Sanders Facing Competition at Tackle

A year ago at this time the Florida Gators were just hoping to get decent play from their defensive tackles. No one had proven anything on the field and while there was potential there it was still viewed as a big question mark as the 2008 season got underway. Now it's among the most competitive positions on the football field.

Returning starters Lawrence Marsh and Terron Sanders are getting plenty of competition from Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter among others and the battles should make all four better players. It's also challenging guys like Edwin Herbert, Troy Epps and Brandon Antwine to raise their games or become tourists for most of the upcoming season.

I spoke with Sanders about his position battles and expectations for the campaign ahead. He started out with discussing how this defense could be even better.


TS: "Just by improving on a lot of stuff. A couple of shutouts this season would be nice. (So would) allowing less yards over the year, going after the sack record, tackle for loss record and things like that. We have the people to do that and if everyone stays on track it's possible."

LV: Is getting more three-and-outs another goal for improvement?

TS: "Most definitely. Anytime you can get more three and outs during the season you have made an improvement. Some people say at times that we were a bend but don't break defense. We want people to say that's a brick wall defense. We don't bend. We don't break and we're very tough."

LV: How much is Jaye Howard pushing you now?

TS: "He's pushing me every day. I can't relax. Jaye Howard is a great player and he can do the job just as well as anyone on the team. If I don't come out with my "A" game every day there's a very good chance he'll be right there with me and making a run at that starting spot."

LV: Is it any different with a teammate pushing you than it is when Coach McCarney is doing it?

TS: "I think it's exactly the same. Once you know you're job is in jeopardy you have to ask yourself how much do you want it? That's especially true when it gets hard during two-a-days. The answer will come out on the practice field."

LV: Talk about the chemistry you and Lawrence have lining up side-by-side and how has it developed since you both earned starting jobs?

TS: "I feel like me and Marsh have become a lot closer in the last year. We've always been good friends and all, but the chemistry between me and him and the communication factor has grown tremendously. It seems to be growing stronger as we go. We have at least one more your together and we want to make it a great one."

LV: Are you thinking about coming out after this year or Lawrence coming out?

TS: "It's always a possibility, but you can't think about that kind of stuff unless you perform on the field. I just want to get through camp healthy and make a run for Atlanta and hopefully get All-SEC honors and stuff like that."

LV: Omar Hunter went through some tough times his first season. You went through a lot of the same stuff your first year. What have you seen in him as h begins this season?

TS: "Omar has made tremendous strides. He's in better shape physically and mentally. He has that redshirt under his belt and he knows what to expect out at practice. He's been phenomenal so far and as long as he keeps working as hard as he is he's going to do very well."

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