Meyer Tough on Defense

The Gator defense answered the challenge against Tennessee two weeks ago, but put together a sub par performance against Ole Miss on Saturday.

"We had one defensive player grade a champion, and we won the game," Urban Meyer said after Tuesday's practice. "That's not a good defense."

The Gators face an Auburn team that is struggling offensively this season. They had trouble scoring against Kansas State, Mississippi State and South Florida, and the Tigers rank 90th in the nation in total offense. UF's defense ranks in the top-30, but the staff is treating them more like they rank 90th.

"Our coaches are coaching," Meyer said. "It's almost like they're coaching like we lost, which is good around here."

Most of the defensive issues are depth related. The Gators are thin in the secondary and cornerback Markihe Anderson who has played sparingly because of a knee sprain is expected to miss Saturday's match-up with Auburn as well. And at linebacker, there are definite concerns behind the starting three.

"What is missing at linebacker right now is competition," Meyer said. "Our twos right now would be threes if we had twos. I think they played pretty well against Ole Miss. They played okay against Tennessee. We're still not up to par at linebacker."

Meanwhile, the competition on the defensive line is beginning to stiffen.

"There's a lot of competition right now," Meyer said. "Carlos Dunlap is still inside. There is a lot of experimenting going on."

Brandon Antwine, who has sat out the last two games with a hyper-extended elbow, is expected to return this Saturday. And despite some of the concerns with the defensive line, the Gators currently have the fifth best rush defense in the nation, holding opponents to less than 55 yards per game.

"Our whole defense is built on stopping the run," Meyer said. "There's a belief in our defensive staff room and on our coaching staff that if you stop the run and run the ball then you win. I want to say we've out-rushed every team in three years except for two. To control the game, you have to run the football and we've been doing a good job of that."

Penalty woes

After being flagged 14 times for 127 yards on Saturday, the Gators are the third most penalized team in the nation.

"We've addressed them over and over again," Meyer said. "We're not an ignorant team. I say we have 200 yards of penalties, and I think these guys can figure out what 200 yards are. We're preaching it and preaching it."

The good news is that Meyer believes many of the penalties are easily corrected.

"On special teams we're not holding, we're just running numbers and that's fixable," he said. "Cadence issues when you're playing on the road, that's disappointing, but you're always going to have two when you go into a loud environment."


  • Auburn's offense may be struggling, but their defense is still one of the top units in the nation. Said Meyer. "There are no issues on defense. That is Auburn defense. There are not a whole lot of people scoring points on them. On the other side of the ball, a couple of years ago they were dynamic. They had 2-3 first rounders. They just have a bunch of new talented players, but they'll be fine."
  • Percy Harvin left practice early on Tuesday. He's once again suffering from a hip pointer that bothered him during fall camp. He reinjured it against Ole Miss. Said Meyer, "He was out here for three-fourths of practice and then went in for treatment. He plays better when he practices. He's killing himself trying to get back. He wasn't even supposed to run today, but he's fighting through it. He'll be fine, but I just worry about him missing practice time."
  • Offensive guard Maurkice Pouncey was back at practice on Tuesday and should be fine for Saturday. Joey Ijjas who missed a field goal and an extra point against the Rebels did not kick today and will be shut down until Thursday. Meyer expects him to be ready for Saturday.

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