Last year the Florida Gators defense went from having a good year to struggling down the stretch after a loss in Jacksonville to the Georgia Bulldogs.
A defense that had been thought of as one of the tops units in college football the last few years didn’t live up to the standard they had set for themselves according to defensive end CeCe Jefferson.
“It was a very tough time because that’s not the Gator standard,” Jefferson said of last year’s defense. “We, as a unit, we knew that we had more talent than most of those teams and we could have put on a better display than we did. It was just a disappointing feeling within ourselves. To be that team, to drop the ball and not to be a top-10 defense since like 2007, when people think about the University of Florida they think about defense. It was an
embarrassing feeling and one that myself and this team doesn’t want to
Living up to the Gator standard is something that Jefferson and his defensive teammates hope to do in 2018 under new defensive coordinator Todd Grantham with his new defensive scheme.
Grantham brings an aggressive defense to town and that’s something that linebacker David Reese and the rest of his teammates are excited to play in.
“Definitely more aggressive,” Reese said of this year’s defense. “I feel like guys, we’re just gonna be giving our best one-on-ones with the offense, making the quarterback make mistakes, we’re gonna blitz, we’re gonna disguise blitzes, we’re gonna cover guys, we’re gonna do what we’ve gotta do to get the win.”
The aggressive style defense is also a big change from last year’s defense as guys are able to play looser because of the aggressive nature of Grantham’s defense.
“Yeah, most definitely,” Jefferson said on if the aggressive scheme allows them to play looser. “When you’re playing, you really don’t want to think about anything. You just want to go and react, and that’s what this defense allows us to do. Just go and react. As long as we do our job, fill our gaps, do what we’re supposed to, it’s going to be hard to stop us. Sometimes I’m just in there and I’ll watch like the old Mississippi State film. I see how those boys ran it, and man, that’s some good stuff. That’s some good stuff and it works. It works and it works constantly. And so, I’m excited about that.”
Reese and the rest of his linebacker teammates are excited about the change because of the types of things the linebackers will be able to do under Grantham.
“I feel like, as a linebacker, when you blitz or when you do something that’s aggressive, it just feels like you’re playing little league football out on the grass again,” Reese said. “You’re just doing what you do best.”
The linebackers should have a lot of open gaps to run free through as the defensive line returns a lot of proven playmakers at the position that are just looking to make plays according to Jefferson.
“You got Zach Carter, Elijah Conliffe, Kyree Campbell and T.J. Slaton. That is just a big group of guys. They walk around and they
just embrace that ‘bam bam’ mentality,” Jefferson said of the depth on the defensive line. “They just walk around and destroy stuff. You even got Marlon Dunlap in there now man. So many threats. I’m licking my chops over here. It can be a good one but it’s up to us. We have all the tools. We have everything in place. It’s just up to us.”
Those guys are just a few of the defensive linemen that should help this Florida defense improve on last year’s late season collapse.
“The list goes on. It’s going to be hard to stop us,” Jefferson said of the defense. “With those guys you can have those guys coming from any direction and you have to account for them. If you don’t they’re game changers. They can make that play to win us a game or make that play to get the
momentum and the crowd up. I’m just happy to have them on my team and
not playing against them.”