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Friday, September 29, 2023

As Mississippi quarterback Seth Adams launched a 77-yard touchdown bomb to receiver Mike Wallace, everyone watched UF corner Joe Haden get burned.

Haden said it was the worst he had ever been beaten.

But there was a problem before that. The Gators had no push rush.

BI?ll be the first to tell you - I?m not very pleased with our pass rush at all,C UF co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Greg Mattison said. BWe?ve got too many guys that are getting blocked one-on-one. That?s really got to be more of a pride factor. That?s got to be more of an intelligence factor. When you know it?s a passing situation, there?s nobody that should ever be able to block you one-on-one.C

The Gators have stopped the run and held Rebels All-Southeastern Conference running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis to just 37 yards on the ground Saturday.

But when Adams had all day to throw, Coach Urban Meyer said UF?s secondary was exposed. The Gators have just seven sacks on the year, and only one from the interior of the defensive line (freshman Torrey Davis).

BIf we?re playing good against the run, that?s great, but if a team can throw for 300 yards, that?s partially on the defensive line,C tackle Clint McMillan said. BBottom line, you can always say this and that, but we?ve just got to get more pressure. Definitely we could have helped out the secondary a lot [more], we could have gotten some more pressure.C

Ends Derrick Harvey and Jermaine Cunningham have combined for five sacks, but there has been almost no interior pressure.

While McMillan and Javier Estopinan are on the lighter side for tackles, Mattison said they can get over that hurdle if they improve their technique.

BWhen you aren?t a guy that?s going to outweigh somebody that?s in front of you at a 300-something-pound offensive lineman, you better be playing with great technique,C Mattison said. BI don?t know that our guys are doing everything they have to be doing technique-wise to get that done. Your hands and feet always got to keep moving toward the quarterback. Right now our guys are doing a move, and then they stop their hands or stop their feet.C

While Haden?s cheeks turned red after that long pass, the linemen should?ve been just as scarlet as well, according to Mattison.

BTo play secondary is one of the hardest jobs in America,C he said. BYou?re on an island out there; If we can?t get to the quarterback, that guy?s job is almost impossible. We take a great deal of responsibility any time a long pass is completed. We didn?t make that quarterback alter his throw.C

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The bottom line is, the Gators defense needs to play much better than it did against Ole Miss if UF is to stay undefeated.

BIt works both ways,C Estopinan said. BWe have to get pressure, and they have to hold on. It?s a two-way go. We have to get better and get some pressure up front.C

But, the way practice has gone this week, UF is doing everything it can to fix this problem. Through Monday and Tuesday, several of the defensive linemen - especially the younger players - have been the last to leave.

BThis is the hardest I?ve worked in a long time,C Davis said.

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