Sep 10, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators linebacker Alex Anzalone (34) is congratulated by linebacker Jarrad Davis (40) and defensive lineman Joey Ivie (91) after 3rd down against the Kentucky Wildcats during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Competition for Playing Time Runs Strong Under Randy Shannon

It’s no secret that the Florida defense is one of the most elite in the country; the Gators are number two in the nation in total defense.

In almost every defensive category, Florida is somewhere in a top slot, but to Florida linebackers coach Randy Shannon, complacency is the enemy. As the Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) look to take on the Missouri Tigers (2-3, 0-2 SEC) on Saturday, Shannon said the defense focused on what hurt them in its last game.

He said they’ll also have to focus on containing Missouri’s offense, which he said reminds him of Baylor during his days at TCU in 2012. The Tigers’ high tempo will force substitutions and make having fresh defenders imperative to success on Saturday.

LB Depth

Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Florida has primarily relied on two linebackers in Jarrad Davis and Alex Anzalone. Shannon compared them to NFL greats during his time at the University of Miami. With the possibility of a lot of substitutions, players like fellow starter Daniel McMillian, David Reese and Kylan Johnson will have to be at the ready. Shannon says they’ve done a great job so far.

McMillian has been battling the injury bug but Shannon says he has been positive and put together two great weeks of practice. Johnson was recruited as a safety, and made the switch because of his big bones and athleticism, according to Shannon.

Shannon commended Davis and Anzalone for their communication and how they pick up the young guys on the team. He stressed how having that depth, even if young, is key to pushing the defense to a higher level.

He described the team as “young but an old team” because of  the gap between the starters and the newer guys, but he sees this an opportunity to build the depth and competition. It’s also appealing to recruits for the linebacker spot; new players can come in and compete for playing time right away.

Room To Improve

The Gator rushing defense is ranked seventh in the country, second in the SEC. Shannon mentioned how in almost every category Florida can be found in a top slot. But he sees their performance as a team this season just as “OK” with room for improvement to being number one. 

The defense will have a chance to show that this Saturday in the Swamp against Missouri. Kick-off at 4 p.m.


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