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Turnover margin big emphasis for Gators' defense

Florida Today
Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 12:53 AM
GAINESVILLE -

Florida recovered just six opponent fumbles a year ago and picked off just eight passes to rank last out of 12 teams in the Southeastern Conference with a turnover margin just shy of minus-1 per contest.

Guess what defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has been talking about virtually non-stop during training camp.

"I've been charting that every day,'' Quinn said recently. "How many rip attempts did we have at the ball? Each meeting I start with that, takeaways of the day, and we talk about that. I even had some clips that I used from NFL days: 'Here's a good example of a rip. Here's a good example of a conscious effort. Here's a middle field safety playing it this way.'

"I guess, from my standpoint, I've been practicing and talking as much about it as I can. I think the players have done a good job on the field of doing that.''

Quinn said he's always talked about getting turnovers.

"I think I just try to do it more,'' he said. "You've heard the saying you get what you emphasize. So, I've really tried to hit it as hard as I can and be as consistent as I can to say even if it was a really good practice … I still went back to the takeaway: 'We had one today, that's not enough.' So I try to make that emphasis. I'm going to continue to do that.''

One positive this season is that fewer players are being prepared to play more than one position in the fall. A lack of depth forced a lot of that in 2011.

Three freshmen already have caught Quinn's eye.

He praised linebacker Antonio Morrison, who is learning two positions and sounds almost certain to play a major role this season.

Quinn calls him a "very physical linebacker.''

Two of the biggest names in the signing class, defensive end-linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. and defensive lineman Jonathan Bullard, were ranked among the top 30 recruits in the nation by Rivals.com and are almost certain to play key roles right away.

They were coveted by virtually every major program in the country and should be great at creating more pressure on passing plays.

"When you talk about Fowler, he plays with a lot of power, he's really strong so if he can get up underneath you, he can get knock back,'' Quinn said. "You can see that, where he can set the edge and rush.

"Bullard (is) the same way, has some size and length to him so when you get him out in the perimeter he has length and he can get off (blocks). He plays a really good six technique, which is head up on the tight end."

Gators lose scrimmage as weather wins out

Florida called off its final scrimmage of camp because of bad weather. But someone forgot to tell the coaches in the press box.

"We were all sitting up there for another 30 minutes. We didn't have our cell phones with us," offensive coordinator Brent Peasesaid.

His hopes for the final days of preseason?

"I think we've got to get more reps, especially the reps we lost out on (Tuesday) that we'll probably get in practice situations here (today) and Friday," he said. "Then we look forward to putting a game plan in.

"We're still trying to get some continuity, now that we're getting all our guys kind of back in healthy, and just maintaining the speed of the game."

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