The Florida Gators are just a few days away from facing SEC rival, Tennessee. Although the Vols have had their share of miscues and struggles offensively this year, UF defensive backs coach Torrian Gray is not taking the team lightly.
"We try not take anyone for granted, to be honest," said Gray. "We think [Vols quarterback Joshua] Dobbs will come out and have his best game. That's the approach we kind of take with it."
Although the Gators are not taking any game for granted, it does not mean Florida is lacking any confidence. According to Gray, he has never had a defensive back group as confident as he does now.
“No I haven’t had a group that’s playing with the confidence that this group is playing with right now," he said. "They’re really executing and it’s how those guys are really playing in practice. I’ve been very impressed with the way we’re handling our business, going about our business and it’s showing up on Saturdays.”
“It’s fun," he said. "They really have a great chemistry with each other. It helps them to be able to mesh all that and come out and play together. Those guys genuinely have great chemistry. They’re so competitive they want to race each other. I’m like, ‘dude, you don’t have to race, you don’t have to pull a hamstring.’ But that’s the type of fun and games they’re always doing. It’s a great atmosphere.”
The defensive back unit has been very successful the last two weeks, but Gray admits a lot of their success is due to the front seven.
“Those guys make a quarterback speed up is progressions. If the quarterback has to worry about speeding up his progressions, then it helps us on the end because we don’t have to cover as long or do certain things. So, it’s big time when your D-line, your front seven, is playing like our guys are playing.”
The Florida defense is coming off a game where it surrendered less than 60 yards of total offense creating a new school record. However, Gray is not interested in getting into stats.
"It's three games into the year. But on what we're doing, for us to be able to sustain that, then it will be a great feat," he said. "Right now we're just three games in and we want to be able to continue what we're doing. But it's just a short window right now."
Best CB tandem in country?
Some argue that Wilson and Tabor might be the best cornerback back duo in the country, Gray does not argue the point.
"Obviously I haven't seen everybody, but knowing the talent level and the competitiveness that those two guys have, I do think that they're the best cornerback tandem in the country," he said. "They're confident. They're athletic. They're long. They play with swagger and they're just two talented guys."
If there were race between the defensive backs, Gray backs one guy to come out on top.
“I always tease and say I think Duke [Dawson] has the quickest explosion. Now would that get him to the 40 or the 50 faster than the other guys? I don’t know, but I always tease that Duke would win.”
The Gray Gauge
"Marcell has been a guy since I got here in the spring who has taken great steps, improving as a football player and to have that come to a culmination on a certain play… he’s continued to play well. It’s been fun to see his progression.”
On Marcus Maye
“Marcus has been lights out. Just dialed in, toned in, tackling well, playing the ball real well, breaking on the ball well. He’s just playing at a very elite level. We just want him to keep doing what he’s doing.”
"He’s doing everything well," added Gray on Maye. "He’s, like I said, he’s playing the ball in the air, he’s breaking on the ball, covering a lot of ground, coming downhill, tackling guys with force. He’s really playing a great all-around game.”
"He's an accurate thrower. He knows where to go with the ball. And that's about the extent of my quarterback expertise."
On DB depth
"Right now, at corners we still need the Joseph Putus of the world, the Chris Williamsons of the world to progress and come along. It's not where we want to be from a depth perspective right there. At safeties, we've got three pretty good safeties with Jeawon Taylor coming along so we feel a little better about that spot. At nickel you've got Chauncey Gardner trying to learn that and get better behind Duke Dawson, so we're kind of green or got to grow a lot on the perimeter part of the (defense) right now."