Progress Up Front on Defense

For defensive line coach Dan McCarney, the LSU game was what the doctor ordered for his guys. They were challenged by a talented team and they ended up responding at a hostile site and for the world to see. A big game up front from his guys helped hold LSU to three points and just 162 yards. It was a collective effort and one he can turn to when he wants his guys to see how they need to play.

It is all about staying focused on the football when the ball is snapped and getting after whoever has that ball. McCarney saw a lot of that Saturday in Florida's 13-3 win.

"That was their best game as a unit and we need to build on it," McCarney said of the defensive line earlier this week. "A lot of good things but definitely some room to improve. We saw that on tape today. The effort was relentless and that is what we are trying to do. When coach says 4-6 seconds, that is what we want with everything you got. You watch that tape...and that is what we got."

Florida held LSU to just 66 yards and 2.2 yards per carry led by running back Charles Scott's 53 yards on 13 carries. They also got after quarterback Jordan Jefferson and sacked him five times. Linebacker Brandon Spikes was successful along the line and lined up there enough to garner 2.5 of the five sacks.

"We just have tremendous respect for Scott, the running back," McCarney said. "Both years we limited him for the most part. His longest run was 12 yards early in the game. We had to do that first and then it was a matter of getting pressures. Bottling that quarterback and not letting him loose and trying to contain him. Overall we did a pretty good job of that."

LSU was the first team this season to really drop back and try to pass the ball in the pocket against this formidable Gator front. Most teams have rolled out the quarterback or thrown quick passes, really limiting any chance of getting to the quarterback. The Gators too advantage of the situation on Saturday.

"(It's) not the first time, but consistently that is what they do, they do more of that," McCarney said of the drop back passing. Then, they try and get outside the pocket too. That is a guy that can really hurt you with his feet."

Defensive end Carlos Dunlap agreed, noting that the teams they played coming into the game with LSU were pretty much afraid to drop back and throw the ball.

"Knowing that it was a big game, we knew we would get challenged more than the first couple of games they called preseason games...teams that were scared of us," Dunlap said. "They were doing like quick step drops and 2-3 step drops, quick passes and screens and stuff. When we get into the SEC, they are going to challenge you because they recruit as well as you do. They will test you. This is a game we have to come up and step up."

McCarney's guys rose to the challenge.

"I played nine and it was definitely the best performance," he said. "We needed that. We knew how good LSU was. They have been moving the ball and scoring a lot of points. Our guys need to play well and they did and I am proud of them."

LSU got most of their yards in the first half 118 of the 162. They also scored their only points of the game in the opening half. The Florida defense ratcheted it up a notch after halftime and held them to just 44 yards in the second half.

"We challenged them at halftime, because I didn't think we got enough pressure in the first half," McCarney said. "Definitely we got a lot better in the second half, whether it was Spikes, Dunlap, Jermaine Cunningham, or Justin Trattou or whoever, we definitely got a lot more pressure in the second half. We got them stopped on third downs and got off the field."

One player that stepped up was freshman defensive tackle Omar Hunter. Hunter has started most of the season in place of regular starter Lawrence marsh who has been injured with a high ankle sprain. Hunter didn't show up on the stat sheet at the end of the night, but he did his damage and played very well according to McCarney.

"He looked like a real guy Saturday, that's the best he played," McCarney said. "Just 10 snaps, but he was on the field in important situations...mostly run, a couple of pass and he did a good job and I am proud of him."

"He played like he was practicing. He is improving and getting better. He has to improve because Marsh is still not 100 percent. He's the starter right now and has to keep improving. He was close to making a couple of big plays too."

One huge play on the night was a third and goal when sophomore backup tackle Jaye Howard and Hunter tagged team for the big stop.

"Jaye Howard made a really good play," McCarney said. "On the third down play, Omar knocked the center back about three yards and Jaye Howard made the play. At the time it was 3-0, if they knock that in and move ahead, who knows what happens in that game?"

This week will be a little bit different test for the line. Ryan Mallet is a big, strong armed quarterback that sits in the pocket and throws the ball all over the place for Arkansas. This should be another good test for the Gators who will be trying to put as much pressure as they can on mallet.

"Mallet...is a tremendous thrower and doesn't have as much escape ability as (LSU's Jefferson) did," McCarney said. "He is still a tremendous passer and we have our hands full this week."


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