On August 20, the Florida Gators defense was ready to bounce back from a 4-8 record in 2013, chomping at the bit to get back on the field after a long offseason.
On September 3, the Florida Gators defense is ready to bounce back from a 4-8 record in 2013, chomping at the bit to get back on the field after a long offseason and a game postponed.
Florida will attempt to open up the season Saturday, playing Eastern Michigan at 4 pm. After weather cancelled the game against Idaho last week, the team is looking forward to letting out two weeks’ worth of pent-up energy on the Eagles.
“Out at practice yesterday I got mad, because I’m like ‘Dang, I can’t take anyone to the ground,’” linebacker Mike Taylor said. “You don’t want to unleash on your teammates, so it’s just like when I finally get out there, pray for them.”
Florida’s front seven will have a big task at hand, stopping an Eastern Michigan team that ran the ball 56 times in last week’s win against Morgan State. The Eagles’ scheme has been a point of emphasis this week, according to defensive coordinator DJ Durkin.
“They were very up-tempo,” he said. “They ran a lot of plays total. Obviously running plays quite a few. The good thing going through training camp with our offense is they prepare us well for tempo. We believe they do the same. We have to do a good job stopping the run.”
In addition to the rushing attack, Florida will be working on getting pressure from their defensive line on the quarterback. While it is not known whether EMU will start Reginald Bell or Brogan Roback, the team has been using linebacker Neiron Ball in some pass rushing situations, as well as playing defensive end Jonathan Bullard inside and outside. Defensive Alex McCalister and Gerald Willis are also players that have shown in practice their ability to rush the passer in one-on-one situations.
With Eastern Michigan’s focus on the run, Saturday’s game may not be a significant chance to see where the young Gator secondary stands. The Eagles amassed 99 yards of passing last week, completing 18 of 30 passes. However, the team feels the defensive line pressure will assist the young cornerbacks and allow them to mix coverages. Durkin said the team will also have different rotations throughout the season.
“One week, a certain mix on the field might be what’s called for and next week it might be totally different,” he said. “So, you know, that’s a constant evaluation of our guys ad it’s at practice too. That’s how we keep our practice competitive. You’ve got to practice if you want to keep that spot.”
Saturday will be take two for Florida’s defense to be the anchor for the team they were in 2012. While defensive end Dante Fowler is now monitoring the weather for Saturday, playing well against the Eagles’ offense is the main priority.
“It’s just a lot of stuff built up in you ready to go out, so you know we’re just going into this week hoping it doesn’t happen again, and just able to take everything out on Eastern Michigan.”