Strong and Defense Want to Stay on Task

The University of Oklahoma offense provided many big tests for the defenses it faced every week in 2008. The Florida Gators understand that and are busy preparing for their toughest match up of the season. There are many concerns when facing the Sooners, but the defense seems to believe they are going to be prepared for what they bring to the table in the BCS Championship game.

They run a no-huddle, safe offense that puts a lot of pressure on the defense by being very efficient and not turning the ball over. As good as Florida has been in turnover margin in 2008, Oklahoma is plus one better in that category and leads the nation.

There are many concerns for the defense and one is the pace that Oklahoma runs the offense. They are quick to the ball after the snap and they don't allow substitutions on the defense much. Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong thinks the extra preparation time will help his defense.

"With this layoff we have a lot more time to lock in to try and find tendencies and try to find keys," Strong said. "We will see every play, every game. The players will see a lot more, because we have three or four weeks to watch it all."

Junior linebacker Ryan Stamper is impressed by the Oklahoma offense. He and the Gators have been working overtime on using a fast paced offense in practice, just for the physical part of playing the game.

"I have never seen an offense that puts up 60 points a game," Stamper said with a look of amazement in his eyes. "You can tell they are really in shape because they do a no-huddle and get a lot of plays in where other teams call plays from the sideline. Their quarterback calls the plays, so (our defense) has to be in shape. We have to be ready for the no-huddle and play with the intensity they have.

"Today in practice we stepped up the two-minute drill just to get us in better shape. In the Alabama game we had 59 plays and Oklahoma averages 80-something plays."

Strong looks for his team to take this as business as usual and not focus on things that maybe they cannot control.

"Whether it's a week or three weeks (of prep), we still have to go get them ready to play," he said.

Junior linebacker Dustin Doe also believes that the Gators just have to go out and treat this like the next game on the schedule. He understands that Oklahoma has some very good players on their squad, but the Gators just have to play their game.

They are very dynamic offense," Doe said. "...they have have a lot of different weapons and a great quarterback.

"We've watched (the no-huddle offense) and it is just like any other team, you just have to game plan for it. We will be doing certain things in practice to make ourselves ready for that situation. Although it may be a little different it is just another obstacle we will have to face on the practice field."

Sophomore linebacker Brandon Hicks has made huge steps in seeing playing time this season. Hicks has been a play maker as an outside linebacker and believes the Gators just need to keep their business face on when it comes to the big game. Let the games begin and the best man win.

"It's just like Alabama," Hicks said. "We will prepare hard and watch a lot of film. We are just going to stay focused. We know they have a lot of weapons. It will just be our players against theirs.

"Bring the best offense in front of us, we feel like we are the best defense. The best against the best. That is how I see it, a challenge of our manhood."

Hicks believes that they control their own destiny in the game and that the Gators cannot allow the Sooners to exact their will on the Gator defense.

"We just have to have execution and tackling the ball," Hicks said. "If we execute the right plays and make the tackles, they can't do anything."

Doe isn't intimidated. He has been around the block a few times i his three years on campus and has seen some high powered offenses roll through.

"I don't think so," Doe said about the Oklahoma offense being intimidated. "We play in the SEC and every school in the SEC has very dynamic players. This is why we came to the Southeastern Conference, so I don't think it is intimidating at all."

As for the 60 points a game over five games that the Sooners have scored in the Big-12? Although he didn't deny that it could happen, Strong thinks it would have been much tougher to do in the SEC.

"It would have been hard," Strong said. "The teams in this league can play defense...It would have been hard."


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