The Athletic ponders each SEC team’s biggest spring practice question
For most college football teams, the spring semester is typically reserved for introspection and self-scouting. Every team’s deficiencies are different, and the off-season allows for early enrollees to join the team and begin to transition from high school to the college game. The Athletic has taken a look at all fourteen SEC programs and determined the biggest question that each team has going into the spring.
For the Orange and Blue, the list of things to improve upon seems to be just as long as it was last year ahead of Billy Napier’s first season in charge. Since the end of the 2022 season, the Gators have had a lot of player turnover. This was to be expected as building the roster in Napeir’s image was bound to take a few seasons, at least.
Here is what The Athletic’s G. Allan Taylor had to say about what the Gators’ biggest question is this spring:
Can the defense find answers to solve a brutal three-year stretch?
In the final two seasons under coordinator Todd Grantham and one under Patrick Toney, the Gators’ defense has ranked eighth or worse in the SEC in points and yardage allowed. Last season it plummeted to dead last in third-down stops. The response was importing two defensive line transfers and three more at linebacker. Watch to see how Cam’Ron Jackson (Memphis) and Teradja Mitchell (Ohio State) acclimate, along with the pecking order Toney establishes for three new starters at the safety spots.
You, the reader, would be forgiven if your immediate guess was the quarterback room. To be honest, that was my first thought before reading Taylor’s assessment of the defense. While the quarterback room has undergone a lot of change recently, Napier has said that they will be looking to add another player to the room, joining the competition between Wisconsin transfer Graham Mertz and Las Vegas Bowl starter Jack Miller III — the latter also a former Buckeyes transfer.
Defensively, the situation is not as clear. Toney was publicly questioned at times last season for the reasons Taylor outlined, but it’s not really fair to judge Toney for mistakes made by individual players, especially when Toney didn’t bring in most of the guys on the field last season.
The upcoming Orange and Blue spring game will be played on Thursday, April 13. We’ll have to wait until then to get our first look at how the new additions to the team have adjusted to Napier’s expectations.
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