Heater In Unusual Situation

For the first time in his tenure with the Florida Gators coach Chuck Hater has an unusual problem. He has to figure out how to keep all of his capable players happy. That's a big change from recent years when the Florida secondary coach had to scrounge around to find a second starter, first at corner and then at safety. That's not the case any more.

Florida returns starting safeties Ahmad Black and Major Wright who combined for 11 interceptions a year ago. Both starters are juniors and are being pushed by one-time starter Dorian Munroe and sophomore sensation Will Hill. Add in talented rookie Dee Finley and Heater is facing a juggling act trying to get sufficient playing time for that group.

But it's a good problem to have. You will never hear Heater or any other coach complain about having too much depth. That appeared to be a problem for the safety position in the spring of '08 before injuries, transfers and discipline combined to decimate the position. Heater welcomes all the talent he has and would gladly handle even more. He talked about his unit with various media folks recently.

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On being proud of Ahmad Black for going from back up corner in '07 to All-SEC honors and seven interceptions in '08:

"I'm proud of Ahmad, certainly but it's Ahmad (that did it), Ahmad's a talented player so I don't want to take too much credit for it. Guys that can really play, play. We coach them, we teach them, but the guys that really have it, have it and Ahmad's got it.

On how Black had to overcome the stigma of being 5-9, 180 pounds.

"His problem was prejudice. You look at his size and he wasn't all that fast so where does he fit? He's not the prototype safety. But what you had was a guy who was super athletic and that's important. Those are guys that can tackle in space and make plays and that's what he brought to the table. Some guys can fast and some guys are big and some guys can jump and that can all help you. But some guys just have a pretty good football quotient and in this case he does. We just had to get past the fact that we had never played a 5-9, 180 pound strong safety.

On having "too many" guys ready to play:

"I don't really feel that way. We're not that developed. We've got three guys that played last year and we have D-Mo (Munroe) coming back off a difficult injury. That's four guys there and we got Dee Finley who's a young player that's developing. I never feel like we have enough. I know we'll (still) be playing in January and one issue can really set off a whole domino effect. I tell the guys all the time if you earn the right to go play it's our job to get creative and make sure you get on the field.

On what having a lot of experience lets them do early in camp:

"I think it gives you information you don't typically have. A year ago we had no information on Ahmad Black really. Now we have a body of work with the guys so we know what they can do. Now the challenge is to get them to do it again and get them to do it better because it's easy to get distracted and forget about how you got there.

"On the development of Will Hill:

"He's done a good job. A year ago at this time he was really struggling as a freshman with the heat and the practice tempo that turns into the game tempo. That's past him now. He's an athletic guy. Because of that we can use him in coverage. That's what we did a year ago. We have creative ways to get him on the field because he's going to be one of our best players.

On the likely role for Dee Finley:

"He's got to become a really good special teams player. That's the part where we find out if he can play football. He's a ways away (from playing safety) in that regard because there's so much of a learning process going on. His development we hope finds itself on special teams and as he develops there he'll develop as a position player.


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