A detailed look at how the Florida Gators performed defensively position-by-position in the Orange & Blue Game.
Some of the key defensive observations from Saturday's high-scoring Orange & Blue game.
Don’t worry about the secondary
While Saturday's game in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium featured 34 completions and 762 passing yards and the 60-35 victory for the Orange team was the most points scored in the history of the Orange & Blue game it wasn’t exactly a lack of defense that caused that result.
In order to light up the scoreboard for the sake of the fanbase, Florida’s defensive was dailed down scheme wise.
However, even with that being the case, there were a few bright spots for the secondary. Sophomore defensive back John Huggins made his presence felt early and often during the afternoon. In the first quarter, Huggins undercut a route and picked off a pass from Kyle Trask, returning it 80 yards for a touchdown.
"It's big for me," Huggins said after the game. "Just to show the coaches that I can play and to solidify myself here at DBU at the University of Florida."
Huggins stood out on Saturday and made his case for more playing time after hardly seeing the field in his freshman season.
Though he is a walk-on with little chance of seeing the field this fall, another name that filled the stat sheet in the secondary was defensive back Patrick Moorer. The redshirt sophomore had six tackles and two pass breakups.
Freshman Chris Steele made some noise in his first spring game as a Gator. He had two pass breakups, including one that stopped a touchdown.
On the other hand, at safety Donovan Stiner was noticed a lot, maybe not in the ways he'd hope though. Stiner got burned badly on a couple of touchdowns and was called for an easy pass interference call on a trick play.
Linebackers showcase their talent
This spring, the linebacker position was one with some uncertainty. Vosean Joseph put his name into the NFL Draft, and Kylan Johnson decided to transfer.
A position with not a lot of experience will have some fresh faces starting next season, and some of those faces were on display on Saturday.
James Houston IV looked good early. The redshirt sophomore has size and speed and is physical enough to take the position Joseph has left vacant. He jumped in front of a Feleipe Franks pass on the first drive of the game and nearly made an interception.
Houston's teammate, Ventrell Miller, was all over the field for most of the contest. He led the team in tackles with eight, making sure tackles when missed ones were in abundance early on in the game.
Defensive line could be strength of defense
Florida lost Cece Jefferson and Jachai Polite after last season, but despite this, the Gators still have an incredible amount of talent along the defensive line.
Louisville transfer Jonathan Greenard played his first game in a Gator uniform on Saturday and made his presence felt right away.
He rushed the passer out of the pocket a couple of times, earning him a sack in the first half. Coming off of injury and missing most of last season, Greenard was just happy to get an opportunity.
"When I first put the pads back on it was overwhelming," Greenard said. "Missing the whole entire year last season, obviously being back playing, it was great."
Junior Tedarrell Slaton was a mass of man to be reckoned with on Saturday as well. He picked up a tackle and half of a sack but was always putting pressure on the quarterback. Look for the 6-foot-5, 343-pound defensive tackle to compete for a starting role in the fall.
A guy who has impressive size and is due for a breakout year next season is redshirt sophomore Zachary Carter. He had arguably the most impressive jump all game in the fourth quarter, when he blew through the offensive line to stop the ball carrier a few yards deep in the backfield. If he can show that kind of ability moving forward, look for Carter to continue to see time with the starters as well.