After allowing more than 400 passing yard to Kentucky a few weeks ago, the Gators' pass defense has vastly improved in its last two games. Part of it due to maturity and part of it due to improved health.
The Gators allowed only 217 passing yards in their loss to Georgia
, but Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Stafford
only passed 18 times, completing 11 attempts. Saturday's performance against Vanderbilt
was much more impressive. The Commodores passed for only 162 yards, completing 18-of-35 attempts.
It was the third best performance for the Gator secondary this season in terms of yards, but it was the best performance considering yards per completion. Florida
allowed just nine yards per completion.
"I'm more confident [in the secondary] than I was week ago," head coach Urban Meyer
said after Tuesday's practice. "They played well."
The problem with the Florida secondary has been consistency, but that can be expected when a team is starting two new cornerbacks. But Joe Haden
has consistently graded out as a champion, and Wondy Pierre-Louis
graded out as a champion after Saturday's win against Vandy.
"Wondy played well last week," Meyer said. "We're going to face a very good team this weekend. Each game you're measured as an athlete and the team is measured. He has improved, but we'll find out this week."
Helping matters in the secondary has been the slow, but steady return of Markihe Anderson
. The sophomore has been slowed all season with a knee sprain, but he is starting to make an impact once again at the nickel back spot.
"He graded a champion," Meyer said. "He's still not 100 percent, but he's a warrior and battles his tail off. I think he was 4-for-4 in making plays so he's getting better."
Free safety Major Wright
, who has been playing with a club on his hand ever since he broke his right thumb against Kentucky
, is starting to heal. The club is off, and he's only got his thumb and pointer finger locked up.
"Major Wright has got three exposed fingers right now, which is going to help him tackle and catch the ball," Meyer said.
Meyer said he was unsure if Wright would return to the starting lineup against South Carolina
Wide receiver Louis Murphy has a touch of the flu and sat out practice on Tuesday.
Riley Cooper continues to catch balls in practice, but the sophomore receiver hasn't played since breaking a finger against Kentucky. Said Meyer, "He's been so frustrated because he's been injured for like six weeks. He's such a talented and good kid. We just have to try and get him on ‘cause when he's on, you saw him against Tennessee and you've seen him other times. We just have to get him right because we need him."
Without the chance to reflect on the season as a whole, Meyer is pleased with the way his team has responded at times throughout the fall. Said Meyer, "There have been some really good positive things. That Kentucky week was something else. We haven't come out on top every time, but I've seen the team fight. That's the most important thing a coach wants to see is a team battle. I haven't had a chance to reflect back. I'm pretty pleased with where we are as a team. Are there young guys making strides? Yeah."
The Pouncey twins had a chance to go after each other today in the trenches. Said Meyer, "They woofed at each other today. We had a little competition. Those two are everything you want. They love football, and they're going to be great players."
Cornelius Ingram is slowly recovering from his sprained ankle. Said Meyer, "He's still a little hobbled, but he says it's 100 percent better than last week."
Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski