Three Gators Defensive Players Whose Roles Should Increase in 2020
C.J. Henderson. David Reese. Jonathan Greenard. Jabari Zuniga.
All difference makers on the field. And all are gone next season. So, even though there is a bowl game still to play and coaches and players wouldn't answer this until the season is fully over, and probably rightfully so, it's never too early for us to look.
Here's three names that need to be difference makers in orange and blue next year in order for the defense to maintain the same level of production or better.
If you've been watching the back half of this season, you can see that this guy is a star in the making. A huge element for him, is because of his size, strength and speed, he can play a variety of different positions.
He can put on some weight in the off-season and play more of a BUCK role, or develop his ball skills and even play an outside linebacker role similar to what Vosean Joseph played two seasons ago.
Florida is absolutely counting on him to be a force next season, and there's not reason he shouldn't be.
Dean had a tough year and lost his starting spot at STAR by the season's end. It was evident that that position inside was uncomfortable for him and it makes sense. Dean is long and physical, often against quick slot receivers it was tough for him to keep up.
The STAR position is also typically a good spot for someone who makes a lot of splash plays, like Chauncey Gardner-Johnson did a season ago at that spot. That is not Dean's game.
Outside of the occasional interception that falls to him or hitting the occasional ball-carrier that isn't securing the ball well, he isn't really a turnover machine. From last season, we saw that he was more of a consistent presence in the secondary, staying in position in a more cut and dry spot that is outside corner.
Next season, he will probably move back to outside corner and they need him to recapture his 2018 success.
With Greenard and Zuniga leaving, the rest of the line needs to step up. Who better than a senior that's been here through it all and always provides solid production? Slaton is not at all a direct replacement of Greenard or Zuniga, as he is a different player.
He is enormous and plays inside, but if he can consistently command double teams next season, guys like Diabate are going to eat. There were also games this past year where the run defense struggled as games wore on.
Surprisingly, the run defense held strong against Georgia, but it wore down pretty hard against LSU. Also, people don't remember, but before a few game-changing plays to seal it for the Gators in Gainesville, Auburn was starting to run the ball extremely well with Jatarvious Whitlow.
So, a guy like Slaton needs to have a big year. This defensive line was for the most part dominant this season, and to continue that success with a lighter end/BUCK group, it will need to come with more dominance in the interior.
Obviously, there a more guys that need to step up than just three, these were just the three I feel most primed to do it. That said, honorable mentions include BUCK defensive ends Khris Bogle, Brenton Cox and Jeremiah Moon, strong-side defensive end Zach Carter, and cornerbacks Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough.