GAINESVILLE -- For the first time since his unit was
shredded for over 500 yards in a 36-17 loss to Missouri, the assembled media
met with Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on Wednesday afternoon.
Florida’s first-year coordinator rehashed the loss, dished
on Cody Riggs’ ejection, the importance of winning first down, confusing Aaron
Murray and more.
The major takeaways from Durkin’s press conference…
* Missouri punched
Florida in the mouth and exposed some its defensive deficiencies, but Durkin’s
unit is a prideful group (that practices hard) and won’t just lay down moving
“I think there were
obviously things we could have done much better in that game. They hit us on
some plays. They are a talented team and they've got some guys outside that can
do that. I think we just need to handle it, if that happens to us, to bounce
back quicker. We're going to get hit on a play here or there, especially if
you're playing receivers like they've got. Credit to them, a lot of 50-50 balls
they went up and made the play. We've just got to line back up and go play. And
I think at some point we didn't react the way we needed to on defense. That's
something that hasn't happened with our group, and obviously we hope it doesn't
happen again. … I just think it was something our guys are not used to. Quite
frankly, we don't want to be used to it, so I think, we got some young guys and
guys that maybe haven't been there before, haven't seen that experience before,
I don't know. But it was obviously something we've addressed and talked about.
I think our guys are resilient. They work hard, and they're confident in what
we're doing. I think you'll see it. "
* The Gators rank second
nationally in third down defense (27.38 percent conversion rate), but during their
recent two-game losing they are giving up way to many yards on first and second
down for the stat to matter -- especially against the run.
“Part of it is winning
on first down. We talk a lot about winning on third down, which is obviously is
critical, that’s how you get off the field. To better your chances on third
down, you’ve got to win on first down. So, stopping the run becomes a big thing
for us. Obviously, this week, these guys run the ball well. With [UGA tailback
Todd] Gurley being back, he’s a dangerous back. He presents an issue that way.
We have to do a good job of it.”
* With depth issues
up front, freshmen defensive linemen Jay-nard Bostwick and Joey Ivie want to
play -- and have been recently praised by coach Will Muschamp -- but is it too
late to burn a redshirt(s)?
“I think all our guys
want to play. They come here with the intent of playing, we recruit those types
of guys that want to play as freshmen. So obviously for various reasons, some
guys do, some don't. It's never all positive or negative. It just it what it
is. So [Bostwick] is continuing to prepare in practice and he's getting better
and better. And I think his time will come."
* True freshman
linebacker Jarrad Davis -- a special teams ace and captain against Missouri --
has emerged as a potential rotational player in an underwhelming linebacker
“Jarrad’s done a great
job with the snaps he’s had on special teams. He hasn’t had a ton on defense
leading up to that point, but on specials teams he’s been an elite performer
for us playing in all phases. He’s got a great career, a bright future ahead of
him. He’s learning the defense better and better and doing better in practice.
He’ll continue to play more on defense.”
* Gators safety Cody
Riggs was ejected for targeting on the game’s first play in the loss to
Missouri, and Durkin -- like Muschamp -- is no fan of the rule (or severe
“It’s one of those
things where I understand where everyone’s coming from in the movement of
safety. That’s a smart decision by everyone involved. I want safety of our
players to be first and foremost. In terms of that, the officials when it’s a
close call they’re going to call it. That’s what they’re told to do and if I
was one of them I’d call it close too, you can’t let one of those slide.
Looking back on it and we have more time to look back on it and see it in
slow-mo I don’t think Cody lowered his head and targeted, he did end up hitting
helmet-to-helmet but he led with his hands. So it was a close call it could
have went either way. … You go
into every game being prepared for whether it’s by injury or -- obviously you
usually don’t do it by a guy being ejected but you plan on contingencies in
case something happens. We said it before the year even started that ‘it’s
going to be hard for safeties to make it through the season without things
happening’ and we’ve seen that first hand as well as a lot of other teams have
and those are the guys that get in those positions the most and it’s hard.
Football’s a fast game and things happen fast even if a guy’s not intending to
do that and Cody wasn’t but you just get yourself out of position and it
happens fast. It’s two moving parts going together so ya it is something we’re
prepared for and talk about.”
* Despite Florida
forcing Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray into multiple poor decisions (7 total INTS
vs. UF) over the past three seasons, Durkin believes the senior signal caller
is really, really good (and smart).
“He's a very talented
passer. That's pretty clear to anyone. He can also beat you running the ball,
too. He runs better than people give him credit for. He makes a lot of plays in
terms of converting on third down, whether it's designed or not. He's got great
command of that offense. He's been playing there for four years with the same staff,
same everything. So, I think he knows that offense probably as well as the
coaching staff does and it shows when you watch it on tape. He's very
comfortable in what they're doing, and they check him out on a lot of things
and I think put a lot on him in terms of protections and checking the play, and
he handles it well. He presents a lot of issues that way, and he's a guy we
have faced many times. We know what his ability is."
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