Quinn's defense makes stand for UF


The Gator defense moves in on Missouri running back Marcus Murphy during the first half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday.

Doug Finger/Staff Photographer
Published: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, November 4, 2012 at 8:14 p.m.

Much has been made this season about the successful adjustments Brent Pease and the Florida offensive staff have made to turn around games.

Facts

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Who: Louisiana-Lafayette (5-3) at No. 7 Florida (8-1)
When: 12:21 p.m. Saturday
TV: SEC Network (WOGX in Gainesville)
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

In Saturday’s 14-7 victory over Missouri, the adjustment-of-the-game award goes to defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and his staff.

Quinn made a crucial adjustment during the game that helped the Gators shut out the Tigers over the final two-and-a-half quarters.

Quinn took the Gators out of their usual blitzing, man-to-man coverage approach and went to a four-man rush with zone coverage after Missouri took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter.

The result was the Gators produced two sacks and intercepted three passes in the second half to preserve the victory. The final interception was made in the back of the end zone by safety Josh Evans with only five seconds remaining in the game.

“Fantastic job by Dan Quinn and the defensive staff. Hats off to them,” UF coach Will Muschamp said on his Sunday television show. “They really made some nice adjustments in the game.

“We were pressuring a little bit more early in the game. Probably my fault. Dan came back and we went back to more four-man rush and play more zone and make (James Franklin) play quarterback. That’s what we needed to do in the game.”

Early in the game, Franklin, one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the SEC, hurt the defense with some big gains on scrambles when the Gators were trying to bring pressure and cover the receivers man-to-man.

In the second half, Franklin was not a factor running the ball and he finished the game with only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries.

“The key in the game for us was being able to rush four guys,” Muschamp said. “When we pressured in the first half we got displaced a lot and he was able to create some scramble plays.

“When we were able to rush four guys and keep our eyes on the ball in zone and make him complete passes, we were more successful defensively.”

Another key, Muschamp said, is the depth on the defensive line that allowed Quinn to rotate two different lines in throughout the game and keep the pass-rushers fresh, even in the fourth quarter against a Missouri offense that ran 86 plays.

“We were able to roll a whole new defensive line on a dead ball and in no-huddle situations and keep fresh guys in the game,” Muschamp said.

Muschamp reiterated Sunday that true freshmen ends Dante Fowler and Jonathan Bullard have been a major factor in the improved depth on the defensive line.

“Both are going to be really good football players,” Muschamp said. “I think they’re growing up. They understand the mental intensity you have to have week in and week out in this league, which is hard for a freshman.”

Florida’s depth on the offensive line also was severely tested in the win over Missouri. Starting tackle Xavier Nixon sat out the game with an injured knee and two more starters — guards James Wilson and Jon Halapio — were injured in the game and did not return.

Muschamp will know more about the extent of those injuries today.

“You just have to have guys step up,” Muschamp said. “We have a theory around our office: man down, man up. Guys have to step up and perform and perform at a high level. That’s what our expectation is in regard to who is in there.

“There were a lot of moving parts (on the offensive line Saturday). That’s why you have to recruit depth on the offensive line. It’s something when we came here we did not have, and we’re trying to build back up.”

With the victory Saturday, the Gators finished their SEC schedule with a 7-1 record. They still have a slim hope of winning the Eastern Division. For that to happen, Georgia will have to lose to heavy underdog Auburn in Auburn on Saturday.

“I’m very proud of our football team,” Muschamp said. “We’ve made a lot of strides obviously. Some things are out of our control as far as the SEC is concerned. But there is a lot on the table for us as we finish the season here with three non-conference games, two of them at home. We need to do a good job.”

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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