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Grantham’s Gators in Attack Mode

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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One of the great defensive coordinators in the game today, Grantham's resume, with high-profile Power Five stops and notable NFL experience, is impressive. So, too, are his results.

Simply put, Todd Grantham's Florida defenses continue to be great. Debuting in Gainesville as the unit coordinator a season ago after following Dan Mullen from Mississippi State, Grantham's Gators finished the year in the top 20 nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 20 points per game. Florida, two weeks into this season and fresh off a shutout win over Tennessee-Martin, has moved into the top 15. Through injuries and rising outside expectations, the Gators have been a true defensive stalwart. Grantham is a big reason why.

One of the great defensive coordinators in the game today, Grantham's resume, with high-profile Power Five stops and notable NFL experience, is impressive. So, too, are his results. Grantham, prior to Florida, had Mississippi State, Louisville and Georgia all as top ten defenses in the country under his direction and tutelage. Already, these Gators are taking a similar shape. That success, for a team slotted 8th in the national polls, is the foundation for current and future contention.

Granthan's defenses are known for being aggressive and attacking; the teacher's latest pupils are putting on a clinic. Florida currently leads all of college football with 15 sacks and stands second with 26 tackles for loss. In a week zero showdown with in-state rival Miami, the Gators, relentless in pursuit, recorded ten total sacks in a signature performance. Add in five more sacks against Tennessee-Martin and, remarkably, the Florida defense has now compiled five sacks or more seven times in 15 games under Grantham.

The balance the Gators have shown to date fits Grantham's big picture model. There is production and proficiency at every level of the defense, from the SEC's sack leader in Jabari Zuniga at the line of scrimmage to All-American cornerback C.J. Henderson in the secondary. Louisville grad transfer Jon Greenard, a player who Grantham helped recruit to the Cardinals then recently reunited with at Florida, has been a tremendous addition. Furthermore, young players have already provided critical depth.

Saturday marked the first shutout of Grantham's Gator career and Florida's first shutout since September of 2016.

Ahead of the start of conference play, Grantham's defense is clearly one of the best in the nation. Correspondingly, the Gators are poised for a run in the SEC East and perhaps beyond. Plenty of motivation is in place in preparation for this weekend's contest at divisional foe Kentucky. Last season, the Wildcats rushed for over 300 yards in a win in the Swamp, Kentucky's first victory over Florida since 1986. Expected an inspired performance from the Gators, especially defensively, in Lexington.

The expectations, both at Florida and under Grantham, are high. It is a standard that has become the status quo. The Gators have held their last five opponents to 20 points or less, a stretch which includes contests with Florida State, Michigan and Miami. Going back to the middle of last November, Florida is allowing just 11.8 points per game, a figure now down to ten points per game this fall. Defense helps define who the Gators are. 

Florida has a rich tradition of defensive excellence. Grantham is adding to that. He may ultimately help the Gators add to their trophy case as well.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports