Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Gators' run defense to be put to SEC's toughest test

Defensive end Lerentee McCray and Florida held UAB and running back Bashr Coles to 71 net yards rushing in UF’s 39-0 win Sept. 10.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Defensive end Lerentee McCray and Florida held UAB and running back Bashr Coles to 71 net yards rushing in UF’s 39-0 win Sept. 10.

GAINESVILLE — When preseason practice began in August, Florida coach Will Muschamp said a primary defensive objective was to be aggressive and have a solid ability to defend against the run.

So far, the Gators have been successful in that endeavor.

UF is tied for fifth in the nation in run defense, allowing 56.6 yards per game, and is the only team that has yet to allow a rushing touchdown this season. Florida opponents have rushed for 226 yards on 110 attempts, a 2.1 average.

But in five of its next six games, UF faces seven of the SEC's top 10 running backs — from Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia and South Carolina.

To survive and be successful, the Gators must be even more diligent in stopping the run.

On Saturday, that means finding a way to contain the Alabama duo of Trent Richardson and Eddie Lacy.

"He's very talented," UF linebacker Jelani Jenkins said of Richardson. "He can beat you with speed; he can beat you with power. And he has a really good field of vision. So we're going to have to really game-plan against him."

Richardson and Lacy are ranked No. 2 and No. 7 in the league in rushing. Lacy's practice is limited while he recovers from a partially torn pectoral muscle, but Alabama coach Nick Saban said he is expected to play.

Richardson, the junior who spent his first two years in the shadow of former Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, leads the Tide with 110.2 yards per game. Lacy backs him up with 91.2 per game.

Richardson and other Tide players believe they could have a slight advantage in that they've seen a Muschamp-led defense before. Muschamp was Texas' defensive coordinator when the Tide defeated the Longhorns in the 2010 BCS national title game.

"Oh, yeah, their defense is always going to be like Coach Saban's," Richardson said. "It's very difficult. They come with a lot of blitzes. They come with a lot of different stuff we haven't seen. Well, stuff we do see in practice. We know Coach Saban is going to prepare us for that. We'll have to go against our defense the whole week. I know Dont'a (Hightower) is going to be coming at me, and (Courtney) Upshaw is going to be coming at me. We're going to be going at each other just trying to be prepared for this game."

The Gators expect a strong challenge from Alabama's offensive line, which defensive tackle Omar Hunter said was one of the most formidable he faced last season.

Florida tackled poorly in last season's 31-6 loss at Alabama. Muschamp believes that will be a critical part of taking away the Tide's running game.

"More than anything, playing blocks well up front, disengaging and then tackling," Muschamp said. "It's going to come down to tackling. Trent Richardson is a really good player, and Eddie Lacy is a really good player. They have really good running backs that are hard-nosed tough players, and we just need to tackle them. It's going to come down to some one-on-ones where we've got to tackle well in the open field. This is certainly the best running team we're going to face; there's no question about that."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com.

Florida Gators' run defense to be put to SEC's toughest test 09/27/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Five cool things to do when it's hot outside

    Outdoors

    Summer is not officially here, but it may as well be. School is out, vacations are coming, and it's time to enjoy the outdoors. Don't buy the argument that summer in Florida is too hot to get outside. There is plenty to do, and we'll prove it. Here are five cool things to do outdoors during another hot summer.

    Rainbow Springs State Park is a registered natural landmark. Rainbow Springs State Park in Dunnellon is one several state parks with natural swimming holes in Florida. (Octavio Jones | Times)
  2. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win

    Blogs

    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

    Kevin Kiermaier of the Rays celebrates as teammate Michael Martinez slides safely into home plate to score a run against the Minnesota Twins during the 14th inning.
  3. Rays journal: Erasmo Ramirez ready to start a day after closing game

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — RHP Erasmo Ramirez was on the mound to finish Sunday's 15-inning marathon win over the Twins and will start tonight's game against the Rangers.

    The Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez throws 12 pitches in the 15th inning against the Twins to earn the save then says after the game that he’s ready to make his scheduled start against the Rangers: “My arm feels good.”
  4. Rays exhausted but happy after 15-inning win over Twins (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — Before the Rays eventually won Sunday's 6½-hour, 15-inning marathon against the Twins 8-6, they did plenty to lose it. And we need to get that out of the way first.

    The Rays’ Evan Longoria enjoys a laugh after scoring, barely, to tie it in the ninth on Steven Souza Jr.’s two-out single.
  5. Tom Jones' Two Cents: ABC's Indy 500 coverage is stellar again

    TV and Radio

    Times columnist Tom Jones looks back at the best and worst from a weekend of televised sports.

    Best coverage

    Takuma Sato left, celebrates after winning the Indianapolis 500 as Helio Castroneves is a little late passing him. ABC’s coverage of the race is stellar throughout, with plenty of extras but no fake drama.