GAINESVILLE -- For six weeks, Florida’s defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage, but following consecutive sobering performances against LSU and Missouri, a once proud unit is searching for answers.
The Gators -- minus dominant defensive tackle Dominique Easley -- can no longer stop the run. After surrendering just a single 100-yard rusher all last season (ironically this week’s foe: Georgia tailback Todd Gurley), Florida has allowed two different tailbacks (LSU’s Jeremy Hill and Missouri’s Henry Josey) to clip the century mark during its recent two-game losing streak.
In Missouri’s 36-17 win, the Tigers rushed for 205 yards and two touchdowns -- the most yardage in 22 games against a Will Muschamp defense.
“Very safe to say (that won’t happen again). That’s not characteristic of us,” junior linebacker Michael Taylor said. “That’s not what we allow and that’s a one-time thing. I can guarantee you that won’t happen again.”
The Gators still rank first in the conference in total defense (273.1 y/g), rushing defense (100.71 y/g), passing defense (172.4 y/g) and third down defense (27 percent), but following multiple shaky performances -- especially stopping the run -- their confidence is admittedly wavering.
“It’s shocking,” cornerback Marcus Roberson said. “But we can only move forward and focus on the next game and just try and keep the total yards [down].”
Said sophomore defensive end Dante Fowler Jr.: “I feel like our defense is still a great defense. But once you lose a game or two you kind of lose your confidence. And all we've got to do is just get our swagger back. I feel like once we get our swagger back, and get our confidence back up, we're going to be back to how we were at the beginning of the season.”Follow me on Twitter @JesseReSimonton