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September 14, 2010

Senior linebacker Hicks bringing the heat

FLORIDA FOOTBALL: Chris Rainey arrested | Brantley making progress | Scout's Eye View | Urban's Monday Overview | Rivalry Week: UF vs UT

Just when everyone in The Swamp on Saturday thought it could not possibly get any hotter, Brandon Hicks brought the heat into the USF backfield.

On a second down and eight in a late third quarter series in which the Bulls desperately needed to score, Hicks and sophomore Jon Bostic had B.J. Daniels out of the pocket and on the run. Under pressure, Daniels made an ill advised throw that resulted in a pick-six for defensive end Justin Trattou.

Hicks was able to celebrate with his teammates as the defense had certainly erased any chance of a USF comeback with the third touchdown of the quarter, but he's had less joyful experiences in the Gainesville heat.

One time at training camp a bout with dehydration left Hicks with a scare he cannot fully recall.

"I was out of it," Hicks said. "I was just like 'oh man I'm too hot' and I felt really dizzy." He does not think he collapsed, but remembers "fading in and out."

What has not faded in and out is the Gators pass rush in the early games this season.

Hicks is leading a group of agile linebackers and linemen poised to force opposing quarterbacks into bad throws.

"When the ball is in the air, it's ours," sophomore cornerback Jeremy Brown said.

Eight times already this season opponents' passes have found their way into the hands of Florida defenders.

As a senior voted onto the preseason all SEC first team, Hicks is expected to be a leader of a defense that aims to field 11 playmakers at all times - regardless of who is on the sidelines due to rotation.

Hicks and the rest of the No. 8 Gators will partake in their first 3:30 p.m. kickoff of the season as the competition heats up when Florida travels to Knoxville, TN to face SEC East rival Tennessee.

Florida has yet to lose to Tennessee in the Urban Meyer era, but the Gators still use the r-word.

"It's one of those rivalries that I feel will be set in stone forever," Hicks said.

While the defense gets attention for leading the nation in interceptions, Hicks already knows the goal for this week.

"Our defense wants to kill the run - period," Hicks said. "Just stop the run. We know they can run the ball."

Tennessee junior tailback Tauren Poole averaged 7 yards per carry on 23 rushes in Saturday's second-half collapse against No. 6 Oregon.

If the Gators contain Poole, consider the Volunteers hopes drained.


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