Gators Prepping for Vols Ground Attack

It seems like it's the same story every year. Every time Florida gets ready to face the Tennessee Volunteers, Urban Meyer gives props to the Tennessee running game. With All-SEC first teamer Arian Foster in the Tennessee backfield, he's drawing the attention of the Gator coaching staff.

Foster has carried 25 times for the Vols in two games this season for a total of 196 yards. He's yet to find the end zone, and the Gators hope to keep it that way.

"It all starts at stopping the run," Urban Meyer said after Tuesday's practice. "If we don't stop the run then I think it falls into their hands. They're a tailback-oriented offense. He's really good. Getting pressure on the quarterback will be critical, but I think even more critical is stopping that run."

The job of stopping the run for the Gators falls on the shoulders of both the defensive line and the linebackers.

"It's the front seven," Meyer said. "We'll usually drop a safety in there, but it's on the front seven."

Blocking for Foster are three All-SEC linemen, which will also test the Gator defense.

"Their offensive line is pretty good," Meyer said. "Our defensive line coach said they're pretty good and I sat up late with him last night watching film. Their tailback is a powerful runner and not many people have tackled him one-on-one. We're spending a lot of time on that run game."

In the last two games against the Vols, the Gator defense has only allowed 27 total rushing yards. In 2006, the defensive front four held the Vols to minus-11 yards rushing.

"I'm getting a little more happy with the defensive line," Meyer said. "I think the standard is when you can say that we've arrived. We had that a couple years ago. We were not there last year, but we have a couple of guys going real hard right now. I'm encouraged."

One player Meyer is hoping to get more production from is defensive end Carlos Dunlap. After a big spring, Dunlap has just three tackles with two sacks.

"He's not answered the bell like we thought," Meyer said. "He's not playing horrible, but he's not been the dominate Jarvis Moss type guy that we though he might be. He's still young. He needs to learn how to cut it loose every once in a while. He actually played pretty well in that Miami game. He graded a champion. He did not play well against Hawaii. He's a young player and sometimes he acts like it."

Special teams have played a big role in the Gator matchups with Tennessee. Last year, Brandon James got things started with an 83-yard punt return. The Gators are also known for their punt block unit.

"I'm kind of strange," Meyer said. "I go to bed at night thinking about two 10-second 100-meter guys running off the edge. I dream about fast guys blocking punts. … I even messed around with Percy [Harvin] a few years ago, but he's so valuable in everything else he does. [Chris] Rainey, [Jeff] Demps and [Louis] Murphy are dynamic guys. Reggie Nelson used to come off the edge, and Dee Webb did a nice job for us."

Notes

  • Meyer said that linebacker Dustin Doe is probable for Saturday's game with Tennessee. Said Meyer, "He did not practice today. Straight ahead speed is not an issue. It's lateral, but they say probable is the right word."

  • Both wide receiver Carl Moore and offensive guard Jim Tartt will go on Saturday. Said Meyer of Tartt, "He's a big ugly guy that comes off the ball. He's one our three seniors and one of our leaders. It's great to have him back. In matter of fact, he'll be one of the guys walking out with the captains during the pregame."

  • Backup quarterback Cameron Newton has re-sprained his ankle.

  • Defensive tackle John Brown had surgery today to repair a broken bone in his hand. Torrey Davis will also be unavailable on Saturday.

  • Meyer confirmed that Mon Williams is giving defense a try. Said Meyer, "He's working a little bit on defense. We having made that decision yet, but he asked so we're working him at Will linebacker. It's not a done deal though."

    Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Chris Chmielenski


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