Defense Full of Champions

There are many Gators fans that left Saturday night's blow out win over Miami dissatisfied with the 26-3 victory. Never mind that the Gators were playing a major rivalry game. Never mind that they covered the spread. The Gators were in a tight battle for three quarters before finally wearing down Miami in The Swamp.

It was a tough game against a tough team and Florida head coach Urban Meyer paid them respect on Monday.

The offensive line caught many of the verbal jabs from fans and media since the game Saturday and Meyer said what happened on the field was a bit misleading. His line didn't get man handled for three quarters like some opined, instead they just faced a quality team that played a quality game.

"The thing that happened offensive line wise, you left that game thinking we got knocked back and that isn't the case at all," Meyer told the media Monday night. "I keep hearing about their young team and the younger team was wearing blue. Those (the Miami players) are some of the best players in America, just check the recruiting lists. I don't ever want to take away from great players. They have excellent players especially on defense. The defensive coordinator did a marvelous job. It was a hard fought win against a bunch of good football players. I am real proud of these guys."

Meyer was asked about Miami head coach Randy Shannon's comments about kicking a field goal to end the game that had already been decided. Meyer wasn't ready to get into a war of words with Shannon over something that is now history.

"It was a great football game," Meyer said when asked to comment on Shannon's remarks. "I heard about 25 years this..field goal this...officials this. Why don't we talk about the players that played a good hard nosed football game and quit worrying about Florida. I learned a long time ago to just coach your team and worry about your own team. Special teams, offense, and defense occupies all of our time. We have to move on."

The offense struggled for most of three quarters on Sunday and that production rang true on player grades. According to Meyer the only 'Champions' on offense were junior Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and junior wide receiver Riley Cooper. On defense it was a very different story where a lot of guys graded out as 'Champions'.

"Tebow was the offensive player of the game and only he and Riley Cooper were champions on offense," Meyer said. "Jermaine Cunningham was player of the game. He had 41 production points and I am so proud of that guy. He played really hard. Defense we had several, Dustin Doe had his best game, Major Wright, Terron Sanders, Brandon Spikes, Ryan Stamper...The defensive line was just much improved. Carlos Dunlap got beat out last week in practice. I think he and (Justin) Trattou were both champions."

Tebow is on a current record streak of consecutive passes without an interception. He is currently in the middle of continuing that streak.

"When he does that, Tim is playing great defense when he is taking care of the ball," Meyer said of Tebow. We didn't hit the 500 yard mark, but we are playing great defense."

Cunningham has matured light years just from the spring according to Meyer.

"Jermaine is now a junior and has grown up and he certainly acts like it," he said. "He carries himself much different than he ever has. We are real proud of him. He had 41 production points...and he was just all over the field."

Ryan Stamper is more valuable than most people know.

"Stamper's value is priceless because he backs up all three spots and involved in every special teams," Meyer said. "That's why he got voted captain by his teammates. People think of him as a non-starter, we don't."

The running backs showed big improvement from last season in game one of the season only to seemingly take a step back in game two. Again Meyer is quick to point out that Miami did a good job of making life difficult for his backs to get going.

"I am disappointed in the numbers, not disappointed in the running backs," Meyer said. "Give credit where credit is due. What gets lost in the shuffle is there were some really good defensive linemen against some really good offensive linemen in major college football. Our guys played really hard. The running backs played really hard. Were there some missed cuts? I think...two of them. We could have scheduled (lesser teams), but we didn't do that. We played two hard-nosed football teams."

Some will point out the lack of carries by the running backs in the game and Meyer said, he has to worry about winning games. His plan to win is what he will abide by until it doesn't work. It worked on Saturday.

"I don't worry about numbers, I worry about winning games," Meyer said in reference to getting carries to the backs. "Other people worry about numbers. We have a lot of stuff to worry about."

"The plan to win was followed to a tee. We played great defense. We swarmed to the ball. Our punter did a phenomenal job...he dropped one out on the one yard line. Our punt coverage did a great job. Our kickoff coverage was much better. Our punt returner gave us excellent field position. The plan to win is to play great defense, done. No turnovers, done. Red zone, for the year we are six for six, done. Great kicking game, done. Other than that, what do we have to worry about? Let's quit worrying about other stuff."

There were two other questions on offense that Gators fans are wanting to know about. Percy Harvin looked like magic whenever he touched the ball on Saturday and many asked why he didn't get the ball more. Running back Emmanuel Moody was never inserted into the game and Meyer said that will change for the big game against Tennessee coming up in two weeks.

"Percy is fine and made some great plays," Meyer said. "(Miami) had some two deep coverage and we had some calls designed to get him the ball and the coverage took it away...Moody is (healthy) and we are going to get him the ball."

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The injury front wasn't too bad with two scholarship players likely missing a few days of practice this week and back next. But walk-on special teams player Cody Worton did tear his ACL in the game.

"(Dustin) Doe is out for 4-5 days, he has a groin injury that we need to keep an eye on," Meyer said. "Carl More has a hip pointer and he will be out for about 3-4 days. (senior offensive guard Jim) Tartt is probable for (Tennessee)...Worton tore his ACL."


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