Gators Spring Game: Defensive Thoughts

By the conclusion of the Orange and Blue Debut, we didn’t learn much new about the defense, except for maybe a few players. The strength of the team, the defense may have found some extra help from some unexpected players, which can only be a good thing.

Defensive Line with maybe a couple of surprises

Geoff Collins certainly didn’t hold back because of the issues on the offensive line. His guys were in the backfield all day it seemed. That said, I thought a couple of freshmen playing on different teams stood out a bit.

Of course we have to take it with a grain of salt because of the issues on the offensive line, but freshman Taven Bryan was in the backfield all day long. Playing against guys that he didn’t have to have tremendous technique against he routinely blew them up or went right around them. At 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds he has the size and quickness to be a difference maker inside. It is likely that when he plays older more experienced guys things won’t be nearly as easy, but he is definitely one of those “tremendous upside” players we talk about.

The other guy to me that may have been a surprise was Justus Reed. Reed made a couple of plays that stood out and both were different kinds of plays showing different aspects of his game. There was one play where he bullied the offensive tackle and pushed him backward into Kelvin Taylor for a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. The other was a quick move to get to the backfield almost unscathed. If Reed can get into the mix this year that would be a bonus.

I think we saw a little from sophomore Jordan Sherit as well. Want to see more, but I think he will eventually bring it strong in this unit.

The other suspects looked the part. Alex McCalister was active and swarming, he should have a good year in 2015. Caleb Brantley and Joey Ivie looked strong inside. Jonathan Bullard supplied pressure from the outside. They will even get help this year as defensive coordinator Geoff Collins brings pressure more often than not.

Two more new guys active at linebacker…

With the obvious disparity between the two teams we didn’t get a whole lot from Daniel McMillian and Alex Anzalone. The defensive line was just too dominant and those guys almost couldn’t make plays. However, two guys that played on both teams really made some plays and got in the action.

Seeing Jeremi Powell and Matt Rolin run around and make plays was a good sight to see. Powell did get burned by Cyontai Lewis on a long pass play, but he was all over the field and showed he can still run.

I thought Rolin was very active. I thought he played close to the line of scrimmage a lot which I know they want him to do. These two guys both led the defense in tackles.

They have had McMillian and Anzalone running first team all year, so seeing the other guys step up is likely a blessing.

Secondary allowed nothing…

The orange team which at some points in the game had every healthy scholarship defensive back, didn’t allow a pass over 10 yards the entire day. We expect the defensive backs to be the best unit on the team and we saw nothing on Saturday to make us think otherwise.

I actually liked that Deiondre Porter seemed to be mixing it up a bit. He may be the one we hear the least about in the secondary. He is athletic. He’s probably not ready to play a lot, but if he can contribute a little this year and get better that is all you can ask for with the group they have right now.

This secondary should allow them to do some fun things up front on defense.


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