With spring practices in full swing, the Gator defense will look to make big strides as the unit hopes to improve on a down 2020 season.
Taking Advantage of Spring
One thing the football program didn’t have, or any school in the country for that matter, was spring practices in 2020. Coaches and players argue that it’s during this time where players make the biggest improvements to their game. Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham talks about what it means to have spring practices again. He emphasizes that it builds the players’ “competitive toughness.”
“With this young group, I like where they are right now,” Grantham added. “We’ve only had four days in and we’ll continue to work and get better.”
Grantham explains the biggest hindrance with not having spring practices a year ago, was that there was zero physical contact. This hurt the development of this young team. Grantham alludes to five-star cornerback Jason Marshall to what it means to get reps in as a young player.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 26, 2021
What to Focus on Now
One area where Grantham wants to see the defense improve is stopping the run. The Gators were second to last in the SEC in total rushing yards. The young unit will lean on the likes of Mohamoud Diabate, Zachary Carter, Kaiir Elam and Ventrell Miller as veteran leaders on this team.
Another area Grantham emphasized was putting pressure on the quarterback and winning in the trenches. Despite losing some players, the Gators added Antonio Shelton from Penn State and DaQuan Newkirk from Auburn via the transfer portal. Grantham talks about what it means to add these two players.
There were several areas where the defense struggled last year and where they can improve in the spring. Even so, Grantham says the strength of this team will be the young guys’ ability to develop over time. In addition, he credits their commitment and work ethic.