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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Remember that fourth-down blitz on Saturday from safety Donovan Stiner?

Of course you do. You’ve seen it on Twitter. You’ve seen it with audio from WWE’s Jim Ross screaming “GAWD AS MY WITNESS, HE IS BROKEN IN HALF!” You’ve seen it with audio of Adam Sandler from "The Waterboy" (which, not surprisingly, became Stiner’s nickname this week). You’ve seen it in your games of Madden when your opponent (or you) spams “Engage Eight.”

Chauncey Gardner-Johnson made a bold statement about that play Monday back in Gainesville: That blitz works in practice. Every. Single. Time.

“You can’t block that play,” he boasted. “We’re going to call it plenty of more times.”

That play was merely the focal point of a long day of defensive aggressiveness. I went through the Mississippi State game and noted every UF blitz because I love you. I counted 25 blitzes on 58 plays. Think about that. Grantham dialed up a blitz nearly every other play. Compare that to former defensive coordinator Randy Shannon, who rarely sent extra pressure last season.

That number pops even more when you consider his first didn’t come until the Bulldogs’ second drive.

The nature of Grantham’s schemes is intriguing as well. He only sent two extra men on two occasions and three on one play. Florida came with only one extra defender the other 22 times.

The personnel he brought varied significantly. Eight different Gators blitzed throughout the game. Stiner went on five before his game-sealing sack. Linebackers Vosean Joseph and David Reese came on five and four, respectively.

Then there’s the guts, the courage, the chutzpah from Grantham, who was at a disadvantage from the first MSU drive. Cornerback Trey Dean got booted from the game on the first punt. This left C.J. Henderson as the only Florida cover man with significant in-game experience.

It didn’t matter to Grantham. He sent Henderson on a blitz on 7 percent of Mississippi State’s plays. The gambles paid off as Henderson recorded a sack and a tackle for loss on two of them.

“(Grantham’s) just like one of us,” Henderson said after the game. “Apply pressure and let the guys on the outside make plays.”

Grantham has developed a reputation as being one of the more aggressive defensive coordinators in the SEC. Given the exact same circumstances in any other game, he’ll make that play call 10 times out of 10.

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“I want to win the game,” he said. “There’s really no other call.”


Morgan McMullen is the sports editor at The Alligator. Follow him on Twitter @MorganMcMuffin and contact him at

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