Kentucky running back Kavosiey Smoke, center, is hit by Florida defensive lineman Zachary Carter, left, and defensive back Trey Dean III, right, during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Defense Looks to Improve as Spring Football Begins

It’s no secret that the Florida Gator defense had its struggles this past season as the unit looks to improve with spring practices beginning Thursday.

Todd Grantham‘s defense lost six starters and will have to work with a young defense. In addition, the defense finished in the bottom half of the SEC in most major defensive categories. One player the defense will lean on is senior Zachary Carter.

Winning in the trenches

Carter led the team with five sacks while starting eleven games at defensive tackle. He finished the year with 9.5 tackles for loss and 36 total. Now a leader on this defense, Carter says many of the issues the defense faced a year ago had to do with depth and communication. He hopes spring ball gives the team an opportunity to fix these issues.

One interesting note for this year’s spring practice is the number of players going through it for the first time. The 2019 recruiting class had their 2020 Spring Football canceled and now this new recruiting class will get their first opportunity for spring ball as well. Carter is excited for this group of young players to get an opportunity to improve.

Another player Carter says to look out for is freshman Desmond Watson. A 6-5 380-pound defensive tackle, Watson was a standout at Armwood High School. Carter, who is also from Tampa, had some strong words of praise for the freshman.

Being a leader

Now in his fifth year, Carter is looking to be a leader not only on the defense but for the team as well. He appreciates the players that came before him and guided him and just wants to do the same.

Experts and coaches say the biggest strides a college football team can make happen during spring football. Every college football program lost spring practices a year ago. The Gators will look to use this team to improve an area that really hurt the football team last season. Carter explains what the Gators need to do in order to make a leap in performance from a season ago.

“The main thing is trying to find something to improve on every day,” Carter said. “I’m really excited for this defense, we got a great group of guys and I think we’re gonna surprise a lot of people. The biggest thing is just coming to work every day, trying our best, going hard, all the little things and I think the rest will take care of itself.”

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