Siler Knew Florida Was Going To Win

When Brandon Siler looked up at the scoreboards in The Swamp Saturday night, the final score was simply a validation of the confidence he had been feeling since he got on the bus to take the team to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Siler knew before the bus arrived at the stadium that the Florida Gators were going to win.

The sophomore middle linebacker isn't the second coming of Nostradamous nor is he the Gators answer to Madame Cleo, but there was no doubt in his mind that Florida would win.

"When we got on the bus this morning I thought about how we prepared all week and I knew that we were going to go out and play a great game," said Siler, who had six tackles and two pass breakups in Florida's 16-7 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. "That's the point I knew [when we were going to win]. Games are won in practice the week before and we definitely practiced like champions. We came out here and played well."

Siler's confidence was echoed by defensive end Joe Cohen, who turned in an outstanding performance in relief of Ray McDonald, who went down with a knee injury in the second quarter.

"Yeah, I knew [we would win] because of the work we put in," said Cohen. "We invested so much into it between film, practice and working out, staying focused and staying out of trouble. We've invested too much into it just to let it go."

MCDONALD UPDATE: McDonald damaged his anterior cruciate ligament in the second quarter. He was on crutches with his knee in a brace after the game. Coach Urban Meyer said that it might take a couple of days to know the extent of the injury and how much time McDonald will miss.

"We don't know how long he's going to be out," said Meyer.

Cohen and Derrick Harvey will get the most reps at McDonald's position and it's likely that Jarvis Moss's return to football will be escalated. Moss, who missed most of the last two seasons with what was finally diagnosed as a bone infection in the groin area, is healthy and up to 242 pounds. Coming out of high school, Moss was considered one of the nation's top pass rushing ends.

A TOUGH TEAM: During the spring and summer, Meyer often questioned the toughness of the Gators. Considered a soft team physically and especially soft mentally in the past three years, Meyer said team toughness was an unknown quantity. The Gators got their toughness test Saturday night and Meyer gave the team a passing grade.

"That was a tough team," said Meyer. "They showed me something. Chris Leak showed a lot of toughness out there as well. There's toughness in this program. I think they're getting tougher every week because of the way we practice. There are tough kids in this program."

SECONDARY STEPS IT UP AGAIN: Meyer admitted that the Florida defense, and in particular, the secondary, played it straight vanilla in games one and two. Rather than give Tennessee a chance to adjust its passing game in practice, the Gators chose to handle Wyoming and Louisiana Tech by playing it straight up with few frills.

"For three weeks in a row I'm not sure our secondary could play much better," said Meyer. "Our secondary play is terrific. We did a good job this week. Our whole coverage scheme we didn't use the first two weeks as far as some of the disguises we did. We saved it for this week. Obviously it worked. It threw them off and they struggled."

The Florida secondary gave up 150 yards against Wyoming in game one and 117 to Louisiana Tech in game two. The Gators limited the Vols to 147 passing yards but that came on 35 attempts and only 16 completions.

Tennessee got a couple of receivers behind the Florida secondary on three occasions, but each time, the pass was overthrown. Considering the Gators are playing one-on-one press coverage on nearly every play, it's expected the secondary will give up a few big plays but Tennessee's receivers found themselves blanketed by the Gators Saturday.

Dee Webb had three pass breakups and Siler had two. Vernell Brown was picked on a lot by the taller, more physical Vol receivers but he never gave up big plays and his tackling was superb. Brown finished with seven tackles for the night, tied with safety Jarvis Herring for the team lead.

For the season, the Florida defense has allowed 597 total yards.

RUNNING GAME WOES: Florida's running game produced 125 positive yards against the Vols, but that was offset by 39 yards in sack losses and another nine yards in losses on running plays. For the game the Gators had 68 net rushing yards.

"Our offensive line is not playing well," said Meyer. "It is not playing well and we're going to get that organized."

Meyer said the line is "just not blocking people" and he added that quarterback Chris Leak is not comfortable yet in the running game.

"He's still not comfortable with our run game," said Meyer. "Our run game requires that he makes the proper reads and quite frankly he's missing some of them. We have to improve that."

J-CORN TIME: With Bubba Caldwell out for the rest of the season with a broken leg that will require surgery, junior Jemalle Cornelius will likely have to take up the slack. Cornelius had three receptions for 51 yards including a key 24-yarder for a first down conversion on a third and 11 on Florida's final drive to Chris Hetland's final field goal of the night.

Coming into the game, Cornelius had three catches for 28 yards for the year.

Jemalle's role in this offense is going to be greater," said Meyer. "It's time for him to step up and be a player."

With Cornelius moving into an expanded role, there is a need for a fourth and fifth wide receiver. Tate Casey played extensively as a tight end and H-back Saturday night although he didn't catch a pass. Kenneth Tookes saw action although no passes were thrown his way.

Tookes and Gavin Dickey are the likely candidates to move into the role formerly played by Cornelius. That will also require that at least two of the freshmen wideouts, likely Nyan Boateng and David Nelson, hustle up their development.

HETLAND DOES THE COACH PROUD: Meyer admitted that he's quite proud of junior placekicker Chris Hetland who is now 5-5 on the season.

"That's a young man paying for his own school right now," said Meyer, who later added that if Hetland continues as the number one placekicker he will go on scholarship.


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