winds down.
"We're more concerned about the specific body movement it takes for each position to help you be a successful football player,” McElwain said. “Now obviously growth and size and strength and speed are all part of it. We don't get quite caught up in probably all the things that a lot of people do, and yet it's the technique, the way you do it and the actual body mechanics of how you're moving the weight to help you be successful is what we believe in. It's something that's been good for us."
The Gators played with four scholarship defensive tackles on Saturday at South Carolina, and it forced redshirt freshman Khairi Clark into increased reps. During the open portion of Wednesday’s practice, Clark was working with the first team defense while lined up next to Jonathan Bullard.
McElwain said it was just a way to get Clark more reps, but despite having just six tackles in nine games, the Florida coaches are happy with his progress.
“He’s doing good, too,” McElwain said. “That was great that those guys like him were putting in those valuable reps. He’s doing really well. And he’s practicing well, too.”