8:30 AM, 1/11/2019
Is it too early to start thinking about the future? Hell no it isn’t.
Tonight’s topic is the 2019 Gator defense, and here’s my overly optimistic take on where things stand: Year two in Grantham’s 3-4 + the flexibility presented by our roster = a big jump.
I’m really high on things going forward on my favorite side of the ball. Adding Greenard to (hopefully) take the reins at buck really juices up the early lies. A second year in the system should benefit the vets significantly, as is the case with pretty much any team and scheme. What really takes things to another level in my early opinion is the flexibility that next year’s squad should bring on that side of the ball.
As is obvious, the secondary should be absolutely stacked, stacked to the point where everything flows smooth from there. The experience/reliability of the defensive backs will allow Grantham to really really open things up next season. You know how much easier it makes a blitz-happy defensive coordinator’s life to have guys lock down the boundary? I’d expect Grantham to get weird with the blitzes, and honestly he may have to in order to keep the pass rush at the level we are accustomed to.
Flexibility isn’t just in the scheme, it’s in the personnel. Vosean Joseph and Chauncey Gardner-Johnson leaving provided the Gators with a bit of a unique opportunity. Obviously, they won’t be easy to replace, but the pool of players available to fill in their snaps have a wide variety of skillsets. The possibilities are endless. James Houston likely takes most of the snaps in VoJo’s place, but Grantham’s is going to mix things up. Burney can play outside backer, star, or safety; Dean can play corner, star, or safety; Steele can play corner, star, or safety; Davis can play star or safety; Stew can play star or safety… you get the point. Situationally, Grantham can do as he pleases with the personnel which should lead to incredibly confusing looks and a lot of success.
Though I’m high on the squad in general, I’m not too much of a homer to act like there aren’t weaknesses. The “natural” pass rush likely takes a step back. I’m dumb high on Greenard, but Polite is a first round talent for a reason. Outside of Greenard, I’m not too confident in the rest of the options at buck for various reasons, the most prevalent being experience. The starters at defensive tackle are solid, but that’s about it. Slaton and Conliffe were probably the two biggest disappointments of 2018. You’ll notice a trend: most of the potential issue lie up front, and yes that can be concerning.
The bottom line is all that matters though. The Gators will be familiar with the scheme, the Gators will be flexible. That’s going to carry the good guys FAR! Yes, it is only January. The spring could change everything, but we’ve got time to kill. What do you think?
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(Above Photo From: Gatorssports.com)