Miami was Good Test for Gator Secondary

Florida's secondary was one of the big question marks heading into the 2008 season. Last year, the Gator pass defense ranked towards the bottom nationally, and personnel issues brought even more questions.

But through two games, the secondary is looking like one of the best units on the Gator football team. With one of the team's best athletes in sophomore corner Joe Haden, Florida can do more in terms of matchups and schemes. Their shutdown capabilities have built a new confidence with their offensive teammates.

"It feels good knowing that the team can look at you and trust you," Haden said. "They know that if they have to punt the ball they know that we can go out there and make big plays and shift momentum. We like getting out there and getting it done because we know that if the offense is faced with a fourth down and two, they can punt it because we'll get the job done."

That wasn't the case last year. Florida's offense tried to control the game with a grinding type offense that kept the chains moving, kept the clock running and kept the defense off the field.

"At practice we just work," Haden said. "Everyone is coming together and we know that if we play together and everyone does their job we're going to get it done."

Florida begins SEC play on Saturday and with it comes more talented offenses that they're not used to facing in the first two weeks of the season. But after facing Miami in week two this year, Haden said the Canes' athletes will have Florida prepared for conference play.

"Their speed was better than all the SEC teams that we play," Haden said. "They were probably as fast as us. It definitely got us ready for Tennessee. The receivers from Miami were a lot faster than the receivers from Tennessee last year."

And by comparison, Haden said the receivers they faced last year before the Tennessee game didn't match the speed of the Vols.

For Haden, the experience of an SEC season under his belt has increased his confidence and awareness on the football field.

"I have confidence in knowing what's going to happen before it happens," he said. "I can jump routes now and anticipate what going to happen. … I was thinking too much, and this year, I'm just reacting. It was during spring ball, coach Bedford was teaching all different types of techniques so that we could get comfortable with all of them and just do it."

Fightin Gators Top Stories