Florida assistant Chris Rumph discusses the changes needed ahead of SEC opener against Kentucky

GAINESVILLE, Fla.-- Florida DL coach Chris Rumph met with the media on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming SEC opener, the line rotation and much more.

The Florida Gators opened up the season with a win against UMass last Saturday, however, according to defensive line coach, Chris Rumph, the performance was not up to standards. 

"I know we did some great things if you look at the stats defensively," said Rumph. "What we were able to do, that was really good but some of the foolish penalties that happened on Saturday... you can't afford to, at one point."

The Gators had eight penalties for 80-yards in the win, giving UMass four first downs, and extending the Minutemen's drive twice in what was to be their only scoring drive of the game. 

“It’s the obvious. The touchdown that we gave up there were 35 yards of penalties on that particular series and like I said, we can’t do that. It’s one of the things we talk about. We want to play fast, we want to play clean. And clean is not putting ourselves in holes, giving up penalties, foolish penalties, jumping offsides, personal fouls. Whether it’s a bad call or a good call it does not matter. The flag dropped, they marked us off. Those sort of things can come back and get you, when you’re playing a really good team in a bind.”

According to Rumph, he hopes to have the ability to have a ten man rotation for his defensive lineman throughout the season, helping them stay fresh and less likely to have mental errors. 

"Those guys have got one tank. There ain't no second wind with those guys. There's one tank. Once it's empty, it's empty," said Rumph. "So my job as a defensive line coach on Saturday is to make sure that by the fourth quarter, they still have something in the tank to go. The more guys we can get to rotate and play -- and not just rotate to rotate, but guys to go in and give us quality reps -- the better off the team will be." 

Country Strong

CeCe Jefferson received different marching orders in 2016. With the Gators lacking numbers inside, Jefferson was asked to move to defensive tackle this season. At 275-pounds, Jefferson remains quite lean, however, according to Rumph, Jefferson's length is a huge benefit, and it doesn't hurt that he is "country strong." 

"The thing about CeCe is this joker is cockstrong He is country strong. He looks like a smaller guy, but he is strong. He's strong," he said. "So we just wanted to get us a change-up inside."

Rumph hopes that Jefferson can follow in the footsteps of former Gators lineman, Jonathan Bullard, who is now a rookie for the Chicago Bears. 

"You look at Bullard when he was out on the edge, he just looked like a guy,” Rumph said. “But when he went inside, it created some problems and he was able to do some things he did the past year."

Tabor's Impact

The Gators will have Jalen Tabor back for Saturday's game, a prospect that Rumph understands can only help his defensive linemen. 

"He brings a little edge. He brings a little bit more juice to the defense. Our guys, they talk about swagger. He brings the swagger when he comes and I think some of the guys play off of that, some of the young guys and some of the old guys," he said. 

"You know the defensive line loves those secondary guys. They make that quarterback hold that ball or pat it a couple times and give us an extra second to get there," he added. "The more depth you can have back there with those guys, and we got some young guys that need someone there to communicate with and tell them the checks and stuff like that. It's really going to help us with the communication."

Size Matters 

With UF not signing one defensive tackle in the 2016 class, the focus in the 2017 class is to bring size to the position. 

“We got to get bigger. We got definitely to get bigger. Sometimes when you get bigger you give up some of your athleticism, athletic ability, but I still want both of them," said Rumph, " I’m trying to change the room. I want bigger, athletics guys. We’re trying to build this team. I want to build my room not only for the SEC, but I want to build it for the national championship is what I want. I can’t say I want to build it for the East. I want to build it for the championship.”

Keep Your Shirt On

Jabari Zuniga was a name everyone quickly learned after his performance on Saturday against UMass. The defensive end finished the night with four solo tackles and two sacks for a loss of ten yards. 

"I'm proud of this guy. He showed some flashes in the spring, wanted to see him show some flashes in camp," said Rumph. "You know, I think this guy was really mature for a freshman. He went back, he's up to 250 pounds, but if you go back to the spring, he got all the way down to 230 pounds."

Zuniga took every advantage during his red-shirt year to change his body, and with those changes,  Rumph quickly set up some ground rules. 

"I actually said 'man, you're losing weight. You've got to get this weight on.' He said 'Coach, I want to take the fat off and I want to build my body up.' But if you've ever seen this guy with his shirt off, I have a rule: He can not take his shirt off in front of my wife. I mean this guy is yoked up. My wife's around, his shirt is on."

Odds and Ends

On Khairi Clark 

"He played really, really well. He plays one of those positions that don't always show up on the stat line, but he does a lot of the grimy stuff. He's down on the front line, he's taking on two blockers and holding gaps and allowing other people to make plays. He's bought into that role and he's doing a good job of it. He's lost weight. He's changed his body. Lost about 15 pounds. Lost some body fat. He's gotten stronger and he's also gotten quicker. Happy for him. He works hard and it's important to him. He does a good job for the defense, and a lot of times it doesn't show up on the stats because it's not sexy, but he does a great job. In order for the defense to continue to grow, he’s going to have to continue what he’s been doing.”

 On Jordan Sherit

 “I tell all the younger guys, all the defensive ends, I say, ‘If you want to see how it’s done, if want to become really good, then study Jordan Sherit.’ He’s that guy. You look at him, he’s nothing flashy. His name doesn’t come up when you talk about the guys, the cover of the magazines, the cover out here. This guy just continues to make plays and just go about it, go to work. He’s a typical blue-collar guy and I love him to death. He’s healthy, like you said, which is important. He’s been around, he’s played a lot of snaps. He understands the game. He gets it."

On vision for Antonneous Clayton 

"I just tell him to keep working. You never know, you never know. It's a long season. It's a long season. In the SEC, now, guys go down, so don't know. He's going to determine that. We don't determine who redshirts and who plays. They determine that Monday through Thursday."



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