Before UF's game against Vanderbilt, the Gators' defensive coaches approached Coach Urban Meyer with a proposition.
Should UF win the coin toss, they wanted the Gators to defer and let its defense take the field.
After the defense?s poor play the past few weeks, to say that Meyer hesitated would be an understatement, but the coach approved the request.
BI?ve known these coaches for a long time, and I looked right square in their eyes and saw the back of their heads and said, 'Get them on the field,?C Meyer said.
The plan worked, and the defense showed one of its better performances of the season in the Gators? 49-22 win against the Commodores on Saturday.
BHe just had that confidence in us and we kind of saw that and came out and made plays,C said Brandon Spikes, who led UF with 14 tackles. BIt felt great. They?ve never done that the whole year, just defer and let the defense go out.C
This year?s young defense has failed to match the intensity of the Gators? defense the past two years.
Last week against Georgia, the Gators gave up 188 rushing yards to redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno and permitted the Bulldogs to convert 10 of 13 third downs.
But Saturday, Meyer finally saw a glimpse of what the Gators could muster.
Although the Gators did not force any sacks against Vanderbilt, both Jermaine Cunningham and Wondy Pierre-Louis intercepted Vanderbilt quarterback Mackenzi Adams? passes.
Nine different players tallied tackles for loss yardage, and the secondary was finally able to break up passes.
BWe were all waiting for that,C Meyer said. BThe Gator Nation has been waiting for that, the head coach has been waiting for that. [The 2006 national championship team] set the standard and everybody wants to see that standard.C
Cornerback Joe Haden admitted the Gators went into the Georgia game with a nonchalant attitude. This week, the defense knew it had to make amends for its weak performance.
BWe wanted to show our offense because they?re always scoring points, always doing what they have to do,C Haden said. BWe just had to show them like, if you?re not scoring a lot of points, we can still hold it down for ya?ll.C