Gators focused on athletic quarterback

Gators focused on athletic quarterback

Florida struggled to stop running quarterbacks during the 2011 season, and the same problem showed up in the first half at Texas A&M this season. The Gators will get their first test from an athletic quarterback since then when they travel to Nashville this weekend. Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers hurt Florida plenty with his feet in 2011.

Not many athletic quarterbacks missed their chance to run against the Florida defense in 2011.

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller rushed for 56 yards in the Gator Bowl. Connor Shaw ran for 93 yards in a win over the Gators at South Carolina. Jordan Rodgers went for 43 yards on the ground in a close loss at Florida. Aaron Murray ran for 53 during the game against Florida in Jacksonville.

The list goes on. And it does get any better for Florida.

"It's a challenge when you play a mobile QB," Florida defensive coordinator Quinn said. "You have to do a really good job of setting the edges because sometimes when you face a guy who has the speed to get outside he'll break contain, and then try to create a play that way. That dual-threat certainly is something we have to work hard on in practice."

The problem looked like it would show up again this season during Florida's trip to College Station. Johnny Manziel gained 78 yards on the ground with his feet and killed the Gators during the first half.

The issue was discipline. The Florida defensive line went too wide while trying to create a pass rush, and Manziel slipped through the cracks to run free. Quinn hopes the Gators learned their lesson from those problems early in the year.

"I think when you go through it and face a guy who really has feet to run, I think that adds value to what you've done," Quinn said. "In (Manziel's) case, he was a player we hadn't seen at all. We certainly have a lot of respect for the way Rodgers can run. Having seen him do it against us, I don't think you have to tell anybody on our club that we know this guy can run. They certainly saw it and we need to do a better job against that."

Jordan Rodgers is the first test for the Gators over the next four weeks. Florida will face Shaw next week, Murray the final weekend of October and then Missouri's dual-threat quarterback James Franklin.

After facing pocket passers like LSU's Zach Mettenberger, Kentucky's Morgan Newton and Tennessee's Tyler Bray over the last three weeks, Rodgers will be a good test to prepare Florida for the next four weeks of the schedule.

"When you talk about the opponent at the start of the week, that's one the things that you talk about early," Quinn said. "Is this a quarterback who wants to move the pocket and create on the run or is it more of a dropback passer?"

The Florida defense believes it will be better against running quarterbacks this year because of what the unit sees in practice. Quarterback Jeff Driskel has showcased his running abilities early this season, while backups Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy can also run.

Even when a play breaks down in practice, the Florida defense still has to keep its head up and focus on the possibility of a quarterback run.

"We practice that pretty much every day in practice going against Driskel, going against Jacoby and Tyler Murphy," Florida linebacker Jon Bostic said. "All three of those quarterbacks can run. We've seen that throughout camp, throughout spring, so it won't be too much of a difference, but we know (Rodgers) is good at what he does. He can run, he can get away from defensive ends pretty quick, so we've got to keep him in the pocket."

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