Gators linebacker Jarrad Davis is eager for SEC opener, and is confident the young linebacker group can step up

GAINESVILLE,Fla.-- Jarrad Davis and the Gators are excited to open up SEC play on Saturday against Kentucky. Although Florida will miss one of its veteran linebackers, Davis is confident they have the talent to step up.

“It’s huge. This is what we’ve been waiting on all summer," said Florida linebacker Jarrad Davis about opening up conference play on Saturday. "The fact that it’s our first SEC game this early. We’re really excited and ready to go.”
The Gators will open SEC play against Kentucky on Saturday, a team UF has had tremendous success against - winning the last 29 meetings. 
“I really don’t think about the winning streak that much, to be honest with you," said Davis. "We don’t talk about it much either. We just know whoever our next opponent is is our most important game. We’re going to go at it like we’ve never seen them before. We’re going to come at them in a manner to which we can set ourselves up the best way to win the game.”
As a veteran on the team, Davis has embraced his leadership role and has made it clear to the younger guys on the team, the SEC schedule is not going to be easy. 
“We just tell them it’s gonna be a lot faster. The opponent is gonna be a lot stronger," he said. "You have to mentally set yourself up for this. You have to prepare yourself. You have to know your keys, you have to know your reads, you have to know your spots. Because the faster you get to your spots the better position you’ll be in to make plays.
"Everything that you do today and tomorrow is gonna set yourself up to be in a great position on Saturday. Wednesday and Thursday and Friday, those are the days where we look at it as, you know, we’re trying to just get our bodies ready and make sure we’re able to go out there and play as fast as we can on Saturday.”
Although UMass only scored seven points and only amassed less than 200 yards offensively, Davis understands their performance was less than perfect. The Minutemen were able to create a few explosive plays, however, the Gators hurt themselves. In UMass' scoring drive, the Florida defense gave away 30 free years after two penalties. 
“Those are things that we control. Especially with my penalty. I have to be able to kind of have a threshold on how to gauge myself to make sure that things like that don’t happen because that started something that shouldn’t happen, basically," said Davis. "We were off the field, and to extend drives like that, that really hurts you. It was a trickle down effect that really set us up and put us in a bad situation. We have nobody to blame except for ourselves at the end of the day. Things like that are things that we have to clean up on. We’ve been working on that all summer, all offseason to make sure that we play fast but we play clean at the same time. So we need to make sure that we just continue to do what we’ve done all offseason and we’ll be alright.”

One Less 

The defensive group will be missing one familiar name, linebacker Daniel McMillian

“I think it’s pretty big. We’ve been practicing with that core group for a long time during camp and throughout the summer with OTAs we’ve all been together," said Davis about McMillan's loss. "These young guys have really done a good job stepping up throughout the summer throughout this summer. It’s a big loss losing D-Mac. But at the same time we have lot of guys that are ready to step. I’m really excited to see what they do this week.”
One of the young guys that is expected to step up is true freshman, Jeremiah Moon
“He’s very athletic. He goes out. He’s a playmaker. He goes out and does what he has to do. He does what Coach Shannon asks of him. He fits perfectly in our defense and he kind of adds a different element. So I’m excited to see him out on the field and see what he can do.”

Tabor Returns

Although the defense will miss McMillan, Davis admits having cornerback Jalen Tabor  back for suspension helps take off the load from the front seven. 

"We’re going to have a lot more exciting plays," he said. "I think a lot of guys are going to be able to really let their guard down and go play now. We’re locked tight back there and it’s going to be really exciting to see what goes down when he’s there.”
Davis adds, "with Teez back there though, it’s going to make things a lot easier. We’re going to be able to communicate with him and he’s going to know what’s going on. And just his experience as a player and being in the moment, we’re not going to have anything to worry about, he’s not going to have anything to worry about. Just going to give those younger guys a great example of really how to play football as a game.”

Odd and Ends.. 

Sold on Luke Del Rio?
“He always walks around with confidence, always walks around with the swagger of a starting quarterback. And his preparation man, it doesn’t go unnoticed. He puts in a lot of time getting ready for the game each and every week, he puts in a lot of time throughout the week, you know making sure he’s ready for the next day of practice. So I’m real confident in what he’s going to do each and every Saturday. If he makes a mistake, so what he makes a mistake. We all mistakes. We make mistakes defensively. So one thing he knows and that we know is that we have his back and he’s got our back. So if he makes a mistake we gonna go out there and get him the ball right back and expect him to go do something with it, and he’s going to step up and make the play.”
On Popular Pineiro
“I mean, he did some great things on Saturday. He made the kicks that he wanted to make. We knew he could do it. And to be able to go out there and do it under the lights was even better. I feel like the fans love him a lot, and i only think that’s a tiny bit of what’s really coming his way, to be honest with you. He’s gonna have a big support system by the end of this year just because he’s so special, man. He can do a lot of things.”

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