Strong Comfortable with Spikes' Replacement

Not only will the Florida Gators be missing their leading tackler from a year ago should Brandon Spikes not be able to go on Saturday, but they'll also be missing the leader of the defense. Defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is confident in his replacement, though.

Brandon Spikes had his best offseason since he's been wearing the Orange and Blue, but he might have to wait at least a week until he gets to see how far he's come since last season.

"One day he planted it wrong and kind of twisted it," Charlie Strong said. "He tried to go some today (Monday). It'll be a game day decision."

Strong is hopeful that Spikes will only miss one game should he not be able to go against Hawaii, but he's calling is a week-by-week decision for now. In the meantime, not only will the Gator defense need to make up for his production, but his leadership as well.

"The guys all understand it, and they've all been around watching him," Strong said. "Plus, just having him around will be a big help."

Ryan Stamper will fill in for Spikes if he can't go. Stamper has played in 15 games and recorded 25 tackles in his career.

"We'll practice with Stamper," Strong said. "Those two have been getting most of the reps, so he'll practice more and we'll see what he can do. He's probably one of the most reliable players on our football team. I'm real confident in Ryan Stamper."

As the defensive coordinator, Strong is eager to see if the defense has progressed from last year. He'll be especially watching the secondary, which he believes has come a long way since last season.

"[Hawaii] does throw the ball around a lot," he said. "We do need to improve and this game will help us, but we need to improve game-by-game. This game, just because of what happened last year, will be an early test for us. Just by what we've seen, I'm very confident in our secondary."

Questions or comments? Contact's Chris Chmielenski

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