"Dee Webb was right there. He'll make that play," said Gator Head Coach Ron Zook, regarding a seemingly 'for sure' interception by Webb in the first quarter against Eastern Michigan in the rainy swampy Swamp in Hogtown on Saturday.
Whether it was Webb, who's a sophomore defensive back, or, any of the other players on the secondary, there's only one way to work out the kinks. "I've said many many times, there's only one way to get experience, and, that's to play," Coach Zook said.
"They (EMU) did some things that we didn't see on film. So, we adjusted to those…and, we played better later on," said Gator Sophomore LB Earl Everett.
It was slow in the beginning for UF's young secondary. Some passing plays by Eastern Michigan were completed --- and, a 'split-second' later, the Gators tackled the receiver to the ground. You could see they were just a 'hair' too late on several ECU completions.
But, those minor defects didn't last for long. Once the Gators got it going, the nervousness died down and they played up to their potential.
"Just getting out there…getting the feel of the game…that's all it was," said Webb. "I felt pretty good going out there. Eastern Michigan came out throwing the ball, and, that pretty much surprised me." Though, he said he feels very comfortable going to Tennessee with a game under their belts. "I feel very confident right now," added Webb.
Senior DB Reynaldo Hill agrees with Webb's ideology. "We feel our secondary is good enough and can play with anybody. Coach Disch emphasizes hustling to get to the ball. He knows we can cover anybody."
Other key factors that Coach Disch 'dishes-out' to his group, according to Senior DB Cory Bailey, are: to keep your eyes on your man, be disciplined, have the right stance, and have the right alignment…which is everything that a DB coach is supposed to do.
"He wants us to get set-up," said Bailey. "And, after that…play ball. You have to be set-up before the ball's snapped. Once it's snapped, go to your position and do what you have to do. Coach Disch wants us to play fast and keep our heads up."
Bailey also said that they have to be able to read the offense quicker, adding that, "I feel really good about the secondary…the whole front…and, the whole defense for that matter." Though, the Gators couldn't pick-off any passes in their first game of 2004, Bailey said that, "if we get in that position next week (versus UT), we can correct that."
The Gator defense only caused one turnover versus EMU --- a fumble, that Sophomore LB Channing Crowder scooped-up. He stressed that the young players behind him have "the greatest potential I've ever seen. When they start clicking…they'll be great. In practice, once they see what they can do, it's going to be amazing!"
Crowder also said that the young UF secondary is made-up of some great athletes…but, "they have one more step for them to be great players."
That 'next step' for the Gator secondary better take place during the upcoming practice week if they are to stymie Tennessee's passing game this Saturday in Vol-la-land.
Coach Disch certainly has to prepare his squad more so for UT than what was done for EMU…especially since more than 100,000 extremely loud and obnoxious 'Rocky Toppers' will pack Neyland Stadium and try to intimidate the Gators, no matter what side of the ball they are on.
It may not have been a factor for Florida in its first game of the season, but, you can count on turnovers being a major factor with Tennessee.
When the two met last year, there were six turnovers. UT had two picks and UF had one. The rest were fumbles. The Gators lost that game 24-10 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.