Alabama Football: Florida Gators may be down a key player Saturday

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

The Florida Gators’ defense Alabama football fans saw last season will be very different this Saturday. Last season Todd Grantham’s defense was No. 96 in FBS Team Passing Efficiency Defense. The Gators were somewhat better in Total Defense yielding an average of 428 yards-per-game; No. 83 in the FBS.

The Alabama Crimson Tide scorched the Gators with over 600 yards of offense last December. Dan Mullen and Grantham needed a quick fix and wisely turned to the Transfer Portal. Given their early opponents, it is too soon to know how much better the Flordia defense is this season. Let’s just say the Gators have improved and Saturday will define how much.

Alabama Football and Florida Gators Defensive Improvement

Alabama Crimson Tide fans believe Nick Saban’s and Pete Golding’s defense has improved considerably. Trying to determine how much the Gators have improved relies mostly on analyzing their new talent. Todd Grantham added three experienced defensive linemen in Daquan Newkirk, Tyrone Truesdell and Antonio Valentino. Jadarrius Perkins was brought in to become Florida’s nickel cornerback. Perkins was a JUCO player who worked his way into a Missouri starting role last spring before he decided to transfer. The three defensive linemen are all five-season guys. Adding talent and experience is what Florida needed.

In their defensive front, the Gators return another fifth-year player in Zachary Carter. Also upfront for the Gators’ defense is former Georgia Bulldogs’ defensive end, Brenton Cox Jr. Cox is in his second Florida season and started all 12 games last season. The Florida defensive line should be much improved over last season.

The greatest roster weakness for the Gators has been at cornerback. Elijah Blades, a former Texas A&M Aggie has been slowed by injury. Now believed to be healthy, Blades could move into a key role on Saturday. The main Florida cornerback, Kaiir Elam is a possible, future NFL first-rounder.

All the Gators’ defensive promise could be severely dampened on Saturday. Starting linebacker Ventrell Miller is doubtful for Saturday. Rumors out of Gainesville are Miller could miss multiple games. Ty’Ron Hopper is expected to take over for Miller. Miller was Florida’s leading tackler last season and the redshirt senior is a captain and leader for the 2021 defensive unit. His potential loss for Saturday is a serious problem for the Gators.

USC and Bill O'Brien. dark. Next

As of yet, there is no official news on Will Anderson’s status for Saturday. He is still considered questionable but indications are that probable is more accurate. Anderson has returned to the practice field. On Wednesday, Saban said with progress Anderson could play on Saturday.