Notebook: Durkin dishes defense, USC & stopping Mike Davis

With Dominique Easley in the lineup the Florida defense was holding opponents to 55.3 rushing yards-per-game. Without Easley the defense is giving up 136.8 per-game. There’s no doubt that Easley’s absence has had catastrophic effects on the defense.

This week the defense is tasked with trying to stop the SEC’s leading rusher in Mike Davis, who has already surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season. Davis is averaging more than 117 yards-per-game and 6.37-yards per carry. The talented sophomore was once a Florida commit before flipping to Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks and this game brings added motivation for Davis.


With two wins needed for bowl eligibility and just three games left on the schedule, D.J. Durkin and the defense are looking to find a way to shut Davis, Connor Shaw and the Gamecocks down and get one game closer to bowl eligibility.


How do you stop Mike Davis?

  • Durkin was quick to point out that Davis is much more than just a running back — he is also third on the team with 29 receptions for 326 yards.
  • It takes a team effort to bring the 5’9”, 219-pound Davis down.

He runs with his pads in front of him, he finishes runs, he’s physical and he’s a competitive guy. So yeah, he’s got a lot of yards after contact.”

Jarrad Davis making the most of his opportunities

  • All freshmen progress differently. Each player is given a role and depending on how they handle that role determines if they will receiver more or less responsibility moving forward.

They get out there on special teams. When they’re making plays and they start playing at game speed and they’re showing up, usually it’s hey, let’s try him here, let’s give him this little package, give him a role on offense or defense. Like anything else, when you do well with the role you get, your role increases.”

  • Durkin put Davis in good company when he compared Davis’ approach to football to freshman standout Vernon Hargreaves.

We’ve about Vernon a bunch as a freshman who handles things well and doesn’t act like a freshman. I think Jarrad goes into that same category. He just handles himself in a way that if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t think he’s a freshman. That’s in the meeting rooms, off the field, on the field. He prepares really hard, practices well.”


On South Carolina

  • Connor Shaw can hurt you with his legs and with his arm. Add a couple of big-bodied wide receivers and the aforementioned Davis and South Carolina has one of the most complete offenses the Gators will face this season.

They’re probably the most complete offense we’ve played all year in terms of all the different ways they can move the ball effectively. They’ve got a really good running back. Their quarterback can run it and throw it. They have good receivers outside. Up front they’re really big. They do a good job in both run blocking and pass protection. They’re the complete package and it will be a great challenge for our defense on Saturday.”

  • The Gamecocks have only been held to under 400-yards of offense twice this season. Durkin said he doesn’t know if you can completely stop their offense but you need to limit their ability to hit big plays.


Quick Hitters

  • Florida has only forced 15 turnovers this season after creating 30 in 2012. The coaching staff still stresses the importance of taking the ball away and Durkin can’t quite put his finger on why there has been a drop off this year.

I don’t know the answer to that. We continue to emphasize that like we always have. We’ve had out chances in games and not made those plays. There was a chance we could have swung momentum in this past game. We had a pick right in our hands and dropped it. We probably would have returned it for a touchdown. We’ve got to make those plays. We’ve got to do that. Once you do and you make them, they start to come more in bunches.”

  • Durkin said the meeting about penalties on Monday was a littler different than past meetings.

It’s been something we’ve addressed and talked about a bunch. I t was probably in a little different manner and tone in that Monday meeting. We can’t be in a position to make stupid mistakes that put us behind the eight ball and gives us a chance to not win the game. We’ve got to do everything we can to help ourselves win the game. That’s where we’re at right now. It was time to address it that way.”

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC