Hurtin' Defense

After Urban Meyer called it the worst defensive effort of the season, the Florida Gators will now find themselves shorthanded on the defensive line for the rest of the season.

During his weekly press conference, Urban Meyer said defensive tackles Javier Estopinan and Brandon Antwine will miss the rest of the season, and the status of Terron Sanders and Clint McMillan are up in the air.

"Javier Estopinan is out for the year with his third ACL injury in three years," Meyer said. "There is not a tougher or a better guy than he is. Brandon Antwine is probably out for the year. Terron Sanders is out for a while and Clint McMillan is at probably three-quarters speed, so we need to get him healthy."

Antwine has missed the last three games with a sore lower back and spent at least 10 days in the hospital receiving treatment for the injury. Meyer has called it a muscular injury and not structural, so he is expected to return next season. The same holds true for Estopinan.

"He's going to be one of our leaders next year," Meyer said. "His family was here yesterday. I relate it to the day I sat in my office and Ray McDonald got the phone call. It is hard to see especially for invested players. When you see him grab his knee like that, that kid would not come out of the game. There is no one better than Javier."

Not one player on the defensive side of the football graded out as a champion following the 42-30 loss to Georgia. The Gators allowed 413 total yards that was balanced between both the run and pass. The points allowed matched the previous game-high allowed during the Meyer-era that came in his first season in Gainesville against Vanderbilt in a 49-42 win in double overtime.

Another stat that disappointed Meyer following the loss to the Dawgs was turnovers.

"It is not conducive of a good football team," Meyer said. "We have not created enough and we had a couple of critical turnovers."

The secondary did come up with a pick on Saturday – just the sixth interception of the season. Not only is the lack of interceptions a concern for Meyer, but so is the entire secondary that allowed more yards on one play to Georgia than they did in the entire game to Ohio State in last year's BCS Championship game.

"They should be playing tighter coverage," Meyer said. "The one that stood out to me is the one third down with Markihe Anderson. I have to check with our defensive backs coach because if he is not 100 percent he should not be out there."

The Gators allowed Georgia to convert a 3rd-and-12 in the fourth quarter, trailing the Bulldogs by only five points at the time. A stop there would have given the offense a chance to take the lead late in the game. Instead, Georgia continued driving and capped the drive with a touchdown.

"That is three losses where all we needed to do was get off the field once and it may have been different," Meyer said. "I do not want to pin everything on the defense because it certainly is not just them at all."

Backfield wide open

Despite a sore shoulder, Tim Tebow managed to play well and nearly his entire receiving corps graded out as champions. It's a different situation though for the backfield. Kestahn Moore was pulled after fumbling the ball on the game's opening drive and then mishandling a direct snap.

"The policy is that you will win the position at practice if there is going to be a change and that position is wide open," Meyer said.

On Saturday, Percy Harvin carried 10 times and gained 97 yards. Brandon James also lined up in the backfield, carrying five times for 26 yards. Both graded out as champions along with Andre Caldwell, Louis Murphy, Jarred Fayson, Jim Tartt, Eric Rutledge and Carlton Medder.


  • Meyer said he is unsure of how much time Major Wright will play against Vanderbilt. Wright broke his thumb against Kentucky and only played on special teams against Georgia. Riley Cooper, who also broke a finger against Kentucky and did not play on Saturday, is still uncertain for the matchup with the Commodores.
  • With the current state of the SEC East, Meyer knows the division is still up for grabs. Said Meyer, "I have never seen anything like what is going on in the SEC East. I guess it is only my third year, so I do not have that many years of wisdom, but at this point, we have everything in the world to play for. … Vanderbilt is by far the best Vanderbilt team that we have faced. Every team right now is, or if not close to, being bowl-eligible, so it is going to be a fight. We have to finish it off and this will be a heck of a game."
  • Torrey Davis may be an option to start at defensive tackle on Saturday. Said Meyer, "Other options include Lawrence Marsh and Clint McMillan. Justin Trattou may move in there. But Torrey did not have one of his better days versus Georgia. He was not ready to play that many snaps, but we are working like crazy to get him ready."

    Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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