D.J. Durkin met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the defense, what happened against Miami and to look forward to the game this week against Tennessee.
Here are the highlights from Durkin’s press conference.
On Vernon Hargreaves III
About ten minutes before Durkin met with the media, Will Muschamp said on the SEC Teleconference that the staff considered Vernon Hargreaves III a starter. He isn’t listed as a starting cornerback on the two-deep depth chart, but with how much nickel and dime packages that Florida will play throughout the season, Hargreaves will see his role increase this week and the rest of the season.
Durkin said that Hargreaves carries himself like a veteran on and off the field and you can tell by his approach to the game and knowledge of his position that he is the son of a coach.
On shaking up the defensive depth chart
The depth chart for this week featured two big moves on the defensive side of the ball. Antonio Morrison was moved back into the starting Mike linebacker role and Jaylen Watkins was moved ahead of Marcus Maye at one of the two safety positions.
Durkin said that even though Morrison is officially listed as the starter in the middle, he views Mike Taylor, Neiron Ball and Darrin Kitchens all as starters as well. Durkin said that all four of those players will rotate throughout the game and they will all play a role on the defense.
Durkin said that having Morrison back is great for the defense and that he is a great player but insisted that there will be a healthy rotation at linebacker.
Speaking on why Marcus Maye received a demotion from starter to backup, Durkin said that Maye would be a very good player for Florida but that he needs to continue to learn and grow and become more comfortable in the defense. It wasn’t any one play specifically that caused the demotion, just Florida’s coaching staff continuing to try to get the best 11 men on the field.
Durkin didn’t put too much stock in how poorly the Vols looked last week against Tennessee. Durkin credited Tennessee as having the best offensive line that Florida will face this season and said the Vols can do some things offensively that will test Florida.
Tennessee’s wide receivers have struggled this season with bump-and-run and press coverage, something the Gators do a lot of, Durkin said that the defense will continue to mix up their coverage schemes. He said the coaching staff is very confident in the secondary to execute on Saturday and said that they have the right players to run those schemes that they are asked to run.
Defense striving for perfection
Dominique Easley said earlier in the week that the defense needed to be perfect. Durkin said that while those words didn’t come out of his mouth, he is glad that Easley and the defense are hard on themselves and the coaching staff will continue to hold them to a very high standard.
Durkin echoed Muschamp’s comments that he was disappointed with the way the defense started against Miami and said that they need to find a way to start the game faster and better. Durkin said that the defense needs to get used to teams playing up-tempo and he felt like the defense regressed form week one to week to in how they handled it.
Tennessee hasn’t named a starter at quarterback yet but the defense has been prepared to be able to handle whomever ends up as the starter on Saturday.