Meyer: Gators Need to Stop the Run
Meyer readies for SEC opener
Meyer readies for SEC opener
FightinGators.com
Posted Sep 15, 2009


It's not very hard to figure out what the Florida Gators defense must do to be successful against Tennessee on Saturday: stop the run. The Volunteers rely heavily on their two running backs, Montario Hardesty and Bryce Brown, to get their offense going. Tuesday, UF coach Urban Meyer stressed how important stopping the rushing duo will be to winning its Southeastern Conference opener.

Urban Meyer has confidence his Florida defense will be up to the challenge.

“Our defense has been pretty good against (the run),” Meyer said. “The issue is not just stopping the run. They have two good running backs, but to win this game on defense we have to stop the run.”

The Gators introduced their 3-3-5 Joker package against Troy, a pass heavy team.

With three defensive ends playing up front – Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap on the outside and Justin Trattou at nose guard -- they could be taking advantage of up the middle against a run-first team like Tennessee, but Meyer still expects his defense to use the Joker package.

“The whole thing about the package is (Trattou) is not going to sit and play up against the center,” he said. “He certainly is fast enough to get in the gaps and create issues.”

Stopping the talented backs also means more pressure on quarterback Jonathan Crompton, who has been less than impressive in his time as the starter.

“We have a good, clear feeling of what they are going to do when they come in here. They are going to try and pound it right at us,” Meyer said. “On third downs, that's when you see a lot of that Joker package. We try to confuse and pressure, and that's what will do their quarterback.”

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DT Lawrence Marsh and LB Jelani Jenkins both slowed by ankle injuries did a little in practice Tuesday. LB Brandon Hicks (dehydration) is ready. WR Deonte Thompson participated sparingly also.

“Marsh did a little bit today, but he has to do a lot more tomorrow to be ready to go,” Meyer said. “Jelani did a little bit today, not in team work, but in individual work, he is getting close. Brandon Hicks is full go. Deonte did minimal, not much. We held him out on purpose, he could have done a little more. If we have to go Thursday we just have to be careful with that thing.”

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Meyer is preparing his offense for plenty of blitzes from the Tennessee defense. “They are more what you call 'smoke issues,' which safeties blitz off of both sides,” he said.

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The Gators' “bloody Tuesday” practice did not go as smoothly as Meyer would have liked. “We have to clean it up. They do enough pressures and blitzes on defense to make your Tuesday look awful,” Meyer said. “The effort was there and guys were trying but we have to clean it up. The defense had a good day.”

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Tennessee is the first game of conference play which means a different mentality for Florida. “It brings a lot of energy to the game, and our guys know it,” Meyer said. “It's just a different feel around here, and it should be especially when Tennessee comes to town.”

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To prevent an upset, Meyer said his team must take care of the ball and cannot give the Volunteers momentum by allowing a big special teams play or costly turnover.

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Meyer was shocked that former Gators WR Louis Murphy wasn't awarded a touchdown for his apparent catch in the end zone in his NFL debut Monday night. “I can't believe that wasn't a touchdown,” he said. “They must use a different rule.”


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