“We can’t contend for the championship if we finish ninth or 10th in defense…”

Finally, somebody calls the preseason bluff on Florida’s defense.

Members of the media, if last week’s voting in the SEC preseason poll is any indication, scoff at the idea of defense winning championships.

The media overwhelmingly picked Florida — a program with just enough safeties to field a team — to win the SEC East and not, surprisingly, national favorite Georgia. The dynamic trio of quarterback Tim Tebow, receiver Percy Harvin and tight end Cornelius Ingram, it seems, outweighs the problems in Florida’s secondary.

That secondary sure sounds up in the air right now.

… Meyer moved Cade Holliday from receiver to free safety and said more changes are coming. The depth behind Joe Haden and Wondy Pierre-Louis at cornerback is also troublesome.

“We already met with a player, I don’t want to release it yet, but we’ll probably bump another good freshman player over from offense to defense and let him compete for one of those spots as well,” Meyer said.

And Will Hill.  Just curious – how many teams have won an SEC championship with a true freshman at strong safety?

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13 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., SEC Football

13 responses to ““We can’t contend for the championship if we finish ninth or 10th in defense…”

  1. chefboyardee

    Gambling is illegal in Georgia, morally reprehensible, and will make you go blind and grow hair on your palms. So don’t do it. But if you WERE going to do it, you might want to take a good look at the point spreads in Florida’s first four games. Florida could very well win all four without covering once.

    Of course, taking gambling advice from someone known only as “chefboyardee” is a TERRIBLE idea.

  2. Hawai’i/Florida is going to be high-larious. Hawai’i won’t win because Mr. T and pals are going to put 60 on the board, but Florida’s secondary is in for an interesting game if the Gators can’t get off a pass rush.

  3. I don’t want to get all Urban Meyer on you here, but I know one thing about that game: whatever the final score, Florida will win by more than 31 points.

  4. KG

    “How many teams have won an SEC championship with a true freshman at strong safety?”

    I’m not sure how to even look that up but by the end of 2008 it will be at least 1!!! :-)

    Ronnie Lott, Kenny Easely, Sean Taylor (yes, was a true freshman STARTING safety when UM beat Nebraska for the title).

    I also believe that Louis Oliver, former Florida Gator walk-on, played significantly as a freshman on Florida’s 1985 team that ended up #2 in the nation.

    Honestly now, stop the delusions. Twice teams have won national championships with freshmen QUARTERBACKS. Do you seriously believe that any other position on the field on the field is more important than that?

    Come on now people.

  5. chefboyardee

    Given that Hawaii only returns 8 starters, maybe you’re right, Senator. But I think that means Florida has to score at least 55 points.

  6. Honestly now, stop the delusions. Twice teams have won national championships with freshmen QUARTERBACKS. Do you seriously believe that any other position on the field on the field is more important than that?

    Come on now people.

    I wasn’t playing drama queen there, KG. I’m genuinely curious as to how frequently that’s occurred.

    I notice that none of your examples were exactly on point in response to my question. But while we’re on the subject, how many of those guys you cite played for schools that finished 98th nationally in pass defense the year before? ;)

  7. NICK

    Senator, I am with you…but, didn’t Tennesee win the SEC east last year with Eric Berry, a True Frosh, at Strong Safetey?

  8. I agree with the premise about our defense and our chance to win the MNC accordingly. In fact, I have railed about our defense repeatedly on Saurian Sagacity, including in my latest post here -

    http://sauriansagacity.blogspot.com/2008/07/legend-of-injured-tebow.html

    I’ll say it again – 30 points should have been enough to beat your Dawgs last year, as it was for every game we won since 1990. If our strategy is to merely “score more” than the opposition, that task is going to become nearly impossible when the opposition scores 42.

  9. Nick – Berry was the first guy that came to my mind, too… but, as you note, UT didn’t win the SEC last year.

    Mergz – that’s really my only point here. All those folks who see UF being a true SEC and MNC contender have to make one of two assumptions: (1) the Gator pass defense, despite relying on true freshmen in certain key spots, is going to be dramatically improved from last season; or (2) the Gator offense is going to be so much better than it was last year that it won’t matter how mediocre the pass defense may be.

    Now either could happen, but the first strikes me as a big leap of faith and the second certainly isn’t the traditional way one goes about winning the conference.

  10. Again I agree. If our overall game strategy is “outscore them all” we are probably in trouble. It is, in essence, a return to the era of Spurrier ball. And it only works until it doesn’t.

    In 2007 opponents scored more than 20 points on Florida 11 of 13 games, more than 30 points in 5 of 13, and more than 40 points twice. FAU scored 20, Vandy 22, and Troy 31. Not a lot to be proud about there.

    Perhaps with age one becomes a realist, and I am certainly one about the Gator’s chances this year, though I *hope* we can overcome our defensive issues, just as Dawg fans can hope to overcome a brutal schedule.

  11. Fred

    Tony Flack ’82? did I think?

  12. KG

    I guess Sean Taylor was the only one I could find who played on a national championship winning team as a true freshman (and started which I don’t know if Will Hill will do – although I think he gets significant playing time).

    But then again I just thought of some of the top safeties in college who probably could have started as true freshmen and played at a high level. So although Taylor was the only one who did what you asked Easely and Lott played at a very high level and started as freshmen. Then again those are two of the greatest NFL safeties I’ve ever seen so . . . . it’s not an easy feat.

  13. I know what georgia will do….