LB Jarrad Davis: Time to 'do what we do' against Vols' run game
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When you think of the Florida-Tennessee game from a year ago, one image instantly comes to mind: Antonio Callaway running down the sideline as he is about to tie the game at 27 late in the fourth quarter.
Because of that 63-yard reception on 4th-and-14, Florida would take a 28-27 lead and hold on for an improbable comeback victory. If it weren’t for that play, the game would probably be remembered for Joshua Dobbs and Jalen Hurd running over the Gators at will. The Volunteers racked up 254 yards on the ground, the most rushing yards UF allowed all season.
“He hurt us a year ago,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said of Dobbs, who ran for 136 yards on 18 carries. “Let’s face it, they ran it down our throat a year ago. I’m sure they feel pretty good about that, and they should.”
One reason Dobbs ran well was because the Gators had problems with tackling.
“That and, to be honest, we had guys trying to do too much,” McElwain said. “And, not as an excuse, this guy is a good player, so he makes you look bad. He’s a great player and we never stopped him an ounce last year. I’m sure in their minds this is a walk in the park for them and probably should think that based on how we performed against them a year ago. We’ll see.”
Tackling Jalen Hurd won’t be any easier. He’s a 6-foot-4, 240-pound bulldozer of a ball-carrier who appears to have spent his entire offseason on the treadmill. Last season, the Gators struggled with bigger backs, giving up 102 yards to Hurd, 180 yards to Leonard Fournette (6-foot-1, 230 pounds) and 189 yards to Derrick Henry (6-foot-3, 247 pounds).
Jalen Hurd is just punishing Florida. https://t.co/WZ7WEDq4ho
— Rocky Top Insider (@rockytopinsider) September 26, 2015
Linebacker Jarrad Davis says the Florida defense will do better against Tennessee’s running game because it will be better focused and disciplined.
“Defensively last year, we were really excited to play this game,” Davis said. “And we kind of made the moment bigger then what it really was, and we were out there doing things that we naturally do not do. We put ourselves in a lot of bad situations last year. We’re going to try to ensure that we don’t do that this year. You know, we got to be calm, and like you said, we’re disciplined. We’re a lot more disciplined than we were last year.”
Florida’s defense has something to prove in Knoxville. While this season’s stats are outstanding – allowing a total of 389 yards of offense and 14 points through three games – they’ve come against UMass, Kentucky and North Texas. Tennessee’s offense might be off to a slow start, but it’s still a huge step up in talent from UF’s first three opponents.
“I think the jump in talent is going to be huge,” Davis said. “This is a team that’s highly talked about. They’ve been talked about all summer long. They were talked about all last year. It’s always been when is Tennessee going to do its thing, and it’s Tennessee’s time. It’s just, I wouldn’t want it any other way. This is a game that’s extremely hyped up.
“It just makes us defensively say, ‘Hey, let’s lock in, let’s do what we do, because if we say we’re the best defense in the nation and we go out and do what we do then no one can beat us.’ The only person that can beat us is the Florida Gators, that’s all. So we’re going to go out and do exactly what we do as Florida Gators and we’re going to dominate the game.”
If the Florida defense can dominate the Volunteers’ ground game, it could be the key to making it 12 years in a row.