Veteran defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has witnessed many goal-line stands over the course of his coaching career. The one his Florida defensive players put together last Saturday in Jacksonville ranks above all the others.
“That’s probably the greatest goal-line stand I’ve ever been a part of,” he said. “I was really proud of it. It really says a lot about the attitude of our players. It talks about their belief in what we’re doing, their belief in each other and really it kind of goes back to that game from a standpoint of ‘I really liked our effort, I liked the way we played.’
“When you face a talented team like that, you gotta be exact in your fundamentals and what you’re doing. The biggest thing is, you’ve got to give that kind of effort.
“Anytime you have a blade of grass to defend, you’ve got to continue to defend it. And you got to trust the guys beside you are going do their jobs. I was really proud of that effort, made sure they knew that and we’ve just got to continue to play every snap like that.”
After quarterback Feleipe Franks lost a fumble on UF’s 1-yard line late in the third quarter, the Florida defense kept the Bulldogs out of the end zone for six consecutive plays and forced Georgia to settle for a field goal.
The Gators appeared to have the Bulldogs stopped in three downs, but a pass interference call in the end zone on C.J. McWilliams on third down gave UGA another set of downs.
It didn’t matter. The Gators stuffed the ’Dogs on three consecutive running plays.
The stand is something the Gators can build on, Grantham said.
“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “It shows the attitude of our players. It shows the commitment of our players. It shows the belief in us and in themselves and in the people around them.
“You know, that hey, ‘I’m going to do my job, because I know if I’m in this gap, I got somebody inside of me in their gap, somebody outside of me in their gap and we’re going to knock this back and we’re going to play as a team.’ The biggest thing I got from that is we played as a team. And if you do that, you’re going to be good.”
Staying at star
With the lack of depth at cornerback, there’s been speculation that starting star/nickel Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, a former corner, could move to cornerback if needed.
Grantham said that’s not going to happen.
“When you play the star position, it’s a combination of corner, safety, you have to have some size, physicality to you,” Grantham said. “You got to be able when you blitz to affect the quarterback a little bit.
“With his skill set and all the things that he does, he makes plays there and he can play fast and it’s best suited to him. It kind of goes back to the adage, if you move him from that spot to another spot now you’ve made two spots worse. So, let’s keep him where he is and let him continue to play and we’ll work to correct other issues if we have them.”
Trending in recruiting?
Florida’s success on the field in Dan Mullen’s first season also could lead to success on the recruiting trail.
“Guess we’ll find out in mid-December and early February,” Mullen said. “I think there’s a lot of interest in our program right now. I think a lot of young players around the country are looking and saying, ‘Hey, Florida is going to be back and competing for championships in the very, very near future.’
“When you combine that with the history and tradition here, the opportunity to play in The Swamp, to be a Florida Gator, and the academics that are second to none in the SEC and really in the South, combine that all together and it’s certainly sparking a lot of interest from players.
“But we’ll see how that pans out not just on signing day, but two, three years down the road in not just getting top players, but the right guys, and their performance on the field.”