Gators notebook: UF defenders 'arguing' about who will be team's sack leader in 2021
Florida led the SEC in sacks for the second consecutive season in 2020, finishing with 35.0 in 12 games played.
The Gators could make it three years in a row this fall with their top front-seven defenders returning and the addition of graduate transfer defensive tackles Daquan Newkirk, Antonio Valentino and Tyrone Truesdell.
UF boasts a ton of talent on the edge with defensive end Zachary Carter, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection, and outside linebackers Brenton Cox Jr., Jeremiah Moon and Khris Bogle at the BUCK position.
Mohamoud Diabate played that spot as a true freshman, but transitioned to inside linebacker in 2020. This season, however, he will line up at both linebacker spots as well as defensive end and possibly nickel.
“That's what I like to pride myself on. I can play anything on defense, anything in the front seven,” Diabate said. “We’ve definitely got a ton of depth at pass rusher. I definitely consider myself a pass-rusher, too. That's what I started off as, that's what my main forte is. Last year I just didn't have that many opportunities to have pass-rushing situations just learning inside linebacker.
“But being able to learn inside linebacker, now I'm ready to have some more time on the edge. We are deep there. We talk about Brenton Cox, Moon, Bogle, all these different players. We all look good. Good unit, good group of guys and I think we can all work together towards getting to that quarterback.”
Carter had a team-high 5.0 sacks last year, followed by Bogle and Cox at 4.0 apiece and inside linebacker Ventrell Miller with 3.5. The Gators argue daily about who will have the most sacks this season.
“We argue every day,” Diabate said. “Me and Zach been arguing about who's going to have more sacks. So we argue. All of us. Me and B-Cox, we all argue who's going to have more sacks. We all respect each other’s game. We all know we're all really good pass-rushers.
“You ask them about me, they're going to tell you. You ask me about them, they're going to get to that quarterback. So we all getting there. We were just actually talking about it, who's going to get there first. So we're all racing to the quarterback.”
Chatfield enters transfer portal
One UF defender who won’t be part of that pass rush is outside linebacker Andrew Chatfield.
The redshirt junior announced he was transferring from the program Tuesday night.
“I am very grateful for the Gator nation and I really appreciate everything that the University of Florida has done for me. I am now announcing that I will be entering the portal and my recruitment is officially open. Thank you to the Gator nation,” Chatfield posted on his Twitter account.
Chatfield finished fourth on the team with 2.5 sacks last season, compiling 13 tackles and 4.0 tackles for loss in 12 games played.
Vaccination sites on gameday
Florida fans will have the opportunity to receive a COVID-19 vaccine before Saturday’s game through a collaborative effort between UF Health and the Gators Athletics department.
From 5:30 to 7 p.m., UF Health Screen, Test & Protect will have two vaccination sites open: one in front of the Stephen C. O'Connell Center and another at Gate 12 of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, which is located on the east side.
Throughout the past year, UF Health and Gators Athletics have worked together to use Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as a COVID-19 testing and vaccination site.
According to UF Health experts, COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 and reduce the risk of serious illness and hospitalization. After Saturday’s game, vaccine availability can be found at UFHealth.org/FLVaccines.