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Roadmap to better defense in 2024


Aerospace Cubicle Engineer (ACE)
Here is some excellent analysis that highlights some hope that the Gator defense will be among the most improved under Ron Roberts and Austin Armstrong: [Substack - Match Quarters].

Though the Florida Gators have struggled to finish with a winning season in the two years since Billy Napier took over the program, there is room for optimism. Ron Roberts, who was at Baylor and then Auburn last year, will join the staff to work beside wunderkind Austin Armstrong. ...
Roberts is a well-known commodity around coaching circles, and along with his protege, Baylor’s Dave Aranda, is known as one of the top defensive minds in college football.

In his first year calling the defense in ‘22, Armstrong rose the Southern Miss defensive unit from 112th in DFEI to 62nd (they finished 64th).

Florida’s defense finished 75th in DFEI (BCFToys). Several metrics illustrate there is room for positivity for the unit, mainly 3rd Downs. The Gators went from 128th in ‘22 to 36th in ‘23. That was the largest jump in the nation.

PFF had the Gators 9th in Pass Blitz Rate (PBR) in the Power 5 at 50.4%, with 32.6% of those being ‘simulated.’

Florida’s defense finished 12th in Pressure Rate in the P5 (above). For a sub-.500 team, the Gators could still put good tape together on 3rd Downs.

If the pass rush was so great in 2023, why was the defense still bad and how is there hope in 2024? The answer lies in the coaches that were fired and the major upgrades on the coaching staff. Former Gator DB coach Corey Raymond was not coaching players or developing schemes to protect the back end of the defense and he was fired. Will Harris brings a new energy and probably could not be worse than Raymond. Losing Jay Bateman was not optimal, but at the same time, hiring Ron Roberts as the linebackers coach and giving him the title of head coach of the defense shows that Billy Napier is taking the defense seriously. Having Roberts and one of his proteges on the same staff is definitely a step in the right direction.

Considering the portal additions plus the raw talent from JUCO and high school along with the coaching changes there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the Gator defense in 2024.

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