Florida will face a relatively new foe this week in Georgia Southern. All-time the Gators and Eagles have met twice before (1986, 1996) with Florida coming out on top in both of those meetings. The Gators led off the 1986 season with a 38-14 victory before dropping their next four tilts and the 1996 team trounced the Eagles 62-14 on their way to a national championship.
This season, the Gators limp into the game decimated by injuries and reeling from a five game losing streak that has turned this game against an FCS opponent (Georgia Southern will transition to the FBS next season) from what looked like a cupcake, tune-up for FSU game into a must-win.
To complicate things, the Eagles run a true triple option offense. It’s a look that is hard to replicate in practice and not something that the Gators are used to seeing. Georgia Southern doesn’t just run the triple option, they run it well, averaging just over 353 rushing yards a game. They gave Alabama fits with it in 2011, rushing for 311 yards and scoring 21 points against the eventual national champions.
Will Muschamp and defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin have their hands full this week preparing their team to face an offense that many of them haven’t seen since their high schools days. For the Gators to win Saturday, they must stop the option.
Only Option is to stop the Option
- Durkin and the rest of the defensive staff started watching film and preparing for ways to scheme against this offense all the way back in spring practice.
- Freshman receiver Alvin Bailey has worked as the scout team quarterback this week, trying to simulate the Eagles’ offense as much as possible.
- Durkin believes that the biggest hurdle to get over this week is preparing for an offense that is nothing like anything you have seen this season.
Usually you go from one opponent to the next you have a different game plan but you build off certain concepts and things that you usually carry and work on, there’s carryover. This week there’s not as much carryover it’s kind of a whole different game plan in how you play it.”
- Playing sound assignment football will be key for the Gators defense this week.
Option football, that’s what they make you do, they’re gonna make sure everyone’s doing their job and if not they’re gonna make you pay. They’re good enough at it, they do enough of it, they can read the right way and if someone’s not where they’re supposed to be it’ll show.”
The emergence of Jarrad Davis
- Florida signed four very talented linebackers in the 2013 recruiting class, the least heralded of which was Jarrad Davis. It just so happens that Davis has made the biggest impact of that first year group.
- Davis earned his first start last week — on his birthday — against South Carolina and played well.
He played fast and really, he did his job, he executed well. It wasn’t like he was out there just running around; he was where he was supposed to be within the defense. He did a great job, he’s going to continue to play more and more.”
- Durkin expects Davis to play well again this week in what will be his second career start.
Jarrad can run sideline to sideline as well as anyone and these guys, they run the ball sideline to sideline so having a guy who can be able to do that, I think he’ll make a lot of plays Saturday. He’s in tune with what we’re doing in the game plan we have him in a good spot for what we’re asking him to do.”
Keeping up with Easley
- Durkin still keeps in regular contact with Dominique Easley.
He’s doing good. He’s rehabbing, doing well, got good spirits. He’s attacking it like we knew he would. He’s got a lot of football ahead of him. Great football career at the next level and he’ll keep going at it.
- Even with Easley rehabbing his knee away from the team in St. Petersburg, Durkin says that Easley still has an impact on his teammates and the coaches as well.
Dominique’s a guy who’s very important to our team, our staff, myself personally; I know he and I have been here for four years together. That guy poured his heart and soul into the program and everything he did. We’re not forgetful of that and we sure would love to have him right now.”
- Assistant coaches don’t seem to stick around at Florida for very long. Florida is a program that has been able to catapult assistants into head coaching positions and to the NFL.
- In his fourth season at Florida, Durkin says he does have aspirations to be a head coach some day but he’s not focused on that right now.
Do I have head coaching aspirations? Yeah. I definitely one day want to do that. In terms of this season or any other with a school that’s all stuff that I don’t even have time to think about or look at until after the season. I mean, I’m just trying to stop Georgia Southern running the triple option right now and when I say that I really mean it.”
- Durkin says that he hasn’t been approached by any schools to become a head coach.
I haven’t been approached by anyone or anything, so yeah one day I do want to be a head coach. It would have to be the right situation, the right place, a lot of factors go into it. It wouldn’t just be any job.”