GAINESVILLE -- All-American defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III is among the nation’s top cornerbacks, but Florida’s secondary star won’t exclusively shadow No. 1 Florida State’s elite wideout Rashad Greene
Greene -- the Seminoles’ all-time leading receiver -- is quarterback Jameis Winston’s go-to target, registering 83 catches for 1,148 yards and five touchdowns on the season. The senior has seven 100+ yard performances and ranks 10th nationally in yards per game.
Still, Florida refuses to change its fluid defensive philosophy -- this despite possessing an obvious man-to-man coverage candidate.
“Based on coverage and call and situation, it will be different. They are going to be matched up on each other at times,” UF defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin explained.
“But there will be times where they won’t be. It won’t be one of those deals where Vernon’s with him the whole game.”
The Gators utilized a similar gameplan against Alabama’s dynamic wideout Amari Cooper, and the results were disastrous.
Cooper torched UF’s bracket zones, and later, won multiple one-on-one matchups against Hargreaves. The receiver finished the blowout with 10 catches for 201 yards and three scores.
“There are other things we want to do [defensively], and we don’t want to sacrifice that,” Durkin said, explaining potential problems elsewhere with Hargreaves solely shadowing Greene.
“Sometimes you do that and all of a sudden you’re putting other guys in spots they haven’t been in before and uncomfortable. I think the main thing is being able to execute. Obviously, he’s a great receiver and he’s the guy they go to. We feel good about Vernon as a cover guy, but we don’t want to sacrifice the whole integrity of what we do defensively to say, ‘That’s the matchup.’”
BULLARD, HUMPHRIES MULL NFL OPTIONS
Florida juniors D.J. Humphries, the team’s starting left tackle, and Jon Bullard, a powerful playmaker at defensive tackle, plan to seek feedback from the NFL Draft advisory board at the end of the year.
Humphries, a former five-star recruit, has started 17 games in three injury-plagued seasons.
“I’m just trying to finish out the season strong and let the chips fall where they may,” he said.
“[I’ll get NFL advice] because of the situation and what’s been going on here. But I just got to stay focused and then try and figure out what’s going to go down.”
Bullard, a former five-star defensive end prospect, has thrived in a transition to tackle in 2014, recording 40 tackles, 11 hurries and 5.5 stops for loss.
Meanwhile, defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and offensive guard Tyler Moore have already announced their intentions to declare for the upcoming draft.
"Wow. Ok. I didn't know that. Learn new things every day. That's awesome."
-- sophomore safety Keanu Neal, upon learning that D.J. Durkin will serve as the team's interim head coach.
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