Defense is the Key

Florida head coach Urban Meyer has made it very clear this week why the Gators lost last year's game to Georgia. It had nothing to do with the end zone stomp or the color of the uniforms, but rather it was all about the defense.

The Gators allowed 417 yards in a balanced Bulldog attack, and the 42 points were the most allowed all season.

"Our defense played very poorly last year," Meyer said after Tuesday's practice. "When the defense plays well, the middle linebacker gets all the credit. When they don't play very well he gets all of the blame. The same for the free safety. It's part of playing the position. We played very poorly that day – tackling, effort and cover."

The Gators held their most important practice of the week today, and Meyer said the players brought a very business-like attitude to the practice field.

"It was kind of quiet, no nonsense," he said. "We call it game reps. Guys were knocking balls down. There was a lot of energy. It was a good day today. We just have to clean up a lot of stuff tomorrow."

Florida is on a roll ever since the loss to Ole Miss, outscoring opponents 152-33. As a result, Meyer is seeing some maturity and leadership from the squad.

"Wins cure a lot of things," Meyer said. "I see some maturity. The ‘08s that are playing - the Will Hills, the Janoris's, the Demps's - are involved and growing up a little bit. I see some leadership. I've said it before that talent will get you about seven wins. We're starting to find some leadership."

Leadership has really become evident in the Gator backfield. Florida has the league's second best rushing offense, which is a complete turnaround from the last couple of seasons.

"The players have done a good job," Meyer said. "You're starting to get some leadership out of Kestahn [Moore]. You're getting some explosive plays. Then the guy who was coming on until he got hurt was [Emmanuel] Moody. That's a very functional group right now."

Moody did practice today and all signs point towards him playing on Saturday. Offensive guard Jim Tartt also practiced and could play as well. The only Gator that was out was Janoris Jenkins, but Meyer said he expects the freshman corner back on the practice field tomorrow.

One thing that sometimes gets overlooked in last year's loss was the health of Tim Tebow. Tebow hurt his shoulder against Kentucky the week before and definitely wasn't the same against Georgia. He was unable to run taking away that part of the Gator offense.

"[He was hurt] more than we'll ever know," Meyer said. "Nothing to worry about now. He had an excellent day today. He's got that Tebow look. I love that Tebow look."

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