I mentioned in passing a day or two ago that I don’t think Florida is vulnerable to any team that doesn’t have a viable passing attack.
Pat Dooley has an article up at The Gainesville Sun that illustrates my point (h/t MrSEC.com). It’s a basic primer about Charlie Strong’s overall defensive philosophy, what he does to implement it and specifically how his game plan succeeded against LSU.
Here’s the general principle:
Florida has two defenses designed to stop the run but the principle is the same in both of them — add a man near the line of scrimmage. If it’s a man-to-man defense, that player is strong safety Ahmad Black. If it’s zone, that player is the cornerback to the open side of the field.
The theory is to have more defenders than the opponent has blockers. But this theory only works if players stay in their gaps. If they get moved out of those gaps or jump out of them, a long run is sure to follow.
And here’s the wrinkle Strong added for LSU:
… Because Florida’s line can be undersized (depending on the personnel), Strong and the Gator defensive staff put in a new wrinkle by having players sometimes shoot to their gaps rather than line up in them.
“We’re not very big so we can’t just stand there,” he said. “We moved a lot.”
And here’s the catch.
… With eight in the box, the cornerbacks know they are going to be playing a lot of man-to-man coverage and the plan to stop the run won’t work if receivers are running open.
While that worked to perfection with LSU and its inexperienced quarterbacks – and will probably succeed with most of the teams that remain on Florida’s schedule – you do have to wonder if Georgia and perhaps South Carolina (ok, that’s a bit of a stretch right now) will make Strong adjust what he wants to do. And if Florida makes it to Atlanta and faces Alabama, can he adjust if Wilson has another strong game as he did a couple of weeks ago in Athens.