8/16: Quinn on turnovers, freshmen, Elam

By Adam Silverstein
August 16, 2012

Florida Gators defensive coordinator Dan Quinn had plenty to say now two weeks into fall practice and did exactly that on Thursday afternoon. Quinn discussed some standout freshman and how the defense has progressed since last season.


One of the main talking points throughout 2011 and heading into this season is that the way in which the Gators can improve the most defensively is by ramping up the takeaways. To that end, Quinn explained how the team categorizes different types of turnovers and how they coach up the players to get better in that area.

“In terms of takeaways, sometimes we talk about like an unconscious effort – maybe like an overthrown ball and the middle-field safety gets it. He still gets the interception but nothing really created that other than maybe an errant throw. And then there’s conscious effort takeaways – it was a batted ball where you took the extra step to get your hand on it; it was against a running back and the second guy in got a rip on it,” he said.

“I’ve been charting that every day – 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. […] From my standpoint, I’ve been practicing and talking about it as much as I can. I think the players have done a good job on the field of doing that, so it’s been good competition to create takeaways.”

Quinn is emphasizing consistency when it comes to attacking the ball in the air and trying to strip in on the ground but is also ensuring that the players do not overcompensate and miss tackles while going after the ball.

“What you don’t want to do is create a situation where a guy is going after a tackle and just going after the ball and not tackling,” he said. “So we’re a good tackling team; we work at that part hard. It’s more the second guy in – or you’re already on the way down and now [you] take a rip as you’re going.”


One of the leaders of Florida’s defense, junior safety Matt Elam has a great opportunity this season to showcase his skills and prove that he is one of the top defenders in the Southeastern Conference. Quinn explained that what he has done off the field has made a significant difference on the field.

“I’ve always thought that he could be a good guy who can get his hands on the ball at safety and at nickel. I think the big thing that I’ve seen with him – it may be on the field, it may be off the field – where he can now affect other players with him,” he said. “I think that’s a real sign of a leader, when you bring people along with you. That’s one of the things that I’ve noticed from Matt. […] That part has been as impressive from a leadership standpoint – one thing that stood out to me.”

Quinn also noted that Elam’s increased bulk has made him more explosive, which is always a good thing to hear about a strong safety.

“You see the explosive plays, whether it’s an explosive hit like the way he jumps for an interception or the way he can break on the ball. The training that he’s done, I’d say you see the explosive movements happen more quickly,” he said.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the rest of this post.]Three freshmen in particular – Buck linebacker Dante Fowler, Jr., defensive end Jonathan Bullard and LB Antonio Morrison – have stood out early on as guys who could see early playing time.

As far as Fowler and Bullard are concerned, both play positions that are not necessarily the deepest on the roster. Each has shown flashes up to this point but obviously need to become more consistent to see significant playing time this season.

“They’re swimming like a lot of the guys are as freshmen, not only new terminology but the technique emphasis of it,” Quinn said. “Both of those two guys have been working hard. They’re in the mix and competing with the guys each day. It’s a lot of defense we’ve thrown at them in the last two weeks, but I think both of those guys handled it well, and I’m looking forward to seeing them improve.”

He continued, “When you talk about Fowler, he plays with a lot of power. He’s really strong through his lower body, so if he can get up underneath you, he can get knockback. You can see that where he can set the edge and rush. Bullard in the same way has some size and length to him, so when you get him out on the perimeter and he pushes the pocket, he has length and can get off.”

Quinn then went out of his way to point out Morrison, who has been intriguing coaches since the spring and could make a major difference for the Gators in 2012.

“Antonio Morrison just continues to impress. He’s a very physical linebacker. We’ve played him at both Mike and Will. He really answers the bell when you challenge him, and I think he’s someone I’m impressed with so far as a rookie,” he said.


» Quinn said that he made profile tapes at the end of last season so he could show some of the more prominent players what they did well and what they needed to improve on for 2012. He believes that they have been effective and that the results are positive up to this point.

» On moving junior Dominique Easley over to defensive eend: “It has been good. We’ve played him at what we call a base end and a nickel tackle, and it’s been good inside. It’s been a new move for him but I guess for him, he learns it pretty fast. […] He’s a guy that gets a pretty good understanding of football and he gets it pretty quick.”[/EXPAND]


  1. Kyle says:

    nickel package?
    McCray – Easley – Floyd – Fowler
    Bostic – Jenkins
    Roberson – Purifoy
    Riggs? Saunders? Watkins?
    Elam – Evans

  2. Kyle says:

    Putting their hand down?

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