4. WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE FLORIDA DEFENSE
– Such is life in the SEC. It’s possible to allow just 343 yards and 20 points per game and still finish in the middle of the defensive statistical pack. The run defense could stand to be a wee bit tighter, but the pass rush is going to be a killer and the secondary will be among the nation’s most talented.
With 13 of the top 17 tacklers back, the playmakers are there, but three of the top six tacklers have to be replaced including LB Vosean Joseph and S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson.
– If and when Marco Wilson is back to 100% after suffering a knee injury, the cornerbacks are going to be killers – even with star prospect Chris Steele transferring. Wilson was a broken up pass machine as a freshman, but got knocked out early last season. CJ Henderson is a do-it-all corner with first round NFL talent on the other side with range, hitting ability, and the ability get into the backfield. The depth behind these two is terrific – Trey Dean stepped in and did just fine when needed.
The safeties will be fantastic, too, with a few options to play around with. Losing Gardner-Johnson hurts, but Jeawon Taylor is one of the team’s top returning tacklers, and junior Brad Stewart is a solid veteran. Donovan Stonier made 49 stops last year, and Shawn Davis came up with 22 tackles in the rotation.
– Gone is Jachai Polite on the end, but the return of Jabari Zuniga for one more season was a wonderful surprise – he has NFL starting talent as a great-sized pass rusher – and the landing of former Louisville disruptive force Jonathan Greenard should dominate on the other side. 275-pound Adam Shuler isn’t a space-eater on the inside, but he’s a quick veteran, and