No secret for Gator defense: stop Tennessee run

GAINESVILLE — Florida's defensive mission is clear Saturday at Tennessee: stop RB Arian Foster.

The fourth-ranked Gators haven't even tried to hide their defensive game plan, talking all week about moving sophomore S Ahmad Black near the line of scrimmage and ganging up to stop Tennessee's leading rusher and top playmaker.

"It's called winning or losing the game," coach Urban Meyer said.

In 16 of their past 18 meetings, the team that has rushed for more yards has won.

Foster is third in the SEC, averaging 7.8 yards a carry and nearly 100 yards a game. But in the past three games against UF, all Gator wins, Foster has 17 carries for 39 yards.

"This is a big test for us," Black said. "A lot of people are congratulating us on the past two wins we had. But this is going to be the big test."

Florida gave up 60 yards rushing (2.5 yards a carry) against Hawaii in the opener and the following week against Miami allowed 61 yards and 1.6 a carry.

But neither of those teams has Foster, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior who, according to scouts and coaches, will be in the NFL next season.

"The running back is the best we've seen,'' Meyer said. "He's a powerful runner, and not many people have tackled him one-on-one, so we're spending a lot of time on that run game."

SHORT PRACTICE: After practicing for 90 minutes outside, practice was interrupted by lightning and thunderstorms. UF completed the final 30 minutes in the O'Connell Center.

FSU: Turnover time

TALLAHASSEE — Turnovers have been so few and far between for Florida State's defense that even a practice interception gets the Seminoles hooping and hollering.

Near the end of Wednesday's workout, senior CB Tony Carter set off a boisterous celebration by picking off a deep pass to end a one-minute offense drill.

"Somebody finally got an interception," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We ain't had many in games or practice. We kind of got excited."

Through two games, the Seminoles have two turnovers, both fumbles. Defensive backs have gotten their hands on several passes.

Carter, who has nearly intercepted two passes in games this season, said he and his teammates simply need to relax when it's time to make plays. He believes they are putting too much pressure on themselves.

"Sometimes you just want something so bad, but when the time comes, you kind of (press) a little bit," Carter said. "It's just going back to basics, fundamentals, catching the ball."

JONES OUT: Bowden said backup TB Carlton "Ty" Jones of Middleton High will miss the Wake Forest game Saturday with a sprained ankle.

USF: Staying focused

TAMPA — Florida International is ranked last out of 119 Division I-A teams in four statistical categories, but USF coach Jim Leavitt isn't looking past the Golden Panthers.

"We never have a different approach, no matter who we play," he said. "Every game is like the freaking Super Bowl. Every game is that big."

RB UPDATE: Leavitt said RBs Ben Williams and Mike Ford are progressing and will travel to FIU, but they are now behind Jamar Taylor and Moise Plancher.

"It'll be hard to beat out some of those guys," he said. "How fair is it to those guys? It's not like they're just going to come in and beat those guys out. They've lost a little bit of ground."

SPEED ON DEFENSE: Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said USF will continue to run five and six defensive back sets.

"We need to have a lot of speed," Burnham said.

He also said that Sampson Genus and Aaron Harris are competing for a defensive tackle spot, while Terrell McClain has locked up the other.

CAPTAINS: Leavitt announced the team captains for Saturday: Seniors Marc Dile, Jake Griffin, Brouce Mompremier and Tyrone McKenzie.

UM: Praise for Young

CORAL GABLES — Under first-year coordinator Bill Young, the Miami defense is showing early positive signs.

After opening the season by holding Charleston Southern to seven points and 126 total yards, the Hurricanes presented a challenge to the Florida offense for three quarters before the Gators pulled away.

The 62-year-old lifelong assistant, who came to UM from Kansas, jokes that he's "in the twilight of a very mediocre career."

Some viewed his decision to leave Kansas for Miami as a lateral move, but Young said it was a chance to fulfill a goal.

"I'm getting along in my career and I would love to have an opportunity to win a national championship," he said. "We might have gotten that chance at Kansas, but the best way to look at the future is to look at the past.

"Look at Miami. They've won five national championships. There is an opportunity to do that here."

Times correspondents Ira Schoffel and Joe Rienzi contributed to this report, which used information from the Palm Beach Post.

>>FAST FACTS

Up next

Florida: at Tennessee,

3:30 Saturday, Ch. 10

USF: at Florida International, 5 Saturday, ESPNU

FSU: vs. Wake Forest,

7 Saturday, ESPN2

Miami: at Texas A&M, 3:30 Saturday, Ch. 28

No secret for Gator defense: stop Tennessee run 09/17/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 18, 2008 5:41pm]

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