Florida defensive coordinator Geoff Collins started using the “BDN” nickname with his defense, challenging them to be the best defense in the country. This weekend will be their biggest challenge of the season to prove that accurate.
No. 3 Ole Miss brings the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense and No. 12 passing offense to The Swamp on Saturday. If there’s a hope for Florida to slow down the Rebels, it will come with a strong performance by a talented secondary.
“It’s going to be a great matchup,” Florida cornerback Quincy Wilson said. “We match up well against them. They’ve got the receivers. We’ve got the DBs. It’s going to be a great game. They’ve got big guys who can go up and get the ball. We’ve just got to go up and make plays.”
Laquon Treadwell leads the way for Ole Miss with 22 receptions for 332 yards and one touchdown. He’s the star of the Ole Miss offense, a sure-fire first-round pick when he chooses to leave college because of his 6-2, 210-pound frame.
He’s physical enough to box out defensive backs, allowing him to attack the football and come down with it. He has the elusiveness to make defenders miss tackles and the speed to run away from them when they do.
"He's fast, he's aggressive, really physical,” Florida safety Keanu Neal said. “He's like a (defensive back) playing receiver. He likes to get at you, get in your face. He's a smash-mouth type receiver. I honestly like it about him."
Wilson added, “He’s really good at going up and getting the ball and just getting away from them. The (defensive backs) he goes against can’t really get the ball away from him. He’s just good at getting yards after catch.”
While Treadwell is the best of the Ole Miss receivers, the Rebels have plenty of depth and playmaking at the position. Cody Core is second on the team with 14 catches for 320 yards, adding three touchdowns. He’s the big-play receiver, averaging 22.9 yards per catch. Quincy Adeboyejo has 10 catches for 224 yards and five touchdowns. Damore’ea Stringfellow is third on the team with 11 catches, adding 175 yards and one touchdown.
The differences between the two offenses are obvious. Florida’s leading receiver is freshman Antonio Callaway with 172 yards, which would rank fifth on the Ole Miss offense. The Gators have eight receiving touchdowns on the season while the Rebels have 13. It’s an offense full of playmakers that will challenge the depth and talent of the Florida secondary.
“Our secondary, I think this will be a great challenge for them,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “They’re going against these big, tall, fast wide receivers. We’ll see how they handle that. That should be a fun matchup in this game.
“I’m sure they’re saying, “look, here’s my chance to go up against the best.” To me, that's fun. That's the challenge. So go accept it and see how you do, and you'll do it well if you take care of the now."