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Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Teez Tabor (31) celebrates the win over the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Tabor Focused on Finishing Season “The Right Way”

When asked if some of Florida’s defenders had been snubbed from postseason accolades, Gator All-American cornerback Teez Tabor agreed, citing “politics” as his reasoning. Defensively, Florida has been stellar this year, finishing sixth overall and sporting the third-best pass defense in the country. It’s no surprise that one of Florida’s most talented and outspoken players would stand up for his teammates.

“We all have our judgment day.” Tabor said. Tabor’s judgment day will most likely come this April at the 2017 NFL Draft, but first, the 20th-ranked Gators are looking to finish strong in their Outback Bowl showdown with the 21st-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4).

Losing Your “D” Coordinator

The Gators will enter their season finale without Geoff Collins, their defensive coordinator for the past two years. Collins has structured a top-ten defense in both seasons at Florida, and after a 20-year tenure as an assistant,  he’ll move on to his first head coaching gig with Temple University.

Florida’s co-defensive coordinator and linebacker coach Randy Shannon will replace Collins as the Gators prepare for their 15th bowl game in the past 16 seasons. Florida is one of ten programs in the country to accomplish this feat.

It’s unsure if Shannon’s position as head coordinator will stick. The former Miami head coach certainly has the resume and rapport with players.

“I feel like a lot of guys respect Coach Shannon…it’s hard to get a coach who really cares about you in college.” Tabor explained. Tabor also said Shannon would do a great job if he takes the spot permanently.

Outback Bowl

Looking forward to Iowa, Florida is preparing for a backyard brawl. The Gators’ and Hawkeyes’ offenses rank 115th and 120th, respectively. Defensively, the Gators hold an edge, as the Hawkeye defense ranks 24th in the FBS.

usatsi_9720833_168381752_lowresExpect Tabor to make big plays in what could be his final collegiate game, along with familiar faces like Quincy Wilson, Joey Ivie and Caleb Brantley. These are just a few of the Gators that will be atop the NFL draft board in April. Two more veterans may also return to action against Iowa. Jarrad Davis’ and Alex Anzalone’s status are yet to be determined.

Hawkeye Rushing Attack

Tabor thinks Iowa will try to run the ball against the Gator defense. Two Hawkeye running backs are capable of having big games. LeShun Daniels Jr. finished his senior season with 1,013 yards and 5.1 yards per rush. Junior tailback Akrum Wadley is a shifty back that averages 6.6 yards per carry and 966 rushing yards in total this season.

Both backs have rushed for ten touchdowns. Wadley is second on the team in receptions (32), which has allowed him to add three scores through the air. Wadley averages just under eight yards from scrimmage every time he touches the ball.

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Gator Offense Needs to Show

Florida’s offense will need to put points on the board in order to compete with Iowa’s well-balanced attack. Despite being a run-heavy team, Hawkeye quarterback C.J. Beathard boasts a 130.4 passer rating, throwing only seven interceptions this season.

The Hawkeyes are a very talented team that should command respect from Florida. Earlier this season, Iowa beat Michigan—the sixth-ranked team in the country—and the same team that handed Florida a 41-7 beatdown in last year’s Citrus Bowl.

About Charlie Jordan

I'm a senior studying Political Science at the University of Florida. Multimedia Sports Reporter for ESPN Gainesville 95.3 and WUFT - Passionate about life, sports, and fitness.

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