Quinn's tapes help Gators improve

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- After the 2011 season ended, Florida defensive coordinator handed out DVDs.

Not every player got one, but those who played significantly did. On each DVD were some highlights, something to make the players feel good about themselves after a rough season that was one of the program’s worst in more than 30 years.

Each DVD also contained some clips of mistakes and poor plays, letting each player know in what areas they needed to improve for 2012.

"We tried to do it for all the guys who were on tape last year and returning," Quinn said Thursday. "I wanted them to go into the offseason (hearing) these are the things I think from last year you did well and then I said these are the things moving forward that you, specifically, as a player -- not related to the scheme of our defense -- need to do better."

Quinn hit such things as tackling better, being more consistent with pass rush, improving press coverage, and making a play on a ball. It's something Quinn has done before with players after the season, and he reinforced it with meetings after spring practice ended.

"These are the critical things I want you to work better coming into training camp," he told them.

Turnovers continue to be emphasized: One of the things the entire defense needed to improve was forcing turnovers. The Gators forced just 14 last season, the lowest in a single season since the school began compiling fumble stats in 1950.

Quinn talks about turnovers every day and begins each meeting with what he calls the “takeaway of the day” from practice. He also regularly shows clips from NFL games to provide examples of how to force turnovers.

"I’ve been practicing and talking about it as much as I can," Quinn said. "The players have done a good job on the field of doing that.

"You’ve heard the saying, 'You get what you emphasize.' So I’ve really tried to hit it as hard as I can and be as consistent."

Quinn breaks down turnovers into two categories: unconscious effort turnovers and conscious effort turnovers. Unconscious effort turnovers are things like picking off an overthrown ball. Conscious effort turnovers are making a play on a ball or ripping the ball out of a running back’s hands. It’s the second category in which the Gators need the most improvement.

Ball in the mix: That Neiron Ball has been able to get back on the football field after the scary injury that he suffered is impressive. Even more so is the fact that he’s on the verge of becoming the Gators’ starting strongside linebacker.

Quinn said Ball is competing with Darrin Kitchens for the top spot, which usually would belong to Lerentee McCray but he is subbing for the injured Ronald Powell at buck linebacker. Ball (6-foot-2, 222 pounds) hasn’t played since the 2010 season. He missed last season while being treated for burst blood vessels in his brain.