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Florida Gators Defensive Preview

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NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Until Missouri shows that it can regain competence again, I find it hard to believe that they’re going to string together a performance like the ones against West Virginia, Troy, Ole Miss, etc. Kelly Bryant is supposedly 100%, Johnathon Johnson should be back, but health doesn’t stop receivers from dropping balls; nor does it stop an offensive line from missing key blocks. As currently construed, this Florida defense doesn’t need to be elite to stop the Tiger attack. Unfortunately for us, this Florida defense is elite. So how does Missouri overcome that? Take a look at the depth chart and I’ll share some key areas that the Tigers need to take advantage of.

NCAA Football: Tennessee-Martin at Florida
Jabari Zuniga
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive End

Jabari Zuniga - R-SR: 10 tackles/7 TFLs/3 sacks

Zachary Carter - R-SO: 15 tackles/5 TFLs/3.5 sacks/1 PBU

Nose Tackle

Kyree Campbell - JR: 22 tackles/4 TFLs/1 sack/1 FF

Luke Ancrum - R-SR: 14 tackles/3 TFLs/1 sack

Defensive Tackle

Adam Shuler - R-SR: 15.5 tackles/4.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 PBU

Tedarrell Slaton - JR: 15 tackles/2 TFLs/0.5 sacks/1 PBU

NCAA Football: Towson at Florida
David Reese II
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


Jonathan Greenard - SR: 29 tackles/7 TFLs/4 sacks/3 PBUs/1 INT

Jeremiah Moon - R-JR: 24 tackles/6.5 TFLs/3 sacks/2 PBUs

Inside Linebacker

David Reese II - SR: 54.5 tackles/4.5 TFLs/2 sacks

James Houston IV - R-SO: 23 tackles/4.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 FF

Middle Linebacker

Ventrell Miller - R-SO: 24 tackles/2 TFLs/2 sacks/2 PBUs

Lacedrick Brunson - SO: 14 tackles/2.5 TFLs/1 sack


Trey Dean III - SO: 17.5 tackles/3 TFLs/2 sacks/1 PBU/1 INT/1 FF

Khris Bogle - FR: 11 tackles/3.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 PBU

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida
Donovan Stiner
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports


C.J. Henderson - JR: 19 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/10 PBUs

Jaydon Hill - FR: 5.5 tackles/0.5 TFLs/3 PBUs

Free Safety

Donovan Stiner - JR: 19 tackles/1 TFL/4 INTs

Jeawon Taylor - SR: 12 tackles/1.5 TFLs/1 PBU

Strong Safety

Shawn Davis - JR: 32 tackles/1 TFL/2 PBUs/3 INTs

Chester Kimbrough - FR: 5 tackles/2 PBUs


Marco Wilson - R-SO: 19 tackles/1.5 TFLs/1 PBU/2 INTs

Kaiir Elam - FR: 5.5 tackles/3 PBUs/2 INTs


Evan McPherson - SO: 38-38 PATs/9-11 FGs (81.8%)


Tommy Townsend - R-SR: 30 punts/44.6 avg/3 touch backs/14 fair catches

Kick/Punt Returner

Freddie Swain - SR: 2 kick returns/19.5 avg//12 punt returns/4.5 avg

Florida’s defense ranks 15th in SP+, but instead of ranking in the top 25 in every category like Georgia, it merely ranks in the top 50 in every category (oh, goodie). But there a few ways they can be taken advantage of. Here’s how:

The Forward Pass

You really don’t want to run on Florida: 20th in rushing defense, 20th in success rate, 32nd in stopping efficiency, 20th in allowing 5-yards per carry. They do allow explosive plays on the ground (82nd) but, overall, are lights out. So the Tigers will have to...gulp...pass to win. And even then that’s not great: 39th in passing defense, 32nd in efficiency, 41st in stopping efficiency, 17th in stopping explosive passing plays, 9th in sack rate. But the passing numbers are technically better than the running numbers. The Missouri receivers have been pretty aloof in handling passes, and that must change to have any success this week. If they stick with the heavy usage of the tight ends, I’ll feel decent about our passing success chances.

Standard Downs

When it comes to passing downs, the Gators are dynamite, ranking 14th overall. So, just like last week, it would be in the Tigers’ best interest to stay on schedule and keep the yards to go manageable. I’m not saying that will happen, mind you, but that’s how you keep Todd Grantham’s “emotional blitzing” from tearing an offense apart.

Third Downs

Oh, those pesky third downs. The Tigers are awful at converting them and...what’s this...the Gators are equally bad at defending them? 62nd in third-and-long, 81st in medium, 60th in short. That’s...not what I expected from the 15th best defense in the country. If the Tigers start magically converting third downs, then you’ll know there’s potential for a good day on Saturday.


I still say this will be an excellent game to attend (if you still need tickets, go here). You won’t see an offensive shoot out, but I do believe that you’ll see some competency from the Tigers. And against a ranked opponent, at home? That’s a magical feeling. Expect this to be super low scoring, but I do believe the Tigers can hang for four quarters.