Bill Connelly dumps all over the best defensive coordinator in college football’s defense and it’s effing glorious.
Week 6 result: Lost to Texas A&M 41-38
Raw statistics: 58th in scoring defense (33.3 points per game), 72nd in total defense (495 yards per game)
SP+ (preseason and present): Third in defensive SP+ in the preseason, 20th after six weeks. As mentioned in Sunday’s SP+ release, a team’s ratings are still derived heavily from preseason projections, so it’s almost impossible for a team projected as high as third to have fallen more than 15-20 spots thus far. If it was possible, the Gators would have done it.
Most damning weakness: Spectacular inefficiency. Florida was seventh in defensive SP+ in 2019, and while the Gators did lose pass-rusher Jonathan Greenard and corner CJ Henderson, most of the two-deep returned, as did defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Maybe you could predict passing-downs issues if the Gators couldn’t sufficiently replace Greenard, but three games into 2020, they have suffered a comprehensive collapse. They are 75th out of 76 teams in success rate allowed — 74th against the run, 70th against the pass. Big plays are random and volatile, but efficiency is predictive, and Florida’s defensive inefficiency has been startling. Texas A&M scored 41 combined points against Vanderbilt and Alabama, then posted 41 on the Gators. The Aggies scored on all but two drives.
Florida just seems a step slow across the board. The Gators are dealing with their fair share of “absent for unspecified reasons” issues on the depth chart, but not more than anyone else. Their biggest issue seems to be that a bunch of players are playing worse than they did last year. That’s semi-encouraging in that we know what they’re capable of, and they could revert to form at some point. But they haven’t yet.
Ray of sunshine: At least they’re not getting gashed deep, too. In 2019, the Gators ranked 21st in my marginal explosiveness measure — my field position-adjusted measure of the magnitude of one’s successful plays — and they’re currently 21st this year, too. For all of A&M’s intermediate success, the Aggies had only two gains of 25-plus yards. None of this matters if you’re giving up constant 15-yard passes, as Florida did in College Station, but it’s at least a sign that the problems could be worse.
I guess we know what needs to be attacked next, then.
I can’t wait to see what happens with Grantham’s annual faux flirtation with the NFL this offseason.