The Florida Gators defensive unit was made available to the press Tuesday, three days before they face the Cincinnati Bearcats in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Aside from every player and coach being asked about the health of head coach Urban Meyer, one of the hottest topics was the defense’s collapse in the 2009 SEC Championship against the Alabama Crimson Tide. Special thanks to the Palm Beach Post and ESPN affiliate GatorCountry for providing the quotes below.
Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong:
“Looking back, we just didn’t play well. We played well all the way up to that game, and just weren’t prepared. We didn’t do a good job of coaching that day and just didn’t play well, and it showed.”
“Guys understand we have to be prepared to play each week, and we didn’t do a good job of coaching that day. We always talk about, if there’s 10 or less missed tackles, you have a good chance of winning the game. We exceeded that in the first half.”
Senior linebacker Ryan Stamper:
“The last game was a disappointment, but we want to just come out and play hard and show that we are still one of the best defenses in the country. We just want to come out and play the way we are capable of playing.”
“Blown coverages, missed coverages, guys out of gaps – we’ve never had that many missed assignments all season. Guys just weren’t into the game. You could see that on film.”
Junior cornerback Joe Haden:
“I haven’t even looked at the game. We haven’t watched film or anything. The equipment staff, when Major [Wright] asked them for the DVD, was like, ‘Why do you want to see that?’ It’s like nobody wants to bring it up.”
Junior safety Major Wright:
“We didn’t play Florida defense. We weren’t playing physical enough. We usually go out and have fun, chest bump, every play. But it wasn’t happening.”
“[Winning the Sugar Bowl is] very important. For one, just getting the taste out of our mouth from our last game, and start the season off right. We’ve got a lot of young guys who can come out and get better, make plays and show what they got.
Junior safety Ahmad Black:
“I don’t think we were ready. They wanted it a little bit more than we did.”