Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media on Wednesday to discuss a number of topics concerning his unit including how it is preparing for the upcoming home game against the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday at 12:21 p.m.
DEPTH HAS MADE THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE
Florida’s 2011 defense was nothing to sneeze at, especially considering it concluded the season ranked eighth in total defense nationally. However, the Gators struggled grabbing turnovers, rushing the quarterback and remaining effective deep into games. That has changed in 2012 as Florida now boasts a +3 turnover margin, has been able to get much more pressure overall and has held opponents scoreless in the fourth quarter through three games.
Quinn on Wednesday said that the Gators have improved in these areas mostly because of the team’s newfound depth in the defensive front seven.
“We are playing more players as part of our rotation. That’s really by design,” he said. “To finish a game and have some rushers available in the fourth quarter, you need to be able to have a defensive line that’s able to go in there and still have the ability to go do that. For us that’s been part of the plan, to build some depth and be able to have more of a rotation where we can go longer into games and feel like, at the end of the games, we can still have a chance to affect the quarterback. That is one thing we really wanted to address.”
Quinn also noted that the players having “more experience in the system and in games” is important. However, he still feels that having two additional players in the rotation both on the defensive line and in the linebacking corps has really helped his unit the most.
“At the end of the game you really need those guys to win the game at the end. I think it’s an important thing to have and something that we talk about a lot,” he said.
MCCRAY STEPPING UP AS A PLAYMAKER AND LEADER
Quinn heaped some praise on McCray not only for what he is able to accomplish on the field but because of the type of person he is off of it as well.
“Lerentee McCray, for us, is really one of our toughest guys and one of our most emotional leaders and players on our defense,” he said. “He provides a lot of the energy for our team by the way he plays, by the way he rushes. He provides a lot for our defense in terms of leadership, in terms of the way that he carries himself on the field. He adds toughness to our team.
“So, on the field, everything that you’re looking for and the attributes from a rusher and from a player and as a teammate you’re really pleased with. And off the field, he’s someone that is really passionate about football and wants to do better and ‘Let’s watch extra [film],’ and ‘Let’s do more.’ In the locker room, a good teammate, and then on the field you can really count on him not only for his energy but because he is tough and he brings it all the time.”
Quinn also said that McCray is partly responsible for the heavy sense of brotherhood that the defense (and team as a whole) has developed this season.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On how sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson handled some of his struggles early in the game: “I’ll give credit, number one, to Tennessee and to their receivers who made some plays. There were some times when it was really good, tight coverage and they threw a good ball and completed it. At corner, as you know, there’s going to be some balls completed on you. You got to be able to battle and compete and trust your technique and go back at it the next play. I expected him to do that, and he did.”
» On most of the defense’s penalties being caused by aggression: “Really the penalties we kind of talk about them when they’re undisciplined ones – a false start or a flagrant one where you might have grabbed a facemask where you didn’t need to. Those kinds of things, for us, are the ones that we got to get out of our system that we talk about. We put them on film; we walk through them again. If there was a bang-bang play that could have gone either way on a penalty, we generally don’t’ go overboard on those – especially during the game.”
» On having an extra five minutes in college for halftime: “It is a really big difference. You think, ‘Well why would five minutes make such a difference?’ But it really does seem to make a difference at times. [...] It is a big difference. I know it would seem small – just five minutes – but it really is a big difference.”