Doe Battling for Time

Florida linebacker Dustin Doe is in a battle for the job he once had. The junior linebacker started all of last season and the start to the 2008 season, but an ankle injury and a hernia operation has slid him back to the two-spot. Ryan Stamper has taken Doe's place, but Doe's still fighting to get back his starting role.

Dustin Doe had a big game against Georgia, picking off two passes and forcing a fumble. He posted another three tackles against Vanderbilt last week, but he knows he's going to have to do a lot more than that to get back into the starting lineup.

"I think the competition is something we didn't have in the past," Doe said. "It's pushing both of us. Stamper didn't play very much last year and I didn't play very well. Now were both playing a lot better, so I think it's helping both of us."

The improved depth for the Gator defense isn't just improving the internal competition. It's helping the Gators lead the SEC in scoring defense, and Florida's fresher in the second half against usually more tired offenses.

"A lot of times when you're mentally fatigued, it's not that you're running slower, it's that you don't' react as quick," Doe said. "Now guys are fresher and can react. … It's huge. Guys are much more accountable. When you go through a season like last year, you gain a lot of experience and learn a lot of lessons. I think we learned a lot of great lessons last year."

For both Stamper and Doe, they'll be tested this weekend facing the league's best tight end in Jared Cook. Cook (6-5/242) ranks ninth in the conference averaging 54.2 yards per game.

"We haven't faced a dynamic tight end this year," Doe said. "He's real good, big, athletic, fast and he can catch the ball. I think he'll not only be a big test for me, but for our whole defense. These are the kinds of players you come to the SEC to play against. He's an NFL caliber guy, so it gives us a chance to match up against the best and see how we do. … They're big targets. We just have to get on them and stay on them. We have to stay on them and do a bunch of different things. Maybe give them some different looks to try and confuse them, but we're going to just play our game."

The South Carolina passing attack is pretty good, too, ranking third in the league. They also have two running quarterbacks that Doe will have to keep his eye on.

"We have to stay disciplined," he said. "A lot of times, the quarterback scrambles and runs around because the defense is undisciplined. Every week's a test. This week I feel like our pass defense will be put to a test. We've faced some good teams, but as for facing an efficient pass team, I don't think were going to face a more dynamic or a more sound team than this one."

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