Opener Confirms Concerns

Florida's opening drubbing of overmatched Western Kentucky not only showed the remarkable big play ability on the Florida offense. It also reinforced the concerns many have about Florida's defense this season.

The Gators seemed to be awfully soft in the secondary against a Hilltoppers' receiving corps that was not much of a threat to go deep. The Gators also saw just about every play made by a defensive lineman to come from an end. For the most part, the Gator defensive tackles generated little push up the middle and even less pressure on Western's quarterbacks. The guys with the most experience --- Javier Estopinan, Clint McMillan and Brandon Antwine --- combined for just one primary tackle and two assists. They got most of the playing time as expected, but I suspect that will change over time.

Youth Will be Served

From the beginning of fall practice, it was clear that the Gators most talented defensive tackle candidates were the ones we had seen the least of in 2006. Redshirt freshmen Terron Sanders and Lawrence Marsh and true freshman Torrey Davis have what folks like to refer to as "great upside". Simply put, this trio represents the future of the Gator defensive tackle rotation. The question is, just when will the future occur?

Marsh was in street clothes for the game with Western Kentucky, a pretty clear indication he was serving a suspension. He was a load during spring ball and reminds me of a mean-spirited version of Ed Chester. Sanders gives Florida a guy with the size and strength to hold the middle and you've already read in this space that I see a young Gerard Warren in Davis. Sure, they have to pay their dues, but I'd like to see the Gators speed up the payment process before Florida starts seeing bigger and better offensive lines than what they saw opening night.

The situation is a classic dilemma for the Gator coaching staff. On one hand you have veterans who have done everything you have asked of them on and off the field. Their effort and commitment is not a question at all. But on the other hand you have younger and much more physically gifted student-athletes who have yet to prove themselves. You have to determine how to best make the transition to get your best players on the field. Do it too quickly and you can lose the locker room. Do it too slowly and you can lose some football games you shouldn't lose. As a result, this will be perhaps the most interesting position to watch over the next two weeks.


Fightin Gators Top Stories