When it comes to third down conversions this season, no defense has locked down offenses quite like Florida.
Over their first four games the Gators have allowed just 8 conversions in 45 attempts, for a conversion percentage of just under 18%. Teams might as well bring out the punt unit on third down with those kind of numbers.
During his press conference yesterday, Muschamp stated that his staff, led by first year defensive coordinator DJ Durkin, spends a lot of time simulating third down situations in practice and emphasize a few key points that help to make them so efficient.
"Number one you need to be able to rush the passer with four guys. I think that’s critical. I think you have to be able to cover man-to-man and deny the ball. Down situations: third and six and less, you have to be able to play some man-to-man. You have to have some good zone concepts and principles when it is longer yardage and be able to rush four, and you need to have a good pressure package." Muschamp explained.
"I think our defensive staff does a good job of mixing those as far as our rush, our pressure package, our man concepts and our zone concepts. So you keep the offense a little off balance, that’s one thing. We try to have a little subtle change first and 10, second down for us, but third down can be very drastic depending on the team we’re facing and what we carry into a game. So we try to make the offense adjust in those situations each game, based on what they do."
"We work on it every day, that’s one of the few things, we don’t do as much of it today, but Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, we work hard on third down. That’s something, a great opportunity to get off the field, and who’s going to make the play. And those guys understand what you emphasize is what’s important, and they understand the importance of third down. We spend a lot of time on third down.” he added.
Muschamp makes some really interesting points, and the statement "what you emphasize is what's important" is what really sticks out because that's especially true in the eyes of your team. Make sure that you're emphasizing what you and your staff feel is important, and sooner or later it's going to click with your guys and the results will ultimately show on game day.