Dominant defense has returned Gators to national title contention
The curly-haired crooner who stood on the Florida sideline Saturday wrote a little ditty in 1979 that provided the perfect soundtrack for the worst 45 seconds of South Carolina quarterback
"From there," South Carolina coach
That's why Spurrier, who has seen his share of dominant, scoreboard-rattling Florida teams, said this of the Gators. "This team's a lot better than that [eventual national champion] two years ago. I said they had a chance because they won all the close ones two years ago. ... But this team that they've got now is a lot stronger."
And he didn't say that because of the offense.
Florida had a great offense last year, and look where that got the Gators. They finished the season in the Bowl Formerly Known as Citrus watching Michigan receivers streak past and into the end zone. Great offense and no defense won quarterback
This season, as linebacker Spikes put it, the Gators are "trying to get the defense back to '06." Coordinator
And though none of the young defenders is a biology major, the group has learned about symbiotic relationships. "Defense," sophomore cornerback
Indeed. Since the defense's inexplicable meltdown on a long touchdown late in a Sept. 27 loss to Ole Miss, Florida defenders have been the best wingmen. Of the 42 touchdowns Florida has scored during its six-game win streak, 16 have come either from interceptions returned for touchdowns or on drives of fewer than 50 yards. Some of those short fields have come courtesy of blocked punts and long punt returns, but remember, the defense forced the punts in the first place.
So who has benefited most from the defense's improvement? Is it Spikes, a junior whose draft stock has skyrocketed this season? Is it Strong, who, even if he doesn't get considered for the head-coaching job he so richly deserves, will at least get a fat raise? No and no. The person who benefitted most also is the proud owner of a large, bronze, stiff-arming trophy.
"That's a big difference with this team, and also probably with me," Tebow said. "I don't have to score, don't have to make the big play every time." The emergence of backs
More importantly, though the Gators have gained 316 fewer yards this season than they did in their first 10 games last year, they've scored 28 more points. The defense has hurt Tebow and the offense's stats in every column except the only one that matters. "Yeah, we might not put up as many yards as we would have, but that's not our goal," Tebow said. "Our goal is to win."
So how did Florida's defense turn from Swiss cheese into a Swiss Army knife? Strong and assistants
Last year, Strong and co-coordinator
Smarter is the key word. Cornerback
If Florida's defense keeps dominating, the Gators can anticipate a trip to Miami to play for the national title