Florida Gators Football: Confident Defense Getting Stronger

DJ Durkin was incensed.

The score, nor the three seconds left in the game mattered. Georgia scored a touchdown, making the score 38-20. The final touchdown bothered the Florida Gators defensive coordinator because of what it represented.

“I think a big message for our guys no matter the situation go through any scenario you want we need to play the same way,” Durkin said. “It’s a certain standard of how we play. I don’t feel on that last drive, I feel we were kind of were enjoying a victory already and the game was not over.”

Last-second touchdown aside, the Gators defense played well against the Bulldogs, who came into the game with a much-hyped rushing attack. Florida held Georgia to 141 yards, holding starting running back Nick Chubb to one touchdown. The Florida defense forced quarterback Hutson Mason to throw, and while Georgia had 319 yards passing, Mason was sacked three times and hurried eight.

Coming off a big win over their SEC East rival, the Gators now take on a Vanderbilt offense that is much different than what they faced in Jacksonville. The Commodores are last in the SEC in total, rushing and scoring offense. They are also 12th in passing offense, averaging 177.3 yards per game.

While Vandy’s offense isn’t one of the best, the team has a two-quarterback attack that will present different looks for the Gators. While redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary will start, Patton Robinette will also play. Coming off a five touchdown passes against Old Dominion, McCrary is on the Gators’ watch.

“McCray is throwing it with more confidence now,” Durkin said. “They throw vertically down the field. They can stretch you out. We have to prepared for all of these things.”

The pro-style offense of Vanderbilt will also force Florida to run less nickel. The multiple tight ends the Commodores run was something similar to what Alabama and LSU ran, giving Florida an idea of what to expect.

While the defense has been the more consistent side of the ball throughout the season, the Gators have seen play improve in recent weeks. Florida limited giving up big plays against Georgia. Defensive lineman Bryan Cox, Jr. said the team’s improved communication has led to better play.

“I mean, we had a lot of busts and things of that sort that gave up big plays for us. As a unit, we played solid throughout all of our games, I think. It’s just a lot of busts in areas that we need to clean up, and I think we did a good job of that.”

As the Gators prepare for Vanderbilt, they look to build upon their performance against Georgia as they make a push towards winning the East. A team full of confidence this week, the Gators feel their defense should be considered among college football’s elite.

“We feel like we should be one of the best defenses in the nation,” Cox, Jr. said. “We can stop the run and defend the pass. We’re a versatile, athletic defense and we should be recognized as one of the top in the country.”

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Ryan Randall
From Melbourne, Florida, Ryan has lived in Florida since he was three, becoming a sports fan around that age. His passion for journalism rivals his love of sports. Shortly out of high school he covered prep and community sports for his hometown paper in Brevard Country, before moving to Gainesville, where he covered the Gators in the pros as well as prep sports for a few publications. A Telecommunications major at UF, Ryan now interns at Gator Country and ecstatic to showcase his talents for the publication. When not working on stories, Ryan enjoys playing basketball, music, as well as art. Follow Ryan at @_RyanRandall_


  1. If you want to be recognized as one of the top defenses in the nation, it’s real easy to do. It’s as simple as stopping Jameis Winston. Since no one has been able to do so, that would get universal recognition.

    • SquintPrint – the Gators defense is already considered to be one of the stronger defenses in the country; that recognition has been earned on the field. Similar to how Winston has earned his reputation of being a crude, low-class felon off the field. Stay scrong for your team though.