Daily Football Fix: Just where will Zuniga line up?

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Versatile Florida defensive player Jabari Zuniga. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Over the past two seasons, you always knew where to find Jabari Zuniga.

Defensive end, where he was a fixture.

This season, in a new, aggressive defense, there will be times when you really have to look around to find him. He might be at end. Might be at tackle. Might be at nose tackle. Might even be roaming around with the linebackers.

Zuniga is going to have multiple roles in a multiple defense.

“We’re running multiple, we’re running 3-4, 4-3. So they’ve got me running nose, three (technique), end, I’m everywhere,” he said. “So, it fits me well.”

Zuniga had a lot to learn in the spring. There will be more to learn this summer as he prepares for preseason camp.

“It’s kind of been difficult,” he said. “I’ve had a lot, but you’ve just got to study your stuff and know your stuff.”

Zuniga said UF defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s more aggressive scheme is fun to play in and there will be plenty of negative plays inflicted on opposing offenses this season.

“Coach has a lot of blitzes in here, so we’re going to get a lot of sacks this year,” he said. “A lot of sacks. It’s just real diverse. We’re going to be doing a lot of stuff.”

Zuniga said the defense has a lot to prove coming off a less than stellar 2017 season.

“We’re very motivated, because we feel like we left a lot of stuff on the table,” he said. “Blown out by Missouri and Georgia, that didn’t really sit well with us, so we’ve got that chip on our shoulder.”

28 COMMENTS

  1. I am a little confused about the defense Grantham is running. It is my understanding that Zuinga would play the weakside DE position mostly in the 3-4. And Clark, Slaton, Campbell, and Conliffe would rotate playing the nose guard position. But who plays the strongside DE position next to the nose tackle? Ancrum was playing that position in the spring, and I cannot imagine that he is the best we have at that position. If so, I am worried.

  2. I like picturing three 300-lbers at nose and both ends – Clark, Slaton, and Campbell, with Conliffe backing them up. Freeing up Jefferson, Zuniga, Clayton, Davis, and Polite to cause havoc on the outside….

  3. Moving him around will create issues for opposing offensive players which may lead to missed assignments. Zuniga is a beast. Think this will make huge opportunities for the defense to exploit. Don’t have to be the best players just have to execute the plays better than the other side. Man for man we are s good as any out there. Look forward to seeing the first game.

  4. Their failure last year was due solely to Shannon’s defense in his 1st year as defensive coordinator and his “making it simple” approach. He killed the only thing that was making this team bearable, the defense. Looks like they will be back this year and back to being DBU!

    • What you just said, Daz. Like I said, you do your best thinking at Oh Dark Thirty in the morning!

      I went to a birthday party last weekend, a lady I didn’t know was there wearing a t-shirt that said DBU…..so I asked her if she had gone to the University of Florida. Looking at me like I had something obscene growing out of my forehead, she coldly announced, “No, Dallas Baptist University”. I muttered something about “pretenders” before my wife dragged me away.

    • Yeah his approach was reactionary and 90-esqe, ala the great Miami defenses of the late 80’s to 90s. It did not dictate with aggression and as a result took an edge off the team IMO. I think UCF is going to be in for a rude surprise for his philosophy is dated and counts on a dominant DL. Seems like a good guy…recruiting is pretty good, but x and o wise, he is a relic.

  5. CM players performance declined from the time they arrived. Performance went down from freshman to sophomore to junior etc. That is coaching. The defense was indecisive as a unit and as individuals. I would say players in the bigger power five are matched fairly close note i didn’t say the same. Then their is depth, with successful programs getting more quality at depth. When the next man up is as good as 1st string the fall off is minimized. Fitness. We were not fit last year. There was a study when i was in service that the more fit you are the better decisions you make. The new staff is fixing the basics. We were also out coached the last many years. Someone one one of these boards a talking about Florida getting only a number 10 recruit and that wasn’t good enough. I’d say in ranking high school kids there isn’t much difference in the top 20 in each position given the number of youth across the country. Are there sub par players? Are there players that don’t fit with coaches or their team mates? Definitely. Building a team is what good fishing does. Getting the players to believe aka drink the cool aid is the key. That is happening. Every team is doing the same thing to some degree. Teams in top are working to stay there. Others are looking to move up. That is what makes it fun for fans.

  6. Gator Sports/Arnold. Thank you for now managing the posts on here. Much appreciated. Back to enjoyable and sensible football talk again. And I wish you guys could step up the coverage of Florida recruiting now that SEC Country/Florida is gone.

  7. Just a reminder……the Offense was in the triple digits 3 years in a row with the Offensive Guru/Lame Coach. The denfense was on the field for 30+ games. The lame coach talked about our kicker ALLL the time and never used him. In the LSU game specifically if he kicks a FG in the first half we win that one and I believe he turned another FG down in the second half also. Michigan game D scores twice and the O especially the Oline where once again per that lame coach the best position group of the team got pushed around like they were in highschool. The O was the issue if you can’t see that then YOU DON’T KNOW how the game of Football works. You can always watch soccer if you don’t understand how the game of Football is played.