JACKSONVILLE — Despite all the struggles throughout the year, including giving up almost 450 yards to Furman, the Florida defense comes out of this six-loss season actually looking pretty good. At least statistically. After shutting down FSU’s offense in the final regular-season game (95 total yards), the Gators ended the year ranked in the top 10 nationally in total defense.
But, in reality, is this a top 10 defense?
Outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins doesn’t seem to think so. At least not yet.
“I think we have a lot of talent on defense,” Jenkins said. “I think we made a lot of mistakes throughout the season for whatever reason — jumping offsides, stupid penalties that put us in bad situations.
“From the beginning, I felt the defense had a lot of talent. I still feel that way. But we made too many mistakes. I don’t really attribute it to being young. After a few games, we were experienced. We should have been able to handle it better than we did.”
Jenkins admitted that the defense, and the team as a whole, lacked discipline this season.
“I don’t think we were too good of a disciplined football team,” he said. “Little things happened that contributed to all those losses.”
With most of the top 22 defensive players returning in 2012, Jenkins said this defense has a chance to mature into something special.
“I’m looking forward to (next season),” he said. “Experience is going to help us lessen the mistakes we made this season. I’m looking at this game as being the start of a new year. We’re going to try and get it started off with a bang.”