After showing some flashes in the second half of last season, junior safety Shawn Davis is now in full-blown breakout mode this season. His most recent performance definitely sticks out: two interceptions in the come-from-behind win at Kentucky.
“He’s been noticeably improved, has shown up to be a productive tackler, making plays on the ball, had two interceptions,” defensive coordinator Todd Grantham said. “Honestly, if we had not had a tip he may have had a third one. So really pleased with his progress and we’ll continue to play him like we have been and hope he continues to be productive for us.”
Davis said he’s more comfortable in Grantham’s system in the second year, and with that comfort has come confidence, something he says was lacking a little bit earlier in his UF career.
“I know the plays. I don’t really have to think like, what the call is,” Davis said. “It’s just me knowing the calls and I can already position myself to where I need to be. That’s something that’s basically second nature now.”
One could argue that Davis is UF’s most improved defensive player.
“I think it’s a combination of one, another year in our strength and conditioning program, and then I think there’s a lot of carryover in our system,” Grantham said. “It’s kind of clicked for him. He does a good job of being the quarterback there. And he makes plays. He can run, he can hit and he’s been really productive. I’ve been very proud and pleased with his production.”
In the slot
With Kadarius Toney out with an injured shoulder, Josh Hammond and Freddie Swain are getting reps at the slot receiver position. Both had productive games in the win at Kentucky.
Swain caught four passes for 57 yards and a touchdown, while Hammond had on catch for 14 yards and had a 76-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep.
“I think we did fairly well just being able to get open and be out there for the quarterback in critical situations when we needed to and just play at a high level when our number was called,” Hammond said. “Freddie did a really good job on catching bubbles, getting open across the middle a couple times in some big critical moments when we needed it.
“So, just continuing to grow, continuing to prepare and continue to try to make plays for the offense in the future is what we’re trying to do.”
FAU to The Swamp
Florida Atlantic announced Tuesday that the Owls and Gators will tangle in The Swamp on Sept. 4, 2021.
FAU last visited Florida Field in 2015 and the Owls definitely held their own in that one, forcing the Gators to work extra for a 20-14 victory in overtime.
Despite having on one sack in the win over Kentucky, the UF defense still leads the nation with 16. … The Gators are ninth in the SEC in total offense (428.3 yards a game) and fifth in total defense (300.7). … Not surprisingly, UF is 12th in the league in rushing offense, averaging 139.7 yards a game. Take away the 76-yard TD run by Josh Hammond on a jet sweep last Saturday and the rushing numbers would really be ugly. … The Gators are tied for second in the SEC in sacks allowed, giving up only three in three games. … UF is tied for seventh in the league in turnover margin at 0. … The Gators are tied with LSU and Georgia in red zone defense at 50.0 percent. … Middle linebacker David Reese, who had 16 tackles in the win over Kentucky, is averaging 7.7 tackles a game. … Jeremiah Moon is averaging1.33 tackles for losses per game, good for third in the SEC. … Davis is tied for the conference lead in interceptions with two.
This, that and the other
UF track star Grant Holloway, the 2018-19 SEC male athlete of the year, is the honorary Mr. Two Bits for Saturday’s game against Tennessee. He is an eight-time NCAA champion. … Hammond’s 76-yard run against UK is the Gators fourth play of 60 yards or longer this season. That’s tied for the second-highest in the nation. … Florida has won seven consecutive games for the first time since 2015. … Former UF defensive line coach Chris Rumph is the Vols’ co-defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach. … Former FSU quarterback Chris Weinke coaches the Tennessee quarterbacks.