Strong Pushed Right Buttons Against LSU

The Florida Gators' defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is always looking for some way to give his defense extra motivation. You might not think the Gators would need motivation going in top a game like LSU, but Strong and the Gator coaching staff will use anything to get the most fire out of their team.

Charlie Strong has been around the game a long time and Florida's defensive guru has learned a thing or two about firing up the troops. He gave his team plenty of bulletin board material for last Saturday's game against LSU. Whether it was linebacker Brandon Spikes being called out by Kirk Herbstreit on ESPN Gameday or Strong picking on his short cornerbacks, he got his defense fired up to play its best game of the year.

"As much talent as we have back, you've got to find a way to motivate them, get them going," Strong said. "At halftime of the game at LSU, we were just playing OK the first half and we had to find a way to just sting them and bring them together to do their jobs because that's what they weren't doing at the beginning."

Strong said Spikes saw it when Herbstreit called him out on Gameday, which meant an easier job for Strong to get him motivated for LSU.

Although he didn't show his feelings after seeing it on TV, Spikes let his emotions known on the field, finishing the game with 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

"You know how those guys a lot of them have egos, so they act like they don't hear it, but they really hear it," Strong said.

One of LSU's biggest strengths on offense was its arsenal of tall receivers.

With both starting cornerbacks, Joe Haden and Janoris Jenkins, standing at 5-11, the Tigers' receivers had a clear advantage in height.

Strong got the corners fired up by saying the LSU receivers would be able to eat peanuts off the top of their heads.

Those guys are really tall receivers so I just said to them they are just going to go up and take the ball up," Strong said "It's great that I said it, those guys really responded. I don't think they threw a deep ball on us."

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The two cornerbacks have made Strong play calling easier by being able to cover receivers one-on-one in man coverage. "It's pretty simple for us because knowing that Haden and Jack Rabbit (Jenkins) can go cover those guys really well, you can go play as much man coverage and when we need to play some zone, we are able to drop back and play a little zone."

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South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said Strong has gotten better as a defensive coordinator as the years have passed. Strong credit that to his experience and the staff around him. "It's just that you study the game more, and you are able to develop. I'm surrounded by some really good coaches too with Vance (Bedford), with Chuck (Heater) and with (Dan) McCarney, so we've to some really good coaches."

He also said he has become a better play caller, having a better understanding of when to call blitzes. "A lot of times you get into to calling a blitz every third down, and you want to try to mix it up, and that's what I try to do. I always like to start the game to get our guys going."

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DT Lawrence Marsh still has been unable to practice with a sprained ankle. Strong said even when he returns, he won't be given his starting job back. "Well he hasn't played so he is going to have to come back and show us he can play. There are some guys there playing in front of him that are doing a pretty good job."

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