Saturday January 3, 2009Coach Strong & Members Of UF Defense Meet With Media
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
Select coaches and members of the
On the defensive preparation so far:
COACH STRONG: Preparation has been going very
well. Our major concern right now with
Our major concern when you look at us, each game we average anywhere from 60 to 65 plays a game, and when you look at their offense they're averaging anywhere from 85 to 90 plays a game, so it's more tempo, and what we've been trying to do, it's hard to really practice, just to simulate just getting those plays in. But we've been trying to just practice at a fast tempo, and we're getting guys up on the football, and they are, they're averaging ‑‑ you look at them the last five games, 60‑plus points. But the thing about it is we know this, we play good defense, and we just have to get lined up. We have to get lined up on defense and we have to tackle well.
On Ryan Stamper and his impact on
COACH STRONG: Ryan Stamper is the most reliable football player on our team. If you were to take a football player, and you can ask these two guys right here, if you were to take a guy on our football team and say who's a guy that you know you can always count on... Ryan Stamper.
JOE HADEN: I always mess with Stamper all the time, he's he looks a lot older than he is (laughter), so we call Stamper the grown man of the defense (laughter). He just always does his job, just always kind of like Coach will tell you, left, right, right, left, be in this spot, be in position, and when you look at film, he'll say hold the B gap, Stamp is going to be in the B gap. Just little stuff Coach tells him to do; he's always going to be there.
MAJOR WRIGHT: Following up on what Joe said, Urban told him one day, "Hold your water in practice." Stamp ended up holding his water the whole practice. Coach told him, "Hey, you got to go," but Stamp is still holding his water (laughter). It was kind of funny because Coach told him to hold his water and he ended up holding his water the whole practice. He's one of those guys that's accountable, he's a funny guy. We talk a lot, and he's one of those guys that you can look up to.
AHMAD BLACK: Me and Stamper are always joking around. But I joke around him and tell him he's an accountable guy. We joke around, but honestly he is an accountable guy. Everybody on the team can count on Stamp to do his job and be in the right places at the right time. Nobody has doubts about his abilities at all.
On the 2008
COACH STRONG: You know, like you said, in '06 we had a really good defensive football team, but we had a group of guys on that team with Moss, with Reggie Nelson, you had some first-rounders, and you're going to have some guys that are going to develop on this defense into first-rounders, but right now those guys haven't developed. We have a defense now that is a good, solid team, a defensive team where guys understand that they don't want to let anyone else down, and that's the way they play each week. They play like that. I cannot let my teammate down. We always talk about win every play, and these guys understand that. You have to win every play, and that's what they're trying to do, win every play.
JERMAINE CUNNINGHAM: With Sam being a Heisman winner, we've got to try to contain him, try to get pressure on him, try to keep him off rhythm because once he gets on rhythm; he's one of the best at throwing the ball. He just reads the defense and controls the offense real good, so we've just got to make sure he don't get on rhythm.
On the advantage of experiencing a National Championship in 2006:
COACH STRONG: Like
On the turn-around of the UF secondary unit:
MAJOR WRIGHT: I would say the dedication caused it. The off‑season we really dedicated ourselves to this football season, saying that we're not going to let one another down. We will not have another season like that, putting it all on the secondary. That will never happen again. A lot of guys, we kind of dedicated ourselves to watching more film, kind of doing things with one another, communicating out there on the field, and kind of just being around each other and kind of like just feeling everything around.
AHMAD BLACK: I felt like coming in, same age as Major and Joe, but I felt like the young guy. They started last year, so I came of kind of looking up to them, and I'm back there with Major helping me out along the way. D‑Mo got here, so D‑Mo was still around helping me out and showing me the ropes. I kind of felt like I couldn't let the guys back there with me down, as well as the guys in the front seven. So doing my part and hanging out with these guys, them helping me out, and helping the secondary out, too.
JOE HADEN: When we played against