Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stoops' Defense Dupes Cocky QB Craig

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stoops' Defense Dupes Cocky QB Craig

Article excerpt

GAINESVILLE -- Auburn quarterback Dameyune Craig reasoned that

his team could knock Florida from its No. 1 perch because the

Gators' defense, in his words, "hasn't been tested yet."

They still haven't. Maybe part of the reason for that is the

aggressive, take-no-prisoners unit commanded by Bobby Stoops.

Finally, after four defensive coordinator changes since he took

over the Florida program six years ago, Steve Spurrier has a

defense that he can hang his hat on, not throw his visor over.

Because Stoops has infused the same killer instinct with

offense, the Auburn Tigers met the same debilitating fate

yesterday that every other Gators opponent has faced this

season.

The Gators' 51-10 annihilation of 16th-ranked Auburn was not

only a reflection of how imposing Spurrier's offense remains,

but why Florida's defense under Stoops will give Florida its

best shot ever at an elusive national championship.

Any hope that Terry Bowden's club had of upsetting the Gators

for the third time in the last four years rested with winning a

shootout. Auburn scored no fewer than 36 points in its last

three meetings, but those Florida defenses were a little too

vanilla, a little too soft and not too deep.

There was nothing timid about the way Stoops' defense

dismantled the Tigers. They had Craig running for his life from

the time defensive tackle Ed Chester sacked him on the first

play from scrimmage. In all, Craig would go down seven times as

the Gators' interior personnel of Tim Beauchamp, Anthony

Mitchell, Willie Rodgers, Reggie McGrew and Chester made

Bowden's offense look like a junior varsity squad.

"This Florida team is, by far, the best of what we've seen the

four years I've been here," Bowden admitted. "They have made a

decision to be explosive on both sides of the ball. …

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