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Monday, August 08, 2022

Loss proves Gators’ secondary is not worthy of DBU title

<p>LSU quarterback Brandon Harris attempts a pass during the Tigers' 35-28 win against UF on Oct. 17, 2015, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.</p>

LSU quarterback Brandon Harris attempts a pass during the Tigers' 35-28 win against UF on Oct. 17, 2015, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

BATON ROUGE, La. — After Saturday’s loss to LSU, Florida has no right to even mention the title of "DBU."

Before the season, the Gators’ secondary made the claim that it was "Defensive Back University," otherwise known as the school with the best coverage unit in college football.

The players even got in a war of words with LSU’s secondary over who should hold the honor during the Summer.

Now, that all seems laughable.

Throughout the season, the UF defensive backs have continued to claim to be the best and most talented in the nation.

On one count, they’re right.

Yes, the Gators have all the talent in the world in their defensive backfield.

But talent doesn’t produce results.

LSU came into Saturday night’s matchup against Florida ranked last in the Southeastern Conference in passing offense and 122nd nationally.

However, that didn’t stop quarterback Brandon Harris from exploiting the Gators’ secondary for 202 yards and two touchdowns on 13-of-19 passing, most of which came in the first half.

Despite the fact that Harris was supposed to be the weak link in the Tigers’ offense, he picked apart the Gators, finding wide receivers Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre in huge coverage holes down the field.

It wasn’t as if he was throwing passes into ultra-tight windows.

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He simply found the open receivers and put the ball on the money.

If you claim to be the top coverage unit in college football, that can’t happen, especially if you know you need to hold your own while the linebackers focus on stopping — or slowing down — running back Leonard Fournette.

Senior Brian Poole got beat across the middle on numerous occasions. Plays which would have ended drives if defended correctly, but instead extended them.

Sophomore Quincy Wilson completely misplayed the ball on a pass from Harris which the cornerback was in perfect position to defend. Instead, the pass was completed for a touchdown.

When your team scores 28 points and your defensive front does a decent job of not letting Fournette explode on them for a 200-plus yard day, you can’t afford errors like that.

By the time the second half rolled around, the secondary had either figured something out, had a fire lit under it or both.

If you say you’re the best in the country, you can’t take a half off.

It’s not something new, either.

Despite the hype, Florida entered Saturday night ranked 43rd in the country in passing defense, good for just seventh in the SEC.

Teams known for high-powered offense and questionable defense like Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are ahead of the Gators. Heck, they’re even behind Wake Forest.

For Florida to be a serious contender to win, not play in, an SEC Championship, and maybe even challenge for a spot in the College Football Playoff, the secondary has to live up to the billing it gave itself.

So far, it hasn’t. And until it does, Florida’s defensive backs need to shut up about being the best and prove it on the field.

 Follow Graham Hack on Twitter @graham_hack24

LSU quarterback Brandon Harris attempts a pass during the Tigers' 35-28 win against UF on Oct. 17, 2015, at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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