McCarney Happy with his Troops

LSU came into the game Saturday with their defensive line getting all the accolades. ESPN ran a long feature on the LSU defensive line that day about their depth and talent. When the game began, it was Florida's line that was was the force all night and was able to rotate guys in to keep the play going. Defensive line coach Dan McCarney was pleasantly surprised at how well his troops played.

Florida's defense was tough all night. They gave up a two-minute drive at the end of the first half and then a tough drive at the start of the second half. When the game got close again after giving up a 20-point lead, the defense stiffened and held the Tigers when it counted. The 51-21 victory over the fourth ranked Tigers was something McCarney didn't see coming.

"Unbelievable, none of us could have envisioned that," he said Wednesday after practice. "Winning, putting ourselves in position in a tough fourth quarter game to win? I think that was all very realistic. The togetherness of the staff and the players, on the sidelines, at the hotel, and at the game it was the best I have ever been around."

McCarney's guys up front really played a great game not giving much room at all to all-SEC running back candidate Charles Scott. Scott finished with 37 yards on the day and 18 came on the last play of the game. He had only 19 yards on 11 carries before the last play.

"(I was) very impressed with the whole defense, but we challenged them and said solid to good isn't going to get this game done," McCarney said. "This is the best in the SEC rushing the ball, best running back in the SEC. We called them out, they responded and played real well."

One thing McCarney has going for him up front is numbers. The Gators have really been able to shuffle in players to play on the line and it has worked out well. The Gators are still relatively young up front and young guys for the most part haven't built up stamina like the veterans. According to McCarney his linemen are really buying into all of it right now.

"I love it, I played ten guys Saturday, seven of them with significant time," he said. "Let's rotate and find a bunch of guys that can play. Now with Brandon Antwine and Torrey Davis coming along, we have a couple of more in the mix too.

"You have to have depth. We are selling our kids to wear them out, wear them out. We will keep you fresh, when you are out there 90 percent isn't good enough and you'll get beat. I think they are starting to understand that."

That junior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine is back at all is a miracle. A back injury that caused all kinds of muscular problems last year had Antwine, the staff, trainers, and doctors thinking he may never play the game again. On Saturday he got to play some meaningful minutes against the defending national champs.

"He is a tremendous inspiration and I didn't have any plans for him whatsoever," McCarney said about his depth chart coming into the season. "It's just a great story because he's overcome so much long before I got here and since I got here. He's out there practicing and playing and put himself in position to play a few plays the other day and if he keeps practicing and stays healthy he will definitely be in the mix now and be on the field every game.

"He has tremendous courage and perseverance and attitude all the credit goes to him, the training staff, and the weight staff. He wasn't in two-a-days, wasn't in camp, I really didn't know (what to expect). I just saw film on number 47 last year where he got a couple of plays in this game and a couple plays in that game and he looked like he had a chance to play if he got better."

For the most part, his entire defensive line played well Saturday. McCarney once again singled out the play of sophomore nose tackle Lawrence marsh and how important he has been to the success of the team so far.

"All the starters were in the Champions group," McCarney said. "Duke Lemmens continues to contribute. I thought Lawrence Marsh was really outstanding. He really played well with a couple tackles for loss. He had to have a great game. He had two real good games and a couple of average games and an average game and we would get beat. If he came out and played well we have a chance to win and he really responded."

At the defensive end position there are two players that have switched back and fourth during the season. Sophomores Justin Trattou and Carlos Dunlap share the spot and both have been productive so far during this half season.

"They are both real fine players," McCarney said. "Both could be starting at a lot of places, but they play the same position. We are going to keep them rolling and rotate them and keep them fresh and keep them playing. They are both sophomores and have a lot of playing time left in front of them."

One player that didn't get much playing time Saturday was sophomore defensive tackle Torrey Davis, McCarney said when Davis was in there he played well, but it just wasn't in the cards that night for him to play more.

"He got three plays," McCarney said of Davis. "We were in our 'Joker' package which he isn't ready to play in right now. I have him ready in the base stuff and we thought we would be in base a lot in that game then all of a sudden we were up by 28-30 points and in a throwing game. He did some good things in the short time he was in there."

The question was raised to McCarney on whether this defense has an issue defending the smaller and shiftier backs as opposed to the down hill, big backs that they have actually done well against. The case in point was Arkansas running back Michael Smith's big game against the Gators.

"We see all kinds in this league and they are good," McCarney said. "That number 21 at Arkansas made some runs against us and then turns around and has 176 yards in the victory over Auburn, Everyone has great backs in this league. Whether they are more physical, down hill runners, or make you miss, they are good. You have to bring a lot of hats to the ball to slow them down."

The Gators have already begun to prepare for Kentucky. The Wildcats gave the Gators fits last year, especially the Gator defense. McCarney said they may have a different folks over there, but Kentucky is still a dangerous team.

"They put up 513 yards against Florida's defense last year," he said. "We didn't slow them down, we didn't stop them, we were fortunate to win. They ran the ball and threw it. I know the quarterback is different but some of the same pieces in place. Same system, same head coach, same offensive coordinator...we have to be ready. We came out the last open week and went to Tennessee and played well, we are going to try and do that again.

The Gators and Urban Meyer have a great record after a bye week. It is a time to heal and prepare for the second half of the season. McCarney seems to like where his group is headed for the second half.


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