Mid-Season Report Card - Passing Defense

We continue our evaluation of the Florida Gator football team at mid-season with a look at how Florida's pass defense has performed. The Gators have allowed 230 passing yards a game and opposing quarterbacks have completed almost 60 percent of their passes.

The Gators have performed with an almost completely rebuilt secondary featuring three first or second year players most of the time.

Pass Defense (B)

The positives -----
Florida has allowed just two opponents to throw more than one touchdown pass in a game and in both cases (Troy, Ole Miss) those throws occurred after the Gators had built a big lead. While the Gators have allowed quite a bit of yardage they have only given up two passes of more than 30 yards. The Gators have a very good touchdown/interception ratio (6/5).

Florida has done pretty darn well considering the fact the most of the snaps at cornerback have gone to two guys (Joe Haden, Wondy Pierre-Louis) who had no collegiate experience when the season began. Additionally, the Gators have turned over the free safety job to another rookie, Major Wright who seems to have "star" written all over him.

The negatives ----- Florida has not been able to generate much pass rush this season, largely due to the absence of any push from the inside. As a result it has fallen on defensive ends Derrick Harvey (5) and Jermaine Cunningham (2) to generate seven of Florida's eleven sacks. The Gators' pace of quarterback sacks (1.8/g) is well behind last year's (2.4/g), and that lack of pressure has really made it tough on the young defensive backs.

Florida has had a habit of laying too far off receivers and surrendering slant routes with virtually no opposition. And through six games, the Gators have forced just eight turnovers (1.3/g) after generating more than two turnovers a game last season.

Looking ahead ----- If you aren't impressed with Joe Haden and Major Wright than you probably think Halle Berry should be a great cook. These guys are going to be fixtures in the Florida secondary for at least two more years and will continue to improve in the second half of this season. Additionally, Florida still hopes to get Markihe Anderson and his superior cover skills back at the corner opposite Haden. But even with all that, the Gators won't be a great deal better until they improve the pass rush. The off-week should allow the Gators time to really challenge the young defensive linemen to step it up and earn additional playing time. If the Gators can get more pass rush, and Anderson back in the secondary; Florida could be much tougher to throw on in the final six games.

Questions or comments? Contact FightinGators.com's Larry Vettel

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