FOUR BITS: Haden to NFL? No more distractions. Defense recovers. Nixon starts.

By Adam Silverstein
November 16, 2009

1 » In news that can only be classified as expected, Florida Gators junior cornerback Joe Haden told the Orlando Sentinel this weekend that he will file paperwork with the NFL Draft Advisory Board in order to receive an evaluation of where he, theoretically, would be picked if he was to enter the 2010 NFL Draft. A likely first-round selection who could quite possibly be the best CB available, Haden has received lofty praise from head coach Urban Meyer and NFL experts over the past year.

2 » Sophomore safety Will Hill watches the Cartoon Network, not ESPN. Meyer avoids the Internet. The entire Gators team is keeping the word “Alabama” off their lips. All of this to make sure the group stays even-keel, not letting the highs get them too high or the lows take them too low. “If I don’t listen to it, it can’t bother me,” Hill said. With the Florida International Golden Panthers next on the docket, Florida’s players know that you cannot overlook any opponent. “FIU is a pretty good team, despite what people think of them,” junior safety Ahmad Black said. “Michigan lost to Appalachian State before, so we learned you can’t take anyone lightly.” Even so, a big win is expected by fans who have been clamoring for signs of life from the offense. “They want us to beat every team by 102 and give up no yards and score every time we touch the ball,” Black said.

3 » Want a unit to thank for the Gators’ 10-0 record and perfect 8-0 Southeastern Conference slate? Look to the defense, which has not allowed a touchdown in the fourth quarter in more than a month Florida’s offense is also outscoring opponents 71-20 in the last 15 minutes of each game. It is rare that defensive coordinator Charlie Strong’s unit is not dominant all game long. On Saturday, Strong had to make some halftime adjustments and stress how much an improvement was needed in the second half. “He tried to let us hear it,” Haden said. “He said we weren’t playing like a gator defense, and I knew for a fact that we weren’t – just don’t stuff we don’t normally do and people messing up on their assignments.” The Gators shut out the Gamecocks the rest of the game, turning a 17-14 halftime lead into to a 24-14 victory.

4 » Freshman left tackle Xavier Nixon was given the chance to start on Saturday by Meyer and offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Steve Addazio, but he was sworn to secrecy. While Nixon played well, he did make a few mistakes – nothing that cannot be corrected with practice and game experience. He even received advice from Haden, who started as a true freshman for the Gators in 2007. “It was a crazy experience,” Nixon said of starting against the South Carolina Gamecocks. “I was thinking about starting when I first got here and realized it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

One Comment

  1. Gatorfan33 says:

    Losing Haden will hurt. I hope he stays but can understand why he is considering leaving this year.

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