Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Hollywood Bob Thinking Out Loud (Spring Defense)

We continue with our look at the team as the spring concludes and some thoughts on the defensive unit as I see it and what I believe is ahead.

The big question on the defensive line coming into the spring was defensive tackle. Juniors Taven Bryan and Khairi Clark have played some good football in their two previous years on the field at Florida but were they going to be able to play consistently enough to start in the two interior positions and maintain a high level.

Bryan has been all of that and then some. Florida head coach Jim McElwian even said at one point in the last two weeks that Bryan was maybe the most consistent plyer on the team this spring with his play.

That is a great sign for things to come. Nobody has ever questioned Bryan’s physical ability. He is a physical freak and his teammates will tell you as much. The mental has been the issue and he seems to have attacked this spring with a mindset that will lead to big things in the fall.

Clark also made adjustments, his was more physical. He was a little overweight and needed to shed some pounds and he did. He should be a very capable force inside taking o double teams to allow others to make plays around him.

Sophomore Luke Ancrum also made strides in the spring and got noticed. He will bring valuable depth. Freshman Kyree Campbell arrived in January, but has made enough steps forward that they believe he will help as a run stuffing defensive tackle in the fall.

 

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Defensive end is likely the deepest position on the team, especially when Jordan Sherit returns in the fall. Junior CeCe Jefferson reshaped his body into a leaner quicker rushing machine after the experiment inside early last year. Sophomore Jabari Zuniga and junior Keivonnis Davis have enough playing time now where they can be called veterans. They are both extremely quick off the ball. You could probably say that about Jachai Polite as well.

Sophomore Antonneous Clayton added 35 pounds and looks like an intimidating 250 now. Those names alone should be enough to do what they need to do in the fall and in a big way.

They would like to see more out of redshirt freshman Jordan Smith in the fall and Justus has to get back in the swing of things after being injured almost the entire 2016 season, Reed can be a difference maker as well.

Chris Rumph has every attribute he needs out of his pass rushers and some of those guys will be able to also play inside a little bit as well. It should be a fun position to watch for years.

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I think linebacker was a position they were very pleased with this spring among the healthy guys. Sophomores Vosean Joseph and Kylan Johnson along with redshirt freshman Jeremiah Moon is a trio they feel very good about. Johnson has hurt more offensive players this spring with his tenacious play than they care to count. Moon is the most athletic linebacker they have and can be a real force this fall in their opinion. Johnson has made great strides, but they would like him to play a little better in traffic.

Senior Cristian Garcia isn’t far behind. He lacks some of the physical attributes, but he’s a heady player and will play a lot this fall.

Freshman James Houston came in bigger than advertised and they’re excited about what he brings to the table.

They will welcome back David Reese in the fall after he heels form his hand injury. This should be a very capable group of linebackers that will add depth in the fall.

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The two veterans were basically it at safety this spring. Seniors Nick Washington and Marcell Harris regularly made plays in the spring and are two they feel will play big in the fall. Junior Chris Williamson was moved from corner, but still hasn’t found his stride.  They need him to step up and do something this fall.

Sophomore Jeawon Taylor and redshirt freshman Quincy Lenton spent the entire spring on the injured list. They will provide depth in the fall.

Sophomore Chauncey Gardner will likely get some reps at safety as well. He’s starting at corner, but played safety last year and as the MVP of the Outback Bowl, showed what he is capable of doing.

They will get some added depth with the incoming class as well in June.

 

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Cornerback has been the tough one this spring. The two starters can make plays. Chauncey Gardner and senior Duke Dawson were both playing different positions a year ago, but both have big time play making ability and we saw that from them a lot this spring. They also are very aggressive and can get beat.

The issue lies in the depth. Senior Joseph Putu should be pretty good at adding depth to the group and redshirt freshman McArthur Burnett has improved a great deal this spring, but they are definitely a step down from the starters at this point. The young guns coming in this June will have to be able to step in and play this fall.

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As specialists go, there aren’t likely too many combinations as good as senior punter Johnny Townsend and junior PK Eddy Pineiro. They haven’t done anything this spring to hurt their stock.

Johnny’s younger brother Tommy Townsend has been booming the ball. They feel like they have a good one in the Tennessee transfer for when Johnny leaves.


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