2013 SEASON SPEAK OUT:
No. 19 Florida has the opportunity to Saturday to wash away the frustrating memories of a 21-16 loss to Miami while also extending a winning streak against rival Tennessee to nine games. Before the current Gators hit the field, we caught up with a couple former Gators to preview the matchup.
The players: Former safety Jarvis Herring played 49 games in his UF career, starting 22 of them and recording 167 tackles. He also had three sacks, six interceptions and spent a year with the Gators as a defensive intern after his playing career ended. Jacquez Green was one of the most explosive receivers in Florida history, averaging 19.3 yards per reception and getting drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the second round of the 1998 National Football League Draft.
How does the Tennessee rivalry stack up with Florida's other major rivalries at the moment, in your opinion?
"It's still something you get excited for, but it's not as big as it was once before. I guess more so because so many of their down years. For a while, we've been going into playing Tennessee in situations where they're not a threat. You're going in the Florida way and you've got to play hard because it's an SEC school, but as far as the rivalry part, when it gets one-sided, it wears off a little." -- Herring
"It has dropped a lot on the rivalry scale. We still take great pride in beating Tennessee, but I think we take great pride in beating a lot of teams year in and year out. We have some of the best teams in college football in the SEC, so I don't think it's as big of a game as it was when I played in the mid-90s and late-90s." -- Green
What's your favorite Florida-Tennessee memory?
"My favorite memory is probably my last year. Tennessee thought they had a chance to finally beat us. It was Peyton Manning's last year. They thought they had a chance to win the game, and we came out and played better and we disappointed them again." -- Green
What are your expectations for this weekend's game?
"Hopefully the quarterback improves some more, and hopefully the offense gets some things going in the passing game. I think they're going to be tougher than we expect. Tennessee got embarrassed last week, so I think they're going to come out and play much better than they played last week." -- Green
"I have the same concerns as any other former athlete or probably with every coach there: For the last few years, we've had a national championship defense, but when it comes to the offense as far as taking care of the ball and things like that, that's what really hurts us. It hurts us bad. It hurts to your heart when you know your defense is playing so well and you totally dominate a team and then the offense just continues to shoot you in your feet. At the end of the day, we're kind of giving the game away, getting into the red zone and not capitalizing on those opportunities." -- Herring
Who has stood out on the defensive side of the ball?
"I know we've got a young secondary and they haven't been tested a lot yet, the cornerbacks are good. Even the young safeties, the guys have been holding up pretty good besides the one deep route in Miami. Besides that play, not really having anyone get behind you, that's always a big deal. That front seven is something to be reckoned with. That front seven man, those guys really tee off that ball. They get great push up the middle. With Ronald Powell back, that's a big difference as long as he can stay healthy." -- Herring
Are you surprised at all freshman wide receiver Demarcus Robinson hasn't been a bigger part of the offense?
"It has kind of surprised me, but then again, you hear it every year. Somebody is getting off in summer camp or fall camp and once the season rolls around, you don't hear about him anymore. I think, as a freshman, you just have to wait and be patient and eventually you'll have an opportunity to do some things." -- Green
What was your assessment of the safety position through two games?
"The thing with Matt Elam and even Josh Evans is it's tough to come in and just replace that, especially in these first few games. But with the kind of talent we recruit and the kind of depth we have on the team by having top-five recruiting classes every year, it's expected. At a place like the University of Florida, it's expected. What I was always taught is you're only a freshman for one game. You're only a newcomer to that position for one game. As soon as that game starts, you've got to grow up fast." -- Herring
How frustrating can the turnover issues be for an offense?
"That's rule No. 1. You can't turn the ball over in the red zone. If you don't turn the ball over in the red zone, year in and year out we have very good kickers. You're guaranteed three points. When you score points on the end of your drive, you boost the morale of the offense. You feel good about yourself for moving the ball. That's the thing you can't do. You've got to protect the ball in the red zone." -- Green