McCarney familiar with Big 12 Offenses

The Florida Gator coaches have seen enough film to know that the Oklahoma offense they will face in the BCS National Championship game is one to be reckoned with and not buying into the notion that the Big 12 Conference has a bunch of weak defenses. Defensive Line Coach Dan McCarney is very impressed with the Sooners and knows the Gators will have their hands full on defense.

McCarney was the head coach at Iowa State when they were a member of the Big 8 Conference and then when they merged into the Big 12. He knows the athletes that make up that conference and believes the defenses are very stiff. The offenses are just going crazy in 2008 with several of the best passing offenses in the country tearing up the conference.

"I was in that league for 12 years and it isn't like people were rolling up and down the field on Big 12 defenses all the time," McCarney said. "I think this year they just ht an all time high with skill, talent, the abilities, the execution, and coaching on the offensive side of the ball. I don't think they are bad defenses…the offenses are playing at an unbelievable level. When you put 60 points on someone five games in a row, how many times do you hear about that in college football?"

It is no fun giving up 60-plus points in a game. McCarney has been on the wrong side of that when at Iowa State. His Cyclones lost to eventual National Champ Nebraska 73-14. Oddly enough the Gators faced that outstanding Nebraska team in the National Championship game and suffered a very similar defeat, 62-24.

"I still have a dislocated finger because I tried to tackle someone because no one on my team did," McCarney joked. "It is a horrible thing. There are tears, guys are mad, all the emotions associated with being embarrassed. Embarrassment can be a motivator, you can go in the tank or you can bow your neck and grow and learn from it and hope it never happens again.

"It was demoralizing, depressing, you feel like you haven't coached a day in your life. Your heart goes out to the kids because you know how hard they work. You can't sit around and spend too much time on it."

McCarney and his defensive line have their hands full with an offensive line that has three All-American type players on it. They are the catalyst for a 4,400 yard and 48 touchdown passing season and have only given up 11 sacks. The Sooner line has also helped block for two 1,000-yard rushers this season.

"It's an outstanding college offensive line," McCarney said. "Nobody is hitting the quarterback. Very rarely does he get hit or sacked. Most of the time he doesn't get touched. He doesn't even get pressured. I think Alabama and LSU have the two best offensive lines we faced, but I think we face the best offensive line in college football every day in practice. Here I think you have the two best offensive lines in college football playing against each other."

Another tough transition the Gators are making in this game is facing a no huddle offense. Oklahoma comes to the line very quickly between pays forcing the defense to keep their personnel on the field and maybe tiring them out. McCarney on the other hand has had a very successful unit partly because he has been very liberally substituting along the defensive front.

"It makes it tough, you will have to do it between series, during timeouts, or when ball goes out of bound," McCarney said about the no-huddle offense. "In the middle, you can almost not substitute. I like to substitute a lot and I have been doing it all season. They limit that because of how fast they get on the ball. You see so many snaps of defensive linemen in a two-point stance, guys back on their heels and not ready. We are going to try and learn from all those mistakes and all that tape and hopefully we do a better job.


McCarney and his group have faced their share of season ending injuries this season. Two defensive tackles that have started this season are out with injuries along with another that saw some meaningful snaps earlier in the season. Juniors Brandon Antwine and Troy Epps, along with freshman Matt Patchan are not available to play in the BCS Championship.

"It is absolutely the only thing I hate about this profession," McCarney said. "Brandon Antwine is one of the most courageous young men I have aver been around. He overcomes something that not only could have ended his career, but affected the rest of his life. He came back not only to help us, but he played outstanding and helped us win games and then to go down with a knee injury. I know they will all be back with the training staff we have. Antwine will be back, Patchan will be back, Troy Epps will be back. They will all be back wearing a Gator uniform again."


There has been some talk that junior defensive end Jermaine Cunningham is looking to test the professional football ranks. It is time for juniors to fill out their paperwork for an evaluation to determine where they might be taken in the NFL draft. McCarney isn't ready to sign off on that one just yet.

"I don't know if he has or not, McCarney said in response to whether Cunningham has filled out the paperwork to get his NFL draft. He has no plans to go to the NFL this year and if he does, I will make sure he doesn't. He needs another year unless he is going to the arena league.

"I am being a little wise, but he's not ready to go be a high draft pick. I want him to be by the end of his career here, but he's not there right now. I will fill the papers out for him.

"He needs to get bigger and stronger. He's 247, you don't see many guys on the edge in the NFL playing at 247. I want him to be a first day draft pick, but it's not happening now."


There is a lot of speculation on McCarney himself. He is mentioned for many head coaching vacancies in college football, but he says a lot of that is just chatter.

"I bought a house … I'm not living out of a hotel," he joked again saying he does have a home in Gainesville. "Unless Urban's trying to get rid of me, I'd sure like to stay. My wife must be doing a good job throwing my name out there. There is so much going on out there, names, contacts, and most of the time there is nothing to it."

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