Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FLORIDA 49, MARSHALL 14 Opener Gives Gators a Half Glimpse at Glory

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

FLORIDA 49, MARSHALL 14 Opener Gives Gators a Half Glimpse at Glory

Article excerpt

Byline: Michael DiRocco, Times-Union sports writer

They saw it for a half, but that was enough to convince University of Florida cornerback Lito Sheppard and defensive end Alex Brown that the Gators have the defense to carry the team to another Southeastern Conference title.

Sheppard and Brown believe that UF's defensive performance in the first half of its 49-14 victory over Marshall on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium -- 129 yards allowed, a forced fumble and a fourth-down stop -- is a glimpse of the unit's potential.

"We can be one of the best defenses in the country if we continue to play like we did in the first half," said Sheppard, who averaged 24 yards on two punt returns. "We came out and executed and did what we wanted to do.

"A lot of people talked about the defense in the offseason, but we knew what we could do. I think we showed some people."

Brown, who had two sacks and two offside penalties, agreed.

"The first half is the way we talked about playing all summer," said Brown, who finished with three tackles. "The second half we didn't look like the No. 1 team in the country, but we were running a lot of guys in and out.

"It was a lot of little things that we did right [in the first half]. And if we take care of the little things, the big things will happen."

Coach Steve Spurrier was generally pleased, but there were too many mistakes to make him completely happy.

"It was a pretty good performance, but it wasn't anything great," Spurrier said. "They [Marshall] dropped a few passes. We blew some coverages. Our mistakes could have cost us the game. Hopefully, we realize that and we can play sharper with less mistakes."

One blown coverage allowed Marshall to score on a 62-yard touchdown pass, and the Gators lost an interception by Bennie Alexander because Brown was penalized for being offside. Those plays, however, were in the second half, when the game already had been decided. …

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