Versatile Defense

The Florida Gators rank third in rushing defense and sixth in pass defense in the SEC. Overall, they're not tops in the league statistically, but they're doing an effective job. All you have to do is look at turnover margin.

Florida is plus-14 in turnovers, which is eight better than the next best team in the league. The majority of those turnovers are coming in the form of interceptions, and head coach Urban Meyer attributes it to a change in coverages.

"What I'm really impressed with is that interceptions are the result of a couple of things," Meyer said after Wednesday's practice. "It's pressure on the quarterback, but it's also that we're playing some off coverage. It's the old football adage that you have your shoulders square and your eye on the ball. I like that. I love playing bump and run, too, because it disrupts the passing game, but you have to pick your poison. You disrupt the receivers and the passing game, but you have your back to the ball."

Florida's has 13 interceptions this season, which is two more than all of last season. That's not just where the difference defensively is. Meyer is also pleased with the linebacker play.

"It's just experience and coach Strong is doing a hell of a job," he said. "Stamper and you got some veteran leaders out there instead of green eyes."

And the defensive line is playing well. They battered around Georgia's Matthew Stafford over the weekend, and Meyer's already related pressure on the quarterback to more interceptions. But the development of the line is allowing Florida to mix up their looks.

"There's been a god mixture of three down and four down," Meyer said. "I've always wanted that on defense. We had such good four down guys when I first got here that we always did it. Now we're doing a good job of mixing it up. And it mixes up the coverage."

"We've been decent all year. When you start hitting the quarterback you're in good shape."

Before the Georgia game, Meyer pointed to poor tackling as one of the primary reasons for the defense's struggles a year ago. This year they've been much better except for in the loss to Ole Miss.

"There's one game that made you sick," Meyer said. "And you know what happened there. Overall our tackling has been pretty good. The one game was awful."

Meyer expects Emmanuel Moody to be back for Saturday's game in Nashville. Moody carried seven times for 71 yards against the Dawgs all in the fourth quarter.

"Moody looks great," Meyer said. "He's full go. It's just refreshing because a few weeks ago, Kestahn Moore was down with a hammy, Chris Rainey was dealing with a shoulder, and Demps was it. Moody had the sprained ankle. We'll have the full compliment on Saturday."

Backup quarterback Cameron Newton will travel with the team on Saturday despite getting into a car accident yesterday. Newton is in a neck brace, but Meyer said he should be fine.

"I didn't know the severity of it," he said. "I just thought he got into a fender bender."


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