UF notebook: Tale of two lines

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Florida defensive lineman Jabari Zuniga reaches out to make a tackle on Colorado State running back Hunter Williams during Saturday's game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

After losing both lines of scrimmage in the loss to Kentucky, the goal against Colorado State was to be tougher, more physical and more effective on both lines.

Both were a little better, but the defensive line apparently was better than the offensive line.

UF coach Dan Mullen wasn’t exactly giddy over the play of the offensive line.

“A little bit (better),” Mullen said. “We’re not jumping up and down yet, but I think they’re improving. The mental strain and grind of practice has got to improve for our guys, especially with the offensive line.

“I know myself and John (Hevesy), we have a pretty high standard for those guys of what we expect out of them, being such a critical part to the team. If you have a great offensive line you have the opportunity to be successful, so I want to see them continue to progress.”

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham seemed a little bit more pleased with what he got out of his defensive line in the 48-10 win.

“We took a step in the right direction last week,” Grantham said. “I thought our guys were physical. I thought they played with their hands. They did a good job securing their gaps. But it showed up in practice that way. So I think it was a move in the right direction and we’ve got to continue to develop our standard and the identity we want and still improve, but we made progress where we needed to.”

The standout on the line was rush end Jabari Zuniga, the SEC defensive lineman of the week for his 2.5-sack performance.

“He was disruptive both in the run and the pass,” Grantham said. “Any time you can have a multiple-sack game like that, and he also had a couple other quarterback pressures and hits on the quarterback that affected the game, it’s big. And then I thought he played well in the run game. So any time you get a guy that can be disruptive in his play and make plays in your base defense it’s going to allow you to have a good turnout.”

Good old “Rocky Top”

The players and coaches might be hearing “Rocky Top” in their sleep even before they reach Knoxville for Saturday’s game. The tune is being played multiple times at practice this week.

“We’ll mix ‘Rocky Top’ into our crowd noise,” Mullen said. “I’ll be whistling ‘Rocky Top’ by the end of the week. You just hear it over and over. Like every other or every third song, it’ll roll through within the crowd noise that we play at practice. You get used to it, and it’s a catchy tune.

“I hope we don’t hear it all that much (Saturday). I hope I hear it a lot more during practice than I do on game day.”

33 COMMENTS

  1. The defensive ends get penetration but the tackles do not . This opens up a gap for the QB to run through when he drops back. if the ends get too deep and there is no penetration from the tackles this creates big holes. This was a prime factor in the KY loss and still showed up some in the CSU game. We heard how tough these tackles were going to be including predictions about the number of sacks they would get. The dl needs to put up or shut up

  2. In the KY game, it wasn’t so much excessive penetation as it was the DEs losing contain and getting pushed out of the play. They improved holding contain in the CSU game and pursuing to the QB. They also had a MUCH less mobile QB to contend with. You’re right about the DTs not getting enough push, but that’s something the DEs are going to have to play around all year. The D won’t be smothering without the DTs stepping up, (which probably won’t happen until next season) but they can still get a tight grip on the neck every now and then.

  3. They are going to have to scheme around this offensive line. These players do not care about their team mates and have shown time and again they will not make the effort necessary to protect the QB or open holes for the running backs. Mullen will come up with some stuff that deals with this reality, and hopefully the younger guys will not be contaminated with the attitudes of the older guys.

    Defensive line– thumbs up for making the effort and playing harder and better, accepting the coaching.

    • I’m not sure they don’t care…..it’s their gumption to do more than they have to that I still question. I don’t automatically think it’s a talent issue, but maybe it is. I’m not ready to make up my mind on that. Maybe you and I are saying the same thing I guess. Don’t know, but it sure is perplexing to say the least!

      • I do feel it is mainly a mental issue. I was wrong to assert a lack of caring, as I am not in the locker room and on the practice field. As I keep reading about poor practice habits, though, it bugs me because that is a very correctable issue that has been going on for years. Still, it is what it is and while I may gripe during the week (and sometimes yell at my television during the games) I am pulling for these guys because I would love to see them go all out and show the world the ability I really believe is there just waiting to be awakened.

  4. goodness …. i thought i was clear. We’re beating the hillbillies…. last week, they posted 24 points at home to a team that recently surrendered 52 and 30 to Northern Arizona and UNLV. I dont think you guys realize what we are speaking of…. If the hogs and TN met on a neutral site, both teams would lose…. 3-1

        • i tell people I’m a redneck wannabe…and I have the ancestors to prove it.
          again please place me solidly in the “we will beat Tennessee this week” camp. looks like we are progressing at DE, so this could be another game where defense and special teams can win it for us and the offense must move the chains better.
          I do think UT will be better in time. I hear the arguments that by effort and belief we should be a better team, but it still takes a well thought out plan and a backup for when that fails. hopefully our backup plan can improve this week.

  5. Well since some journalist from the Gainesville Sun said we are a 2 and 10 team. And to pack it in the rest of the year. I just hope we won’t have to forfeit the game on Saturday. Are we still planning on going to Knoxville?

  6. Every game is a big game. They all count as wins or losses. We aren’t going to win the SEC this year, so it really doesn’t matter whether we lose to Tenn or LSU. Fans care more about that stuff than the reality. I have always felt that a season is still good if we beat Tenn ,Ga and FSU. I have recently expanded that to include the Voodoo Dolls in Baton Rouge bc of their BS with the hurricane. There are also different levels of embarrassment. If Tenn didn’t lose all their SEC game last year, this wouldn’t be such a big game this year. If we had won all our SEC games last year, this year’s game would be bigger . MSU will be a “big” game bc a win over a ranked opponent away signals a turning of the corner for the program and the mental toughness of our team going to Coach Mullen’s old school and beating them at their park.But that’s part of the fun of college football. We can invent reasons for every game to be the game of the year.

  7. The funny thing is, all summer I kept telling myself….and posting here, that wins and losses weren’t as important to me this year, but rather seeing continued improvement. I believed then, and still do, that this was a long term rebuild, and not just the team’s offense and defense. But rather, the culture…the program….the process.

    Then….I allowed myself to get all excited and fantasizing about a 10 win season and big win after big win. I drank the koolaid. I was dumb.

    At this point, I’m happy with improvement again. I’m already more entertained than at any time the past three years. So count me happy. Just continue to show improvement Gators….give lots of effort…. convince Gator Nation that the nightmare is almost over!

    • Right on Rog ! Don’t be too hard on yourself, we wouldn’t be true fans if we didn’t believe our team could or would win them all. Especially those of us that were fortunate enough to have lived thru 0-10-1 and then experienced the magic that the HBC brought to our previously always underachieving squad. We saw it happen once and we want to believe that it will happen again. Hopefully it will, just not as fast as we had envisioned before the kick in the twins game that Kentucky was. I’m with you though, just continue to improve through the season. (something we have not experienced in a while )

    • I think thats because we actually are a bit better on offense, there is a little hope there and a few guys that are talented.We actually scored over 50 once this year. Most of our offenses of the past couldnt do that against anybody.