Notebook: Stopping Vanderbilt's Matthews
Published: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 3:08 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 3:08 p.m.
Florida's likely defensive priorities against Vanderbilt on Saturday are, in order, prevent the Commodores from hitting big plays early and containing star wide receiver Jordan Matthews, who has burned the Gators (and everyone else in the SEC) in the past.
“Obviously, his career, his stats, what he's done, speaks for itself,” UF defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said. “He's been a guy that our guys have gone against now for several years and they have great respect for him. He's a competitive guy. He's obviously talented, gifted, his size is really good, he's got great speed.
“He presents a challenge. Our guys, they rise up. They understand what they're going against. He's made his plays against us, we've made ours against him. I think it will be the same thing come Saturday.”
Matthews is clearly Vandy's best offensive weapon. He holds the SEC record for career receiving yards (3,172) and is only 20 receptions behind former Vandy standout Earl Bennett for the all-time lead in catches in the conference.
At 6-foot-3, 206 pounds, he's a matchup problem for most cornerbacks. Despite that, the Gators likely will play man-to-man coverage on Matthews for most of the game (because that's what they do with most receivers).
“He's a guy that with his length and ability he can go up and get the ball,” Durkin said. “They throw him a lot of 50-50 balls. They put it up to him and let him go make a play. Obviously, he's come down with a lot of those. So, yeah, he can do that.
“I think our guys will tell you the same, they like to go up and play 50-50 balls. We've shown our ability to do that, too. It will be a great battle, a great matchup out there. We'll have different guys on him. But he's definitely a guy they want to go to on offense and he's done well.”
Doering Mr. Two Bits
Former Gator great and Gainesville resident Chris Doering will be the honorary Mr. Two Bits for Saturday's game against Vanderbilt. He follows in the footsteps of Errict Rhett, Danny Wuerffel and Chris DiMarco, who played the role in UF's first three home games.
Doering, a walk-on wide receiver who earned a scholarship, was a first-team All-SEC selection in 1995. He's is UF's all-time leader in touchdown receptions with 31 and sixth in career receptions with 149.
Sack time for Gators?
Here's an encouraging stat for the Florida defensive front: Vanderbilt leads the SEC in sacks allowed with 26. That comes out to 3.25 a game.
“We don't talk much about sacks as we do about affecting the quarterback,” Durkin said. “Obviously sacks are great, we love them, but we want to affect the quarterback. That's our emphasis, whether we do it with three, four, five guys, whatever we've got to do in different situations, that's what we'll do.
“These guys aren't any different in that way. If you let him be comfortable back there in the pocket, with receivers like Matthews down there, and he's got time, they've got a chance to make some plays. So, that's our job to go do it, and I think we've got a good plan for that.”
Murphy in the pocket
Because he's shown an ability to make plays with his running and scrambling ability, opposing defenses are doing what they can to keep quarterback Tyler Murphy in the pocket and make him throw the ball, UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease said.
“They try to keep you in the pocket, force you to throw the ball, which in some sense is good, but you've got to make sure you have the right plays dialed up,” Pease said. “Seeing coverages soon enough to throw. He's done a good job of that. I still think there are spots he's shown that he needs to show some anticipation with things.
“Any time you're back there, and any time there is pressure, you've got to handle pressure and be able to maybe change the protection and get us into something where we're in a sound blocking scheme to protect yourself.”
Murphy's accuracy has been off at times in recent games, but Pease said when he's had time to scan the field, he's completed passes.