Black Helping to Steady Gator Defense

Last week against Hawaii, Ahmad Black had a superb debut as the starting strong safety for the Gators. Picking off two passes, running one back for a touchdown and recording three tackles, Black made Gator fans feel a little more comfortable about the safety position after a rough offseason.

Earlier this week, Black talked about his Lakeland teammates and the matchup with Miami. Black doesn't know a whole lot about the Florida/Miami rivalry since they don't play on an annual basis anymore, but he's expecting an intense atmosphere on Saturday night.

"It's emotional now," Black said. "Everyone's psyched up to play. Every day we get closer to the game, everyone gets more psyched up. … Last time we played, I was in middle school. The whole state of Florida is amped up to see this. The whole nation is amped up. We don't play each other every year. The times that we do get to play, it's pretty big."

The Gators have six players from Lakeland High School, and no former teammates of Black's have made it to Miami. But he is familiar with a couple of players from Miami dating back to his high school days.

"They've got one guy from my county," Black said. "They got a couple of St. Thomas guys, and we beat up on them pretty good a couple times. They also have some Miami Northwestern guys. We could have given them a run for their money."

As for his Lakeland teammates, Michael Pouncey was last week's most valuable player.

"He is more focused now," Black said. "Not saying that he wasn't last year, but he's more into it this year. He's able to focus on offense now, instead of both."

Chris Rainey also had a pretty good week rushing for his first touchdown in the Orange and Blue. But Black said Rainey hasn't let it get to his head.

"He's still the same old Rainey," Black said. "He hasn't changed. He's scored enough in his lifetime."

As for Black's defense, the Gators were able to hold the Warriors to just 2-of-11 on third down conversions last week. He knows they'll have to come close to matching that against Miami.

"We have to get the ball into the offenses hands," Black said. "That's how we win games by getting off the field on third downs. The offense can go down and score and then we go out and get them the ball back so they can score again. Getting off on third downs, and not getting worn out by staying on the field for too long is how we win games."

As for the matchup with Miami, Black said the team is in a good state of mind heading into one of their biggest games of the season.

"We know the task at hand," he said. "Everyone's pretty confident. We're practicing hard and doing what we need to do to get better as a football team."

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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