There's the Gator Defense We Expected

Cancel the plans to put photos on milk cartons. The missing person reports need to be amended. Florida's defense turned up alive and well Saturday afternoon in The Swamp.

Florida showed more energy, more variety and more passion in taking control of Troy from the get go and giving Tennessee a lot more to think about than did the Gators' semi-conscious performance against Charleston Southern last week. The unit that talked about being one of the best if not the best in Gator history starting playing a little more like it in helping the Gators to an easy win.

Keep in mind this is a Troy team that had a lot more to challenge Florida with than they faced a week ago. The Trojans returned seven starters from an offense that scored 31 on LSU and 27 on Southern Miss. They are three time Sun Belt Conference Champs and are coming off an 8-5 season.

Troy had 10 possessions in the first half including two that began on Florida's side of the field and the Gators held them to just three points on those opportunities.

That defensive strong effort was needed in the early going. The Gator offense struggled to find any kind of rhythm early in the game, scoring just once on its first five possessions. That stretch included a key third down drop by Deonte Thompson a near blocked punt and fumbles by Emmanuel Moody and Tim Tebow who was stripped by a pass rusher.

Through it all the Florida defense held strong. Justin Trattou, playing extensively on the nose in the "Joker" package (3-3-5) was active while Jermaine Cunningham showed what a difference he makes on this unit. When the teams went into the locker room at intermission Troy had been limited to 71 yards of total offense on 35 plays.

Still it was another game that left us wondering a bit about this unit as it heads into SEC competition. And it left Tennessee's offensive coaches with less than a complete picture of the unit. Florida played very little of its base defense against Troy so we saw little if any of Terron Sanders, Jaye Howard and Omar Hunter. We did see more of Brandon Antwine than we have before, but we still haven't seen Lawrence Marsh who is still nursing a bad ankle.

Florida may end up with the kind of dominating defense the Gators hoped to have coming into the season. That's something that will have to occur over time. The most important thing about week two is that this talented, experienced unit came to play, dealt with a small dose of adversity and took a significant step in that direction.


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