James Houston
Image Credit: Evan Lepak

James Houston is Ready for Tennessee

After missing two weeks of play, redshirt-junior James Houston came back with a vengeance. The linebacker totaled 8 tackles, 4 solo and 4 assist, against the wildcats. But the victory over Kentucky is already in the rearview for Houston and the Gators.

“We had Kentucky last week and we’ve got Tennessee this week, so I mean this is the game to clinch the East,” Houston said.

Focused on Tennessee:

However, the Gators are already focused on their next opponent. With one remaining game against an east opponent in Tennessee, Florida is locked in on clinching their spot in Atlanta for the SEC Championship.  With a chilly forecast on the horizon as the Gators roll into Knoxville, Houston has added a little heat to the chilling rivalry.

” I have personally never played a Tennessee team that was too competitive against us,” he said.

But the veteran was quick to add that regardless of his personal experience against the Volunteers, the rivalry still remains. ” It has history, we have beef,” he said. ” It is going to be an interesting game, I always love going to Rocky Top.

An added element to the already thrilling matchup is the weather. As it stands now the forecast for the Saturday kickoff at 3:30 p.m. in Knoxville. Temperatures could be in the 4os and 30s with chances of precipitation and maybe even snow. The Gators have played in relatively mild climates all year and have minimal experience playing in colder weather.

Getting Better on Defense:

After playing one of the best halves of the season on Saturday in the second half, the Gator defensive unit still has some areas to continue to improve in. With the potential of facing Alabama in a few weeks, each rep is crucial to getting better to face one of the most complete and productive offensive systems in the country. Houston believes that the first step to doing that is improving right out of the gate in the first drive of the game.

” I think we need to come out with a little bit more excitement, a little bit more juice and aggressiveness,” he said. ” I think we come out too slow and give the offense a little push or even a glimpse of hope that they can do something.”

But the linebacker also acknowledges how far the unit has come since the first few weeks of play. “We have gotten better at stopping the run and missed alignment errors,” he said. “We have come a long way since the first game.”

The Gators limited the Wildcats to 159 yards on the ground and held them to 10 points.  Houston and his teammates will look to do have an even better performance on Saturday. This week with a little extra on the line. Clinching the SEC East.

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