Muschamp calls out defense

Florida coach Will Muschamp knows the Gators will have their hands full against Arkansas.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 2:10 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 4, 2013 at 8:53 p.m.

Florida’s top-ranked run defense faces its toughest test of the season Saturday when Arkansas comes to town.

The Gators are No. 1 nationally in allowing just 53.5 yards per game on the ground, but the Razorbacks lead the SEC with the most rushing yards (1,185) through five games (237.0 average).

UF coach Will Muschamp has called out his unit heading into the matchup.

“We’ve got to match their physicality from a defensive standpoint,” he said on his Thursday night radio show. “I’ve really challenged our players’ manhood. They need to step up and play well.

“We have not played an offense like Arkansas. It’s going to be very difficult for our kids.”

Hogs true freshman running back Alex Collins, who was recruited by Florida out of Plantation, is the league’s leading rusher. He has ran for 597 yards and three touchdowns on 100 carries.

His backup, sophomore Jonathan Williams, ranks third in the SEC with 471 rushing yards and three scores as well.

“They’re tough runners,” Muschamp said. “They get the ball north and south. They’re one-cut guys, they don’t dance. They get the ball downhill, they run extremely hard and they’ve got breakaway speed.

“They’re guys you have to make sure you account for. You have to leverage the ball and tackle well. They’re going to make you tackle them. They’re going to run through you. So our guys will be up to the challenge.”

Muschamp is just as impressed with the Razorbacks’ run defense and pass rushers.

“They move their defensive line around a lot, and they have two very good edge rushers. They have affected the quarterback in every game,” he said.

“They’ve got the best front four we’ve played this season. They do an outstanding job of getting pressure with four guys rushing. We need to be able to handle their penetration. I think we can with our offensive line.”

Muschamp said the key for his team against Arkansas will be taking care of the ball on offense and not giving up big plays defensively.

“As long as we can stay away from those (turnovers) and make them drive the distance against us,” he said, “I think we can have some success.”

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