Depth is the Key

A big key to Florida's defensive success has come from the play of the defensive line. The guys up front have increased backfield pressure, helping to disrupt the opponent's passing game. More importantly, there is more depth than ever and the Gators are able to rotate in fresh bodies and vary up their looks.

"There's real quality depth," defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. "There were two guys playing at each position last year, but that wasn't real depth because of inexperience and injuries and just the performance. But we're starting to get some depth out there. I'm not holding my breath when I put Brandon Antwine in. I'm not holding my breath when I put Duke Lemmens in. I'm not thinking, ‘oh, my God' when I have to put Matt Patchan or Torrey Davis in. I'm putting those guys in with a lot of confidence."

"I played nine guys in the first half. There's no drop off. They're all playing well and contributing."

The Gators were able to hold Knowshon Moreno to just 66 rushing yards last weekend, which was an amazing accomplishment since the back rushed for 188 against the Gators a year ago. The reason was a more disciplined defensive line.

"You have to be gap sound," McCarney said. "Our whole defense was so good. He had 60-something yards rushing, but when you had a great talent like that and all the ability he has, it was the main reason why we won that game."

From the first play of the game, Florida's defense let Moreno know they were watching him, which also had an impact on his less than usual performance.

"It started on the first play of the game," McCarney said. "Trattou and Cunningham hit him and sandwiched him for a minus-2. Spikes hit him hard on the second play, and everyone in the nation saw that one. On the first two plays of the game he took the hardest hits he took all game. It set the tempo for the whole day."

The reasons for the improvement play up front go beyond experience. The guys are buying into the system and taking more pride in their work.

"It's a lot of things," McCarney said. "When I got here in February they were coming out of a bowl game where they were giving up yards, points and weren't playing Gator defense. That was kind of the way we went into winter workouts. That's what I walked into and knew what was going on. We have a great system in place, its' a proven one. It wasn't executed very well last season. It's player development and system development. It's taking pride and taking responsibility for last year."

The Gator motto under Meyer has always been to play as hard as you can for 4-6 seconds, and McCarney is seeing that with his guys and especially against a quarterback like Georgia's Matthew Stafford.

"It's speed, it's get off, it's relentless attitude," he said. "If you don't he's going to shred us and I thought our kids took that challenge and answered it. … We ended up with three sacks, seven or eight pressures, we had some god pressure on him. He'll be a first round draft pick in the next draft."

Fightin Gators Top Stories