Notebook: UF football's defense growing up


Florida's Mon Williams runs the ball during a play at UF's practice Saturday morning.

Brandon Kruse/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, March 29, 2008 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 12:16 a.m.

Chalk up another victory for the defense.

Florida’s “D” looked solid against a struggling offense in Florida’s first full scrimmage of the spring.

UF coach Urban Meyer said one of the reasons for the defense’s turnaround this spring has been the maturity of his players and lack of what Meyer likes to call the “dope look,” or that confused look that young players are notorious for.

“Confused looks lead to bad players, bad teams, bad defense, bad offense, and I’m starting to see that disappear a little bit on defense,” Meyer said.

Most of the scrimmage was dictated by the defense. The first series for the offense ended with a fumble and the scrimmage ended on an interception.

Meyer said the momentum really shifted to the defense after freshman defensive lineman Carlos Dunlap came away with back-to-back sacks. It’s plays like that Meyer said he needs his defense to make next season if the Gators want to win the big games.

“It’s all about making plays and trying to get off the field and we’re trying to put them in as many situations similar to last year,” he said. “The difference between winning those games and failing to win, two years ago your defense stood up and made a play and got a victory many times. I can think of four or five times off the top of my head when they went out and made a stop and it was over. Tennessee to Georgia two years ago and then last year we failed to do that. I’m pleased with a lot of performances right now on defense.”

The last few practices have been dominated by the defense and Meyer said Friday’s practice was the best his team has had in two years.

“Our Friday practice was the best, most intense, enthusiastic practice we had,” he said. “The execution wasn’t, but I don’t care about that yet. But (after) the last two days, those kids deserve a day off. We pounded real hard the last two days.”

Brantley sits out

Redshirt freshman quarterback John Brantley (shoulder), who is in a battle with freshman Cameron Newton for the backup quarterback spot, dressed but did not see action Saturday.

Meyer said it was for precautionary reasons.

“We just don’t want to (aggravate the injury),” Meyer said. “Trainers said because he’s trying to push himself, if he re-injures it then it sets him back even further.”

Brantley has had limited participation during 7-on-7 drills in practice.

Two tight ends

With the return of redshirt junior Cornelius Ingram and the emergence of freshman Aaron Hernandez as a legitimate playmaker, Meyer said he will use both in two tight end sets this upcoming season.

“We’ve never had two tight ends, so we’re getting real involved with that,” he said. “We actually have three. Tate’s (Casey) going to give us a third guy and we’ve never had that. You’re seeing a lot different formations with a closed tight end, which we’ve never really done. You’ve gotta take advantage of the talent you have.”

Moody still learning

USC transfer Emmanuel Moody has yet to prove that he can take over running duties from senior Kestahn Moore. While Meyer said Moody has shown that he’s a talented running back, his progression in the offense has not moved as quickly as he would like, despite being with the team in the fall.

“He’s very talented," Meyer said. "It's too early to say exactly what his role will be. He's got a long way to go but his attitude is tremendous. He's a little bit behind. I didn't think he'd be that far behind because he was here all fall, but it seems like everything is new and it shouldn't be that way. But he's a talented guy."

Harvin's status

Sophomore receiver Percy Harvin (heel) was in street clothes Saturday as he missed his third-consecutive practice.

Meyer said a conference call with three doctors to discuss Harvin’s treatment was scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Meyer will announce Monday the prognosis and said he was unsure if Harvin’s injury would require surgery.

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