Kan Li / Scout

What’s up with the Gators' defensive depth chart?

Jim McElwain released the official depth chart Monday for the Florida Gators football team’s season opener on Saturday against UMass. It was filled with the obligatory “Or” here and there that a lot of coaches post to signify that the race is close for that spot. But, there were some clear signs of some significant things that we can draw from on the chart he sent out.

There are some positions that have no question marks. Quarterback is one of those. There are some, when you look into the details of the order, kind of send a message that hasn’t been so clear until now.

Let’s take a look at the defense…

RIGHT DEFENSIVE END

Bryan Cox, Keivonnis Davis OR Justus Reed

I think there is one of the more significant moves on the roster right here. If anyone noticed, they removed the term RUSH under the positions on the official roster.  They now go left side and right side and teach specific hand placement and such for both. That said, the rush side is now the right side and Cox was moved from the opposite side to the one that is expected to provide more of a pass rush. Conversely, Jordan Sherit was moved to the opposite side. This means they are expecting Cox to provide the most from the outside and I agree with that. The other thing to me is the including of Reed. WE have heard a lot about Davis and not much about Reed, but Reed is a guy that always seemed to make plays when in the game a year ago. Cox can be a star this year. The other two are really good and with Antonneous Clayton and Jordan Smith waiting in the wings. This is a strong position.

LEFT DEFENSIVE END

 Jordan Sherit, Jabari ZunigaJachai Polite

The move of Sherit fits more of his skill set. He’s a guy that doesn’t play outside of the playbook and is text book with his play up front. He also hasn’t shown consistent ability to get a big jump on the snap. I believe he is a solid player and has the ability to be better than that. Zuniga is the one that everyone is ready to see explode after redshirting a year ago. He was ballooning last season and lost some weight to stay outside, now he is in optimum condition and we should expect to see a lot of him with Chris Rumph always willing to rotate a lot of players. The significance of Polite is that he is the only true freshman defensive lineman that made the released depth chart. That means he should play in my opinion.

 

BIG QUESTION: Will Clayton and / or Smith get on the field early this season?  I believe so. Rumph has shown he is willing to play anyone that is ready to do so, no matter how many might be ahead of them on the depth chart

Kan Li / Scout

NOSE TACKLE

Joey IvieKhairi Clark

No surprises here. I believe Ivie is one of the more underrated players on the roster and in for a big year. He is a terrific compliment to Caleb Brantley listed below. Clark has steadily improved since he has been here. He is on his way to being a big player for the Gators and should see a lot of playing time this season.

 

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

Caleb Brantley, CeCe Jefferson OR Taven Bryan

I think the thing we can take from this spot is that there will still be some talent here even when Brantley leaves early for the NFL after this season.  In Jefferson and Bryan you have two of the more explosive and tenacious players on the team. I could see both of them playing at the same time both this year and next.

 

BIG QUESTION: Are there enough bodies to make it through the year at defensive tackle?  They definitely need to stay healthy here. It is well documented the lack of numbers recruited lately at the two DT positions, they will rectify some of that in the 2017 class, but they need to stay healthy this year.

 

MIDDLE LINEBACKER

Jarrad DavisDavid Reese

Davis very well could be the best player on the team. I think he is in for a special year. Reese arriving in the spring was a huge boost to this position.

 

WEAKSIDE LINEBACKER

Alex Anzalone, Kylan JohnsonVosean Joseph

The thought from the staff is that Anzalone will also have a huge year. He has to stay healthy. Johnson was a monster in the spring game and likely the third linebacker that hots the field the most this season in my opinion. I think it is significant that Joseph is listed given there are three listed at the position.  He will also play this year.

Kan Li / Scout

STRONGSIDE LINEBACKER

Daniel McMillian , Jeremiah Moon

The Gators will normally play just two linebackers on the field as they apply a NICKEL defense. This will be the third.  McMillian has to get over the mental mistakes he has had, yet I do think it is significant that they list him as the starter here. Moon might be the most significant riser among the freshmen linebackers this year and he will play. He is supposed to be a big time pass rusher off the edge which could be significant depending on how much rush they are getting up front.

 

BIG QUESTION: With no Rayshad Jackson listed with three true freshmen on the list, what does that mean?  There is plenty of time for Jackson to make an impact in his career. By all accounts he works hard and will be a player down the road.

 

http://florida.scout.com/story/1700709-what-s-up-with-the-offensive-dept...

 

NICKEL

Duke DawsonChris Williamson

I am a little surprised this is listed this way for game one, because I fully expect Dawson to start in the NICKEL during the season and when Jalen Tabor is back from suspension. It is notable that Williamson is listed at NICKEL and do believe he will start here against UMass. I think Williamson has better skills than some of the other backups at the position, so he will see a ton of playing time this year.

 

CORNERBACK

Quincy WilsonChauncey Gardner

Wilson is going to have a big season. Opposite Tabor, they will be looking to go his way early and I think that will be a disappointing game plan. Gardner being able to play at corner even with the suspension of Tabor says a lot about his playing ability and his smarts in the game given that he has mostly played NICKEL and safety during the fall and most of the spring.

 

CORNERBACK

Duke DawsonJoseph Putu

I keep thinking of a Fred Weary when I think of Dawson, a ball hawk of a guy that came out of nowhere for Florida back in the mid-90’s. Putu will struggle with play calls, but he may be the best athlete in the secondary and maybe the hardest hitter.

Kan Li / Scout

SAFETY

Nick Washington OR Marcell Harris This is one of the biggest battles in camp. I believe Washington gets the nod but Harris has been coming on strong this fall. I believe they like the way Washington gets people in the right place and plays his assignments, yet Harris is doing a better job of that too. Either way, both will play a lot.

 

SAFETY

Marcus MayeJeawon Taylor

We all knew Maye would get his chance. Taylor is the story here. He is one of the biggest impact freshmen on campus that showed up in June and has put himself in a position to really play a lot of football this season. He’s extremely athletic and heady, a perfect combination for the position.

 

BIG QUESTION: What about McArthur Burnett?  Burnett is a super athlete and may see the field on special teams. He has had a hard time with technique concepts in playing in the secondary. Once he gets those down, he will be golden. 


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