Amari Burney Discusses Gator Defense

Speaking with the media on Tuesday, senior linebacker Amari Burney discusses new defensive line transfers and tackles the main issues that Florida is focused on fixing this spring.

South Carolina wide receiver Rico Powers Jr. (84) is stopped by Florida defensive back Amari Burney (30) after a reception during the second half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Improving Defensive Line

Multiple factors impacted the play at linebackers, from Mohamoud Diabate getting used to a new position to the absence of defensive tackle Kyree Campbell making life more difficult on the linebackers than expected. However, from the sound of things this spring, they’ve been getting better of an offensive line still trying to find its footing.

“Oh, man. Them two transfers, I mean, (Daquan Newkirk) and (Antonio Shelton), they’re keeping us clean as can be,” Burney said. “In the scrimmages, I mean if they come off a double team that’s a tackle for a loss for them. That’s easy work for them. So I’m happy that they’re here and they’re contributing to the team.”

The unit regressed tremendously from its previous two seasons under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and head coach Dan Mullen, especially in communication; both pre- and post-snap.

Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson (29) breaks a tackle attempt by Florida linebacker Amari Burney, right, on his way to a touchdown during the second half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)

Communication Problems

Florida Gator’s communication errors were one of the most consistent errors from the unit in 2020. It also led to a fair share of offside penalties and neutral zone infractions by the defensive line.

“Being more attention to detail, everybody knowing their assignment. Just the little things,” Burney made note of the unit’s improvements in spring. “Not jumping offsides, getting off the field. Because third downs, you jump offsides, that’s an easy first down. Nobody not knowing an assignment, that’s an easy first down. So just getting off the field and having an attention to detail.”

Burney shared that the Gators have made it a daily task to go over and correct these blunders in spring practice and the film room.

“Every day in practice we look at it…Every day we’re going over cut-ups of people jumping offside, saying, ‘We can’t do that,'” said Burney. “If everybody knows their assignment and we don’t jump off the field, we get off the field easy.”

Looking Ahead

So long as tweaks are made and communication improves, Burney believes the Gators’ defense will be an exciting one in 2021. There’s a lot of enthusiasm surrounding the unit according to Burney, other players and coaches, and confidence that the unit will return to its play-making ways in the near future.

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