Notebook: Grantham fine-tuning UF defense, Mullen says

Florida defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has his unit among the league leaders. [Brad McClenny/The Gainesville Sun]

Florida coach Dan Mullen had some high praise for Todd Grantham when he was asked about the veteran defensive coordinator on Wednesday’s SEC coaches’ teleconference.

“He’s probably the top defensive coordinator in all of college football,” Mullen said. “You look at a guy who can coach it front to back, back to front. He has a great understanding. He has a very good system, very sound system.

“You have a guy that has that control over the system and knows exactly how to make the adjustments. He does a fabulous job of making in-game adjustments. He sees how they’re going to scheme us and he’ll get to the answer and stop that. He’s done just a really good job for us.”

Through two games, the Gators are second in the SEC in scoring and total defense and lead the league in sacks.

The win over Miami is a good example of the in-game adjustments Grantham has a track record for making. After giving up 200 yards of offense and 13 points in the first half, the Gators gave up just 108 yards and seven points and recorded six sacks in the second half to preserve a 24-20 victory.

Mullen on Franks

Quarterback Feleipe Franks still has his critics (and probably always will), but he’s clearly won over his head coach with his play through the first two games of the season.

“He’s grown in a lot of ways,” Mullen said. “You look at his decision-making out there on the field. We’ve had two very different challenges in the first two games. This brings a third completely different challenge with different schemes, different philosophies we’re seeing.

“He’s done a really good job through the first two games in just managing the game, seeing what the defense is doing, taking what they’re giving up. If they give us an opportunity to take a shot down the field, he’s taking it. If it’s cause for him to check it down, he’s checked it down. He’s done a really good job of that.”

Backup OL gets it done

Offensive line coach John Hevesy said the No. 2 offensive line, which includes true freshmen Ethan White and Michael Tarquin, graded out highly in the UT Martin game. The backups played almost the entire second half.

“They all actually did decently well,” Hevesy said. “They did decently at what they’re supposed to do. I think Ethan and Michael, both first time really being on the field. With Richard (Gouraige) and Tanner (Rowell), they’ve been on the field before, TJ [Moore] has been on the field before.

“For (White and Tarquin), I think they did a really good job. I was happy to see the communication and getting things going the right way. They (the Skyhawks defense) were very complex, but to see them execute and do what they had to do, I was impressed with them.”

Secondary shift?

With starting cornerback CJ Henderson expected to miss Saturday’s game with a sprained ankle, there’s a chance a true freshman will start in his place. There’s also another option: moving sophomore Trey Dean back to corner from the star position and putting outside linebacker Amari Burney, a former safety, at star.

“Trey’s played corner before, and there’s nothing that says we couldn’t do that. Burney can play nickel,” Grantham said. “But I thought the (freshman) corners (Kaiir Elam, Chester Kimbrough and Jaydon Hill) played well in the game, and that’s why we recruited them to be here. So, we’re going to continue to develop them.

“I thought all three of those guys showed improvement from practice to the game and did a good job.”


  1. Whatever else can be said, Grantham’s aggressive defense is fun to watch. It’s obvious that he instills confidence in his players and they love his approach. Expectations may be a little high with so many freshmen filling holes, but who’s to say they can’t get the job done? The depth issues remain a bit haunting, but it feels like this team has a lot of heart and faith in each other. The coaches have them tuned in and learning fast. That’s good to see for sure when considering the string of competition they’ll be facing farther down the road.

  2. D has been solid. I like the group. Big test coming up this weekend, especially with the thin corps at CB. We need the D to keep us in the game until the OL starts to figure things out and we start raining points on opponents. I have to agree, fun to watch.

  3. ”…with so many freshmen filling holes, but who’s to say they (D.B.’s) can’t get the job done?”

    Agreed, Pairiegator. And although it’s not too popular with the youth of America today, HISTORY says you’re right, too…

    ”As a freshman in 2007, Wright started seven of 13 games for the Gators at free safety…”

    ”Reggie Nelson was an immediate sophomore starter for the Gators at free safety in 2005.”

    ”As a true freshman in 2007, Haden started 12 games at cornerback, missing one game due to an ankle sprain.” -Wikipedia.

    We all love this tenacious Gator ‘D’ right now, and rightfully so. However, it will be the traditionally tough stretch, see: the 80’s (Auburn, LSU, UGA, etc…) that should show us what this D’s truly made of. Go Gators Just win baby!