Florida Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday with just three days to go until his team links up with the No. 9 Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida.
GURLEY OR NOT, HERE COME THE GATORS
Florida’s players have spoken all week about preparing for Georgia running back Todd Gurley and doing whatever they can to limit his effectiveness in the game.
As well as the Gators might have defended Gurley, they are still no match for the NCAA, which ruled on Wednesday that Gurley will have to sit out two more contests (including UF-UGA) as he serves a four-game suspension after receiving more than $3,000 for signing memorabilia. He will also have to pay restitution and do community service.
With Gurley – a Heisman Trophy candidate averaging 8.2 yards per carry – out of action, the Bulldogs will rely on Nick Chubb to tote the rock, which he has been doing to the tune of 5.7 yards per rush this season.
For Durkin and the players, not much will change in Florida’s defensive preparation for Georgia’s run-heavy offensive attack.
“They still run the same offense. Their scheme really hasn’t changed with him being out,” Durkin said. “Obviously, we’ve had the benefit of seeing some games with him out. They’ve got some really good running backs besides him. Obviously, he’s a great player, but they have some other really talented running backs [that] can do a lot of the same things he does. They run the offense the same way.”
He continued: “[Chubb is] a very physical runner; he finishes runs. He’s got some good top-end speed. He’s hit some big runs, and they use him out of the backfield, too, just like they did with Gurley.”
Durkin was proud that his players so wanted to face Gurley, noting that Florida’s defense fields a bunch of “great competitors” that wanted to make a statement.
“Although some things haven’t gone the way we’d like, that doesn’t change your makeup of what’s inside. To play at a program like this and coach at a program like this … you’ve got to be a highly-competitive person,” he said. “Our guys are that way. You always want to see how you measure up against the best, whatever you’re talking about, whether it’s team or player or whatever it might be.
“They’re going to come out and keep swinging. I think our guys played really hard in the last game, did some things very well. Obviously some things didn’t go our way in that game, but they bounced back. They’re resilient. There’s not discouragement. We’ve had two really good weeks of practice. They know what this game means and how big this game is no matter what’s going on outside of it. Our guys are ready to go.”
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On whether redshirt senior defensive tackle Leon Orr (knee) is fully recovered: “Yeah, he’s back. He’s been practicing every day full. He’s full strength, ready to go.”
» On the special atmosphere for the Florida-Georgia game: “It’s amazing. It’s not like anything else that I’ve been a part of. I think if your juices don’t get flowing when you come over that bridge, in the early afternoon there before the game, I don’t know what would make that happen. So the guys that have played in the game know that and understand that and there’s obviously some young guys that haven’t and they’re looking forward to it. I think it’s one of the great games in all of college football. I think there’s a lot of rivalry games you could point to, this has got to be one of them. And it’s always a great game, great battle on both sides. I expect this to be the same.”
» On Georgia redshirt senior quarterback Hutson Mason: “He handles their offense well. He has been involved in that offense, although not as the starter, for quite some time. You can tell he understands what they’re trying to get done. He has good command of what’s going on. He has been very accurate with his passes. He makes good decisions; they’ve protected the ball well. I think they’re comfortable, and you can see he’s comfortable in what they’re doing offensively in how he functions.”