The Florida Gators had no claim to the coveted DBU title in 2020. A longstanding tradition fell hard as it became one of the most problematic position groups on the team.
In reality, Florida’s secondary has not been consistently dominant in years, but no one wanted to talk about it. Last season was just too poor to overlook.
Despite having experience in all starting roles, the Gators looked lost time and again. Florida did not see quite the decline its DBU rival LSU did in defending the pass, but finished 8th in the SEC, allowing 257.5 passing yards per game.
Florida’s issues could be seen in the stats, but were most evident in game-defining situations.
Now, the Gators just want a fresh start. With new coaches and new players stepping in, spring is the time to turn the page.
As one of a few veterans entering his senior season, Trey Dean wants to lead the charge in resurrecting DBU.
“That’s in the past,” Dean said of last season. “I think 2021 we’re going to be a new DB corps and bring that DBU swagger to go out there each and every day and impose our will on our opponent.”
Defensive backs are supposed to be confident, even a little cocky. At least, most of the best ones are. The Gators didn’t have much of that in 2020, so that’s where Dean is starting.
Instead of a turnover chain (or backpack…I can’t be the only one who remembers that, right?), Dean brought a pair of handcuffs out to Florida’s first spring practice.
“Just out there having a little fun,” he said. “Just like a competitive edge, just to say every down we’re going to give it our all to lock the receivers up no matter what it is. Having a little fun, having a little competition.”
It is going to take more than a little newfound swagger to fix the secondary, though. We did not get a great indicator of Florida’s young talent last season due to the staff’s unwavering loyalty to the veterans, but Dean seems to think the Gators will surprise opponents and fans in 2021.
“A lot of people are going to look back on the season and not going to think we have a lot,” Dean said. “Coach [Todd] Grantham is a great coach. He’s going to put us in the right position to make plays, so we just got to go out there and execute.”
Defensive backs see a legacy started by greats like Joe Haden and Ahmad Black, and they sign to the University of Florida in hopes of building their own.
That legacy is slowly fading, and the Gators are now tasked with bringing it back.
“I think that we’re going to carry the DBU name,” Dean said. “It has to mean something, not just come here and say you went to Florida and you’re part of DBU. You have to go out there and show why you’re part of DBU.”