Muschamp: Durkin brings continuity to defense


Florida special teams coach D.J. Durkin celebrates an interception against Georgia last season. Durkin was promoted to defensive coordinator on Thursday.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer
Published: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 at 6:04 p.m.

The day after D.J. Durkin was promoted to replace departing Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, UF coach Will Muschamp made one thing abundantly clear Friday about the Gator defense.

It's not going to change under a new play-caller.

“D.J.'s experience with our system and with our players and the stability and continuity we provide for our players, that decision (hiring Durkin) is our best decision. There's no question,” Muschamp said.

“Sometimes in coaching and in business we think the grass is greener on the other side. Sometimes it's not. Sometimes it's sitting right here.

“I think that's what is really helping us on the recruiting trail. People understand defensively we're not changing. Schematically, the terminology, it's not going to change. We don't have to wholesale change anything within our organization.”

Muschamp did not hesitate in promoting Durkin from linebackers/special teams coach to the position of defensive coordinator, announcing the decision only a few hours after the Seattle Seahawks named Quinn their new defensive coordinator Thursday.

Muschamp said he anticipated a possible change because he knew the close relationship Quinn has with the Seahawks and he knew Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley was considered a strong candidate to become an NFL head coach.

He said he keeps a list of potential candidates to fill vacancies on his staff. Durkin's name obviously was at the top of his list of potential defensive coordinators should Quinn leave.

“Part of my job is anticipating when things are going to happen,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, with Dan's relationship with the Seattle organization, I knew when Gus Bradley got a job there would be interest on their part and possibly some interest on his part.

“You start planning on that for what you feel like you need to do and what's best for the program. I've watched (Durkin) for two years do a fantastic job with our players.

“He's a great motivator, he's smart, intelligent, understands the game, sees the big picture. All the things I think it takes to be a successful play-caller on defense or offense, he has. I'm really excited to have him part of the program.”

Muschamp said the defensive plan will not change with a new coordinator. Like he did with Quinn, Muschamp will work closely with Durkin and the other defensive assistants during the week, and Durkin will call the plays on game day.

“Dan called the defenses here and D.J. will call the defenses here,” Muschamp said. “When you game plan all week and you present situations and you understand what you want to do in those situations, then that's what we do.

“It's Florida's defense. When you're in the meeting room and you're game planning, No. 1, you have to be on the same page philosophically, which we are, just like Dan and I were. What we believe and how you play defense, and there is a certain way you play.”

Muschamp said he expects Durkin to continue being an aggressive play-caller, just like he's been as the Gators' special teams coordinator.

“I think he's a guy that's aggressive,” Muschamp said. “I think you saw a very relentless attitude with our special teams, and I think you'll see that carry over to our defense, which really is kind of our trait anyway.

“So, I think you see a very aggressive style, as far as special teams are concerned. I think certainly our players feel that. And it's something as a coach … your players are a reflection of who you are, and certainly our guys play a certain way on special teams and will continue to do so on defense.”

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

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