As the Florida Gators are three days out from their Saturday night contest against Vanderbilt, defensive coordinator DJ Durkin met with the media for his weekly press conference. The Florida defense had a stellar showing against Georgia, holding the Bulldogs to 20 points, the last score coming in garbage time. The vaunted Bulldog rushing offense was held to 141 yards rushing, with quarterback Hutson Mason forced to throw. The quarterback was sacked three times and was hurried eight times.
This week the Gators are preparing for a Commodore offense that is last in the SEC in total offense, averaging 295.2 yards per game. Vanderbilt is also last in scoring offense, averaging 19.9 points per game.
Here is some of what Durkin had to say:
Playing without safety Keanu Neal, who will miss Saturday with a high ankle sprain
“Keanu is a great football player, he has played really well for us. He’s productive, flies around and makes a lot of plays. Anytime a guy goes down, it’s part of the game and the next guy has to step up and their can’t be a drop off in production. I think we’ll be fine. Marcus Maye has played a bunch for us, Jabari Gorman played his best game since he has been here last week. Those guys combined with Marcell (Harris), Nick Washington and Duke Dawson, there’s a whole group of guys getting reps now and we’ll keep working them through the week to see where we’re at.”
Defenses under Derek Mason at Stanford and Vanderbilt:
“I think his defenses speak for themselves. He’s very productive in his defenses at Stanford. Those guys played at a very high level in his time there. I know they’re very aggressive and the guys play hard for him. You can see that showing up on tape. It takes some time to install a system at a place and all that. You can see they’re doing things and playing hard with great effort. He is a great coach and gets the best out of his guys. He has done that wherever he has been.”
Playing with an improved offense:
“Anytime defensively when you can be on the side, get your rest, get your wind back and get to make adjustments and talk about it for a while, that helps. That was huge by our offense. They grinded it out and kept us off the field. Now it’s not such a hurry to make the adjustments you need to make from that series. You have time to talk through things and go through it. Guys get their wind back and so yeah. The best thing to do for a defense is being on the sideline. You’re not getting any points scored on you then.”
Why Quincy Wilson got the start against Georgia:
“I just think his knowledge of what we’re doing, his urgency to finish plays and be competitive on every play. Not have a lapse in focus, which for a lot of young guys is hard to do. It’s a lot more time spent in meeting rooms and practice than what they’ve ever been used to coming up through high school. It’s different. There’s a lot more time commitment and a lot more focus. Young guys that takes some learning to do, but they’re all doing a great job with it.”
Freshman front seven developing:
“I think up front Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivie have been getting some reps in the 15-20 snaps a game. Some of those have been really good and promising and some of them we need to be better. We just talked about this a couple of days ago earlier in this week. We need them now. They’ve made really good strides and now we need them to take the next step and be where if we need them to go play 50 snaps they’d be able to do that. They’ve done well with what they’ve been given but we need them fighting to get more snaps up front. And then, you know, in terms of linebacker position, I mean, Alex Anzalone is the only real guy in terms of redshirt freshman who’s had some snaps. He’s had limited snaps, probably more on special teams. He keeps coming along, but like I said, it’s probably a good problem — the guys that are playing are playing really well and, knock on wood, they’ve been able to stay healthy. Those snaps are hard to come by at the linebacker position. We’ve got a really good mix of guys right now that understand the team concept, they understand we’re playing a lot of guys — we’re playing over 20 guys in every game. They know they can make their opportunities. They can go out on the practice field and practice well and earn a spot and know that they’re going to get some time. However many snaps that is, we’ll see, but they’ll earn time in the game. I think we’re in a good spot with those guys. They’re all practicing well and getting better.”